July, 2015

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

  • Summer holidays are here!

    The summer holidays are here, as I’m sure you can tell as the visitor centre is full of the sounds of children playing and the thundering of footsteps from the tree house! That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of wildlife to see though!

    It’s not been a bad week for waders; green and common sandpipers have been seen at Pickup, dunlin from Lin Dike and on Main Bay, as well as a few black-tailed godwits on New Flash.

    Green sandpiper - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    Last Friday (17 July) three black terns were seen from Lin Dike and over the Moat area.  Black terns are a small tern with an all black head and body and they are seen on passage in the UK. We also had a sighting of a little gull on Monday (20 July) over at Big Hole.  Sticking with gulls, there has been a yellow-legged gull seen this week on Main Bay.

    Back at Pickup there is a moorhen and some punky-looking chicks as well as little ringed plover! We’ve also had some more weasel antics and there’s also been a sighting of a fox!

    Little ringed plover - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    Gatekeepers are definitely the butterfly of the moment; there are absolutely loads to look out for! They’re quite easy to identify, as they are distinctly orange! Yesterday was pretty exciting too, with some amazing views of a hummingbird hawkmoth.

    Hummingbird hawkmoth thanks to Chris Mountain

  • Weasel wrestling and other recent sightings!

    You might have seen some weasel acrobatics on our Facebook and Twitter feeds in the past couple of days – if you missed it you really should take a look as its some great footage.  The way to tell the difference between a weasel and a stoat (other than the size difference) is that a stoat has a black tipped tail, so we know these guys were weasels not stoats. 

    Weasels thanks to Gordon Lane!

    Also this week we’ve had little egrets seen from Pickup and over the flashes. They’ve been seen nearly every day so it’s worth having a look for them.  There’s also a few green sandpiper that can be seen from Pickup.

    Raptors seen this week include red kites and a marsh harrier; both have been seen over the flashes.  There have been some pretty regular sightings of a barn owl also over the flashes, and one has been seen hunting from Lin Dike hide. Also this week there has been a single sighting of a long eared owl!

    Barn owl - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

    Kingfishers are back in the sightings book! People are seeing them at the kingfisher screen, which is great! They’ve also been seen from Charlie’s hide and along Cut Lane.  It’s definitely worth spending the time to catch a glimpse of one of Fairburn’s most famous residents!

    Kingfisher - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

  • Bonkers for Butterflies

    It’s not been long since my last recent sightings blog, thanks to my last post being 3 days late (sorry about that!).  Not a lot has changed bird wise but I’ve plenty of butterflies to tell you about!

    Birds up first - on New Flash you can see wood sandpiper, black-tailed godwit and snipe.  A barn owl has also been seen over the flashes.  At Lin Dike there are both adult and juvenile little ringed plovers to look out for!  Some of the raptors seen this week include sparrow hawk, kestrel and red kites. 

    The avocet chicks are doing well – the two at Pickup are looking almost like proper little avocets and the ones at the duck platform are still entertaining visitors!

    On to the butterflies! There are loads of different ones around at this time of year; I’m a bit bonkers for butterflies so I absolutely love it! We’ve had 13 species recorded this week at Fairburn, which isn’t too bad when you think there’s only 59 resident species in the UK.

    Some of this week’s highlights include ringlets, meadow browns and gatekeepers. These butterflies are often seen together, but the meadow brown dominates in terms of numbers (183 recorded yesterday!).  It’s lovely to be able to go on a nice summer walk and see hundreds of butterflies flying all around you.

    Ringlet - Tallulah Gullett


    Gatekeeper - Tallulah Gullett

    Skippers are an interesting group of butterflies which are named for their rapid flight and we have both small and large skippers out at the minute. Small skippers can be seen darting among the vegetation or basking in that distinctive skipper fashion.  Large skippers can often be found taking advantage of the warm weather by perching in a nice sunny spot.

    It's a terrible photo but you can kinda see how skippers rest their wings! - Tallulah Gullett

    Also recorded this week, there’ve been commas (check out their ragged edges!), red admirals, speckled woods, green veined whites, large whites, common blues, brimstones and small tortoiseshells. 

    Brimstone - Tallulah Gullett

    Comma - Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com)


    Red admiral - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    Small tortoiseshell - Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com)

    I could go on about butterflies for ages, but it's so much better to get out and see them for yourself especially while we're enjoying some lovely weather!