Places to see birds

RSPB Marshside - Jewel of the Ribble

RSPB Marshside - Jewel of the Ribble
Marshside Avocet - Laura Bimson

Marshside is one of the best places for birdwatching on the internationally important Ribble Estuary, which holds more birds than any other estuary in the UK. Up to 40.000 birds in winter.

The reserve has some of the best lowland wet grassland in the north-west of England, including the habitats of swamp, saltmarsh and scrub. (Migrant hawker dragonflies patrol the ditches on sunny days). It is an important refuge in winter for Pink-footed geese, Wigeons, Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plovers and in spring provides nesting places for Lapwings, Redshanks, Shovelers and Skylarks.

Probably the most popular birds on the reserve are the Avocets, best known as the bird on the RSPB's logo. These striking birds, can be seen foraging for food in the shallow waters and belligerently defending their nests and young. Avocets can be seen from early spring until autumn when they migrate to South Africa and Asia.

Marshside is a favourite haunt of Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and small numbers of Ruff. Other typical waders of the area are Snipe and Curlew. Rarer visitors are increasing in numbers - Little & Gt Egret, Spoonbill and Glossy ibis. Marsh Harrier and a variety of waders such as Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint are seen on passage. On the seashore Bar tailed Godwit, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plover can be seen.

Birds of prey regularly hunt the area such as Peregrine, Merlin, Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl. Flocks of smaller birds which feed on the saltmarsh and scrub along Marine Drive include various finches & buntings, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Whitethroats and occasional Twite.

Hides and screens overlook the marshland, which has been enhanced by the digging of scrapes to help retain water in the summer. It is managed by cattle grazing every summer to keep the grass in good condition for breeding ducks - Garganey, Teal and Shoveler and waders Redshank, Lapwing, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover and the Avocets.

Other wildlife you may see are Hares 'boxing' in the early morning.

Marshside has 2 hides and 2 viewing screens.
A large hide, which doubles up as a visitors' centre, is manned by local RSPB volunteers who are always pleased to point out 'What's about' and help you to view them at close-quarters through a telescope.

Wheelchair - friendly paths and a rough path round the entire perimeter of the reserve.

Toilet facilities on site.

The reserve is situated on the Marine Drive about one mile north of Southport Pier and admission to the hides is free to all, although a donation from non-members is always welcome.

A car park is available giving direct access to the reserve.