April, 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

  • Take a walk through our reserve

    It’s been a strange day here weather wise, beautiful sunshine one minute then rain and hail the next! Luckily there were blue skies this afternoon so people on the photography workshop could get some good shots.

    There are lots and lots of birds about at the moment; I don’t know where to start! If you came to take a walk around the reserve, here’s some of the fantastic wildlife you could see along the way.

    You can see many different birds just from our visitor centre on the busy feeders outside. We get all the common garden birds such as blue tits, great tits and goldfinches, as well as some more unusual ones like redpolls, bullfinches, siskins, nuthatches and tree sparrows. You might also spot a bird of prey soaring over the visitor centre such as a buzzard or a red kite.

    As you head onto the reserve along our discovery trail, you could see butterflies fluttering amongst the flowers. We’ve had sightings of brimstones, peacocks, small tortoishells, a comma and a green veined white. The wildflowers are beginning to emerge as well, there is celandine along the boardwalk, germander speedwell, bugle in the play area and cowslips.

    Further on at the kingfisher screen, you’re very likely to see a kingfisher...surprisingly! As you carry on through the reserve along the Riverbank Trail, you might see chiffchaffs and willow warblers. They can be tricky to spot in the trees but you will definitely be able to hear them singing away. You could also see reed warblers, blackcaps or a green woodpecker, and if you make it to Charlie’s hide you could see some greenshank and oystercatchers.

    If you decided to head the other direction on your walk, towards Lin Dike, you could see yellow and white wagtails, swifts, avocets, redshank or even a pair of garganey. We’ve also had little ringed plovers, a spotted flycatcher and black tailed godwits seen at this end of the reserve.

    You’ll notice loads of different bird calls on your walk through the reserve; they’re making lots of noise to establish their territory and in hope of attracting a mate. It’s International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday 5th May so we’re running a Dawn Chorus walk here at Fairburn Ings. It’s a great chance to experience this special wonder, and our staff and volunteers will be on hand to help you identify the different birdsongs. It’s an early start, from 6-8am, but worth it and you’ll be able to buy a coffee and sandwich afterwards from the shop. It’s free for RSPB members and only £3 for non-members, give us a call to book your place 01977 628191.

  • Warblers, Wagtails and Willow Tits

    Warblers have been returning to the reserve in good numbers over the last few days with chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, willow warbler, reed warbler and sedge warbler all being seen and heard at various spots around the reserve.

    The better weather has also brought out butterflies such as comma, brimstone, small tortoiseshell and peacock along with a number of Queen Bees searching for new homes to nest in and mating toads and frogs, so keep your eyes out for spawn in the pools and ditches. You can tell the difference between frog and toad spawn by how it looks, frog spawn is laid in jelly like clumps whereas toad spawn is more string like.

    On the flashes there has been up to 32 yellow wagtails reported, a blue headed wagtail and a few white wagtails along with a little gull (Moat Flash), common tern and marsh harrier (Spoonbill Flash) and a cuckoo which was heard from Lin Dike.

    On Hickson’s pool there has been avocet, kestrel, wheatear, pintail, common tern, arctic tern and common sandpiper.

    On main bay there has been a sighting of a bittern in flight, dunlin, little ringed plover and arctic tern.

    Village bay has had sand martins, house martins and swallows regularly sighted flying over head and an Egyptian goose on Saturday!

    Sand martins have also been seen using the sand martin bank at Pickup hide, also seen around Pickup hide were little grebe, green woodpecker, oystercatcher, teal, tufted duck, shoveler, gadwall, pochard and buzzard.

    Common sandpiper and garganey have been sighted from Charlies hide, the Kingfisher screen has been living up to its name recently as there have been many sightings of a kingfisher from there along with a pair of willow tits that have been excavating an old woodpecker hole in a dead tree to the right hand side as you look through the screen. Little ringed plover has been seen around Big Hole and mealy redpoll and brambling have been seen on the feeders around the visitor centre along with siskin, nuthatch tree sparrows and the usual array of tits and finches.

    Image: comma butterfly

    Photo credit: Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com)

  • There's a song in the air....Up the garden Path

    After a harsh and extremely long winter, spring has finally sprung in the wildlife garden down at RSPB Fairburn Ings!

    This was confirmed by the welcome sound of the chiff chaff. Planting has been taking place with a vengeance. Including  shrubs that will not only provide shelter but also food in the form of nectar and/or berries. We’ve chosen Viburnum, Escallonia, Berberis and Hebe – all of which are widely available and come in an array of varieties to best suit your own space. For those of you who have visited the reserve recently you may have noticed our new rockery which is now all planted up with lovely alpines such as Aubretia and Saxifrage.

    In addition to these new rockery plants we are really hoping that newts might use the spaces between the rocks which is why we sited it near to the pond. We also hope it shows that no matter how small the space you have, you can still be creative and introduce new habitats. We got our new plants from Wolinskis nurseries in Shadwell who very kindly gave us a discount so a big thank you to them for stepping up for nature. They have some great plants down there with the wildlife friendly ones being clearly marked.

    We’ve also sown some wildflower seeds – native varieties are always best. This creates some of the best nectar sources for our pollinators and is so easy to do – you can even sow some in pots and the beauty of it is they need very little maintenance – just the occasional water. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious why don’t you create a small meadow area in your lawn – it will look fabulous, be invaluable for insects and best of all, saves on the mowing!

    Finally we have planted up some of our own veggies. We have chosen Broad beans and Runner Beans, due to the bee-attracting flowers they provide.

    Did you know...people are actually dependent on insects? They are needed to pollinate our food crops, so it is crucial we do all we can to conserve these little wonders.

    Come see for your self, see what else we have to offer here at the RSPB, or log on to www.rspb.org.uk/fairburnings  for more information.

    Kindest regards

    Louise and Teresa