TWO wildlife ponds have been filled with water to mark the completion of a new nature reserve.
The 40 metre by 20 metre ponds are part of a £38,000 wildlife project which has been created to the south of Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn.
The new reserve is expected to attract rare birds, including snow and Lapland bunting, and a variety of other wildlife.
Visitors can now explore the site using a new viewing area and information point.
The ponds were filled by the fire service over two days.
Steve Egglestone, from the South Tyneside Coastal Conservation Group (STCCG), which is leading the project, said: “We hoped the ponds would be filled naturally, but there hasn’t been enough rain over the past couple of months.
“The fire service came out and filled them as part of a training exercise.
“It’s great to get to this stage because it has taken a lot of work to get here, and we hope the nature reserve will be something for local people and visitors to enjoy.”
Work started at the site in January after STCCG, a group made up of 12 conservation volunteers, secured National Lottery funding.
The two ponds were originally created at the site more than a decade ago, and were originally lined with clay, but they failed to hold water and quickly dried up.
As part of the new project, they have been coated with butyl, a rubber substance which is more resistant.
STCCG has organised the scheme with the help of the National Trust, which runs Souter Lighthouse.
The Trust helped the group to secure finance from the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund, which distributes cash to community causes.
The group’s volunteers were at Souter Lighthouse for a special celebration of the nature reserve, last Sunday.
They were joined by the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside Coun Jim Sewell and his wife Rosemary, and representatives from the National Trust and the Big Lottery Fund.
Mr Egglestone added: “We have a beautiful stretch of coastline, and this will be a place for wildlife to thrive, and for people to come to watch and learn about nature.”