June, 2015

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's
Do you love Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's? Share your thoughts with the community. Or if you're thinking about visiting and would like to find out more, ask away!

Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

  • Have you seen the avocet chicks yet?

    If you’ve visited us in the past couple of weeks chances are you’ll have been treated to some wonderful views of avocets and their chicks (and you’ll know how excited we all are about it!).  Avocet chicks are completely adorable; tiny little bundles of fuzz with a miniature bill on these little legs!


    How cute are they? Photos thanks to Time Jones.

    There are three chicks visible from Pickup hide and up to seven have been seen getting really close up to the duck feeding platform.  One family made a daring expedition over to Lin Dike last week; one little chick trekked across the footpaths and swum across lakes in a journey covering nearly two miles!

    This isn't the intrepid chick, but that's a long way for little legs! Photo thanks to Tim Jones.

    Many of us have been surprised by how aggressive their parents are in seeing off other birds; you wouldn't expect it from such an elegant looking bird! One visitor told us they saw an avocet going up against a heron!  

    Good parenting! Photo thanks to Tim Jones.


    The avocets aren't the only cute chicks around at the minute! There are some really sweet cygnets at the duck platform bobbing about in the water. There's also been a great spotted woodpecker feeding its chick from the fat balls at Pickup, as well as hungry sand martin chicks poking their heads out of the nests in the sand martin wall waiting for food.  

    So if it's something cute you're after, get yourself over to Fairburn Ings and see what you can see!

  • Green versus Great spotted...and other recent sightings

    Another week has passed and we are fast approaching July which (allegedly) will kick off with a heat wave!  A perfect opportunity to get out, enjoy the warmth and spot some wildlife, and there’s plenty to see at Fairburn Ings!

    One of my favourite stories of the past week came from a couple I met down at the feeder screen.  They told me they’d seen a green woodpecker bullying great spotted woodpeckers off the feeders! I wish I had arrived just a few minutes earlier and had the chance to see what I’m sure was quite a spectacle. 

    Who'd win in a fight? Green woodpecker thanks to John Bridges (rspb-images.com) & Great spotted woodpecker thanks to Tom Marshall (rspb-images.com)

    There’s been lots of activity on the flashes – ringed plover, curlew, redshank and wigeon have all been spotted.  Some have also been treated to some great views of a barn owl hunting and a marsh harrier soaring through the skies.

    Marsh harrier - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    If you’re at Pickup hide, look out for the big mouths of little sand martin chicks as they poke their heads out of the wall. We’ve still got avocets and chicks over there as well as oystercatchers and their chicks.  The avocets at the duck feeding platform are delighting families as they feed the ducks and swans.  Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook page over the next few days for a special chick themed blog post!

    Avocet with chick, photo thanks to Tim Jones.

    You don’t have to venture far from the visitor centre to get some special encounters with wildlife.  This week someone was lucky enough to see a bank vole in the wildlife gardens!  Wildflowers are everywhere at the moment and many can be seen walking up from the car park, though if you do venture a bit further there are some beautiful orchids to be found!

  • Welcome...to Fairburn Ings.

    The world has gone a bit dinosaur mad at the moment with the release of the newest Jurassic Park film - well we have plenty of modern-day dinos here at Fairburn Ings!  Looking at some birds it isn’t hard to see their dinosaur lineage; cormorants are probably one of the most pre-historic looking birds we have on the reserve – they look like pterodactyls flying overhead.

    Cormorant - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    Ducks don’t look much like their scaly ancestors, but there are loads of different types with a range of different patterns and colours.  It’s been quite a nice week for ducks, with wigeon, garganey and teal all spotted.  Male teals have a chestnut brown head and distinctive green eyespot; male wigeons also have a chestnut head with a yellow patch on their forehead. 

    Teal - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)                                                                            

    Wigeon - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

    On the flashes we still have frequent sightings of bittern, as well as redshanks and even a secretive water rail.  The legs of these birds have a particular reptilian quality about them (like lots of birds) and they walk a bit like how velociraptors are thought to have walked!

    Redshank - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    On the subject of raptors, we have a few different ones here at Fairburn.  Don’t worry, the ones here won’t hunt you down and ambush you in the visitor centre! Modern day raptors are fantastic predators that use their keen eyesight to hunt and feed on other animals (smaller than you and I). Thursday was a great day for raptors on the reserve, with red kite, marsh harrier, kestrel, hobby and buzzard all seen!

    Red Kite - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    The demise of the dinosaurs paved the way for mammals to take over. You might have seen a bit of footage from our new mammal log that me and David the warden intern have worked on.  We’ve had a lot of success with it so far with mice and voles caught on camera.  We’ve also had a few surprises that I won’t spoil for you, but keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for more footage!