Estuaries are fabulous places for seeing lots of birds. There's nowhere for them to hide - they have to feed and sleep out there in the open. They're all there to make the most of the mud.
Wading birds can be seen at any time of year. Many will be in their bright breeding feathers as they pass through on their way north. It's important not to disturb birds while they 'refuel' as they only have a short amount of time. The tides mean that it won't be long before their feeding grounds are covered with water again.
You can't miss shelducks, big ducks with red bills that dabble in the mud. Curlews and bar-tailed godwits use their long bills to probe into the goo, and oystercatchers dig for worms or smash open shellfish. If all the birds fly into a panic and whizz around together, there could be a peregrine nearby, trying to pick out a single victim from the swirling cloud of birds.
There's more wildlife here than you can see straightaway. Beneath the mud are millions of worms, tiny shellfish and creepy-crawly things - that's what birds like about estuaries. Estuaries are important for fish - seahorses have even been found in the Thames Estuary recently!
Saltmarshes, closer to dry land, are covered with their own very special plant species, such as the fleshy-leaved glasswort.
When planning a visit, find out when high tide is, as that's when the birds will be closest to the land. Ask at one of our estuary reserves and find out the best time to visit and where to go.