This mysterious piece of bone was recently found on the beach at Titchwell by volunteer Ray Kimber. A discussion ensued about what kind of animal (if indeed it was an animal) it once belonged to. Suggestions ranged from a fish to the alien which shot out of John Hurt's stomach in the film Alien.
If you think you know what it could be, please let us know! We still have it in the office if you'd rather see it in the... flesh?
Here's the latest update from volunteer and wildlife explorer Ray Kimber!
A great fortnight - 41 species were added to the list, making the total 717. Wood warbler and red-necked phalarope are always good birds to see, but for me the best of the new birds was the very smart gull-billed tern. One of the 16 moths, a white-spotted pug, was an addition to the reserve list. 2 cockchafers were also in the moth trap and a very large hornet almost hit me in the face!
On an Alexanders leaf was a small black fly with strikingly patterned wings that it waved about like a couple of fans. This was identified on the internet as a celery fly (euleia heraclei).
I have never really been aware of ants on the reserve, but the county ant recorder showed me the end of an 'ant war' near the beach platform. Usually red ants win because they have stings, but on this occasion the black ants were dragging red corpses off the battlefield, weight of numbers told in the end.
Once again on the list (see attachment) I have marked all the new species with an asterisk. If the next two weeks are as good as the last two, I'm in for a busy time!
Seeing as it is nearly the end of the footie season I thought it would be the last chance to slip in a reference! It is not only is the football coming to an end, but we are nearing the end of May, the traditional finish to the spring wader migration.
It is amazing how things can change in a few days. Last weekend, our Wings Over Titchwell weekend, we struggled to find many signs of migration with ruff and garganey not even making it onto the list.
Fast forward a couple of days and it is all change.
The first new migrant was a male red-necked phalarope on the fresh marsh on Tuesday afternoon. Although a small number do breed in Shetland, this bird was probably heading for Scandinavia. Phalaropes are unusual in that the males are duller than the females as they carry out all the parental duties. On Wednesday morning, 3 Temminck’s stints turned up on the small muddy islands in front of the Island Hide. We did have upto 4 birds on site until last Thursday before they moved on. There is the chance that they are the same birds returning or they could be new arrivals....who knows!
The highlight however, nearly got away. Just before lunchtime on Wednesday, a gull-billed tern was seen flying west over the reserve but was only seen by one lucky visitor – glum faces in the office. By mid-afternoon, the frowns had turned to smiles as the bird was relocated on the fresh marsh islands. Panic ensued as we raced down the path to catch up with it. A new reserve bird for all of us and a ‘lifer’ for Rob. The bird remained on the lagoons before heading up to the fields to the south of the reserve to feed once the rain had stopped. This is only the 4th record for the reserve following a flyover last June, an immature for 10 days in 2001 and one in 1980 that spent nearly 3 weeks in the little tern colony.
With the relegation battle set for this weekend and the Champions League final next week, hopefully the ‘big one’ for us is just around the corner.
You either love it or you hate it. Thankfully the majority love it and the Royal Institute of British Architects agree, having just awarded the new Parrinder hide at Titchwell one of its eight awards in the East.
As you can imagine all the team here are pretty excited. We are used to punching the air when pintail breed on the reserve for the first time and avocets have their best year ever (all happened this week) but winning an architectural award for a hide is new one for us all. The usual design format of dads old shed plus some windows is out and modern airy interiors which would get Mr Kevin McCloud salivating, are in.
Our own grand design was orchestrated by a big team with Patrick Ward of Haysom Ward Miller Architects at the design controls. Throughout the process we talked to our visitors, volunteers and sought other lessons learnt from recent hide designs. One of the biggest challenges was getting the windows right. We took this so seriously we even trialled the design for twelve months before finally deciding on what to go for.
Feedback overall has been very positive but the most common complaint is the lack of toilets, personally I wanted a bar but apparently its only a hide so will have to make do with the stunning views, close encounters with birds and a hip flask.
Last week, the first avocet nest, (‘Twiggy’ as she was affectionately called for her nest DIY skills), hatched 4 fluffy little chicks. There is now a grand total of at least 26 avocet chicks loose on the freshmarsh. Parent avocets (with 8 legs) can be seen close to the Parrinder hide brooding their young and protecting them from the elements. Baby avocets can run around and feed themselves within a few hours of hatching and become quite adventurous; so don’t worry if you see a lone chick - it is just off exploring! The chicks will fledge at around 35-42 days, but often remain dependent on their parents for some time afterwards.
Originally, the avocets nested on the brackish marsh; however under the Coastal Change Project this area will transform into a saltmarsh. To replace the lost habitat, a new island was constructed on the freshmarsh. It was originally estimated that there would be 10 pairs on this new island, but this month we have recorded a peak count of 80 avocet nests - a record for the reserve!