June, 2011

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's
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Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

  • The sun came out, and so did the birds

    It got pretty hot at Fairburn Ings over the weekend, and it seems to have brought out quite a bit of birdlife.  The spoonbills have been seen on the reserve every day since Friday, they obligingly moved from Pickup to Main Bay on Sunday and Monday, and could even be seen from the feeding platform.  A little egret could also be seen from the feeding platform on Monday.  This fantastic photo of the spoonbills in flight over the reserve was taken by Kevin Heads.

    We've had several sightings of cuckoos on the reserve over the last few days, although they can often be heard quite close to the visitor centre, it is not often they are seen, and on Monday one was spotted on the boardwalk in the middle of our Discovery Trail.

    Another rare sight these days, the turtle dove, was seen on Sunday and Monday alongside the river on our recently opened footpath heading down to Lin Dike. 

    Other notable sightings include green sandpiper, oystercatchers and several kingfishers at Pickup.  There were 4 black tailed godwits seen down at Lin Dike on Monday, along with green shank and little ringed plover.  Elsewhere on the reserve we've had a mediterranean gull, buzzards, hobbys, marsh harrier, red kite, quail, and spotted redshank.

     

  • Get every child outdoors!

      

     

     

    Some of my favourite memories are of my brother, various friends, and me making dens and playing hide and seek behind the trees in the woods near our house, splashing in mud and looking for bugs.


    If you think back to one of your most vivid early childhood memories, one where your sense of wonder has perhaps been unmatched since, where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with?


    Research shows that for many people these childhood memories are often rooted in experiences with the natural world. It’s outdoors that we feel most in our element, and the joy of discovering the environment and nature is tapped into This all makes a big impression on us at a young age, and unsurprisingly where we’re most open to learning new things.


    Sadly, these opportunities are a lot harder to come by for children now than they were for their parents and grandparents. This is because of many reasons including lack of access to green spaces, budget and curriculum limits for teachers, and changing preferences of how families spend their free time and money.


    I have two reactions to this news. There’s obviously the sentimental part of me that thinks it’s a real shame that loads of children don’t get many chances to get a bit mucky, pick up a few bugs, and get really up close and personal with nature when they’re young. Secondly there’s the environmentalist in me that sees this as worrying as far as getting the next generation to really care about the environment and nature goes. How are they going to get passionate about the world around them if they never get the chance to experience it? How can we expect younger generations to fight to protect it if they don’t even know what it’s like?


    It’s with this in mind that loads of RSPB reserves held events around the today to show MPs and government how important it is to give children opportunities to learn outside the classroom walls.


    Here at RSPB Fairburn Ings we held an “Every Child Outdoors” day of our own. On the 24 June Barwick-in-elmet Church of England school came and had a day being shown different habitats by the reserve field teachers.


    Linda McAvan, our local MEP, also came and saw some of the great work that we do to teach kids about the natural world. They went pond-dipping and looked at different insects and birds on the reserve. Hopefully it’ll get the kids inspired so they can make some amazing memories of their own!

  • Pair of Spoonbills!

    Blacktoft Sands has been getting all the Spoonbill action over the last week or so, but happily this morning a visitor returned to the centre to tell us a pair of the stunning birds had dropped in to see us at Fairburn too. They were last seen about 40 minutes ago at midday feeding on the opposite corner of Pickup Pool. For anyone who hasn't been to Pickup Hide its the first hide only a couple of hundred metres from the visitor centre, along the Discovery Trail.

    Also from Pickup were a pair of Oystercatchers and several lapwings including some chicks scampering around on the middle island.

    On your way to Pickup Hide see if you can spot the sedge warbler that has been singing its heart out from the reedbed behind the owl statue. I watched it from the small pond dipping platform where he was perched in the little willow tree. These pools are also good places to catch sight of smooth newts as they drift up to the surface.

    For those of you on the hunt for kingfishers we've had 2 sightings today, one from Lin Dike and one at the pond dipping platform.

    Also at Lin Dike have been 2 common terns, 2 cuckoos, willow warbler, blackcap, willow tit, sedge warbler and green woodpecker.