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Recent sightings

  • 2 October 2015

    What's outside the office window today

    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, blackcaps 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 (

    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.

    Snipes have been seen lurking in the vegetation at Pick Up this week, and little egrets have been seen flying overhead all over the reserve.

    Snipe - Andy Hay (

    Posted by Laura - Visitor Experience Intern

  • 20 September 2015

    Recent Sightings and a hello from me!

    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 (

    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 (

    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 (

    Posted by Laura - Visitor Experience Intern

  • 21 August 2015

    Awesome August Sightings

    Sightings blogs have been a bit thin on the ground recently, apologies for that! We’re back in the swing of things after our Big Wild Sleepout and I’ve got lots to tell you about.

    There’ve been lots of different waders to be found at the minute especially over the Flashes.  Look out for green sandpiper, common sandpiper, curlew and dunlin. There’s also been a few black-tailed godwits knocking about, and there’s been snipe and ruff in recent weeks as well.

    Little egrets have been a regular feature so far this month and have provided us with some great views as they’re been flying over the visitor centre.  We also had a great white egret pay us a quick visit last weekend!

    Little egret - Paul Chesterfield (

    It’s been a lovely few weeks for raptor fans with regular sightings of peregrines, marsh harriers and red kites.  We’ve also had buzzard, hobby, kestrel and sparrow hawk and even an osprey was seen flying over on the 19th.

    Osprey - Chris Gomersall (

    Head over to Cut Lane and Charlie’s Hide if its kingfisher’s you’re after, they’ve been spotted down there a few times.

    We had a spotted flycatcher ‘spotted’ on the 15th (sorry...couldn’t resist) – don’t be fooled by their dull brownish colouring because they’re anything but dull! Spotted flycatchers dash from their perch to catch their dinner before returning to the same spot.  Other notable sightings include whinchat, wheatear and linnet all seen over the flashes or from Lin Dike.

    One of the more unusual sightings in the book from the past few weeks was “red tailed bumble bee nest dug out by badgers”. That was the day before Big Wild Sleepout so campers on the guided walks were lucky enough to see it and one of our volunteers Liberty managed to get a photo!

    Badgers dug up this bumble bee nest! Photo thanks to Liberty Monkman

    August has certainly been a busy month so far, let’s see what the rest of the month will bring!

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 24 July 2015

    Summer holidays are here!

    The summer holidays are here, as I’m sure you can tell as the visitor centre is full of the sounds of children playing and the thundering of footsteps from the tree house! That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of wildlife to see though!

    It’s not been a bad week for waders; green and common sandpipers have been seen at Pickup, dunlin from Lin Dike and on Main Bay, as well as a few black-tailed godwits on New Flash.

    Green sandpiper - Chris Gomersall (

    Last Friday (17 July) three black terns were seen from Lin Dike and over the Moat area.  Black terns are a small tern with an all black head and body and they are seen on passage in the UK. We also had a sighting of a little gull on Monday (20 July) over at Big Hole.  Sticking with gulls, there has been a yellow-legged gull seen this week on Main Bay.

    Back at Pickup there is a moorhen and some punky-looking chicks as well as little ringed plover! We’ve also had some more weasel antics and there’s also been a sighting of a fox!

    Little ringed plover - Ben Hall (

    Gatekeepers are definitely the butterfly of the moment; there are absolutely loads to look out for! They’re quite easy to identify, as they are distinctly orange! Yesterday was pretty exciting too, with some amazing views of a hummingbird hawkmoth.

    Hummingbird hawkmoth thanks to Chris Mountain

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 17 July 2015

    Weasel wrestling and other recent sightings!

    You might have seen some weasel acrobatics on our Facebook and Twitter feeds in the past couple of days – if you missed it you really should take a look as its some great footage.  The way to tell the difference between a weasel and a stoat (other than the size difference) is that a stoat has a black tipped tail, so we know these guys were weasels not stoats. 

    Weasels thanks to Gordon Lane!

    Also this week we’ve had little egrets seen from Pickup and over the flashes. They’ve been seen nearly every day so it’s worth having a look for them.  There’s also a few green sandpiper that can be seen from Pickup.

    Raptors seen this week include red kites and a marsh harrier; both have been seen over the flashes.  There have been some pretty regular sightings of a barn owl also over the flashes, and one has been seen hunting from Lin Dike hide. Also this week there has been a single sighting of a long eared owl!

    Barn owl - John Bridges (

    Kingfishers are back in the sightings book! People are seeing them at the kingfisher screen, which is great! They’ve also been seen from Charlie’s hide and along Cut Lane.  It’s definitely worth spending the time to catch a glimpse of one of Fairburn’s most famous residents!

    Kingfisher - John Bridges (

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 10 July 2015

    Bonkers for Butterflies

    It’s not been long since my last recent sightings blog, thanks to my last post being 3 days late (sorry about that!).  Not a lot has changed bird wise but I’ve plenty of butterflies to tell you about!

    Birds up first - on New Flash you can see wood sandpiper, black-tailed godwit and snipe.  A barn owl has also been seen over the flashes.  At Lin Dike there are both adult and juvenile little ringed plovers to look out for!  Some of the raptors seen this week include sparrow hawk, kestrel and red kites. 

    The avocet chicks are doing well – the two at Pickup are looking almost like proper little avocets and the ones at the duck platform are still entertaining visitors!

    On to the butterflies! There are loads of different ones around at this time of year; I’m a bit bonkers for butterflies so I absolutely love it! We’ve had 13 species recorded this week at Fairburn, which isn’t too bad when you think there’s only 59 resident species in the UK.

    Some of this week’s highlights include ringlets, meadow browns and gatekeepers. These butterflies are often seen together, but the meadow brown dominates in terms of numbers (183 recorded yesterday!).  It’s lovely to be able to go on a nice summer walk and see hundreds of butterflies flying all around you.

    Ringlet - Tallulah Gullett

    Gatekeeper - Tallulah Gullett

    Skippers are an interesting group of butterflies which are named for their rapid flight and we have both small and large skippers out at the minute. Small skippers can be seen darting among the vegetation or basking in that distinctive skipper fashion.  Large skippers can often be found taking advantage of the warm weather by perching in a nice sunny spot.

    It's a terrible photo but you can kinda see how skippers rest their wings! - Tallulah Gullett

    Also recorded this week, there’ve been commas (check out their ragged edges!), red admirals, speckled woods, green veined whites, large whites, common blues, brimstones and small tortoiseshells. 

    Brimstone - Tallulah Gullett

    Comma - Grahame Madge (

    Red admiral - Andy Hay (

    Small tortoiseshell - Grahame Madge (

    I could go on about butterflies for ages, but it's so much better to get out and see them for yourself especially while we're enjoying some lovely weather!

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 6 July 2015

    Sunny sightings from the first week of July!

    July is upon us and the reports of a heatwave appear to have been true! It’s been wall to wall sunshine (plus a few thunderstorms) here this week and there have been plenty of things to see.

    There’s been loads of activity over at Lin Dike, so I’ll start there.  There’s been wood sandpiper and green sandpiper spotted from the hide; a green sandpiper has also been seen on spoonbill flash and even from Pickup in recent days.  Also be on the lookout for redshanks and spotted redshank from Lin Dike and the flashes. 

    Green sandpiper - Chris Gomersall (

    Excitingly there have also been a few ruff seen towards the end of last week, though none have been reported since. 

    Ruff - Mike Richards (

    A group of black-tailed godwits turned up this weekend, 27 in total were counted yesterday.

    Black-tailed godwits - Gordon Langsbury (

    Over the flashes bittern are still being seen pretty often, and the barn owl is seen from time to time.  There have also been a few sightings of a secretive water rail as well as a snipe and lots of different raptors have been seen including marsh harrier, peregrines, buzzard and kestrel.

    Snipe - Andy Hay (

    It’s been lovely to walk along the Lin Dike trail this week in the warm sunshine, taking in all the different wildflowers and butterflies.  We’ve seen lots of ringlets, meadow browns and gatekeepers – true signs of summer! More and more dragonflies are emerging too, and we’ve had our first emperor dragonflies seen this week so look out for a flash of blue zipping over the ponds.

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 26 June 2015

    Green versus Great spotted...and other recent sightings

    Another week has passed and we are fast approaching July which (allegedly) will kick off with a heat wave!  A perfect opportunity to get out, enjoy the warmth and spot some wildlife, and there’s plenty to see at Fairburn Ings!

    One of my favourite stories of the past week came from a couple I met down at the feeder screen.  They told me they’d seen a green woodpecker bullying great spotted woodpeckers off the feeders! I wish I had arrived just a few minutes earlier and had the chance to see what I’m sure was quite a spectacle. 

    Who'd win in a fight? Green woodpecker thanks to John Bridges ( & Great spotted woodpecker thanks to Tom Marshall (

    There’s been lots of activity on the flashes – ringed plover, curlew, redshank and wigeon have all been spotted.  Some have also been treated to some great views of a barn owl hunting and a marsh harrier soaring through the skies.

    Marsh harrier - Chris Gomersall (

    If you’re at Pickup hide, look out for the big mouths of little sand martin chicks as they poke their heads out of the wall. We’ve still got avocets and chicks over there as well as oystercatchers and their chicks.  The avocets at the duck feeding platform are delighting families as they feed the ducks and swans.  Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook page over the next few days for a special chick themed blog post!

    Avocet with chick, photo thanks to Tim Jones.

    You don’t have to venture far from the visitor centre to get some special encounters with wildlife.  This week someone was lucky enough to see a bank vole in the wildlife gardens!  Wildflowers are everywhere at the moment and many can be seen walking up from the car park, though if you do venture a bit further there are some beautiful orchids to be found!

    Posted by Tallulah

  • 19 June 2015 Fairburn Ings.

    The world has gone a bit dinosaur mad at the moment with the release of the newest Jurassic Park film - well we have plenty of modern-day dinos here at Fairburn Ings!  Looking at some birds it isn’t hard to see their dinosaur lineage; cormorants are probably one of the most pre-historic looking birds we have on the reserve – they look like pterodactyls flying overhead.

    Cormorant - Andy Hay (

    Ducks don’t look much like their scaly ancestors, but there are loads of different types with a range of different patterns and colours.  It’s been quite a nice week for ducks, with wigeon, garganey and teal all spotted.  Male teals have a chestnut brown head and distinctive green eyespot; male wigeons also have a chestnut head with a yellow patch on their forehead. 

    Teal - Andy Hay (                                                                            

    Wigeon - John Bridges (

    On the flashes we still have frequent sightings of bittern, as well as redshanks and even a secretive water rail.  The legs of these birds have a particular reptilian quality about them (like lots of birds) and they walk a bit like how velociraptors are thought to have walked!

    Redshank - Andy Hay (

    On the subject of raptors, we have a few different ones here at Fairburn.  Don’t worry, the ones here won’t hunt you down and ambush you in the visitor centre! Modern day raptors are fantastic predators that use their keen eyesight to hunt and feed on other animals (smaller than you and I). Thursday was a great day for raptors on the reserve, with red kite, marsh harrier, kestrel, hobby and buzzard all seen!

    Red Kite - Ben Hall (

    The demise of the dinosaurs paved the way for mammals to take over. You might have seen a bit of footage from our new mammal log that me and David the warden intern have worked on.  We’ve had a lot of success with it so far with mice and voles caught on camera.  We’ve also had a few surprises that I won’t spoil for you, but keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for more footage!

    Posted by Tallulah

Your sightings

Grid reference: SE4527 (+2km)

Great White Egret (1)
4 Oct 2015
Marsh Harrier ()
4 Oct 2015
Kingfisher ()
4 Oct 2015
Cetti's Warbler ()
2 Oct 2015
Greenshank ()
2 Oct 2015
Tree Sparrow ()
2 Oct 2015
Garganey ()
23 Sep 2015
Little Owl (1)
22 Sep 2015
Gadwall ()
4 Oct 2015
Shoveler ()
4 Oct 2015

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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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