Author: WesDavies

Blog Post: Visiting Ribble Reserves – Update

It’s a strange time for us all at the moment, but it’s lovely to hear how much nature helps lift your spirits through lockdown. We know for many of you, our Ribble Estuary reserves are a big part of providing enjoyment and solace in the natural world. Before setting off, please read through the following update on the opening situation of the facilities at each of our Ribble Estuary sites, changes that may be in place to keep everyone safe, and how you can help protect vulnerable wildlife during your visit: Traveling to Marshside / Hesketh Out Marsh Current government local restrictions effect both Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh reserves. Please check restrictions in your area before traveling to any of our reserves. Marshside – Is in Sefton – Tier 3 Heasketh Out Marsh – Is in West Lancashire – Tier 2 Current government advice is for no nonessential ravel between tiers Marshside , We’re delighted that the car park and both hides are open daily, 8.30am-5pm, along with all the trails. You’ll notice we’ve made some changes to help keep you and our team safe: When visiting us, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage on-site. We’ve put hand sanitiser at the entrance to each hide, so please use it before going in. We also recommend you bring your own. Unless exempt, all those who can are required to wear a face covering in our hides. You’ll see that we have spaced out the seating to allow for social distancing and so some windows are not in use – we have clearly marked these. Some are locked open and some are locked shut to avoid touching, so please leave them as you find them. You’ll spot that we’ve got maximum numbers signposted at the entrance to the hides too, so please consider the amount of time you dwell in them on busy days, to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful wildlife in safety here. Due to limited staffing at the moment, our toilet remains closed for now. Please be mindful of our limited car parking capacity, particularly on sunny days, and don’t park on the road. D o consider visiting at less busy times or have an alternative destination in mind if we are full when you get here. Normal car parking charges apply for non-members. RSPB members park for free – please place your membership card face down in your windscreen. (Images of the newly refurbished inside of Sandgrounders’ hide, showing the socially distanced seating and window set up. Images by Wes Davies Hesketh Out Marsh We’re pleased to say the car park is open, along with the trails. As with Marshside, please be mindful that it has limited capacity and can quickly become full in fine weather. D o consider visiting at less busy times or have an alternative destination in mind if we are full when you get here. Please do not park along Dib Road, as it causes an obstruction for our neighbours and other visitors. On-site, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage. Ribble Discovery Centre We remain closed to the public here because w e’re having a makeover! Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund , we’re delighted that 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. This means we are closed until March 2021. School and youth group bookings are being taken for April 2021 onwards. In the meantime, all our great products can be purchased from our other Lancashire store at the fabulous Leighton Moss or from our online shop . We will provide updates on this blog and social media (see links below) when we have more information. Thank you for your support and we’ll see you when our transformation is complete. Important to remember: It is a crucial time of year for our wildlife, as we move into migration season. As part of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve – both Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh are incredibly important sites for a huge variety of species to raise their young and to rest on migration. Many birds rest and nest on the ground – they might not be obvious and can easily become disturbed by human activity, causing them to unnecessarily use up energy and so reduces their survival chances. With nests, parents being scared off can make the eggs or chicks go cold and not survive. When visiting our sites and elsewhere in the countryside, you can really help the wildlife by following these five important points: 1. Keep a look out – with fewer visitors during lockdown, wildlife may be closer than usual. Tread cautiously on verges and paths. 2. Stick to the designated paths – you can easily disturb wildlife by veering off-route. Download a trail map for Marshside here and Hesketh Out Marsh here to see where the designated trails are. 3. Keep dogs on leads – loose dogs can easily disturb ground-nesting birds, birds that are resting and other wildlife. 4. Back away – sharp alarm calls, birds with full beaks or coming unusually near to you could mean you’re too close and they may have chicks. Back up the way you came, being careful where you step. 5.Report anti-social behaviour – if you see anything suspicious, such as evidence of wildlife crime, fly-tipping or uncontrolled fires, report this to the relevant emergency service. Thank you for your continued support and patience. It really means a great deal to us. Keep up to date with changes to our Ribble sites by subscribing to this blog and if you’re on social media, by following us on Facebook and Twitter . Stay safe. These colourful black-tailed godwits continue to grow in numbers at Marshside as more birds return from their breeding grounds – image by Wes Davies

Blog Post: Covid19 and the Ribble Reserves

Last Updated – 19/03/20 These are difficult and unsettling times for all of us but we hope that nature can provide a welcome respite in whichever form and wherever you may encounter it. Following the latest advice, we have made some changes to the way …

Blog Post: Ribble Roundup: Avocets at Newton – Last of the big high tides – Out and About – Twite rump

Out and About The RSPBs work extends far beyond our reserves. Working with partners across the county and country helps us give nature a home wherever we can. This week the Marshside team and volunteers were out and about in the wider area lending a hand ‘off site’. We surveyed Newton marsh, a privately owned site used as grazing pasture on the northern side of the Ribble. This site is great for waders, and is one of very few sites black-tailed godwit breed in the UK. We were glad to see avocet back on site (a recent coloniser). Not only because they are ace, but they are committed to defending sites from avian predators, and help defend the godwits by proxy. We also cleared broken trees from the anti-predator fence, a piece of infrastructure we helped get installed on site. Over the summer, working with the graziers and farmers, we will continue to monitor the site and give the black-tailed godwits the best chance of fledging chicks possible. If you think you could help out at this site, check out this blog for details. A little further down the road at United Utilities – Alston reservoir, we helped out at a decommissioned reservoir which has been transformed into a super little wetland. Staff and volunteers from Marshside and Leighton volunteered time to make some final pre-season improvements to the site. The encroaching rushes were strimmed, mowed and scythed and the sand martin boxes were renovated ready for the summer residents. Images: WesDavies Highlights were four jack snipe and ice-creams High Tides The last of the wintery big high tides was able to quietly cover the reserves, with no encouragement from any storms. While at its peak, it seemed that all of the pink-footed geese moved onto crossens marsh, although they seemed pretty unsettled. Video: WesDavies Twite: StuartDarbyshire High tides are a great time to get close to birds as they are pushed up the saltmarsh. Stuart Darbysire was able to get this ace (above) shot of a twite feeding on the rising strand line. Its not often you get such good views of that colourful rump. The key to great views, experiences and photos like the one above is timing and patience. It should go without saying that walking up to/through flocks of birds at the top of the tide is not a good idea. This is when they are most vulnerable as most of their habitat is under water and disturbing them can be harmful. Waiting still, as the tide rises is they key to being surrounded by birds. They are well worth the wait !

Blog Post: A Call for Survey Volunteers

Volunteer Bird Surveyors Needed Keeping track of the fortunes of birds on the Ribble is no easy task, its an enormous area to cover, and to make things harder its not always accessible. We run various programs, from specific species success, to full breeding species lists. This breeding season brings challenges of new areas (Crossens inner marsh) and an increased effort on target species. There is no way we can cover all we want to without help from our team of monitoring volunteers. We are currently seeking new volunteers to join the team, with various levels of commitment needed. What you need: Basic bird identification skills are needed for most studies, however, some can be made relatively simple – its more important that you are keen. You will need to be relatively fit to visit some areas, we do however have some very accessible sites. Why help monitor Monitoring species success and abundance helps us understand on a local and national level what management and external factors are effecting our wildlife. Locally the results can change management such as cattle numbers, planned works and habitat restoration. The data feeds into national data sets, allowing for the ‘big picture’ to be developed and answer questions on climate change, farming practises and more. What you get As well as the warm ‘doing your bit’ feeling, you will get to know an area or family of birds very well. The attention needed to monitor leads to experiencing many magical wildlife moments, not normally found while birdwatching. We will also provide all the training and equipment you need. Example Roles (1 or more) -Redshank Plots Help us understand the decline in redshank population on the Ribble and nationally. We will be increasing our redshank monitoring from 2020, with new plots across the inner and outer marshes. We will be recording how many birds have how many nests and fledge how many chicks. Could you take on a redshank plot or two? Once a week: March to July -Lapwing Plots Our lapwing monitoring will be expanded to include Crossens inner marsh. Knowing how well this target species does is fundamental to wetland management. We will be recording how many birds have how many nests and fledge how many chicks . Could you keep an eye on a nesting lapwing plot? Once a Week: March to July -Avocet Plots The avocet was the first bird to return to breed in the UK following the RSPB’s conservation work. The species has now returned to Hesketh Out Marsh, an area that was arable fields a few years ago. We will be recording how many birds have how many nests and fledge how many chicks . Could you keep an eye on avocet families? Once a Week: March to July If you are interested in taking part in taking part in any of these studies, please get in touch : Redshank, lapwing, avocet and Arctic tern chick images: WesDavies

Blog Post: Volunteer Power at Marshside & Not So Pink Feet on the Ribble NNR

Love My Marsh Event Clearing waste from Marshside is an ongoing battle, with waste from the sea and river collecting in the saltmarsh on falling tides, as well as litter being thrown from cars along the roads. Fly-tipping is also becoming a more frequent issue. Despite the inclement weather, we had a hardy gang of folk make a difference on the saltmarsh at Marshside last weekend. Togged up to the hilt and pickers in hand they scoured the saltmarsh, removing an array of waste from this special habitat. We sorted the spoils into recyclables, landfill and ‘treasure’. Unfortunately the landfill pile far outweighed the other, with a disappointing amount of black bags heading for the ground. Treasure included a serviceable chair, sprayer (complete with unknown liquid) and a pirates hook. Its of note that if the glass bottles belonged to the pirates, they have diversified from rum of late. We were secretly hoping to find Robin, to help out Batman (our workshop mascot) who appeared on the marsh last year. But alas, he must still be adventuring with the Titans. Presfield Hereos Presfield School do an amazing job of keeping Mrshside rd and Marine Drive clear of littler week in and week out with their excellent litter picks. This week they showed off their woodwork skills (who knew) and made an impressive set of ‘Birdbox Kits’ in our workshop. Thus weeks class measures a sawed over 20 kits, next week we will be pre-drilling the holes and packing them up ready for dispatch to the Ribble Discovery Centre . Stay tuned for details of the up and coming DIY Birdbox event there in the coming weeks. Marshside Birds With our focus on litter, willow clearing and birdboxes, its been difficult to keep up with our favourite winter residents. Reports have been coming in that the Dowitcher has been hanging around in its preferred spot. We did see that that the tufted ducks , loving known as tufties are starting to look rather smart, and proud of that fact. Nells hide is a grand place to see them up close. Tufted at Nells Hide: WesDavies We have also had reports of a suspected intersex wigeon . Spotted by Stuart Darbyshire, this bird sure has an interesting set of characteristics, no doubt due to some strange genetics. Prob intersex wigeon : Stuart Darbyshire There are thousands and thousands of pink-footed geese on and above the Ribble at any one time. Hidden among these are a few ‘orange legs’. They are not separated in anyway – but they are cool to spot. Some of the fun is finding one, but we find that its the looking through them is where the real fun is. Orange pink feet : Stuart Darbyshire

Blog Post: Skyfall

Welcome to this weeks Ribble Roundup w/c 20.01.20 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. Marshside Marshside – Crossens Predator Proofing We are happy with the way Crossens has developed – especially with the speed that birds have taken to this prime spot. We are not the only ones that have noticed, as foxes have (quite understandably) noticed the change. This week we have been ‘snagging’ the anti-predator fence, making sure that the birds we attract can successfully fledge chicks unhindered. We found a lot of evidence of foxes prowling the perimeter, and fixed a few week spots that would no doubt be tested when chicks can be heard calling from inside. Image: WesDavies Marshside – Looking up We have been treated to some outstanding sunrises and sunsets over the week, and have been grateful for a break in what seemed like a never ending cycle of heavy rain. Sandgrounder sunrise: WesDavies Rimmers Aglow: AlexPiggott Marshside – Volunteer Party Snacks The volunteer work party continued to cut and burn the encroaching willow on Marshside Rd / Rimmers Marsh. What changed this week was the calorie intake, with the introduction of smores at the end of the day. Who knew it was acceptable to sandwich marshmallows between chocolate biscuits? By the end of play, we convinced ourselves that we were calorie neutral. Smores – WesDavies If you think you could eat smores, get in touch (terms and conditions apply) Ribble Discovery Centre Since those beautiful photographs were taken at Marshside we have had a week of fog. However on arriving via Granny’s Bay on Wednesday morning there were hundreds of curlew on the shore line. What a contrast, the large and heavy construction machinery in the foreground and the beautiful, mystical and ethereal look of the curlew in the fog on the mudflat just beyond the saltmarsh. This again highlights the importance of the Ribble Estuary to these birds. The estuary is a significant strong holding of curlew especially in the winter, they will freely move around here, being pushed up to the shoreline in high tide. Curlew have suffered a steep decline in population over recent years and they are in real trouble. The RSPB alongside the BTO, Natural England and other organisations have a established a UK Curlew Action Group and a conservation plan is in place. For further information about our work with curlew conservation both in the UK and internationally click here. A rather grey and foggy photo of the Curlew at Granny’s Bay Curlew at Granny’s Bay, photo credit: Jo Taylor Other interesting sightings at Fairhaven Lake include two pintail ducks spotted on Wednesday morning, the female kingfisher and a number of little egrets , once again standing in the lake, due to the low level water. It’s really great to be able to observe them hunting, they look to be having quite a lot of success. There are also many redshank bobbing around the slopes of the lake too, flying off with their high pitched alarm call on anyone or anything getting too close. Redshank photo credit Jo Taylor Education and Visitor Centre We are looking forward to welcoming our first school visit of 2020 in February, with a class from Strike Lane in Freckleton visiting to undertake our “Plant Detectives” session. We shall be wrapping up, having lots of fun and learning outdoors. Shop This week in the shop we have half price on 3kg buggy nibbles and our bird feeding starter kit is still half price till Sunday. It can still be purchased before the ##BigGardenBirdwatch One of our retail volunteers Lesley has spotted this mug, lid and tea leaf infuser from our new product range that she particularly rates. She says: “It’s a beautiful mug, but really handy and practical, the infuser allows a good quality loose leaf tea to be placed in, the lid keeps the tea hot whilst it infuses and then you place the infuser into the lid, so it doesn’t make a mess on the worktop”. Lesley’s preferred loose leaf tea is Early Grey.

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Blog Post: 2020 – A vision for Arctic terns at Hesketh Out Marsh

Keen eyed visitors will have spotted the ‘ One Wing Amongst Many ‘ sculpture that has appeared on the cross bank between Hesketh Out Marsh West and East. The skyline breaking wing stands to thank FCC Communities Foundation for supporting our work on the realignment of the East wing of Hesketrh Out Marsh. If the sculpture seems familiar, you may have seen the rest of the set one the Fairhaven Discovery Trail, near the Ribble Discovery Centre . This is the first wing of many to make it to this side of the Ribble Estuary. The sculpture silhouettes an Arctic tern against sky, and is the highest point in a surprisingly large area. Photo Credit: WesDavies Photo Credit: WesDavies Arctic terns , a scarce bird in the North West UK, were once common on the Ribble Estuary. Unfortunately, land use changes, influxes of other spices and changes in the meta population led to their decline. Our work at Hesketh, has started to improve their fortunes. Firstly with the creation of new habitat ( the realignment ) and latterly with the creation of bespoke nest sites. These tailored sites, are in the form of both floating rafts and shallow banks of cockleshell. Several families of terns quickly utilised the rafts and banks, as well as a few rouge pairs making their own way. Photo Credit: WesDavies Photo Credit: WesDavies Most pairs so far have been successful, and when they return this year they will find further safer spots within the shadow of ‘one wing amongst many’.

Blog Post: 2019 – Bigger – Better – Connected – Annual Roundup #2

Happy New Year As we step into a new year, we reflect on what 2019 brought us, and think about what 2020 has in store. Last years theme was a Bigger Better and more Connected Ribble, and we took some giant steps in that direction. Bringing the estuary,…

Blog Post: Just in time for Christmas and Annual Round Up #1

Ribble Reserves w/c 16/12/19 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. Marshside – Christmas do As if by pre-arrangement, our volunteers meeting for the Christmas get together were greeted by a purple heron. The bird – discovered by Ken Morrison – showed well next to the car park before heading towards Crossens inner marsh in the fading light (17/12/19). This scarce visitor to the UK is most likely the bird from further up the coast, mentioned in the last blog. The last record of this bird at Marshside was a flyover in 1979 (north west over Crossens). Think we should arrange for everyone to meet in the car park more often. Photo Credit: WesDavies John Dempsey recorded this video of the bird hunting before it made its move Also in the area are two (at least) Bewick’s swans , making their appearance just in time for the festive period. They are in the flock of 20-30 whoopers that are spending their time in the fields behind Hesketh Out Marsh . This flock is quite mobile, and if not right behind the reserve is often on the approach road or adjacent fields. These two Bewicks’s were seen on Dib road by Stuart Darbyshire . Photo Credit: Stuart Darbyshire Car Parking at Marshside Parking charges at Marshside began at the start of the month. Money raised will help us continue to look after the facilities, and wildlife. Members – Free Blue Badge Holders – Free Non Members – £1.50 2Hrs £3.00 2Hrs + Annual Roundup – #1 Redshank Its that time of year when we start looking back at what we have achieved, and what challenges face us next year. Redshank are high on the agenda. This noisy bird has declined nationally by half, every ten years, for the last thirty years. We have improved their fortunes on the Ribble with the creation of new habitat at Hesketh, and improving food and nest availability at the Marshside. To help them successfully fledge chicks, Suttons is also protected by a predator fence. Within three years, predator exclusion fences will be protecting this species at all Marshside reserves compartments (Rimmers, Crossens and Suttons) as well as strategic areas at Hesketh. These predator exclusion zones will also benefit many other species. We will continue to improve the food and nest availability too – practically this looks like diggers and cows on the marsh. The result is an ever improving network of ditches and pools, contorted to provide ideal conditions for plenty of tasty and nutritious invertebrates. Ribble Discovery Centre The Fairhaven Lake kingfisher has been spotted again which is always pleasing to see, many thanks to @andypne3 for his photos and tweets. Big thanks also go out the Fylde Bird Club for their continued weekly updates of local sightings. There remains 2 pochard on the lake and the usual waterfowl. The mallard drakes are now basking in their full colours after their second eclipse moult earlier in the year and actually look quite stunning in the wintry light. As the year draws to a close, we have been looking back on our successes this year. Our education team are revving up to start again in the new year. There are already of number of bookings in the diary for Spring and Summer Term. Many of our sessions are on the coast so the good tide days do get “bagged” quite rapidly. I would urge any schools interested in booking their schools visit for next year to get in touch with early in the new year. Mud dipping session with a Year 3 class in Summer term 2019. Just look at the creatures we found. The children use our identification cards and discussion takes place as to how these invertebrates are adapted for this habitat and how they fit into the food chains here. Photo Jo Taylor Visitor Centre and events. IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL IN JANUARY 2020. The National Lottery Heritage Fund re-development project will commence in September 2020, so until then it’s business as usual. The shop will keep the existing opening times, changing to 10-5 after the Spring equinox. Education visits will also continue as normal and will remain unaffected by the sea wall defence works. In fact access to Granny’s Bay is set to become even easier in Spring 2020. Many thanks to VBA who have supervised our access through the car park at Stanner Bank, enabling our continued education work. As well as many school education sessions we also welcome many scouting groups particularly in the spring and autumn evenings. For further information about scouting visits please email One of the VBA contractors getting in on the mud dipping action with these scouts! Photo Jo Taylor We have run a number of activities in conjunction with Fylde Borough Council and Fylde Rangers with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Below are photos from the beach bushcraft session. This was an amazingly popular event with over 65 children taking part on St Anne’s beach. Children undertook beach combing and identification, then used their beach treasures to create fabulous sculptures and undertook beach camp fire lighting with the Fylde Rangers. This is an event that will run again next so keep your eyes out in August. Also keep a look out for the beach tots sessions running on Fridays by Lancashire Wildlife Trust in the New Year. Our events plan for the 2020 is currently being rolled out. All events will be posted on our web page here and our facebook page and twitter page so keep your eyes peeled! Some events require booking so don’t miss out. Shop WARNING FABULOUS OFFER! Big garden bird watch starter kit offer! All of this for £20.60, items bought singularly would add up to £41.20! This bird feeding starter kit, includes 1 nut and nibble feeder, 1 seed feeder, 1 suet ball feeder, 2 packs of suet balls with sunflower hearts, 1.8kg bag of sunflower seeds and 1kg bag of buggy nibbles! Phew….what a fabulous kit! Not only is this great for keeping the birds well fed over winter (suet and sunflowers really are a winner in my garden) it’s really going to help with your #BigGardenBirdWatch 25-27 January. We have had two record years for shop sales meaning that the level of money our shop directly contributes to conservation, education and advocacy has increased. Allowing our wonderful work with schools and youth groups and all the vital conservation land management at site such as Marshside and Hesketh Our Marsh to continue. Many thanks to our many loyal and faithful customers for your continued custom and care for our work. Christmas opening times are as follows: 23 December 10-4, CLOSED 23-26 December Open as normal 27-29 December (closed Monday as normal) Open Tuesday 31 December 10-3 Regular opening times continue from 2 January 2020 ALL THAT REMAINS TO BE SAID IS MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEW YEAR 2020

Blog Post: 7 Bird of Prey Challenge

Ribble Reserves Blog w/c 02.12.19 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 visit Black Redstart – Banks Marsh This bonnie start has been bobbing around Banks Marsh (Ribble NNR) cattle pen over the frosty days. This is quite a scarce visitor locally. Blk RdStart at Banks Marsh Photo Credit: Stuart Darbyshire Seven Raptor Challenge Seven birds of prey still frequent the Marshside reserves and Hesketh Out Marsh . We have seen many people complete the 7 in a day challenge, some picking up the final species as the sun set, and a few dipping out at 5 or 6. Will you take up the challenge before the year is out ? Merlin at Marshside PhotoCredit:WesDavies Sparrow Hawk at Marshside Photo Credit: WesDavies Hen Harrier- Marshside Photo Credit : Stuart Darbyshire Hesketh Out Marsh As birds and GWE Approching HOM Photo Credit:WesDavies Great White Egret on HOM approach Banks Marsh Reed warbler nest Willow bark ap hid Ribble Discovery Centre Recent sightings include some quite exciting birds. There were 36 curlews counted over at Lytham Moss, which is a fantastic number. Curlews are easily identifiable as being the UK’s largest wading bird and have a long curved bill. Perfect for reaching those delicious lugworms in the mud or indeed earthworms in the soil! There has been 3 snow bunting spotted up at Fleetwood marine lake. A beautiful larger bunting, probably migrated down from Alaska or Greenland for the winter. In keeping with the title of the blog there has been several raptors spotted over this side of the estuary also. A juvenille female merlin was observed hunting over the saltmarsh at Church Scar earlier in the week, alongside 50 or so godwits feeding on the estuary. There are also lots of buzzards buzzing around too, frequently being mobbed by crows. It is a theory that this occurs when juvenille buzzards are finding new territories. The crows become unsettled by the intruder in their patch and so try to ward the predator off. A ringed necked duck has also been listed as a spot on Fairhaven Lake. This single male has been observed with the tufties, as is often the way. The ring necked duck is of a similar look to the tufted ducks but has a grey flank, a larger head and an obvious (with binoculars or scope) white ring on its beak. Let us know if you spot it! A male and female pochard have also been spotted. Snow bunting photo credit Ben Andrew RSPB-images Education and Visitor Centre This week has been all about our volunteers. We had our learning team get together, an opportunity to thank them for their service this season, plenty cake and cupsof tea were had. But, we also looked back on our season. We have delivered our education sessions to over 1500 children since April this year and received 95% outstanding feedback. Much of this is down to our team of dedicated learning volunteers. It was also time for our Christmas together! We had a good turnout, with a competitive quiz hosted by Liz and volunteer Ray. Our area manager was in attendance and delivered our successes to the team, which is positive and inspiring to hear. We also had a number of long service awards to present, for 5 and 10 years service in volunteering with the RSPB. The Jacob’s join also went down well! Volunteering with the RSPB can be a rewarding experience and we have many roles across the organisation. It’s a great way to gain experience across a variety of fields whether it be in the retail sector, the education team or hands on fieldwork at Marshside and Hesketh. The RSPB offer all relevant training, uniform and references if relevant. We have many young people who have gained vital experience and have then gone on to secure work within the conservation sector, or have have upskilled to the point of securing other permanent work. We also have students undertaking university courses that require placement and being on the learning team is fantastic experience for anyone wanting a career working with children. Outdoor learning is a hot topic at the moment and where better than to gain experience than with the UK’s largest conservation charity? For further information on roles please contact Volunteer photo credit Ben Andrew RSPB-images Shop After the success of our binocular and telescope open weekend it’s a wonder we have any left! But do not fear there is still time to purchase before Christmas. Our retail manager Ben has superb knowledge and is more often than not on hand to help with any queries you may have. He will also provide honest, impartial advice and is always super helpful! We have still got a fantastic 50% off 10 super suet cakes with meal worms, a sure fire garden bird favourite (they are in my garden anyway!). Perhaps grab a pack to keep those birds well fed over the coming winter, I’m sure they will go down a treat with your feathered friends.