Just beyond the North Tyneside Border, as you cross over into Northumberland, with the coast to the east you can find the town of Holywell. Holywell Pond which is rich in birds, is adjacent to the former estate associated with Seaton Delavel Hall which is now managed and owned by the National Trust. Holywell Pond, is managed by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and is a large subsidence pond with reed beds, woodland and grassland along the outskirts.
The pond can be enjoyed from the west from the NWT members bird hide, (keys are available to members of the NWT for a small charge) or from a pubic hide to the east where access is free. There are bird feeders to the left and right of the NWT hide and there is a feeding station, with a screen along the main path between the two hides; which is accessible to the public.
A Little Grebe
The bird feeders at times prove popular with Brambling during the winter months. A small team of NWT volunteer wardens help manage the reserve. Holywell Pond is great for wildfowl all year round and attracts a good selection of birds throughout the year. Since the landfill closed in Seghill, the site is less popular with Gulls, however still attracts good numbers at times, which can include Mediterranean Gull.
The exposed mud areas in front of the public hide attract at times waders such as Common, Curlew, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Little Stint, Golden and Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Spotted Redshank; and Curlew, Lapwing and Snipe.
In the 1980’s the site was well known for a resident Ring-necked Duck which remained in the area for a few years. Other wildfowl of note have included an American Wigeon in 2015, an Egyptian Goose in 2014 and a Red-crested Pochard in 1999. In recent years there has also been a couple of inland records of Slavonian Grebe’s which were very popular with local wildlife photographers.
A well maintained path travels along the back of the reserve from the A190 and to Holywell Dene. This area is well loved by Goldfinches and Yellowhammers. During the spring/summer months a good selection of Warblers are present, which can include Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat.
Over the past two decades the familiar Grey Partridges have been joined by Red-legged Partridges and the northern expansion of Little Egrets has inevitably, brought individuals to Holywell Pond also. These visits continue to be infrequent at the moment and don’t attract as many birders, when compared to the 1992 bird, which was considered a major twitch for the county at the time.
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Wheelchair users can usually access this nature reserve easily. Vegetation can at times be overgrown on route to the bird hide. A downloadable access sheet is available from the NWT website at www.nwt.org.uk
Members of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust can obtain keys for a small charge to the locked hide, which is located to the left of the reserve. There is no public access to this hide.
To the right of the reserve there is a second hide, which is accessible to the public. There are toilets in the nearby town of Seaton Delaval.
Visitors can park in the Holywell housing estate.
More information is available from the NWT website at www.nwt.org.uk