Fairhaven Lake guest blog

Sue is one of our volunteers at the Fairhaven Lake Visitor Centre.  She has written us a guest blog this week about the comings and goings at Fairhaven Lake this summer: 

There are different starts of the year. For me the year turns at the start of autumn. Most of the summer migrants have left and some of the winter visitors have started to arrive. Whether you use meteorological time or astronomical time autumn starts in September. For me its astronomical with the autumn equinox being 22nd of September, officially marking the end of summer and the start of autumn.  

The change of season is already apparent at Fairhaven. The Canada geese that came to moult have left. The wheatears and stonechats are off on their long journey to Continental Europe and  Africa for the winter. Our regular wintering female kingfisher has been spotted, moving away from the river and back to a seasoned winter feeding spot for her.  Out on the Ribble estuary the waders are starting to arrive with increasing numbers, knot have been seen as well as returning turnstones. Small skeins of pink footed geese can be seen coming and going with the tides, we are awaiting their full noisy arrival with larger skeins anticipated.  Soon there will be thousands of them grazing the fields at Marshide alongside them noisy whistling wigeons and teal.  Soon the third largest population of migrant waders in England will gather to feast on the rich mud of the estuary.

This year September also marks the full return to services and events down at Fairhaven. The visitor centre and shop have been open since April, welcoming visitors from far and wide. Our hot drinks machine has proved very popular, with a good range of bird friendly coffee.  The Big Wild Summer Activity Trail has proved popular and there are plans afoot for further trails during the year.  Look out for a half term spooky Halloween trail as well as other family activities.  Don't forget autumn is a great time to pick up a bag of bird seed and see just what birds you may entice into your garden, grateful for the extra food.

The education centre is finally open and Jo is expecting the first schools this week.  The team are ready and are really looking forward to welcoming children back on site.  There has been lots of enquiries for summer already as schools book eagerly after such a long period of restrictions.

Fairhaven Lake and the surrounding buildings look good after the refurbishments and pathway all around the lake is now open, once again allowing the circular walk around that so many people have missed.  The stepping stones have also been added to the Japanese Gardens, which is fun, do you dare to hop across them?  We all eagerly await the reopening of the café in a few weeks, fingers crossed.

We have an interesting and ongoing situation with a swan couple as one of last year’s goslings is still hanging around despite many attempts of our two resident pairs to chase him away.  Male swans will not tolerate single males continuing to hang around on their territory, so he is most unwelcome.  He has taken up residence by the boats and frequently sits in the middle of the path almost ignoring walkers and their dogs. Many people enquire about him, asking if he is ok.  He will simply move on in his own time, probably joining a group a juveniles and learn how to be a swan with them.  

Sadly there have been a number of incidents with swans and dogs both at Fairhaven and at Ashton Gardens. Unfortunately some have been fatal. One of the young ones from Fairhaven has been relocated to Ashton Gardens, however,  I will keep you up to date with the Fairhaven Swan Opera.  It's not just swans affected by dogs off leads though, many birds on the saltmarsh are disturbed by dogs roaming through the grasses.  Many of these birds are feeding before heading off on their migratory journey, so it is really important that they are allowed to do this.  Keeping dogs on leads at the beginning of spring and autumn can really help lessen disturbances for these birds and ensure they take on the resources they vitally need.

A final thought, climate change is affecting us all but one incident, not from Fairhaven, has shown most clearly how this year’s weird weather is affecting our wildlife. A mallard has been seen over Wyre this week with two very young ducklings. Let’s hope they can get strong enough before winter. If you have seen any weird wildlife events or activities please let us know.

Thanks for reading, 

Sue 

Photos: Pink footed geese by Stuart Darbyshire, long tailed tits, flying mute swans and cygnet by Jo 

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