Titchwell Birds 2019

Now we are in 2020 it is time to reflect on the birdlife of Titchwell in 2019. Overall, we recorded 218 species, up on the 214 recorded in 2018, though a number are subject to being accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) and the Norfolk Records Committee. If you have found any of the birds marked with a * please can you submit the record to the relevant record committee. 

New Year’s Day set the trend for much of 2019 with 100 or more bird species being recorded on the majority of days. Pretty impressive for a small reserve!

During the winter months the sea host red-necked grebe, black-necked grebe, Slavonian grebe and good numbers of great crested grebe. If you were lucky you could have them all in once scope view. In December a puffin was seen occasionally bobbing about on the sea; a rare bird for Titchwell.

On the beach ringed plovers had one of their better breeding seasons but remain under increasing pressure from disturbance by people (and dogs) as well as increasing big high tides in May and June. Lapland buntings and snow buntings did make a winter appearance but are increasingly hard to come by.

During the breeding season the Freshmarsh held a minimum count of 57 pairs of Mediterranean gulls, 400+ black-headed gulls and 25 pairs of avocet. Several avocets also breed on the Tidal marsh later on in the season. Wader wise, we recorded 32 species; average for Titchwell. During the summer months which are the best months for waders at Titchwell we had record numbers of wood sandpipers which reflected other sites across the UK, other highlights included over 800 Avocet in June, a returning lesser yellowlegs and a new bird for the reserve in the form of a semipalmated sandpiper which remained for a few days. Once again, we failed to record pectoral sandpiper and there was no red-necked phalarope either. Wintering wildfowl are doing well due to the high water levels we have created, with high numbers of teal, tufted duck, wigeon and shoveler. An interesting sighting was that of a hooded merganser photographed flying west on the sea in September. A few weeks late one appeared on the Freshmarsh.

Lesser yellowlegs by Les Bunyan

The reedbed failed to have breeding bitterns but hosted a long staying adult purple heron and later in the summer a juvenile purple heron was sighted. Sadly, it wasn’t the result of breeding. In the autumn a secretive little bittern appeared for the lucky few. In the autumn over 120 little egrets were counted roosting in willow wood whilst cattle egrets appeared in the spring.  The stand out spectacle though must be the roosting marsh harriers with over 90 roosting on site this winter along with a hen harrier.

The tank road area was productive for turtle doves with at least four birds feeding on the supplementary seed, with one juvenile seen. A great reed warbler was heard and seen at Patsy’s in the spring. A couple of other highlights over the year included a white-tailed eagle fly over the reserve in Spring and a long-eared owl in the autumn

Long-eared owl by Les Bunyan

Overall it was a productive year for the reserve as there are not many places where you can record 80 or even 90 species before breakfast. What will 2020 hold?