Author: jo taylor

Blog Post: Time for change

Ribble Discovery Centre It’s been all systems go at the Ribble Discovery Centre since the beginning of September with the green light to clear the building in readiness for the re-furbishment. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund , the Ribble Discovery Centre is being completely refurbished, along with other facilities and activities at Fairhaven Lake, as part of an exciting Fylde Council project. So, I have made numerous trips up and down the motorways relocating much of our existing stock to our other Lancashire store at the fantastic Leighton Moss reserve in Silverdale and also the other way taking education resources for storage at the wonderful Marshside . Many of you will be relieved to learn that the interactive estuary board which has lived in the centre for many years has been collected by the other half of our team at from Marshside so watch out for its resurrection somewhere on the reserve and the albatross which had been “hanging” around has been be adopted by Julie at Fylde Council. We are all super excited about the re-developments and have all pulled together as one team across the Northwest to aid in the preparation for the centre’s up and coming makeover. This means we that the Discovery Centre will be closed until March 2021. School and youth group bookings are being taken for April 2021 onwards. In the meantime, all our great bird care and feeding products and gifts can be purchased from our other Lancashire store at the fabulous Leighton Moss or from our online shop . The fencing to cordon off the buildings will be in place in the next few days. The pathway around the far side of the lake will still be in use but the pathway around the buildings will be closed off and the renovation works will be commencing very soon afterwards. The sea wall and promenade at Lytham is till worth a visit though. The sounds of the oystercatcher and redshank are unanimous with the estuary and hundreds of shelduck have been seen dabbling on the mudflats at high tide. There is also always the chance of seeing passing migrants, such as wheatear on the saltmarsh and linnets are often seen and heard around the dunes. Flocks of waders toing and froing across the estuary are also a fabulous spectacle. Marshside Over on the other side of the estuary at Marshside the skeins of pink footed geese are ever increasing as is the number of over wintering ducks. Numbers of wigeon , teal , gadwall and shoveler are on the up daily. Many are still in eclipse or juvenile plumage, just to test you. Snipe were also evident close to Nel’s hide earlier this week and there are good numbers of other waders too. Great white, cattle and little egret have all been observed recently and there has been 4 spoonbill in residence at Hesketh out Marsh. Snoozing teal (Jo Taylor) Spoonbill (Stuart Darbyshire) Sandgrounders hide has also had a make over. The old office at the back has been removed and the space has been opened up. The woodwork has had a lick of paint and it looks fabulous. Sandgrounders hide (Wes Davies) and male shoveler (Jo Taylor) There are social distancing measures clearly displayed in place in the hides, please adhere to these for your own and everyone else’s safety. Thank you for your support and we’ll see you at the Discovery Centre when our transformation is complete, we will keep updating as regularly as is possible and we look forward to seeing you all in spring 2021 with a shiny new shop and visitor centre. Follow us on: Twitter: @RSPB_Ribble Facebook: RSPBRibbleEstuary Jo

Blog Post: Breakfast Birdwatch, “Observations from my window” and Wild Challenge

This week we have been in touch with all our volunteers and we are pleased to report that they are all doing well. We are all making the most of the time at home to observe the birds and wildlife in our garden. This week we have two guest blogs. One from our retail assistant Liz who has written an account of the bird antics in her garden and one from Ellie, who has written about her sunflower competition with her brother Sammy. Views from my window – Part 1 Although I haven’t got a huge or horticulturally diverse garden, I am lucky enough to have fairly active feeding station and a selection of regular avian visitors to keep me entertained during this time of restricted outdoor activity. So far this week, I have managed to see blue tits, great tits, robins, blackbirds, chaffinches, starlings, a pair of greenfinches , goldfinches , wrens , dunnocks , rooks, magpies, jackdaws, collared doves , wood pigeons and, surprisingly, several feral pigeons that are generally absent from my list of garden spots. In addition, I looked out the other day to see what might have been causing my dog to be somewhat anxious to find a beautiful kestrel sitting on my fence. I have never spotted one anywhere in, over, or near my garden before so this was quite exciting! He didn’t hang about for long and it hasn’t put off my regular feathered friends from dining in my garden. I am fairly new to the world of birds so having more time on my hands has enabled me to spend longer observing their habits as oppose to simply identifying them. Dunnock Grahame Madge RSPB-images Goldfinch Chris Gomersall RSPB-images #1 The Entertainer I have to give a shout out to the humble wood pigeons that are currently my number one for entertainment value! Being ‘that time of year’, there are all sorts of antics going on and the remains of an old climbing frame has provided the perfect platform for them to perform in full view. The ritual seems to start with Mrs Woody strutting around the grass seemingly ignoring Mr Woody as he follows her around head lowered doing a dainty little skip every few paces. After a few minutes off they both go to a nearby tree where they sit at an acceptable distance apart whilst she (presumably) decides whether he is a worthy suitor. Everything goes quiet for a while after that, they fly off separately, change trees, come down for some spilled seed, I make a cup of tea or whatever before the grand finale begins. Mr & Mrs Woody reconvene on top of my climbing frame, at a safe distance apart to start with. Mr Woody hops around and preens himself, showing what a fine specimen he is! Once suitably impressed, Mrs Woody joins him and they hop closer and closer until they are snuggled side by side; and then comes the most unexpected behaviour…he feeds her! You can see him regurgitating food and she takes the food from well into his gaping beak – quite extraordinary! Whilst she is feeding she is nuzzling closer and closer until she finally accepts his advances and the deed is done. Quite amusingly Mr Woody then literally turns his back on her and hops off to go about his business which normally involves eating!! My (grown-up) daughter and I usually put voices to the action and end up in stitches – Oh the joys of social lockdown. Liz We are also encouraging the #BreakfastBirdwatch. This takes place between 8-9am every morning. Sit back with a cuppa and your breakfast and enjoy the birds from the window. Let us know what you see on our Twitter page @RSPB_Ribble and Facebook @RSPBRibbleEstuary . RSPB Flower Power Wild Challenge Me and my brother decided we wanted to grow something during our time at home, so we checked out the RSPB Flower Power Wild Challenge. However being siblings we decided to make it into a competition. Why not try it yourself? It would be brilliant to have beautiful sunflowers everywhere to brighten things up. Step 1. You need; peat free compost, sunflower seeds, trowels and pots Step 2. Fill your pots with compost Step 3. Make a small hole in the compost with your finger and pop the seed in. Cover it up with compost again. Step 4. Water the seed and find a cool spot inside that provides light but protects it from the frost. When the seeds start to grow we will put them into bigger pots and put them outside and tie them to a stick so they don’t fall over. When they start to flower we will measure them and let you know which variety grew the tallest and which of us won the competition. Ellie

Blog Post: Get Ready for a Wild Challenge

Well, in this time where we are all adjusting to working and learning from home, there are fantastic opportunities to re-engage with nature. Whether that is in your garden, what you can see from your window or even what you see in your allotted daily exercise time. I have appreciated the wildlife in my garden more than ever before, taking more time to notice the pair of blackbirds in my garden that not only come for the tit bits dropped from the bird table but also to collect nesting materials. I’ve also been taking part in #BreakfastBirdwatch which is a great way to start the day and we’d really like to know what you are seeing in you’re gardens, there’s variety everywhere. There has also been lots of butterflies flitting around, such as small tortoiseshell and red admiral. Check out our Twitter and let us know what you’ve seen @RSPB_Ribble or Facebook page @RSPBRibbleEstuary. The learning team here at the Ribble and at Leighton Moss have been checking out the Wild Challenge activities and we will share our experiences doing them here on our blog pages. this one is from Jayne one of the Learning Assistants at Leighton Moss, who has decided to undertake the “Let it Grow” challenge with her daughter. For further information about Wild Challenge check out our page here. Jo Let it grow, let it grow… So spring has sprung and whilst we are at home trying to find things to keep ourselves and our children occupied, it’s a great opportunity to give RSPB Wild Challenge activities a try. Sign up now at www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge. Don’t feel that just because you don’t have children that this blog and the activities aren’t for you, whatever your age you can experience and help nature in your own garden, from your window or whilst out on your daily exercise walk (whilst observing social distancing guidance) There are many studies that show that time in nature can improve our mental and physical wellbeing, which we all need right now. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing activities you can have a go at, giving you some top tips about Giving Nature a Home at home and generally helping to lift your spirits. Last night I saw a message from my local council in South Lakeland that our green bin collections would cease for the moment to allow them to concentrate on refuse and recycling. Therefore the first Wild Challenge activity my daughter and I are going to do is probably the easiest of all…Let it grow. The clue is in the title, let a small part or all of your lawn grow and let it go wild. www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-families/family-wild-challenge/activities/let-it-grow/ The long grass will be great for insect life and you can keep a weekly photo diary to show how long and wild your very own mini jungle gets. If you decide to go for it and let your whole lawn grow then maybe you could mow a path through it, or create a maze, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity! So what can you do now to prepare to let it grow… Decide on the area of lawn that you are going to let go wild. Make signs and maybe put up a string fence or similar to let other family members know what you’re doing and remind them not to mow it whilst it’s growing. Take the first picture for your diary, measure the length of the grass today on day 1 and decide when you are going to take the next picture and measure it again, weekly is probably best. Then let it grow! Hopefully this sunny spring weather continues and you can have a go at this or other wild challenges. There will be more from us over the coming weeks so watch out, we will try and include challenges that can be done indoors too or adapted for a window sill or yard. To finish a quote from Rachel Carson the author of the book Silent Spring: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Jayne Buchanan Learning and Visitor Assistant Main photo tile Grahame Madge RSPB-Images

Blog Post: Ribble Roundup – Start of the school year – Pink feet – Black-headed gull musings – Marine plastic – Red 67

Ribble Discovery Centre Education and Visitor Centre The start of the school visit season has kicked off in style, with Plant Detectives proving a popular choice even in February. The secret garden is the ideal location for this key stage 1 activity, it’s quiet, safe and secluded and is the ideal backdrop for the activities. Measuring and calculating the age of a tree is always one of the favourite activities, alongside making smelly cocktails. There’s never one that smells the same. We have also had success with the key stage 1 Brilliant Birds session. Our first session with Little Digmoor Primary School from Skelmersdale was slightly thwarted by the hailstorm, but we bravely battled on and triumphed at the end of the session with a successful study of feathers and nests. A few of really keen beans were eager to impart their own knowledge of feathers and experiences of observing birds nesting in their own gardens. Oversands School thoroughly enjoyed feeding the birds and made some good observations about the way the mute swans and ducks feed differently. We were also lucky enough to spot the kingfisher, much to the delight of the students. The bird feeder in the centre of the gardens has been a success, one of the numerous goldfinch have been spotted using it alongside blue and great tits. There is also a large charm of goldfinch in the trees along the back of the park, you can usually hear them before you see them, their characteristic rasping “tschree” communication call can be heard as they sit in the trees. Coal and long tailed tits have also been observed flitting around the garden and park. Image taken from archive Chris Gomersall RSPB-images The garden, park and islands are also alive with bird song! Spring is most definitely springing, jackdaws and magpies have been observed collecting nesting materials already. Book Review: Red 67 Red 67 is a collection of the 67 most endangered bird species in the UK. These species are of most concern, meaning that their population has and continues to decline in the long term. There are some surprising species on the list, such as the starling . This bird may still seem common, but the overall population has declined considerably. Each species in the book has a unique artwork and personal account. The personal accounts of 67 writers portrayals are endearing, worrisome and heart rendering. Accounts of childhood memories of times where a bird once prevalent has diminished in untold numbers endears the reader to each and every one and leaves them with a lasting concern for each. Of the 67 birds depicted, 23 of them can be found on the Ribble NNR either breeding or wintering. Pick up your copy of the book at the RDC or check out the BTO shop here for badges/shirts etc. Proceeds go towards improving these birds fortunes. Pink Footed Geese on the Ribble The pink-footed geese seem to have picked up on the warmer weather and longer days across the Ribble reserves and moving more in larger numbers. Some may be thinking of making the journey back to their breeding grounds, but the story isn’t so simple. Movements of large numbers of birds this time of year is common, with flocks moving around the UK before heading off. The ‘Ribble birds’ may move north before making their final journey, while birds from the east coast move in. Their departure wont be over night though, and we expect to see good numbers of this iconic bird for a few months yet. https://vimeo.com/396004550 PinkFeet@BanksM: WesDavies Black-headed gull Appreciation https://vimeo.com/395897731 BHGs@MS: WesDavies Opening Sangrounders hide at Marshside has remined me (Wes) of how amusing they are. Even though they are not yet quite in full swing (plumage or dance) they are well up on my list of most entertaining birds to be around, or surrounded by in the case of sandgrounders. There is something about their unashamed cries which is lairy and comical. I am looking forwards to seeing the display rituals and dances in full swing over the coming weeks. Black-headed gulls are listed as ‘Amber concern’, which seems odd as they appear in towns more commonly than they used to. However their coastal breeding populations have declined along with the change in demographics. Marine Litter The amount of litter in the strand lines remains an issue Ribble wide. We have ‘head-hunted’ all the particularly damaging bits we can, and will be organising a mass litter pick after the next spring tides. The only useful stuff from this winters offerings is a fishing net that will become a trailer net, some containers that make grand battery covers for e.fences and a rather serviceable chair for the workshop. The only thing slightly resembling treasure pulled out so far has been this rubber duck. Duck: WesDavies RDC Shop We have a fabulous offer of 15% off on 12.75 kg sacks of feed till 17 March 2020, so hurry to grab yourself a bird food bargain. It is also one of our binocular and telescope optic weekends this weekend and we have a fantastic limited offer on some telescope and tripod/monopod reductions. A huge saving of £50 on Avocet 60mm and 80mm scopes with case and zoom lens. There’s also saving of £36 on the AN tripod and an £11 saving on Viking monopod. Image: Ben Hall

Blog Post: Ribble Roundup – National Nestbox Week – Creeping Spring – More Weather – Hiding in Hides

Nestbox Week at RDC Half term nestbox building was a great success, celebrating National Nestbox Week in style. The kits provided by Marshside and Presfield School were fabulous and it was inspiring to see the enthusiasm of the children. It was great to see so many children able and willing to use tools such as screwdrivers and hammers and be given the opportunity to do so. This was something I was passionate about when I worked in the Early Years sector, providing a wood work bench in the setting, so it was encouraging to witness such skilled tool use. Fingers crossed for successful habitation this year and a fully fledged brood. Now is a great time to position your nest box, the ideal position being facing the box North or East and away from feeding areas. Why not send us a picture of your newly installed nestbox? Facebook us here RSPBRibbleEstuary or Tweet away at @RSPB_Ribble Don’t forgot to empty and clean your nestbox next February, remove the nesting material and rinse through with hot water to remove any mites. Allow to dry thoroughly and then position back in the same place. Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers; Liz, Sue and Dawn for being such fabulous help throughout the activity. Keep your eye out for our other school holiday and family events, take a look at our website for further information and booking. Jo Spring Creeps On At Marshside Storm Dennis seemed quite forgiving after Ciara, bringing plenty of rain, but an easier wind. Somehow, spring continues to push on with blackthorn blossom at the reserve edges and hedges and shocks of yellow from the sporadic gorse bushes. Work on the ground has been hampered somewhat with the amount of water moving on the reserves, and repairs needed after the winds. It has however allowed the team to get well up to date with ‘wet weather jobs’, with spreadsheets, risk assessments, regulatory derogations and akin getting updated. Image: WesDavies Hardy folk have continued to explore the reserves through the storms and squalls. Sangrounders hide at Marshside has been providing much needed shelter inside for people and in its shadow for birds. Janis Sutton was treated to grand views of a barnacle goose and a impressive collection of redshank . We think all involved were glad of the shelter of the hide, either its shadow or roof. Images from Janis Sutton: Barnacle goose – Redshanks galore – squall We have had a few moments away from the gloom, and its amazing how quickly the marshes can transform ones mood as they choose to reflect the sky. Watching pintail ducks has much the same effect, and works in the gloom too. Images when the sun came out: WesDavies Reports have come in of a leucistic Canada goose popping up on Crossens and Suttons marshes, as well as the leucistic mallard pictured on Crossens marsh below. This relatively common genetic condition prevents various pigments from settling in feathers, unlike albinism (absence of pigment), it doesn’t affect the coloration of eyes. It does definitely make you take a second look though. Leucistic mallard – Crossens: WesDavies

Blog Post: Ribble Roundup – National Nestbox Week – Creeping Spring – More Weather – Hiding in Hides

Nestbox Week at RDC Half term nestbox building was a great success, celebrating National Nestbox Week in style. The kits provided by Marshside and Presfield School were fabulous and it was inspiring to see the enthusiasm of the children. It was great to see so many children able and willing to use tools such as screwdrivers and hammers and be given the opportunity to do so. This was something I was passionate about when I worked in the Early Years sector, providing a wood work bench in the setting, so it was encouraging to witness such skilled tool use. Fingers crossed for successful habitation this year and a fully fledged brood. Now is a great time to position your nest box, the ideal position being facing the box North or East and away from feeding areas. Why not send us a picture of your newly installed nestbox? Facebook us here RSPBRibbleEstuary or Tweet away at @RSPB_Ribble Don’t forgot to empty and clean your nestbox next February, remove the nesting material and rinse through with hot water to remove any mites. Allow to dry thoroughly and then position back in the same place. Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers; Liz, Sue and Dawn for being such fabulous help throughout the activity. Keep your eye out for our other school holiday and family events, take a look at our website for further information and booking. Jo Spring Creeps On At Marshside Storm Dennis seemed quite forgiving after Ciara, bringing plenty of rain, but an easier wind. Somehow, spring continues to push on with blackthorn blossom at the reserve edges and hedges and shocks of yellow from the sporadic gorse bushes. Work on the ground has been hampered somewhat with the amount of water moving on the reserves, and repairs needed after the winds. It has however allowed the team to get well up to date with ‘wet weather jobs’, with spreadsheets, risk assessments, regulatory derogations and akin getting updated. Image: WesDavies Hardy folk have continued to explore the reserves through the storms and squalls. Sangrounders hide at Marshside has been providing much needed shelter inside for people and in its shadow for birds. Janis Sutton was treated to grand views of a barnacle goose and a impressive collection of redshank . We think all involved were glad of the shelter of the hide, either its shadow or roof. Images from Janis Sutton: Barnacle goose – Redshanks galore – squall We have had a few moments away from the gloom, and its amazing how quickly the marshes can transform ones mood as they choose to reflect the sky. Watching pintail ducks has much the same effect, and works in the gloom too. Images when the sun came out: WesDavies Reports have come in of a leucistic Canada goose popping up on Crossens and Suttons marshes, as well as the leucistic mallard pictured on Crossens marsh below. This relatively common genetic condition prevents various pigments from settling in feathers, unlike albinism (absence of pigment), it doesn’t affect the coloration of eyes. It does definitely make you take a second look though. Leucistic mallard – Crossens: WesDavies

Blog Post: Wild is the wind

Welcome to this weeks Ribble roundup, which as the title suggests has been a wild and windy week. The Ribble Discovery Centre welcomed their first school visit of the new year on a very blustery day! The Year 2 class from Strike Lane Primary School Completed the Plant Detectives session in the secret garden, it was quite a challenge in the wind, but, one I suspect many of the children will not forget. The children were great, eager to learn and explore, fully embracing the weather and #LearningOutdoors away from their usual classroom setting. Thanks to @StrikeLane for tagging us on their twitter post about the visit. @RSPB_Ribble Facebook: @RibbleEstuary Recent sightings The wildness of Ciara blew in a single barnacle goose , spotted on the edge of Fairhaven Lake on Tuesday afternoon. This is an usual sighting for us here and to see just the one does suggest it has been blown off course in the storm surge. We were anticipating a large number of “blow aways”, but, alas, no others materialised! We have also spotted a couple of extra cormorants on the lake though. The lake has also been filled with Wednesday’s high tide as the work on the sluice gate has now been completed. This will allow the water to refresh with the high tides via the automatic sluice gate, allowing the water to return to an increased salinity. Half term fun at the Ribble Discovery Centre Presfield School have been back in the Marshside workshop. Finishing touches were made to the birdbox kits, before they were whisked away to the Ribble Discovery Centre. There was time left to make some boxes for themselves though, and we were impressed with their hidden talents once again. Many thanks goes out to Presfield School for these kits. They are all ready for our activity on Wednesday 19.02.20 10-12 to celebrate National Nestbox Week. To book please call 01253 796292 or email ribblereserves@rspb.org.uk, or even just call in on the morning. We shall be putting them together and giving them a lick of paint. We will also advise as to the best location to place them in your garden for their new prospective tenants. Ciara Hits Marshside Storms have names now, so we might as well roll with them. Ciara bore down on the Ribble at the beginning of the week and tested the resilience of its wintering wildlife. The saltmarshes were inundated with water, leaving little refuse for its inhabitants. The pictured black-headed gulls at Marshside made good with the invertebrates bounding their way away from the high tide, but not all species were as lucky. For many birds, all they could do is hold tight. The curlew in the video seemed particularly peturbed by the wind. One of the few sparks of luck we witnessed was the wind doing the voles a favour. Escaping from the water and retreating to the outer banks often leaves these guys overly exposed to predation. However, the bad new was for kestrels who found it difficult to hover in the strong gusts. https://vimeo.com/390785897 Saltmarshes do an amazing job of helping protect the coastline from high stormy seas as their structure dissipates energy. As the energy drops out of the sea it deposits debris, and the bigger the storm, the more debris you get. Some debris is good, as mats of seed provide food and start regeneration processes. The large trees and logs that have appeared at Marshside will provide home and shelter for invertebrates. The sea is not discerning though, and we can already see an worrying amount of plastic washed up – stay tuned for a plan to remove it all. The wind subsided towards the end of the week and things began to return to normal. The inner marshes are holding a lot of water, and there will no doubt be some amazing foraging opportunities for birds as is slowly recedes. Dennis – As this is written, storm Dennis approaches. Will it hit the same ? Avocets The Avocets arrived early, and in style this year. Stuart Darbyshire reported the two pictured as the storm first hit, and by the second day of windy weather they reached double figures.

Blog Post: Calm is the day

Welcome to this week’s Ribble roundup. We are still eagerly awaiting more followers for our new Facebook and Twitter pages. Please share, so we can reach out to as many people in the area as we can. Facebook: RSPBRibbleEstuary Twitter: @RSPB_Ribble Ribble Discovery Centre After the success of the feeders we have had in the “Secret Garden” at Fairhaven Lake, we have placed a feeding station near the centre of the park next to the pavilion. We are hoping this will attract the numerous goldfinch, blue and great tits that are frequently observed around the park, as well as the blackbirds, robins and chaffinch. Being next to the pavilion there is a seating area for to sit and enjoy the birds on the feeders. Recent sightings include the kingfisher again, the flash of shimmering blue is always a delight to see. The pintail ducks are also hanging around, just the 1 male still and a varying number of females looking very elegant on the calmness of the lake. Education and Visitor Centre We have our “Build a nestbox” activity looming closer as we approach half term. Our friends at Marshside have our kits ready, with thanks to one of their local schools. The activity will take place on Wednesday 19 February 10-12, booking is ideal so we can prepare for numbers. To reserve your space please call 01253 796292 or email us at ribble.reserves@rspb.org.uk £5 per kit for non members £4 per kit for members. The session links to Family Wild Challenge and is a great activity to get the kids involved in nature during half term. There will also be small “through the nesthole” quiz to undertake around the lake while the box dries. Then all you need to do is take it home and get it up ready for prospective tenants. We have also taken a number of bookings for school sessions during February, it’s fantastic to see schools still wanting to get children outdoors even in the colder months. So we are looking forward to welcoming them. Our Volunteer Visitor Experience Internship is still live too, click here for further information and please feel free to highlight it to anyone you feel maybe interested. We have also been lucky enough to receive some BBC Radio Lancashire exposure in these last few weeks. Firstly talking with Alison Butterworth about the importance of the Ribble Estuary as a migration site and secondly having a chat with Brett Davies for his drive-time show to air on Friday 14 February. Shop Offers in the shop this week include: Two mugs for £16, retailing at £9 each (offer excludes local ranges but includes our fantastic new product range) Buy two nestboxes and save £2 Buy two scarves for £20, retailing at £15 each Buy two singing birds for £14, retailing at £8 each It’s still 50% off buggy nibbles…but only till 18 February so make the most of this one Jo Marshside

Blog Post: Spring is in the air…but should it be?

Welcome to this weeks Ribble Roundup Not only do we have our new Facebook page @RSPBRibbleEstuary , we also have our own Twitter page too @RSPB_Ribble . Please like and share our pages, we are really looking forward to engaging with as many of you as possible and providing lots of information about our work in conservation and education around the estuary. We look forward to welcoming many visitor contributions on both channels and welcome any photographs and snippets of information about our wonderful sites. Ribble Discovery Centre My daily stroll around the lake has yielded some great results this week, spending a good half an hour observing our female kingfisher’s successful hunting missions on Wednesday. She was perched on the over hanging branches on a tree on the furthest island. Her missions were rewarding and she characteristically bashed the fish against the tree before consuming them. Thursday, brought 3 pintail ducks basking in the spring-like sunshine. Two male and one female have been recorded on our sightings board, however, I observed one male and two females. Pintail ducks are treat to see any time with their regal sort of presence gliding serenely across the water, male plumage is also rather majestic. The air was also alive with spring birdsong, the unusually milder weather seemingly having an overall uplifting effect on the lake and garden residents. Many blue and great tits have been using our feeders as well as house sparrows, starlings and the occasional cheeky jackdaw! The oystercatchers and redshank have also been busy around the lake. The oystercatchers are feeding on the invertebrates in the grass on the far side of the lake and are also regularly seen on other nearby grasslands. There are still one or two perhaps slightly braver redshank on the edges of the lake….I do wonder if it’s always the same one or two? We have been sent a couple of photos from one of our regular visitors. So many thanks to Stewart Kay for the redshank shots. The redshank are picking out the tiny molluscs and crustaceans from the lake edges. Redshank on the edges of Fairhaven Lake Education and Visitor Centre Volunteer Visitor Experience Internship opportunity. At the Ribble Discovery Centre we are offering a Volunteer Visitor Experience Internship opportunity. We are looking for an enthusiastic, passionate volunteer intern to play a vital role within our team and help deliver a great experience for schools, families and general visitors for two to three days a week March – September. This role has the potential to be extremely flexible, offering a chance to gain experience in a variety of areas. It will provide the opportunity to boost confidence, experience and skills required to make that first step into a career within the conservation sector. The role would suit a graduate, looking to fulfil work placement, anyone looking to gain teaching skills and visitor engagement experience. It would also be suitable for someone looking for a change in career. Volunteering with the RSPB is a sure fire way to gain relevant experience and I am a proven example of that, having volunteered on the learning team at Leighton Moss previously. If you think this role would suit yourself or even someone you know please have a look at the role profile on our website here and get in touch. The closing date is Thursday 20 February. Shop Our shop continues to do well, with 90% of money going directly back into conservation, education and advocacy. Some of this will be the wonderful work that goes into the land management at Marshside and Hesketh out Marsh. Our Christmas sale will remain on till 11 February, with some really amazing bargains to currently be had. There is still half price off 3kg bags of buggy nibbles, which are going down a treat in our feeders in the gardens here. There is also a save £2 deal on two nestboxes. This is a great time of year to be getting those nestboxes up, so they can be checked out by any possible residents in time. Nestbox display in the Ribble Discovery Centre, photo credit Jo Taylor

Blog Post: New Year, New You

Welcome to this weeks Ribble Roundup 13/01/20 Please like and follow our new Facebook page @RSPBRibbleEstuary. We are really looking forward to increasing our followers and providing lots of information about our work across the estuary. We are also looking forward to welcoming many visitor contributions, there are so many talented photographers out there, you can truly showcase our sites. Recent sightings around Fairhaven include our kingfisher (of course), plenty tufties , mute swans , mallards , 2 male pochard , lots of black headed gulls , whose head plumage is already transitioning into summer and a small number of common gulls . Ribble Discovery Centre January is a great time to be looking for new things. We have had a successful start to the new year, with a number of enquiries about our volunteering positions at the centre. We have 2 posts on the education team available; Volunteer Nature Activity Leader, for further information about this role, please click here and our Volunteer Nature Activity Assistant, please click here for further information about this role. Both roles are vitally important to the learning team and without our fabulous volunteers we could not offer the same fantastic experience that we do. What is also very exciting is that we are also looking to recruit a longer term volunteer role, to holistically support the learning team and the centre, so keep your eyes peeled for that one…it’s in the pipeline. We have also recently welcomed 2 new retail assistant volunteers to the crew as well. Education and Visitor Centre This is the time of year many schools start to think about their educational visits and we have had a number of enquiries regarding Summer term already. Many of our activities are tide dependant, so I would urge any schools interested to book in now to avoid disappointment. We have a number of bookings in place already from schools who missed out last year. Don’t forget our sessions are curriculum linked and really add depth and breadth to the science curriculum, providing hands on coastal experiences that simply cannot be sought in school grounds. Check out our web page for more information about sessions and bookings. Mud dipping with year 4 earlier in the year. Photo credit Jo Taylor We also welcomed a drop in session from Clifton Lodge Nursery this week. They brought a small group of 2-3 year old children to visit. We had a lovely little session looking at shells, crabs and other exhibits from the sea. I look forward to welcoming them again with their pre-school group. Shop Our #BigGardenBirdwatch feeder kit offer is still on till 27 January. At almost half price, this really is a great kit to set up garden bird feeding. Find out more about the ##BigGardenBirdwatch here. Help Save Nature – Volunteer places at Marshside / Hesketh Out Marsh Spring feels far from sprung, but we are starting to recruit volunteers to take up the challenge of seasonal places. Do you have what it takes to keep track of Avocet chicks as they start to wander? Could you tell an ‘A’ Lapwing chick from a ‘B’ ? Could you help us keep track of fantastic Mr Fox and what he is up to ? If so, follow the links below and get in touch. Practical volunteers on the Ribble – Link Avocet and Lapwing Watchers – Link Predator monitors – Link Getting Involved at Marshside community.rspb.org.uk/…/wild_2D00_challenge_2D00_poster_2D00_a4-_2800_3_2900_.pdf