Trip reports

Outing to Fairburn Ings - Sunday, 9th December 2018

Thursday, 13 December 2018

A mild, calm and sunny day greeted the 30+ group members at the RSPB Fairburn Ings reserve near Castleford in Yorkshire. The reserve has transitioned from coal face to wild place and is an important site for wintering wildfowl.

The area around the visitor centre and adjacent feeders was alive with birds including tree sparrows, goldfinch, lesser redpoll, nuthatch, chaffinch, greenfinch, long tailed tits and a lovely male bullfinch. We were then informed that a cattle egret was visible from the nearby Pickup hide and many members of the group got good sightings of this.

Other members headed off on the riverbank trail. The first lake on the trail was full of gulls and common water birds and there was a flotilla of both male and female goosanders which were a treat. The trail then follows the river Aire on the right and has 3 large bays on the other side. Amongst the mute swans there were at least 3 whooper swans and a plethora of more common water birds including coot, mallard, gadwall, tufted duck and cormorant.

At the end of the trail and from Charlies hide we were treated to a very close fly past of at least 2 kingfishers which occasionally posed obliging in the nearby trees, giving us great views. There were also at least 7 common snipe nestled down on a small island and new birds included great crested and little grebes, grey wagtail, pochards and a few pheasants in a neighbouring field.

Some of the group took the long walk to the other end of the reserve to the Lin Dyke hide overlooking two small lakes and were rewarded with sightings of shelduck, shoveler, teal, wigeon and a little egret among the more common birds. From this hide the most direct route back to the visitor centre was via the road and this proved to be a good choice. In the nearby trees were small flocks of redwing, songthrush and a few fieldfares whilst in the adjacent field there was a large flock of Canada geese. There was also a close sighting of collared doves, a hovering kestrel and a solitary red kite flew over.

Towards the end of the trip and back at the Pickup hide the cattle egret was briefly seen again together with a willow tit on the feeders plus a treecreeper in a nearby tree. The day then ended nicely with more birds on the visitor centre feeders including a coal tit.

Overall the group saw at least 55 different species of bird and it was a very rewarding day.

John Forester