Aire Valley - Fairburn Ings and St Aidan's

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

  • From bats to butterflies...and bearded tits!

    The garganeys continue to be seen on New Flash with up to 7 being seen at once. The garganey is a small, secretive duck so we’re lucky to be getting such great views; the male has a distinct white stripe over the eye. Also in this area, there have been little egrets, black-tailed godwits and greenshanks. Over the road at Spoonbill Flash, there have been snipes, a dunlin and a juvenile little ringed plover.

    The bittern has been seen most days in the past week, often flying over from the Lin Dike area. Three green woodpeckers were spotted today on the Link Dike trail and one was also seen down the Cut.

    At Pick-up hide, there have been lots of grey heron sightings, along with redshanks, a green sandpiper, a water rail, two ruffs and common sandpipers. The grey herons that are about are likely to be some of the grown up chicks from our heronry, that hatched in April/May time this year. On the feeders at Pick-up, we’ve had great spotted woodpeckers, a willow tit, long-tailed tits and greenfinches.

    A spoonbill was spotted at Village Bay and seven common terns were seen on Main Bay. We’ve had a fair few birds of prey in the last week, including a couple of hobbies flying over the visitor centre, a buzzard over Newfield Plantation, and a marsh harrier, a kestrel and a sparrowhawk have been spotted down at Lin Dike.

    Just walking along our boardwalk you could see a wonderful variety of butterflies such as brimstones, commas, peacocks, small tortoiseshells and gatekeepers. The number of peacocks is amazing and it's great to see so many after butterflies suffered a bad summer last year.

    We're happy to be able to say that we've had two sightings of bearded tits in our reedbeds, they have kept themselves hidden over Spring so it's great news to finally know they're still about!

    We had our Moth Night last Friday in celebration of the Big Wild Sleep Out, and it was a great evening. Plenty of interesting moths in the traps and visitors had to be careful to avoid lots of little frogs, toads and newts as they were making their way around the reserve. There were lots of pipistrelle bats flying amongst the trees and one visitor picked up a noctule bat on her bat detector which makes a 'chip chop' sound.

      Bearded Tit image from Andy Hay - RSPB images

  • Investigate those insects!

    The reserve is still buzzing with insect life at the moment, with bees, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies enjoying the benefits of a warmer and drier summer. You can see lots off different species of butterfly around the reserve; just outside our visitor centre we have wildflowers and our wildlife garden, where you could spot red admirals, peacocks, small tortoiseshells and brimstones. If you’re on the Lin Dike trail you’re more likely to see meadow browns or a small copper, whereas on the Riverside trail you can find speckled woods and green-veined whites.

    The most common dragonfly about at the moment at Fairburn Ings is the common darter, but you could also see ruddy darters, brown hawkers and migrant hawkers. The damselfly you're most likely to encounter on the reserve is the common blue but you may also spot the odd emerald damselfly. The best places to see these summer insects is around the ponds or alongside the stream so keep an eye out.

    You'll definitely spot plenty of bees feeding on our various wildflowers as you walk around the reserve. There are lots of common carder bumblebees about which is the one that is mostly a brown/ginger colour, we also get buff tailed and red tailed bumblebees.

    There are plenty of wading birds around on the reserve, with black-tailed godwits and green sandpipers at Pick-up, little ringed plovers on Main Bay and greenshanks on Spoonbill Flash. The bittern continues to be seen flying over the Flashes, and up to 10 garganeys have been spotted on New Flash. Just from our closest hide to the visitor centre, Pick-up, you could watch a variety of wildlife from rabbits and roe deer, to green and great spotted woodpeckers, little egrets and grey herons, to the various finches and tits found on the feeders.

    Four crossbills were reportedly seen on Saturday down at Lin Dike, which are a bird from the finch family. They have a large bill which is crossed at the tip, hence the name crossbill, and this allows them to get seeds from conifer cones and other fruits.

    It’s your last chance to take part in our summer insect safari on Sunday, leaving the visitor centre at 11am and 2pm. We’ve got expert guides to help you find all the best creepy crawlies on the reserve!

      Image of common carder bee on purple loosestrife.

  • Wild things at the Ings

    Pick-up hide has been a busy destination for wildlife again the last few days. There have been a couple of snipe, green sandpipers, common sandpipers, greenshanks, a water rail and a kingfisher dropping by. There have also been buzzards and a marsh harrier spotted, plus a fox.

    Down at the Flashes, we’ve had 3 juvenile little ringed plovers, a curlew, several garganeys and a spotted redshank. Whilst from Bob Dickens, visitors have spotted a kingfisher in flight, blackcaps and great crested grebes on the bay.

    Keep an eye out for dragonflies around the Discovery Trail; there are common and ruddy darters, brown hawkers and the odd emperor about. There seems to have been an emergence of peacock butterflies recently with loads around the reserve and I saw my first red admiral of the year in the wildlife garden today. We've been doing more moth trapping, today's catch included a few orange swifts, some sqaure spot rustics and a lesser yellow underwing.

    We've got a butterflies, dragonflies and minibeasts safari here on Saturday! At 11am and 2pm, you can join us to search for the summer insects which hang out at Fairburn Ings. Pop in at 10am as well and you'll discover our amazing variety of moths that make their home here.