Category: Marshside (RSPB)

Blog Post: Get Ready for a Wild Challenge

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

Blog Post: 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: Cancellation of RSPB Southport Group Upcoming meetings

Please note that in line with current Government guidance, The RSPB Southport Group has decided to cancel all upcoming meetings. The latest government information and advice on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s web…

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. https://vimeo.com/397168379 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: Ribble Roundup – Start of the school year – Pink feet – Black-headed gull musings – Marine plastic – Red 67

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

Blog Post: 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 : Wes.davies@rspb.org.uk Redshank, lapwing, avocet and Arctic tern chick images: WesDavies

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

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

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

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

Blog Post: Wild is the wind

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

Blog Post: Calm is the day

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