CHIFFCHAFFS ON SONG @ FAIRBURN INGS


On Thursday 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.


Again, like yesterday, it was a bright sunny day when I arrived at Fairburn Ings and I headed for the Pick Up Hide which was unusually quiet. There were however a couple of Sand Martins making regular visits to their nest holes in the Sand Martin wall just in front of the hide. In front of the hide over to the left there was a juvenile Grey Heron slowly inching its way through the water.


A pair of Long Tailed Tits now landed in the branches above the feeders before dropping down to the bramble bushes to the right of the hide and then flying off a couple of minutes later. A Dunnock now perched on a branch just above the barbed wire fence as Cormorants & Grey Herons flew overhead. The juvenile Grey Heron now took off from the left hand side of the water and landed just in front of the Sand Martin wall.


The Grey Heron only stayed for a couple of minutes in front of the Sand Martin wall and then flew off westwards towards the heronry. I left the Pick Up Hide and walked the short distance to feeders south east of the Pick Up Hide which were slightly busier. There were Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a single Reed Bunting visiting the feeders with a Grey Squirrel watching on from the top of a large wooden post.

I walked along the path towards the Kingfisher Screen and there was a lone Mute Swan by the pond dipping platform as I walked past and when I arrived it was very quiet. After a couple of minutes the Kingfisher appeared on a branch about fifty to sixty yards down stream and landed on a branch. A few seconds later it moved to a closer branch but before it could settle a Crow landed at the edge of the stream below it and the Kingfisher flew off down the stream and out of sight.


I walked back past the feeders, where the Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Reed Bunting were still busy visiting the feeders, to the Pick Up Hide. The Pick Up Hide was still fairly quiet but there was now a lone Collared Dove inching its way along the branch towards the now empty feeders. I continued on back towards the visitor centre and when I was half way there I noticed a couple of birds walking around the middle of a field next to the path.


Once I was able to get a closer look I spotted that they were Red Legged Partridges and they spent the next couple of minutes scurrying across the field. At the feeders next to the visitor centre there were Blackbirds, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Tree Sparrows and a lone Nuthatch. A Robin then flew in and perched on a wooden fence, briefly had a look at me and then flew across and tucked into the feeders.


I now walked across the car park and down the walkway to the pontoons over looking the Main Bay and as I arrived a pair of Shelducks flew overhead and landed in the water. There were also Black Headed Gulls, Mallards and Tufted Ducks present and what sounded like Reed Warblers singing away in the reeds next to the pontoons. I now headed back to the car and drove along Newton Lane to the Lin Dike car park and started walking up the path to the Lin Dike Hide.

As I made my way up the path I could hear the distinctive call of the Chiffchaff and when I was halfway to the hide the call became louder and closer. I spotted a Chiffchaff up in the trees to the left moving from branch to branch, occasionally stopping to sing. It then flew across to the right of the path and landed on a lichen covered branch, singing briefly, then moving to a branch hidden by the foliage and then disappearing over the stream and out of sight.


I continued on to the Lin Dike Hide, spotting a couple of Orange Tip Butterflies as I went. In the trees near to the hide there were a couple of Chaffinches and in front of the hide on the water there were Coots, Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks and Mallards. On various wooden posts across the water were a group of six Common Terns who occasionally made flights across the water searching for food.


Further out in the water there was a lone Great Crested Grebe and flying over head there was a Little Egret which flew off in the direction of the Coal Tips Trail. As I walked back to the car I saw a few Greylag Geese and several Canada Geese in the fields. Amongst the group of Greylag Geese there had been an Egyptian Goose sighted but I did not manage to see it although I had seen hundreds during a visit to Norfolk in October last year. There were still Chiffchaffs singing away in the trees as I reached my car and in the water at the other side of the road a Mute Swan was asleep on its nest.


I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Fairburn Ings.

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