Author: 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

Blog Post: Welcome to 2020

Ribble Reserves Roundup w/c 06/01/20 The Ribble reserves blog combines new from all our Ribble Estuary sites: Marshide, Hesketh out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre at Fairhaven Lake. Providing the latest news on sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits. Fistly, welcome to 2020, we are aiming for this year to be even better than ever! Starting off with a new Facebook page. We will now have a Ribble Estuary specific page @RSPBRibbleEstuary. This page will aim to do similar to the blog and combine news, sightings and information from all three sites across the estuary. We will wholeheartedly welcome your photos and contributions to the page. Please start following us now to keep up to date with events and happenings. Ribble Discovery centre We start the year with news that the female kingfisher is still being regularly spotted around the lake, we have received some wonderful photos and videos of her in action, so many thanks for those and keep them coming. The lake is also alive with the call of the redshank. A small number of redshank have taken to frequenting the slopes of the lake to probe. They are quite jumpy little birds, agitated very easily and if startled take off rapidly crying their tew-hoo-hoo alarm call. We’ve also maintained the regular cormorant drying off spot, frequently all 4 of a regulars stand together airing their wings, looking eerily prehistoric, especially in the wintry light. Photo from archive by Andy Hay The water level in the lake has been very low this week, whilst the contractors work on the sluice gate. This has led to the little egrets being able to stand in the lake to hunt. The egrets often roost in the trees on the islands at high tide and in the evening, but we rarely see them stalking prey standing in the lake. Photo from archive by Matt Wilkinson Meanwhile, up on the sand dunes there a small flocks of linnet flitting about, a lovely sight to see and hear as they twitter in flight. Linnet populations are currently down and they are of red conservation status. Education and Visitor Centre It’s not long now till the ##BigGardenBirdwatch . For further information about this vitally important and fun to do survey please see our page here . The survey helps understand how our garden birds are doing and monitor trends and problems, which we can then all act on. We are already looking forward to half term and our nestbox building event on Wednesday 19 February 10-12, which coincides with National nestbox week. This is a limited and bookable event so please call the centre to reserve your places, £5 per nestbox or £4 for RSPB members. Shop After the mele of Christmas, our shop is now fully stocked with new exciting ranges and products. We also have a fantastic offer on suet nibbles, with 50% off 3kg bags, a great offer and will go down a treat for the ##BigGardenBirdwatch (Cover photo from archive by Any Hay)

Blog Post: The colour purple

Ribble Reserves Blog w/c 09/12/19 The Ribble reserves blog combines news from all of our Ribble sites: Marshside, Hesketh Out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre. Providing the latest information on sightings, shop offers and educational visits. Ribble Discovery Centre It’s been a wild and windy couple of daydown here on Fairhaven Lake. Good weather for ducks you might say! Which is lucky as there are loads of them milling around the lake. We have the usual suspects in attendance at the moment, plenty of tufted ducks, mallards and still a couple of pochard hanging around. A grey heron is frequently observed on one of the islands at high tide, patiently stalking prey underneath the water. Grey heron illustration: Mike Langman RSPB-images Whilst an unseasonal purple heron has been spotted in Pilling. This bird would usually spend the winter south of the Sahara and it’s unusual for them to be seen here at this time of year. The difference between the two birds aside from the purple heron usually residing in a more temperate or tropical climate is that it is of generally slightly smaller and slimmer build. It has an orange/red head and neck, chestnut belly and black cap. Adult plumage can appear purple. Juvenile plumage is lighter brown with buff edges to the feathers. These birds are also known as the snake bird due its neck posturing looking somewhat like a snake in the grass! Purple heron illustration: Mike Langman RSPB-images Education and Visitor Centre The sea wall defence works are coming along nicely. with the contractors VBA motoring along on Granny’s Bay. You can even see the progress on the other side of the estuary! Shop A fantastic £100 off 6.5 x 32 RSPB HD binoculars. These are an amazing pair of binoculars for anyone interested in insects. They have a close up focus of 1 m, making them ideal for closer observation of butterflies and dragonflies. We are also a leading retailer for a variety of binoculars and telescopes, stocking a wide range to suit many pockets and pursuits. We regularly have an expert to hand to help you make an informed choice. We also stock a range of books, identification guides as well as biographies. Mrs Pankhurst’s purple feather is a must read, a story of inspiration and courage that changed the face of society. The story of two women, pioneers of their time campaigning for a better, more tolerant and empathetic Britain.

Blog Post: Winter is on its way

Ribble Reserves Blog w/c 11.11.19 The Ribble Reserves blog combines news from all our Ribble reserve sites; Marshide, Hesketh out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre. Providing the latest information on sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits. Ribble Wide WeBS Count Wetland Birds Surveys (WeBS) counts are conducted nationally, once a month throughout the UK. Over 3,000 volunteers contribute to the survey, making over 40,000 visits each year to 2,800 sites. The survey is a partnership between the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology), the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and the JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee). Counts on the Ribble are coordinated over a high tide by dedicated volunteers, with routs covering nature reserves, private land, parks and open access. The data is handled on a national level by the BTO and utilised for management decisions locally and nationally. On the latest count, one a patch to on the north of the estuary we found (among many more) 2,645 lapwings . These iconic birds were in large flocs, apart from one ( see video ) that was more friendly. Rimmers marsh highlights included 137 pintail , 866 wigeon and 128 tufted ducks . Suttons and Crossens was busy with 1,025 Golden Plover , over a thousand lapwing and 2055 wigeon. The saltmarsh/mud revealed 1,650 dunlin , 13050 knot , 700 oystercatcher and 850 pink-footed geese . If you would like to take part in any survey work around the Ribble, let us know at ribble.reserves@rspb.org.uk Ribbl e Discovery Centre Frost is on the ground and cold is in the air! The sea and sky are shades of icy blue, the gulls shriek their distant cries and winter is on its way. Despite the sea wall defence works on Granny’s Bay the estuary is still full of life with waders and waterfowl. Curlews are frequently observed on the mudflats, using their specialised bills for finding those succulent lugworms underneath the mud. Talking of specialised bills, shelduck are also fond of the mudflats, using their bills to shovel up the millions of hydrobia snails on the surface and dabble in the water for other aquatic invertebrates. Shelducks are one of my favourite sightings. Their mix of duck and goose like stature and bright bottle green head with chestnut breast band make them unmistakable. Their name is thought to be derived from “shield duck” in reference to their bright red bills that look as though they form a shield on the face. Shelduck Mike Langman RSPB-images In addition to these guys, eider duck have been spotted dabbling on the mudflats near Church Scar and pintail ducks have also been seen bobbing about on the sea. Education and Visitor Centre This week I’ve been out and about checking out the locations we use for our school and educational visits. It was a cold morning and standing on top of the sand dunes makes you feel very small. You can truly appreciate the vastness of the estuary when the tide is out. The colours are changing in the landscape and the winter palette is taking over. Across the estuary, photo credit Jo Taylor I also participated in the North West beach school network workshop on Fleetwood beach. A great session, linking the locality to the curriculum and the winter and spring equinox festivals that were celebrated on the North West coast. Fleetwood Beach Photo credit Jo Taylor Just look at those colours! Shop IT’S THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Grab yourself a bargain on a variety of items including selected gifts, Christmas and bird care products. Our friendly staff are awaiting your visit. All purchases directly support nature with 90% of all net income directed to conservation, education and advocacy. Marshside Litter Picking Gems This mermaid purse was among the normal discarded plastic and hubcaps found litter picking at Marshside. Possibly dropped by a human adventurer returned from the shoreline – but just as likely to be that a black-headed gull let it drop in a struggle. We think this egg capsule is from a small eyed ray. If you find any egg cases; or fancy going on a hunt for them, check out The Shark Trust for tips and citizen science projects. Small eyed ray egg casing (mermaids purse) Scaup Watching at Nels Hide This scaup pictured on Rimmers marsh has been keeping a close eye on visitors to Nels hide. Scaup – Nell’s hide – Rimmers Marsh Wigeon Wigeon have arrived in their thousands and can be seen moving around the estuary in large flocks. The birds below were photographed along marsh side road. These whistling ducks have been reported in flocks of more than 7,000 throughout the estuary. Wigeon from Marshside road path Marsh Edge Management One of our volunteer tasks forces winter tasks is to cut back vegetation along the marsh boundaries. Some cover is good for screening visitors or wind shelter, but taller/denser vegetation offers cover and nesting spots for predators. Willow coppicing at Marshside

Blog Post: Kingfisher success

Ribble Reserves blog w/c 11.11.19 Our new Ribble Reserves blog combines news from all our Ribble reserve sites; Marshide, Hesketh out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre, providing you with all the latest up to date information about sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits. Ribbl e Discovery Centre Success! The Fairhaven Lake kingfisher no longer eludes himself from the us at the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre! He is becoming quite bold and has been seen on the fence at the marina, using this as a hunting perch to look into the shallow lake water. Kingfishers hunt small fish and other aquatic invertebrates. It’s fantastic to see this bird still here as it suggests that the lake has enough food to sustain him. Lets hope this continues through the winter months. Kingfisher Photo credit: Ben Andrew RSPB-images Educational visits We’ve really hit the winter season now but there are many bookings coming in for Spring and Summer term. Our keystage 2 “Investigating coasts” session has been very popular this term. This session takes place up on the sand dunes, which is a fantastic place to be. Children often feel they are on top of the world there. The view is amazing, looking right across the estuary to our friends over at Marshside. On a really clear day you can even see North Wales. This session is again hands on, providing an opportunity to design a sea wall defence. This really encourages children to work in teams and apply their knowledge. If you are interested in booking an educational school visit please contact out learning officer Jo Taylor at jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk. Visitor Centre and family events VBA are currently working on the sluice gate in the lake. The sluice gate will allow the lake to refresh automatically in conjunction with the tides. Whilst working on this, the company have recovered the original sluice gate machinery. This machinery required an operative to turn it to actually open the gate in order o refresh the lake. It’s looking like this machinery will now have a home somewhere in the new visitor centre as part of the funding re development of the site. Photo credit Steve Ball Shop

Blog Post: Raptors rule the skies

Ribble Reserves blog w/c 04.11.19 Our new Ribble Reserves blog combines news from all of our RSPB Ribble estuary sites; Marshside, Hesketh Out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre providing you with all the latest up to date information about sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits! Ribble Discovery Centre The kingfisher continues to be spotted flitting over the lake, it continues to evade us in the centre however! Redshanks and oystercatchers are spotted frequently on the edge of the lake and over 30 mute swans were counted this week. Educational visits With #OutdoorClassroomDay today we thought we would look at our education season so far. This season since April we have delivered our learning sessions to schools and youth groups, engaging 1500 children. That’s a lot of mud dipping! We offer a suite of sessions linked to the Science National Curriculum and our coastal beach sessions also match the Cornerstones curriculum. We undertake sessions in and around the lake and gardens such as plant detectives and living things and their habitats, but one of our most popular sessions is the mud habitat study. Awe and wonder is rife in this session. Children have the opportunity to not only discover and identify the invertebrates living beneath this highly nutritious mud but they also have the chance to understand their wider relationship within the food chains and ecosystem of the habitat. The opportunity to use wide scientific vocabulary is there and this was commended in our Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Quality badge inspection. Brownies mud dipping photo credit Jo Taylor Our feedback this season has also been excellent with 100% of respondents stating their session was “outstanding” or “very good”. This is with great thanks to the huge contribution of our many learning volunteers who are so vital to our team. If you are interested in booking an educational visit at the Ribble Discovery Centre at any time of year please contact our learning officer Jo Taylor at jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk Visitor Centre and family events Our Autumn Explorer trail was very popular over half term with over 70 families taking part. The winner has now been drawn and will be collecting their family prize from the Ribble Discovery Centre this weekend. Well done! Shop Alongside our Christmas cards, wrapping and calendar offers there’s currently a fantastic 20% off 12.75kg boxes of Buggy Nibbles (R402649) and High Energy Suet Sprinkles (R403130). Normally £39.99, now £31.99 too. In our centre we sell a wide range of books, including some great wildlife identification guides and also a range of natural history novels. Great for that special Christmas gift. Ray, one of our centre volunteers has written the following book review for us: “This book is a must – sensitive, inspiring and told in such a way it gives you feeling you are being told a story by someone who genuinely cares. It is well researched and factual interspersed by humour. If you love birds, history or just a thoroughly good story then this is a must read for you. I would recommend this nook to anyone interested in birdwatching and the history of the conservation movement, anyone wanting a good read and anyone interested in the history of the Second World War.” Marshside Skies We have been treated to displays from a suite of raptors present at Marshside of late. Peregrine , hen harrier , merlin , sparrow hawk , marsh harrier hunt over the inner and outer marshes, often agitating their quarry into amazing evasive displays. The black tailed godwits below are were filmed at Marshside (Rimmers Marsh) keeping ahead of a peregrine. https://vimeo.com/371079332 Out and About A the days get shorter and the first few frosts reach in, the marshes colour palette is finding its winter hues. Dusk at Sandgrounders hide: Marshside Record breaking cows This cow broke the coveted ‘interference record’ – with an outstanding heavy scratch test of a freshly repaired stile …. 45 seconds is going to be hard to beat From the Web Visitors have been enjoying the nomadic band of cattle egrets as they move from site to site along the Ribble. These thirteen were photographed by Janice Sutton as they headed to roost. Its incredible to see this species increase its footing on the Ribble. Janice also caught up with the growing flock of twite now enjoying the saltmarsh. This image was taken by the pier, but they have been spotted at Marshside and along the fence line at Hesketh Out Marsh .

Blog Post: Welcome to the all new Ribble Reserves blog

Ribble Reserves Roundup w/c 28.10.19 Our new Ribble Reserves blog combines news from all of our RSPB Ribble estuary sites; Marshside, Hesketh Out Marsh and the Ribble Discovery Centre providing you with all the latest up to date information about sightings, events, shop offers and educational visits! Ribble Discovery Centre It’s been a cold crisp week here at Fairhaven Lake. Many of our regular residents and visitors are on the lake including numerous mute swans, mallards, coots, moorhens and tufted ducks. We have also had a juvenille great crested grebe on the lake for the last few weeks which is a real delight to see and a couple of little grebes . There’s also been a single pochard hanging about with the tufties too for some time. There’s been a small number of sightings of a kingfisher these last few weeks flitting around at the top of the lake, which really is a fantastic sighting and we are all on the lookout to spot it ourselves. The cheeky black headed gulls are as noisy as ever and a looking rather majestic in their winter plumage. We also have a couple of cormorants frequently seen on the edge of the jetty, drying out. Black headed gulls. Photo credit Jo Taylor Cormorant. Photo credit Andy Hay RSPB-images Educational visits We had a fantastic pre-school and reception class from Copp Primary in Great Eccleston undertaking an Autumn sensory walk last week. We were very lucky and had a lovely cold crisp sunny morning. All 27 children were dressed fantastically for their morning and loads of fun was had collecting different leaf shapes, feeding the ducks and spotting all other signs of Autumn. Loads of conkers from the horse chestnut and acorns from our Holm oak in the park were found. The children had a really great hands on #OutdoorLearning experiences, really hitting all those characteristics of effective learning in the EYFS. See our web page here for further information about school visits. All sessions are linked to the National Curriculum with our coastal sessions also being a perfect match to the Cornerstones curriculum. Dandelion seed head and caterpillar. Photo credit Jo Taylor Visitor Centre and family events Our Autumn explorer trail running in conjunction with Fylde Council has been very popular. As half term has been so staggered around the country we will continue to run it till Sunday 3 November, so there’s still time to get your entry into the box for the family prize draw! There’s also still time to come and make one of our pine cone creatures! We are also exhibiting the finalists and other entries for the Fairhaven Photographic Competition till Sunday, so there’s still plenty time to take a peek at these great photos. Shop Our shop has some great stock for all your winter bird care needs, with an vast array of feeders and food. We currently have 30% off 3kg bags of suet nibbles,which are always a winner with the birds. We also stock a wide range of binoculars and telescopes for a all differing skill levels. Our range includes popular RSPB and Viking binoculars as well as other premium brands such as Swarovski and Nikon. Perhaps treat yourself or someone you love for Christmas. Call in any time and chat to our experts, there’s also open weekend coming up at the end of next month 31 November and 1 December. We’ve also got offers on Christmas cards and wrapping paper as well as calendars at the moment. Get ahead of the game and get organised for the big day! It’s double points on your loyalty card till Monday! Photo credits Jo Taylor Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh The alternative airshows held recently at both these sites have been very popular with spectators undertaking guided walks across the marsh before the tide came in. An amazing wildlife spectacle of waders and other birds moved across the marsh looking for roosting sites as the water rose. As the marsh flooded small mammals were spotted trying to escape the water and the hungry raptors above! Our guided bird watching walks at both sites are also very popular, providing opportunities to learn more about the land management, ecology and wildlife present at the sites. The habitat work at Crossens Inner Marsh have been underway and will improve the water levels at the site. This has been put to the test recently with the bouts of heavy rain and high tides and is being monitored to ensure they do prevent prolonged flooding to protect the rare coastal grassland. Thousands of pink footed geese are observed daily feeding in the rich grassland and then flying across the estuary to roost in the evening. There are also large numbers of wigeon over wintering at the sites too. The raptors have also been abundance with marsh harrier , merlin and kestrel amongst others. Merlin photo Credit Chris Gomersall RSPB-images