Most of the email that we get are not always to most interesting or exciting but one in my Inbox today was bit different. It was from one of our regular volunteers and contained a series of cracking photos from the Christmas period.The most interesting of them was of a little owl in the carpark. Not the rarest of birds you could dream of but for Titchwell it is a mega! The normal view of a little owl from Titchwell has been a dark shape sat in a tree by the road to Choseley drying barns nearly a mile from the reserve – not exactly the best views!
On Christmas Eve, Andy decided to check the carpark to see if there were any waxwings to photograph but bumped into this beauty. This is the first record for the reserve since 1995 when one was seen in an arable field near the carpark.
Just as rare has been a mobile and elusive hooded crow. The bird has been in the area for a few weeks now but is very hard to catch up with. It was seen feeding on the beach with 20 carrion crows and seems to have arrived following this increase in numbers. Hooded crows replace the familiar carrion the further north you travel and is the ‘normal’ crow on the Continent.
Other interesting records over the festive period have included 50 barnacle geese south over the reserve on the 20th, 19 pale-bellied geese, bean goose on Boxing Day, a confiding female red-breasted merganser on the tidal pool, 9 shorelarks on the beach and 30 show buntings at Thornham Point yesterday morning
Way back in April I was asked to design a new pin badge to celebrate the Titchwell Marsh Coastal Change project. The project, which will be completed next year will save the reserve's freshwater habitats from the effects of Coastal erosion.
The most important freshwater habitat to be saved is the freshwater reed bed, so it seemed obvious that the badge should include imagery of the reed bed. Easy so far!
Next we needed a bird to include on the badge. Bearded tit, marsh harrier and bittern were all candidates and eventually we settled on bittern in its 'sky-pointing' pose.
Several sketches and emails later we had a design for the badge which we felt happy with and yesterday the finshed badges arrived.
All the proceeds from the badge go direct to the Coastal Project and we ask £2 (or more if you feel able!) for each badge.
The badges are exclusive to Titchwell so next time you are at the reserve, pick up your badge!
Alternatively if you would like us to post you a badge please ring the visitor centre on 01485 210779.
Despite the season, the animal in the picture is not Dasher, Dancer, or Rudolph but a Chinese water deer which has taken up residence on the salt marsh west of the main footpath.
Chinese water deer have expanded their range recently in Norfolk and are reasonbly straightforward to identify if seen well. The black nose against a white muzzle, stripeless forehead and the white furry tufts in the lining of the ears are good distinguishing points from their near cousins Muntjac deer.
We also have muntjac on the reserve and in hard weather they can be seen from our office window taking seed off the bird table!
The reserve is certainly held in the grip of winter at the moment, with all three marshes being frozen solid, though thankfully we have only had a little snow. All the birds are suffering .....the amount of seed our birds are getting through at our feeding sations is truly amazing! Remember to keep your feeders topped up and when ever possible don't forget a supply of nice clean water.
Water rail, accompanied by common snipe have been easy to see today in the ditches by the feeders at the back of the visitor centre. Out on the reserve water pipits continue to frequent the brackish marsh along with getting on for a hundred skylark.
Birds of prey are well represented with marsh and northern harrier, peregrine, merlin, kestrel, sparrowhawk and buzzard all being seen in recent days.