Bird-loving visitor numbers soar

STARLINGS by the hundreds have been filling the night sky above Hartlepool – and a nature reserve in making sure bird-watchers are kept warm when they turn up to watch them.

The Saltholme nature reserve is holding evening events called soup and starling evenings where visitors get to watch the birds arrival while enjoying refreshments.

More than 300 visitors, the most ever, have watched in awe as record-numbers of starlings “danced” across the Tees Valley sky.

Visitors travelled from six different counties – from East Yorkshire and Cumbria – to experience the spectacular display of starlings as they gathered to roost at the wildlife reserve and discovery park.

Around 35,000 starlings roost in the Saltholme reedbeds each night.

Rhian Davies, who has led some of the events, said: “Watching the starlings coming in to roost is a real show.

“The anticipation builds as flocks come from all directions and the sky turns black as it fills with thousands of birds swirling through the air.

“A spectacle like this really highlights how important areas like Saltholme are.

“For many of our visitors, soup and starlings events have been the highlight of Saltholme’s programme of activities this year.”

Visitors can still enjoy events at Saltholme throughout December.

For more details, call the reserve on (01642) 546625.