Category: Marshside (RSPB)

Blog Post: Kingfisher success

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

Blog Post: Raptors rule the skies

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

Blog Post: Welcome to the all new Ribble Reserves blog

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

Forum Post: RE: My local RSPB Group will be visiting Marshside in May 2020.

Marshside is within easy striking distance for me so I go a few times a year. Referring to Annabel’s maps: The best time to do the Redshank path is probably at high tide when the birds congregate closer in, otherwise they can be spread out all over the mudflats and it’s possible you won’t see anything near by, although in May I think there will still be loads of Skylarks out on the salt marsh. However, if you have to choose only one walk, then I’d do the Cossens circuit or Rimmer’s Route. There are often lots of birds at the back of the reserve which you won’t see from any hide. Keep an eye open for Hares, too.

Forum Post: RE: My local RSPB Group will be visiting Marshside in May 2020.

Hi Ian, Thanks for getting in touch. You can find the downloadable map of the site on the website here, which will give you an idea of your bearings.…/marshside_trail_guide.pdf In terms of sightings, in spring the site is known for i…

Forum Post: My local RSPB Group will be visiting Marshside in May 2020.

My local RSPB Group from North East England will be visiting Marshside in May 2020 of which I’ve never visited before on my RSPB Groups annual birdwatching week long holiday visiting a number of birdwatching areas in Cumbria and Lancashire. As well my …

Blog Post: Upcoming changes at Marshside

The Ribble Estuary is vast, stretching from Lytham St Annes on the north side, down to Southport on the south side. Between the two, the great expanse of marvellous mudflats and saltmarsh are a vital home for nature. Mud might not sound particularly appetising to us, but it’s crucial for quarter of a million birds that are drawn in by it every year. Ribble mud is a canteen – it is packed full of cockles and shrimps and l ugworms , mussels and more. Tasty morsels to feed a variety of appetites. Curlews , dunlin , black-tailed godwits , redshanks , swirling flocks of knot , and oystercatchers in abundance feed on the estuary. Their differing beak lengths and shapes allow them all to find food within the mud layers. Redshank by Tim Melling In winter, the Ribble Estuary is also synonymous with pink-footed geese . Tens of thousands of them come here every year from their breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland, for the comparatively milder weather here on the saltmarsh and fields. You can spot them flying in V-formation overhead and hear their distinctive “wink-wink” sound. They are joined by a variety of ducks that come to spend the colder months here too. At Marshside wigeons , teals , shovelers , tufted ducks and pintails are a colour palette on the pools, brightening up gloomy north west winter days. Pink-footed geese by Chris Gomersall ( It’s not just the wetter months that bring such treasures. In spring elegant avocets arrive to breed at Marshside. As the emblem of the RSPB they represent a remarkable success story . and are a joy to watch, as they raise their young in front of the hide. You can also experience the incredible sight and sound of lapwings as they tumble and swoop overhead, making a noise like a 90s computer game – “peewit, peeeewit” – displaying to a mate and warding off threats to their nest. And when it comes to sound, there’s not much that can beat the glorious, erratic tune of male skylarks as they sing to appeal to the ladies out on the marsh. Avocet by Ben Andrew ( The Ribble Estuary is one of the most important places for birds in Europe and so has been designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) offering high levels of protection. The Ribble Estuary NNR , which includes our Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh reserves, is England’s third largest NNR and is one of the Top Ten most important wetlands in the UK for the numbers of water birds that live here, which is why it is so important to protect it. That’s not to mention the abundance of brown hares , butterflies, other incredible insects and specialist plants that live here too. We’ve recently purchased Crossens Inner Marsh to take even more wildlife under our wing. But it isn’t all here by magic. Saving Saltmarsh The saltmarsh and wetlands of Marshside are not only home to a range of incredible creatures, from insects, to plants, mammals and birds that thrive in this harsh environment. They also benefit people, by reducing flood risk to homes and businesses and helping to tackle climate change by storing carbon. Sadly though, much of the saltmarsh and wetlands in this country have been lost to human activity such as development and agriculture, and are further threatened by climate change, making this reserve vitally important for wildlife and people. That is why it is so crucial to protect the landscape here at Marshside and the wildlife that lives in it all year round. When visiting the saltmarsh, we ask that visitors stay on the waymarked track (known as ‘Redshank Road’) only, because venturing onto the marsh can cause serious disturbance to both wintering and nesting birds, and can also be hazardous for people and dogs. Many of the birds here have flown thousands of miles from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to spend the autumn and winter months here. Other birds spend the spring and summer months here and use the saltmarsh to raise their families. The over-wintering birds come here to feed or to ‘roost’ (rest and conserve energy). Winter is a particularly stressful time for these birds, some of which may have lost half of their body weight during migration. They need to be able to rest and feed on the marshes undisturbed, to regain condition and put on enough weight to survive the winter and make the migration back to their breeding grounds in the spring. Unfortunately, the birds here are often unintentionally disturbed by human activities such as dog walking, walking, birdwatching, drones, model airplanes and kites. The birds perceive these to be predators and so the effect of this disturbance is great. Disturbing birds does more than simply causing them to fly away; it uses up their energy reserves, decreasing their chances of survival. Once disturbed, birds take a long time to settle and will remain alert for a long time afterwards. This means they cannot rest properly after a disturbance event. In the breeding season, disturbance often causes parents to leave their nests or young, exposing their eggs or chicks to the weather and to predators and reducing their chances of survival. The nesting birds here nest on the ground and because their nests and young are very well camouflaged, it is very easy for visitors to unintentionally disturb or damage them without being aware that they have done so. There isn’t a very long history of the marsh being used by the general public, as up until sand-winning ceased in 2006 , there was big dumper trucks to contend with during the day, putting off all but the keenest of folk. These large vehicles are now gone, but there are still continuing safety implications for people accessing the marsh. Warning signs are up to highlight the hazards of incoming tides, strong winds, soft mud and gullies. However tempting the landscape looks, visitors should stick to the waymarked route and always be mindful of high tide times, to avoid getting stranded or caught out by the sea. We can’t protect the landscape or wildlife of Marshside without your help. From the end of July 2019, we’re making some changes. Car parking charges will be introduced at Marshside for non-members. These will be as follows: Up to 2 hours – £1.50 Over 2 hours – £3 As a charity, we must maximise our opportunities to raise income wherever possible. This allows us to financially support our charitable purpose of conserving wildlife and habitats, while maintaining our visitor facilities and providing excellent, inspiring experiences for our visitors. The income generated through the car parking charges will contribute to the ongoing cost of running the facilities visitors use at Marshside, including reserve entry for all those arriving in that car and use of all visitor facilities (which includes the car park, visitor centre, toilets, trails and hides). It also supports the vital conservation work we carry out here to help wildlife. RSPB members will of course receive free car parking as a thank you for regularly supporting our nature conservation work – why not join the RSPB today and get free entry to all RSPB nature reserves. Additionally, from summer 2019, a gate will be installed at the entrance to the car park at Marshside. It will mean that the car park is locked of an evening, open during the visitor centre opening hours of 8.30am-5pm, 365 days a year. Unfortunately, we have anti-social behaviour taking place in the car park at night, including a large amount of littering, so we hope that by making the car park inaccessible outside of opening hours, we can discourage this. We appreciate that these hours are not always ideal for those wishing to visit the reserve in the early mornings and evenings. In future, we hope to be able to extend these hours if we can get some additional volunteer help in spring and summer, to support with locking up overnight. We are a small team here, so currently staffing this later is not practical. If you would be interested in becoming a car park attendant volunteer, helping on our conservation work parties, or becoming a guide in our hide, then we’d love to hear from you: Marshside by David Morris

Blog Post: An exciting addition to Marshside!

Thanks to funding from Biffa Award , we are taking even more birds under our wing on the Ribble Estuary after recently purchasing Crossens Inner Marsh, a wet grassland area adjacent to Marshside. The marsh, which is already home to over-wintering birds such as wigeons , pink-footed geese , black-tailed godwits and golden plovers , covers an area about the size of 38 football pitches. Over £464,000 funding from Biffa Award enabled us to purchase the land recently and will also fund major improvements to the marsh, which will benefit rare and unusual wildlife including nesting lapwings , redshanks , and avocets – which are the emblem of the RSPB, along with brown hares . The habitat works, which will take place after the breeding season this summer, will also improve the control of water levels on the reserve helping to prevent prolonged flooding of the rare coastal grassland. Avocet by Ben Andrew ( Purchasing Crossens Inner Marsh is the final piece of the jigsaw for us, not only as an extension to our well known Marshside reserve, but also in the completion of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve (NNR) . We’re working in partnership here with Natural England who oversee England’s NNRs, which enables us to do more for nature by creating opportunities for bigger, better and more joined-up management of these vital wild spaces. Much of the wider Ribble Estuary is managed as England’s third largest NNR and is one of the Top 10 most important wetlands in the UK for the numbers of water birds that live here. Some have travelled thousands of miles from the north to spend the winter months, others choose the area in spring and summer to raise their families, whilst some live here all year round. Our new site at Crossens Inner Marsh, and indeed the whole of the Ribble Estuary NNR, is home to a range of incredible creatures that thrive in this harsh environment. In addition to sheltering birds and mammals from human disturbance, the site is stuffed with mini-beasts, which provide a feast for wetland birds. The marsh also benefits people, by reducing the flood risk from the sea to homes and businesses. Sadly, much of the coastal grassland in this country has been lost to human developments and it is further threatened by rising sea levels caused by climate change, making this place crucial to protect. We’re so thankful to Biffa Award for the funding that has allowed us to purchase and improve Crossens Inner Marsh for nature and for people. Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, said: “It is really important that we continue to support projects like this which provide and enhance habitats for a wide range of species. We can’t wait to see even more birds using the site following the improvements.” We’re excited to see how this site blossoms for nature over the coming years. Map of Marshside showing the addition of Crossen Inner Marsh highlighted in yellow

Blog Post: Nels hide is currently closed

Whilst Rimmer’s marsh is completely dry we have closed Nel’s hide. We are taking this opportunity to make some repairs in the hide and give it a repaint. We will be re-opening the hide within the next couple of weeks at the end of the school holidays….