THIS week marks RSPB Saltholme's fifth anniversary.

The wildlife reserve and discovery park, near Seaton Carew, was opened on March 6, 2009 by TV presenter Kate Humble, who helped to plant the reeds that now form part of the extensive reedbed at the site.

The last five years have seen the site transformed from a brownfield site to an area where wildlife can thrive. Not only is the reserve an important sanctuary for a huge variety of birds, but mammals such as harvest mice, water voles, hedgehogs, foxes and even otters and seals take advantage of this carefully managed wetland.

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David Braithwaite, Site Manager at RSPB Saltholme, said: "It's amazing how far we've come in just five short years, and we're so proud of what we've achieved.

"Since opening in 2009, we have been working hard to give nature a home here on Teesside. We've created a variety of special habitats including a special sand bank for sand martins and moveable islands for our colony of common terns.

"My proudest moment was definitely the first sighting of a bittern; a secretive heron-like bird. It actually went on to be seen every month of last year in our reedbeds. This shows what a truly amazing place Saltholme is, and we're so glad to have been able to share it with our 400,000 visitors over the last five years."

Saltholme would not exist without support from Teesside Environmental Trust.

David Kitchen, Chairman of TET, said: "At Saltholme we have shown how a genuine partnership can be successful, and created a model which is being copied by others. We have ambitious plans in place for the next five years to increase the variety and diversity of habitats currently available in the Teesside area."

This weekend (March 8 and 9), staff and volunteers will be putting on a wide range of activities for all ages - from crafts for families, to guided walks for the nature enthusiast. All are welcome.