Get close-up to wildlife in the Wash
From April to October the RSPB South Lincolnshire Local Group organises a number of bird watching cruises which will be of interest to not only avid birders but also everyone who is interested in the nature and wildlife of this important estuary.
The Wash is the biggest bay in England running from just south of Skegness to Hunstanton. It is one of the most outstanding coastal wetlands in Europe with its bleak, yet beautiful landscape of saltmarshes, mudflats and open water. As a consequence this amazing habitat is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under European Union legislation and is made up of very extensive salt marshes, major intertidal banks of sand and mud, shallow waters and deep channels.
The inaccessible tidal mud banks and sand flats of the Wash form a huge safe haven for birds with up to half a million wildfowl each winter and many times that number of migrating birds in spring and autumn. Migrating birds, such as geese, ducks and wading birds, come to the Wash in huge numbers to spend the winter and it has been estimated that around two million birds will use the Wash for feeding and roosting during their annual migrations. At high tide, flocks of birds use the protection of the salt marsh to roost until they can return to their low tide feeding grounds. Of course, wherever you find large flocks of birds, you also find aerial hunters, peregrines, merlins and harriers are all frequent visitors to the Wash, while short-eared and barn owls use the sea wall and saltmarsh as hunting and roosting areas.
The site also sustains many diverse salt marsh plants including several species under threat nationally. The nature of the Wash habitats, combined with the ample tidal flows, allows shellfish to breed, especially shrimp, cockles’ and mussels.
The Wash is recognised as being internationally important for seventeen species’ of bird including pink-footed goose, dark-bellied brent goose, shelduck, pintail, oystercatcher, ringed plover, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank and turnstone. Good places to see these birds are at high tide on the RSPB Reserves at Snettisham in Norfolk, or Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore in Lincolnshire.
However, each year, the RSPB South Lincolnshire Local Group organises a number of cruises on the Boston Belle into the Wash. These cruises provide a unique opportunity to get ‘close-up’ to the habitat and the large number of wildfowl and waders that frequent the Wash including many of the internationally important birds identified above.
The cruises provide interest to all – from the avid birder to anyone who has a general interest in nature. Each cruise, which lasts approximately four-and-a-half hours, is led by local guides, who will help with bird identification and point out places of local historic interest. The Boston Belle offers a relaxed, friendly cruising experience and includes a lounge seating area for up to thirty-six persons as well as an open deck to view the wildlife.
The cruise departs from Boston Marina, travels down the Witham through Boston docks and into the Wash eventually making its way along the River Welland before returning to Boston. Do not worry about seasickness – they have not had a single case so far!
Prices for the cruises are for members of RSPB £14 for adults and £8 for children under sixteen and for non-members £16.50 for adults and £9 for children.
You can get more information by email: email@example.com or visit the website: www.southlincsrspb.org.uk to download a brochure or call 07531 495521.