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A little strange, even by Marshside standards

Posted by on November 1, 2006 9:19 PM | 


Graham Clarkson (left), warden at RSPB Marshside, shows Danny Kershaw the islands where the shells will be spread.....

Press release the RSPB sent out today follows on a new scheme at Marshside.....hmmmm.


The RSPB has taken delivery of three tonnes of cockleshells at its Marshside Nature Reserve on the banks of the world famous Ribble estuary in Southport.
The cockleshells – which will be spread on islands used by the birds in front of the Sandgrounders’ hide - were donated by Kershaws Quality Foods Ltd, who have been operating in the Merseyside seaside town since 1946.
Danny Kershaw, shellfish manager for the company, said: “The cockleshells are a by-product of the cockling industry, and will be used to improve nesting sites for avocets, oystercatchers and plovers at RSPB Marshside.â€?
Graham Clarkson, RSPB Warden at the site, said: “ It has been well known for many years that wading birds like to nest on natural shell beaches. This habitat is disappearing locally, and what remains on the local beach is heavily disturbed, so we are keen to mimic the shell beaches by topping off the islands on the reserve with cockleshells.
“We hope we can attract ringed plovers to nest on the reserve, as they stopped breeding here several years ago. It is great that Kershaws are happy to help us in our work to help the wildlife which makes Marshside such a special place not just for birds but for people as well.â€?
Kershaws Quality Foods Ltd only harvest cockles in areas that are defined as open by the statutory authorities and co-operate with regular checks to ensure that cockles are of a harvestable size."

Shells to the skies everyone, shells to the skies.....


Hi John
I have only just discovered your blog. Its great, I am not knowledgable about my local bird life but its good to be informed of what is out there.
I will look a bit harder while walking my dog on the bank out at Banks in future, just to see anything interesting.
Great Site

PS Would like to hear more about Herons seen as they are my favourite birds. Cheers John.

Welcome aboard Tracy. Glad you like the blog. Will try to "up" the heron quota in future.

Hi John,
A great site and very useful. I'm just getting back into bird-watching after a period of illness and Marshside is one of my favourite spots.

Are there any sites that would point me to what to see and when? E.g. When and where it would be useful to try sea-watching? Where to find out (in advance) about those pelagic trips?

Keep up the good work


Howdy Jim,
If you go back in the archive on this site to August 2005, you'll find an entry called "Steve Young's Seabird Gallery."
After Steve's top pix, there's a list of the best seawatching sites around here - but it's getting pretty late in the season for a seawatch now.
Grebes, divers and seaduck are our best bets for the next few months, and Ainsdale Beach and Formby Point are as good as anywhere to look for them on high tides in calm conditions.
Crosby Marina and West Kirby Marine Lake, plus the Marine Lake at Southport of course, can be good after a storm.
And the Sands Lake at Ainsdale even had a Little Auk on it a year or two back (although that had been released onto it, having been found exhausted nearby).
As for pelagics, details of the company I went with this year, can be found by googling "Ultimate Pelagics".
I think the site address is or
Don't know if the Scillonian is going out of Penzance on a trip next year - that can be good for Wilson's Petrels, if you're prepared to schlepp down to Cornwall!
The best way to get a feel of what seabirds are turning up along our coast and when, is to get hold of the Lancashire Bird Report (£6), which is for sale in the Sandgrounders Hide at Marshside.
The 2005 edition is just out, and has a Red Throated Diver on the front.
Hope this helps,

Hi John, just a quick P.S. to say that Crosby Coastguard recorded a minimum temp. of minus 1C last night and the Clouded Yellows survived!!!.......Cheers..Maurice Pons

Hello John, I was wondering if any of your readers had spotted the albinistic carrion crows in sefton park. I spied one a few weeks ago near the palm house but this week on closer inspection there seems to be at least three with albinistic markings. One in particular has got almost completely white wings and could make the unsuspecting birder grab for the rarities pages of their bird guide. I wonder is it common for albinistic tendencies to affect a whole brood of birds?

The albino genetic stuff does seem to skip and bounce quite happily in any brood of corvids, just check out the half-hybrid carrion/hoodies we see in the region.
Then there's the whole magpie thing...

Thanks John, I'll check that out. It's not so much for now but just that I'd like to put together a sort of calendar/wher to watch for myself.


top man dan

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