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Recent sightings

  • 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

  • 22 April 2015

    Haverton Hill Highlights

    Spring well and truly is in full swing here at Saltholme. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and more and more we're seeing wildlife in the throws of courtship.

    The highlights for the reserve this week have really come from the Haverton end of the reserve, if you venture as far as the wildflower walk you will be in for a real treat. The walk is really living up to it's name with the cowslips in full bloom, there's a carpet of yellow as you head towards the jubilee viewpoint. Taking advantage of this early nectar are small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies as well as a number of bumble bees.

    Of course you can't head over haverton way and not have the slight hope of catching a glimpse of a bittern, and they have been booming this week!

    But for me the real stars of the show this week have been the otters.

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

    One of our wardens, Ed Prichard was lucky enough to have captured this footage of these usually shy and retiring animals whilst he was doing his rounds.

    Otters are usually very difficult to see and although we have known that we have them on the reserve for some time, there presence has only really been known by what they leave behind... (yes we're talking poo!!) So we're very excited that Ed managed to capture this footage of an adult with pups, and in broad daylight too!

    Here’s the list for 21 April, courtesy of Dave A:

    Teal, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Graylag Goose, Black-headed Gull, Gadwall, Wood pigeon, Lapwing, Goldfinch, Wren, Tree Sparrow, Canada Goose, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Magpie, Tufted Duck, Sand Martin, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Skylark, Grey Heron, Reed, Warbler, Mute Swan, Shellduck, Starling, Great crested grebe, Pheasant, Reed Bunting, Little Grebe, Common Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Little Ringed Plover, Shovler, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Swallow, Garganey, Black-tailed Godwit, Sparrowhawk, House Martin, Oystercatcher

    Posted by Lydia T

  • 20 April 2015

    Garganey at Wildlife watchpoint

    A pair of Garganey (Anas querquedula) have made a return to Saltholme and have been spotted in front of the Wildlife watchpoint as well as from the Phil Stead hide.

    Garganey are similar in size to teal, being one of our smallest ducks and are our only summer visiting duck.  They spend their winters in central Africa but at about this time of year they start arriving at their breeding grounds. 

    They are usually very elusive; they like shallow pools with lots of vegetation which they can disappear into.

    They are scarce breeders in the UK with between 14 and 93 pairs breeding annually.  At Saltholme two pairs bred last year, with a brood of ten being seen from the Wildlife watchpoint - a very rare sight indeed.

    The male in particular is an exquisite duck and is in itself a very good reason to head over to Saltholme, probably one of the best places in the country to see Garganey.

    Posted by Ed P

  • 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

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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)

Whimbrel (3)
26 May 2015
Little Stint (2)
25 May 2015
Little Gull ()
24 May 2015
Avocet (8)
23 May 2015
Little Ringed Plover (1)
18 May 2015
Tree Sparrow (3)
18 May 2015
Water Rail (1)
18 May 2015
Seen in suitable nesting habitat
Wheatear (1)
14 May 2015
Brent Goose (Light-bellied) (1)
26 May 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

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