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  • Blog Post: Toad in the ...

    In the Dragonfly pond actually - lots of them mating. The Common Toad ( Bufo bufo) returns to the same place each year to spawn. Today I counted a dozen in the top end of first pond on the Dragonfly Path and there were more in all of the ponds. This shot, despite the glare, shows the smaller male...
  • Blog Post: Signs of Spring in a Wet Winter

    It has, officially, been a very wet January but not very cold. Part of the job of the Estate Team where I am a volunteer, is looking after the Sheep (which are our chief grass cutters). We regularly have to count them and sometimes we see little visited parts of the reserve to check them. So it was...
  • Blog Post: Sheep on Patrol

    With a mild (but wet) winter the grass has continued to grow which is good for our Shetland Sheep. We need them to graze the meadow in the winter, and in the week we let them onto the Wildflower Walk on the Haverton Hill part of the reserve. This is to promote the growth of the right type of vegetation...
  • Blog Post: Flood Damage Repairs

    Spring tides again and this time the West side of the country is suffering from flooding but last month Cowpen Marsh was inundated by the sea coming over the sea wall by Greatham Creek. This has caused damage to the path from car park to the hide as well as to the marsh itself. There is little we can...
  • Blog Post: Some New Year Photos

    The year has started as the last ended, with wind, rain and some sun but rather mild. Few migrants as there is fair weather across the North Sea but Fieldfares and Redwings are about on the Hawthorn trees near the main lake. Yesterday Lockhart got these good shots of a Pied Wagtail and a Goldeneye...
  • Blog Post: A Red Breasted Bird for Christmas

    And, no, it is not a robin. Yesterday Lockhart snapped this Red-breasted Merganser - not often seen on our reserve. Other winter visitors are the Barnacle Geese which can be seen from the Mike Corner viewing screen and Paddy's Pool hide. They are the first geese to take flight as they are...
  • Blog Post: Assessing the Storm Damage

    The main part of the reserve was not affected by the tidal surge but Cowpen Marsh was inundated with salt water when the sea wall failed to hold back the tide. This is a general view looking south towards the car park. A closer view shows the fence along the path just poking above the sea...
  • Blog Post: Open for Business

    The main part of thre reserve at Saltholme is unaffected by the storm and is open as usual. Road access is fair - the A178 north of the firestation roundabout is closed as emergency work progresses on the sea wall at Seal Sands but all other roads are open. However, there was serious ingress of sea...
  • Blog Post: A Dam at Cowpen

    To help control the water levels, and ensure the separation of fresh water from brackish water we have installed a dam at Cowpen Marsh. Originally, before the A178 was built and Seal Sands was drained, Saltholme's natural drainage was by Holme Fleet into Greatham Creek with an area of brackish water...
  • Blog Post: Sunset and Starlings

    This week end the Starlings have performed well for our 'Soup and Starlings' events. Yesterday they were illuminated by a shaft of sunset from beneath the cloud and Lockhart (hide guide) capured this photo. The redness of the evening light really shows well on the birds. They did spend...
  • Blog Post: Who Ate All the...

    And I'm not talking about Dr. Who. But who has eaten all the berries in our Wildlife Garden? Where a garden is will determine just when the berries are eaten, and by what. Most trees and bushes in town gardens still have their berries but our Wildlife Garden, in the centre of the reserve, has...
  • Blog Post: More Reedbeds for Saltholme

    In our continuing process of improving the reserve we have resumed our transplanting of reeds. Last year we moved some of our established reeds to the extreme North West corner of the reserve, an area that has no public access partly because it is just an isolated field with little current value. But...
  • Blog Post: And Winter Care of the Floating Islands

    Last spring saw the debut of our floating Tern rafts - artificial islands for the Common Terns to nest on. And they were used. The rationale is that we put the islands out just after the Black-headed Gulls have nested but before the Terns have arrived. This way the gulls are less likely to predate...
  • Blog Post: Life on the Islands

    Work continues on maintaining the islands. Today we were clearing the vegetation from the island on Back Saltholme, the island that is seen from the Saltholme Pools hide and Phil Corner screen. We are concentrating on getting the Main Lake and Paddy's Pool islands in good condition for Common...
  • Blog Post: Great Views of the Birds

    It is good to have Adam back on the blogging team - and volunteering on the reserve doing lots of useful work; his recent sightings blogs are always inspiring. But if you think that only the experienced birders with the expensive binoculars see the birds then think again. Just after 8 o'clock...
  • Blog Post: Harvest Mice!

    The current theme of the RSPB is "giving nature a home". And just how fantastic a home we have for nature here at Saltholme. At this time of year, once the breeding season is over, we do routine maintenance of the reserve. Unwanted scrub has to be cleared and vigorous thistles controlled. But...
  • Blog Post: 8 - 10 October Is Autumn here?

    We are now well into October, but the dragonflies still abound! Numerous migrant hawker and common darter dragonflies have been regularly spotted on the paths and fences in front of the visitor center, where there is some shelter from the wind. Our influx of winter visitors are continuing to swell...
  • Blog Post: Recent Sightings

    Monday 7th October Migrants stopping off at Saltholme to feed included 30 pink footed geese and 21 ruff. 5 pintail were at Saltholme West along with 60 golden plover. Raptors included 3 marsh harrier (one male and two females), a merlin, peregrine and a pair of kestrels.
  • Blog Post: Flocks of Finches

    The breeding season is well behind us and the birds are preparing for winter. They no longer need small, individual territories to provide for the young so have banded together into flocks and seek out good sources of food. At Saltholme we have rather more thistles than we would like but they do attract...
  • Blog Post: The Last of the Dragonflies

    Many visitors have been fascinated by the large numbers of dragonflies during this warm autumn weather. In the hides, along the Dragonfly path and in the garden there are lots of Common Darter dragonflies . Our hide guide Lockhart captured this one at saltholme hide today - thanks. Being red this...
  • Blog Post: Corporate Volunteering

    From time to time local and national employers let a group of their staff come and help us at Saltholme for a day. Today we had staff from the BSA office of the NHS in Newcastle - they look after pensions of former NHS staff. The work party task was clearing brush from the Saltholme clay field. This...
  • Blog Post: Old Task, New Faces

    Once the common terns have left for warmer climates we set to and clear weed growth from the islands. Today, having repaired the boat we headed out for Paddy's Pool Island. Each year there is a subtle difference in the weed growth with more Knotgrass and less Hemlock this year. All has to be removed...
  • Blog Post: Keeping Water Levels Just Right

    On a wetland reserve such as Saltholme so much depends on having the correct water levels in the various lakes, pools and tanks. As autumn comes the migrants will be passing through and winter visitors arriving. Waders need soft, moist soil to probe for their food. On the North side of the reserve there...
  • Blog Post: Coming Soon - a New Viewing Screen

    Recent visitors will have seen the work on the Mike Corner Memorial Screen at the bottom of the Dragonfly path near Saltholme Pools Hide. The wet grassland beyond the screen is SSSI so permission had to be obtained from Natural England before work could begin. Next the old screen was dismantled and...
  • Blog Post: A Record Moth

    We are in the record books with the most northerly occurence of a moth which is classed as 'Nationally Scarce B'. One of our assistant wardens, Ed, has been using a moth trap and on 21st July 2013 caught a Waved Black ( Parascotia fuliginaria) and this is the first time this species has...