Magnificent Marshside – Birdwatch

RSPB Marshside
RSPB Marshside

The weather forecast yesterday was horrific with almost 40mph winds and heavy rain so we cancelled our sea fishing trip and hence didn’t get any bait. Imagine my frustration on waking this morning to a light breeze and glorious sunshine – oh well, British weather, what can you do?

Not wanting to waste the fine weather I went walking around the Marshside RSPB reserve, near Southport, Merseyside. The drive took about 15 minutes and as I approached the car park down the coastal road I spotted a few bright white shapes on the seaward marsh. I quickly parked the car and raced back to the spot and got out the binoculars in time to see 4 Little Egrets, a first for me! To far a way for a good photo – I took a few but the birds were far to small in the images to make out.

Ducks Hiding
Ducks Hiding

I slowly walked back down the coastal road, enjoying the huge flocks of Lapwing and Starlings until I got to the nearest hide. By now the wind was getting stronger (thank goodness I wasn’t fishing after all) so it was good to be in some shelter for a while.

Marshside is an amazing place if you stop for a while and look carefully at what you perceive to be empty fields. Most people will see the flocks of Lapwing flying overhead and the Pink-footed geese arriving in huge numbers to feed but look carefully and you will see thousands of small ducks; Widgeon, Teal, Pintail and Shoveler to name a few.

I spent a good hour just watching, being somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of winter visitors to our coastline.

Godwits at Marshside
Godwits at Marshside

At the second hide, which is about 500m further down the coastal path, the land is more open shallow water with the odd island. This is a favourite roosting patch for the many wading birds that visit our shore line as it provides a good safe refuge when the tide is too high for them to feed.

Again the area was covered in small ducks with many of the larger Shelduck present but as the tide reached it maximum height for the day huge flocks of Black-tailed godwits arrived. These will stay here until April when they travel to continental Europe to breed.

There are, however, a few breeding pairs that stay in the UK, three pairs on the Fylde Coast on the River Ribble estuary at Newton Marsh. These are the most northerly breeding birds in the UK out of a total of about 50 so are nationally very important to the species.

I made my way back to the car after a very enjoyable couple of hours doing nothing but watching birds – great!

I’ll leave you with a couple more shots just to tempt you into a visit.

Black-tailed godwits arriving as the tide pushes them off the beach.
Black-tailed godwits arriving as the tide pushes them off the beach.
Mixed Flock at Marshside
A mixed flock of Lapwing and Starlings.


  1. Paul Iddon said:

    I really must have another ride out there. I remember 15 years ago, me and the wife went birdwatching here, and parked up on the car park near the sand-works. All went well, until I realised the battery on our camcorder was low (a spare was in the bag in the car). Unfortunatly, so were the car keys. In the ignition!

    We have been many many times since, but we are overdue a visit.

    November 27, 2006
  2. Barbara Winther said:

    I have lived in Canada for 45years. As child I lived in Churchtown. I had a friend who lived in Marshside at the top near the marshes.I would go to her house on Saturday to play and we spent nearly all of our time out on the marshes summer and winter.The pictures showing bring back a great many memories. I can feel the damp chilly wind when I look at them and hear the ducks, birds and seagulls.

    January 15, 2011
  3. Stu said:

    Thanks for visiting and your comments Barbara, glad you liked the pictures. I tend to visit Marshside reserve quite a lot but mainly in Spring when the Avocets turn up and definitely not on a day like today when it is absolutely throwing it down 🙂

    January 16, 2011

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