Visitors are invited to the RSPB’s Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh nature reserves to witness the high “spring” tides and the spectacular wildlife spectacle they bring to the Ribble estuary. 

Spring tides actually occur every month but are particularly large in both spring and autumn. An increase in the moon’s gravitational pull takes the tide both further in and further out, completely flooding the saltmarshes and mudflats.

The Ribble estuary is internationally important for the vast numbers of geese, ducks and wading birds that rely on its marshes for food during the winter months.

Up to a quarter of a million birds may be present on the estuary on a good day and the colossal spring tides bring them to feed much more closely inshore than normal. This means they are much more visible to people visiting Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh. The spring tide also flushes out many kinds of other wildlife that live on the saltmarshes, attracting birds of prey such as hen harriers, marsh harriers and short-eared owls.

The RSPB are running five days of Big Tide Birding guided walk events from March to May at Marshside and Hesketh Out Marsh, where visitors will be able to get close to the action as the tide comes in.

“The sights and sounds of huge flocks of birds and the dramatic display of predators doing what they do best, make these spring tides an experience to remember," says Warden Alex Pigott.

The first event is on Saturday 10 March at Hesketh Out Marsh and runs from 10.30am until 1.30pm. Tickets cost £5, £3 for RSPB members and half price for under 18s. Advanced booking is essential. For tickets, please all the Ribble Discovery Centre on 01253 796292.   

Here are details of the other events on the Big Tide Birding season:

RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh

Sunday 8 April - 10:30-13:30 

Sunday 6 May - 09:30-12:30

RSPB Marshside

Saturday 7 April - 10:00 - 12:30

Monday 7 May - 10:30 - 13:00

For more information and to book please call the Ribble Discovery Centre on 01253 796292.