As the weather begins to change and summer turns into autumn, leaves on some trees are starting to turn and more fungi is being seen. One bird species that will soon be departing, as water levels rise ready for the arrival of winter wildfowl, is the spatula-faced spoonbill. This year has increased dramatically for spoonbill nests with 5-7 in the heronry which is up from 3 nests last year. Sadly only 5 juveniles have fledged successfully, with a lack of food being identified as one of the main issues, as birds have been recorded flying to RSPB Blacktoft Sands to feed up before returning. Birds are still being seen across the reserve with a maximum of 3 present most days.

Spoonbill – Joe Seymour

This year a new individual baring rings on its legs has visited the site and bred successfully. This is extremely useful as the history of the bird has been learnt. The left leg holds Lime, Green and Red rings and the right leg holds Lime, silver (metal) and Green rings, one of which has a tag.  It was ringed in Niedersachen, Mellum, Germany on 10th June 2011 as pullus, downy young in the nest. It spent summers 2014, 2018 and 2019 at Holkham in Norfolk where it bred successfully in 2018. It first arrived at Fairburn on 31st May this year; paired up on 9th June and sexed as a male. On 11th June it was recorded building its nest and incubation is believed to have begun roughly around 26th. Almost 5 weeks later, on the 30th July 3 young were seen in the nest and on 27th August, 4 weeks later 2 individuals successfully fledged.

One of the Spoonbill families – Faith Gledhill

Cattle Egret numbers have now risen to 3 with a juvenile joining the 2 adults mid-month. These are best viewed from the Roy Taylor Trail either in the trees around the moat or on the flashes following the highland cattle about, hoping for them to turn up a few frogs. Great White Egret numbers are also on the rise with 3+ being seen across the reserve. Although these egrets may look quite monstress, they fear herons which tend to chase them about.

Great White Egret – Joe Seymour

Cattle Egret hitching a ride – Keith Boyer

During the last wetland bird survey (WeBS) on 20th approximately 1500 Greylag and Canada Geese were recorded with the majority on main and village bay with a lone Pink-footed Goose amongst them. A day later the first flock of Pink-footed Geese were recorded moving south. Along with these winter migrants the first large flock of Lesser Redpoll were recorded in the silver birch trees near to the iron bridge at lin dike, while a smaller flock of 9 were in the trees off Redshale road near big hole on 17th.  7 Whooper Swans roosted on Main Bay on the 26th along with an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Towards the end of the month Stonechat numbers rose with up to 9 being seen across site, mainly along the Roy Taylor Trail. Redwings are trickling through with birds being seen along Cut and from Pickup. A cream crown Marsh Harrier baring tags on its wings has been seen during the past couple of weeks as well as a juvenile bird. Together with sightings of Kestrels, Buzzards, Red Kites and Peregrines.

Kestrel – Keith Boyer


Finally, just a reminder to all visitors to stay safe during the ongoing pandemic and to keep socially distanced when visiting the reserve. Some of the hides are open but face coverings must be worn if you are able to. The one-way system is also still in place around the discovery trail during opening hours.