Portrack Marsh comprises 15 hectares of wetland habitats which includes four large bodies of water and three smaller ponds, surrounded by reed beds, wet grassland and scrub. The River Tees forms the southern boundary of the reserve and is at its tidal limit now that the Tees Barrage operates just 300 metres upstream. The banks still support a mix of saltmarsh plants and are noted for views of Harbour and Grey seals.
A network of surfaced paths take visitors around the reserve; footpaths also connect along the riverside cycleway/ footpath and the disused Portrack branch rail line, to other green spaces at Billingham Beck and across the Tees to Maze Park.
This is one of the area’s most important wildlife sites at the very heart of Teesside. The wetland nature reserve attracts hundreds of birds each year and it provides a home to an exciting variety of mammals, amphibians, insects and wildflowers. Typically, 90-100 different bird species visit the reserve annually with a total of 153 species recorded overall. These include wintering wildfowl, passage waders and breeding warblers.
Otter was recorded on the reserve in 2005 and has been seen on the River Tees through the Stockton area on a number of occasions since.
In spring the reserve is visited by Wheatear and Whinchat, Grasshopper, Whitethroat, Willow, Blackcap and Sedge Warblers. Sand Martins are often the first of the summer migrants to arrive while Common Terns arrive in the second week of May and remain throughout the summer. Grey and Common Seals can be seen on the River Tees here.
By late summer significant amounts of mud can be exposed and waders such as Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Ruff visit. During the winter months Redshank and Lapwing feed on the river bank and take refuge on the marsh at high tide. Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Teal, Goldeneye, Scaup, Common Snipe and Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch are all here.
From the A66 follow signs to Tees Barrage. After the bridge over the railway marshalling yards take the second exit at the roundabout and drive over the Tees Barrage. Take the first right to the car park. The path to the reserve starts behind the Talpore pub.