Nature

Saltholme’s autumn birds

This weekend will go down as one of the stormiest in the UK in recent decades and although North East England didn’t get the battering that the south coast received, it was still pretty wild.

Teesside is a great place for autumn birds as well as seals and marine life.

This weekend I headed to the RSPB reserve to see what interesting wildlife could be seen amidst the wind and heavy rain.

So welcome to Tammy TV’s first ever blog video from RSPB Saltholme on Teesside in northern England.

 Teesside twitching

Wigeon

Wigeon watching at Saltholme

At first Teesside seems like an unpromising place for wildlife with its industrial landscape full of petro-chemical plants and waste land but birds love this environment.

I’ve seen Peregrine Falcons using the factory towers as vantage points whilst Bewick Swans seem to be strangely attracted to this industrial environment.

Perhaps it’s the vast, empty expanses of landscape and the lack of people that the birds love – plus the ragged environment with its reclaimed ponds, lagoons and tidal estuary.

Back in the 1930s industrial pollution was so bad in this area that many species were driven away but today it’s a different story.

Tees landscape

Teesside’s industrial landscape

Birds, seals and other wildlife have reclaimed this industrial area which has been the subject of a massive clean-up.

For nature lovers it’s a great day trip so why not give it a try? After all, this is one of the few environments in north western Europe where species such as seals are returning after an industrial clean-up.

In the autumn the bird reserve at Saltholme can boast some brilliant finds including a few oddities as well as flocks of lapwings, geese and winter ducks.

Tammy’s top travel tips

RSPB Saltholme hide

RSPB Saltholme hide

The RSPB’s nature reserve at Saltholme is a few hundred metres from the coast so it attracts a wide range of autumn birds from waders and geese to dabbling ducks, wild swans and egrets.

The reserve has a series of lakes, ponds and lagoons but its wider expanses also attract birds of prey, owls and wetland specialists like water voles.

In the past I’ve seen bitterns, long-eared owls and peregrine falcons as well as barnacle geese, water rail and egrets.

On the feeders near the RSPB centre, there’s a chance to see goldfinches, reed buntings, tits and smaller birds.

There’s a small admission charge to RSPB Saltholme – it’s £3 per car – but RSPB members get in free. Come by bike, public transport or on two feet and it won’t cost you a penny.

Saltholme offers the hire of  binoculars plus educational events, talks and hands-on activities. There’s also a cafe with panoramic views of the reserve, a must during those cold autumn and winter months.

Here’s Tammy’s earlier blog post about the Tees estuary and Seal Sands.

Saltholme Reserve

Saltholme Reserve

Further down the road from the reserve, don’t miss the National Nature Reserve at Seal Sands where there’s great viewing points from which to watch harbour and grey seals.  Low tide is best when the seals are hauled up on the mud flats.

It’s hard to believe that in the 1930s to the 1970s industrial pollution was so bad that the seals almost disappeared. It was only down to conservation efforts in the 1980s and beyond that the seals were attracted back and now there is a healthy population again.

The seals can be seen from a viewing platform and walkway about 1/2 mile north of RSPB Saltholme.

Seal Sands

Seal Sands reserve

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