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It's been a bit of a soggy week at Fairburn Ings this week, with the flooding on the site. However, the floods have brought a lot of wildlife up towards dry land at the visitor centre so we've had a fair amount of wildlife spotted from the comfort and warmth inside.
Flooding at Lin Dike
We've been unable to access the bird feeders at Pickup hide or the feeder screen because of the floods so the only feeders we've been able to keep topped up this week are the wildlife garden and play area feeders. The birds have certainly noticed this so there's a wonderful variety of them, in large numbers, visiting very close to the centre. A great spotted woodpecker has been a regular highlight seen on the wildlife garden feeders. It's often spotted gorging on the buggy nibbles we've got in the feeders there, or flitting between the trees. Nuthatch and willow tit, along with a chattering flock of tree sparrows have also been really regularly spotted.
Great spotted woodpecker thanks to Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
The tiny high pitched voices of long tail tits can be heard in the hedgerows around the visitor centre too. This charismatic little bird is always such a lovely sight, and they've visited the feeders a lot this week.
Long tail tit thanks to John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Its not just birds that have been driven up towards the visitor centre by the floods too, a weasel has been spotted scampering between the play area and the wildflower meadow at the front of the visitor centre.
Weasels taken by Gordon Lane in the summer at Fairburn Ings
Posted by KateSt
With the temperature starting to drop, things are starting to feel much more wintery on the reserve. Large flocks of migrating fieldfares have been seen flying over head. These thrushes are usually seen in large flocks and, along with redwings, are a sure fire sign that winter is arriving. There have been teals, shovelers, tufted ducks, goosanders, great crested grebes, pochards and goldeneyes spotted on the Main Bay and at Charlie’s hide through the week too.
Goosander - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Wigeon are often being seen on the reserve, and can be easily identified by their white wing patches when in flight and their distinctive call. These birds can be seen in larger numbers in winter when they migrate from Scandinavia.
Wigeon - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Short-eared owls have been spotted, mainly around the flashes, plus red kites and marsh harriers. Willow tits, long tailed tits and bullfinches are all being seen on the feeders, and goldcrests have been spotted along Cut Lane.
John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
With all the winter migrants arriving, now is a great time of year to visit the reserve. If you have any great pictures or stories that you'd like to share with us, post them to our Facebook (RSPB West Yorks) or Twitter (@fairburnings)!
Posted by Laura - Visitor Experience Intern
We've had some pretty foggy days this week, but as the weather cleared towards the end of the week some really fantastic sightings cropped up. More winter arrivals are being spotted, with whooper swans and golden plover both being spotted around the Flashes.
Whooper swan - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Out on the lagoons, goldeneye, snipe, little egrets, goosanders and great crested grebes are all being spotted regularly. Stonechats are also being seen more often. Listen out for their distinctive call that sounds like two stones being knocked together.
Stonechat - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
There was an exciting sighting of a short-eared owl at Spoonbill flash, looking a bit bedraggled sitting on a fence post in the torrential rain. Winter brings an influx of these beautiful birds from the continent, so keep a close eye out for them!
Finally, picture of the week goes to this fantastic photo of a peregrine falcon perched on top of a pylon near Lin Dike. It swooped up there after taking out an unlucky lapwing, and sat there munching on it's catch before being chased off by a mob of crows. Nature at it's most gruesome finest!
Peregrine falcon – Darren Starkey
That's all for this week!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to see not one, but two nuthatches darting backwards and forwards from the shrubs to the feeders in the Wildlife Garden. I’d never seen a nuthatch before coming to Fairburn Ings, so I still find it very exciting when I see that flash of blue! I highly recommend sitting out on the balcony with a cup of tea for a while and keeping an eye out for them.
Nuthatch - Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
On the reserve, a great white egret was spotted flying over Big Hole, which always make for a lovely sight. From Pickup, snipe, pochards, shovelers, great crested grebes and little grebes are often being seen.
Pochard - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Keep an eye out around Lin Dike for pintails. These elegant looking birds are especially easy to spot when in flight with their curved wings and of course that long tapered tail.
Pintails - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
There’ve been plenty of raptors spotted around the reserve this week. Since our exciting view of a red kite last week, these gorgeous birds have been spotted a few more times at all different points around the reserve, so keep your eyes open for them. Marsh harriers, buzzards and kestrel have also all been spotted.
Marsh harrier - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
We had a couple of interesting sightings one after the other yesterday. First up was the mythical sounding white buzzard. Yesterday afternoon, up went the cry of "white buzzard!", and so off everyone rushed to the front of the centre. With binoculars at the ready, we stood scanning the trees and sure enough, perched on a tree over the road from the visitor centre was a white (ish) buzzard! As we were trying to decide just how white the white buzzard was, we caught sight of a red kite swooping over the adjacent field. This was my first time seeing one so it was an exciting moment! They’re so much bigger than I thought and so graceful. I could have stood out there for hours just watching.
Red kite - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
A brambling was spotted in the Wildlife Garden this week. This finch is a winter migrant and can easily be mistaken for a chaffinch, especially since the two species often flock together.
Redwings are being seen more and more frequently, and there are lots of great spotted woodpeckers and green woodpeckers around the reserve, especially on the Coal Tips trail. Out on the lagoons great crested grebes, little grebes and little egrets have all been spotted.
Little egret - Paul Chesterfield (rspb-images.com)
Lets talk ducks! We’re starting to see more winter visitors arriving, with goldeneyes and tufted ducks being seen. Elsewhere on the water, little egrets, great crested grebes and pintails are still being spotted regularly.
Goldeneye - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
Tufted duck - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
Bearded tits have been the star of the show this week, having been spotted hopping around in the reeds at Big Hole. The males always look very distinguished with their lovely black moustaches and distinctive “ping” call, so keep a close eye out for them!
Bearded tit - Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)
Long tailed tits and willow tits are still being seen, and nuthatches are being seen more frequently on the feeders in the Wildlife Garden. Stonechats have also been seen on the Flashes and around Big Hole.
There’s something very autumnal about the weather these days, and I’m finding myself digging out my woolly scarf and thermal socks in preparation for the chilly mornings. I’m sensing that the dreaded de-icing of the car in the dark is just around the corner too. Things warm up pretty quickly as the day goes on though, and this weekend has actually been beautifully sunny. With the leaves definitely beginning to change colour and bright berries everywhere you look, this is a really lovely time of year to go for a walk around the reserve and soak up some fresh, autumnal goodness.
Following my own advice, yesterday I took my lunch and went for a wander up onto the new Coal Tips trail. It forks off from the Lin Dike trail, and takes you up and around the old slag heaps, with great views of the three lagoons and the wider reserve. There have been lots of reported sightings of green woodpeckers and it’s a particularly good place to see marsh harriers as they sweep up and over the bank.
Green woodpecker - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
At Pickup, willow tits are being seen more often on the feeders, and it’s a particularly good place to see kingfishers and snipe at the moment.
The winter migration is getting started, with large numbers of pink footed geese flying over head, and redwing starting to arrive in small numbers on the reserve. Keep an eye out for more migratory species as the season goes on.
Redwing - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Pink footed geese - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
That's all for recent sightings this week! If you've taken any fantastic photos at the reserve recently, we'd love to see them! Feel free to send them to us either by Facebook (RSPB West Yorks) or Twitter (@fairburnings), along with your name, and we'll put them up on the big screen in the centre.
I’m sitting in the office trying to concentrate on writing this post, but with the goings on of the birds in the hedge outside the window, it’s proving very tricky. In the last half hour I’ve seen goldfinches, great tits, blue tits, wrens, willow tits and tree sparrows. There’s also a very defensive young robin that I see several times a day, chasing off anything that gets too close, and even had an angry chirp at me when I went past to get into the Wildlife Garden. It's amazing what you can see just by waiting and watching from the window sometimes.
A flock of long-tailed tits descended yesterday, which I had never been lucky enough to see before. Now I know why they cause such a stir! They’re incredibly sweet looking things, pale pink fluff balls with elegant tail feathers longer than their bodies. Just watching them chattering away for a few minutes, I could really tell that this was tight knit group. After a bit of research, I found out that they do often stay within extended family groups of around 8-20. Which I think makes them even sweeter!
Long tailed tit - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
The new Coal Tips trail is now open to visitors, which goes up on to the top of (you’ve guessed it!) the coal tips. This trail gives some beautiful panoramic views of the reserve, and now gives visitors the opportunity to follow a circular route down to Lin Dike. It’s also an excellent place to spot marsh harriers as they sweep up and over the tops. Green woodpeckers have also been seen around here.
Snipe have been seen lurking in the vegetation at Pickup this week, and little egrets have been seen flying overhead all over the reserve.
Snipe - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Hello there! I think it’s definitely about time I introduced myself. My name is Laura and I’m the new Visitor Experience Intern at Fairburn Ings. After spending the first 5 months of my internship with the puffins at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, I’ve moved back in land and am going to be here for the final 6 months. I'm originally from Huddersfield, so it really is lovely to be back in this neck of the woods and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into all the exciting events and activities coming up over the winter months. So without further ado, I give you my first recent sightings update!
Mammal Cam has been a hive of activity over the past couple of weeks. Bank voles are being seen everyday snacking on the peanuts and sunflower hearts being left out for them, and our overnight recordings have shown mice grabbing a bite to eat too. It’s not always peaceful though, as this video on our Facebook page shows!
Willow tits were the star of the show last week, with them being seen regularly in the Wildlife Garden and entertaining visitors by nipping in and out to the feeders at Pickup Hide. A nuthatch has been seen in the Wildlife Garden too, and groups of long tailed tits have been chattering across the reserve.
Nuthatch - Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
For kingfishers, the best places to see them are Charlie's Hide and Pickup Hide, but keep your eyes open as they could dart out from anywhere near water! We've also had some fantastic raptor sightings, with red kite, peregrine falcon, kestrel, buzzard, marsh harrier and sparrowhawk all seen around the reserve.
Marsh Harrier - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Away from the visitor centre, pintails have been at Lin Dike throughout the week. A black tailed godwit was spotted at the Flashes on the 14 September, and large numbers of lapwings are being seen at Big Hole.
Pintails - James Lees WWT (rspb-images.com)
Grid reference: SE4527 (+2km)
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