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On Thursday I went down to my local RSPB reserve, Fairburn Ingswhich 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.

The reason for my visit was due to naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham bringing his Bio Blitz Tour to Fairburn Ings. Chris Packham was visiting fifty reserves over ten days to raise awareness of the state of the UK's wildlife and to raise money to support projects which help preserve the wildlife in the UK. You can donate at the following website:

Over to the right on the feeders there were Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Goldfinches paying a visit. A pair of Collared Doves flew down and landed on the ground underneath the feeders and were soon joined by a couple of Pheasants picking up the scraps dropped from above. Sand Martins were making regular visits to and from the Sand Martin Wall and one of the Collared Doves now flew up and landed on a wooden post just in front of the hide. Amongst the reeds and tall grass in front of the hide I spotted Reed Buntings and a single Reed Warbler.

I now walked back towards the visitor centre, turning left through a gate and onto the Spoonbill Trail before I got there. After a short walk through a wooded area I emerged onto Pick Up Field were all the way to the viewpoint I saw several different butterflies such as Small Tortoiseshell, Green Veined White and Peacock. I now reached the viewpoint where I could see one Spoonbill still on the nest and close by there were Little Egrets, Grey Herons and Cormorants.

Chris Packham

After a few minutes I turned and headed back along the trail and to my left there were about a dozen Swallows perched on the telegraph wires. As I walked back I saw Red Tailed and White Tailed Bumble Bees as well as the following butterflies - Green Veined White, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Comma. As I returned towards the start of the trail I saw Chris Packham being interviewed by BBC Look North about his Bio Blitz Tour.

As I approached the gate where you return to one of the reserve's main paths I spotted a Small Copper butterfly nestled amongst the grass on the floor. I now sat on the balcony and ate my lunch before heading down to the boardwalks at the edge of the main lake. The water levels had reduced significantly due to the long spell of dry weather and several mud banks were now exposed around the edge of the lake.

Small Copper butterfly

Wading about on one of these mud banks was a lone Lapwing and a couple of Moorhens with a pair of chicks. Further out along the left hand side of the lake there were four Avocets and even further there was a Little Egret perched on a branch hanging over the water. In the middle of the water a hundred or so yards out there were several Black Headed Gulls and perched on a wooden post was a single Common Sandpiper.

A few minutes later a female Mallard and her six chicks walked across the mud bank from the right and into a small area of water just in front of me. They continued across to the left before changing course after a tête-à-tête with the Moorhens and then headed along the narrow water channel between mud banks and out into the main lake. I headed back to the car and drove the short distance along Newton Lane to the Lin Dike car park which is a mile or so west of the main car park.

Pied Wagtail

I walked up the trail towards the Lin Dike Hide and in the stream which runs alongside the path I heard the distinctive call of the Kingfisher as it flew along the stream but I was unable to see it. I now arrived at the hide where I could see Black Headed Gulls, Mallards, Mute Swans and in the far distance a Whooper Swan on the water and perched on wooden posts closer to the hide there was a trio of Common Terns.

Making their way to and fro across the dried mud were around ten Pied Wagtails looking for food amongst the cracks in the mud just in front of the hide. In the distance along the left hand side of the water a Roe Deer emerged from the tall grass to drink at the water's edge. After watching the Pied Wagtails scurry across the mud for a few more minutes I walked back to the car and headed home.

I spotted a Grey Heron perched on some exposed wood in the middle of a small lake at the roadside just after I left the car park, but it flew off before I could get a photo. Below is a link for Chris Packham's fundraising page again and also a link to his website should anyone wish to find out more.

I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Fairburn Ings and Chris Packham's Bio Blitz.

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