This weekend sees over 600 volunteers walking over 2000 km of the British coastline to count bird corpses. Not the most attractive job you may think but as well as providing valuable data for monitoring oil pollution and other unusual causes for death amongst seabirds, it's also a great chance to get some fresh air. I walked the section from Brancaster Golf Club to Thornham point, which includes the beach at Titchwell, a distance of 4 km. The good news is that I didn't see one bird corpse. This is quite unusual and might be partially due to the northly winds blowing sand over recently beached birds. I did find a few other interesting things including a half eaten harbour porpoise, lots of different sorts of shells and a new species for me at Titchwell...a pipefish.
I think this one is a snake pipefish. They are common in rock pools and are often seen offshore up on the surface where sea birds catch them for food. Some species, particularly Auks and Terns, have resorted to trying to feed snake pipefish to their chicks as a substitute for their more normal diet of Sand-eels, which are in serious decline due to over-fishing and climate change. The chicks find these hard to swallow, they are less nutritious, and the parents spend much longer away from the nest leaving chicks vulnerable to predation and attack from neighbouring nests.
When you visit Titchwell why not spend a little more time looking for signs of sea life on the beach you never know whet you might find.
Yes, it's another first for Titchwell !!.......................this time in the shape of giraffa camelopardalis !!!!
Unmistakable in winter 'plumage' and 'flying' with neck outstretched, a 5 foot high juvenile filled with Helium has just been seen drifting west across the beach fifty feet in the air!!!!!!! Obviously way off course it may be be picked up further west as it migrates along the coast. When we first heard the report we thought it was just a load of 'hot air' but several visitors came back to the centre 'and stuck their necks out' and described the leopard like spots to perfection. Goodness only knows what the observers thought they first saw the giraffe, hundreds of metres away to the east. The balloon was last seen over Holme-next-the sea! What are your most unusual or amusing Titchwell sightings?
Our bitterns are currently very active and can be seen regularly flying over the reedbed and occasionally they have been showing very well from the Fen Hide. Two of our visitors were very lucky last weekend as they were able to watch the bittern below feeding in the open for 45 minutes!
These cracking images were taken by Tom Hedge last weekend.