The first week of autumn is here, and the added wind seems to be pulling the leaves off at at alarming rate! After a week of buzzards and hobbies left right and centre, autumn officially started for us in the Aire Valley yesterday, 250 pink feet were spotted over the visitor centre heading west. They come from their breeding grounds in Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland and are one of our most iconic migrants in such huge numbers!
Around the feeders, we have had more reports of willow tits making an appearance, along with the hundreds of usuals - tree sparrows, bullfinches, great/blue tits, bank voles and the inquisitive juvenile magpie who often pokes his head in the centre.
Willow tit preparing for its winter body! Image: Marie Foster
Now is the time to start filling the feeders at home, as natural food diminishes and birds could do with an extra helping hand. Our retail staff & volunteers are always happy to lend a hand in deciding which feed is right for you and your garden visitors.
Around the centre, Discovery Trail & Pickup Hide:
Jays have been making the most of autumn, creating larders full of winter food - seen at Pickup Hide & Discovery Trail.
Early morning saw a raven pass by the centre, and at Pickup Hide there has been a visible water rail, multiple marsh harriers (male and female) and early hours sighting of barn owl.
Further on from the discovery trail - the kingfisher screen has been living up to its name. Visitors were treated to an afternoon of an obliging kingfisher on Monday. Fingers crossed these perfect conditions continue!
F. kingfisher, Marie Foster
Coal Tips Trail:Rangers Ginny & Bob have been on bearded tit watch - the strong wind has of course kept them hidden in the reeds, but we're hoping for 30+ to reappear once the weather improves.
6 Green woodpeckers and a total of 9 stonechats were seen on one walk. Stonechats breed in western and southern parts of the UK, but disperse more widely in winter - hence the numbers at Fairburn at the minute!
This morning, a bittern was spotted at 7am flying to Phalarope Pool from The Moat, great to see they are still here! Other highlights include (more!) stonechats, juvenile ruff, hooper swans and female goosander on New Flash, 8 pintail, 2 curlew this morning, and male & female marsh harrier & an immature peregrine.
Juv. ruff, Peter Maugham
Not to mention the fungi starting to appear all over the reserve! Fly agaric hasn't failed us this year on the Riverbank Trail, stay posted for more fungi spots.
Your best bet for the highlights of Fairburn Ings is a quiet early morning misty walk, and pop by the visitor centre in time for a fresh hot coffee.
Any questions or further sighting info, please ask one of us in the centre. We'll be happy to point you in the right direction!
And please, for these sightings blogs to continue - share all your sightings with us in the book by the visitor centre sofas. (from fungi to feathers!)