For once, I was right about the weather! I have been secretly terrified of saying that I’d heard it was going to be a mild Christmas, just in case the weatherman in the sky decided to send another winter like last year, with the car being marooned for two weeks and travel ANYWHERE being a mammoth undertaking. So, now that I’ve let it out, I’ll be thinking of all the wonderful things that all that snow and ice will bring in January thanks to my talking about mild weather.
The post-Christmas rush of visitors getting some fresh air, and seeing the wildlife, has meant that our sightings book has been nice and full since we reopened on the 27th. My favourite so far was an entry stating that a visitor wasn’t sure what exactly they had seen, but they had had a great time nonetheless – a perfect example that you definitely do not need to put a name to something to enjoy seeing it! I had a fantastic but all-too-brief view of a Kingfisher yesterday, as I was running manically around the reserve preparing an activity for our Wild Wednesday event. At the Kingfisher Screen, I saw that I had two minutes to pin up a picture of something for the children to identify, before everyone was due to arrive. A very nice lady told me that the Kingfisher was here, and it was the closest I have ever seen the Kingfisher; just the other side of the screen, bright blue and in perfect profile – and I had to leave it there! Of course, when I went back later to take the picture down, there was no sign of a Kingfisher anywhere.
Our next event will be on Sunday 1st January, when we will be hosting an Optics Day. If you’re not sure about which pair of binoculars, or which telescope, is right for you, then we will be on hand to give you all the advice you need. Weather dependent we will have our optics out on the balcony for everyone to try out. Following on from this, it’s the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January. You can count the birds in your garden, as well as here, and we’ll be basing the whole weekend around garden birds and the Big Garden Birdwatch.
One thing I have been doing for the garden birds since Christmas is stocking up on treats! I was extremely grateful to receive a window bird feeder for Christmas, which for someone without a garden is extremely exciting, I’m sure I’ve bored enough people about it. Sunflower drops (sunflower seeds coated in beef suet) are now 99p (down from £1.99) and Peck n Mix is now £1.49 (down from £3.49), so guess what I’ve been going home with.
I’m sure they’ll need some fattening up when the snow and ice blocks all of the roads. You can thank me when it starts.
Hi all, I hope you've all had a fantastic few days over Christmas opening your presents and eating your turkey. As for birds you won't be eating, there have been a fair few around in the last couple of days here at RSPB Fairburn Ings! As the visitor centre was closed over Christmas Day and Boxing Day we don't have any reported sightings for those days so if you were about, please let us know what you saw as a comment at the end of this post for our records.
Yesterday there were 2 smews seen in the Main Bay and Spoonbill Flash (the main flash you can see from Lin Dike hide). Have you ever seen such a cool looking bird? I always think they look like they should be in an 80's glam-rock band... There's also been a load of pinkfoot geese flying over the visitor centre and feeding at the new flash. Other geese and ducks include the red-crested pochard on Main Bay and about 10 barnacle geese on the moat.
Around the visitor centre there have been lesser redpoll and brambling seen at the feeders and the wildlife garden, a red kite over the plantation opposite the visitor centre, and a great spotted woodpecker at the feeder screen. There was also a kingfisher showing at the screen today, coming right up close to the screen for some lovely sights of it.
Finally, there were 2 pairs of reed buntings seen at Lin Dike yesterday. Phew! As I say, if you were about on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, it would be great if you could either add a comment here on this page with your sightings, or pop into the visitor centre and let us know what you saw. Thanks and see you soon!
We haven’t done a ‘what’s about at RSPB Fairburn Ings?’ for a week or so, and I decided it was time for a catch up. We are still seeing the kingfisher(s) daily, both a male and female were seen today and we also continue have sightings of 200+ fieldfares and redwing across the reserve.
On Thursday of last week we had reports of the Long Eared Owls at Lin Dike, a Peregrine Falcon outside the visitor centre and 20+ Red Legged Partridge in the New Field Plantation.
The Peregrine Falcon showed itself again on Friday morning as it was being mobbed by guls over Bob Dicken’s Hide.
Other constant visitors of late have been the flocks of long tailed tits. A good place to see them has been on the visitor centre feeders and along the board walk on the Discovery Trail.
During the weekend and yesterday we had several reports of 20+ Barnacle Geese in the Moat Field and yesterday also gave us sightings of Redpoll, Goldcrest, Shelduck and 30+ Goosander on the tips.
And finally, our highlights today were a female Smew on New Flash, plus Twite and Linnet near Pick Up Hide.
Yesterday saw Fairburn Ings host our Christmas Family Fun Day, on possibly the last cold and frosty day for a short while. The white ground certainly helped to make the place feel suitably Christmas-ey in preparation for a day of bauble decorating, visiting Santa in his grotto, and a whole load of other activities for the kids. I hope everyone who came along had a great time. As I was helping Santa to see so many children, I was able to watch a Kestrel just across the road for around twenty minutes (off and on!) as it hovered and flew looking for prey, before a herd of excited children were spotted swooping just yards away towards...me(!), calling for Santa.
Moving on from Christmas and into the New Year, on Sunday 1st January we’ll be hosting an Optics Day complete with the much talked-about RSPB 82 HD telescope. I am having to restrict myself to when there is no one about, as I’m quite prone to making rather silly noises when looking at it! We will be displaying all of our binoculars and telescopes out on the visitor centre balcony, where we’ll station a friendly and helpful member of staff to talk you through anything you’d like to know.
With just six days to go until the manic shovelling of roast spuds and mince pies (or is that just me?), if I don’t see you before the Big Day then have a fabulous time and a wonderful New Year! Off to the Christmas pudd – ahem! I mean, to work.
Did any of our loyal readers think they saw some suspicious looking Highland Cattle eating rush (Juncus) in the flashes this week, and then have to look again to see that it was actually our outdoor team of volunteers armed with three brush cutters and a lawn mower?
Well, if you did, you were witness to them doing an absolutely fantastic job. The reserve team have been braving the elements yet again this week and have been out in the flashes reducing the amount of rush growing on the wet grasslands.
We’re controlling the rush to stop it from taking over – a little bit of rush spread throughout the wet grasslands is great for providing the cover and variation that breeding waders such as lapwing, snipe and other wildlife like. Unfortunately, the rush has a tendency to spread vigorously if not kept in check. Cutting it in winter really knocks it back and prevents the wet grasslands from turning into fields of rush!
Moving onto other subjects, the reserve team have moved Christmas outdoors this year and have decorated a Christmas tree for the birds. Before the weekend a 7ft Christmas tree was planted outside the visitor centre and since then it has been decorated with all things natural. The sprigs of sloe and hawthorn berries, monkey nuts, apples, coconut treats laced with mealworms and our homemade log feeders are great food for the birds.
Why not pay a visit to the reserve this weekend and take inspiration from our outdoor Christmas tree? You can do something similar for the birds in your garden! It’s the RSPB Fairburn Ings’ Family Fun Day on Sunday 18th December and for £2 you can make your own log feeder. There will be a Santa’s Grotto and face painting, as well as crafts and games for all the family.
Also, don’t forget that it’s the Big Garden Birdwatch in January, and some of our natural bird food ideas might just be what you need to bring the birds into your garden. We’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks so keep an eye out, and come and have a chat to us in the visitor centre about what you can do to help feed birds over winter.