Once Europe’s largest single dock basin, Preston Marina now enjoys a sedate life as boats and yachts bob around on the water.
It’s a haven for birdlife where there is a thriving community of common terns. These dainty little gulls, who aren’t as common as their name suggests, have taken up residence using artificial nest boxes on the marina pontoons.
Three demanding chicks
Chicks have hatched and life is frantic. Parents fly some distance to go fishing. What a cacophony when they return with their catch and hungry chicks demolish their lunch. It’s a hazardous time for unprotected chicks. Herring and black back gulls are on the prowl.
The bedraggled chick went on an adventure – a heart-in-mouth time for onlookers and parent bird. Eventually s/he made it onto dry land. A born survivor.
Bedraggled chick. Anxious parent
This noisy and wonderful spectacle is thanks to the partnership of the Fylde Bird Club, Preston City Council and the RSPB. Five years ago they created artificial nests and gravel on the breakwaters of the marina in the hope of encouraging nesting common terns. And it’s paid off. After another successful breeding season, the common terns will leave these shores in late August early September. With luck many will back next April.
Preston Marina is a far cry from the bustling docklands of years gone by.
Dazzling lights, blood curdling screams, thumping music, and hunger-enticing smells lure the masses to the fun of the fairground.
Sizzling onions and a hotdog slathered with thick tomato ketchup followed by a sweet, sickly, sugar-covered donut. That hit the spot. Dining out in style tonight.
Dare to go on a gut-wrenching ride? Not me! Scrunched up faces, arms aloft, squeals of horror, laughter, effin’ and jeffin’. So much fun watching others having fun.
Into the abyss
Cuddle a toy … if you can win one. Poor little fishy in a plastic bag. Will it survive the journey to its new home?
Minnie and friends
Silence. The music stops and lights go out. Exhausted, happy people wend their way; the end of the fair for another day.
As soon as my back was turned they made a break for freedom. I knew it was imminent. Their cries had become more urgent and there was a lot of pushing and shoving at the escape route. The next time I looked the escapees were randomly scattered around the garden. The parent task was about to get harder.
For several weeks blue tit chicks lived in the safe haven of a nest box. Now on the loose they were in great danger, exposed to predators – magpies, jackdaws, crows, gulls – all on a mission to feed their youngsters; and prowling cats.
The parents knew exactly where each chick had taken refuge. In turn they frantically delivered squishy morsels to ever-gaping beaks. It was exhausting watching. My heart was in my mouth willing them all to survive.
They’ve fledged. The chicks are independent, parents can enjoy a well-earned break, and I can breathe!
Which one will come back next year to raise its young in the nest box where it grew up?