A RARE visitor was spotted at the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve for the first time in over two decades.
The reserve provided the stopping off point for a Dotterel – a medium-sized wading bird from the plover family – that has not been seen in the area for almost 22 years.
The birds spend the winter in North Africa and migrate north in spring to their breeding grounds on arctic-alpine heath.
Although, once a fairly common sight across Britain a number of factors have led to a big drop in their numbers and sightings.
Persecuted for sport, their plumage was prized during the 19th and early 20th Century.
Their feathers were also valued by fishermen for making trout flies and the species was also a target for egg collectors and taxidermists.
Joe Davies, of Natural England, which manages the Teesmouth reserve, said: “It may come as a surprise to some, but Teesmouth is much more than just sand dunes and industry; it’s a very special place for wildlife and a vital stopping off point for many species of migratory bird.
“It is a year-round home to a vast wealth of wildlife, and a place for people to visit and enjoy.”
Joe added: “A group of passionate and dedicated individuals who have realised this, have recently joined forces to help look after this special place, forming the Friends of Teesmouth.”
Anyone interested in joining the group can call Joe on 07803 228414 and follow the friends group on Facebook.
Or to find out more about the site, contact the Partnership for Nature on (01429) 853325.