The past year has seen a contrast of weather conditions with the Beast from the East and the mini Beast from the East in March through to a hot, dry summer and now we are back into winter with low rainfall and mild conditions continuing The reserve has recorded 214 species of birds including a couple of new for the reserve records. But first let’s start with the breeding birds.

As a result of the Beast from the East some of breeding birds were severely affected. The cold weather wiped out the entire Cetti’s warbler population on the reserve. These birds are at the northern edge of their range and so are susceptible to cold weather. The good news is that at least 5 birds were heard in the autumn so we are hopeful they will be back breeding in 2019. The bearded tit population also suffered with a reduction in pairs, down to 7 pairs. Once again we couldn’t prove breeding of Bitterns, but Marsh harriers had another good season with 12 fledging from 5 nests.

On the Freshmarsh record numbers of Mediterranean gulls bred (56 pairs) and Black headed gull (586 pairs). Interestingly we had over 1000 sandwich terns courting one another and some showing an interest in nesting within the fenced area. Although they didn’t stay and breed this year, there is a chance they may return next year. Avocets had an average year with 21 nesting attempts though chick productivity was low.

The ringed plovers had one of their better seasons on the beach producing 5 young from 2 pairs within the cordon area. Ringed plovers are really struggling on the Norfolk coast for a number of reasons including; changing beach structure resulting in less available beach, high tides in May wiping out nests, predation and increasing disturbance from people. So we thank everyone for respecting the cordon on the beach. Dune tiger beetles enjoyed the warm weather with over 100 being counted.

The sea as usual has delivered a great variety with black necked, red necked, Slavonian and great crested grebe all being on the sea at the same time. Small numbers of long tailed ducks, common scoter, velvet scoter, eiders, goldeneye and red breasted mergansers have all been present. There has been plenty of opportunity to get your eye in with divers with red throated, black throated and great northern diver. The end of October produced a record count of Pomarine skua with 131 heading east at sea throughout the day.

Across the rest of the reserve wintering duck numbers have been good to great including record number of teal (2424) and an early morning wintering roost count of 78 goldeneye on the freshmarsh. An American Wigeon in March was a first for Titchwell. In terms of waders, 33 species have been recorded including the long staying Lesser Yellowlegs, another first for the reserve, plus American golden plover, grey phalarope, red necked phalarope and temminck’s stint but no pectoral sandpiper.

A few other highlights of 2018 include a Snowy Owl on the beach in March, a Greenish warbler and a wryneck in May, an alpine swift in July, yellow browed warblers arrived in September and a red-flanked bluetail made a brief appearance in October.

There has also been a record little egret roost of over 125 birds, the numbers peaked in September but there is still a small roost at the moment. The marsh harrier winter roost has equalled last years record of 53 birds, if some cold weather appears expect this number to rise. Up to 3 hen harriers have also been roosting on site. 

If you are looking for a challenge why not enter the #Titchwell200 and see how many species you can see when visiting the reserve in one year. In 2018 at least 2 people recorded over 200 species each. 

We hope to see you soon and we thank you for all your support.