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 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