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Recent sightings

  • 15 April 2015

    Swallows, Sandmartins and Signs of Spring at Saltholme

    Longer days, milder temperatures and the first of the years bank holidays under our belt, it can only mean that spring is here, and at Saltholme that means two things, lambs and migration.

    The Easter break has seen us welcoming hordes of families on to the reserve for our lambing live event where we spoke to them about why Saltholme is such a special place and how our fabulous flock of Shetland sheep help to keep this place special.

    Thanks to Lockhart Horsburgh for his pic of some of the lambs having a bit of a play.

    Which brings us nicely to migration.

    This last couple of weeks we've started to see our summer residents arriving, Chiffchaff, yellow wagtail and skylark and swallows being on my list of favorites.

    Stunning yellow wagtail taken by Peter Garbutt.

    we do of course have some custom built accommodation here on the reserve for some of our more conspicuous visitors. Sand martins have begun to excavate the bank by the visitors centre this last week or so, with 20 holes being investigated  but we're yet to see the arrival of the stunning common terns.

    Sand martins using our custom built bank.

    Enough of my musings...

    Here's the list for 14 April courtesy of Dave Atkinson.

    Shovler, gadwall, mallard, lapwing, Canada goose, graylag goose, moorhen, black-tailed godwit, tree sparrow, blackbird, black-headed gull, dunnock, great tit, reed bunting, snipe, woodpigeon, teal, coot, herring gull, starling, goldfinch, swallow, magpie, curlew, redshank, wren, chaffinch, greenfinch, tufted duck, mute swan, sand martin, stock dove, great crested grebe, shellduck, lesser black-backed gull, wigeon, pochard, red-breasted merganser, goldeneye, little egret, grey heron, carrion crow, wheatear, pied wagtail, pheasant, meadow pipit, skylark, greenshank, blue tit, willow warbler, little grebe, cormorant, little ringed plover. *

    Dean also let us know about common sandpiper over at Saltholme Pools Hide this morning.

    *Dave would like it noting that this is HIS list for the day and may not be exhaustive. :)




    Posted by Lydia T

  • 22 March 2015

    Signs of Spring 2015

    The days are lengthening and getting a little warmer. Wildlife responding with some species waking up and looking for homes for the next generation.

    Lockhart saw this Peacock Butterfly at Dorman's Pool yesterday newly emerged from hibernation. There are already new shoots on the nettles on which the eggs will be laid - the adults need nectar from the spring flowers.

    With bumble bees as well as butterflies a good range of flowers in any garden will be of value. We have Crocus, Arabis (rock-cress), Primrose and Hellebores in the Wildlife Garden, all easy to grow and giving nectar and pollen to the bees and butterflies. On the reserve Sallow, the Pussy Willow, is a vital pollen source for the bumble bees.

    Birds are busy with prospecting nest sites and collecting nest material.

    It was windy yesterday when the Magpie was collecting for the nest.

    The Tree Sparrows are seen going into the nest boxes and many birds are in their best plumage.


    and Shellducks as seen yesterday by Lockhart.

    Today a Great White Egret was seen, and if it follows the usual pattern may stay for a few days.



    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 15 March 2015

    A Wild Goose Chase

    Several wild geese come to Saltholme during the winter - and so do a few feral, white geese. But his last few days we have had a visit from a Snow Goose. This white goose has black tips to the wings and these can clearly be seen on this bird. I have not yet been able to get a photo.

    Over the last few years the Barnacle Geese visiting us have increased and Lockhart did get a good view yesterday.

    As they move to their breeding grounds they are slowly reducing in number here on the reserve.

    While looking for the Snow Goose today some visitors saw a ripple on the Haverton Hole pool and saw a couple of Otters. We have seen evidence of them but this time - in broad daylight - they were seen. There are fish in the pool and recently I saw a large eel in saltholme West near the main road. Hopefully that is enough to keep them here. 

    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 2 February 2015

    Kingfisher - Bird of the Moment

    Did you see Saltholme on Look North tonight? A volunteer, new to the reserve, was interviewed as he cleared out a drianage ditch and he said how wonderful it was to have seen a Kingfisher. I guess that he had been looking out of the Visitor Centre and saw it on the Sand Martin bank. I saw it there on Saturday and Sunday as did many visitors - some while having a bite to eat in the cafe. Having worked by the Sand Martin bank I know that there are lots of sticklebacks in the pool which must be the attraction for the bird.

    I have not been able to get a photo but if anyone has a good shot taken from the visitor Centre then it would be great to see it posted on the Forum.

    If you don't know, today has been World Wetlands Day and we invited anyone interested to volunteer for a day - which is why the BBC were here. It also fits in nicely with our 'Welly  Season' when we have lots of activities involving wearing wellies.  If you wish to try out your wellies then we still have our Welly Splash and games based on the rubber boot - great for all the family. But if that is not for you then a nice cuppa and some chips in the cafe and watching out for the Kingfisher...


    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 23 January 2015


    Last autumn I dug a moat around the Water Vole feeding table to prevent access to it by predatory mammals such as Weasel, even in dry spells. This was in response to the Voles disappearing after a Weasel was seen in the cage. At the time, I was very much aware that when the water came back, which it has, and Water Voles returned, which they have, I was going to have a bit of a job getting food onto the table. Waders would be needed, which is a bit cumbersome when I need to get around other parts of the reserve to open up each morning. Having had some time to think about it, I decided what was needed was a drawbridge. This is a simple bridge which is hinged at one end, and can be lifted up and over to get to the feeding table. We've just installed it, and it makes feeding Water Voles even more fun. I also suspect that the Water Vole will use it as a latrine, as they love to leave little presents on bits of timber in the water. Now I know what you're all thinking, and no you can't play with the drawbridge. You could however, if you were a reserve volunteer. Go on, you know you want to.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 13 January 2015

    Windy Weather

    Strong winds have been the feature of the last few days with snow now possible, but our volunteer guides have still been out and able to show visitors the Long-eared Owl  roosting in the tree at the Clarences scrub. We have been able to get the maximum number of people to see the owl with minimum disturbance.

    The wind has not made everything easy - as Lockhart, one of our guides - said to me, even the Moorhens are flying rather than swimming across the water. Even so Lockhart did get good views of a Snipe

    and a Reed Bunting which was sheltering by Saltholme Pools hide

    and it has been fun watching the birds on the feeders displaying their flying skills.


    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 5 January 2015

    Green-winged Teal, Bittern and Long-eared Owl

    Happy new year. The Long-eared Owl is still on show at the Clarences scrub, and we have Saltholme Guides there daily to show it to visitors. There is also a Green-winged Teal on Saltholme West. It is best seen from Saltholme Hide, looking down the south side of the water body, or in the ditch between the two pools. The 200+ Fieldfares are still here with a few Redwings among them. The hedgerow by the Watchpoint Hide is the best place to catch them. A few visitors have managed to see Bitterns from Haverton over the past few days. Always worth looking out for.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 24 December 2014

    Long-eared Owls

    The Long-eared Owls roosting in the scrub at Haverton are proving to be a draw for visitors. However, those visitors who go crashing through the scrub to find them are less than welcome, as it only results in the birds being scared away, as happened earlier in the autumn. Unfortunately, this is definitely a case of selfish photographers trying to get too close and spoiling it for everyone else. We have Saltholme Guides manning the site each day, and with December light being the way it is, the best time to go down there is about 11am. If the birds are there, a Guide will have a bird in a telescope so everyone can see it. Please do not leave the surfaced paths and have consideration for the welfare of the birds and other visitors wanting to see them. Although Saltholme is closed Christmas Day, I will be in and on patrol ! A very merry Christmas to all responsible nature lovers.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 12 December 2014

    What Pellets tell us.

    Having Barn Owls back on the reserve is good news for them and for visitors. But in nature, everything is eaten by something else. When we found Barn Owl pellets by the entrance to the Watchpoint Hide, we gave them to our pellet man: Don Griss, one of our Saltholme Guides who likes to open these things up and identify the contents. He found the bones of Field Vole and Bank Vole, as we would expect. These animals make up a large proportion of the prey of carnivores and raptors on the reserve. But Don also found something else: the skull of a young Water Vole. This is not something I was expecting. Barn Owls hunt over pasture and tussocky grassland. Water Voles live in reedbeds and quite tall vegetated water margins (at Saltholme they are predominately in reedbeds). But there must be somewhere on the reserve where the two of them come together. It is quite common for the young of many animals to disperse in the autumn, and maybe this particular Barn Owl came upon a young Water Vole as it headed down one of the foot drains that irrigate the wet grassland for feeding and breeding birds. It certainly doesn't make life easy when our target species for conservation management start eating each other.

    Posted by Dean H

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Coast on a stormy day with heavy rain falling on coastal headland

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Your sightings

Grid reference: NZ5023 (+2km)

White Stork (1)
11 Apr 2015
Bee-eater (1)
11 Apr 2015
Green-winged Teal (1)
6 Apr 2015
Red-breasted Merganser ()
17 Apr 2015
Quail (1)
17 Apr 2015
Water Rail (1)
16 Apr 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat
Ring Ouzel (1)
16 Apr 2015
Tree Sparrow (4)
14 Apr 2015
Avocet (7)
13 Apr 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat
Little Ringed Plover (2)
13 Apr 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 54.600995,-1.217496
  • Postcode: TS2 1TU
  • Grid reference: NZ506231
  • Nearest town: Middlesbrough
  • County: Cleveland
  • Country: England

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