Seal watching in Teesmouth

14 October 2011

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Grey Seal Greatham Creek, TeesmouthGrey Seal Greatham Creek, Teesmouth

Teesmouth NNR is a nature reserve with a difference. Set against a back drop of heavy industry, it shows how nature can adapt and thrive in the most unlikely situations.

The estuary mudflats and salt marsh support thousands of birds; when the tide is out hundreds of waders, including redshank and dunlin, peck through the mud looking for protein-rich invertebrates. Teal, ruff, curlew sandpiper and bar-tailed godwit have all arrived on the estuary in large numbers this month. A sharp-tailed sandpiper put in a recent rare appearance – this bird spends its summers in the far north-east of Siberia and usually migrates south to Australasia, and only around thirty have ever been seen in Britain.  Perhaps it arrived with curlew sandpipers, which also breed in Siberia.


The colony of harbour seals hit a new high with the most number of pups born ever (16) and the highest count ever (77).  This is a great time to watch the seals as they are hauled out on the mudflats in large numbers for their annual moult.  The seals are as predictable as the tides and can be seen hauled out at high and low tides or swimming between sites at mid tide.  You may even be lucky enough to see them sliding down the muddy banks at their haul out to play and fish in the water.

You can join in with events at Teesmouth; there are seal watches, a night walk and the river mouth ramble and quiz all coming up this autumn. For more details find us at or on facebook at Teesmouth National Nature Reserve.

Posted by Joannah Collins, Community Outreach Adviser, Natural England NNR Delivery Team – North

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