OSPREY MAKES RARE VISIT @ FAIRBURN INGS
On Wednesday I went down to my local RSPB reserve Fairburn Ings which is located east of Leeds near Castleford. Fairburn Ings was designated as a nature reserve in 1957 under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act (1949) and since the 1970's the reserve has been managed by the RSPB.
The reason I visited was due to an Osprey having being seen at the reserve in the previous few days, more on the Osprey later. I first headed for the Pick Up Hide which looks south west over a small lagoon with some bird feeders to the right as well as a man made Sand Martin wall. Milling around the feeders were several Great Tits, a couple of Blue Tits, a single Greenfinch and a pair of male Chaffinches. Soon after my arrival a Willow Tit arrived at the feeders.
Out on the lagoon, where the mud flats rise out of the water, a Snipe was busy probing the mud and shallow water for food. A flock of about 30 to 40 Canada Geese flew over the lagoon and headed west towards Lin Dike Hide. After about 20 minutes the Willow Tit returned to the feeders, but this time a second Willow Tit arrived at the feeder. On the ground beneath the feeders an adult and a juvenile Robin were picking up the scraps dropped by the birds visiting the feeders. The juvenile Robin was in the process of developing the red breast it achieves when it is a full adult.
Just before I left a Grey Heron flew in and circled round the lagoon before landing and after half an hour at the hide I left and made my way over to the Kingfisher screen. Upon arrival at the Kingfisher screen I saw that the stream was covered in algae in front and beyond the sluice gate. I waited a good 10 minutes to see if the Kingfisher would turn up, but with all the algae on the water surface it was unlikely the bird would make an appearance so I headed back towards the visitor centre and on towards the pontoons overlooking the main bay.
On the main bay were several Mute Swans and Mallards as well as a few Black Headed Gulls and a Little Egret sat on a tree branch hanging over the edge of the lake about a hundred yards down the left side. After a couple of minutes the Little Egret flew down and landed in front of the left hand pontoon before moving across to the shallow water in front of the right hand pontoon and spent the next 15 to 20 minutes fishing about 20 feet away from me allowing me to get quite a few good pictures.
I now decided to go and search for the Osprey which had been seen fishing at The Moat and New Flash areas of Fairburn Ings. I stopped off at a small viewing point halfway between the main car park and Lin Dike car park which overlooks the eastern end of The Moat. Sadly there was no sign of the Osprey but just a few Wood Pigeons and several Cormorants perched in the trees.
I got back in my car and moved on to the Lin Dike car park and walked back along the road to see if the Osprey would make another visit to the New Flash which is a lake that borders the road. On the New Flash were several Pochards, Mallards, Little Grebes and a lot of Coots as well as quite a few Little Egrets around the far side.
At the other side of the road is Cedric's Pool, which was empty, but just over the other side is an electricity pylon. About two thirds of the way up on the left hand side a Peregrine Falcon sat looking west. Overhead a group of 12 Snipes flew round in a circle before heading over towards Lin Dike Hide and circling around several times looking for somewhere to land before dropping onto the mud flats just in front of the hide.
After waiting for nearly 40 minutes I was beginning to think I would miss out on seeing the Osprey. But just a couple of minutes later a very large bird flew in over the trees along Arrow Lane and as it got closer I was able to tell it was the Osprey! It even had a fish in its claws and it circled round the New Flash before heading to a large dead tree at the far left hand side, landing on the top and proceeding to tuck in to the fish.
After the Osprey had finished eating the fish it flew off back across Arrow Lane towards Hickson's Flash. I started to walk back to my car and as I was about half way back the Osprey returned with another fish in its claws and went back to the dead tree it had been perched on before. This is only the 4th time I have seen an Osprey and only the second time in Yorkshire with the other two being in Wales and Canada.
I have attached a few pictures from my visit and a full sightings list.