I usually go to Fairburn Ings on Wednesdays, however due to the fact it was raining very heavily all day, I visited on a dry sunny Saturday this week. This time I had been joined by my father as we were hoping to see Yorkshire's first recorded pair of breeding Spoonbills. It had been the first ever recorded breeding of Spoonbills at an RSPB reserve as well and their nest site had been kept under a shroud of secrecy until the eggs had hatched.
Upon arriving at the reserves visitor centre we asked the best place to see the Spoonbills from, which we were told was up on the Coal Tips trail. One of the staff informed us that there were 7 Spoonbills on the reserve in total, 4 adults and 3 juveniles. I shall return to the Spoonbills later in the blog.
Before we went to the Coal Tips trail we headed to the always windy Pick Up Hide overlooking a lagoon and it was even windier than usual. On the feeders were Chaffinches, Great Tits, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and a lone male Blackbird. The lagoon it's self was very quiet with just two Mute Swans on it, however over to the right hovering over the fields was a Kestrel.
After quarter of an hour we headed along the path to the Kingfisher screen. When we got there it appeared that all was quiet, but less than 10 seconds later, from the trees beyond the sluice gate the Kingfisher dived into the water after a fish and returned empty handed to a branch on the right. Sadly it was a blocked view and I could not get a picture, the Kingfisher repeated this a couple of times before flying off down the stream away from us towards the main lake.
We then headed up the hill and round past the big hole pond towards the Coal Tips Trail. The Coal Tips Trail consists of a circular path round three small lakes, the first lake had only Mute Swans & Coots with a few Swifts flying overhead. The path round the second lake overlooks the lagoon in front of the Pick Up Hide and on this lake were quite a few Tufted Ducks & Coots.
As you approach the third lake, you look out from the top of a hill over the Moat, this is were the Spoonbills have been breeding in amongst the Cormorants, Little Egrets and Grey Herons. Sadly this is a very distant view and is not at all accessible. The Eurasian or Common Spoonbill is a very large wader, all white in colour apart from its black legs and beak with a yellow tip. The beak of the Spoonbill is very unique, it is long, broad, with a wide, rounded, flat tip. Amongst the Spoonbills were several Little Egrets, Cormorants and a lone Grey Heron.
After a look through a scope at the Spoonbills, 2 of the juveniles lifted off from the nest and did a circular loop back round to the nest, practicing their flying skills. After a few minutes we moved off round the 3rd lake which had a Little Grebe, Mute Swans, Coots and Tufted Ducks on it. Once round the 3rd Lake you head back towards the start of the Coal Tips Trail. Upon reaching the 1st Lake again a Reed Bunting kept circling round us, landing on branches and wire fences, each time I got it in focus to take a picture it took off!
Going back round the Big Hole Lake there was a clattering of about 30 Jackdaws in grass followed by the wonderful song of a Skylark rising into the air. Arriving back at the Kingfisher screen there was no sign of the aforementioned Kingfisher, but just a couple of Wood Pigeons making a lot of noise. We then went back to the visitor centre for an ice cream and then on to the pontoons overlooking the Main Bay. From the pontoons there were plenty of Mute Swans, Mallards, Black Headed Gulls and a lone Great Crested Grebe.
From here we went back to the car and headed along Newton Lane and stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Moat. We were hoping to get a closer view of the Spoonbills either at their nest site or flying nearby. But it was not to be, we saw several flights by Cormorants, but all we got of the Spoonbill was a slightly obscured / blocked view of the nest. I have attached my list of sightings for the day.