RSPB Saltholme ready to welcome summer visitors

Lakeside homes up for grabs - but only if you have feathers

The tern rafts

Sand Martins investigate the nest holes

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant News Editor

HOMES with a lakeside view are up for grabs at a North-East nature reserve.

However, these sought after properties may not be suitable for the human population – as they have been built with avian residents in mind.

Some very special migrants are expected to spend the summer months at RSPB Saltholme on Teesside and, with a bit of luck, raise their families too. To prepare, staff and volunteers at the nature reserve, near Seaton Carew, have been busy readying the purpose-designed homes for the new arrivals.

A specially constructed sand martin bank is already humming with activity as the birds started to arrive a couple of weeks ago, and this week the team at Saltholme is returning the specially constructed tern rafts to the main lake, just in time for the return of the common terns to the reserve.

David Braithwaite, Site Manager, said: “We work hard to provide the perfect homes for our wildlife here at Saltholme and our summer visitors are no different.

"The man-made sand martin bank is looking like it might have its most successful year - every nesting hole is being investigated by interested potential tenants.

“We use special cockleshell-covered rafts for the common terns to nest on, as we can carefully time when we put the rafts out on to the lake. This is really important because black headed gulls like to nest in the same kind of place, but nest earlier.

"The rafts mean that the black headed gulls can nest on the permanent islands, and the common terns have their own place on the rafts.”

The tern rafts have been bought with kind donations from Teeside Environmental Trust and Teesmouth Bird Club, who are long-term supporters of Saltholme. The rafts have been anchored with rope donated by Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team.

David Braithwaite added: “These successful artificial nest sites are wonderful to see, and really easy to view too.
"You can watch the activity at both the sand martin bank and the tern rafts from the comfort of the visitor centre.”

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