Well, the June 1st was an exciting day with the discovery of a migrating red-necked phalarope on Main Bay. Only the 5th record at Fairburn of this tiny wader (the last sighting was in October 2013), it made the dunlin look huge when they passed each other. Views were distant either from Bob Dickens hide or the roadside platform and very difficult to pick out due to it's size, hats off to the finder! When these birds do appear they are usually seen on or near to the coast so it's quite a bonus to have one so far inland. The night heron was also relocated in the cut, a really good find as this area has very limited viewing points, one particular branch angled into the water was its favoured perch giving the only possible view. It proved to be a very frustrating bird to see but persistence paid off for the lucky few.

Red-necked phalarope - Pete M


There are now 12 spoonbills recorded on site in the heronry, apart from feeding around the reserve some have been flying as far afield as Blacktoft Sands to feed.  Other waders reported have been six avocets, two ringed plover two redshank, six black-tailed godwit, ten dunlin and a single ruff. A pink-footed goose was seen in the field beyond the phalarope pool.

Black-tailed godwit - Pete M

Other wildfowl sightings have been of the escaped bufflehead, the wandering red-crested pochard, wigeon, teal and a male garganey has been showing well from Lin Dike hide. A female ruddy shelduck was also reported on spoonbill flash on 1st June. Bitterns have been seen frequently flying from the coal tips to the Hicksons area and back. Raptors noted have been kestrel, buzzard, marsh harrier, peregrine and a hobby on 31st May. Other notable sightings have been of a yellow wagtail on 19th May and a meadow pipit on 22nd May.

Ringed plover - Pete M

Main bay and village bay

An australasian shoveler was seen on a couple of occasions, it appeared to be of the New Zealand race, the origin is unknown and the bird has not been ringed. Surprisingly little interest was shown by birders compared to the interest in the escaped bufflehead. Up to 14 avocet have been seen with a maximum of 13 young recorded, a good year after last year’s poor showing. A pair of oystercatchers have also been seen with two young. Waders reported have been three ringed plover, two dunlin, little ringed plover, two sanderlings on 27th May and the red-necked phalarope on 1st June. Two common terns are also present on the islands. An osprey was seen heading east on 21st May.

Avocet - Keith Boyer

Infrequent sightings of the night heron on cut lane as described earlier. Two willow tits were seen on the riverbank trail, as well as garden warbler, cuckoo and a juvenile tawny owl.

Black-crowned night heron - John Price

Coal Tips

Up to ten bearded tits have been reported on the south-east lagoon. Frequent sightings of up to three cuckoos; keep your eyes on those fence posts. Bitterns have been seen in flight as well as the occasional marsh harrier and sparrowhawk. A little ringed plover also made an appearance on big hole on 27th May.

Butterflies & Dragonflies

Current list of butterflies reported on the reserve are orange tip, peacock, green veined white, speckled wood, comma, small tortoiseshell, brimstone, small copper, dingy skipper, holly blue, and brown argus.

Orange tips mating - Pete M

Sightings around the reserve of large red damselfly, azure damselfly, four spotted chaser, banded demoiselle, blue-tailed damselfly.


Bees noted have been large earth bumblebee, common carder bee and tree bumblebee

A Hawthorn shield bug was seen along Red Shale Road.

Hawthorn shield bug - Pete M

Orchids discovered around the reserve have been marsh and common spotted, a bloody cranesbill was also reported on Red Shale Road.

A roe deer and fawn was seen from Pick Up hide on 24th May. Mink were reported on the coal tips and they have predated the black-headed gull’s nests.