First phase of £300k nature reserve refurbishment completed

Robert Woods (TET Secretary) and David Kitchen (TET Chair)  in one of the newly refurbished hides.
Robert Woods (TET Secretary) and David Kitchen (TET Chair) in one of the newly refurbished hides.

A nature reserve on the outskirts of Hartlepool is celebrating after completing the first phase of a large-scale refurbishment project thanks to a substantial funding injection.

So far, two viewing hides at RSPB Saltholme have been upgraded as part of the three-phase refurbishment project which will improve the reserve for birds and other wildlife, while also improving the viewing hide experience for visitors.

The two hides, Paddy’s and Wildlife Watchpoint, were completed in time for the start of the busy spring season.

This included the return of the popular Lambing Live event which saw thousands of visitors experience nature at the much-loved reserve.

The £300,000 project was funded by the Teesside Environmental Trust (TET) earlier this year.

The reserve team called on the skills of Norwegian-based birding architecture specialists, Biotope on the project.

Improvements to the viewing hides include new wooden cladding inside and out, and new windows with a special coating to help repel dirt - a must to keep the landscapes as clear as possible for nature-lovers.

The wildlife watchpoint also features new electric doors and a new entrance area making it even more accessible.

David Braithwaite, site manager, at RSPB Saltholme, said: “We’re thrilled to have completed the first phase of the project following the funding from our valued partners at Teesside Environmental Trust.

“The work would not have been possible without the additional funding and we’re extremely grateful for the Trust’s ongoing support.

“The upgraded hides look fantastic and we’ve had some great comments from our visitors who are already making use of the improved structures.

“They provide our visitors with an amazing view across the reserve.

“The windows - which repel dirt and water - allow completely open viewing which is perfect for those who want a clear view of the birds with their binoculars, telescopes or cameras.”

Phase two of the project includes a raised viewing area and habitat management to improve the wetland wildlife environment.

David Kitchen, chair of Teesside Environmental Trust, said: “Phase one of the upgrade project has been very successful.

“This has been confirmed by feedback from our visitors.

“The new look viewing structures look great, and improve wildlife viewing.

“We hope visitors to Saltholme enjoy the ongoing improvements, make use of this regional treasure and introduce new people to Saltholme.”