“A well-loved urban nature reserve“
I n the heart of Blaydon, you can find a well-established freshwater pond. The site is situated adjacent to the A1 motorway, just before it reaches into the larger city of Newcastle and travels over the River Tyne. Grey Herons and Cormorants can often be seen resting in the trees on the large island and have remained loyal to the area for over three decades. In recent times Little Egrets have started to visit on the rare occasion.
Visitors to Shibdon can enjoy a relaxing walk around the pond and the surrounding meadows, across a legendary boardwalk that travels into the reeds along the outskirts of the pond. This is truly a great experience as visitors immerse themselves in this ‘wildlife oasis’. The path brings visitors through areas of grassland and woodland, where a chorus of passerines can be heard, singing their hearts out during the spring/summer months, which includes, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Willow Warblers. Jay’s can often be found and if you are lucky a Red Kite from the nearby Thornley Woods.
The pond is popular with waders, especially during the autumn months, which can include Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Green, Red or Spotted Redshanks, Curlews and Snipe. Lapwings love the reserve and are frequently present in flocks of 50-300+.
Smaller waders such as Stints and Plovers also come to visit. These can often be best viewed from the bird hide, however Sandpipers tend to enjoy the full perimeter. Whimbrel pass through during migration.
Multi-coloured Shelducks visit from the banks of the Tyne regularly, which for many is a highlight for this freshwater haven. Water Rails and on the very rare occasion Bitterns and Spotted Crakes have been found hiding in the reeds. A wide variety of Gulls are present, which can include Common, and Mediterranean Gull if you’re very lucky. One of the loudest species announcing their arrival can be Common Terns during the spring and summer.
A selection of Butterflies and Dragonflies help enhance the experience. Shibdon is part of an important wildlife corridor, which includes the nearby Thornley Woods,
Following a recent incident involving a number of factors, sadly the pond lost all its water during the summer of 2022. Efforts are needed to help the reserve not only retain its freshwater, but also to increase how much it can store. There is a sluice present also which helps to manage the water levels as the seasons change. This sluice maybe damaged and its operation needs to be controlled/maintained appropriately in a timely fashion. Recent budget cuts have reduced support from Gateshead Council and the Covid era has reduced management work spent supporting the site. However, it has been over eight years, since it was last dredged and there has been very little signs of efforts/work spent on this reserve over past eight years. As an important site for wildlife, more time and efforts are needed to help restore what was a large expanse of freshwater, packed with wildlife all year round.
A new ‘Friends of Shibdon Pond‘ group has been created on facebook to help raise awareness for this important local wildlife haven. Not only will changes be needed to help the reserve retain its freshwater, but support to help restore wildlife that has now been so sadly lost.
- Freshwater Pond
There is free access to the nature reserve. A circular path surrounds the pond, with a wooden boardwalk stretching along the outskirts of the reserve.
There is a locked bird hide, close to the main road. There are shops nearby and facilities in the nearby Blaydon shopping centre. There is also a swimming pool adjacent to the reserve and a medical provision with toilets.
There is free parking nearby close to the swimming pool/health centre.