A very popular and well visited country park, which is rich in wildlife. There is an extensive network of paths; great facilities and free parking. Highlights include the Swallow Pond nature reserve and the Rising Sun CP visitor centre, which has toilets and a great cafe. From the main path, a public hide with wheelchair access overlooks the pond, whilst to the west there is a screen hide. Towering to the side of Swallow Pond, there is a pit heap, which is a reminder of the sites mining past. Skylark’s can be heard in the sky above, and in some year’s, Ring Ouzel can be found on the pit heap as they stop off for a break, on their way inland during migration.
Swallow Pond was great for waders in the 80’s, when water levels were much lower in the autumn, attracting rarities such as Black winged Stilt, Pectoral Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper. Other waders such as Common, Curlew, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Little Stint and Ruff were regular visitors. Nowadays water levels are much higher, as nearby trees and vegetation have increased their range and such waders are not now common. The site remains popular with a wide range of wildfowl all year round and has over the past couple of years been a popular stopping off point for Iceland Gulls in the winter. Great Crested Grebes which were once regulars every year, are no longer present very much. Little Grebes remain faithful however as do Pochards. Swallow Pond has always been a favourite for Shoveler, but in recent years numbers have increased with peaks of 56 recorded in 2016.
If your lucky you might see or hear a nearby Water Rail, a local Bullfinch, Willow Tit or even a visiting Crossbill. The site boasts some well established coniferous plantations which are great for Goldcrests and Siskin.
During the spring and summer months Common Terns can be heard, announcing their arrival and the calls of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff are everywhere. As you explore the nearby woodland, Blackcaps can also be found. The nearby farmland and fields are popular with Fieldfares and Redwings in the winter and large groups of Woodpigeons all year round. Other key species to watch out for include Stock Doves, which can usually be found on the fields to the back of the pond, close to the visitor centre and Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, which favour the trees close to the farm and Pit heap during the spring/summer months.
The Rising Sun Country Park has been increasing in popularity and the variety of birds recorded has been increasing again. Jay’s, which were once a rare visitor are now resident and can be easily found. Little Egrets have also started to visit Swallow Pond over the last two years. It would be great to see these as regulars alongside the local Herons.
In the winter of 2013-14 birders gathered in the pubic hide, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Bittern, or some noisy Water Rails. Both usually secretive but showing very well for many on occasions for over a month.
Another highlight for many is the presence of a Red Deer, which can usually be found close to the visitors centre. If your lucky you might also see a Roe Deer or a Fox. Long gone are the Water Voles however, which were once a common sight close to what now is the ‘screen hide’ to the West, which was originally the site of a NWT hide in the 80’s and 90’s. Weasels are no longer as common either and Hares have pretty much vanished from the landscape. The resurgence of Otters in the county has not brought any Otters to Swallow yet.
To the right of the visitor centre and the back of Swallow Pond, another pond can be enjoyed in modern times. Duke’s Pond, which is gradually developing into a great wildlife habitat. This may be small, but it’s always worth a look, as a good selection of birds have been noted.
Tyne & Wear, North Tyneside.
NZ 299 693
There is free public access to the country park. The park is accessible to wheelchair users. Paths can be muddy at times, so appropriate outdoor footwear is recommended.
There are toilets and cafes available at the Rising Sun Countryside Centre.
There is parking available adjacent to the Rising Sun Countryside Centre.
The site is maintained by North Tyneside Council. For more information please visit www.northtyneside.gov.uk
Swallow Pond and the adjacent plantation has been a Local Nature Reserve since 1992.