On Wednesday we travelled out of county to North Yorkshire to RSPB Fairburn Ings. It began to get misty around the Newport area, and got worse as we travelled West. It was very foggy at the car park itself. Even here it was possible to see 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a couple of Redwing, two very loud Oystercatchers, and several Cormorants flying over from time to time. We could actually hear a Willow Tit singing, some Bullfinches calling and further afield a Song Thrush.
We went first to the Kingfisher screen, where it was possible to hear them in the distance before peering through the mist, and we could just make out a pair near a fallen tree. We carried on along the now firm path and heard a Green Woodpecker calling in the distance at first, which eventually became closer. Miles spotted a large flock of Redwing, and we tried to get a better view of them. It was even possible to hear one singing - this was the first time we'd heard one during any of the classes. Only a little further on Miles spotted another pair of Bullfinches, and as we all gathered round to watch their antics, another pair could be discerned nearby.
Goosander (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
As we neared the river Eric mentioned that you used to see Goldeneyes on this stretch, and sure enough among the many Silver Birch twigs we eventually saw 5 individuals, and saw thought she espied a Goosander. Several participants thought this was a suitable area to see the holy grail, and we had a good look, but failed to either hear or see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. From the freezing Bob Dickens hide the highlight were probably several Goosanders which at one stage swam directly underneath the hide. Also present were Gadwall, Canada Geese, & several other wildfowl.
Goosander (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
On our return we thought we'd try the viewing screen area and as we neared the area I spotted a Green Woodpecker at the top of a Silver Birch. It allowed us to get fairly close before it was disturbed by a pair of Magpies and it flew off. The children's feeders were swarming with Tree Sparrows, but then we headed for the adult section. Here, were some male Reed Buntings attempting to monopolise the fat balls. They didn't approve of the two Long-tailed Tits, which tried to snatch a few mouthfuls. On the water Bruce spotted a Little Grebe in full summer plumage, which his itself among the small reedbeds. The Cormorant colony was in full swing, and a Heron flew by, the final of several we had seen that morning.
Goosanders (c) 2014 Tony Robinson
The afternoon group tried out Lin Dyke first, so we shared cars to the small car park a couple of miles north of the visitor centre. We heard a Kingfisher, but failed to see it. There were some very bright Teal on the way to the hide, and we could just make out a Little Egret hiding amongst some sedge. From the hide itself, we saw our first Shelduck, Pochard and a pair of Great Crested Grebes. The latter were later seen on the nest where the female prostrated herself for the reception of her mate, but he didn't find it encouraging. Suddenly, David C had his finest moment in 3 years when he identified a drake Pintail. Unfortunately, it immediately went behind an island just after I was able to confirm his ID, and the majority of the rest of the group failed to see it.
Spawn of the Devil
Great Crested Grebes
We then returned to the visitor centre area. The RSPB staff were conducting a Willow Tit survey, and played a recording of the species, which brought one to the top of the Silver Birches, and allowed everyone to obtain a decent view. We also saw a pair of Bullfinches which were later bullied by an incoming second female. We tried 3 times for a view of the Kingfishers, but were disappointed on each occasion. The first time we missed it by only 2 minutes, but it never returned while we were on site.
Meanwhile some of the morning group decamped to Swillington Ings where they heard, but failed to see booming Bitterns.