As we move into October, the Aire Valley is starting to feel very autumnal. Alongside the changing colours of the leaves and the beautiful sunsets, there’s a sudden chill in the air – but there’s still plenty to see and do on site! Here’s a round up of what’s going on this month…

Autumn means that our winter migrants are starting to move in. Recent sightings at St Aidan’s have included black-tailed godwits, ruff, dunlin, golden and ringed plover – and bearded tits have been showing brilliantly in the reedbeds. Marsh harriers, hobbies and pink footed geese have all been spotted in the skies above St Aidan’s, as have small groups of starlings – fingers crossed they’re warming up for murmurations!

Photo credit: Stephen Cribbin (pink footed geese in flight)

Over at Fairburn Ings, keep an eye out for our Highland cattle on the flashes to catch a glimpse of cattle egret, as they usually stick very close by – you might also spot great white and little egrets, or spoonbills. Our willow tits are regularly spotted making the most of the feeding stations around the Discovery Trail, and kingfishers and woodpeckers are showing well; while reed warblers and willow warblers have been heard singing around site.

Photo credit: Alan Coe (willow tit)

For a closer look at some of our resident birds, there’s still time to book onto our Better Birding guided walk on Sunday 10 October. This relaxed, early morning stroll around Fairburn Ings is a chance to brush up on your birdwatching and ID skills with one of our expert guides – for more info, click here: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/7636. We also have a Birding for Beginners walk in November, perfect for anyone new to the wonderful world of birdwatching and keen to learn more: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/7635 – or for those interested in learning more about the wetlands of St Aidan’s, we have behind-the-scenes tours with our Warden on offer in November: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/8318

Sunday 17 October will see the return of the Aire Valley races, with a half marathon starting at St Aidan’s – the route runs along the river to circle around part of Fairburn Ings, before heading back to finish at St Aidan’s. To enter, and for more details, click here: https://racebest.com/races/vtkzh. If you prefer a gentler pace, why not join our next Wellbeing Walk on Wednesday 27 October? These gentle, friendly strolls are particularly suited for older visitors and are dementia friendly – no booking needed, just meet at the St Aidan’s Visitor Centre at 11am.

Photo credit: Katie Green (Wellbeing Walk)

October is, of course, also Hallowe’en season! Keep an eye out for our terrifying family trails, launching at both sites in mid-October – you can pop into our Visitor Centres pick up an activity pack and trail sheet for a small charge. If you’re feeling especially brave, you can join us for a Spooky Stories event! Places on these torchlit storytelling walks are limited and pre-booking is essential – for more information on the St Aidan’s walks click here: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/7746; or here for Fairburn Ings: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/7744.

We were really excited to launch Nature Tots in September, and had some great feedback on our first session! Perfect for young explorers aged 2.5-5 years old, our next sessions are running on 4 and 18 October, and 1 and 15 November – more information about Nature Tots is on our blog here: https://community.rspb.org.uk/placestovisit/fairburnings/b/fairburnings-blog/posts/nature-tots-is-coming-to-fairburn-ings, or you can book your slots here: https://events.rspb.org.uk/events/7255

Photo credit: Becky Owen (Nature Tots session)

Finally, don’t forget to pop into our Visitor Centres during your visit– they’re open from 9.30am to 5pm daily for hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks; and of course our friendly teams can give sightings updates and help with visit planning. The Fairburn Ings shop is feeling festive, with Christmas cards, wrapping and gifts, as well as 2022 diaries and calendars in stock and the usual bird food & care and gifts. Don’t forget we also stock a range of binoculars, telescopes and accessories, and are happy to provide 1:1 consultations and advice – pop in or give us a ring on 01977 628194 to find out more.

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