Thanks to funding from Biffa Award, the RSPB is taking even more birds under its wing on the Ribble Estuary after recently purchasing Crossens Inner Marsh, a wet grassland area adjacent to their existing Marshside reserve in Southport.
The marsh, which is already home to over-wintering birds such as wigeons, pink-footed geese, black-tailed godwits and golden plovers, covers an area about the size of 38 football pitches.
Over £464,000 funding from Biffa Award enabled the RSPB to purchase the land and will also fund major improvements to the marsh, which will benefit rare and unusual wildlife including nesting lapwings, redshanks, and avocets - which are the emblem of the RSPB, along with brown hares. The habitat works, which will take place after the breeding season this summer, will also improve the control of water levels on the reserve helping to prevent prolonged flooding of the rare coastal grassland.
Tony Baker, Site Manager for the RSPB Ribble Reserves said: “Purchasing Crossens Inner Marsh is the final piece of the jigsaw for us, not only as an extension to our well known Marshside reserve, but also in the completion of the Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve (NNR). We’re working in partnership here with Natural England who oversee England’s NNRs, which enables us to do more for nature by creating opportunities for bigger, better and more joined-up management of these vital wild spaces.”
Much of the wider Ribble Estuary is managed as England’s third largest NNR and is one of the Top 10 most important wetlands in the UK for the numbers of water birds that live there. Some have travelled thousands of miles from the north to spend the winter months, others choose the area in spring and summer to raise their families, whilst some live there all year round.
Tony added: “Our new site at Crossens Inner Marsh, and indeed the whole of the Ribble Estuary NNR, is home to a range of incredible creatures that thrive in this harsh environment. In addition to sheltering birds and mammals from human disturbance, the site is stuffed with mini-beasts, which provide a feast for wetland birds. The marsh also benefits people, by reducing the flood risk from the sea to homes and businesses. Sadly, much of the coastal grassland in this country has been lost to human developments and it is further threatened by rising sea levels caused by climate change, making this place crucial to protect. We’re so thankful to Biffa Award for the funding that has allowed us to purchase and improve Crossens Inner Marsh for nature and for people.”
Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, said: “It is really important that we continue to support projects like this which provide and enhance habitats for a wide range of species. We can’t wait to see even more birds using the site following the improvements.”