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Post Info TOPIC: Saltholme Pools and Hartlepool.

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RE: Saltholme Pools and Hartlepool.

Monday 18/9/23 

A great day at South Gare. Brown Booby (lifer) was in sight pretty much all day. It was on the pier before I got there but had flown off. I didn't have to wait long, as it flew around the pier before too long & settled on the sea for a few minutes. It then spent the rest of the time on the different buoys. 

I didn't leave the house until after 9am (South Manchester), so I had chance to check out BirdGuides. A Wryneck had just been reported, 5 minutes from the Booby. After the rain had cleared at South Gare. I headed off to try for the Wryneck & luckily there were people on it & I got a second life tick of the day straight away!

High tide was about 18:30, so I was on the Redcar Beach side & an Arctic Skua flew right in front of me. I got a few Red-throated Divers for a year tick - 185 so far! I love the coast! 


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First time visit here for me (after visiting South Gare for the Brown Booby)

The main reason for the visit was to hopefully catch up with the reported Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Unfortunately it had fliown off before I arrived and there was no further sign in the two hours I was there.

However, a Temmincks Stint, 4-5 Curlew Sandpipers, a male Yellow Wagtail, 3 Barnacle Geese (one with a neck collar) were the highlights.

-- Edited by Steven Nelson on Sunday 10th of September 2023 10:36:56 PM


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Saturday 7th September

Stockport Birdwatching Society visit to Saltholme RSPB 10.30-16.00 Bright and breezy all day

A very pleasant day at this excellent reserve, one of those days where the birds are not especially rare but are showing well and when the sun is shining it is really rather a nice hobby after all. The group picked up some decent birds, I managed 58 species on the reserve and we saw a few Red Kites on the A1 heading home so 59 for the day.

When we arrived there was a decent array of passerines in the trees and bushes by the visitor centre, behind the feeders and the small reedbed there. I spotted a Cetti's Warbler, others noted Lesser Whitethroat and most saw Chiffchaff and Blackcap amongst numerous Tree Sparrows and Goldfinch. Moving out into the paddocks and grassy areas provided some of the best birding of the day, as several Wheatear buzzed around, looking very clean and with their white tails absolutely gleaming when they flew. A single Whinchat was picked out as well as Yellow Wagtail, Linnet and Reed Bunting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the abundance of small birds had attracted at least one Merlin, so we had a flyby or two that scattered everything, as well as a Sparrowhawk that achieved the same outcome when it loafed by. The Merlin showed well on the ground at one point, and had a notable reddish tone to its brown head and neck plumage, although it looked a conventional colour when it flew.

Another nice view was a Greenshank on its own, working a glorified puddle around some telegraph posts. It didn't seem in a great hurry to go to Africa...probably more than one on the reserve, we had one flying away from the Haverton Hole Pools and another on Saltholme West Pool, so surely 2 at least. Other waders seen were predictable, Snipe, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, but it was great to sit and watch them in the sunshine.

My personal highlight of the day was not avian however, as I was lucky enough to be able to watch a Weasel with a vole in its jaws scampering around in plain view, as it headed to its den. Adorable, although not to the average vole. The reserve did seem to be in good nick, the big reedbeds will surely hold breeding Btterns before too long and the RSPB have announced successful breeding Marsh Harriers and Little Ringed Plover for this year; the original perceived value of the site was passage and wintering birds so it is great to see the evolution.

The next trip is to Spurn in October, always keenly anticipated and to find out more about the Society visit the website at http://stockportbirders.blogspot.com/

-- Edited by Simon Gough on Sunday 8th of September 2019 01:47:06 PM


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David Morris and I visited Saltholme and a couple of other local spots on Monday 31st July, on our way up to Northumberland.

Saltholme reserve was a bit quiet, but the Common Tern colony was alive with adults streaming in to feed their young and we had an enjoyable walk around the far reaches of the site over towards Haverton Hill, which I hadn't reached on my previous visit. When we got round to the Saltholme Pools there weren't any 'good' waders but we had a very bonny Yellow Wagtail pottering in front of the hide. Having asked a few local boys if they could recommend some other spots, we were directed to Seaton Snook, at the mouth of the Tees and Greatham Creek. This site is truly surreal, a broad sandy beach backed by dunes, overlooked by a nuclear power station and the defunct Redcar steelworks. In addition a gigantic North Sea oil rig called the Brent Delta has just been hauled onshore to be broken up, so the juxtaposition of various loafing terns and gulls with these immense bits of national infrastructure was really something.

The reason we were there materialized after about 10 minutes. A smart adult Arctic Skua lifted from the water within the breakwaters and spent a few minutes leathering after various unlucky terns, mostly Commons but also Sandwiches. The Sandwich Terns as well as the Skua were new birds for David. Kudos to the locals for the gen, we couldn't have asked for better views. I am always captivated by the acceleration of Arctic Skuas when they lock onto a target and just hit boost, even Usain Bolt can't pick up like that. Thrilling stuff. David also spotted a few Gannets and we could see them plunge-diving in the distance.

Next was an attempt to see some Little Terns at Crimdon Denemouth. However we hadn't extracted precise directions for them, so we ended up picking a stretch of beach to check out that we accessed from Peterlee. Very much into Co. Durham but I'll cover it here for convenience. We had found a decent looking shingle bank but there weren't any Little Terns, but there were plenty more Commons and Sandwich. Also here on a little spit of rocks were Turnstone and on the water loafing Eiders and a nice flock of Common Scoter, giving exceptional views in the sun on a flat sea. There were also plenty of Gannets feeding and some of the plunge-dives were epic. The Sandwich Terns were also plunge diving and the whole scene was glorious, even though we were a good couple of miles too far up the beach from where we should have been.

The final great sighting was a very small wader that dropped onto the rocks then briefly pecked along the ground before flying off. Assuming it was a Dunlin initially, I then noticed a shorter, finer bill, totally clean white underparts and a dainty look to it. It dawned on me that it was actually an adult Little Stint. Even after I had deliberated over it being a Sanderling, I couldn't get away from the ID as a Stint so a great bonus bird to round off the day.


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Spent a very cold but enjoyable 3 hours this morning around Seal Sands , just North of Saltholme RSPB

Highlights: Red Necked Grebe, 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red Breasted Merganser, Peregrine Falcon,  11 Knot, 4 Bar Tailed Godwit and 15 Black Tailed Godwit, Little Egret.

Excellent close views of 7 Common Seal from the English Nature screen. 

Can't recommend this whole area enough. A great few days birding and 3 Red Kite on the way back home.


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Highlights of visit to Teesmouth today.

2 Red Kite en route from Pugneys near A1 Knaresborough turn off

Saltholme RSPB: Bittern flying, female Smew, 2 Stonechat, 2 Little Egret, Water Rail, Yellow Legged Gull. Roe Deer

Hartlepool Headland: Shore Lark, 5 Snow Bunting,  8 Purple Sandpiper, Red Throated Diver, 7 Guillemot. 2 Common Seal and Stoat.

Hartlepool Marina: Juvenile Glaucous Gull.


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A visit today to RSPB Saltholme with Stockport Birdwatching Society, including a few Manchester Birding Forum members

We were there from around 1030 until 4. Most folk concentrated on the Saltholme Pools, bisected by the A178, and Dorman's Pool. The group reported 78 species; I only managed about 45 myself, my highlights were:
Little Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Golden Plover
Little Ringed Plover

Also a redhead Smew, some Barnacle Geese and a pair of Black Swans, which will go on some lists but not on others! I missed Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail and Greenshank seen by others. Also someone reported Seals, so presumably had headed off the reserve to further down the river.

It's a massive reserve, giving the whole place a thrash would take a couple of days I reckon. It will be busier with birds on other autumn days for sure, but I had a cracking day myself and I think everyone enjoyed themselves in glorious weather. I had a nice moment where the Curlew Sand and Little Stint were both feeding well together showing brilliantly for me, I had been hoping to get some good views of these species with Dunlin and practise the IDs and I had the chance to do just that.

Thanks to the Society for the organisation of the day, I'll be back in a month for the next one!


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After calling in at Haughton-le Spring Karen Faulkes, Mike Ausberger, Riggers & I called in at Saltholme (and actually made it onto the reserve for oncebiggrin). Sun wasn't exactly cracking the flags but pleasant enough.

Best of the 60 species seen here:
Black-necked Grebe 2
Lesser Scaup 1
Avocet 2
Little Ringed Plover 1
Spotted Redshank 1
Common Tern 1
Swift 1 among a flock of all three hirundines
White Wagtail, several among the dozen or so Pied Wgatails
Yellow Wagtail 4 smart males & 1 female
Wheatear 2

Garganey & Red-breasted Merganser at Dorman's Pool and Red Kites on our way home finished off a good day in the North-East

Bus pass birdin' great innit?

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Sad to see on other websites tonight that apparently the Western Orphean Warbler was found dead.

Not suprising really, the bird hardly moved. It stayed for long periods in the bushes to the corner of the Bowling Green and was clearly exhausted.

It's desperation was clear to see when flycatching. A really sad end to a great bird whilst it lasted.

-- Edited by Phil Owen on Friday 1st of June 2012 11:28:34 PM


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Myself, Mike Duckham and Phil Owen twitched the 1.s male Western Orphean Warbler at Hartlepool Headland yesterday. We were on a Cheshire day race but when the text came through there was simply no choice to but abandon the challenge mere hours into the day.

It took a while to find the warbler on site, but when it did show, although sluggish, it eventually did some fly catching, finally giving better views in the open of it's dusky cap, blackish face mask, plain utc's, buffish underparts and dull eye ring. The most impressive feature for me was it's bill, particularly large.

Another top bird for the headland, anyone taking bets for next spring there?


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28th September p.m. RSPB Saltholme

1 Little Stint
1 Pectoral Sandpiper
1 Baird's Sandpiper (I didnt see this)
1 Blue Winged Teal
plenty of Barnacle Geese
2 Little Egrets
20+ Golden Plovers, Dunlins and Redshanks

plus usuals,


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Went over to Saltholme this afternoon and after a brief view of the Semipalmated Sandpiper from the pools hide had really very good views from the layby on the A178. This was the spot favoured by a lot of birders - it's closer to the causeway and doesn't close at 17.00

Other birds present of interest included Greenshank, Little Gull, Common Tern (adult feeding young), Dunlin, Ruff, Gadwall as well as plenty of Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Pied Wagtails.

On the way home called in at Weardly, to the rear of the Harewood estate where I picked up a minimum of 12 Red Kites in the 20 or so minutes that I was there.


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Semi P. Sandpiper at West Saltholme.

I have confirmation that the Semi P. was indeed still present last night (Thurs at 8.10 p. m.) despite apparent negative news on the info services; source: Colin Dodsworth, (totally reliable ).
Cheers and good luck to any travelling up.
Mike P.


Challenges are inevitable, but failure is optional.

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Saltholme RSPB Reserve.
Bolton RSPB trip visiting between 10 to 2 today.
Around the feeders:
Reed Buntings
Gt Tits
Allotment Pool: smile.gif Sand Martins 2
Little Grebe 1
Adjacent shrubs and trees:
Long Eared Owls 3 (smile.gif one viewed full on with its eyes open.)
Green Woodpecker (heard only)

Around the pools: Canada Geese c 35
Greylag 9
Mute Swan 6
Gadwall 6, Goldeneye 8, GC Grebe 5,Pochard 14,Redshank 6, Oystercatchers 5,
Golden Plover 4 ,Pied Wagtail 2, Shell Duck c15, Tufties c 30, Curlew 2, Pintail 1,
Widgeon and Teal plenty.
Meadow Pipits 6 ( 1 showing song flight)
Mainly Bh Gulls with a few Common among them.
.........And a few Mad March Hares.

-- Edited by keith mills on Monday 14th of March 2011 10:14:54 AM




Rumworth List 2019, species to date: 63 Latest: Sand Martin, Reed Bunting, Redshank, Pink-footed Goose, Curlew.



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After 2 this afternoon. Bolton RSPB group at Greatham Creek and SEAL SANDS NNR, North Teeside:

Avocets 23 in small pool north of creek.
Shovelers 4 in same pool
Shell Duck c 30 all around Bay and Pools
Redshank c 30 Bay and Creek
smile.gifCommon Seals 51 on sands and 4 swimming down creek
Grey Plover 3 with seals on sands
Stock Dove 3 on OWL box
Dunlin c 250 on Sands
Bar Tailed Godwits 11
Pintails 4 in Bay
Widgeon ....Plenty
Turnstone 6 in creek
Curlew c35 Spread around ,mainly in Bay
Goldeneye 2
Did not have time to check Gulls

-- Edited by keith mills on Monday 14th of March 2011 10:18:28 AM




Rumworth List 2019, species to date: 63 Latest: Sand Martin, Reed Bunting, Redshank, Pink-footed Goose, Curlew.



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Saturday trip to Teeside with my Dad.

First stop was Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park for the Ring-Necked Duck. Got brilliant views as most of the lake had frozen leaving only a small area of free water near to the main viewing point.
Other ducks seen were Gadwall, Tufted Duck & Pochard.
On the feeders/bird tables in the car park:
Tree Sparrow
Reed Bunting
Blue Tit
Great Tit

Next stop was RSPB Saltholme although we didn't actually do a full trip round the reserve, we stopped for lunch in the cafe (superb chips by the way) before moving up the A178 to the Teesmouth Reserve car park. We walked over the Greatham Creek bridge and then up the side of the creek towards Seal Sands.

Near the road bridge:
Lots of seals!!
Ringed Plover
Red Breasted Merganser

Not much on the creek itself apart from a few seals which seemed to follow us up, having a good nosey all the way.

Good numbers of Shoveler on the pools next to the creek but the best for me was the Black-Necked Grebe at the mouth of the creek.

We had gone looking for Short-Eared Owls and there had been 2 reported in that area regularly but we didn't manage to find them. We did, however, manage to see 2 Barn Owls. There is a Barn Owl box in one of the fields and we just happened to be looking at it through the bins (more in hope than expectation!) and the Barn Owl decided to pop its head out then came out and stood on its "porch" giving great views. We then saw a second Barn Owl near the car park. They were definitely 2 separate birds as the one which came out of the box was quite dark and the second one was much lighter.

I was a bit disappointed not to find the SEO as my Dad has been really wanting to see one ever since they moved up to Northumberland. However the good views of the Barn Owl, Ring-Necked Duck & BN Grebe more than made up for it!!!

-- Edited by Holly Page on Monday 31st of January 2011 04:26:03 PM


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Heavy Drizzle inhibited me from an early start joining pals for a seawatch at Whitburn, so I went off to Teesmouth to check the sea from Hartlepool headland, with the added incentive of trying to add last night's Wryneck to my Cleveland list.

I called in at Saltholme Pools where I relocated the adult Black-necked Grebe on Saltholme (east) Pool, also noting the long staying (2 1/2 weeks now) juv. Whiskered Tern still at rest on the causeway on Saltholme (west) Pool, - the RSPB side.
Other species present: Shovellers, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufties, Dunlins, Ruffs, Black-tailed Godwits, (plus usual support caste).

On to Hartlepool by 9 am and a seawatch which became perceptibly quieter over the ensuing 50 mins:

100's of Kittiwakes, all north; about 20 Gannets both north and south; 24 Common Scoter in one party,north; Arctic Skuas, 1 north, 4 south; Bonxies just 1 north 1 south; Sooty Shearwater 1 north; plus odd Sandwich Terns, Fulmars, Guillemots, Cormorants.
-All in all pretty steady, but a few year ticks nevertheless, and strangely, during my 50 mins. no Manx Shearwaters.

Back at Hartlepool, I sat around with several photographers at the Croft (the site of the Dark-throated Thrush several months ago; - opposite Verrill's chippy).
Sure enough the sun popped out and so did the Wryneck, hopping and poking around on the ground only some 25 feet away in a herbaceous border and under a park bench; - 10 mins of magic, and my bird of the day by a good margin.

I found out later that Whitburn did produce a potential County Durham tick for me, a passing Balearic Shearwater; but then again one can't be everywhere, and I was really chuffed with the Wryneck.
Roll on autumn!

Mike P.


Challenges are inevitable, but failure is optional.

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