Hi everyone and welcome to our recent sightings update.

The big news from the last few weeks is that autumn is officially here (have we even had summer yet?!), with the first returning waders dropping into both Titchwell and Snettisham. It always catches me by surprise just how early the first migrants begin to arrive on the Norfolk coast – likely failed breeders or non-breeding birds. Highlights at Titchwell include a flock of up to ten spotted redshank – looking very dapper in their glossy black breeding plumage (present still on 9 July), a peak count of four common sandpiper dropped in on Monday 5 July, and a green sandpiper also on the same day. Continuing on the wader front, numbers of avocet are beginning to build on the freshmarsh at Titchwell with around six hundred birds joining our remaining few nesters, creating a dazzling (and noisy!) black-and-white carpet in front of Parrinder Hide. With these have been up to 250 black-tailed godwits (again looking very snazzy in summer plumage) including up to five continental-race birds from Welney. These are best spotted by the coloured flag and rings on their legs - giving a great chance to get your eye in to spotting the subtle differences of this race compared to the more common “icelandica” birds.

Photo: Spotted redshank by Les Bunyan

There has also been a nice variety of raptors spotted on the reserves recently. This includes an osprey drifting over Titchwell on 1 July, a white-tailed eagle over the Titchwell visitor centre on the 25 June and a peregrine being seen regularly at Snettisham. At least six fledged marsh harriers have been seen around the Titchwell reedbed – keep an eye out for their striking ginger hairdo (think Ed Sheeran!) and dark-chocolate coloured bodies.

In other bird news, a cattle egret has been spotted flying west over the freshmarsh several times in recent days, a great white egret has been feeding at Patsy’s pool and two bitterns have been seen from the West-Bank Path. It’s also been a great spell for seeing bearded tits at Titchwell with family groups pinging-and-ponging their way around the reedbed – especially around Island Hide, on calm days.

Exciting news from the beach at Titchwell this morning – our first ringed plover chick has fledged! There are still birds on nests in both cordons so please stay well back from the fence lines. At Snettisham, Pit Four (the most southerly one) is a hive of activity with good numbers of young common terns, black-headed gulls and Mediterranean gulls.

I’m excited to see what the next few weeks bring!


Assistant Warden