A NATURE reserve is thriving with wildlife thanks to the efforts of conservationists and volunteers.
The Teesmouth National Nature Reserve has seen a surge in butterflies, wild flowers and seals over the summer.
Volunteers from the Friends of Teesmouth group say its thanks to the dry weather and work of various conservation agencies.
Over the summer Natural England and other volunteers carried out 25 weekly butterfly surveys.
Reserve manager Mike Leakey said: “We have had a great year for butterflies. Altogether 971 individual butterflies were recorded on those days, with the most abundant being meadow brown followed by green-veined white and ringlet.”
The Tees Seals Research Programme counted 110 harbour seals in a study in September, up on the same time last year.
Almost 40 per cent more grey seals were spotted than August 2012 when the previous highest number for years was counted.
And a Wetland Bird Survey count in October showed the highest autumn count of wigeon ducks for 20 years at more than 1,600.
Hartlepool Countryside Volunteers also removed sea club-rush and silt from a 40 metre stretch of ditch at North Gare in October to help the site’s regionally-important common toad population to breed.
“It has been a wonderful summer for wildlife,” said Jill Oberlin-Harris, one of the founder members of Friends of Teesmouth group.
“We have a small group of volunteers who keep an eye on what goes on, pick up litter, report problems, and next year are planning to organise some educational walks and events to show people just what is on their doorstep that makes it so special.”
The group is appealing for more volunteers, in particular a treasurer, and say the reserve offers great opportunities for field work by biology or geography students and Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteers.
For more details about how to get involved see the Friends of Teesmouth’s Facebook page.