• Happy new year - Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Well, the start of another year’s birdwatching is well under way. You can enjoy birds as just a casual observer out for a walk and enjoying what you see or you could begin a list recording what you see either at a local reserve or area you frequent, known as a “patch”. It is a good way of learning about birds, linking birds to different habitats and also what you are likely to see at different times of the year. If your…

    • 15 Jan 2019
  • Fairburn Ings sightings update

    As we enter the quiet winter spell it’s an ideal time to develop your identification skills if you are new to birdwatching, or just enjoy a walk taking in the surroundings. The discovery trail is an excellent place to spot our smaller birds, plus redwings and fieldfares.

    Redwing - Pete M

    Take the time to stop for a while and see what you can find. Little gems such as goldcrests and treecreepers are easier to…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    As the days get shorter and winter starts to kick in and time is spent searching through flocks of wildfowl and gulls in the hope of spotting something scarce visiting the reserve, it’s a bonus to come up with one of our scarcer visiting birds tucked away amongst mobile flocks of finches. A mealy (common) redpoll was discovered feeding with a small flock of lesser redpoll amongst the alders on the riverbank at the…

    • 4 Dec 2018
  • More rarities and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Just when you expect reserve to be quieter three more local rarities turn up, albeit briefly and only seen by a handful of observes who happened to be in the right place at the right time. First up on Monday 5th November was a brief sighting of a great grey shrike in the Hicksons Flash area, these birds are scarce autumn migrants and winter visitors with between 150-300 individuals expected throughout the UK.


    • 21 Nov 2018
  • It’s Tough at the Top - & St Aidan’s Recent Sightings Round-Up

    Animals at or near the top of a food chain fascinate and thrill. Raptors and owls mesmerise with their size, skills and spectacular aerial displays. Fanciful or not, you’ve got to respect a bird that when it looks your way, seems to express a contempt that almost says “you mean noth-ing to me.”

    Insouciance personified; red kite at the top of the hill opposite the main lake.


    For their size, their…

    • 7 Nov 2018
  • Merlin and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    The most notable bird around the reserve over the last fortnight turns out to be a raptor again, a female merlin making a couple of appearances in front of Lin Dike hide. The first sighting was on Sunday 28th October where it decided to have a bath in front of lucky onlookers; the second sighting was a week later on Saturday 3rd November to strike a pose. The merlin is the smallest European falcon, often seen flying low…

    • 7 Nov 2018
  • Hen harrier excitement at Fairburn Ings

    A very exciting visitor stayed for around an hour on 20th October, a harrier appeared over new flash sporting a white rump and a ring tail, a hen harrier! Flying with easy effortless wingbeats between gliding, the harrier moved effortlessly across spoonbill flash before descending out of sight into robins reed bed for a short time. When the harrier reappeared it flew off in a westerly direction, watched until it was a…

    • 25 Oct 2018
  • St Aidan's sightings - October, the story so far...

    It was an unseasonably summery day when I visited St Aidan's this week. A clear-blue-sky day with barely a breeze to stir the reeds. The insects were certainly taking advantage of the warm weather, with ladybirds taking to the air en masse. A few Small and Large White butterflies were exploring hedges and flowers all around the Park, while Small Coppers have been seen around the reedbeds and by the sluice. Migrant Hawker…

    • 12 Oct 2018
  • Marsh tit and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Another reserve rarity turning up recently, this time a UK resident species which means we now have a full complement of the tit family at Fairburn with the arrival of a marsh tit. It is very similar to our other scarce breeder, the willow tit, careful identification is required to separate the two species as they look identical at a glance. Marsh tit plumage has a duller overall appearance and the bill has a pale patch…

    • 10 Oct 2018
  • Marsh harriers and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Autumn migration is in full swing and this is the time to be on the lookout for birds passing through on migration south. One such bird which always creates excitement is the marsh harrier, a regular passage migrant and occasionally over-winters on the reserve. The largest harrier species, typically seen flying low over marshes with steady wing beats between glides on raised wings whilst hunting. If you are walking around…

    • 26 Sep 2018
  • Black terns, ospreys and other sightings at Fairburn Ings

    More star turns make a brief appearance on main bay, two juvenile black terns to be precise. They appeared on the morning of the 27th August and stayed until mid-afternoon, a great start to the week for the observers who were lucky enough to see them. The black tern is a scarce spring and autumn migrant to the UK coast and inland waters, they occur in North America and Europe, our visitors are migrating from Europe to…

    • 12 Sep 2018
  • Fake News of Yore - Plus St Aidan’s Sightings

    Autumn bird migration has rolled around again and our summer visitors are starting to depart as those who pause or winter here are arriving. Without today’s facilities or technologies, migration was a mystery to be explained and by, did some imaginations run riot.

    Catching insects yellow wagtail style on the eastern reedbed.

    In 1745, in “Inquiry into the physical and literal sense of the scriptures” the unknown…

    • 9 Sep 2018
  • Cattle egret and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    As we move ever closer to autumn birds are starting to move from their breeding grounds in preparation for migration. This is the time to keep your eyes open for birds passing through the reserve which you wouldn’t expect to see as they drop into fuel up for their long journey. A surprise find on the 24th August on the path through Lin Dike was a Tree Pipit. Tree pipits can usually be found in sparsely timbered…

    • 28 Aug 2018
  • St Aidan's sightings blog

    St Aidan’s continues to delight as summer rolls towards autumn and migration time.

     Across the site, the hirondines are feeding up and getting ready to head south. Swallows and swifts, house martins and sand martins are still to be seen on the wing plucking insects out of the air. Within the next few weeks they will be off to feeding grounds thousands of miles away.

    On the hillside, greylag and Canada geese are…

    • 24 Aug 2018
  • Fairburn Ings sightings 29th July 2018 to 11th August 2018

    The summer is almost over, as far as the birds are concerned anyway, as many species begin to move south in preparation for their long journey to warmer climes for the winter. Cuckoos of course are short stay birds, arriving late April to early May and departing for Africa in July. An all too short a stay for one of our iconic summer visitors it’s call is instantly recognised by everybody, whether a keen birder or somebody…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • Frazzled & Frayed - Plus St Aidan’s Sightings

    At this time of year our gardens seem to be populated by sickly looking birds such as ragged robins, bedraggled blackbirds, shabby starlings, jaded jays, mussed magpies and tatty tits. The subject of feather moult is fraught with variation by species, birds within species, frequency, timing, duration, life-style and is full of exceptions but most go through a post-breeding moult, hence the “pulled through a hedge…

    • 10 Aug 2018
  • St. Aidan's Activities for Families

    The school holidays are here, and we're welcoming families to St. Aidan's Nature Park to go wild!

    The RSPB's Wild Challenge is home to tonnes of ideas about how you & your children can get close to nature. You can sign up as a family for free & work your way towards your gold award.

    The Aire Valley have always welcomed families, and now St Aidan's is in its second summer - we've upped the possibilities…

    • 3 Aug 2018
  • The baby boom continues at Fairburn Ings

    If I could write a fanfare I would be doing it now, after another excellent spring for our rarer breeding birds. To add to the breeding success of the spoonbills, black-necked grebes and bearded tits we had our first sighting of a pair of juvenile bitterns on the 19th July. What a day to choose to make an appearance, the very day Chris Packham was on site as part of his bioblitz tour, talk about timing!


    • 2 Aug 2018
  • We Bioblitzed it!

    This week Fairburn Ings was delighted to take part in Chris Packham's UK Bioblitz 2018. We were one of 50 wildlife sites chosen to undertake a wildlife audit, the results of which will be used to create a benchmark to measure the rise and fall of many different species in future years. Visitors to the reserve joined RSPB staff and volunteers to identify and count bugs, birds, plants and pondlife.

    I spotted a P…

    • 20 Jul 2018
  • The waders are coming, the waders are coming..........

    It may only be July but autumn migration is underway, waders are starting to move and the timing couldn’t be better with water levels dropping around the reserve. The top visitor would have to be the scarce wood sandpiper which has been present since the 10th July on spoonbill flash. The wood sandpiper is an elegant small wader with spangled upperparts, white supercilium (stripe above the eye) and either greenish…

    • 18 Jul 2018
  • Perhaps we should not be too quick to judge the cuckoo - & St Aidan’s Sightings

    That fiendish bird sneaks an egg into a much smaller bird’s nest and what hatches is a blind, naked murderer who immediately pushes overboard any “siblings”. A chick that runs its “parents” ragged and grows rapidly to monstrous proportions that could swallow a “parent” whole. It has such a mesmerising gape that even passing birds can’t help giving it food destined for their own. The long held belief that most birds are…

    • 10 Jul 2018
  • Recent sightings 17th June - 1 July 2018

    A much overlooked bird around the reserve is the tree sparrow, there is a very healthy population concentrated around the visitor centre. There are screens in the visitor centre from which you can watch the comings and goings of the breeding tree sparrows in the nest boxes around the centre, a nice way to have a breather out of the sun with an ice cream.

    Tree sparrows suffered a severe decline since the 1970’s, the UK…

    • 5 Jul 2018
  • Warden intern blog pt 2. - Moth highlights!

    And now, MOTHS.

    Everyone loves moths, and if they don't, they should.

    I've been regularly moth trapping at Fairburn Ings since the end of March. It got off to a fairly slow start, the temperature throughout April not seeming to get much above freezing the entire month, but with the recent warmer weather things are REALLY starting to kick off.

    After meeting the intern & residential volunteer from RSPB Saltholme…

    • 22 Jun 2018
  • Life of a warden intern in spring & summer - Emma

    My name is Emma and I am the current warden intern at St Aidans & Fairburn Ings. I will be here until September after which I will move on to RSPB Saltholme for another six months. I started back in March and I have loved my time here so far. I've been very lucky to have arrived at a great time of year. I've witnessed the arrival of many spring migrants, the trees bursting into blossom and the emergence of wildflowers…

    • 22 Jun 2018
  • Spoonbillmania plus supporting cast

    The path to the new spoonbill viewing area is well trodden and with good reason, a maximum of six spoonbills have been reported over the past two weeks. The big news is that the breeding pair, who can be seen clearly from the viewing area, are now the proud parents of three chicks. If you are lucky enough to be able to watch the nest using a scope then on occasions you can just see the heads of the chicks or a flexing…

    • 19 Jun 2018