Mike Eccles – @oldgreyheron – is a local amateur photographer, wildlife lover, and Nunthorpe native.

"I was a teenager when I first got involved in amateur photography 50 years ago and took up the hobby of bird watching, but I could never quite capture the birds on camera quite how I wanted to.

Fast forward to my early fifties and the developments of the digital age enabled a change in how I could learn more about the incredible nature and wildlife that’s here in abundance in Middlesbrough – and it’s there for you to discover too, if you take a closer look!

By adding birdfeeders to my garden in Nunthorpe, and investing in a long lens for my new camera, I find myself able to find out more about the beautiful birds and creatures that make their home in many Middlesbrough gardens, including yellowhammers, bullfinches and hoverflies.

With my camera in hand I’m seeing and photographing what I hadn’t even noticed before. Now I notice birds and wildlife nearly everywhere.

At Albert Park you can see tufted ducks and moorhens, Linthorpe Cemetery is the place to see a great spotted woodpecker or a songthrush, RSPB Saltholme is great for spotting a grey heron or a tortoiseshell butterfly, and there’s plenty of squirrels, birds and insects to spot if you look in between the flowerbeds and wooded areas of Stewart Park.

That’s the difference between watching and bird seeing – you may need to just look a little closer next time you are out and about! Every grass verge, garden, and visitor attraction is an opportunity to see Middlesbrough. My advice? Grab a camera, even your phone camera – see, enjoy, record and share!"

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