Birds of the Ribble Coast and Wetlands

Birds of the Ribble Coast and Wetland
Birds of the Ribble Coast and Wetland
Birds of the Ribble Coast and Wetland

Estuaries are Britain’s richest wildlife habitat, with intertidal mud and saltmarshes supporting wildlife, which in turn supports thousands of birds. Regular counts of these birds show that the Ribble Estuary is the third most important wetland site in Britain. Almost a quarter of a million birds regularly spend the winter on the Ribble Estuary.

For a site to qualify as a Special Protection Area, it should regularly support either 20,000 water birds, or an internationally important population of any migratory species (more than 1% of the NW European population). The Ribble Estuary surpasses the 20,000 threshold eleven fold, and the 1% threshold for fifteen different species. It therefore qualifies for international protection 26 times!

The birds utilise the major habitats; wetlands, farmland, estuarine mud and sandflats and saltmarsh. The wetlands attract huge numbers of wildfowl including nationally important numbers of gadwall and teal – but there are also annual sightings of Willow Tit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; breeding species like Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck; and woodland birds like Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Redpoll.

The saltmarshes support grass-eating birds such as Pink-footed Geese, Whooper Swans and Wigeon. Nearly 70,000 Wigeon spend the winter on the estuary, making it the most important site in the UK. During the summer, saltmarshes are also a favourite breeding habitat of Redshanks, Skylarks, Lapwings, Gulls and Terns.

The mudflats are teeming with invertebrate life. One square metre of Ribble mud holds so many worms, shellfish and shrimps that they have the equivalent number of calories as twenty Mars bars. And unlike humans, birds want to eat as many calories as they can.

Such rich habitat supports large numbers of Teal, Shelduck, Grey Plover, Redshank and Dunlin. The sandflats support lugworms and sandhoppers and small shellfish like the Baltic Tellin. These support different birds such as Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Sanderling.

The Ribble Coast and Wetlands truly is an exceptional place for birds. Whether you are an enthusiast or novice, you’ll enjoy the spectacle that is unique to the area.

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