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.
As I got out of my car I spotted a Buzzard circling overhead before it headed north over the fields. I walked past the visitor centre and on to the Pick Up Hide which was not quite as cold as it had been on my last visit a couple of weeks before during the "Beast from the East" when the wind chill had made if feel like minus twelve. Out on the water in front of the hide were a trio of Greylag Geese but nothing else, the feeders however were much busier.
Making regular visits to the feeders were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings. Perching on the branches to the side and on the ground below the feeders were several Robins and Dunnocks with the Robins also present in the bushes behind the hide. A trio of Greenfinches descended through the branches to the feeders and they were soon joined by a pair of Goldfinches and several Chaffinches.
A Jay flew out of the trees to the right of the hide and went straight over the pond to the trees at the other side. I moved on and headed to the next set of feeders just fifty or so yards left of the Pick Up Hide and these feeders were a little quieter although there were still a few Robins, Dunnocks and Chaffinches as well as a male Reed Bunting. Under the feeders were a couple of Moorhens and Mallards picking up any scraps and any time another bird came near a Robin it flew at it chasing it off.
There were a couple more Robins perched in the trees above singing away and watching the feeders. I walked along to the Kingfisher screen but there wasn't much there so I continued on up the hill and followed the path round to the Coal Tips Trail. I walked along the trail in an anti clockwise direction and on the first lake there were several Coots and Black Headed Gulls as well as the odd Gadwall, Pochard and Shoveler. On the second lake there were more coots but also a Great Crested Grebe in full breeding plumage.
As I turned westwards I could see the Pick Up Hide at the bottom of the hill and as I walked further along there were a pair of Robins singing from the tops of trees. Further away at the tops of some small trees were approximately twenty Cormorants and on the third lake behind me it was quiet apart from a couple of Coots and Mute Swans. As I turned north the wind started to pick up and it got even windier when I turned and headed east back towards the start of the Coal Tips Trail.
As I approached the first lake again on the other side of the path a Skylark rose up from the grass and began to sing its song as it hovered high above me. Further along a Kestrel was hovering above the edge of the path moving along a few yards every few seconds in search of food. As I headed back to the Kingfisher screen I spotted a Little Grebe on the Big Hole pool. After a quick look at the Kingfisher screen I headed back for another look at the Pick Up Hide, spotting the Green Woodpecker flying through the trees.
The feeders were still busy and there were still plenty of Robins about too. After I had taken a few photos of the Robins I headed back to the visitor centre to have a look at the feeders there. On the feeders were Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. A pair of Willow Tits also made regular visits with Robins, Dunnocks and a lone Collared Dove feeding off the scraps on the ground.
One of the Robins however looked a bit dishevelled as though it was unwell or had lost a fight with another Robin. I watched it as it took a drink from the small pond before hopping over to the cover of a bush and out of sight. I walked across the car park to the pontoons that look out over the main lake and on the water were a few Mallards, Black Headed Gulls, a pair of Shelducks and another Great Crested Grebe.
I have attached a few photos and full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Fairburn Ings.