July, 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

  • ‘Weather’ it’s sunny or raining, Fairburn is the place to be!

    The weather may have started off dreadfully this week, but it has certainly got better over the last couple of days, and that seems to have brought out quite a lot of birds in the area too. Little over half an hour after we opened on Wednesday morning, one of our regular visitors came to say that he had spotted a little egret at Pickup Hide. And later that day, an eagle eyed visitor reported that a greenshank, a wren, a garden warbler and a kingfisher could also be seen at Pickup Hide.

    Wednesday was certainly the day of the week to see the woodpeckers around Fairburn, with various people coming to us to say that they had seen a few species of them. A greater spotted woodpecker, and also a green woodpecker could be seen opposite the Visitors Centre, and on the Boardwalk respectively. On Wednesday no one had spotted the pair of spoonbills in Village Bay, but on Thursday they returned to the area and were seen on the island from the Village Bay Hide.

    At around lunchtime, we were told that at Lin Dike, two greenshanks, a sparrowhawk, as well as a peregrine could be seen in and above the water. Throughout the day on the Riverbank trail, a sedge warbler, a willow warbler, a garden warbler and a chiffchaff were spotted.

    On Friday the weather was more like what we want, rather than what we expect from a typical English summer, and a lot of you took advantage of that to come and visit us. Those of you that went to Pickup Hide reported two green sandpipers as well as a greenshank during the morning and a green woodpecker in the trees around the boardwalk area, for one visitor as he was heading back to the visitors centre.

    Written by Andy Rhodes.

  • Andy's work experience at the reserve...

    Well, it’s my last day of work experience here at Fairburn Ings, and I’ve had a fantastic time over the last two weeks. During my time here, I got valuable experience in just about all aspects of work around the reserve, from working with the reserve team maintaining the site, to being in the office writing things for the Fairburn Ings blog, just like the one you’re reading now!

    I wasn’t really expecting it, but on my first day I was thrown straight in at the deep end, as I was introduced to ragwort digging, in which a group of four of us had to clear ragwort from the field which can be seen from Pickup hide. This plant has to be taken out of fields which are used for cattle grazing as it can be poisonous to them if eaten. After a couple of hours of that, myself and another work experience student were relieved of this duty and had the chance to count how many young birds there were on Village Bay, which we found much less arduous than our earlier task.

    Most mornings throughout my first week I found myself ragwort digging at various places on the reserve, which over time I grew used to, but on Wednesday I was able to experience work in the visitor centre shop. My tasks were to help arrange the stock and to keep the shop tidy. But, the Friday of the first week was arguably the most enjoyable day of my time at Fairburn thanks to a number of reasons; On Thursday night we put a moth trap outside to get an idea of which moths can be found on the reserve. So on Friday morning, we attempted to identify as many moths as we could from the huge amount in the trap, which with my knowledge of moths, meant that there were more than a few which we classified as ‘uncertain’. I then wrote a piece for the Fairburn Ings blog about Yorkshire Day and the celebrations that will be held here later in the month.

    During the second week, the lack of decent weather limited what I could do outdoors, so I spent much of my time inside helping out in the shop, assisting the customers who came to shelter from the rain. The day that suffered the worst of the weather while I was here was Wednesday, and despite such a promising start, we suddenly found ourselves drenched, which wasn’t surprising since we somehow managed to avoid every other threatening-looking cloud that came our way. In the afternoon everyone was restricted to working indoors, where we were re-arranging the shop so that it is ready for the summer holidays now that the field teachers are taking a well deserved break.

    On my final day I somehow managed to get away without doing any difficult outdoor work, as we walked around the reserve litter picking, while in the afternoon I wrote this piece summarising my time here at Fairburn Ings on work experience, which I fully enjoyed.

  • Moth madness written by Andy Rhodes

    It’s my first week here on work experience at Fairburn Ings and this morning I had chance to get involved in identifying and catching the moths that are present on the reserve so thought I’d share with you what we found...

    The weather at the moment seems to be remaining quite nice around Fairburn, and that has brought with it another huge variety of moths to our moth trap which we put outside every Thursday night near the visitor centre. Although we caught the fairly generic moths, (like the regular brown ones that you might find at home now and again) we also uncovered some that were more exciting and colourful than others.

    At the beginning of the morning  we found a variety of different looking moths from small dark ones, to large colourful species. And perhaps the most exciting was the brimstone moth, which is bright yellow in colour, and has chestnut-brown marks on its forewing tip. These moths are quite small in size, but interesting to look at if you’re lucky enough to spot one.

    Another very colourful one that we came across was the angle-striped sallow, which is similar in appearance to the brimstone moth, in that they are both yellow, but some could have a more orange look to them. They are also similar in size to the brimstone moth, at 17-20mm long.

    Arguably the trickiest moth to identify, (just because it wouldn’t stop moving around!!!) was the sandy carpet. The sandy carpet measures at 11-14mm long with a white and yellowy-orange colour, and appears between June and July, This species of moth flies at night in order to feed, and also to avoid being caught itself in the day time.

    We also found a grey dagger, a common white wave, three double square-spots, and a couple of lesser yellow-underwing moths among a wide range of other moths too.

    Tonight we will once again be putting the moth trap out in preparation for our photography workshop tomorrow. So if you’re interested in seeing some of these beautiful moths, come to the visitor centre between 10 and 11 in the morning and join us!