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Recent sightings

  • 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

  • 14 May 2016

    What a tern out! Recent sightings

    What a fantastic week of sightings we've had at Fairburn Ings this week! Personally, I've seen three new bird species this week; cuckoo (I've only ever heard them before but was treated to a calling fly over by a cuckoo as I stood on the balcony of the visitor centre), black tern and spoonbill (I kept missing the one that appeared last summer, but patience served me well and I saw it this time!)

    I had fantastic views of the black terns on Tuesday evening from Bob Dickens hide. Three were preening on the edge of one of the islands in Main Bay when I arrived, but after a few minutes, one of them took flight.  Wow. They are so graceful in flight, small, agile and delicate beside the more substantial black headed gulls they were flitting past. There have also been arctic and common terns this week!

    Common tern thanks to David Tipling (

    Our cuckoos went a bit quiet during the cold weather, but all the recent sunshine has rejuvenated them and we've had lots of visitors getting great sights and sounds of them! The Coal Tips Trail and the Lin Dike Link are the best spots to see them nip from tree to tree or to really hear the distinctive call.

    Cuckoo thanks to John Bridges (

    Our cutlery-faced friend, the spoonbill, has been giving us the run around a bit this week, mostly turning up in the moat, and visible from the coal tips trail as if you're looking into the heronry.  Which, whilst we're on the subject, the heronry is fantastic at the minute with great views of cormorant and heron chicks (almost too big for their nests now!) and also the little egret nests. I saw one snuggling down on to the nest in the rain on Wednesday, thanks to our ranger volunteer, John, who had spotted it with his telescope.  Our rangers, out nearly every day, are a mine of information, and really helpful in spotting wildlife. If you see them around the reserve, have a chat and they'll be more than happy to show you what's what!

    This illustration by Mike Langman ( shows the sweeping head movement of the spoonbill when it feeds.

    Also this week on the reserve there have been garganey, sanderling, turnstone and green sandpiper!

    Blue tits are nesting on camera on the screens in the visitor centre again this year too. The chicks are tiny at the minute but it still looks really uncomfortable for the parents when they sit on them to keep them warm!  

    Posted by KateSt

  • 4 May 2016

    A Dawn Chorus Experience

    Well well well! This May's Dawn chorus got off to a flying start with 56 different species seen and heard throughout the reserve. For those bold enough to brave the early start, the walk was a fantastic opportunity for people such as myself to brush up on their bird song!

    The walk began with some great sounds, including a very boisterous pheasant, wood pigeons, wrens, robins, skylark, and of course, the distinctive chiff-chaff.

    As we journeyed along, we were lucky enough to catch a quick glimpse of a common tern flying over the feeder station. This of course got me geared up and ready to hopefully see what would be my first Kingfisher at Fairburn.

    Kingfisher, John Bridges (

    The expectation was building as we reached Fairburn’s famous Kingfisher screen. As I peered expectantly through the cover, I was greeted with the familiar sight of the beautiful river scenery, but alas! No Kingfisher. Much to my distain, this particular bird had managed to elude me since my coming to Fairburn three weeks ago. Despite the constant photographs and sightings from our wonderful visitors, I had yet to experience this beautiful bird for myself. Indeed, I was starting to believe it had orchestrated a plot to avoid me!

    Reed bunting, Mike Richards (

    This minor disappointment was quickly overridden as we reached Big Hole, and were greeted with the scratchy sound of the reed warbler and reed bunting. The walk continued along the riverbank trail where we were met with a cacophony of sound including swifts, chaffinch, sand martin, red-poll, siskin, and swallows. As we passed Bob Dickens hide we scoped out some great sightings of avocets, tufted-duck, great-crested grebe and pochard, before heading back towards the visitor centre for some well earned tea and coffee.

    Reed warbler, John Bridges (

    Now the highlight for me was as we made our way back past the Kingfisher screen, with our once tired eyes now bright with excitement, what was it I spied sitting along the wire? But of course! My elusive Kingfisher had finally decided to say hello! What a great way to finish a wonderful morning, after weeks of waiting I finally managed to catch a glimpse of this colourful bird! I’m still sure he planned the whole thing. I suppose he had to make an entrance, right?

    A big thank you to everyone who joined us on the walk, it was great to meet you all and I hope to see you in the visitor centre soon! If anyone would like a full list of the species we saw on this walk, please e-mail

    Posted by Sally G

  • 27 April 2016

    Recent sightings: well that was swift!

    Snow? At the end of April! There has been every imaginable type of weather at Fairburn this week; rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, and a few rays of sunshine. There have also been some pretty nifty sightings, which is why we’re all here!

    Swift, Mike Langman (

    First off, because it’s the thing I am absolutely the most excited about, is the return of the swifts. I am yet to see one, but there have been plenty of reports in the book. The first one appeared on Saturday morning and by the end of the day the final count clocked in at eight. They have been seen on the Flashes, on Cut Lane, on the Riverbank Trail and up near Big Hole, so more or less everywhere.

    Swifts return to the UK on migration from Africa each year and only stay for a few short months. They scythe through the air on sharp, crescent wings, screaming as they go and catching insects up high. There aren’t many things better than lying back in the sunshine and watching swifts wheel in the air above.

    Cuckoo, John Bridges (

    The other big sighting over the past week has been the arrival of the cuckoos. There have been lots of sightings, both seen and heard, up on the Coal Tips trail, at least four birds on Friday. These gorgeous birds have suffered massive declines in recent years and they will be busy hunting for nests to lay their eggs in; they favour the nests of dunnocks, reed warblers and meadow pipits.

    Whitethroat, John Bridges (

    Otherwise, the warblers are here in full force! Sedge warblers are singing, Cetti’s warbler numbers have increased, we have had reports of whitethroats and lesser whitethroats. You can’t walk 10 paces through the reserve without being accosted by the sound of a singing chiffchaff or willow warbler! And up on the Coal Tips on Thursday our site manager, Darren, heard the first grasshopper warbler of the year.

    Keep letting us know your sightings!

    Posted by Sally G

  • 9 April 2016

    Recent sightings: Ouzel a pretty boy then?

    More migrants have been arriving this week and the air is beginning to fill with a greater variety of song. Up on the Coal Tips trail it is impossible to miss the erratic ascent of skylarks and their high, trilling song.

    Willow warbler, John Bridges (

    Across the reserve there are blackcap and willow warblers singing, and chiffchaffs seem to be all over the place. There are smart male Reed buntings all over the Coal Tips trail and do keep an ear out for the booming of the bittern.

    A big sighting this week was the report of a male ring ouzel in the field near the Moat. It passed through briefly and this picture was snapped:

    Ring ouzel - taken by Peter Maugham

    Elsewhere on the reserve a female Wheatear was spotted on the path near Big Hole, and a little-ringed plover was seen on The Cut yesterday.  There have been a number of curlew sightings around the reserve, particularly down at Lin Dike. And out on Main Bay there have been 3 Sandwich terns and a little gull out on the islands.

    Posted by Sally G

Your sightings

Grid reference: SE4527 (+2km)

Common Sandpiper ()
18 Jul 2016
Tree Sparrow ()
18 Jul 2016
Little Ringed Plover (1)
14 Jul 2016
Recently fledged/downy young
Gadwall ()
24 Jul 2016
Buzzard ()
24 Jul 2016
Common Tern ()
24 Jul 2016
Green Woodpecker ()
24 Jul 2016
Great Spotted Woodpecker ()
24 Jul 2016
Willow Tit ()
24 Jul 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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