• Aire Valley Sightings Blog- March 2024

    March saw the arrival of more of our spring and summer migrants. This included some of our star species, such as the Spoonbill at RSPB Fairburn Ings as well as Black-headed Gulls and Black-necked Grebe at RSPB St Aidan’s. We also have had a few birds that have been migrating through, including some Common Crane, Common Scoter and an Osprey.

    The Spoonbill that nest at Fairburn Ings were the first to nest in Yorkshire…

  • Sustainable future at the Little Owl Café, St Aidan’s nature Park

    As a café on an RSPB nature reserve, we too care about the environment, we do everything we can to ensure we are being environmentally friendly and sustainable. We have a policy to which all suppliers and all our products have to meet a high standard and certain criteria, such as using RSPO approved palm oil, free range eggs, FCS approved etc. and produced local with local ingredients where possible.

    We are always…

  • Wildlife Gardening; re-awakening, willow weaving and saving cash

    Spring; the season of re-awakening. A time of new beginnings, a sense of change hangs in the air. Daylight lengthens, the first buds spring into life and birds herald the joy of a season of promise and endless possibilities. The harsh weather is coming to an end and it’s time for us gardeners to start playing in the muck, once again!

    The stormy, wet winter has curtailed our antics a little, but it hasn’t completely…

  • Aire Valley Sightings Blog- February 2024

    It feels like the weather has been wet for such a long time, but spring is in the air across the RSPB Aire Valley and the temperature is steadily increasing. We are continuing to see a lot of our winter species such as the Brambling and Short-eared Owls, but the Goldeneye and Great-crested Grebes have begun their courtship dances and many of the birds are in their mating plumage. 

    Top 10 sightings at RSPB Fairburn Ing…

  • Aire Valley Sightings blog January 2024

    We have started 2024 with a lot of water in the Aire Valley!

    This has had an impact on the wildlife spotted across Fairburn Ings and St Aidan’s, more water has meant more habitat for frog catching and heron and egret numbers have been up on both reserves as well as two Glossy Ibis!

    The Glossy Ibis is a common bird in southern Europe, but quite rare in the UK, often they will arrive in autumn and occasionally stay…

  • Star Species Spotlight: Kingfisher

    When thinking of beautiful birds, people’s minds often wonder to tropical rainforests and faraway shores, forgetting the magnificent species which we have here in Britain. From green woodpeckers to golden eagles, we have a spectacular array of bird life in our skies. In today’s blog, we’ll be discovering more about the UK’s king of fishing – the European Kingfisher!

    What are Kingfishers?…

  • Wildlife Gardening; Seasonal changes, heatwaves and winter survival

    Autumn; the season when the daylight becomes shorter, the evenings cooler and we’re treated to nature’s glorious show of colour. Well, generally that’s the case! Yes of course the daylight has shortened, but having just returned from a London trip experiencing temperatures nearing 30 degrees whilst the people of Scotland have battled large scale flooding you do really get a sense of just how much our climate and seasons…

  • Aire Valley sightings blog- September

    This month’s sightings blog begins at RSPB Fairburn Ings. After passing the visitor centre and wildlife garden, I made my way down the discovery trail before arriving at the pickup hide. There was an abundance of finches, tits, and even a little wren which were all enjoying the feeding station; with Autumn and Winter approaching rather quickly, it’s important for them to start building their fat reserves. …

  • Conservation work and the Greta Tern-burg

     The start of September in the UK usually signifies the beginning of autumn, with cooler temperatures, the smell of woodsmoke in the air and condensation on your car windscreen. For me it also signifies the end of most of the survey work we carry out at RSPB Fairburn Ings and a steep change in the type of work we do on the reserve. The majority of bird species have now finished breeding for the year and this means that…

  • Events: Nature Explorers

     On the 13 and 16 September we had our first Nature Explorers session. These run once a month on a Wednesday for 0- to 5-year-olds at RSPB St Aidan’s and on a Saturday for 5- to 12-year-olds at RSPB Fairburn Ings.

    With the 0- to 5-year-olds we had a great time listening to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in our den in the woods. The children loved the characters who brought the story to life. Then we went…

  • Big Wild Sleepout

    The beginning of August was a busy few week at RSPB Fairburn Ings! The staff team were busy getting the site ready for Big Wild Sleepout- the wildest sleepout of the year! From the warden team getting the campsite mown (whilst also preserving the food plant of the brown argus butterfly, which they made some amazing signage about!), to the VE and retail teams making sure everything looked spick and span for all our guests…

  • Community blog- what do I love about St Aidan's?

    In this week’s blog Jo – our community engagement officer describes some of the things that she loves about RSPB St Aidan’s

    As Love Parks week draws to a close, I find myself thinking about what I love about RSPB St Aidan’s. I feel extremely privileged to spend my working days here surrounded by the most amazing wildlife and in a truly inspiring landscape. To think that only 20 years ago hardly any…

  • Aire Valley Sightings blog- August

    RSPB St Aidans is where today’s blog begins. Shortly after arriving I was greeted with the loud hum of grasshoppers which, along with an abundance of other insect species, are clearly thriving within the long grass and wildflower meadows. My ears were then drawn to the sounds of the sky as I heard the distinct chirp of a Kestrel before it flew over my head and perched on top of a standing log within the pastures…

  • Wildlife Gardening; Pond life, Vegetables and Peter Rabbit

    The weather of 2023 has so far proven to be quite a challenge in the garden. A cold, wet Spring left the ground muddy and difficult to manage; with delicate seedlings requiring a little extra blanket. This was then replaced by hot days, with a month of hardly any rain. Never a dull moment !

    At present, the sun is at its highest in the sky, the trees are full of leaves and the garden is blooming with life.

    Our newly re…

  • Nocturnal Wildlife walks- RSPB St Aidan's

     Arriving at RSPB St Aidan’s as the sun began to set was not the usual time I get there. However, I was excited to be coming on a nocturnal guided walk! We were met by a mixture of staff and volunteers and started off by watching the barn owls silently hunting along the hillside while we waited for everyone to gather.

    The walk leader started off explaining a little bit about the history of the site and how it has…

  • Community family nature events

     We know that trying to create a fun filled summer for your little ones can be exhausting. Taking hours of research and perfect planning... who has the time for it? But we also know how important spending quality time with your little ones whilst they're off is important to families, so we've taken the strain away with our Community Family Nature Events at RSPB St Aidan’s this summer!

    It's well known that…

  • Aire Valley Sightings blog- June 2023

    Another month has already come to an end and Summer is well and truly here. Find out what’s been out and about this June in today’s sightings blog.

    The top ten sightings at RSPB St Aidan's recently have been:

    • Hobby
    • Spoonbill
    • Spotted flycatcher
    • Ringed plover
    • Dunlin
    • Black tern
    • Cuckoo
    • Yellow wagtail
    • Little owl
    • Grasshopper warbler


    Our star species this month is the cuckoo. These summer visitors are usually…

  • Feeding your garden birds

    I get asked all the time if birds should be fed all year round, and the simple answer to this is yes, if you can, they will really appreciate and benefit from it. Spring feeding allows birds to raise their young with a decent food source to keep them going. Adults won’t feed seeds to their chicks in the nest, but they will find it invaluable in terms of getting enough calories for themselves to keep up to high demands…

  • Farmland walk at RSPB St Aidans

    On Sunday 10 June we met up in the morning and set out to find out how RSPB St Aidan’s use farmland techniques, and how that affects the landscape and wildlife. While RSPB St Aidan’s has no pure agriculture, there are areas which are planted with crop species, meadow area, wet grassland and grazing animals which are all based on current and historic farmland techniques. The land is managed specifically for…

  • Keeping safe at RSPB Fairburn Ings and RSPB St Aidans

    At RSPB St Aidan’s and RSPB Fairburn Ings we enjoy welcoming a wide range of different users to our wonderful sites. A busy weekend will see them being used by walkers, bird watchers, photographers, cyclists, horse riders, families enjoying a picnic and many others.

    To ensure that everyone stays safe we would ask visitors to treat each other, our volunteers, staff, and the sites with respect and follow a few simple…

  • Aire Valley sightings blog- May 2023

    Who else has been enjoying the beautiful weather these past few weeks? It now certainly feels like spring is here and Summer is also right around the corner! However, this glorious sunshine isn’t the only good thing that May has to offer. A wonderful array of wildlife has been sighted around the Aire Valley. As well as our year-round species, plenty of summer visitors have now returned to the UK to enjoy our less intense…

  • What's on in the Aire Valley

    This week is all about Visitor Experience! Behind the scenes in the Aire Valley, the visitor experience team are working hard to ensure that both RSPB Fairburn Ings and RSPB St Aidan’s look as beautiful as possible and that visitors all have the best experience when they visit. We organise loads of exciting events across both reserves, which some of you might have been to before.  The team has been super busy over…

  • Dawn Chorus at RSPB St Aidans

     Getting to RSPB St Aidan's early in the morning was a new experience for me. The birds were already singing loudly, and I was excited to find out which sound was which bird!  

    Our guide met us outside and pointed out a couple of the birds that we could hear around the carpark and Little Owl Café. There were birds I already recognised like blackbirds and robins, but also the distinctive chiffchaff who’s two toned song…

  • St Aidans- getting to us via public transport bike or foot!

     The Nature Park is served by a regular bus service. The 168 runs between Leeds and Castleford. It leaves from Leeds City Centre Corn Exchange and Castleford Bus Station, running twice an hour Monday to Saturday and hourly on a Sunday. To enter the Nature Park, leave the bus at the Bowers Row stop which is beside the main entrance to the Park.

     If you enjoy cycling two national cycle routes pass by and through the park…

  • Aire Valley sightings blog- 30 April 2023

    Spring has sprung in the Aire Valley, with wildflowers blooming, butterflies emerging and summer visitors, such as wheatear and swallows being spotted.

    The top ten sightings recently at RSPB Fairburn Ings have been:

    1. Spoonbill
    2. Sedge warbler
    3. Sand martin
    4. Green sandpiper
    5. Arctic tern
    6. Willow tit
    7. Bar-tailed godwit
    8. Yellow wagtail
    9. Bearded tit
    10. Raven

    Our star species at RSPB Fairburn Ings this week is the raven, which is the biggest…