We have visited Fairburn Ings several times over the last year, often at hectic times, or times when I’ve been unwell. It is a super place and I always find our visits soothing and tranquil. The reserve has several hides and screens, and one of my favourite areas is the bird feeders. They are always busy and today we saw goldfinches and their babies (ok, juveniles), greenfinches, a siskin, sparrows, chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and my personal favourite, a lovely willow tit. There was also a rabbit taking advantage of scattered nuts and seeds and a heavily pregnant-looking squirrel looking as though she was enjoying her last few days of uninterrupted eating!
I have recently started to take pictures of British garden birds as I think we have some beautiful species. I have to admit, having labyrinthitis hasn’t helped me to keep a steady focus (more about that in other blogs) but I think I’m off to an OK start!
Getting a good image of a willow tit is my next challenge, and I watched one darting from the feeder into the dense cover of the trees, back and forth for a few minutes. Trying to get a shot feels a bit like one of those old fashioned ‘duck hunt’ video games where the one target you want is worth ten times the points of the others, and of course that’s the hardest one to get! The best shot is below, but it doesn’t do the little chap justice at all!
Walking round the reserve, the path winds through areas of hedgerows and woodland. I love seeing the berries at this time of year, ripe and glowing in the late afternoon sun. Damselflies and dragonflies were abundant along the path resting on the wooden and metal gates, enjoying the absorbed heat and basking in the last rays of the day.
We saw a few Speckled Wood butterflies along the way, some early fungi and also lots of lovely bumblebees. A large bumblebee was on the path, walking as if in slow motion and unable to take off. I recently learnt at a talk by bumblebee expert Dave Goulson that bumblebees run out of energy very quickly because their bodies are too heavy for their wings and like me, they can’t run on empty! I let the bee crawl onto a leafy branch I picked up and popped it onto a nearby flower. Happily it took some nectar and it was almost as though the motor was switched on-its wings started to vibrate and it was ready for take off!
We walked on and all the worries of the past week had melted away. It is my first official half-day back to work on Monday, and most of the last week was spent going to and from meetings finalising details of my return, which was physically and mentally exhausting. Somehow though, seeing nature anticipating and adapting to the subtle changes as we move from summer to autumn puts everything into perspective. It reminds me to appreciate the moment, as, like the changing season the changes around us are generally outside of our control. Like our natural world does each year, we adapt to our external environments, and often the best way of doing this is to be still and watch the changes unfold around us.
I ended the walk feeling refreshed and grounded.
Our treat at the end? Home made sausage and fennel rolls and a mug of tea.
A perfect Saturday afternoon.