This is one of the area’s most important wildlife sites given its location at the very heart of Teesside. The wetland nature reserve attracts hundreds of birds each year and it provides a home to an exciting variety of mammals, amphibians, insects and wildflowers.
A network of surfaced footpaths allow visitors to explore reed beds from which views open out onto a series of shallow and deeper water pools.
During the winter months redshank and lapwing are present in good numbers; they feed on the river bank and take refuge on the marsh at high tide. Shoveler, pochard, tufted duck and teal frequent the pools, occasionally joined by goldeneye or scaup. Common snipe can number several hundred and kingfisher, grey wagtail and bullfinch are easy to spot, offering a touch of colour to brighten up the short, dull days.
In spring the reserve is visited by wheatear and whinchat. This is a reliable spot for grasshopper warbler and other common warblers including whitethroat, willow warbler, blackcap and sedge warbler. Sand martins are often the first of the summer migrants to arrive while common terns arrive in the second week of May and remain throughout the summer.
Summer is the quietest period for birds. Little grebe, coot, moorhen and lapwing all breed, as do mute swan and Canada goose. Little ringed plovers have bred in the past. Common terns resting on the main pool are sometimes joined by one or two Sandwich terns.
Wild flowers, butterflies and dragonflies provide the main interest of the summer months. Grey and common seals can be seen on the Tees, gorging themselves on salmon and sea trout, while otters have been spotted moving between the river and the reserve. Otter was first recorded on the marsh in 2004 having made a remarkable return to the Tees after being absent for some thirty years.
By late summer significant amounts of mud can be exposed and waders such as dunlin, black-tailed godwit, greenshank and ruff can be seen probing for food. Gadwall and wigeon are at their commonest during the autumn passage.
In winter it is good place to see large flocks of starlings swirling and turning in the sky before they come to settle and roost in the reeds.
Why not combine a visit with an exciting activity with the