Blog Post: What’s open at the Ribble Estuary reserves?

It's a strange time for us all at the moment, but it’s been lovely to hear how much nature has helped lift your spirits through lockdown. We know for many of you, our Ribble Estuary reserves are a big part of providing enjoyment and solace in the natural world. Before setting off, please read through the following update on the opening situation of the facilities at each of our Ribble Estuary sites, changes that may be in place to keep everyone safe, and how you can help protect vulnerable wildlife during your visit: At Marshside , we're delighted that the car park and both hides are open daily, 8.30am-5pm, along with all the trails. You’ll notice we’ve made some changes to help keep you and our team safe. When visiting us, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage on-site. We've put hand sanitiser at the entrance to each hide, so please use it before going in. You'll see that we have spaced out the seating to allow for social distancing and so some windows are not in use - we have clearly marked these. Some are locked open and some are locked shut to avoid touching, so please leave them as you find them. You'll spot that we've got maximum numbers signposted at the entrance to the hides too, so please consider the amount of time you dwell in them on busy days, to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful wildlife in safety here. Due to limited staffing at the moment, our toilet remains closed for now. Please also be mindful of our limited car parking capacity, particularly on sunny days, and don't park on the road. (Images of the newly refurbished inside of Sandgrounders' hide, showing the socially distanced seating and window set up. Credit: Wes Davies) The car park at Hesketh Out Marsh is open, along with the trails. As with Marshside, please be mindful that it has limited capacity and can quickly become full in fine weather. Please do not park along Dib Road, as it causes an obstruction. When visiting, please observe current guidance on social distancing and hygiene and follow all signage on-site. The Ribble Discovery Centre remains closed to the public for now. We know you’re keen to visit and we share your desire for the public to be able to return as soon as possible. When it comes to the re-opening of our sites, each one has been done on an individual basis as there are a lot of considerations. A huge priority is of course the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, so we have to look at what is possible within the government guidance, the layout of facilities and also the staffing we have at each site. Whilst many of our reserves across England have been able to re-open some facilities in the past few weeks, due to the individual circumstances at the Ribble Discovery Centre, it has not been possible here. We will provide updates on our blog and social media (see links below) when we have more information. In the meantime, check out the RSPB online shop for all your bird food needs. It is a crucial time of year for our wildlife, with the nesting season moving into migration time. As part of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve - both Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh are incredibly important sites for a huge variety of species to raise their young and to rest on migration. Many birds rest and nest on the ground - they might not be obvious and can easily become disturbed by human activity, causing them to unnecessarily use up energy and reduces their survival chances. With nests, parents being scared off can make the eggs or chicks go cold and not survive. When visiting our sites, you can really help the wildlife by following these important five points: 1. Keep a look out – with fewer visitors during lockdown, wildlife may be closer than usual. Tread cautiously on verges and paths. 2. Stick to the designated paths – you can easily disturb wildlife by veering off-route. Download a trail map for Marshside here and Hesketh Out Marsh here to see where the designated trails are. 3. Keep dogs on leads - loose dogs can easily disturb ground-nesting birds, birds that are resting and other wildlife. 4. Back away – sharp alarm calls, birds with full beaks or coming unusually near to you could mean you’re too close to chicks. Back up the way you came, being careful where you step. 5.Report anti-social behaviour – if you see anything suspicious, such as evidence of wildlife crime, fly-tipping or uncontrolled fires, report this to the relevant emergency service. Thank you for your continued support and patience. It really means a great deal to us. Keep up to date with changes on our Ribble sites with this blog and if you're on social media, by following us on Facebook and Twitter . Stay safe. These colourful black-tailed godwits continue to grow in numbers at Marshside as more birds return from their breeding grounds - image by Wes Davies