Ribble Reserves Blog w/c 02.12.19

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

Black Redstart - Banks Marsh 

This bonnie start has been bobbing around Banks Marsh (Ribble NNR) cattle pen over the frosty days. This is quite a scarce visitor locally, and a great find. 

 Black redstart Banks Marsh (Ribble NNR) Photo Credit: Stuart Darbyshire

Seven Raptor Challenge 

Seven birds of prey still frequent the Marshside reserves and Hesketh Out Marsh. We have seen many people complete the 7 in a day challenge, some picking up the final species as the sun set, and a few dipping out at 5 or 6. Will you take up the challenge before the year is out ? 

 Merlin at Marshside PhotoCredit:WesDavies 

 Sparrow Hawk at Marshside Photo Credit: WesDavies

 Hen Harrier- Marshside Photo Credit : Stuart Darbyshire

Hesketh Out Marsh 

Hesketh remains a throng of wigeon and teal. The whooper swans still hang around the fields to the back, and its well worth checking the ditches along the approach as birds such as the great white egret seen this week. 

 GWE Approching HOM Photo Credit:WesDavies

Last summers homes 

We have continued clearing problem brash and willow incursions onto the marsh. While working through this we uncovered various derelict summer homes, including reed warbler and blackbird nests. 

 Reed Warbler Nest- Rimmers Marsh Photo redit: WesDavies

 Blackbird Nest - Rimmers Marsh Phot Credit: WesDavies 

Mysterious Critter 

Still active despite the cold were giant willow aphids (Tuberolachnus salignus).This, the largest of the UK aphids and little understood. No male has ever been found, and the females produce live clones of themselves. They are the only species of aphid to have a 'sharks fin' , and disappear for the summer months to an un-yet described part of their life cycle.

Ribble Discovery Centre

Recent sightings include some quite exciting birds.  There were 36 curlews counted over at Lytham Moss, which is a fantastic number.  Curlews are easily identifiable as being the UK's largest wading bird and have a long curved bill.  Perfect for reaching those delicious lugworms in the mud or indeed earthworms in the soil!

There has been 3 snow bunting spotted up at Fleetwood marine lake.  A beautiful larger bunting, probably migrated down from Alaska or Greenland for the winter. 

In keeping with the title of the blog there has been several raptors spotted over this side of the estuary also.  A juvenille female merlin was observed hunting over the saltmarsh at Church Scar earlier in the week, alongside 50 or so godwits feeding on the estuary.  There are also lots of buzzards buzzing around too, frequently being mobbed by crows.  It is a theory that this occurs when juvenille buzzards are finding new territories.  The crows become unsettled by the intruder in their patch and so try to ward the predator off.

A ring - necked duck has also been listed as a spot on Fairhaven Lake.  This single male has been observed with the tufties, as is often the way.  The ring necked duck is of a similar look to the tufted ducks but has a grey flank, a larger head and an obvious (with binoculars or scope) white ring on its beak.  Let us know if you spot it!  A male and female pochard have also been spotted.

Snow bunting photo credit Ben Andrew RSPB-images

Education and Visitor Centre

This week has been all about our volunteers.  We had our learning team get together, an opportunity to thank them for their service this season, plenty cake and cupsof tea were had.  But, we also looked back on our season.  We have delivered our education sessions to over 1500 children since April this year and received 95% outstanding feedback.  Much of this is down to our team of dedicated learning volunteers.

It was also time for our Christmas together!  We had a good turnout, with a competitive quiz hosted by Liz and volunteer Ray.  Our area manager was in attendance and delivered our successes to the team, which is positive and inspiring to hear.  We also had a number of long service awards to present, for 5 and 10 years service in volunteering with the RSPB.  The Jacob's join also went down well!

Volunteering with the RSPB can be a rewarding experience and we have many roles across the organisation.  It's a great way to gain experience across a variety of fields whether it be in the retail sector, the education team or hands on fieldwork at Marshside and Hesketh.  The RSPB offer all relevant training, uniform and references if relevant.  We have many young people who have gained vital experience and have then gone on to secure work within the conservation sector, or have have upskilled to the point of securing other permanent work.  We also have students undertaking university courses that require placement and being on the learning team is fantastic experience for anyone wanting a career working with children.  Outdoor learning is a hot topic at the moment and where better than to gain experience than with the UK's largest conservation charity?  For further information on roles please contact jo.taylor@rspb.org.uk

Volunteer photo credit Ben Andrew RSPB-images


After the success of our binocular and telescope open weekend it's a wonder we have any left!  But do not fear there is still time to purchase before Christmas.  Our retail manager Ben has superb knowledge and is more often than not on hand to help with any queries you may have.  He will also provide honest, impartial advice and is always super helpful!

We have still got a fantastic 50% off 10 super suet cakes with meal worms, a sure fire garden bird favourite (they are in my garden anyway!).  Perhaps grab a pack to keep those birds well fed over the coming winter, I'm sure they will go down a treat with your feathered friends.