Thursday, 1 February 2018

Fairburn and St Aidan's

A bit of a damp day visiting the Aire Valley reserves on Sunday. We started off at Lin Dike and spotted a pair of Stonechats in the grass not far from the hide. It's the first time i've seen them here. Also by the hide a Little Egret, Teal and a couple of Swans.

We sat in the hide a while and saw Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Swans, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls and the Little Egret as it flew off from the side.

Onto Fairburn then where we saw my daughters favourite teacher from primary school that she hadn't seen in a few years so that was a nice start to the walk! There were plenty of birds around the feeders - Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Tree Sparrows, Dunnock, Various Tits and Pheasants too.

We walked around the Coal Tips trail and the sheep around there seemed very interested in us!

In the big hole we saw Herring, Black-headed and Common Gulls, a few Lapwing and Mallards too.

Stopping at the Kingfisher screen on the way back as there seemed to be a bit of excitement from those gathered there. A Kingfisher was flying between a couple of trees a way down the stream, just a bit distant for the camera but there's no mistaking those stunning colours.

We couldn't leave without a walk to the lake to feed the birds there, plenty of Mallard, Swans, Tufted Ducks and Gulls. The Swans were quite bolshy chasing each other and anything in their way really.

By the time we got to St Aidan's it was wet and windy but we've never let that stop us and after a chat with the lovely staff in the visitor centre we headed out to look for Goldeneye, Pintails and possibly a Great White Egret. 

We did see Goldeneye, if you squint a bit and get out the magnifying glass you can see three in the photo below!

We didn't see Pintails or any type of Egret though. To be fair we could well have had the Pintails in view but at times the wind/rain combined made for difficult viewing both with and without binoculars, my camera stayed hidden away in my coat for a lot of the walk.

Coots and Black-headed Gulls


Great Crested Grebe

Cormorants, BH Gulls and Lapwings

The Lapwings and a number of Teal were spooked by something whilst we were stood by Astley Lake, you don't realise just how many there are until they are filling the sky above you, amazing to watch!

This Swan was completely unfazed by the panicking Lapwings

On the walk back to visitor centre we saw a Kestrel hunting over the hillside.

By this point we were a little cold, wet, certainly windswept and covered in an orange coloured mud from the footpaths, my daughter had a blast jumping through the puddles and getting filthy, we loved every single bit of it!


  1. Looks like you had a nice day out, it has not been the best weather throughout January for birding this year.
    Northumberlad was the last time I got to see some Stonechats beautiful bird.
    Not been to St Aidan's, looks like there is good numbers of different birds there.
    Amanda xx

    1. The weather hasn't been good at all, we managed to hit dull wet days every time! There's quite a few Stonechats at St Aidan's we saw them there too on Sunday, it's a great place, a big area to explore and all sorts to see. xx

  2. You are a true birder - you get out there and do it regardless of the weather. And very rewarding it was too, you had a great bunch of species. Sometimes bad weather for humans means really good birding as the birds tend to hunker down a little.

    1. As long as you go prepared for the weather it's fine and yes very rewarding!

  3. That's a lovely collection of photos :)

  4. SO much to see in this post I have go through it again, I love the grebe coming up out of the water awesome behavior shot. I Imagine the swan has few enemies that attack from the sky!
    Another awesome birding adventure!!

    1. Thanks Sondra, the Grebe had actually been spooked by one of the Coots!

  5. Great places to visit and super sightings and photos Pam. I haven't seen a Stonechat since we were on the Isle of Wight last year and a Kingfisher sighting always brightens up a day out :)

    1. Thank you :) There are quite a few Stonechats on the St Aidan's reserve, we saw a couple there too. They do, you can't help but be happy seeing a Kingfisher!