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Fairburn Ings

From Opus

Photo by Keith DickinsonSpoonbill-flash, at Fairburn Ings, looking west towards Castleford.
Photo by Keith Dickinson
Spoonbill-flash, at Fairburn Ings, looking west towards Castleford.

England, Yorkshire


[edit] Overview

Fairburn Ings is an area of shallow lakes and marsh formed by the subsidence of mine workings, and the surrounding grazing land, scrub and woodland along the Aire River.

Very close to some heavily industrialised land, this forms an important wetland area for breeding, passage and, particularly, wintering birds. This RSPB reserve is located near Castleford, West Yorkshire, in the UK.

[edit] Birds

[edit] Notable Species

Around 70 species are known to have bred in this area including Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebes, ducks such as Northern Shoveler and Gadwall, and Common Tern, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank and Common Snipe.

The reedbeds hold Sedge and Reed Warblers and Reed Bunting. Little Owl and both species of partridge can be seen on the adjacent farmland as well as Corn Bunting.

During passage periods these wetlands are visited by terns including Arctic Tern and Black Tern, Little Gull, which has attempted to breed, and waders such as Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank. Osprey is a rare but regular passage visitor.

In winter Whooper Swan is now regular along with other waterfowl such as Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye and Goosander with Smew in severe weather. The woods and scrub attract large flocks of wintering thrushes and finches. Iceland Gull has been recorded with some frequency in recent years.

[edit] Rarities

Alpine Swift, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great White Egret, Blue-winged Teal and Bonaparte's Gull are among the vagrants recorded at Fairburn Ings.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, Canada Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Red-legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Little Owl, Short-eared Owl, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Common Redstart, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Common Grasshopper Warbler Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Northern Redpoll, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting

[edit] Site Information

[edit] Areas of Interest

The eastern end of the reserve is dominated by Village Bay and Main Bay, home to good numbers of duck and many mute swans. Both Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls can breed here, and winter gull roosts have attracted white-winged gulls. Smew occur almost every winter, and the odd Black-necked Grebe might turn up. The River Aire runs along the southern edge of the reserve & is itself always worth a look, as is the intervening wooded riverbank.

The centre of the reserve is dominated by reclaimed spoil tips, home to skylark and mippit and, in the scrubbier areas, all nine of the commoner warblers. There are also areas of open water up here which can be productive, though these have not been developed as they might have been. The reed and phragmites margins are particularly good for reed warbler.

The Visitor Centre adjoins a series of small lakes surrounded by light woodland, scrub and reeds and joined by a high standard boardwalk. Feeders here attract the usual crew of garden birds, and a growing colony of Tree Sparrows, and in the last two winters, Brambling. Siskin and Lesser Redpoll are regular in the winter alders. Pickup Pool is best for the birder; otherwise this area is popular with the general public and can be crowded at weekends. Common Buzzard is regular over the nearby Newfield Plantation.

The Moat area lies immediately to the west, with its growing heronry and cormorant colony. Further west still and you come to a large area of pools and flashes (New Flash, Ibis, Spoonbill, Parker's etc) set in grazed rough pasture. This is where 'the real birders' go! In the right conditions and at the right time of year this is prime wader habitat, though high water levels in recent years have made for disappointing numbers of long-legged visitors. Marsh Harrier is increasingly common.

To the south is Hickson's, a disused chemical factory overlooking another three lakes which can be every bit as productive as those on the reserve proper.

From Fairburn Village you can walk down Cut Lane by Village Bay, turn west along the riverbank and over the stacks to the VC, then pick up a public footpath to Lin Dike. It's a good long walk, but beware - if you want to make a loop of it, you have to do so road walking: there are safety issues.

[edit] Access and Facilities

The reserve stretches up the Aire Valley from the village of Fairburn which lies immediately west of the A1 in North Yorkshire. There is a public footpath from the village to the reserve which has hides overlooking the lakes, a raised boardwalk and a visitor centre with classrooms, a shop and light refreshments available. The area around the Visitor Centre is wheelchair-accessible. The same is true of the western end of the reserve, where a from a small carpark you can take the path along Lin Dike to the hide overlooking Spoonbill Flash.

Grid reference: SE451277

[edit] Contact Details

Tel: 01977 628191

[edit] External Links

[edit] Reviews

Keith Dickinson's review
The area is well watched and reported at the visitor centre. It is one of the best sites in the area for Smew, my best daily total is 7 birds inc 3 separate males. Marsh Harriers are becoming more regular and Common Buzzards are seen very regularly.
Good for warblers in summer, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and the commoner ones.
Long-eared Owls are being seen more regularly on the reserve, having roosted during the winter months for the past couple of years, (2005-6 and 2006-7)
  • Open all hours. The path at the Lin Dyke (western end of the reserve) has been remade with stone chippings so is now passable in all weathers.
  • parking away from reserve visitor centre can be tempting to thieves, the RSPB have tried to remedy this by cutting the trees at the Lin Dyke car park, now it's on open view to the road so less tempting to thieves.

j.catherall's review
  • Road runs full length of reserve.Free. highest tally of birds at any inland site.
  • parking can be a problem

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