Pond life is for the birds

NEW PONDS ... Front Dougie Holden, of the Coastal Conservation Group. Left, Nick Dolan, National Trust property manager, group members Steve Eggleston, John Sullivan, Keith McAlpine, and the National Trust's Mick Simpson..
NEW PONDS ... Front Dougie Holden, of the Coastal Conservation Group. Left, Nick Dolan, National Trust property manager, group members Steve Eggleston, John Sullivan, Keith McAlpine, and the National Trust's Mick Simpson..
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VOLUNTEERS braved freezing temperatures to launch a major coastal wildlife project.

Members of the Coastal Conservation Group started work on two new ponds in Whitburn Coastal Park Local Nature Reserve, near Souter Lighthouse.

SPLASHING OUT ... front, Dougie Holden, of the Coastal Conservation Group. From back left, Nick Dolan, National Trust property manager, group members Steve Egglestone, John Sullivan, Keith McAlpine, and the National Trust's Mick Simpson.

SPLASHING OUT ... front, Dougie Holden, of the Coastal Conservation Group. From back left, Nick Dolan, National Trust property manager, group members Steve Egglestone, John Sullivan, Keith McAlpine, and the National Trust's Mick Simpson.

The wetland spaces are being built in a bid to develop bird habitats, as well as create better views on the coast through a special accessible screen.

Information about local wildlife will also be featured.

Earlier, the Improvements to Whitburn Point Nature Reserve project was awarded £38,156 of funding through the Community Spaces programme, managed by Groundwork UK as an Award Partner to the Big Lottery Fund.

Nick Dolan, property manager with National Trust, which is also working on the project, said: “The group’s ambitions will be fulfilled thanks to the kindness of the Community Spaces programme.

“Their hard work in putting the bid together has been rewarded, and it is great to have a start date so the ideas can be put into practise.

“More places of interest on the coast can only be a good thing, giving more reasons for people to enjoy the outdoors and get closer to nature.”

Coastal Conservation Group member Doug Holden said the volunteers have enjoyed working closely with the National Trust to deliver the project.

“We are absolutely delighted that the Big Lottery funding panel have agreed to support our bid,” he added.

“Their generosity has enabled the creation of this much-needed fresh water habitat.

“It will be a fantastic addition to this already beautiful stretch of coastline.

“Not only will the completed project be hugely beneficial to our local wildlife, hopefully it will encourage more and more people to connect with the great outdoors and enable them to take wildlife watching to the next level, by enjoying stunning close views of some of our rarer and seldom seen bird species from one of the purpose-built viewing screens.”

Mick Simpson, National Trust Warden for Whitburn Coastal Park and The Leas, said: “This clearly illustrates what can be achieved by working in partnership with bodies such as South Tyneside Council and the Coastal Conservation Group.

“And when completed the ponds will be an asset to the South Tyneside coastline further enhancing the visitor experience for all.”

The work will hopefully be finshed by March 9, with an official launch of the completed project to be held at the site and at Souter Lighthouse on April 1.

The date coincides with the 25th anniversary of the National Trust’s ownership of The Leas cliff top grassland.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho