Trip reports

Weekend Field Trip - Lancashire & Fylde Coast - Day 3 Ribble Estuary & Pennington Flash

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sunday morning saw us leave our hotel for the last time and make our way towards our last port of call at Pennington Flash, but not before a quick stop at the Ribble Estuary - just down the road from the hotel.

The Ribble Estuary stretches along the coast between the resorts of Southport and Lytham St Annes. The northern side of this - the most important single river estuary in the UK - attracts more than 270,000 birds each year. The Ribble Discovery Centre, situated on the edge of Fairhaven Lake, gives good views of both the estuary and of the lake which attracts wintering ducks. We parked up for an hour to see what was around. A scope was needed to get good views over the estuary because the tide was well out. However, in the distant navigation channel, Great Crested Grebes could be seen along with Cormorants drying out their wings on the channel wall. A large number of Oystercatcher together with Dunlin, Grey Plover, Avocet, Godwits, Redshank and a good number of Curlew were seen. Gulls sighted included Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed plus a Little Gull and Common Gull - both of which were quite hard to find.

Ducks on the lake included Wigeon, Teal and Mallard. Tufted Duck and Mute Swans were seen being ringed on the far side of the lake by the Discovery Centre. In the shrubby areas around the lake, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tit and Goldfinch were seen.

In the short time we were at the Ribble Estuary Discovery Centre, 37 bird species were seen.

Our final location, Pennington Flash, although a country park, has quiet areas with lakes and several hides. The main flash had Great Crested Grebe, Goosander, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Mallard whilst the smaller lakes, with less human traffic, had Goldeneye, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Little Grebe and Shelduck. While watching Little Grebe, we were treated to close-up views of a Kingfisher fishing, as well as Pied and Grey Wagtails feeding around the edges of the lake. The elusive Water Rail also put in an appearance for some members of the group. Other species seen on the lakes were Snipe, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Cormorant plus Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

Woodland species seen included Long-tailed, Willow, Coal, Blue and Great Tits but Blackcap and Chiffchaff were the only two warblers spotted. Several species of thrush were seen including Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and a good number of Redwing which were feeding on berries. The only woodpecker seen was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and the only bird of prey seen was a Kestrel.

At the feeding station, Brown Rat and Grey Squirrel were seen along with Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Nuthatch and Reed Bunting. These brought the total number of bird species seen at Pennington Flash to 60.

In summary, everyone had enjoyed the weekend. The hotel was welcoming, comfortable, good value for money and with excellent food. Certainly well worth another visit!