This half term RSPB Fairburn Ings nature reserve, near Castleford, will be kicking off Heron Fest, a spring festival to celebrate the weird and wonderful birds making a home in their heronry and reedbeds.
Lurking at the water’s edge, grey herons are familiar and well-loved birds, and upwards of 30 pairs make their home in the Fairburn Ings heronry.
In the same clump of trees there are also 100 cormorant pairs nesting, as well as several pairs of little egrets. Last year, the first successful spoonbill nest in Yorkshire for at least 400 years fledged three beautiful chicks here.
Elsewhere on the reserve elusive bitterns, small brown herons, hide in the reedbeds, making their presence known with noisy mating ‘booms’ that can be heard across the reserve.
The land around the heronry has slowly subsided into the old mining network, creating a protected area for these birds to nest away from disturbance. The best spot for viewing the heronry is from the Coal Tips trail, and is also the best place to catch sight of a bittern in flight.
The beginning of Heron Fest coincides with Show the Love, a campaign to celebrate the things we love which are affected by climate change.
Abbie Sellers, RSPB Visitor Experience Officer said: “Little egrets and spoonbills have only been a part of the colony for a few years as they’ve been pushed north by climate change. They’re all beautiful birds so come along come and get involved.”
Young explorers can take part a free Heron Discovery Quiz Trail running from Saturday 10 February – Wednesday 28 March, 9am – 5pm. Pick up your quiz sheet from the visitor centre and bring it back to claim a special sticker.
Follow the Heron Fest self-guided trail up to the heronry viewing point on the Coal Tips to watch the nesting activity, starting Saturday 10 February and running throughout breeding season.
Volunteer ranger walks run most days from the visitor centre; please ask in the morning for times and availability, or call the centre on 01977 628191.
For more information on events and activities please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the visitor centre on 01977 628191.