The star bird of this week has been a grey phalarope which is delighting visitors with its dizzying feeding behaviour, that involves spinning in a clockwise direction stirring up insects to feed on at the surface of the water. Grey phalaropes breed in the high Arctic including Alaska, Canada, Svalbard and northern Siberia. During the winter months they will spend their time of the west coast of South African and western South America. The bird we have at Titchwell is likely to have arrived following the deep Atlantic depression which brings strong westerly and north-westerly gales pushing the birds into the North Sea and down the east coast.

Grey phalarope, Les Bunyan

Other winter migrants have slowly started to arrive this week as well with birds all over the reserve.

Visitor centre / car park

It has generally been a quieter week around the visitor centre and car park, not helped by the strong winds and heavy rain that has occurred. However, there are small flocks of siskins, bramblings and redwings around.


Within the reedbed a bittern has been sighted on several occasions and marsh harriers cruise along the ditches. The flash of blue of a kingfisher has also been sighted along the newly opened ditches and the grey herons are enjoying a spot of fishing.

On the pools of water, you can find pintail, tufted duck, gadwall and teal and perhaps you might hear the squeal of the water rails who at times are being quite vocal.

Water rail, Les Bunyan


What can we say about the Freshmarsh, except that it is hooching with birds. Over 1000 golden plovers continue to enjoy the newly formed bunds and islands. Amongst the muddy patches and islands are ringed plovers, dunlins, a few ruff, lapwing, redshanks and a hundred black-tailed godwits. The other star wader at the beginning of the week was a jack snipe bobbing along the reed edge near the Island hide.  

A whooper swan has been present on the Freshmarsh for a couple of days and occasionally it pops across to Patsy’s.

A small flock of about 40 brent geese are moving between the saltmarsh and the Freshmarsh.

Whooper swan, Les Bunyan 

Beach / Sea

On the beach the confiding purple sandpiper and three snow bunting continue to show well up until Thursday 21 October, though on the high tides this morning they took refuge within the sand dunes. On Sunday 18 October 2 shore larks flew east along the beach and 3 Lapland buntings flew west.

A merlin has been sighted hunting along the beach and the first of the winter goldeneye were on the sea on Tuesday. On most days this week there has been a steady passage of gannets and red throated divers. Two common tern flew through on Wednesday 20th October and there has been a small passage of little gulls.

Snow bunting, Les Bunyan

Report your sightings

If you are visiting why not enter your sightings on to BirdTrack. Your records support species conservation at local, regional, national, and international scales. For more information follow the link

And finally...

Our guided walks have returned.

The ‘Discover Titchwell’ walks provide you with a brief overview of the history and wildlife of the reserve and our guides will explain how the RSPB is working to protect our wetland wildlife at Titchwell.

For more details please follow this link