January, 2013

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

  • Snowy sightings

    Another blog, and another mention of snow! Although as I speak the fresh snow we had last night is quickly melting.  Due to the bad weather we’ve not had as many visitors treading the paths and reporting their sightings, but those who have been out have seen some great wildlife.

    The farmer pulled up a crop of sugar beet in the field opposite the reserve on Friday, the fresh earth attracted all sorts of wildlife including a carrion crow, rook, 2 pheasants, 2 red legged partridges and some black headed gulls.  The black headed gulls are gathering in big numbers on the reserve at the moment, (today we have a report of over 1000 of them here).  They are often seen congregating on the extension to the duck and swan feeding platform.  They don’t really have their black head yet, but keep your eye on them as it develops over the next few weeks.

    There have been several sightings of winter visitors to the reserve like goosanders, goldeneyes, field fares and bramblings.  There was a female smew seen on the river today and a little grebe yesterday.  We’ve also had a kingfisher, some long tailed tits, shelducks, teal and herons at Charlie’s Hide; reed buntings, bullfinches, herons, bramblings and a stoat seen from Pickup Hide.  The wildlife garden next to the visitor centre is a hive of activity with lots of tree sparrows, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, green finches and black birds eating as much seed as they can so they can survive the cold weather, some lucky visitors have seen nuthatches, treecreepers and goldcrests from the comfort of the visitor centre.

    We’d love to see you down at the reserve, and always enjoy hearing about your sightings. 

    The image of a female smew is provided by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

  • Sightings from Fairburn Ings

    This cold weather and snow covered ground has brought about lots of sightings of raptors. Peregrine, merlin, sparrowhawk, red kite, marsh harrier, kestrel and buzzard have all been seen on various occasions over the last few days along with a sighting of a little owl.

    The  weather has also made it easier to see kingfishers due to most of the flowing water where they normally hunt being frozen over, for information on good spots to see kingfishers pop in to the visitor centre and one of our staff or volunteers will happily point you in the right direction.

    A few waxwings have been seen around the reserve as well, mainly Lin Dike and Cut Lane. Flocks of tits and finches continue to work their through the trees around the visitor centre, discovery zone and areas of woodland along with groups of goldcrest and redpoll.

    Around the Visitor centre there has been brambling, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, treecreeper, bullfinch, chaffinch, willow tit, coal tit, blue tit and great tit, loads of blackbirds and a song thrush, reed bunting, siskin and the occasional sparrowhawk.

    Down near Cut lane there has been water rail showing really well along with the kingfishers. Goosander, shelduck, pochard, tufted duck and shoveler have all been regularly seen from here as well as a red head smew and a female blackcap.

    And don’t forget it’s Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend! The perfect excuse to sit with a hot brew (or a cold one if you prefer!) and watch the birds in your garden, for more information on how to take part visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/

     
  • Winter wonderland

    The snow continued to fall at Fairburn Ings, I was greeted by a pure white reserve when I arrived this morning after a slightly hairy drive along the A roads of east Leeds.  I am writing this blog from home today though,  we closed early because the snow continued to fall and there weren't any visitors at the reserve.  

    Despite the bad weather, we've had plenty of sightings over the weekend, the feeders continue to be the place to be for most of our smaller birds, although today there was a moorhen clambering on the feeders at the visitor centre.  As well as the usual collection of finches and tits we've had reed buntings, bramblings, siskins and a redwing seen on or around the feeders.  One lucky visitor spotted a stoat which had caught a rabbit near the visitor centre.  

    A large flock of more than 50 curlews were seen on the flashes on sunday, plus 12 shelducks.  A kestral was seen above the main visitor car park and down at Lin DIke there were snipe, lapwings and teal.  There have been several sightings of kingfishers down at Charlies Hide in the last few days.

    One of our rangers, Jane, saw 10 goosanders and 20 goldeneyes plus teal and a tufted duck on the river near Village Bay viewpoint.  She also saw bullfinches, long tailed tits and a goldcrest in the birch trees at Village Bay viewpoint.