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, its remaining and new saltmarshes/coastal grassland into conservation management, maximising its potential to support wintering and breeding wildlife is at the heart of what we do at RSPB Marshside . In 2019 we got bigger with the connection of Crossens Inner Marsh to the Marshside suit of coastal grassland. The land purchase and restoration works were generously funded by BiffaAward and the works almost completed in the autumn. The area is now secured for wildlife for generations to come, and the first faze of restoration as improved the ditch network (new ditches and contouring of existing) and fortified the site from predators (electric fence). Some of the ditch work has created nest sites for Avocet and Redshank , some has created homes for invertebrates (scarce and of the bird food variety) and some has created homes for water voles. We have already seen an improvement in the flora of the site. Gaining control of when the cows are on and off meant we could optimise the grazing for wild flowers, and were rewarded with a blanket of orchids. Watch this space for new breeding species, and record breaking numbers of chicks in 2020. Bath time at Crossens - Photo Credit: WesDavies Marsh Helleborine at Crossens Photo Credit; WesDavies Restoration work underway on Crossens - after the breeding birds had left and before the wintering birds (and rain!) arrived - Photo Credit WesDavies Connected - Your National Nature Reserve just got bigger Early in the New Year, Natural England and RSPB will announce the extension of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve which will now include all the RSPB land on the estuary. Including Crossens Inner Marsh means that the NNR will now extend in an unbroken run all the way from Rimmer’s Marsh at Southport through to the River Douglas at Hesketh Bank (The RSPB Reserves area is now over 898ha /2219 acres). This designation is going to bring many benefits to the area. It allows for planning to be coordinated over the area, creating perfect habitats for struggling wildlife. Working with our partners at Natural England we will be able to preserve and improve grazing regimes, coordinate works with shared equipment creating a landscape with a rich tapestry of habitats.