There were 'guides in the hides' at the first couple of hides and they were keeping an eye on the Grebes. We were lucky to see the Great Crested Grebes displaying a little before their youngster got in the middle of them! Also on the lagoon, Little Grebe, Mallard, Swans, Black-headed Gull and lots of Sand Martins flying around too.
Looking in one of the lift up boxes by the willow path we saw Toads.
On the duck marsh a Lesser black-backed Gull had a bird in the water, one of the guys who'd been watching when we went in thought it was a Starling. A Crow was trying to muscle in on the catch so the Gull flew off and ended up dropping it in the water! I spotted a Teal just behind the bank, which I later found out was the only one on the reserve as they usually move on to their breeding grounds for the summer. Gadwall were present along with their young.
A Reed Bunting stopped on the fence by one of the feeders.
We saw some beautiful Cygnets from the reedbed hide and a couple Coot chicks which were a lovely grey/black colour. A Pheasant was screeching by the hide and the Cormorants where in their usual place on the pylon.
In the reeds we heard more Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler and on Tim's field Crows and the odd Jackdaw were strutting around. A walk down the riverside brought a Whitethroat in the trees, a Chiffchaff calling and a few moths, butterflies and damselflies coming out with the sun including Small Tortoiseshell and Blue-tailed Damselfly.
A green Weevil was sat on top of a plant and Ladybirds were hidden amongst the leaves, we saw quite a lot of Ladybird larvae too.
In the Wild Flower meadow we were buzzed by Swallows and saw Meadow Brown butterflies everywhere, though they rarely stayed still. I just love the giant Dandelions, though I don't think that's their proper name!?
On to the visitors centre where stalls were set up and where a strong smell of food kept wafting across to us as we'd been walking. So a couple of bacon sandwiches, a cuppa and a bun later we explored the stalls. I noticed a stall with vegetarian options, which looked lovely but I didn't see that till after we'd eaten!
Represented were The RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, BTO Gardenwatch, Spurn Point, Yorkshire Dragonflies, Yorkshire Naturalist Union, Leeds Swifts, Start Birding, Swillington Ings Bird Group, Leeds Green Spaces, A gentleman with some stunning photos offering workshops whose name i'm afraid I didn't get, a book stall featuring lots of Yorkshire based nature books, a local homemade jam/preserves/honey stall, I believe Calverley Beekeeping. An optics stall was also set up overlooking the reserve. Apologies if i've forgotten any!
The volunteers were doing a fantastic job running everything, the cakes and buns looked (and were) delicious and it was just a really good friendly atmosphere all round. I couldn't help picking up a couple of books......because well they're books! My daughter made a dragonfly and we picked up some information about a dragonfly challenge in July, you can find out more here. I ended up joining the Swillington Ings Bird Group and picked up their report for last year. I also discovered they cover a lot more than just St Aidan's so further exploring is required!
We'd decided to do the bird song walk at 2pm run by Linda from Start Birding who is also behind the Birdfair itself. There was quite a few people and we took a nice (if rather hot) walk around the reserve, with Linda picking out the birds singing - a Dunnock started us off - and giving us lots of information on the birds themselves. Also picked out were Swallows, Reed Bunting and Warbler, a Mistle Thrush landing on Tim's field (where we learnt it wasn't doing so well due to the lack of rain this year so far), a hovering Kestrel, Blackcap, Wren, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and finally a Whitethroat, which we'd failed to hear earlier but put in a burst of song as we were finishing the walk! We also talked about Swifts and how Leeds Swifts are working with other groups around the UK to help the declining population. I noticed later Chris Packham had tweeted about the bird fair and the work of Leeds Swifts. We were also lucky with a Weasel which ran down the willow path in front of the group!
As it happened it wasn't the only Weasel we saw, we stopped to look over the gate in the car park, watching the Swallows flying around and the cows all lying down, as we walked away I turned around to watch a Damselfly and a Weasel was running across the gate where we'd just been stood!
We really enjoyed the day and i'm looking forward to next year already!
A few other photos from the day.