Jacqueline Foster MEP has been to visit one of Europe’s most important sites for wildlife.
On Friday 20th July, the MEP for North West England, experienced the wealth of bird life currently residing at RSPB’s Marshside reserve, near Southport on the Ribble Estuary.
Protected under European Union law, RSPB Marshside is vital as a stopover for thousands of migratory water birds making their way south to sunnier climes for the winter months. Arriving from as far away as North America, the birds come to Marshside and the wider Ribble Estuary to feast on the calorie-rich insects and invertebrates that live there.
Many more birds stop and spend the winter on the Estuary to escape the harsh arctic winter.
RSPB Marshside is part of the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park, a landscape-scale partnership project that aims to enhance the Ribble Estuary for wildlife and for people through an ongoing programme of nature conservation and sustainable tourism projects.
The RSPB’s contribution to the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park forms part of its national Futurescapes initiative, a series of landscape-scale partnership projects, part funded by the EU Life+ programme.
Tony Baker, the RSPB’s site manager for its Ribble reserves, said: “Marshside forms part of a network of amazing nature sites around the Ribble. We are working with a range of partners to enhance, expand and link up these special places to make the Ribble an even better place for wildlife, as well as for local people and visitors. It is thanks, in part, to the special protection afforded to the Ribble under EU law that we are able to carry out this important conservation project.”
Member of the European Parliament meets European wildlifeThe sand-winning works that used to dominate the Southport seafront near Marshside has long since vanished, but on Tuesday 7th August Brian Simpson MEP was delighted to see that shovelers were still around at Marshside.Brian and his wife had come to visit RSPB’s Marshside reserve where shoveler ducks, a summer visitor to the UK that overwinters in southern Europe and Africa, were basking in some long-awaited sunshine. Alongside the shovelers were a host of other waterbirds and waders, including black-tailed godwits, mute swans, greylag geese, lapwings, coots, reed warblers, black-headed gulls and a ruff.Marshside is such an important site for these and other wild birds that it is protected under the EU’s Birds Directive, and is part of the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of sites protected for the wildlife they are home to.“I am delighted to find such a wonderful place for wildlife right on my doorstep. The RSPB’s success in transforming the Marshside site into a wetland teeming with wildlife is a great achievement. It is vital that we protect the wildlife we have, and take every opportunity to bring wildlife back to our countryside. We owe it to future generations to leave the planet in no worse a state than we inherited it. I wish RSPB every success in its work at Marshside, and look forwards to visiting other RSPB reserves in my Constituency.”Brian ended his visit signing a pledge in support of legal protection for our natural heritage. “I am very pleased to be able to demonstrate my support for nature conservation and the environment that we all depend on.”