Trip reports

St Aidan's & Fairburn Ings - 29/03/14

View of the RSPB Fairburn Ings nature reserve
RSPB images - Fairburn Ings

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A cloudy but dry day saw us heading over the M62 into Yorkshire. When the outdoor trips programme was put together last year the intention was that our first stop would be the relatively new RSPB reserve of St Aidan's. However since then the company which owns the land has gone into administration and therefore the RSPB car park and visitor centre has been closed while the legal side of things is sorted out. You can still get access to the reserve though.

We parked at the southern end of the reserve which is also the car park for Swillington Ings Nature Reserve - this is an area adjacent to the RSPB reserve which is run by a private bird club. As everyone was getting their gear in order (boots, scopes, bins, flasks etc) we spotted pied wagtails and goldfinches. We also found a blue tit using an old security camera as a nest hole!

On the main lake here were the last of the wintering ducks - shoveler, gadwall, and teal. A few common gulls were also in evidence.

We headed off into the reserve serenaded by our first spring migrant of the trip - a chiffchaff. Almost as soon as we entered the RSPB reserve a few of us heard the wonderful sound of a bittern booming! We continued to hear it throughout our walk but sadly did not get a glimpse of the bird.

Other birds seen around the reserve included great crested grebe, reed bunting, pochard & goosander. As we were heading back to the car park a small group of whooper swans flew over.

We then moved onto a second RSPB reserve located about 5 miles away - Fairburn Ings. We had lunch at the visitor centre, watching the feeding station. Tree sparrows were everywhere along with a willow tit. A nuthatch put in a brief appearance.

The rest of the reserve was relatively quiet. More than likely a result of the mild weather we have been experiencing - most of the winter migrants had left and it was still a bit too early for most of the summer migrants to arrive. We did, however, manage to add little grebe, little egret, wigeon & stock dove to the trip list.