Image Credit: Edward Makin, RSPB Images

Saltholme has been filled with the sounds of returning summer this week, with the screams of black-headed gulls now mingling with the calls of common tern. The warblers give them a run for their money, with a range of species shouting from the reeds and bushes. It’s a busy time for our staff and volunteers too, making sure the reserve is optimal for wildlife and visitors alike. Read on to find out more.

News from the Estate:

If you were here on Thursday, you may have seen some of our islands moving. Don’t worry, there hasn’t been an earthquake and the islands haven’t grown legs; our estates team have been re-floating the tern rafts.

Image Credit: Josh Swales

These tern rafts are man-made islands that provide ideal nesting locations for common terns. Why are they only just being put out now? Well, the black-headed gulls have a tendency to take over these islands if they are re-floated too early in the season. So, we wait until the first few terns have arrived before proving them with nesting sites. As they have now arrived, it’s time to greet them! Here’s to a good breeding season!

It’s not just the birds that are getting ready for the warmer weather; bees and butterflies are also starting to look for suitable basking spots. These areas tend to be patches of bare ground. So, the work party have been weeding the gravel paths to ensure the butterflies and other insects can sunbathe to their hearts’ content!

What’s On:

It’s been a walking sort of week this week.

On Wednesday, we had a great time with Going for Independence on their sensory walk around our discovery zone. These walks give a completely different perspective on our reserve; we focus on the textures of plants, the calls of birds, the sounds of wind through the reedbeds and the scent of spring flowers. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to slow down and take in our wonderful reserve, and one we hope to repeat in the future.

Image Credit: Mark Stokeld 

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme this year being tackling Loneliness. The benefits of nature on mental wellbeing are well-known, and walks are an ideal way to meet new people with similar interests. We are combining all of these aspects into a Nature Walk and Talk, taking place at 2pm on Friday 13th May. Join us for a guided walk of our beautiful site; chat to people with similar interests (and feel free to continue these conversations in the café afterwards!) whilst taking in the nature all around you. Seems like a good way to spend a Friday afternoon to us! 

Recent Sightings:

Image Credit: Ben Andrew, RSPB Images

On Wednesday, we saw the unmistakeable silhouette of a swift! These beautiful birds are incredible fliers, reaching speeds of nearly 70 miles per hour. They can sleep, eat and even mate on the wing. Not bad for something that weighs less than 50 grams!

Image Credit: Steve Round, RSPB Images

Swifts travel from the continent of Africa to Saltholme. Another species that makes this journey is the wood sandpiper. We have seen one of these yellow-legged waders from our Saltholme Pools hide this week. This bird may well be using our site as a stop-off point on its way to its northern breeding grounds.

Image Credit: Ben Hall, RSPB Images

But there are plenty of species that are breeding here; our black-headed gulls have been sitting on nests for a while, and this week the first few chicks have started to hatch! Keep an eye out for these mottled brown chicks on your next visit.

And the little ringed plovers are not far behind- they are now on a nest! What’s even better is that you can see the nest from our Saltholme Pools hide.

As always, we do not have enough space to do more than highlight just a few of the species seen at Saltholme. One of our hide guides- Ian Robinson- has recorded a much more holistic depiction of what is out and about on the reserve. You can watch it here.

Well, that’s another week done and dusted. We hope to see you soon!

References and Additional Reading

eBird (2022). Wood Sandpiper [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 12/05/2022].

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2022). Black-headed Gull [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 11/05/2022].

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2022). Common Tern [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 11/05/2022].

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2022). Little Ringed Plover [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 12/05/2022].

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2022). Swift [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 11/05/2022].

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2022). Wood Sandpiper [webpage]. Accessed through [last accessed 12/05/2022].