Welcome to another weekly round up from the reserve team.

Harrier count

We began the week with a winter harrier survey to record if any hen harriers roosted on the reserve and to also count the marsh harrier roost at Titchwell. It was a lovely morning to start the working week and the harriers didn’t disappoint. We were treated to one ringtail hen harrier and 27 marsh harriers leaving the roost, which is about on par with what we recorded last year. Our largest marsh harrier counts are generally December and January.

Crowd Control

It was an early start on Wednesday for the team as we all headed off to Snettisham for the last spectacle of the season. Following significant increase in interest for the last wader spectacle of the year, despite government guidelines on essential travel only, we made the decision to increase our staff presence at Snettisham. That was a good decision.

The reserve car park was full by 6.15am and we were having to direct people to park in the beach car park managed by the Ken Hill Estate, who had agreed to open their car park early for us. For those of us not on car park duty we were positioned in various places around the wader watch points and hides as this autumn we have noticed an increase in visitors climbing over fences, banks and in front of the hides to view into the pits. This behaviour is not acceptable as it disturbs the internationally important wader roost.

It was a beautiful morning with the knot dazzling in the early morning sunshine. As the spectacle only occurs on the largest of high tides the next opportunity to view this won’t be until March 2021. The times are available here: www,rspb.org.uk/snettisham

Snettisham Screening

We have experienced an increase in visitors disturbing the internationally important wader roost by climbing in front of our hides that overlook the pits. This isn’t acceptable behaviour. To reduce this Jim and Ryan spent a day carefully building a new screen at Shore Hide to stop people walking in front of the hide but still allowing views of the pits.

Beach Nesting Birds

We have carried on with our beach nesting bird project this week that principally covers Titchwell and Snettisham from developing the communication plan to enhancing the dog zoning on Titchwell beach that we trialled this summer.

Enhancing the viewing experience

The mild weather means that the vegetation keeps on growing and so this week we have carried out another cut in the bird feeding area located by the wildlife garden. This should make it easier to see some of the birds such as blackbirds and bramblings who like to feed on the ground. Whilst we had the strimmer out, Ryan cut some vegetation back on a ditch that runs along the tank road. Opening up the ditch allows more light in but also creates some nice sheltered bathing and feeding opportunities for birds such as robins, blackbirds, chiffchaffs and who knows maybe a wintering bluethroat or a dusky warbler.

Anti-predator fence

We ended the week on the Freshmarsh, repairing the anti-predator fence. The fence has now been in place for 5 years and has overall been a success. During this year’s breeding season the fence has taken a bit of a battering with the top layer of chicken wire that is hooked onto the brackets coming off. So, between us we spent the morning reattaching the fencing to the brackets and joining up any gaps in the fence that a fox may try to squeeze through. For once none of us got stuck in the mud!

Welcome Hub

In order to meet fire regulation, the welcome hub needed a roof upgrade from the originals plans. Finally, after a delay in production because of COVID the contractors were back on site adding the roof to the building.

Everything else

Amongst all this we have the daily chore of clearing leaves from around the visitor centre, topping up bird feeders, responding to emails, collecting beach rubbish, repairing signs and anything else you could think of.

Next week is going to be less varied as will be rebuilding the wonky boardwalk between Fen Hide and the Tank Road.

Thanks for reading