Teesmouth National Nature Reserve
Teesmouth is a National Nature Reserve with a difference, it is surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of heavy industry in Britain. The reserve covers 350 hectares in two sections separated by Hartlepool Power Station. North Gare lies to the north, and Seal Sands to the south.
For North Gare, access is on foot from the car park, off the A178. Old sea walls, sand dunes and areas of salt marsh, mingle across the site. The dunes and salt marsh support a wide variety of plants , and in winter large flocks of birds roost at Seaton Snook.
For Seal Sands, leave your vehicle in the car park at Cowpen Marsh, cross the road, turn left and use the Seal Sands Easy Access Path alongside Greatham Creek. The mudflats are exposed at lowtide, and are home to Common and Grey Seals and the winter home for hundreds of Shelduck. Two observation hides are available.
At any time of the year, interesting birds can be seen. Migratory ducks and waders have always visited the estuary. In winter, Knot from Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, Shelduck, Teal and Sanderling are seen. In spring, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Snipe nest. Sandwich Terns, having bred further north, stay for a few weeks during July and August. Cormorant, Curlew and Redshank arrive in large numbers for the autumn.
More than 20,000 individual waterfowl visit Teesmouth during the year. Durham University research since the 1960s has enable Teesmouth to make an enormous contribution to international scientific understanding of wading birds. Apart from the wildfowl and waders, Short Eared Owls hunt across the North Gare, while Merlin and Peregrine enjoy rich pickings on Seal Sands. Skylark and Meadow Pipit nest on the fixed dunes.
Of all the plants here, perhaps the most spectacular are four different species of Marsh Orchids which flower in June and July on the damp dune grassland behind North Gare sands. Although less colourful, there are two nationally scarce species of grass. Sand Couch, Marram Grass and Lyme Grass colonise the dunes.
Despite the enormous impact of industry on the area, the reserve is not the only part of the Tees Estuary to have special significance for nature. The reserve boundaries encompass two sites of Special Scientific Interest, together with parts of a further four, these make up the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, which is of international importance for wildlife.
Teesmouth National Nature Reserve is managed by Natural England, who welcome voluntary help on the site.
The reserve is located one mile east of the A178, north of Middlesbrough. It can be accessed by bus on Stagecoach service 1/1A, which operates every half an hour between Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
Teesmouth Field Centre Tel: (01429) 264912