Grassholme reservoir area

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Grassholme is one of five major reservoirs in the area
The five reservoirs that lie in the stone-walled valley's of Lunedale and Baldersdale are Grassholme (57.6 hectares),Selset reservoir (107.3 hectares),Balderhead reservoir (111.3 hectare),Blackton reservoir (26.7 hectare) and Hury reservoir (50.6 hectare).
Grassholme reservoir lies to the east of Selset and was built in 1915. Huge flocks of up to 2000 black-headed gulls can be seen on the wetlands near the main inflow between March and June. Although many of the gulls gathered are from other areas of England such as the North-East and East Anglia, some have been recorded from as far afield as Denmark.
Ducks are also common visitors to the reservoir, including widgeon and teal.. Other wildfowl such as tufted duck, coot and moorhen breed here, often building their nests under the cover of the tall vegetation that grows around the edges of the reservoir.
The reservoir is entirely surrounded by grassland with small pockets of woodland, the grassland is used as breeding grounds by waders that include snipe, oystercatcher and lapwing.
The Reservoir is well worth a visit in late autumn to see the waders, when disturbed, fly up in huge flocks that look like thick clouds. A colony of jackdaws also live here in disused rabbit burrows.
Grassholme is situated in Lunedale, between the B6276 Middleton-in-Teesdale road and an unclassified road running from Mickleton to Kelton. Turn off the B6277 at Mickleton - signposted to Grassholme. The entrance to the main car park and Visitor Centre is about 3 kilometres along the road on the right. The Pennine Way forms the eastern boundary of the site.
Grid Reference: NY 949 226 Click here for a location map....
Visitors are welcome on the site throughout the year. The centre is usually open from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm, April to October. This incorporates toilets, a warden's office and fishing lodge, a tea room with refreshments in the summer, and an information room which features a 'hands-on' exhibition giving details of the recreational opportunities in the area and current conservation initiatives. Toilets are accessible for visitors with disabilities. There is no entrance fee.
A recently built hide complete with identification chart, looks out over the reserve and is an excellent place for viewing these birds. It is accessible on foot and designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

Selset Reservoir

Selset Reservoir

Selset is 107.3 hectares, the largest of the two reservoirs in Lunedale, the other being Grassholme (above). It was constructed in 1960 and lies at an altitude of 310 metres.
There are large conifer plantations on the southern side surrounded by acid and marshy grassland - the latter often dominated by purple moor grass. There are also flushed areas and scattered broad-leaved trees.
From October to February, mallard and teal are regular visitors. A small number of pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye and goosander have wintered here since bird recording began in the late 1970s. Whooper swans have also been seen in small numbers. The reservoir can be an important winter roost for black-headed, great black-backed and common gulls.
In the summer months meadow pipit, skylark, whinchat, tree pipit, twite, curlew, lapwing, redshank and snipe may be seen on the surrounding grasslands and heath.
The deciduous woodland surrounding Selset is home to breeding spotted flycatcher and redstarts. Osprey are regularly seen on passage during the spring and autumn. Short-eared owl may be seen hunting on the southern side of the reservoir during late summer and early autumn.
Yellow wagtails are regularly recorded in summer. Unlike the grey wagtail, which prefers fast flowing streams, the yellow wagtail chooses water meadows and marshy fields for its breeding territory. Teesdale is one of the last strongholds for this species and is also the northerly limit of its range within Britain; it breeds only sparsely in southern Scotland.
Click here for a location map.....

Where to watch Birds in North East England

Where to watch Birds in North East England

Balderhead Reservoir

Balderhead Reservoir was built in 1965 at an altitude of 330 metres. High in the upper reaches of Baldersdale it is surrounded by open moorland.
Numerous small streams flowing off the adjacent peaty moorlands enter the 111.3 hectare reservoir. This results in the relatively large water body being nutrient poor and dystrophic (peat stained).
Unimproved grassland, both wet and dry, forms the majority of the habitat surrounding Balderhead. The dry grassland is dominated by wavy hair-grass, sheep's fescue and common bent, whilst the wet grassland is dominated by heath rush. Because of their steep-sides, the gills retain an element of moorland flora such as heather and bilberry. Flushes dominated by sharp-flowered rush and mosses occur in the bottom of the gills, along with scattered trees of birch and rowan.
Small pockets of native trees, including oak, wych elm, scots pine and ash have been planted in sheltered locations on the northern and southern sides of the reservoir. There is also remnant juniper scrub on the banks of Hunder Beck and additional juniper was planted in 1998 to restore this characteristic upland habitat. Juniper is best known as a flavouring used in gin, but the berries can also be boiled, and the resultant steam inhaled as a cure for bronchitis.
Mallard regularly visit Balderhead in the winter, as do wigeon, tufted duck, goldeneye, teal, cormorant and goosander. Whooper swans and white-fronted geese are also sometimes recorded here in winter months.
The surrounding grassland forms important feeding areas for waders such as curlew, redshank, golden plover and snipe that breed on the surrounding moorland. Populations of these species have suffered national declines in recent years, due to destruction of their habitat. Common sandpiper and oystercatcher breed along the reservoir margins and merlin and kestrel (above) may be seen hunting in this area.
Click here for a location map.....

Blackton Reservoir

Blackton is the shallowest of the Teesdale reservoirs and was built in 1896 at an altitude of 270 metres. The western end of the 26.7 hectare reservoir is important for wildfowl.
The grassland by Birk Hat Farm contains meadow foxtail, crested dog’s-tail and sweet vernal-grass.
Characteristic woodland herbs such as bluebell, wood anemone and wood sorrel can also be found. These shade loving plants indicate that the area was formerly covered in woodland. Semi-natural woodland is still present around the steep-sided gills with birch, rowan, goat willow and hawthorn present.
Due to the variety of wildlife habitats there are quite a number of birds associated with the site including mistle thrush, song thrush, blackbird and great tit. Populations of song thrush have declined rapidly over the last few years due to habitat destruction and this is a valuable site for their conservation. Wheatear, meadow pipit and skylark, whose populations have also declined dramatically, are found in the grassland. Coot, moorhen, sedge warbler and reed bunting nest at the western end of the reservoir.
Herons and a variety of waders including oystercatcher, snipe, redshank and curlew visit the site to feed, especially when the reservoir has been drawn-down, exposing the muddy margins at the western end. Wildfowl also visit the reservoir during the winter months in small numbers. During bad winters black grouse come down to feed on the birch on the southern and western end of the reservoir.
Click here for a location map....

Hury Reservoir

Hury is a 50.6 hectare reservoir that was built in 1894. It is heavily stocked with rainbow trout, making it a popular place for fishing. It is also an important site for wildlife, particularly over wintering wildfowl such as black-backed gulls and waders.
The numbers of ducks that use the reservoir in the winter well exceed that of nearby reservoirs. The main species are mallard, teal and widgeon. However, numbers of these ducks have been decreasing since the late 1960s.
Hury is also the most important of the Teesdale reservoirs for Canada geese. They were first recorded in 1945 when there were 5 pairs. Since then numbers have been steadily increasing, to more than 200 birds today.
The surrounding grassland is used as breeding grounds by a host of waders, including oystercatcher, curlew, redshank, common sandpiper and lapwing.Large flocks of roosting black-headed and common gulls can also be seen on the reservoir in the winter months.

Click here for a location map.....

Bird photographs from Grassholme reservoir
Bird video from Grassholme reservoir
Grassholme reservoir twitter
Grassholme reservoir blogs and links
Grassholme reservoir local services
Birdwatching walks at Grassholme reservoir

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