I’m starting today’s sightings blog on a little bit of a sad note, as it’s my last day here at Fairburn. So I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who reads the blog, as well as to the entire Fairburn team for making my stay here so brilliant – I’ve loved every moment.
I was lucky enough this morning to see our new live nest box camera feed switched on in the visitor centre, and we were treated to a close-up glimpse of two tree sparrows in the midst of their nest building! Despite a tough few decades, which have seen massive declines in the UK population of these charismatic little birds, thankfully they now appear to be making a slow but sure comeback.
Tree sparrow image by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Spring is most definitely in the air, not just because of these busy nest builders, but also because the reserve is alive with birdsong. I can hear the great tits twittering noisily in the sunshine, and the territorial drumming of the greater spotted woodpeckers reverberates through the air. Secretive water rails have been emitting their pig-like squeals around the boardwalks and reedbeds recently, not to mention the promising amount of booming that’s been heard from our male bitterns. Fingers crossed that this will be their first successful breeding year at Fairburn!
There was a barn owl seen over by Hickson’s flash on Wednesday – these beautiful owls have got to be one of the nation’s favourite and most recognisable birds, and no wonder! Their distinctive heart-shaped faces, large eyes and delicately speckled pale plumage make them perfectly adapted for quartering fields for prey at dusk, gliding as silently as ghosts over the grass.
Barn owl image by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
The ever-present but always lovely Kingfishers have been making plentiful appearances over the past week, and our ranger Jane has just seen three on one branch down at Charlie’s hide! The kingfishers have definitely been one of my favourite things about Fairburn – no matter how many times you see these beautiful birds, it’s always an exciting experience you immediately want to share.
Kingfisher image by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
We’ve just had a stoat spotted at Bob Dicken's Hide as well, carrying a freshly killed rabbit! Although for the more squeamish amongst us such a sight can be a little startling, it’s quite a privilege to be able to get a glimpse into the rarely seen world of predator and prey. These amazing little mammals are fierce predators, and can be distinguished from weasels by their larger size and black-tipped tail.
If you’re planning a visit to Fairburn, don’t forget to come in and say hello, and pop your wildlife sightings in the book. The place is already teeming with life, and it’s set to be a very exciting year for this amazing reserve. I’m already looking forward to coming back for a visit in a few months time to see how the place has changed – bye for now!