|Ribble Estuary Lytham St Annes
I took this picture on Sunday evening as I walked my dog on the banks of the Estuary. It's taken with my I-phone so I couldn't quite pick out the stretch of sand as clearly as I would have liked in the background. The yellow stipe under the horizon is the sand banks of Southport and I don't recall seeing the banks so clearly defined before by this blazing stripe, perhaps the late evening sunshine had something to do with it.
The Ribble Estuary is where the River Ribble, which originates in the Yorkshire Dales some 68 miles away to the east, meets the Irish Sea on the North West Coast of England between Southport and Rossall Point at Fleetwood, and upstream to Preston.
The estuary is tidal and is where salty seawater mixes with fresh river water. This causes the sediments carried down river and those brought in from the sea to mix and settle out as fine particles of sand and silt to form inter tidal sediments including both sand and mud flats.
he Ribble Estuary is a ‘slough’, or shallow water estuary, where large areas of inter tidal sediments or flats become exposed during low tides. Flat fish such as sole and flounder (or fluke) are common within such waters, while salmon and sea trout use the estuary to acclimatise to brackish water before swimming up stream to spawn or moving back out into the Irish Sea as young adult fish.
Commercial and recreational fishing is popular, with flat fish being the main catch for trawlers in the treacherous tidal currents of the estuary while cockling and shrimping are still popular on the sand flats of Horse Bank off Southport.
The mud and sand flats exposed during low tide also support millions of worms, snails and crustaceans providing a rich source of food for birds.
All of this right on my very door-step!