Trip reports

Fairburn Ings and Saint Aidan's

Fairburn Ings and Saint Aidan's
Paul Barrett

Saturday, 3 October 2015

At around 9am, a dozen of us assembled at Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve near Castleford, having travelled by car for about an hour from Shipley and Otley. It was a chilly & rather overcast morning, but fortunately not raining.
After a brief scan of the lake to see what was about, we decided to head in the opposite direction and try the relatively new Coal Tips trail. This higher level circular path has opened up a central area of the reserve and afforded us a bracing walk with panoramic views across the pools. Several species of butterfly and dragonflies were seen, as well as a variety of birds.
Following a picnic lunch outside the visitor centre, we drove the short distance to St Aidan's, which is open to the public but currently without visitor facilities due to ongoing complications over the land ownership. The area is well-used by dog-walkers & cyclists, as well as nature-loving walkers.
Not far inside the entrance, behind a protective fence, is a huge coal-mining machine, a relic from the site's industrial days. A notice indicates occasional open days when it can be viewed at close quarters.
At this point we split up & the main group chose to walk around the largest body of water, with extensive reed-beds. By now the sun was managing to break through and you could see for miles around. This extensive area of land could apparently act as a "sponge" to soak up excess water and help prevent flooding.
As we rounded the far corner of the water, we were delighted to see a pair of bearded tits which kindly positioned themselves so that we could view them for several minutes.
Overall, during our full & interesting day, we saw around forty six species of birds, including both little and great white egret, various ducks, tits and crows and several different birds of prey.
Thank you to those who drove on this occasion and made the trip possible.
Birds seen: cormorant, wood pigeon, heron, blackbird, lapwing, moorhen, mallard, swan, tufted duck, shoveler, teal, great crested grebe, goldfinch, great tit, greenfinch, tree sparrow, great spotted woodpecker, starling, robin, pheasant, blue tit, chaffinch, coot, crow, magpie, wigeon, pochard, little egret, Canada goose, gadwall, little grebe, great white egret, kestrel, long-tailed tit, willow tit, coal tit, rook, lesser black-backed gull, jay, jackdaw, buzzard, red kite, greylag goose, bearded tit, pied wagtail, stonechat.