Become a member

Help us save nature at places like this. From £3 a month.

Weather today


Where is it?
View map
Right, let's go...
Plan a visit Visit
Print page

Recent sightings

  • 3 July 2015

    Friday 3rd July 2015

    The Squacco Heron came back on Saturday and fled the unwelcome attentions of a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  It moved to Haverton Hole before leaving altogether.  There is now some debate as to whether it is the Squacco that turned up in Lincolnshire.

    The Squacco Heron takes flight.     Photograph taken by Ian Forrest.

    While the poor spring seems to have had a disastrous effect on Four-spotted Chaser Dragonflies, there are now numerous Black-tailed Skimmers around.  As this species is a colonist of new water bodies, they like to bask on bare ground.  Look for them along the reserve paths.  They will get up as you approach but settle down again a little further along.

    A White-winged Black Tern arrived on Monday and was still here on Wednesday.  One of the Marsh Terns, they catch insects above the water and have a 'fluttery' flight.

    We currently have two Wood Sandpipers at Dorman's Pool and a Mediterranean Gull at Saltholme.  Also at Saltholme is a family of Yellow Wagtail which can be seen from Saltholme Hide, with two juveniles being fed by the parents. 

    Yellow Wagtail by Ian Forrest. 


    Posted by Dean H

  • 26 June 2015

    Friday 26th June 2015

    Last year two broods of Garganey chicks appeared in the Wildlife Watchpoint Cut on the 27th June.  It's all quiet on the Garganey front just now, so we're hoping that means the females are on eggs in a sedge bed somewhere.  Fingers crossed !

    The disastrous spring has meant very few Dragonflies around.  There are only a handful of Black-tailed Skimmer and Four-spotted Chaser about.

    Better news for Great Crested Grebes, we have young riding on the backs of parents at Paddy's, Haverton Hole and the Allotment Pool.

    A Great Crested Grebe feeding stripey young.

    Little Gulls continue to appear sporadically, and a Greenshank is currently at Haverton Gate.  We've also had a brief Temmincks Stint this week along with 5 Sandwich Terns on the Main Lake.

    More strangely a drake Pintail has been seen on Cowpen Marsh and the main site.  We don't expect this is to be a breeding bird as it is always in the company of Mallards.

    The first Sand Martin chick has tried to fly.  Unfortunately, it's in a box on my desk, drying off.  I will soon don my chest waders and venture out to the Sand Martin bank and try to place it in an active hole.  This the birds best chance.  It won't eat sandwiches or biscuits - I've tried.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 19 June 2015

    Squacco Heron

    This was the moment we knew we had a Squacco Heron on the reserve:

    Andrew Clark managed to get the photo through the Watchpoint Hide windows, as we confirmed the bird's identification with the help of those white wings. Great excitement for a Thursday morning and a good job we didn't manage to get out in front of the hide and cut back the vegetation as we planned. 

    This is another first for Cleveland, the fifth on habitat created and managed by RSPB Saltholme since the reserve opened.

    The bird hasn't been seen this morning (Friday) but it does have a habit of hiding in the reeds.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 14 June 2015

    Migrant moth on the meadow

    I was carrying out one of our weekly butterfly transects on Friday afternoon and was walking along the most southerly face of the meadow when something unusual whizzed past me.  I knew it was an insect and I knew it was not a butterfly.  It was a blur of grey with a hint of orange.  Surely not...was it....?  I stopped, saw the blur turn and make its way back to the footpath and then land.  I cautiously approached and from a distance I could see it on the path.  I got my bins out and sure enough, there was its little mothy face pointing my way.

    I crept round through the nettles to get the next photo as it sat perfectly still on the path and this confirmed my suspicion, a hummingbird hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum.)  It is only the second I have seen and is the only one I know of from Saltholme (if you know otherwise please let us know.)

    These moths are usually immigrants from southern Europe and north Africa and in certain years there can be large influxes as in 2011 and 2006.  They do breed in the UK but usually do not survive the winter.  In milder winters though, adults have been found hibernating in outbuildings and outdoor crevices.

    They get their name from the way they fly between plants, feeding at tubular shaped flowers such as Viper's bugloss and honeysuckle, hovering like a hummingbird as they do.

    Keep an eye out this summer for this charismatic creature around your buddleias and honeysuckles and if you are lucky enough to see one do report it on the Butterfly Conservation's 'Migrant watch' page.

    Posted by Ed P

  • 1 June 2015

    A moose loose in the hoose

    This is the first photo of a Wood Mouse in the house, taken by Mark Walpole, one of our Saltholme Guides.

    Unfortunately, Mark doesn't get a Cadbury's crème egg because the mouse isn't on a chair.

    Can you do better in the Great Mouse House Challenge ?

    I know we can do this, we've got less than two weeks of Springwatch left !



    Posted by Dean H

  • 31 May 2015

    Mud, just as I like it!

    A nice big bill is just right for rooting in the mud. Yesterday Lockhart saw this Shelduck rooting for food.

    I also like his action shot of a Grey Heron

    and the close-up of a Great Crested Grebe.

    Now is the time when the damselflies as on the wing and we have four species at present; Large Red, Common Blue, Blue Tailed and Azure.

    A Blue Tailed Damselfly seen by Lockhart yesterday.

    The adults are on the wing for just a short time having spent many months in water - I saw one youngster in the Wildlife Garden pond today.

    No photos from today but the Spoonbill is still around and an Osprey flew over this afternoon.

    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 29 May 2015

    Friday 29th May 2015

    Young birds are all over the reserve now.  The islands on the Main Lake and at Paddy's are full of Black-headed Gull chicks and the adults can be seen feeding them from the hides.  Water Rails and Little Grebes can be seen feeding chicks from the Wildlife Watchpoint Hide and Young Tree Sparrows are attending the feeding stations.  The young are easily told apart from the adults by the yellow sides to the mouth which helps them stimulate a feeding response from their parents if they beg hard enough.  Lapwing chicks can be seen on the Fire Station Field and at Haverton Gate, or Havergate as I like to call it.

    Some breeding birds are very secretive.  Last year we were delighted when we saw 2 broods of Garganey ducklings from the Watchpoint Hide on the 27th June.  There are only about 100 pairs of these birds in the UK, so this was significant. 

    Although male Garganey are such obvious birds with their huge white eye stripe, they are notorious for being difficult to find while nesting.  The females sit tight on nests in sedge beds while the males visit open water, often several of them together.  This morning, there were two males sleeping in front of the Phil Stead Hide and another two flying in and out of the water in front of the Watchpoint.  At this stage, we can only speculate as to how many of these males have mates on nests.   

    Un-paired male birds sing much more than paired birds, desperately trying to attract a mate, and that is certainly the case with a Garden Warbler which moves up and down the Pedestrian Path all day.  He's been here for a few weeks now, but alas, looks like he'll be unlucky in love this year.

    The spring passage of birds is now much less evident although we still have a few birds moving through.  We've had Little Stints, Whimbrel and Ruff this week, and 4 Mediterranean Gulls hung around on Paddy's Island on Monday and Tuesday.  This morning our Residential volunteer Karen, was pleasantly surprised to see a Spoonbill in front of her as she opened the Phil Stead Hide shutters.  This bird is moving around the reserve and could turn up anywhere.



    Posted by Dean H

  • 3 May 2015

    Food for Butterflies

    Many of our butterflies are on the wing and in need of a meal. Some have hibernated as adults which explains the poor state of this Peacock Butterfly which Lockhart, who took the photo, said was one of the worst he has seen.

    Others have just emerged from a pupa like this Green-veined White.

    Both were seen on Friday at Dorman's Pool taking nactar from this wallflower. This is a garden escape which likes free-draining, poor soil which is just what there is over the industrial slag in many areas of Teesside. Wallflowers are good garden plants for insects as well as us and if grown in poor conditions will live for several years. Bright, single flowers, mostly scented, are just as good for wildlife as many of our wild flowers - sow seed now or buy plants in autumn.

    Summer migrant birds are still arriving and some passing through. Whinchat, Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail have been seen this week and each day sees more Common Terns. We will soon be putting out the rafts, which will be used for nesting by the terns, now that the Black-headed Gulls have their nests on the islands.

    Meanwhile the residents are in fine plumage, even if they are fluffing up their feathers in the cold wind of yesterday as Lockhart's shot of this Goldfinch shows.

    And even on a rainy day like today it was good just to sit in the cafe and watch the Sand Martins busy investigating the holes in their 'architect designed' nesting bank.


    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 28 April 2015

    More Signs of Spring

    It did not feel very much like spring as we were repairing the fences on the extreme north west of the reserve, but the spring migrants were there. House Martins and Swallows were flying quite close to the farthest reaches of the Wilderness Trail, with the distinctive white rump of the House Martin clearly visible in contrast with the Swallow's dark.

    At the weekend the Wildlife Garden was host to a Whitethroat which was heard and seen by many visitors. It was a warm day and there was a buzz of bees and hoverflies visiting the flowers showing just what a home for wildlife a garden can be.

    On the way to our work site today we went along the Wildflower Walk and were greeted by a great display of Cowslips. The management of this area with winter sheep grazing and selective summer grass cutting is having the desired effect. Other flowers will follow with a display of Common Blue butterflies and Burnet moths later in the year.

    Many garden centres now sell Cowslips and they are easy to grow - much easier than polyanthus and large flowered primroses. They can even be grown in a lawn if it is not cut too short and will seed themselves; and they provide nectar for pollinators.

    The view from the Wildflower Walk today.


    Posted by Peter Langham

How you can help

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

We're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused. Please help us rebuild from the worst storm in 60 years.

Donate now

Your sightings

Grid reference: NZ5023 (+2km)

Squacco Heron (1)
26 Jun 2015
Avocet ()
5 Jul 2015
Pied Flycatcher (1)
1 Jul 2015
Tree Sparrow (16)
1 Jul 2015
Water Rail ()
29 Jun 2015
Little Ringed Plover (2)
29 Jun 2015
Spotted Redshank (1)
28 Jun 2015
Little Gull (1)
22 Jun 2015
Common Tern ()
5 Jul 2015
Shelduck ()
4 Jul 2015

Contact us

Where is it?

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

Get directions