Spring is certainly in the air with dozens of lambs due to arrive into the world at a nature reserve.
Thousands of animal lovers are expected to flock to RSPB Saltholme, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, over the next two weeks to see the new arrivals.
The Mail was invited to the reserve yesterday for a special sneak preview of Lambing Live which begins today.
Between 40 and 50 lambs are expected to be born between now and April 15.
Aimee Lee, visitor experience manager, said: “We do have lambs on site now and are awaiting the arrival of many more any time now.
“Some of the sheep look like they are about to go into labour at any minute.
“They are really, really popular. It is our biggest event of the year and we are expecting thousands and thousands of people. In the past we have had 800 people a day just to see them.
“We are the only RSPB reserve in the North East of England so people come from quite far to see us.
“As well as local people, Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire are our catchment area.”
Once, born the Shetland lambs will be on view to visitors in Saltholme’s lambing sheds where they bond with their mothers before moving out on to the reserve on Seaton Carew Road.
Aimee added: “They are hardy sheep and are really good at delivering the lambs themselves.
“They spend a couple of days in the sheds to make sure they are bonding with their mums and when they are a bit sturdier they go in the paddock for a week and then onto the fields.
“They will stay on the reserve. We use them for grazing.”
Among the sheep due to lamb this year is Moo, who has proved a popular sight at Saltholme since being born during last year’s Lambing Live.
Moo’s mum was lucky to survive a series of dog attacks in 2015-16 when 50 sheep were killed.
Visitors can hold baby chicks for the first time at the reserve, make finger puppet arts and crafts and take part in a special quest to win a certificate.
Games and activities are also available throughout Lambing Live event with giant Jenga, hoops and bowling, and Gator rides over the Easter weekend.
Entry to the reserve is £2.50 per car during Lambing Live while there is no cost for those travelling by public transport or RSPB members. Children’s activity passes are £5.