If you pay our Visitor Centre a visit right now, you can make yourself at home in our Big Garden Birdwatch Lounge and take a moment to enjoy the variety of birds at close range on the feeders, whilst you munch on your sandwiches. Feeders have been placed up on the balcony, giving the best views of vibrant bullfinches, cheeky blackbirds, reed bunting, long tailed tits, greenfinches, robins and tree sparrows (and so, so many more!) There’s always a friendly member of staff or volunteer bobbing around, who are more than happy to have a chat and help you to indentify the birds and prepare for the Big Garden Bird Watch.
You can register for your free Big Garden Birdwatch Pack online, here: http://bit.ly/2jzdm4w
So far this year has brought with it a handful of exciting sightings, including a not-so-shy great white egret and white fronted geese. This week has also been great for sightings; an Iceland gull was seen on the Main Bay. I’ve had to read up a little bit about this, because although I gathered from the reactions of the team and visitors here that this was quite special – I simply had never heard of an iceland gull before. I’ve found out that they breed in Greenland and winter in the UK, (and sometimes as far as New York!), but usually stick to the coastal areas, which is why it’s so interesting to see one inland.
Iceland Gull, Malcolm Hunt (rspb-images)
Taking a walk through the reserve and past pick-up hide, 30+ redpoll have been seen as well as 3 willow tits.
Willow Tit, Malcolm Langman (rspb-images)
A redhead smew is still about and was more recently seen on New Flash, alongside 2 golden eye, 2 shelduck, 6 x pintails and 17 goosander. There was also a shoveler on the Village Bay.
Shelduck, Ben Hall (rspb-images)
Pin Tail, Ben Hall (rspb-images)
Despite the biting cold and the fact that it is very much winter here at Fairburn Ings, wildlife sightings have not failed to disappoint
Andy Hay (rspb-images)
There have been a few sightings of vagrant birds, including a white fronted goose.
Ben Hall (rspb-images) If you’re not so sure what a vagrant bird is (don't worry, I had no idea 'til yesterday morning), it’s a bird that strays far outside its expected breeding, wintering or migrating range.
Also a vagrant bird, a great white egret has made its home for the past week or so on the moat, and has been very visible to many lucky visitors – it’s especially exciting because it’s the only reliable sighting in Yorkshire at the moment.
Ian Hay (rspb-images)
...and there’s more! On Sunday 1st of January, a hen harrier was spotted flying overhead.
You may have heard a thing or two about a rather audacious water rail, who’s been making frequent appearances just in front of the kingfisher screen. Normally a secretive bird, he’s been creeping from nearby shrubs to feed and then scampering back undercover.
Mike Richards (rspb-images)
Bearded tits are once again on Coal Tips Trail and you can still spot a redhead smew having a swim about on the Main Bay – fab.
Ben Hall (rspb-images)
From this weekend Fairburn begins its build up for the Big Garden Birdwatch. When you come into the visitor centre, you can enjoy the BGBW Lounge, which has been especially set up for all so you can brush up on your bird ID skills, in time for the big event. Willow tits are one of the fastest declining birds within the UK and Fairburn is lucky enough to have 8 breeding pairs – who take full advantage of the feeders in the bird garden daily – come along and see if you can spot one :)
(Eleanor Bentall rspb-images)