There's many reasons to love a visit to Fairburn Ings. This week, one of our wonderful Volunteer Rangers, Ginny, describes her recent experience:

This volunteer role is always full of surprises.  No more than today.  A cold frosty and misty afternoon.  It makes a change from our usual Tuesday afternoons lately, when it has been very soggy and very wet and blowy.  We set off heading around the Discovery Trail and up the Red Shale road along the River Bank Trail leading to Bob Dickens Hide.  Our mission to find species to enter into the sightings book, as well as to talk to visitors.  Camera and binoculars at the ready.  This was the week before Christmas and very few visitors stirred, including nature.  Our first stop was by the Visitor Centre and looking up at the tall alder trees near the wooden owl we spied a flock of small birds feeding off the alder seed. 

Using the Binoculars we spotted in the dim light - siskins and redpolls amongst the colourful goldfinches.  I radioed in the sightings, part of our mission completed.  There was little else to see at that point, except the lovely robin following us and moorhens scuttling into the undergrowth.  Blue and great tits chattering in the tree tops. Then I noticed a kind of beauty in the frosted dead plants around us and the patterns their seed heads made, so I started taking photographs as we walked.  The dullness of the browns and greys also started to turn into subtle colours and textures so I started to photograph some of these.  Of course I came out with the wrong lens, only my zoom lens ready to catch the sight of birds, but in the light we had, this proved to be a useless mission.  The light gradually changed as we walked through the woods and mist descended on the Main Bay, how I wish I had brought my other lenses!  I persevered and managed to get some interesting shots of the changing sunset. Next time I will come better prepared.  Walking around Fairburn Ings throws up lots of interesting sights in all weathers and not just for the birds. Although we did get some great sightings of goosanders and goldeneyes on the river, flocks of long-tailed tits who appeared to enjoy the walk with us, following us along the trail. The odd glimpse of the great spotted woodpecker who you heard before you saw, and the sudden glimpse of the red coat of a weasel, carrying a mouse as it shot across the path in front of me.  In all a good afternoon’s walk. 

If you're interested in volunteering at Fairburn Ings or St Aidan's, check out our vacancies on the RSPB website here