Image Credit: Ray Kennedy, RSPB Images

There has definitely been a nip in the air this week, as we speed through October at an alarming rate. At the turn of the season, Saltholme is as magnificent as ever. Read on to discover what has been happening this week! 

News from the Estate:

Visitors in the café may have noticed the estates team working in front of the sand martin bank on Tuesday. They have cleared the vegetation from the area and created an open pool in front of the structure. This will not only give our visitors a clearer view of the sand martins come next breeding season, but should also encourage more sand martins to nest there.

What’s On:

This week marked the return of school trips to Saltholme! Due to the lockdowns and restrictions of the last 18 months, these once-regular visits to the reserve could not take place; the pandemic has been a major blow to outdoor education and so the return of schools is very positive. This week, schoolchildren have had the opportunity to go pond dipping, birdwatching, and sweep-netting. They found loads of species, learned lots and, most importantly, had a great time! 

You may have noticed on our social media pages that we have been busy planning lots of events for over the coming months. This week, we have been particularly focusing on our upcoming Halloween Trail. We’ll be setting everything up next week, so keep your eyes peeled for spooky decorations around the reserve. This trail will be available to complete throughout half-term (23-31 October).


The otters are still hanging around the Haverton Viewpoint, and were spotted by some lucky visitors from Northallerton. Also up at Haverton this week has been the ever-popular marsh harrier, accompanied by a common buzzard.

Image Credit: Ben Andrew, RSPB Images

Otters are in the same biological family as badgers, weasels and stoats. However, as they feed mainly on fish, they have become adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Because of this way of life, otters were adversely affected by the high levels of pollution in rivers and waterways during the 20th century. So, the fact that they now have a foothold in our region is a really good sign of continued environmental recovery.

Image Credit: Les Bunyan, RSPB Images

There are around 400 breeding pairs of marsh harriers in the UK. This may seem like a low number, but this is a dramatic improvement compared to the 1970s, where only 1 nesting female was recorded. The majority of the population is found in southern England, so we’re very lucky to have these birds at Saltholme.

A New Blog Section!

One of our hide guide volunteers, Ian Robinson, makes videos of the footage he takes throughout the week at Saltholme. They’re really good summaries of what there is to see on the reserve at any given point in the year. We will be posting links to these videos regularly on this blog, so sit back and enjoy!

References and Extra Reading:

UK Wild Otter Trust (2019). Useful info [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 13/10/2021]

The Wildlife Trusts (2021). Where to see otters [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 13/10/2021]

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2021). Marsh Harrier [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 13/10/2021]

The Wildlife Trusts (2021). Marsh Harrier [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 13/10/2021]

Bird Spot (2021). Marsh Harrier [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 13/10/2021]