Welcome to another warden’s ramble, keeping you informed about what we have been up to on the reserves.

Winter Bird Surveys

It was my favourite way to begin the week with our monthly harrier roost count. As the morning dawned, we were treated to bearded tits pinging in the reeds, a kingfisher darting along the ditches and Hayley was lucky enough to glimpse a bittern. As for the harriers, Hayley’s luck continued with a ringtail hen harrier drifting low over her head along with quite a few marsh harriers. The totals were 43 marsh harriers and 1 hen harrier, a standard number for this time of year.

Once we had counted the harriers, it was straight onto our monthly WeBS counts, in which we count all the wintering water birds on the reserve. As it wasn’t a big high tide not many birds move on Freshmarsh or tidal marsh, but it does mean there are more birds such as dunlins, redshanks and curlews on volunteer marsh. Whilst counting the waders on the beach I was treated to a sanderling and a turnstone running around my feet, which was very cool.

Heathland management

It was a change of scenery for Jim and Ryan on Tuesday as they headed off to one of our confidential reserves to carry out some winter management. Within the site is a small area of lowland heath which is excellent for invertebrates, however pine, alder and birch have taken over considerably. With Nene Washes underwater, they were joined by a couple of the team from Nene to safely carry out some essential winter management for the reserve.


So much for a quiet day at home to work on some of the projects we are involved with. Following a night of torrential rain, Ryan messaged us on Tuesday morning to say the courtyard and picnic area were underwater! Looking at how close the water was to our building’s doors, Hayley and I spent the morning improvising on sandbags, moving stuff off the floor in the feeding station and ensuring the ice creams were saved! As I write this on Friday evening the water has dropped a couple of inches, but the courtyard is still sitting under several inches of water!

Winter tidy up                

After several months of beach cleans and office tidy ups, it was time to finally get rid of it all and make a start on tidying up the Tank Road which has become a bit of a dumping ground. So on Thursday we spent most the day filling a skip with all this rubbish! A significant amount of this comes from the fishing industry with washed up containers used as floats.

West Bank Path Repairs

As many of you are aware the when it rains the west bank path becomes very soft and squishy in places and the top surface has worn away in places. Next week we have contractors on site resurfacing the path and reinstating the camber to the path to better facilitate drainage. In preparation for this week we have removed the benches and the vegetation that was growing up underneath them.

The footpath will remain open as usual with escort around the work areas where necessary.

Freshwater Habitats Project

About half of my week has spent continuing to work on this exciting project. We originally had a site visit planned for Friday with a couple of our ecologists but because of COVID we switched to online meeting to discuss more of the details from hydrology to predator fences to viewing opportunities. This proved very useful and has set us up nicely for a site meeting prior to the breeding season.

And finally

Did you catch Snettisham on the BBC's The One Show on Monday evening? Jim hosted Ollie and Nadeem from the bird watching group Flock Together last December at RSPB Snettisham, whilst they looked for pink-footed geese. 

That is it for this week from the team.