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Recent sightings

  • 5 April 2014

    DUCKING AND DIVING - Ray's Rambles

    Having had a zero month in February, I was pleased to add two new species to my Ray's Rambles list in March, even
    if I feel as though I've cheated to do it.  The list total now stands at 1245 species.  The first newcomer was the quite common micro-moth Diurnea fagella.   This I found next to the security light on the corner of the feeding station.   The other was a garden flower and I'm almost too embarrassed to count it, but only almost.  A small group of Crocus chrysanthus, cream beauty appeared along the east trail near to one of the seats, now where did they come from?
    They were very pretty, ranging from white to bright yellow and quite a surprise.

    On the birding front, the most spectacular sight over the last month has been the huge scoter flock on the sea.  Up to 8000 common scoter, which I have seen recorded as skodas and scooters, have been seen each day.   Finding the small numbers of velvet scoters amongst them has at times been very trying partly due to the haze that has persisted over the water but mainly due to the birds' bad habit of diving .
    I was very pleased to see that four pairs of red-crested pochards had been reported from Patsy's reedbed and the reedbed pool.   The drakes with their basically black and white bodies, orange heads and red eyes and bills are so striking and the ducks plumage, although much more subdued, is very smart.  Actually seeing them properly has been the problem for a lot of people.  Apart from the fact they dive a lot while feeding, much of the time they've been hidden in the reeds or out in the open but fast asleep.   When you do get a good view it is well worth it.
    We are now heading into one of the most exciting wildlife times of the year so get out there and don't miss a thing!
                      
                                                                                           Ray

    Posted by Pernille Egeberg

  • 28 March 2014

    Weekly wildlife roundup - A week of thirds!!

    What a mix of weather is has been this week. The beginning (1st third) was very spring-like producing a small arrival of summer migrants including 2 wheatear at Thornham Point, a very early singing male sedge warbler and 3 red kite on Monday. The middle part of the week was back to winter with a cold north easterly but the wind changed again by Friday (3rd third) with a warmer south easterly blowing bringing a new wave of chiffchaffs. At least 3 singing males were in the carpark and there is also some breeding activity from the marsh harriers.

    A new male arrived at the reserve on Thursday and stirred the females into action. Both of them have been flying around the reedbed today marking out their territories. This usually takes the form of them flying in parallel up and down the reedbed with their legs dangling while the male 'sky dances' above them. 

    The early insects have been emerging with the added warmth. Although we haven't run the reserve moth trap, the end of the visitor centre is a great place to check in the morning. Today we found this freshly emerged shoulder stripe moth and a colourful hawthorn shieldbug. Around the reserve we are recording the early butterflies with brimstone, peacock, small tortoiseshell and comma all being seen this week.

    Red crested pochard - a reserve record 8 individuals were seen on the 25th. We have had birds around the area for the last few year and even had successful breeding recently. We don't know where they have come from but they certainly brighten up the reserve

    Red crested pochard pair by Andy Thompson

    Velvet scoter - at least 5 offshore this week although viewing has been difficult at times. They can also be tricky to locate amongst the large flock of commons. Up to 5000 have been recorded this week!

    Hen harrier - female still present around the reserve and roosting in the reedbed on most evenings

    Red kite - singles over on the 22nd and 25th with 3 birds west in 45 minutes on the 3rd

    Red kite by Marc Read

    Mediterranean gull - 2 displaying adults present in from of Parrinder Hide on the 24th 

    Sand martin - 2 over the fresh marsh on 22nd

    Wheatear - 2 at Thornham Point on 22nd

    Sedge warbler - a very early male was seen and heard by the Volunteer Marsh on the 22nd

    Chiffchaff - small numbers now arriving with at least 5 singing on the 28th

    Green woodpecker - despite being a widespread British bird they are very rare at Titchwell. They are not even annual here so it have been a surprise to hear a bird calling locally several times this week

    Snow bunting - 3 late birds still present at Thornham Point but mobile

    Paul

    Posted by Paul Eele

  • 4 February 2014

    Ray's Rambles - January 2014

    January has, as we all know, been a very mild, wet and windy month.   For the first time I've identified no new species for my Rambles list.  This does not mean that Titchwell has been in any way boring, there are in fact a couple of new fungi in the pipeline.   The weather has been really good for fungi, there has been a lot of candle snuff growing on mossy logs in the woodland areas and the orange peel fungus that I first saw just outside the reserve boundary last month, has now been found in several places near the first screen on Patsy's Reedbed.   Around the reserve I have seen 21 wild flowers in bloom, certainly a January record for me, most notable among them being viper's bugloss and narrow-leaved ragwort.   

    On the mammal front common seals and chinese water deer have been seen regularly, but for me the star has been the stoat 'in ermine' that has been noted many times, usually along the meadow trail.  In this green winter it's white coat really stands out and must be a handicap when hunting.  It seems only a few years ago that the first avocet wintered here, this month we've had regularly over twenty and at times over 30, easily a Titchwell record.   Last year we reported a colour ringed bird from Teesmouth (ringed in 2011) in our wintering flock, it has been with us all winter again.   Sea watching has been interesting with large flocks of common scoters, over 3000 at times, noted daily.  Careful searching amongst them has usually found a few velvet scoters.  During the first half of the month there were many diver sightings, the vast majority of them being red-throated divers, but there were regular views of one or two black-throated and great northern divers as well.  Other birds that have shown up on several days have included barn owl, hen harrier, snow bunting (up to 50), kingfisher and peregrine.


    Along the dune line, marram grass has already started to re-generate after the battering it had during the December surge.    If we are lucky and don't get another huge tide and if the general public take care to stay out of the cordoned off areas, there is a good chance that mother nature will start to put right the damage done to the reserve's coastline.   I shall be particularly interested to see how two of our rarer species, matted sea-lavender and dune tiger beetle have survived.    I have a feeling that in six months time we'll hardly be able to see what damage was done, but I'm probably talking rubbish again.   When you see the destruction the storm caused at Snettisham aren't we thankful that we did all the new sea-defence work here a couple of years ago.    It really was worth spending all that money.    It will take a lot to put Snettisham right, I don't suppose there is a multi-millionaire reading this who is conservation minded and has a few hundred thousand pounds just laying about?

                                                                                           Ray Kimber.

     

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    Titchwell Marsh has a brand new Facebook and even better we are sharing it with the RSPB Norfolk team. This means that you get information, sightings and exciting events for the whole of Norfolk including Titchwell Marsh, Strumpshaw Fen, Snettisham, the Broads and Norwich.

    This is also a great opportunity for you to share your sightings, photos and experiences with others. Be the first to know about what is going on or plan your visit!

    Posted by Pernille Egeberg

  • 17 December 2013

    Where have the harriers gone...?

    A lot of our work over the last 10 days has involved assessing the infrastructure damage to both Titchwell and Snettisham. Now the full picture is becoming clearer, we can start to look at the impact on the wildlife of both sites.

    The true scale will take a while to assess properly but early indications suggest it is mixed news.

    We carried out latest winter harrier roost count a couple of evenings ago and it seems that the birds have been badly affected by the surge. So far this winter, the birds have been favoring the tidal reedbeds to the west of the main path and these took a big hit in the storm. I suspect that the birds were flushed during the night by the sound of the water coming through the reeds and now consider the roost site to be unsafe. Despite there still being birds in the area, only 3 marsh and no hen harriers came into roost last night compared to the 27 marsh harriers in November.

    A female hen harrier was seen over the reserve on Saturday afternoon so hopefully the birds will be back in time for the next count.

    Ringtail hen harrier over the fresh marsh by Andy Thompson

    On the positive side, despite the sand dunes being completely washed away in places, some of the non-avian species have survived. Staff from our Reserves Ecology department at HQ visited the reserve last week and were pleased to find the sea lavender weevil was still present on the landward side of the dunes at Thornham Point. It will be next summer though before we can fully assess the population of dune tiger beetles we have.

     

    Sea lavender weevil at Titchwell

    The RSPB has set up a fund to help with the re-building of our reserves along the East Coast that were affected by the storm surge. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns

    Paul

    Posted by Paul Eele

  • 12 December 2013

    LIVE AND LEARN - Flooding at Titchwell

       When you stand on Titchwell beach, away to the right you can see the clubhouse and outbuildings of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club at Brancaster.   For thirty-three years we lived there; the end of our cottage was only 20 feet, 6 metres, from the sea wall and, because Brancaster Beach Road is tidal, our lives were governed by the sea.    In January 1978 the North Norfolk coast was hit by a severe storm.  The north wind, which gusted to 93 mph, was directly behind a big spring tide so the waves were crashing into and over our sea wall and at right angles to the line of dunes stretching from Brancaster to Thornham Point.  In those days we only received a couple of hours warning to get out, by which time the road was already impassable to cars.   The dunes were breached in several places, but not flattened.   On our golf course only three of the eighteen holes were not flooded, the greenkeepers sheds had five feet of water through them, our cottage and Professional's shop were also flooded.    The new sea-banks at Titchwell were nearing completion but luckily this storm didn't do as much damage to them as feared.
     

    Having witnessed this storm I imagined I knew what conditions were needed for a flood and, because we had a not- particularly strong southwest to west wind blowing locally, I thought that the predicted flooding last Thursday night was being greatly over over-estimated.    I was totally wrong.  This time there was a northerly gale blowing further up the coast, a very slightly lower predicted spring tide and a deep depression over the north sea which all combined to create a big tidal surge down the east coast.   There was also a south-westerly gale blowing water up the English Channel which of course acted rather like a bottle stopper.

       Down at the golf course the flooding was virtually identical to that in 1978.   The main difference was that the water came over the west sea-wall and totally wrecked the greenkeepers' garage causing many thousands of pounds worth of damage.     Walking west from the club back towards our reserve the dunes had all but disappeared.  

    It was just the same between Titchwell creek and our, now ruined, beach boardwalk.   

       What a fine job our new sea defences did.   The water did creep over them in a few places but they held firm, the reserve was very, very lucky.    All the hard work and money put into them has really paid off.   If this tide had happened five years ago Titchwell would have been destroyed.

       Predicting what the sea is going to do is rather like bird-watching, just when you think you know it all something comes along to show you that you don't.   Oh well, you live and learn.

                                                                                             Ray

    RSPB: Snettisham did not have the same luck, and the site is currently closed due to the extend of damage to the paths, hides and wildlife habitat. For this reason the RSPB has set up a storm appeal to raise money to restore the reserve, please visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/358924-rspb-appeal-for-fighting-fund-to-fix-flood-damage

    Image credit Simon Evans

    Posted by Pernille Egeberg

  • 30 November 2013

    Weekly wildlife roundup - Purple haze

    Most of us on the reserve had been watching the bird news with interest following the sighting of a purple heron flying over Cley NWT reserve earlier this week. We had hoped the bird would continue along the coast to the reserve but sadly for us, it dropped into the grazing marshes at Holkham instead. Time to 'stand down' and get back to the computers.

    On Thursday afternoon while our volunteer Dave was out on his guided walk, he suggested to the group that they needed to check any herons flying over the reserve in case it was the purple heron. You know how the rest of the story goes... As Dave was saying this, he picked up a heron sp flying in from the East and amazingly it was the purple heron. My radio went mad 'PURPLE HERON flying over the west bank path'!!!!!!! I grabbed my bins and coat and legged it out of the the office to see the bird flying west over the grazing meadow towards Holme. Not the best views I must admit but I was happy that I could ID it for myself. A quick phonecall to the staff at the NOA Observatory at Holme meant they managed to catch up with it flying towards Hunstanton.

    This is only the 3rd record for the reserve following a flyover in 1982 and an adult that lingered in the reedbed for over a month in the spring 1996.

    Black throated diver - single offshore on 27th

    Bittern - several flight records this week

    Red crested pochard - female on fresh marsh all week

    Goosander - drake offshore on 25th

    Long tailed duck - 2 drakes offshore on 27th

    Golden plover - 2500 roosting on the fresh marsh on the 28th

    Golden plover flock by Andy Thompson

    Avocet - 12 still present on the fresh marsh

    Dunlin - 113 on the drained grazing meadow pool on the 28th is a good winter number here

    Greenshank - a late bird on Volunteer Marsh on the 28th 

    Jack snipe - still present on Patsy's reedbed but generally very elusive

    Mediterranean gull - 2 adults on the beach on 25th 

    Adult winter Med gull by Dave Hawkins

    Yellow legged gull - adult present on a daily basis

    Tawny owl - one hooting in the carpark early on the 24th. A very under recorded species at Titchwell 

    Yellow browed warbler - a very late individual see and heard calling in a mobile tit flock on the 24th

    Twite - 7 on the beach on 24th

    Snow bunting - a mobile flock of up to 50 birds still present

    For daily bird sightings from the reserve, you can follow us on Twitter by searching for @RSPBNorfolkLinc or check the Norfolk birding pages of BirdForum (http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=134)  for up to date news

    Posted by Paul Eele

  • 22 November 2013

    Mischievous Merlin

    The time had come again for another monthly harrier roost count, which we carry out on the reserve every autumn and winter. A clear and chilly afternoon (as they all seem to be these days!), Ed and I wrapped up in as many layers as possible and, resembling Michelin men, headed down the west bank path and stopped opposite the Thornham grazing pool. The night before, Paul and I had abandoned our count after only half an hour as fog and clouds descended over the fields, obscuring our views, but this evening the sky was clear and only a few brightly-coloured wisps drifted across. It started slow with a couple of birds floating in to roost behind the grazing pool. Then a male marsh harrier came into view – a really fine specimen, with a golden-brown head and large pale patches under the wings. He really put on a show for those of us watching, taking his time to cross the path and wheeling around for a length of time before settling in to roost. Marsh harriers, although reliant on reedbed habitat, are not fussy about spending the evening in muddy or damp conditions; they are happy to roost on the bottom of the reedbed sheltering in the tall vegetation.

    Another few birds flew in to roost, and by this point the score was reaching ten, a respectable score but compared to our last count of 30, not the highest. It was around this time that Paul came to join us, and to cover more area, he followed the East Trail around the back of the reserve. From this vantage point he radioed in any interesting finds. Soon we heard of a roost of 75 curlew coming in to settle on the freshwater marsh; fairly unusual and definitely exciting to have such good numbers of waders still around this late in autumn. A sparrowhawk and some more marsh harriers came in, along with 260 brent geese. However the bird which caused the most trouble was a female merlin; initially casually gliding in on the breeze, until the point at which it headed straight for the marsh harrier roost! Immediately the disgruntled harriers started swooping out of their cosy reedbed roosts to defend their patches. At one point 12 marsh harriers were silhouetted soaring and dancing against the pink and purple clouds of the north Norfolk sunset. Eventually this action settled down and as the temperature was really beginning to drop along with the light levels, we headed back to the offices for a much-needed cup of tea!

    Total raptor count: 25 marsh harrier including 3 males

    1 sparrowhawk

    1 merlin (female)

    Emily Morgan

    Winter volunteer


    Titchwell highlights this week

    Great Northern diver - 1 offshore on 16th

    Red necked grebe - 3 offshore on 17th

    Whooper swan - 3 on fresh marsh on 16th

    Pink footed goose - 1690 left the roost at Thornham Point at dawn on the 18th. It is unusual to have a roost at Titchwell and it only happens a couple of times a winter

    Wildfowl - a big arrival of ducks occurred on 18th ahead of a change in wind direction. 921 teal, 147 pintail and 109 shoveler were counted on the fresh marsh

    Ruff - 66 feeding on drained grazing meadow pool

    Spotted redshank - 6 on 18th

    Hen harrier - male on 16th, ringtail on the 18th

    Marsh harrier - 23 roosted on the 19th

    Short eared owl - present until the 17th then probably moved west to Holme

    Hooded crow - after going missing for ca10 days, the bird reappeared on the 22nd

    Chiffchaff - late bird along East Trail on 17th

    Water pipit - up to 2 on drained grazing meadow pool all week

    Snow bunting - mobile flock of 60 on beach

    Posted by Paul Eele

  • 18 November 2013

    Showy shortie

    We have been really lucky over the past couple of weeks to have a very showy short eared owl around the reserve. Normally the bird can be seen hunting over the rough grassland on the grazing meadow but it does make the occasional trip across to East Trail and Patsy's reedbed. The bird has been a delight for our visiting photographers especially in the late afternoon sunlight. I have even managed to see it from inside the visitor centre!!!

    Thanks to one of our volunteers Tony for sending us his photos of the bird.

    If you fancy trying to see the owl for yourself then late afternoon is the best bet. View from the main path looking over the fields to the left towards the large white house from 3pm onwards. If you are lucky you might get to see the harriers coming into roost, a bittern in flight or even a barn owl!

    For daily bird sightings from the reserve, you can follow us on Twitter by searching for @RSPBNorfolkLinc or check the Norfolk birding pages of BirdForum (http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=134)  for up to date news

    Posted by Paul Eele

  • 15 November 2013

    Weekly wildlife roundup - The early bird...

    Catches the thrush movement? Not the traditional end to that well known phrase, but it seemed more applicable to us on Monday morning. Paul and Emily and I met at Snettisham at 6.15am (at which time it is dark and rather chilly, not helped when your van heating is less than useless) to conduct our routine Pink-footed Goose count. These birds roost in their thousands on the mudflats; 10,820 to be precise that morning. As dawn breaks, they leave the safety of the Wash and head for the sugar beet fields to feed for the day providing quite a spectacular as they fly over. However, we were treated to another spectacular that we certainly weren’t expecting. As we sat in the van waiting for the sun to rise and the geese to start moving, the odd Redwing could be heard moving overhead. But as the goose movement began to gather pace, so did the thrushes. To be precise Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling. In the hour that we were sat on the beach, we recorded circa 50,000 Starling, 20,000 Fieldfare and 1000 Redwing. I have certainly never experience anything like it, and even the vastly experienced Mr Eele said he hadn’t; it was even more spectacular than the famous fog of 2012!! It was truly magical to have that many birds chattering away as they swooped along the beach in flocks of over 100 at a time. 


    Migrating fieldfare and starling

    Thrushes don’t migrate in the conventional north-south way that most of our summer and winter visitors do. Their movement is far more east-west, with a little bit of north-south thrown in for good measure. They pour across from Scandinavia and the continent to make the most of the slightly warmer temperatures that the Gulf Stream brings. They are a wonderful sign that winter is truly on its way as they persist to wait until it gets just cold enough, and then off they go. They can be seen almost anywhere, but at this time of year especially in fields and making the most of almost any bush that has berries on it. As the weather gets colder, then tend to move into more urban areas where it is slightly warmer; I can remember being at university in Leeds and walking through the park in snow and being surrounded by Fieldfare and Redwing. So, I guess the lesson here is it is always worth getting up early, as you never know what wonders of nature you might glimpse!    

    Ed Tooth, Conservation Intern  

    Recent sightings at Titchwell have included

    Red throated diver - 20 offshore on 8th

    Black necked grebe - 1 reported offshore on the 7th

    Slavonian grebe - 2 offshore

    Manx shearwater - 1 offshore on 3rd

    Whooper swan - 2 adults roosting on fresh marsh on 6th

    Goosander - 3 female + 1 drake west on 6th

    Jack snipe - 1 feeding on Patsy's reedbed on 4th but generally elusive

    Grey phalarope - 1 past offshore on 10th

    Yellow legged gull - adult roosting on fresh marsh

    Hen harrier - ringtail roosting in reedbed on most evenings

    Short eared owl - 1 showing well hunting over the grazing meadow all week

    Little auk - 1 offshore on 

    Hooded crow - 1 commuting between the fields around Choseley drying barns to the south and the reserve although elusive at times

    Water pipit - 1-2 birds on the recently drained grazing meadow pool

    Swallow - late birds recorded on the 7th (3) and 8th (2)

    Twite - 10 feeding on east beach near old tanks on 13th

    Crossbill - 3 over the visitor centre on the 6th

    Snow bunting - up to 60 on the beach but the flock is very mobile and can range as far west as Holme Dunes

    For daily bird sightings from the reserve, you can follow us on Twitter by searching for @RSPBNorfolkLinc or check the Norfolk birding pages of BirdForum (http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=134)  for up to date news

    Posted by Paul Eele

How you can help

We're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused. Please help us rebuild from the worst storm in 60 years.

Donate now

Your sightings

Grid reference: TF7543 (+2km)

Avocet ()
16 Apr 2014
Velvet Scoter (1)
15 Apr 2014
Little Ringed Plover (1)
15 Apr 2014
Bar-tailed Godwit (75)
15 Apr 2014
Cetti's Warbler (3)
15 Apr 2014
Ring Ouzel (1)
15 Apr 2014
Pink-footed Goose (1)
14 Apr 2014
White Wagtail (alba) (1)
14 Apr 2014
Goosander (8)
14 Apr 2014
Wheatear (1)
13 Apr 2014

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 52.96298,0.60418
  • Postcode: PE31 8BB
  • Grid reference: TF750438
  • Nearest town: Hunstanton, Norfolk
  • County: Norfolk
  • Country: England

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.