Here's residential volunteer Ryan with an update of what's been happening on the reserve over the last couple of months:  

What a whirlwind few months it has been since our last reserve update – how time flies when you’re having fun! During January and February, myself and the rest of the reserve team have been carrying out a real mix of jobs, from finishing up our winter work to starting to prepare for the ever-approaching breeding season – with a few surprise jobs along the way.

One of the biggest tasks we have undertaken this winter has been coppicing two areas in the willow woodland; this is part of a ten-year rotational cutting plan to help create new and more varied habitats (ranging from open areas to more dense patches) and age structure within the woodland. The cut areas should begin to grow again this coming summer, scrubbing up to provide some great opportunities to see migrant birds come spring time. Long term these cut areas should grow back much denser than they where previously, which will be great habitat for our lovely turtle doves.

Another big job to do in February was to repair a section of boardwalk on the Meadow Trail, which had become extremely wonky due to some tree roots growing underneath it and lifting the beams. It was a bit fiddly ensuring all the beams were level but after that it was plain sailing!

At the end of January, the reserve team were joined by some of our awesome volunteers and visitors for the second Big Beach Clean of the winter – these great events help keep our wonderful coastline tidy and are sponsored by SC Johnson, which helps raise some valuable funds for the reserve. It was a great success and as you can see from the picture below, we had a big haul by the end of the morning. Thanks to everyone who came to lend a hand!

Anybody who has visited the reserve in the last few days may have noticed that the third bay of the car park has had a bit of a radical haircut. Over the years the brambles have slowly been taking over so we have knocked them right back to give the row of apple trees, that had almost been completely covered, a new lease of life. So, come autumn time they will hopefully provide lots of tasty apples for our thrushes to enjoy. There are still a few small sections that need finishing off, so watch this space.

With spring fast approaching (hopefully!) and with water levels dropped low on fresh marsh, we worked with Site Manager, Jim, to make some repairs and upgrades to the anti-predator fence. This is to ensure come breeding season that it is as safe a haven as possible for our waders and gulls – especially avocet, black-headed gulls and Mediterranean gulls. We have increased the height of the “floppy top” along both sides of the island coming south from Parrinder bank so that the fence is now well over head-height which should be a further deterrent to any predators.

Life on a nature reserve is always full of surprises, which is one of the things I love the most about working here! One such surprise was that in mid-January we discovered that one of the large flap-valves that allows water out of the reedbed into Thornham Marsh whilst stopping seawater getting back in, had somehow managed to detach itself. This of course happened on the coldest day of the winter! After a few very chilly hours spent in a ditch the flap was reattached using some large bolts, which should stop any further escape attempts by the valve and the reserve team hastily retreated to the servery for some much-needed cups of tea.

As February draws to a close, so to does my time at Titchwell for another year – thanks to all the staff, volunteers and visitors for making it such an awesome experience and I will hopefully see you all again next winter!

Ryan – Residential Volunteer.

A huge thank you to Ryan for his hard work this winter. See you next year!