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Castle Eden Dene
Castle Eden Dene is a long and narrow, steeply-sided and densely wooded valley that meets the sea between Horden and Blackhall on the coast of County Durham in the north-east of England. A very picturesque dene, this is a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest covering 225ha of mature woodland providing essential habitat for a number of birds which are scarce in this part of the country.
 Notable Species
Nearly 200 species have been recorded at Castle Eden Dene including a good range of woodland birds such as Tawny Owl and Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Also found breeding here are Eurasian Nuthatch and Common Treecreeper, Common Redstart and various tit and finch species.
Warblers include both Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler and Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Wood Warbler occurs on passage and Sedge Warbler breeds in the wetter parts.
Passage periods bring a range of waders to the beach and various gulls, skuas, auks and other seabirds over the sea. Passerine migrants include Tree Pipit, Whinchat, and Pied Flycatcher, a few Ring Ouzel and the occasional rarity.
Winter sees the arrival of good numbers of winter thrushes and Common Crossbill and Bohemian Waxwing in some years. Divers, grebes and seaduck occur offshore. Rarities recorded at Castle Eden Dene have included Red Kite, Wryneck and Great Grey Shrike.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Northern Fulmar, Great Cormorant, Northern Gannet, Mallard, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Grey Partridge, Common Pheasant, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Eurasian Woodcock, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Common Wood Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Bohemian Waxwing, Common Wren, Dunnock, European Robin, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, European Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Treecreeper, Common Jay, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Eurasian Bullfinch, Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Little Tern, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Common Scoter, Red-necked Grebe
 Other Wildlife
Mammals range in size from Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus down to shrews and bats are often seen at dusk. However, the most important mammal of the dene is the Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, now rare in most of Britain.
 Site Information
 Areas of Interest
The woodland composition is varied with Oak, Beech, Ash, Elm and Yew as well as Alder, Hazel and some areas of non-native conifers. The gorge has ivy-clad 30m limestone cliffs and close to the sea the woodland becomes scrub of Hawthorn and Blackthorn, and in wetter parts, willow and reeds. This area sometimes floods producing a pool.
The higher ground has a rather rare habitat, Magnesian limestone grassland.
The Dene mouth opens onto maram grass covered dunes. The upper beach area is covered with well rounded pebbles with a long standing Little Tern colony in the summer months. The lower beach is golden sands that extend several miles to the north and south.
Behind the beach the stream from the dene flows to the sea - a small pool along part of its length is an almost pemanent feature even in summer.
 Access and Facilities
Castle Eden Dene is well-signposted from several points on the A19 and the dene mouth can be reached either by walking through the reserve or it can be approached via the B1086 coast road from Horden. Turn off at Tenth Street in Blackhall Colliery just south of the dene. Park near the Blackhall Hotel and walk along Dene Holm Road.
The reserve has a car-park and visitor centre with leaflets describing the various walks, wardens can act as guides to visiting parties if booked in advance.
Although the reserve is always open the visitor centre may not always be manned.
 Contact Details
Natural England Northumbria Team Oakerside Dene Lodge Stanhope Chase Peterlee Co Durham SR8 1NJ Tel: 0191 5860004
 External Links
Content and images originally posted by Steve