Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's
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Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

  • Wednesday 14th April

    The Wagtails have been out in force during the last few days. Whilst it looks like the Grey-headed might have moved on, we have had reports of around 10 Yellow and 30+ Pied on the Flashes. The flashes have also given further good sightings this week, 11 Avocet were seen there on Monday, along with 1 Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret, with the highlight on Tuesday being a female Merlin.

    Across the rest of the reserve a female Scaup has been spotted on Main Bay in the last few days. There have also been sightings of Green Woodpecker, Curlew, Kestrel, Tree Creeper, Willow Tit and Tree Sparrow.

    The feeders have been busy this week with plenty of sightings of Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow, along with a male Reed Bunting and a couple of Pheasants seen on Tuesday.

    The recent spell of good weather has meant that we are regularly seeing Peacock, Speckled Wood and Brimstone Butterflies.  


  • More spring madness

    It’s a beautiful day here at Fairburn! I have just been enjoying my sandwiches outside basking in the warm sunshine watching two mallards search for grubs with ‘the friendly robin’ sitting on the seat next to me whilst listening to great tits and chiffchaffs chirp happily away in the trees. I definitely had one of those ‘this is what it’s all about’ feelings! I now feel perfectly inspired to write this week’s blog! So i’ll start today’s sightings blog with some nice impressive birds of prey. Firstly, we’ve had a few red kites spotted this week which are one of my all time favourite birds (sorry for the bias) purely for their magnificent nature and how they simply command the sky with their effortless displays. Their unmistakable forked tail and large reddish-brown body make them easy to spot, and now thanks to the reintroduction we don’t just see them in Wales! Common buzzards and Peregrines have also been visitors here at Fairburn this week. These swift agile predators are fascinating to watch as they soar and glide catching prey.

     Red Kite – Ben Hall (rspb-images)

    If you would prefer to watch something a little more soothing than these crazy hunting displays, then some of our great crested grebes have been busy performing their courtship displays this week, another sign of spring. I was actually lucky enough to see one of these over the weekend. It amazes me the elegance some birds display during spring, and with its ballet-style gliding and elegant head shaking the great crested grebe’s surely is one of the best. On the subject of grebes, our warden team were very excited to see a black-necked grebe a few days ago. Around the same build as a little grebe this bird has a largely black body with an obvious light brown tuft around its eye when in breeding season. A handful of blackcaps have also been seen throughout this past week, feeding on the centres feeders and steeling some of the kingfishers glory down at the kingfisher screen. Their distinctive black hats make them quite easy to recognise along with their song, which I am told can rival that of a nightingales.

      Great Crested Grebe – Chris Gomersall (rspb-images)

    I was also lucky enough to trod alongside Graham our heron man this week on one of our heron walks and what a display the herons put on for us! Not only did we see one but we saw eight nests, and even got the chance to see some new chicks being fed. I always seem to forget how impressive these birds are with there statue-like pose along river banks as they wait patiently to make their catch. They really are amazing birds and we are very lucky here at Fairburn to get to enjoy them all year round. If you are interested in joining one of our fascinating heron walks or would like to know a little bit more, please get in touch, they are great! Whilst on the walk we were also bombarded by a massive gang of cormorants! These are such prehistoric birds with their vast wings and long black bodies. They can be a little intimidating perched on top of a dead tree in a vulture-like stance. Daunting as though they may be, they are still impressive birds and have so many nests this year at Fairburn i am sure we are going to see plenty of them this next year.


     Cormonant – Andy hay (rspb-images)

    Just to give a mention to some of our four-legged friends which have been seen nibbling away under the feeders, the wood mouse. Although they are mostly nocturnal, the thought of all those nutritious seeds dropped by our hasty garden birds at the feeders must be too much for our rodents! These agile little creatures can often be confused with the house mouse, which has smaller eyes and more of a scent than a wood mouse. So keep your eyes peeled for the odd dash of a long tail scurrying for cover into a hedge or hovering up under the bird feeders ready to feed their young!




  • Hello World!


    Hello World!

    We have been a bit quiet on our blog recently here at Fairburn but we are back. We will endeavour to keep people up to date with recent sightings, great pictures, news about events and stories from the reserve via the blog in a more "timely fashion" from now on.

    My name is Chris Woolner. I'm the new Visitor Experience Manager at Fairburn Ings. Anything do with people at the reserve is my thing. I also know a bit (a small bit growing bit) about birds and other bits of wildlife. One if the things I know have been missed recently is details of recent sightings. So here we go........

    Current highlight for me is the recent occupancy of our sand martin bank. The bank has 48 holes and we think that about 15-16 of them are now occupied. This is great news as it was not used last year. Hopefully, they will come back every year not they know where it is!

    Other highlights over the past week are little ringed plover, marsh harrier (today), male and female garganey, hobby, cuckoo, little egret, spotted flycatcher and 6 crossbill on the 2nd June!