Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Saltholme Experience

19th Feb.  Sam and I left for RSPB Saltholme early this morning.  The bright winter sun in clear skies was at times blinding.  The brightness lasted for a while on arrival and then the cloud was seen drifting in from the north.  I was surprised at just how quickly we were left in cloudy and very cold conditions.  We watched the transporter bridge as the sun completely disappeared.

This was Sam’s first visit to the reserve and I think he had had different expectations as to what it would be like.  Bird wise it was very quiet indeed and we plan to get back down again later in the year.  The staff and volunteers were all very helpful.

We took a wander around as much to let Sam get a feel of the place as much as expecting to find much wildlife.  It wasn’t long though before we had found the likes of Common Snipe and Little Egret.  Like a number of other people we took a look in the area where the Long-eared Owls are, but as I had expected didn’t have any luck.  No one else that we spoke to found them either.  We really needed some one there who could point us to the right spot but I had been told the day before that because it was half term it was unlikely that staff would be available to go out with us.  All we saw in the area was Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit.

I think we eventually saw at least five or six Little Egrets on the reserve.  The flocks of Canada Geese were active, but only Greylag Geese were seen otherwise.  Best of the waders were a couple of distant Black-tailed Godwits.  Other waders seen were Redshank, Lapwing in numbers and Curlew.  We had no luck in finding the Green Winged Teal when we looked off the reserve.  Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and several Red-breasted Mergansers.  Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebes were also seen.  The feeders and hedges were attracting Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and numbers of Reed Bunting.  Kestrel was seen just before we came home.

The numbers of children visiting the reserve during half term didn’t seem to mind too much about the lack of birds. :-)  Sam and I got so chilled at one point we headed for the café to warm up.  It was doing a roaring trade!  Too much mint in the soup for my liking though. :-)

On leaving the reserve t catch the bus for Middlesbrough to get out connection to Newcastle we found the remains of a Fox by the side of the road.  A few bones and fur was all that was left.  We had hoped maybe to get some images of Foxes toady but my camera never came out of the bag.  Good day though with lots of laughs.  The weather worsened on the way home.  Sam nodded off.  He said I did too for a short time.:-)  Little Egret and Black-tailed Godwit were new for the year list which moves slowly upwards.


  1. It's helpful if you have a car when visiting down there Brian as if it's quiet at Saltholme you have all the surrounding areas such as Greatham Creek, Seal Sands, Seaton Common, Seaton Snook and a few others all within 10 minutes car journeys of each other to too far for walking. For example today Dormans Pool( which you can walk to) held Green-winged Teal and Smew,Seal Sands Slav. Grebe, Greenabella Marsh (next to S.Sands) Spotted Redshank, Seaton Common Glaucus Gull etc etc. You get my drift. Just noticed a Scaup was reported at Saltholme today. As you probably have experienced if there's a few birds knocking about at Saltholme it's a great day out but as you know ypou don't know what to expect.

  2. It didn't much matter about being car-less today John as the day was very much an opportunity for Sam to get to know the reserve. Even I visited bits I had never been to today. We are hoping to get back down later in a car.
    Not driving has its pros and cons. It can be a little frustrating at times, but on the whole we find we have more time to look at areas and put time into studying the birds that we do find, so on the whole I'd recommend going car-less to many birders. Cheers.