• 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
  • Fairburn Ings recent sightings 24th February to 9th March

    A single sand martin was seen over main bay on 2nd March surprising a couple of birders, plus ringed plovers and dunlin moving through signifying the early onset of spring migration and hopefully more species moving through the reserve. Please remember to put sightings in the book at the visitors centre, or if you use twitter post sightings with #fairburnbirds in the text.

    Dunlin - Pete M


     A barn owl was seen…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings 10th February - 23rd February 2019

    Skylarks are taking to the air in song already and can be heard throughout the reserve; it seems that spring is already upon us during this freakish spell of unseasonably warm weather. Reports of early arrivals of swallows and sand martins have been made in some parts of the country so keep an eye out and please report any early sightings to the visitor centre.

    Skylark - Pete M


    A brief visit from a spoonbil…

    • 27 Feb 2019
  • Sounds like spring is on the way...

    The skylarks are singing at St Aidan's. Go and have a listen. Birds are warming up their voices ready for spring. It's time to start claiming territories and get ready to attract a mate.

    A bittern was heard booming in the reedbeds earlier this week and there are coots-a-tooting all across the reserve. The black-headed gulls heads are turning brown, and the great crested grebes are becoming worthy of their name…

    • 21 Feb 2019
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings 27th January - 9th February 2019

    The recent cold snap saw most of the reserve iced up displacing a lot of the wildfowl; as a result sightings over the past fortnight have been limited although some good numbers occurred of some species on odd days. One of the highlights being 55 goldeneye turning up to roost on the coal tips along with the goosanders,  a whole lot of displaying going on which was quite a sight.

    Teal - Pete M


    The most notable…

    • 13 Feb 2019
  • Recent Sightings at Fairburn Ings 13th-26th January

    Something to brighten up the run of intermittent grey and wet days has been a number of sightings of red-crested pochard. A female was seen from Charlie’s hide on the 19th and 20th, after a male and female were noted on the 18th.The pair were displaced by the icy weather and were rediscovered on Parkers Pool on the 26th. The male is a stunning looking duck with a rusty-orange round head, red bill and black breast…

    • 31 Jan 2019
  • Happy new year - Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Well, the start of another year’s birdwatching is well under way. You can enjoy birds as just a casual observer out for a walk and enjoying what you see or you could begin a list recording what you see either at a local reserve or area you frequent, known as a “patch”. It is a good way of learning about birds, linking birds to different habitats and also what you are likely to see at different times of the year. If your…

    • 15 Jan 2019
  • Fairburn Ings sightings update

    As we enter the quiet winter spell it’s an ideal time to develop your identification skills if you are new to birdwatching, or just enjoy a walk taking in the surroundings. The discovery trail is an excellent place to spot our smaller birds, plus redwings and fieldfares.

    Redwing - Pete M

    Take the time to stop for a while and see what you can find. Little gems such as goldcrests and treecreepers are easier to…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • Recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    As the days get shorter and winter starts to kick in and time is spent searching through flocks of wildfowl and gulls in the hope of spotting something scarce visiting the reserve, it’s a bonus to come up with one of our scarcer visiting birds tucked away amongst mobile flocks of finches. A mealy (common) redpoll was discovered feeding with a small flock of lesser redpoll amongst the alders on the riverbank at the…

    • 4 Dec 2018
  • More rarities and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Just when you expect reserve to be quieter three more local rarities turn up, albeit briefly and only seen by a handful of observes who happened to be in the right place at the right time. First up on Monday 5th November was a brief sighting of a great grey shrike in the Hicksons Flash area, these birds are scarce autumn migrants and winter visitors with between 150-300 individuals expected throughout the UK.


    • 21 Nov 2018
  • It’s Tough at the Top - & St Aidan’s Recent Sightings Round-Up

    Animals at or near the top of a food chain fascinate and thrill. Raptors and owls mesmerise with their size, skills and spectacular aerial displays. Fanciful or not, you’ve got to respect a bird that when it looks your way, seems to express a contempt that almost says “you mean noth-ing to me.”

    Insouciance personified; red kite at the top of the hill opposite the main lake.


    For their size, their…

    • 7 Nov 2018
  • Merlin and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    The most notable bird around the reserve over the last fortnight turns out to be a raptor again, a female merlin making a couple of appearances in front of Lin Dike hide. The first sighting was on Sunday 28th October where it decided to have a bath in front of lucky onlookers; the second sighting was a week later on Saturday 3rd November to strike a pose. The merlin is the smallest European falcon, often seen flying low…

    • 7 Nov 2018
  • Hen harrier excitement at Fairburn Ings

    A very exciting visitor stayed for around an hour on 20th October, a harrier appeared over new flash sporting a white rump and a ring tail, a hen harrier! Flying with easy effortless wingbeats between gliding, the harrier moved effortlessly across spoonbill flash before descending out of sight into robins reed bed for a short time. When the harrier reappeared it flew off in a westerly direction, watched until it was a…

    • 25 Oct 2018
  • St Aidan's sightings - October, the story so far...

    It was an unseasonably summery day when I visited St Aidan's this week. A clear-blue-sky day with barely a breeze to stir the reeds. The insects were certainly taking advantage of the warm weather, with ladybirds taking to the air en masse. A few Small and Large White butterflies were exploring hedges and flowers all around the Park, while Small Coppers have been seen around the reedbeds and by the sluice. Migrant Hawker…

    • 12 Oct 2018
  • Marsh tit and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Another reserve rarity turning up recently, this time a UK resident species which means we now have a full complement of the tit family at Fairburn with the arrival of a marsh tit. It is very similar to our other scarce breeder, the willow tit, careful identification is required to separate the two species as they look identical at a glance. Marsh tit plumage has a duller overall appearance and the bill has a pale patch…

    • 10 Oct 2018
  • Marsh harriers and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    Autumn migration is in full swing and this is the time to be on the lookout for birds passing through on migration south. One such bird which always creates excitement is the marsh harrier, a regular passage migrant and occasionally over-winters on the reserve. The largest harrier species, typically seen flying low over marshes with steady wing beats between glides on raised wings whilst hunting. If you are walking around…

    • 26 Sep 2018
  • Black terns, ospreys and other sightings at Fairburn Ings

    More star turns make a brief appearance on main bay, two juvenile black terns to be precise. They appeared on the morning of the 27th August and stayed until mid-afternoon, a great start to the week for the observers who were lucky enough to see them. The black tern is a scarce spring and autumn migrant to the UK coast and inland waters, they occur in North America and Europe, our visitors are migrating from Europe to…

    • 12 Sep 2018
  • Fake News of Yore - Plus St Aidan’s Sightings

    Autumn bird migration has rolled around again and our summer visitors are starting to depart as those who pause or winter here are arriving. Without today’s facilities or technologies, migration was a mystery to be explained and by, did some imaginations run riot.

    Catching insects yellow wagtail style on the eastern reedbed.

    In 1745, in “Inquiry into the physical and literal sense of the scriptures” the unknown…

    • 9 Sep 2018
  • Cattle egret and recent sightings at Fairburn Ings

    As we move ever closer to autumn birds are starting to move from their breeding grounds in preparation for migration. This is the time to keep your eyes open for birds passing through the reserve which you wouldn’t expect to see as they drop into fuel up for their long journey. A surprise find on the 24th August on the path through Lin Dike was a Tree Pipit. Tree pipits can usually be found in sparsely timbered…

    • 28 Aug 2018
  • St Aidan's sightings blog

    St Aidan’s continues to delight as summer rolls towards autumn and migration time.

     Across the site, the hirondines are feeding up and getting ready to head south. Swallows and swifts, house martins and sand martins are still to be seen on the wing plucking insects out of the air. Within the next few weeks they will be off to feeding grounds thousands of miles away.

    On the hillside, greylag and Canada geese are…

    • 24 Aug 2018
  • Fairburn Ings sightings 29th July 2018 to 11th August 2018

    The summer is almost over, as far as the birds are concerned anyway, as many species begin to move south in preparation for their long journey to warmer climes for the winter. Cuckoos of course are short stay birds, arriving late April to early May and departing for Africa in July. An all too short a stay for one of our iconic summer visitors it’s call is instantly recognised by everybody, whether a keen birder or somebody…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • Frazzled & Frayed - Plus St Aidan’s Sightings

    At this time of year our gardens seem to be populated by sickly looking birds such as ragged robins, bedraggled blackbirds, shabby starlings, jaded jays, mussed magpies and tatty tits. The subject of feather moult is fraught with variation by species, birds within species, frequency, timing, duration, life-style and is full of exceptions but most go through a post-breeding moult, hence the “pulled through a hedge…

    • 10 Aug 2018
  • St. Aidan's Activities for Families

    The school holidays are here, and we're welcoming families to St. Aidan's Nature Park to go wild!

    The RSPB's Wild Challenge is home to tonnes of ideas about how you & your children can get close to nature. You can sign up as a family for free & work your way towards your gold award.

    The Aire Valley have always welcomed families, and now St Aidan's is in its second summer - we've upped the possibilities…

    • 3 Aug 2018