RSPB Saltholme, the popular nature reserve, between Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool, is celebrating the success of two marsh harrier chicks fledging this summer. Thanks to the hard work of the team in managing the reedbed habitat, the birds have bred on the site for the first time since it opened in 2009.
Marsh harrier populations declined in the 1970s due to a chemical called DDT, used to control pests, entering the food chain and poisoning the birds. The RSPB campaigned to have DDT banned and succeeded, which resulted in the population of marsh harriers and other birds of prey increasing and using reserves such as RSPB Saltholme to raise their chicks.
Ed Pritchard, RSPB Saltholme’s Warden said: “It is great to have a successful pair of breeding marsh harriers here. They are frequent visitors and are often seen flying low over the reedbed but to have them make it their home is very exciting.”
RSPB Saltholme has a whole host of birds of prey using the reserve all year round and to raise awareness they are hosting a Bird of Prey event on Saturday 10th August from 10.30am – 1.30pm. There will be a programme of talks, family activities, a tombola and the opportunity to find out more about some of the UK’s most threatened birds, including the hen harrier.
Aimée Lee, RSPB Saltholme’s Visitor Experience Manager said: “Events such as Bird of Prey Day are vital to educate people about the struggle some of our birds of prey, such as the hen harrier, face in the UK. We were overjoyed to see marsh harrier and hen harrier using the site this year, but they’re still at risk from illegal persecution. By raising awareness of how brilliant these birds are, we hope to protect them.”
The talk sessions are free to attend and will be based on a first come first served basis. Usual entry fees apply if exploring the wider reserve.
Saltholme is open from 9.30am - 5.00pm from 1 April – 31 October and 9.30am - 4.00pm from 1 November – 31 March and is open every day apart from Christmas day.
Last Updated: Monday 5 August 2019