Wetland project offers new haven for wildlife

PEOPLE are being encouraged to put on their walking boots and take advantage of a rare new haven for wildlife in Warkworth.

Work has recently finished at Castle Dike to open up tidal floodplain and restore mudflat and saltmarsh, creating new areas of water for wildlife.

The area was rebuilt in the 1960s as an area for caravan pitches. However, the site was never dry enough to pitch caravans, so was left as unmanaged grassland.

The initiative was completed by the Environment Agency as part of the Northumberland 4shores project which works with landowners, tenants and other partners to enhance important coastal habitats by realigning coastal defences and creating wetlands.

Environment Agency project manager Maria Hardy said: “We were asked by Coquet View Leisure Park, which owns the land, to see if we could improve the area for wildlife. We are really fortunate because this is one of the few places along the Northumberland coast where we can create tidal habitat due to the nature of the land.”

Waders such as redshank and curlew feed on the mudflats at low tide and return to the saltmarsh refuge at high tide.

The creeks will provide sheltered nursery sites for fish and invertebrates that inhabit the areas where freshwater meets seawater. A new footbridge has also been built to provide views of the new wetlands and Coquet Estuary.

Coquet View Leisure Park manager Jared Bloodworth said: “We’re really pleased to be working with the Environment Agency to expand and enhance saltmarsh and mudflat habitat in this beautiful part of the Northumberland coast.”

In addition to the salt water wetland habitat, Northumberland 4shores has worked with site neighbours Warkworth Golf Club to create freshwater wetland.

Maria said: “We’ve created a shallow pond with reeds on the golf course rough. It complements the Castles Dike wetland and holds water draining from the golf course greens.”

Since 2006, the Northumberland 4shores project team have worked with farmers and land owners in Alnmouth, Goswick, Beal and Warkworth, to create almost 20 hectares of coastal saltmarsh by flooding pastureland with seawater.