• Meet Our Volunteers

    We had a chat with some of our lovely Aire Valley volunteers as part of Volunteers Week 2020 to find out a bit more about their roles, and what they enjoy about volunteering with the RSPB. Enjoy! 

    Volunteer Ranger- Mel 

    Where do you volunteer? 

    RSPB St Aidan’s.

    Describe your role in three words: Champion for Nature!

    What’s been your best wildlife moment during your time as a volunteer? 

    Standing with like…

    • 4 Jun 2020
  • Nathaniel's Volunteering Journey



    Nathaniel’s Story


    “I’ve been interested in wildlife from a very young age courtesy of my parents, I was actually born an RSPB member and that’s never changed. I first got more involved with the RSPB at school, when I did my work experience at a reserve. From there I became an RSPB volunteer aged 14, and aged 16 I became part of the RSPB’s national youth council. My time with the RSPB was paused when I left for…

    • 3 Jun 2020
  • Why We Volunteer At RSPB Fairburn Ings Ollie & Pete photos by Pete Carr


    Why We Volunteer At RSPB Fairburn Ings Ollie & Pete photos by Pete Carr


    How Did We Find Out About Volunteering?

    We were at Fairburn on a family visit, we’re lucky enough to live just five minutes away. We were sat having a snack in the Visitor Centre when an advert popped up on one of the big screens…

    • 2 Jun 2020
  • RSPB Volunteer Week Sarah's volunteering story


    My volunteering story started around a decade ago with a couple of different organisations. I’ve found it a good way to use my free time and give something back to others. I came to the RSPB in summer 2019 to complete a 150 hours work placement as part of my foundation degree at University Centre Askham Bryan in York which I started in 2018 as a mature student. As you can imagine I started this career path in a…

    • 2 Jun 2020
  • Marvellous Moths

    I love moths. About 5 years ago I was only familiar with the wee brown ones that would be drawn to the lights in the house, not able to find their way out again. When I was first asked if I'd be interested in moth trapping, I didn't really know what to say. What? I had no idea how beautiful and diverse their size, colour and shape. A secret world that you have to enter to discover them. Right now it's getting into peak…

    • 28 May 2020
  • Let's take you on a trip...

    Hello bloggers,

    I hope you are all well and staying safe. The incredible weather I see has come just as we are all housebound, so I thought it may be an idea to take you on an imaginary trip, with the help of our Aire Valley volunteer Karen Nicklin. This contribution should hopefully provide some inspiration for us all to cherish the outdoor world even more so once we are allowed back to our normal lives. Below is Karen…

    • 7 Apr 2020
  • 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