WONDEROUS WILLOW TITS @ 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.


It was a partially cloudy day when I arrived with the sun creeping out from behind the clouds as I got out of my car. As I walked past the visitor centre I saw a Reed Bunting, Blue Tits and Tree Sparrows on the feeders. I continued on to the Pick Up Hide where around the edge of the water there were a few Crows and Magpies but not much else. Over to the right on the feeders there was a Squirrel trying to get at one of the feeders as Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits visited the other.


After a few minutes of trying and getting its head stuck a couple of times the Squirrel gave up and went and sat on a branch above the feeders. The number of birds visiting the feeders now increased with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Tree Sparrows arriving. Next to pay a visit was a Willow Tit and after extracting some food it flew up to a branch above and consumed its food before returning to the feeders. It was soon joined by another Willow Tit as Blue Tits now queued up to visit the feeders perching on a thin branch next to it.

The Willow Tits flew off when the Squirrel made another attempt to get at the feeders but once again gave up and went back to the branch it had come. A pair of Greenfinches now arrived and moved through the branches to the feeders as a Wren preened itself on a branch a few feet behind them. A few Chaffinches and a trio of Goldfinches arrived in the branches around the feeders as a Dunnock and Robin picked up the scraps dropped onto the ground.


Three Pheasants were making their way along the ground towards the feeders and a pair of Moorhens chased each other through the brambles, through the fence and down onto the water. I now left the hide and followed the path to another set of feeders a short distance South East of the hide. These feeders were much quieter with just a single Chaffinch above the feeders and several Mallards and Moorhens on the ground below them.


I waited a few minutes but it was still very quiet so I walked along the path to the Kingfisher screen. There was no sign of the Kingfisher, however, just beyond the sluice stood in the middle of the water was a Grey Heron and after a few minutes it flew off low over the water. It landed near a wooden fence at the right hand side and continued to walk through the water and out of sight. I walked back to the Pick Up Hide where the feeders were still busy and flying overhead were Cormorants and Black Headed Gulls.

After about ten minutes I made my way back to the visitor centre where there was a Collared Dove sat on top of one of the feeders and a pair of Rats were picking up the scraps below the feeders. A large flock of Tree Sparrows were massed around the feeders, sitting in the bushes just above before they all flew off towards the Pick Up Hide as a couple of Squirrels jumped from the bushes and landed on top of the feeders.


I walked across the car park and down to the boardwalk at the Main Lake. At the edge of the water there were several Mallards and Black Headed Gulls as well as a trio of juvenile Mute Swans. They swam across towards me as another visitor threw food into the water for them and I then headed back to the car as another Grey Heron flew overhead and disappeared over the trees. As I drove home I saw a couple of Tufted Ducks and Shovelers in the water by the road as well as quite few Mallards.


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

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