• Aire Valley Opening Times Update

    We know many of you have been missing our delicious bird-friendly coffee or grabbing a bite to eat when visiting our beautiful Aire Valley sites and we have some great news! We now have a take away catering offer available at both of our sites, and our shop at Fairburn Ings is open for business.

    From Monday 2 November, we are temporarily changing the opening hours of our shop and catering offer, due to limited staff capacity…

    • 30 Oct 2020
  • Spoonbills, Egrets and More…

    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…

    • 5 Oct 2020
  • What's Open At Our Aire Valley Sites?

    We know many of you have been missing our delicious bird-friendly coffee or grabbing a bite to eat when visiting our beautiful Aire Valley sites and we have some great news! We now have a take away catering offer available at both of our sites, and our shop at Fairburn Ings is open for business.

    So what's now available to you at our Aire Valley sites? 

    Fairburn Ings

    We have re-opened our trails and car park, but…

    • 21 Aug 2020
  • The Beauty of Butterflies During Lockdown

    The Beauty of Butterflies In Lockdown


    Finding butterflies is one of my absolute favourite things to do and so this year, as spring arrived, I was excited to start my search once more.

    Lockdown has brought a few challenges and my efforts have therefore been focused much closer to home.

    Instead of travelling the county on the lookout for rarities, I have spent my daily exercise walking my dog, Benji, through our local…

    • 9 Jul 2020
  • Volunteering at RSPB Fairburn Ings- Meet Ella

    Volunteering at RSPB Fairburn Ings- Meet Ella

    I am the youngest volunteer in retail at Fairburn, and at first, I was worried people may not get on with me as well as they do; everyone who I have worked with at Fairburn has been lovely, so kind and considerate, and genuinely in love with what they do, and how much conservation helps this planet. 

    The role was not as I expected – I honestly enjoy it even more than I…

    • 7 Jun 2020
  • Specialist Volunteering

    Here in the Aire Valley we have a great range of roles, and volunteers who do them! From bird surveyors to bloggers, all of our volunteers bring with them a wide variety of skills and knowledge, and we love to be able to use these very specific skill sets. Sometimes it even means creating a new role! 

    We’ve been lucky enough to talk to two such volunteers as part of Volunteers Week 2020. 

    Chris- Volunteer Programme…

    • 5 Jun 2020
  • A Chat with Charlie

    As part of our week-long celebration of Volunteers Week 2020, one of our St Aidan's volunteer Rangers Charlie spoke to us about her first year as part of our volunteering team. 

    "I first started volunteering with the RSPB exactly a year ago this week after seeing similar blogs from volunteers during Volunteers Week 2019. At the time I was between jobs after returning from travelling overseas but I have always worked…

    • 5 Jun 2020
  • 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