Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fairburn Ings

We went to Fairburn Ings on Monday. This is the RSPB's nature reserve in the lower Aire valley. The site is 286 acres, and was developed from the mining and industry areas. Subsidence has created large lakes, and several smaller bodies of water. It has many different habitats like flood meadow, wet Fenland, reedbed, woodland, and scrub.

They have recorded the most species at any nature reserve (274). This was a Black Swan we saw at the feeding station. It was a walk through a carpark and across a boardwalk. The children could feed the Swans and Ducks food bought from the shop. They come en masse to get the food.

The sun was shining and the Ducks quacked away..

I have never seen so many Mute Swans in one place. They are so beautiful, despite their size.I love the webbed feet powering away under the water. They look serene and regal moving through the water to get some food..

There are three trails around some of the reserve. A lot of the reserve is not accessible to the public. I think the reserve manager leads walks around the closed parts of the reserve occasionally. There are a handfull of bird hides around the reserve, all facing onto the water.

The trails had some beautiful grasses, wildflowers, and masses of Butterflys. They were fluttering all over the open reserve areas. The coal tip areas were being turned into rich meadows, grassland, and marsh areas.

This was the dipping pond. You could hire nets and a box from the visitor shop to dig into the pond. They gave a card with how to identify the pondlife you had scooped up. A female duck sat at the far end nesting in the reeds.

She let the Ducklings out and they swam across the water to feed on the insects on the pond surface, and to dive below the water. Their little orange feet were flapping under the water, as they looked like fluffy pearl divers. You can see how soft they looked in the photo.

This was the view behind the Kingfisher screen. They are the jewels of the reserve. We did not see any. We will have to go back to see if we can see a Kingfisher. They are the brightest bird in the UK, but are quite hard to spot. I guess this slow moving water is ideal for fishing. The shop says you must report any sitings of Kingfishers to the reserves staff.

The river Aire runs along the edge of the Reserve. This is some water that moves from the Sluicegates, and feeds into the big Loch.

The Woodland trail was full of Mushrooms and mud. It has been the wettest July and the mud trail had been churned up. It was high up between the Loch and the River. We heard a few birds but did not see many.

The other stars of the reserve are Dragonflys. These look like biplanes when they buzz past you, then do acrobatic turns. They are very hard to photograph. The bodies and wings look like jewels. This one was sunbathing or resting for a while.

Near the visitor centre were feeders hung up. We saw Blue Tits, these Greenfinches, and a Bullfinch. We sat drinking Cafe Latte and saw a Grey Squirrel come onto the bird table and sneak off with the nuts.

The Ducks decided to sit under the Bird Feeders behind the Feeding Station. This was a hive of Activity. A board of wood hid the visitors away from the feeders. You look through the cutholes. The visitor centre had a whiteboard with what birds had been sighted and where they were seen on the reserve.

The final photo was looking Eastwards. We walked around the western half of the reserve. There is a second Car park with a further trail. We need to go back to Fairburn Ings soon.
The staff were lovely and helped us get three 13 kilo bags of bird food back to the car.
It shows how an area once damaged by heavy industry/mining can be reclaimed, and nature restored slowly. It is a very calm place, and was packed full of wildlife.
Schools visit every day during the week so the next generation is being educated about conservation, the Rspb, and nature...

1 comment:

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Nice... Somehow, the picture of the dipping pond reminded me about my childhood.