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. PinkFeet@BanksM: WesDavies Black-headed gull Appreciation 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