Author: WesDavies

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.

Blog Post: Big words

Ribble Reserves Blog w/c 25.11.19 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 Discovery Centre With thanks to our friends at the Fylde Bird Club we note that 4 ring necked parakeets have been observed in Stanley Park in Blackpool again. Loved and hated in possibly equal measure this non native species are thought to be derived from escapees, throwbacks from Victorian times when the popularity of keeping tropical birds was high. The population originally stabilised in London, however as they have successfully bred, the population has spread, with the birds now having been observed in most counties in the UK, including parts of Wales and even Scotland. Ring necked parakeets are monitored closely to ensure their non native impact is not a negative one on our native flora and fauna. Ring necked parakeet photo credit Ben Andrew RSPB-images Education and Visitor centre The quieter Winter period is a time to reflect on the school season. Our learning support team comprised of volunteers are fantastic. Alongside our faithful and long serving nature activity assistants, we have successfully inaugurated 4 newer members to the team! We now have 1 more volunteer nature activity assistant and 3 volunteer nature activity leaders! This is a huge success for us and means that we are able to deliver our sessions to more children. Our sessions provide hands on outdoor learning opportunities, which are vitally important for our young children. Learning outside the classroom provides different opportunities to being inside. Experiences outdoors in nature at a young age can promote greater connections to nature, which in turn can act as a catalyst to inspire an understanding of its importance. Our volunteer are made up from a wide variety of people. Some, retired from a teaching background to others who are just starting out and are building up experiences for their future careers. Volunteering with the RSPB in this way can really boost your CV and working with childfren in an outdoor learning environment provides breadth and depth to your experience. For further information about volunteering on the learning team check out or volunteering vacancies page and email for further information. Shop BINOCULAR AND TELESCOPE OPEN WEEKEND SATURDAY 30 NOVEMBER AND SUNDAY 1 DECEMBER Want to #LookALittleCloser at the wildlife around you? Pop along to this event,where our extensive range of binoculars and telescopes will be on display for you to try outdoors. Not just for wildlife experts, our shop stocks a wide variety of equipment for differing skill levels. Our range includes popular RSPB and Viking binoculars as well as other premium brands such as Swarovski and Nikon. Our friendly, knowledgeable team will be on hand this weekendto offer impartial advice. We can help you select the best kit for your needs, whether you are an experienced wildlife watcher or are looking for something for the family to spot nature in your garden. Money raised through these purchases helps our reserve teams to continue to deliver our wildlife conservation work, advocacy and allows thousands of people every year get closer to nature. No booking required, just drop in throughout the day. We have also 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, with temperatures set to drop next week I’m sure they will go down a treat with your feathered friends. Ribble Wide Pink Feet The pink-footed geese have been entertaining residents and visitors to the Ribble in ever growing numbers. This noisy wintering population rely on the marshes for food and protection – but also take full advantage of any left over crops in the surrounding fields. The Ribble Pink-foot population is counted once a month by volunteers, and this months count is in. Marshside reported 2,056, with a big proviso that the visibility was terrible (fret/mist is an issue binocular makers are yet to solve). The total count for the area exceeded 40,000 (and some in the mist). The count is coordinated, which is important for this mobile forager. Image: WesDavies All the counting got us thinking about collective nouns.We found for geese on the net: “Flock” – seems too plain “Gaggle” – A firm favourite – but feels like it has a limit “Nide of Geese” – Thought this was an old name for nest of pheasants “Plump” – Hmmm, a bit like a quilt of eiders “Skein” – What else would you call a line of them in the sky? – “Team” – Doesn’t fit “Wedge” – A contender for birds in flight. None of these seem to fit geese in their thousands though

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