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Recent sightings

  • 23 September 2016

    Autumn is coming! Recent sightings

    Autumn is coming!  There's dew on the grass in the mornings, the berries are ripening on trees and shrubs, and leaves are starting to drop.  That lovely, distinctive, earthy, "wet leaves warming in autumn sunshine" smell is up too.  I've been breathing it in deeply as I've walked around the Discovery trail this week, making the most of it.

    I've really enjoyed admiring all the lush berries this week.  Hawthorn seems to be having a very productive year with their bright red jewel-like berries shining on branches in big bunches.  Guelder rose and dog rose also seem to be having a bumper year.  When thrushes like fieldfare and redwing start to arrive from Scandinavia, they're certainly going to find a feast at Fairburn!

    Hawthorn berries, rosehips and elderberries all on the Discovery Trail.

    It wasn't just berries that I spotted on dog rose this week.  My eye was drawn to a particularly bare looking stem on the Discovery Trail, and as I looked along the completely nibbled stem, there they were! A little cluster of larvae, happily munching away on the leaves.  A bit of leafing through books and Googling, and they were identified as large rose sawfly larvae... aren't they beautiful!?

    Pickup hide has been a good one for waders this week with black tailed godwit, redshank and snipe regularly seen.  Spoonbill flash has seen ruff, golden plover, dunlin this week too and then three grey plover at Village Bay on Saturday morning.  We even had the first corncrake seen on the reserve since 1964, on Sunday!!!!

    Black tailed godwit thanks to Gordon Langsbury (

    As you explore the trails in the coming weeks, take a closer look at dead wood if you spot some.  There's plenty of fascinating fungi popping up, and will continue to in the next few months.  As its notoriously difficult to identify different species, I embrace this and just admire from afar, the huge diversity of shapes, colours and textures that fungi produce.  This one was spotted on a log that was brought in on the floods, near Pickup hide:

    Posted by KateSt

  • 19 August 2016

    Recent sightings: Flying and fluttering in the sun

    Butterfly season is now in full swing! The Discovery Trail and the Lin Dike link are great places to spot brightly coloured insects on the wing as they dance above wildflowers in the sunshine. 


     Purple hairstreak, Chris Shields (

    We have some very dedicated volunteers who monitor the insect life here at Fairburn, and they have clocked up some impressive sightings this week. Have you spotted many butterflies or dragonflies around the reserve?

    Brimstone butterfly, Alan Kelly

    Green-veined white butterflies are out in force at the moment, and a purple hairstreak put in a rare appearance. Purple hairstreaks aren’t a particularly rare butterfly, but they can be hard to spot as they spend most of their time in the canopies of oak trees, feeding on honeydew.

     Green-veined white, Alan Kelly

    If you’re into dragonflies, now is the time to see them. Ruddy Darters have been spotted around the reserve; the males are identifiable by their vivid red body, while females are golden-yellow colour. There has also been a nice selection of emerald damselfly, common darter, southern hawker, and brown hawker spotted.

    Ruddy Darter, Alan Kelly

    Pickup has been a particularly wonderful place to see wildlife this week, with some lovely footage of a roe deer playing in the sunset captured on Wednesday evening, a Female marsh harrier has also been spotted flying over the hide, and a green sandpiper regularly out on the scrape.


    Marsh harrier, Chris Gomersall (

    That’s it for this week’s recent sightings, why not head down to Lin Dike this weekend and see if you spot any of these species? Don’t forget to write down what you see in the book! 

    Posted by Sally G

  • 12 August 2016

    We spotted a flycatcher! Recent sightings

    Hi everyone!

    We’ve had an exciting new visitor join us at Fairburn Ings this week. A juvenile spotted fly catcher was spotted flitting around the pond dipping platform this Sunday. Perhaps he was considering hiring his own pond dipping kit... 



    The woodpeckers have been especially active this summer; we’ve had some lovely sightings of green woodpecker over at Lin Dike.


    Never to be outdone by its greener counterpart, the greater spotted woodpecker clearly approves of our new feeder station, with recent sightings becoming a common occurrence.



    You don’t have to look far from the centre for a great wildlife spectacle. We have had a lovely selection of birds and butterflies around the visitor centre this week. Painted lady, brimstone, small copper and red admiral have been sighted along the boardwalk, as well as hobby and marsh harrier hovering over the centre.





    The red-crested pochard have been displaying nicely at village bay, making quite the splash.

    Garganey and black-tailed godwits are continuing to inhabit Spoonbill flash and Hicksons, with sightings taking place almost daily. They seem to have settled down nicely now and are enjoying their new location.



    That’s it for today’s recent sightings! Remember to keep recording your sightings in the book when you get a chance. It’s always good to put down the more obvious birds as well, as this gives us a good idea of what’s about in the reserve. See you again next Friday!

    Posted by KateSt

  • 5 August 2016

    A Brilliant Big Wild Sleepout!

    With the summer holidays in full swing, the team at Fairburn Ings have been recovering nicely from last weekend’s Big Wild Sleepout.


     I had a cosy night’s sleep in my one man tent, waking up to voices in deep discussion of whether you could in fact fit a human in such a small space.


    The activity trail was a hit, with visitors mapping out lots of sounds heard throughout the reserve. Even a bear was heard, although I’m not too sure who let that one in...


     The daytime walks were also a big hit; this young man was looking at leaves that had been nibbled at by a Hawkmoth caterpillar.


    Abbie's squirrel tail managed to capture the heart of one little boy around the campfire quiz...who knew pandas and squirrels got on so well?


    For those brave enough to emerge in the early hours, there was a wonderful wildlife sighting over the fields. This female Roe deer was captured leaping through the grass near pickup.


    The weekend was rounded off nicely with games in the field on Sunday morning; we also had some very spirited matches of rounder’s and football. It was nice to see jumpers for goalposts!


     Thanks again to everyone who took part in Big Wild Sleepout, I hope you all had a great time, I know I certainly did!

    Posted by Sally G

  • 19 July 2016

    Pokémon Go wild: recent sightings

    The bats have been pretty active at Fairburn Ings this week! We managed to capture some rare footage of both zubat and golbat flying over the visitor centre balcony.


     Golbat can be identified as slightly larger than its lesser zubat form, with a more powerful jaw and increased strength!



    A rare sighting of Jynx also took place in the shrubbery.


    The Pokemon Gym has also been active, with the blue team now defeated and red team in control!


    Why not head over to our pond dipping platform and see if you can take on the challenge for your team?

    Posted by KateSt

  • 16 July 2016

    #Face on moth - spectacled moth and other recent sightings

    It's been a great week for insect sightings with lots of moths, dragonflies, and butterflies out on the reserve. Our Assistant warden, John, managed to capture this great photograph of a five spot burnet resting on a flower this week. The colourful contrast of the knapweed made for an excellent shot!

    We had a wonderful selection of moths in the moth trap on Friday, including, as our might have noticed from the title, the fabulous spectacled.


    And we had a juicy looking poplar hawkmoth - you can't beat a hawkmoth for being impressive to look at, as well as a very shimmery burnished brass moth.


    We had a fleeting, yet wonderful sighting of a white wing black tern on it’s journey round Yorkshire. The bird was spotted in multiple locations, including at Fairburn and Old Moor down near Barnsley.


    Our gorgeous spoonbill has made yet another grand appearance this week too! Conveniently nestled down at spoonbill flash, many visitors have spotted it preening along the water’s edge.

    Photo thanks to Mike Langman (

    There have also been a few sightings of black tailed godwits on the reserve this week. The majority took place over Lin Dike; however a few were also seen flying about the reserve.

    Posted by KateSt

  • 1 July 2016

    Joe: an evening at Charlie's

    For the last three months I have been the Warden Intern at Fairburn Ings, living close to the reserve in Fairburn village. One of the perks of being a residential volunteer is being able to spend time on the reserve when things are quiet, early in the mornings and in the long summer evenings.

    As I cycle through the reserve on my way home at the end a busy day, I stop off at Charlie’s hide and sit for a while, it’s the best time of day to visit as the sun is directly behind the hide, giving excellent visibility in the evening sun.

    Goosander, Ben Andrew (

    Last Tuesday, I was rewarded with a pretty amazing half an hour. As I arrived around eighty canada geese upped and vacated the spit, sailing off towards the village, resembling an Atlantic convoy. The exodus revealed a variety of other spit visitors, a handsome male goosander sat hiding his dark green head and long hooked bill under his wing, several lapwings wading in the shallows, and a trio of  juvenile mallards displaying their D.A.s. like a team of synchronized swimmers.

    Oystercatcer, Chris Gomersall (

    As the geese departed a female mallard arrived with a large brood of tiny, manic ducklings, at the most a day or two old, franticly jostling for position to stay close to mum. As they tumbled onto the shore I managed to count eight, they were then ushered into a small patch of vegetation where they vanished beneath their mother and settled down for the evening.

    Common tern, David Tipling (

    A brief period of tranquillity was then broken by a pair of noisy oyster catchers crashing in, one literally, cart-wheeling head over heels, before indignantly stumbling to its feet, ‘nothing to see here!’ In contrast a pair of great crested grebes elegantly arrived on the scene, hardly causing a ripple, with their pride and joy, a single, striped chick following closely behind .

    Roe buck, Ben Hall (

    The action continued with a common tern scanning the waters immediately in front of the hide, before plummeting below the still surface to emerge with its unsuspecting victim.  As my thoughts started to drift towards that nights tea (probably yet another ‘prick and ping’, courtesy of Kippax Co-op) the evening silence was shattered by a large crash and splash.

    Out of the undergrowth bounded, not the large dog I was expecting, but a handsome buck roe deer, stopping no more than fifteen feet in front of me, his chestnut coat glowing in the sunshine. He stared right at me for what seemed like ages, but in reality seconds, before athletically departing stage left and vanishing once more, breathtaking!

    Kingfisher, Ben Andrew (

    Assuming that was the end of the show I started to make a move (the ping of the microwave was now calling), only to be stopped in my tracks by an electric blue flash as a kingfisher darted across the spit in a final encore.

    Not a bad half hour!

    Posted by Sally G

  • 24 June 2016

    Recent sightings: Midsummer sightings

    With summer arriving in full bloom, we’ve had another great week of recent sightings at Fairburn.  From snipe to redshank, sandpiper to goosander, the wildlife at Fairburn has been in full bloom.

    Green sandpiper, Chris Gomersall (

    There have been both common sandpiper and green sandpiper; seeing them has taught me that green sandpiper can be identified by their slightly darker upper body and less distinguished white cuts along their front.

    Common sandpiper, Andy Hay (

    Pickup hide has been a good spot for birds lately, with lapwing and teal making a grand entrance, and Goosander have been along Cut Lane and Charlie’s hide, which is an unusual sighting given the time of year, but welcome nonetheless!

    Juvenile Kingfishers, Ginny Sibley

    Lastly, we have been spoiled with the arrival of three freshly fledged Kingfishers at the new Kingfisher screen. The juveniles seem to be branching out now, fingers crossed for a second brood this year.

    Posted by Sally G

  • 17 June 2016

    Recent sightings: sunsets and spoonbills

    WOW! What a couple of weeks at Fairburn Ings. We have had a great mix of species about, including three cuckoos, one very elusive spoonbill, and a black tern!

    Black tern, Mike Langman (

    The swifts have been displaying nicely on the coal tips, showing off their aerial acrobatics and swooping low overhead. I discovered last week that they spend almost their entire lives on the wing, even while sleeping.

    Swift overhead, Andy Hay (

    There have also been several sightings of bitterns across the reserve. About a week ago I was lucky enough to see this secluded bird twice in one day; the first time was on a guided walk led by one of our volunteer rangers, the second was later that evening, when I managed to see my feathered friend flying over this picturesque sunset.

    Coal Tips sunset, Rachel Gooday

    We have also had some wonderful views of little egrets out on the flashes, looking down from the Coal tips and Arrow Lane. They have been accompanied by the return of our ever elusive spoonbill, which made a magnificent return for a few days.

    Little egret, Paul Chesterfield (

    As usual, do keep letting us know your sighting in the book and on social media.

    Posted by Sally G

Your sightings

Grid reference: SE4527 (+2km)

Marsh Harrier ()
18 Sep 2016
Tree Sparrow ()
17 Sep 2016
Whooper Swan (1)
15 Sep 2016
Black-tailed Godwit (1)
15 Sep 2016
Ruff (2)
15 Sep 2016
Greenshank ()
14 Sep 2016
Kingfisher ()
14 Sep 2016
Cetti's Warbler ()
14 Sep 2016
Water Rail ()
13 Sep 2016

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Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 53.74373,-1.31765
  • Postcode: WF10 2BH
  • Grid reference: SE451277
  • Nearest town: Castleford, West Yorkshire
  • County: West Yorkshire
  • Country: England

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