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Recent sightings

  • 21 November 2014

    Friday 21st November 2014.

    The exciting news for us this week is the return of barn owls to the reserve. Barn owls bred here until those bad winters a few years ago. But unfortunately, deep snow makes it difficult for barn owls to find food so they really struggle in bad winters. We know have plenty of voles here as Limpy, our resident car damaged vixen proves as she is so often seen with a mouthful of them, or even pouncing on them in the grass verges. So if we get a mild winter, all should be well with our new barn owl. It's great to see a barn owl back here, but it's not so good news for the stock doves that took over the nestbox in the owl's absence.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 19 November 2014

    Maintaining the Feeding Station

    Over the last few days Dean has been making changes to the feeding station outside the visitor centre. No equipment lasts for ever so out with the old, and in with new posts from which to hang the feeders. He didn't really need help but he did have supervision.

    Brian was watching from the visitor centre and Limpy, the vixen, was ensuring that there would still be the odd scrap for her. As Dave said in his last blog wildlife can get used to our presence, and if we are not seen as a threat will tolerate us. Limpy certainly lets us get very close but she is still a wild animal and we have to be careful not to encourage her to come too near.

    Dean has also placed several branches overhanging the water near the visitor centre and Wildlife Watchpoint hide to encourage Kingfishers to perch - and this has been successful. Now they can be seen from Watchpoint hide, and from the cafe and visitor centre windows. They are unmistakable with the bright blue and orange but easily overlooked in poor light so if a small bird is perched over water have a good look.

    Thanks to Brian D. for the photo.


    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 14 November 2014

    Friday 14th November 2014

    The flow of Whooper Swans going through the reserve continues with 16 birds on Monday. We still have a couple of Little Stints in with 30 Dunlin, 2 Ruff and 30 Black Tailed Godwit. The numbers of Golden Plover have swelled to 3000 along with 2000 Lapwing. We now have 1000 Wigeon with 3 Goldeneye and 12 Pintail. Marsh Harrier can still be seen along with the resident Merlin and Peregrine. An odd Woodcock has been seen flying around the car park area, 3 Stonechats are at the Visitor Centre and Haverton Loop, and the single Pink Footed Goose is still with us, mingling with the Greylag. A Long Eared Owl appeared at a roost on Monday but quickly disappeared again. This happened last winter too, sadly as a result of over-keen photographers getting too close. As in Dave's previous blog, if we all keep to the paths, wildlife quickly becomes accustomed to people being there, which allows us all good views.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 11 November 2014

    Aren't Nature Reserves Brilliant...

    Guest Blog from Site Manager David Braithwaite.

    I had my binocular fix today with a walk down to the Saltholme hide, there were geese grazing perfectly happily just a few yards from me at either side of the track. Barnacle Geese to the left; about 60, posh little chaps in their dapper monochrome. To the right, Graylags, Candas and a solitary pink-foot all relaxed whilst visitors walked by or stopped to enjoy the pastoral scene. When I started here in 2006 and before Saltholme was a proper nature reserve open to the public, if I appeared anywhere near where the wildlife garden is today, all the geese would take flight in the knowledge that humans mean trouble! But on nature reserves like Saltholme, they quickly learn that we mean them no harm, that we want to enjoy them in peace...

    Wouldn't it be great if the rest of the countryside could be like this.

    Posted by Lydia T

  • 7 November 2014

    Friday 7th November 2014

    At last some rain ! We really need this as the water levels in the northern reedbeds are at least 30cm lower than they should be, which has consequences for reedbed wildlife, as mammalian predators are able to move around more freely in drier conditions. As soon as the water vole feeding table is once again surrounded by water, we'll start feeding them again. Currently on the reserve we have 4 Goldeneye, 700 Wigeon, 13 Pintail, 1300 Lapwing, 400 Golden Plover and 5 Stonechats. There is also a steady flow of Whooper Swans through the site. The Kingfisher continues to delight visitors as it moves around the site. Winter rain often produces murky conditions in streams which forces Kingfishers to move to ponds and water they can see into. This is when garden pond owners may be in for a nice surprise.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 1 November 2014

    Barnacle Geese

    The Barnacle Geese are back on the reserve having gradually built up their numbers over the recent days. Assistant warden Ed counted 73 flying over today and they were then seen on the wet grassland near Paddy's Pool which has traditionally been a good place to see them - try looking back to Paddy's Pool hide from the Mike Corner screen. The numbers are increasing each year, probably almost double what we had in the first year the reserve was opened. This year the grass has been topped to remove the creeping thistle then grazed so the grass may be better for these geese and so encourage them to stay where they can be seen.

    Probably many saw the David Attenborough 'Life Story' on TV which showed the goslings leaving the nests. Those birds will now be wintering on the western side of this country while some of our birds may be descended from escaped captive birds now living wild - like the Greylag  and Canada geese.

    Lockhart took this photo today.

    Most of our winter visitors are appearing with increasing Golden Plover numbers and sightings of the winter thrushes - Redwings and Fieldfares - flying over.


    Posted by Peter Langham

  • 24 October 2014

    Friday 24th October 2014

    Last Sunday was a WeBS count day, that is a national water bird count, where all over the UK, we count the birds at high tide to get a picture of how a water birds are fairing. Or at least we would have, if it had not been during the tail end of a hurricane. You know you shouldn't be counting birds when your telescope blows over ! As many of the birds were sheltering from the wind, we've had to rely on mid-week counts from our guides to get a picture of the birds on the reserve. With 530 wigeon on the reserve, there are still a few thousand to come in. Likewise with the 800 golden plover, there are more to come. Birds of note this week have included a rough legged buzzard on Monday, with 6 whooper swans and 3 bitterns. One of the bitterns was seen in front of the Watchpoint Hide on Wednesday and Thursday and even performed for a guided walk. There is still a spoonbill around, but it moves between the main site, Dormans and Cowpen Marsh. A kingfisher has also delighted visitors as it moves all over the main site and can turn up anywhere.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 17 October 2014

    Friday 17th October 2014.

    The highlight for me this week was the jack snipe present and bobbing in the cut at Watchpoint on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving close and excellent views. The Pectoral Sandpiper hasn't been seen since Tuesday but we've had bittern, whooper swans and a kingfisher delighting visitors on the Main Lake and at Watchpoint. We had max counts of 950 golden plover on Wednesday and 900 wigeon on Monday. This weekend we'll be undertaking our WeBS counts, where we count all the water birds using the site and its surrounds. This involves one count per month on a Sunday at high tide, and we rely heavily on volunteers. If you would like to give us a hand, please get in touch.

    Posted by Dean H

  • 10 October 2014

    Friday 10th October 2014

    There is definitely a winter nip in the air now, but some autumn passage waders are still around, most noticeably the Pectoral Sandpiper which can still be seen from the Saltholme Hide. Little Stints can be seen from both Saltholme Hide and Phil Stead Hide and there are 6o Black Tailed Godwits and 500 Golden Plover on the Causeway across Saltholme West Pool. Dorman's Pool also remains good for waders with 300 Dunlin and 200 Redshank. All these waders are preventing us from raising the water levels for winter wildfowl, however we already have in excess of 300 Wigeon, some of which can be seen grazing from the Visitor Centre Café. Up to 10 Pintail can also be seen from Saltholme Hide. Other regulars include Marsh Harriers which are seen daily, with a female roosting in the Haverton reedbeds, and a stonechat has taken up residence on hawthorn bushes on the Wild Flower Walk. Oddities this week have included Jays which have come in from Europe and several Buzzards. Our knowledge of Harvest Mice in the reserve continues to grow, with 4 nests found on the Wild Flower Walk yesterday. There's a challenge for photographers !

    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)

Great Northern Diver (1)
19 Nov 2014
Tree Sparrow ()
17 Nov 2014
Black-tailed Godwit ()
17 Nov 2014
Water Rail (2)
16 Nov 2014
Little Stint (1)
13 Nov 2014
Merlin (1)
10 Nov 2014
Whooper Swan ()
9 Nov 2014
Red-breasted Merganser ()
9 Nov 2014
Red-throated Diver ()
9 Nov 2014
Ruff ()
9 Nov 2014

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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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