RSPB’s Marshside & Hesketh ‘An alternative air show’

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Visitors to the RSPB’s Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh nature reserves will be treated to a spectacular high tide air show over the next few months, as waders and wildfowl create dramatic displays to escape the incoming tides.

The RSPB, which looks after both reserves, is running six days of ’Big Tide Birding’ events from October to December, taking visitors out on guided walks to get closer to the action. Thousands of birds regularly feed on the Ribble estuary but are usually too far out to be able to see from the shore. 

Alex Pigott, RSPB Ribble reserves warden, said: “Up to a quarter of a million birds may be present on the estuary on a good day and these colossal tides bring them much closer inshore than would normally be the case.”

The flood water also flushes out all kinds of other wildlife that live on the saltmarshes, attracting birds of prey like hen harriers, marsh harriers and short-eared owls. 

Alex added: “The amazing sights and sounds of huge flocks of birds, twisting and turning in the sky like aerial display teams and the dramatic show of predators doing what they do best, make these high tide events an experience to remember.”

RSPB staff and volunteers will be giving guided walks at Marshside, going out onto the saltmarsh as the tide comes in, with the first walk taking place on Tuesday 16 October. A guided walk will also take place at Hesketh Out Marsh on Wednesday 17 October.

Guided walks will continue throughout November and December. Free parking is available at both reserves. For more information on times, pricing and booking, please call the Ribble Discovery Centre on 01253 796292 or visit or 

Binoculars and telescopes will be available to purchase in the visitor centre (Sandgrounders hide) at RSPB Marshside on Tuesday 16 October from 9:30am, with staff on hand to offer advice in choosing the right optics.

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