Welcome to the latest installment of sightings from Titchwell Marsh on what has been an incredibly hot week except for today as the sun has disappeared, and the sea fog rolled in.

The highlight for many birders has been the red-backed shrike that was found on Monday evening and has remained in the bushes at Thornham Point until Wednesday evening. Despite red-backed shrikes being a fairly common migrant on the Norfolk coast, for Titchwell it is quite a scarce bird with the last record in September 2015. This week these bushes have also held two pied flycatchers, common whitethroats and willow warblers.

Whilst heading back along the beach from watching the shrike on Tuesday evening I was treated to an incredible spectacle at sea. A huge shoal of fish must have present as there was a huge feeding frenzy of thousands of gulls and hundreds of common terns, sandwich terns and little terns plus 50+ gannets.

Freshmarsh continues to be at its best this week, providing incredibly close views of waders and wildfowl. Highlights from Tuesday 11th August were 8 Mediterranean gulls, 5 little ringed plover, 400 black-tailed godwits, 2 spotted redshanks, 1 curlew sandpiper, 1 wood sandpiper, 33 turnstones, 3 golden plover and 100+ bar-tailed godwits.

Curlew Sandpiper, Les Bunyan

Moving onto Wednesday highlights when a little stint dropped in, along with 20 dunlin, 2 common sandpipers, a green sandpiper and 2 greenshanks. Little stints increased to 3 and dunlin numbers increased to 54 on Thursday 13th August, additionally there was a small group of 5 common sandpipers, a green sandpiper and a snipe. A careful scan of the reeds in front of island hide also revealed a water rail.

Wood sandpiper, Les Bunyan

Teal, gadwall and shoveler numbers are increasing across the reserve though the males are still very much in their eclipse phase, and so missing their colourful costume instead it is a mass of brown.  

The big white birds in the form of spoonbills and great white egrets continue to be seen on the Freshmarsh and within the reedbed.

A walk around the car park and meadow trail is always worth while in search of passerines, and today there was a garden warbler, not a common bird for the reserve. Other highlights from this area include the arrival of a few willow warblers, great spotted woodpecker and jays.

Jay, Les Bunyan

As you walk around the reedbed you may notice that it is now becoming harder to spot the marsh harriers. Now that all the young have fledged, the adults and juveniles tend to disperse into the surrounding farmland for the next couple of months. More obvious though are the Hobbies and Peregrines which frequently spend their time diving across the Freshmarsh in search of a snack.

Dragonflies

The warm weather has been great for those with an interest in dragonflies. Several brown hawkers have been seeing flying around, along with black-tailed skimmer, common darter and ruddy darter. Whilst on the damselfly front small-red eyed damselflies have also been recorded by a couple of people. This species is a recent colonist to the UK, first arriving in 1999 and has since rapidly spread across England.

That is about it for this update. I hope you enjoyed reading. 

Lizzie Bruce

North West Norfolk Reserves Warden

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