• COVID-19 Keeping Busy - 02/04/2020

    The post below has been copied from the Fairburn page. All blogs will now be posted here, on the Aire Valley page.

    From 29/03/2020

    'Hello bloggers,

    Firstly, I want to pass on the Aire Valley Team's best wishes to all of you sat at home, although times like this feel unnatural, awkward and frustrating at times to nature and wildlife lovers, we will get through this as a community. We are always happy to be contacted…

    • 2 Apr 2020
  • A Poetical Quiz and What’s About at St Aidan’s

    To coincide with the ‘Big Garden Birdwatch” (25 - 27 Jan), our recent winter walks and the end of what always seems an interminable month; there follows a previously lost 16th century poem (of questionable quality) that is essentially also a bird ID quiz.

     Written at a time when spelling was a loose concept, it is easier to understand if read aloud. For information all mention of ‘tawny’ is as a colour only…

    • 26 Jan 2020
  • Recent Sightings at Fairburn Ings 1st January to 12th January

    Wildfowl numbers are uncommonly low around the reserve for the time of year, this is also being experienced at our sister site at St. Aidens, its unknown what the cause of the low numbers are at this moment. Bucking the trend has been a higher number of shelducks with up to 23 noted on one day.


    A short-eared owl was reported over the flashes on January 1st, raptors noted have been buzzard, red kite and peregrine…

    • 19 Jan 2020
  • A Ranger’s Wintry Walk at Fairburn Ings

    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…

    • 20 Dec 2019
  • Recent Sightings at Fairburn Ings 17th - 30th November 2019

    The main event at the reserve at the moment is the starling murmuration, between 10000 and 20000 have been reported over the recent weeks. It’s advisable to be up on the Coal Tips by 14.45 – 15.00 to watch the incoming starlings perform. Please be warned that it can be very cold at dusk so please dress accordingly and stay warm.


    The cattle egret was last seen on the 21st November and there have been…

    • 5 Dec 2019
  • Glossy Ibis and recent sightings

    Floods have reduced the number of recent sightings with a lot of wildfowl dispersing plus restricted access to the reserve. However, a glossy ibis was attracted to the reserve and could be seen feeding along the flooded Newton Lane near to the Phalarope Pool on 10th November until it was flushed and not seen again.

    Glossy ibis - Joe Seymour

    Pixie cup lichen has been found along Red Shale Road, an online search revealed…

    • 22 Nov 2019
  • Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke officially opens the Roy Taylor Trail in memory of RSPB conservationist

    On Tuesday 19, we held a special ceremony to mark the official renaming of Fairburn's Coal Tips Trail.

    The event was held to celebrate our recent purchase of the site, thanks to funding from Biffa Award and Ecotalk by Ecotricity, continuing the legacy of our dear friend, late conservation entrepreneur, Roy Taylor. The ribbon was cut by special guests BBC Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke, Roy Taylor’s wife Anna…

    • 21 Nov 2019
  • Halloween in the ScAire Valley!

    2 November 2019

    We’ve had great fun this half term with our Halloween events at both sites. With craft activities, quiz trails and face painting we’ve really got into the spirit. Or should that be spirits?

    But the highlights of our Halloween calendar were our Deadly Dusk Walks for which over 30 children joined us at both sites for ghoulish guided walks after dark.

    ‘Rotten Richard’ kick things off with some…

    • 2 Nov 2019
  • Yellow-browed Warbler and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    A yellow-browed warbler tops the list of recent sightings; a first record of the species for the reserve was seen along the Lin Dike footpath (also known as Arrow Lane) on October 12th. This species is a vagrant from Asia and is more commonly found on the east coast but numbers are increasing and more birds are being located inland at this time of year.

    Yellow-browed Warbler - Keith Boyer (Library photo)


    An expected…

    • 24 Oct 2019
  • Long-billed dowitcher and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    A North American vagrant in the form of a long-billed dowitcher was found up on the coal tips on the morning of 14th September. It was fairly elusive during the day giving only distant views but finally appeared late afternoon on New Flash giving good views. This is only the second record for this species at Fairburn Ings, the only previous encounter being back in 1981.

    Long-billed dowitcher - Joe Seymour

    Great egre…

    • 19 Sep 2019
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings 18th August to 31st August 2019

    A juvenile turnstone which appeared on New Flash on the 19th was the recent highlight, although it was always distant and in and out of the long grass at the water’s edge, the last reported sighting was on the 26th. An osprey was also reported by visitors flying over Lin Dike car park on the 21st, hopefully we may get a juvenile stopping over to practice its fishing skills, fingers crossed.


    The cattle e…

    • 6 Sep 2019
  • Southern Migrant Hawker and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Dragonflies have provided the main interest recently, with a sighting of a southern migrant hawker near the pond dipping area, a first record for the reserve. Also a report of a red-veined darter, seen by a couple of visitors on the discovery trail. Last but not least, a red-eyed damselfly was seen just off the reserve near Lin Dike car park.

    Southern migrant hawker - Pete Carr


    This is the busiest part of the…

    • 23 Aug 2019
  • Spoonbill update and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    The latest spoonbill update is that there are now three confirmed nest sites with young in each. Up to twenty spoonbills have now been seen in one view with a visiting teaspoon amongst them, presumably from the Humber area. The best place to view from is the coal tips, there are benches in place overlooking the moat area as well as fencing where you can either use a scope with a hide clamp or just rest your arms on with…

    • 20 Jul 2019
  • A popular conservationist’s lasting legacy secures funding to purchase Fairburn Tips

    Thanks to major funding from lead funder Biffa Award and further funding from Ecotalk by Ecotricity, we’re delighted to have purchased the part of the reserve known as Fairburn Tips, securing land for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and continuing the legacy of our late friend and colleague Roy Taylor.

    As many of our visitors will know, the Coal Tips, once the largest colliery spoil heap in Europe covering…

    • 17 Jul 2019
  • Gull-billed tern and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    A gull-billed tern was spotted flying west with a group of black-headed gulls over the flashes late evening on 20th June, the birds identity being confirmed by its call. The first record of the species on the reserve and a great spot, it makes you think how many other species have passed through un-noticed late in the day!

    The latest spoonbill news is that the two nest sites have at least two young in each so no doubt…

    • 5 Jul 2019
  • Return of the Cattle Egret and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    An early return of the cattle egret this year, making an appearance on New Flash on 13th June and it is still present on the reserve. It's a splendid looking bird in summer plumage with it's rich buff crown and chest with the dagger like yellow bill. As the name suggests the egret likes to follow cattle to pick up insects disturbed by their movement. They will also take frogs and you may see them landing in water with…

    • 22 Jun 2019
  • Red-necked phalarope, night heron, spoonbills and supporting cast

    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…

    • 7 Jun 2019
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings May 5th to May18th 2019

    A quieter fortnight with a steady flow of migrants passing through, although most have been either single sightings or overflights. Wheatears in particular have been very elusive and difficult to find this year, although we seem to have greater numbers of garden warblers and lesser whitethroats with their songs filling the air in most areas of the reserve, every cloud….

    Garden Warbler - Keith Boyer



    • 25 May 2019
  • Black-crowned night heron and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    The birds keep arriving; top of the billing has to be the black-crowned night heron. First seen in flight over the Hicksons Flash area heading east and then located on Village Bay Island on the morning of 2nd May. Although views were distant, this rare visitor attracted attention until the last sighting on 4th May. No decent usable images are available due to the distance so the photo below is a library shot, as Jim Bowen…

    • 9 May 2019
  • Fairburn Ings recent sightings 7th April to 20th April

    A busy fortnight on the reserve, a good selection of birds returning or passing through. The range of songs being heard around the reserve is increasing. It truly feels like summer with willow warblers/chiffchaff constantly singing in the background wherever you are, and skylarks filling the air with song, especially on the Coal Tips. Some nice wetland visitors also with a ruddy shelduck making a brief appearance, a

    • 27 Apr 2019
  • Fairburn Ings recent sightings 24th March to 6th April

    The last two weeks have seen an increase in migrant birds visiting the reserve. Willow warblers and blackcaps can now be heard around the reserve, spoonbills have begun to return to the moat area, and a garganey appeared and has been mobile around the flashes. A little gull has given excellent views on Main Bay and Village Bay and a single black-tailed godwit was seen on New Flash. Not forgetting the Coal Tips where a…

    • 11 Apr 2019
  • Windhover

    St Aidan's is something of a kestrel's paradise. They are safe from shooting, poisoning and persecution, and the park provides plenty of voles to keep them well fed. You are almost guaranteed to see one, either hunting over the Hillside or Ridge & Furrow, or watching the world go by from the Dragline or the top of a tree. Their graceful, watchful hover is unmistakable in the skies above the reserve.


    • 10 Apr 2019
  • Fairburn Ings recent sightings 10th March to 23rd March

    The sound of the chiffchaff singing has been heard in several areas of the reserve, lifting the melancholy days of spring when the weather does not quite know what to do with itself. An easily recognisable song as it repeats its name over and over, a good way of separating from the near identical willow warbler as the songs are completely different, the willow warbler has a more fluent song, with a gentle series of descending…

    • 29 Mar 2019
  • A Rangers View by Jane Mawson

    Fairburn Ings 8th March 2019

    Another day at Fairburn and the passage of a week makes all the difference to the hawthorn bushes on the way – they’re suddenly green! The blackthorn is at my favourite stage – full of round white buds just ready to burst out, and every year I think the bare black twigs look like they’re decorated with tiny pearls.

    Daffodils are out in profusion round the Discovery…

    • 18 Mar 2019
  • Up on the roof

    Storm Gareth ruffled a few feathers in the Aire Valley this week, and blew my cobwebs away when I visited St Aidan's on Wednesday. I didn't venture any further than a walk round Bowers – it was difficult staying upright in the wind – where just a few birds braved the choppy waters.

    Storm Gareth ruffled a few great crested grebe feathers

    Stormy waters

    This male tufted duck looks distinctly unimpr…

    • 16 Mar 2019