Monday 18 January 2010

A better bit of Boro

During a weekend trip to the North East, we managed to fit in a brief visit to Saltholme, the RSPB's new reserve on Teesside.

Surrounded by acres of industrial hardware, towers, cranes, chimneys and pipework, it felt slightly incongruous to be birding in such a nature-challenging environment. The birds obviously didn't mind. The lakes and pools were providing much-needed habitat and food for plenty of waterfowl, especially after all the harsh weather of late.

On the first frost-free and sunny day in ages, the wildlife and the visitors seemed to be just glad to be alive and out in the fresh air. The car park was pretty full and there were as many groups of birders as there were flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Wigeon and Starlings.

On the way in, we had passed a concentrated mass of optics, which presumably pinpointed the rough location of a bittern. However, we contented ourselves with the spectacle of several Little Egrets in the pasture ditches and a Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the midst of a bunch of Wigeon.

It will take some time for the place to mature into a fully-fledged reserve, but this will soften the hard edges of the surrounding landscape, whilst providing a haven for Nature and her followers. It will be noted, dear reader, that the Transporter Bridge hasn't been demolished and shipped to America to span a gorge in Arizona.

Interestingly, in the car park there are signs that proclaim "Walk this way". So is the RSPB a big fan of Aerosmith or Run DMC? We should be told.

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