Sunday, 28 February 2016

A day at Fairburn Ings

In a wonderful spring-like day I take part in the monthly meeting of Hull Natural History Society to Fairburn Ings. I had last been in 1997, so it was good to return to this large and growing RSPB nature reserve. Coal mining was very important in the area, and the subsidence resulting from coal extraction favours the development of lakes, ponds and marshy areas by the river. The river bank is a massive coal spoil tip, now restored with birch woodland. We parked in the village and walked alongside Riverbank Trail, which meanders alongside the River Ayre, atop the coal spoil heap, now covered on birch wood. Soon we had a quick view of a Kingfisher flying away. From Charlie's Hide we watched a pair of Great Crested Grebes courting.

Robert spotted a Snipe, later we found out five of them, amazingly well camouflaged on the short growing vegetation.
 In the main lake, there is a flock of Goosanders, and also Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. We meet the river and watch a flock of Pink-footed geese in migration.
 By Big Hole, we watch first three Buzzards soaring, and then a flock of Whooper Swans flying over. Andrew points to a female Stonechat feeding by the marginal reedbed.
 We had lunch in the visitor centre, with busy bird feeders. After lunch we did the Discovery Trail. From Pickup Hide we watch the feeders, and also a Jay that goes back and forth across the pond. In the distance, a tree is heavy with Cormorants, some sitting on nests.
 We then moved to Lin Dyke and walk to Spoonbill Flash. After a while, we managed to spot the Smew, a drake and two redheads. Quite long views, but exciting to see my first drake. There are three Little Egrets and a Grey Heron about.
Overall, a most pleasant walk for late February, gloves barely needed. The reserve is large and diverse in habitats, and we didn't even see it all in an all day trip, so I hope to return in the near future.
Pink-footed geese flying North
River Ayre
Buzzard soaring over Big Hole.
Birch fungi
Female Stonechat by the reedbeds of Big Hole.
A male Reed Bunting by the feeders.
Cormorant Tree, some cormorants on nests.
Tree Sparrow by the feeders
Greenfinch by the feeders.
Little Egret, one of three around Spoonbill Flash.
Record shot of drake Smew, my first ever!
record shot of female Smew.
A Grey Heron near the hide at Spoonbill Flash.
Close encounter between Grey Heron and Little Egret. The Little Egret kept its distance.

More information
RSPB Fairburn Ings website.
RSPB Fairburn Ings map.

Location Map

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