Category: Marshside (RSPB)

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: 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: 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: 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 https://youtu.be/q4vrc9owG5M 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 schoolbookings@rspb.org.uk 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 jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk 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: 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: 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 jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk 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 http://bit.ly/volsrdc and email jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk 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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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