Something a little different on Sunday when a few members of Fylde Bird Club teamed up with members of the Lytham & District Wildfowlers Association (LDWA) and a good number of Scouts from the 2nd Freckleton Scout Group, to carry out a litter pick along the strandline / high tide line of the Salt Marsh at Warton Bank, Ribble Estuary.

An open invitation was made for the event through various social media channels and on the day (Sunday 10th September) around 30 people turned up to help clear the marsh of some of the debris that has deposited itself there over the last 12 months.

This particular date is chosen to coincide with the final ‘big’ high tide of the year which occurred on Saturday 2nd September at 00:58am and reached a height of 9.65m – The reason the litter-pick was done the first weekend after that high tide is that the action of the hight tide ‘washing’ over the marsh pushes a lot of the debris all the way up the marsh, meaning we don’t have to venture too far out onto the marsh to collect most of it – nothing is left to chance 😉 To demonstrate just how predictable the tides and their heights are, the highest tide of 2024 will occur on Friday September 20th 2024 at 00:47 and will reach a height / depth of 9.76m – The 2024 litter pick will therefore likely take place t 10am on Sunday 22nd September 2024 – stick it in your diary and you can say that you heard it here first!

When we posted details about this event on the Fylde Birding Chat Whatsapp group, we initially (wrongly) mentioned the RSPB in the post – The local RSPB team (Fairhaven) were quick to highlight that they were not involved and ultimately, no-one from the RSPB (or any other Fylde Bird Club members for that matter) chose to attend or promoted / signposted people to the event; I can only put 2 and 2 together and assume that this is in some way because the event was arranged by and/or involved Wildfowlers, whose ‘main aim’ is shooting birds. If that was / is the case, I’ll stick my neck out and say this it is a short-sighted approach. From my albeit limited exposure to Wildfowlers groups, they all appear to care greatly about conservation (after all, they need Ducks and Geese to shoot next year), and they carry out significant programmes of habitat management and habitat creation that benefit many other species of plant, bird, insect and all other types flora and fauna on their land (or land they lease). My suggestion here is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and we certainly achieve more together than we often do in isolation.

Anyway, enough about those who didn’t attend, lets celebrate those that did give us some time of a Sunday to try and rid this section of the Lancashire Coastal Way of as much debris as we could. As you will see from the main image and the slideshow below, there was quite lot to remove – 30 bags in all, all manner of loose / large items including car wheels, children’s trikes, 80 gallon barrels and of course a full size chest freezer! We also have to thank Fylde Council for their kind offer to collect and then sort/recycle/safely dispose of the debris found.

Myself, Steve and David (Fylde Bird Club members) had planned to attend and get in a bit of birdwatching but due to the terrain and the amount of debris present, the couple of hours spent on the marsh were spent mainly trying not to loose your Wellington boots in the mud and trying and failing to stop yourself being eaten by mosquitos – I kid you not! My neck, arms and legs resemble an over-used pin-cushion and the anti-histamine tablets are taking a bit of hammering – the little blighters certainly had a taste for me and some others and my note to self for next year is to cover up the arms and legs! Much better to be hot and sweaty than a half a pint down on the red-stuff! However, A Great White Egret, Ardea alba was observed by Steve and David amongst the Little Egrets, Egretta garzetta but that’s about as good as the birding got!

Once we’d completed the litter-pick and managed to get all of the bags and bigger items back to the car park, the Scouts kindly provided some drinks and hot-dogs for the volunteers before we all went on our merry way for showers and application of ointments!

A well spent morning doing a bit of good for the local environment and hopefully next year we can drum up some more support and get an even larger section of the marsh cleared of debris.

Well done all involved and thanks again the the L&DWA for organising and for the invitation and it was also great to chat with Andy Lee and Keith Ogden about the work they do on these marshes.

The Mosquito Coast – 10/09/23

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