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 1970s the reserve has been managed by the RSPB.
There had been heavy snowfall overnight and the visitor centre was closed but I wanted to try and get some photos in the snow so I made my way down just after lunch. The roads to the reserve were clear but the car park was covered in snow and only a handful of cars in it. It was a very cold day with a temperature of -4°C and the wind chill making it feel like -12°C!
I walked through the snow to the visitor centre and had a look at the feeders by the end which were being visited by Blue Tits and Great Tits with Dunnocks and Robins hopping about in the snow picking up the scraps dropped from the feeders. As I noticed a couple of Chaffinches perched in the trees above the feeders one of the Robins flew up and landed on the top of a chair next to the feeders looking at me.
I now trudged through the snow to the Pick Up Hide which like the other feeders was very busy. There were Robins, Dunnocks, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Chaffinches visiting the feeders and sitting on the branches behind me with Robins even landing on the hide right next to me. It was bitterly cold and it began to snow again as a Nuthatch landed on a branch just a few yards in front of me and a little way behind it, sat on a snow covered branch, was another Nuthatch. Once they saw each other they flew off chasing each other through the trees.
It was still snowing when a Coal Tit appeared where the Nuthatch had been perched before it moved down to the feeders. A Greenfinch and a female Reed Bunting now descended through the branches to the feeders and they were soon joined by a male Reed Bunting which, after a brief visit to the feeders, perched on the end of a branch looking out over the water. Just as the snow was beginning to stop a Robin flew in and briefly landed on the end of my camera lens looking at me before flying over to some bird food which had been left on the top of a fence post.
Blackbirds and Chaffinches also made visits to the food which had been left out and over on the feeders a Willow Tit made a brief appearance before being dislodged from the feeders by a group of Long Tailed Tits. A pair of Starlings briefly flew in and landed on the branches in front of the hide before flying off into the trees behind the feeders. The water in front of the hide was mostly frozen and the only birds present were a couple of Coots swimming in the small patch of water that wasn't frozen. I left the Pick Up Hide and walked the short distance to the feeder screen and as I arrived it started to snow again.
On the floor below the feeders a male and female Mallard were sat together in the snow waiting for scraps to be dropped from above. The birds visiting the feeders all briefly perched on the ropes, which went from post to post, before dropping down to the feeders and sometimes even to the ground. Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings were all visiting the feeders although whenever another bird ventured into a patch that a Robin had claimed as its own the Robin chased the other bird off. Perched on the top of a snow topped wooden post in the background I spotted a lone Blackbird looking thoroughly brassed off with all the snow.
As I walked on towards the Kingfisher screen it stopped snowing and in the water to my right several Mallards occupied the small sections of water that were not frozen over. The Kingfisher screen was very quiet, but flying over head and landing further down the stream was a Grey Heron and just a few minutes later a Great White Egret flew overhead and landed just out of sight. I was not expecting to see the Great White Egret as most of the pools were frozen over as I drove past them on my way down to the reserve so this was a pleasant surprise.
I made my way back to the visitor centre and just as I reached it I saw Wren hopping between the bushes through the snow. Perched on the fence and bushes were several Robins looking for food which had been left out by a member of staff at the reserve. I walked across the snow covered car park and down the boardwalk and onto the duck feeding platforms which overlook the main bay. Like the other areas of water, the main bay was frozen over with just a single Black Headed Gull stood on the ice.
As I made my way back up the boardwalk a trio of Roe Deer crossed the road to my right and reached the boardwalk. After finding a way under the boardwalk they bounded through the tall grass and bushes into the trees at the other side. As I drove back along the road past the moat a group of over one hundred Greylag Geese rose up from the field on the right and flew over the road.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my snow filled visit to Fairburn Ings.