Titchwell’s March Sightings       31st March 2024           Sue Bryan

Never mind March, we know

You’re not really mad

Or angry or bad

You’re only blowing the winter away.

To get the world ready

For April and May

so wrote a key stage one child when asked to write a poem about March for their teacher. Underneath they had drawn a delightful picture of some pretty flowers and butterflies giving us all hope that spring is on its way.

Here at Titchwell we are all hopeful that spring is on its way, as the endless winter rain was still causing issues for visitors negotiating puddles on the paths around the reserve, but at least the birds on our Freshmarsh are finding a sanctuary now that the sluice has been repaired and we can evacuate some of the water through the sluice and expose some of the newly created islands ready for the breeding birds.

By the end of the month, we had a few spring-like days with some sunny days, which brought the first of the summer migrants to the reserve, which brought joy to all concerned!


Car Park, Visitor Centre, Woodland and Picnic Area

Our feeders at the back of the Visitor Centre continue to be busy with Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bramblings in small numbers. Siskin were reported intermittently between 3rd and 27th and a singing Redpoll was noted by the work shed on 7th, with another reported on 16th. A Song Thrush was reported on 1st and 31st. Redwing are still being seen around the car park and a volunteer noticed 5 Waxwings on the entrance road as he left on 10th. Waxwings are always a thrill to see bringing much enjoyment to visitors, staff and volunteers alike as they feed on berries in the hedge. They are a photographer’s dream. Six were still present on 17th and 2 were still present on 23rd but became more intermittent as they flew between the reserve and the village.

Sightings increased from the entrance road because of the presence of the Waxwings which included a Bullfinch on 14th and a Green Woodpecker on 13th. Another volunteer counted 3 Woodcock out of roost from the woodland on 6th. A Chiffchaff was seen around the Visitor Centre on 11th and on better weather days several were singing well until the end of the month. A volunteer noticed a Grey Wagtail in the overflow car park on 13th and were reported on several days between 27th and 29th.

More migrants arrived at the end of the month with Blackcaps appearing on 25th and a Willow Warbler on 30th.

Waxwing Photo Credit: Sue Bryan

Welcome Hub

A Goldcrest was seen from the Welcome Hub on 29th but I suspect these birds are under reported to staff in the Visitor Centre.


West Bank path

A Chiffchaff was reported from here on 3rd and a Skylark on 4th although these will almost certainly be under reported. Other birds reported from the West Bank Path include a Spoonbill on 11th, a Hen Harrier on 11th and 28th and a Stonechat on 12th and 25th. The first Swallow of the year was seen on 28th from here.

Reedbed and Reedbed pool

Harriers and other birds are still using the reedbed for roosting overnight. The final winter count was conducted early on the morning of 18th.  Results of the count included: 19 Marsh Harriers, 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, 3 Great White Egrets, 16 Little Egrets, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Bittern.

Cetti’s Warblers are often heard but infrequently seen and were reported from the beginning of the month. Bearded Tit are still present and 4 showed well on 3rd with many more sightings reported to the Visitor Centre towards the end of the month, coinciding with the better weather. A Bittern was reported near the island Hide on 4th, 5th, 16th and 18th. A bird was heard booming on 27th. A Water Rail was seen near the Island Hide on 10th.

The new Reedbed Pool continues to be a magnet for Pochard. On 21st,70 Pochards were counted. A Little Grebe was reported on 1st. However, excitement grew when the first of our spring migrants appeared with a pair of Garganey on 22nd, which remained until 24th although they sometimes appeared on the Freshmarsh. A Great Crested Grebe was seen on the pool on 29th.



Avocet have been continually reported from the beginning of the month peaking at over 100 birds on 25th. Golden Plover numbers were counted on the 26th and totalled 42 birds. Mediterranean Gulls numbers have risen from the beginning of the month to a maximum of 276 on 26th but numbers vary from day to day. Our regular wading birds reported from the 1st included: Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone, Grey Plover and Common Snipe Ruff were present on 5th. Black-tailed Godwit peaked at 245 birds on 26th. Ducks that were present throughout the month include: Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail on 11th and 24th, Red-breasted Merganser and Mallard. A Water Pipit was reported on 1st and 3rd as well as a Rock Pipit on 5th and 11th.  A Little Egret was seen on 4th.

At last it was nice to see some spring migrants on the Freshmarsh which included a Little Ringed Plover on 20th, with 3 reported from 28th – 30th. Sandwich Terns arrived on 23rd with 10 being reported that day. A pair of Garganey arrived on 23rd which thrilled the birdwatchers as they were relatively close to the West Bank Path. A Great White Egret was present on 28th and two Spoonbills were present on 31st.

Garganey  Photo Credit: Sue Bryan


Volunteer Marsh

A Rock Pipit was seen here on 1st and 3rd. Ducks present on the marsh included Pintail and Wigeon on 4th and some Teal on 10th. A Kingfisher was noted here on 5th and 10th. On 11th a Red-breasted Merganser was present. Bar-tailed Godwits were reported from here on11th but are probably present in a few numbers all month.


Tidal Pool

Pintail were seen here from the beginning of the month with 8 birds noted on 8th. A Kingfisher and a Rock Pipit were recorded on 6th. A Great Crested Grebe was noted here on 11th. Three Little Ringed Plovers were seen here by volunteers and a member of staff on 22nd with two birds remaining until 24th. A Red-breasted Merganser was seen here on 29th.


Beach and Sea

A small flock of Common Scoter have been present from the beginning of the month with 14 birds recorded on 8th. Other birds noted in small numbers throughout the month on the sea include: Great Crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Fulmar and specific date birds include a Gannet on 24th, Slavonian Grebe on 4th, 14th -17th, a Black-necked Grebe on 12th, 14th and 16th and a Long-tailed Duck on 3rd. Eider numbers have varied with 24 counted on 13th. Birds on the beach include: Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Sanderling with dates for a Snow Bunting on 1st and 3rd, a Stonechat in the dunes on 1st and 3rd, and Merlin sitting on the beach on 8th with 2 birds on 19th. Another Merlin was reported on 23rd, 27th and 28th, which may have been one of the two earlier birds. Knot were reported on 11th, 14th and 22nd. Pink-footed Geese have mostly migrated back to their breeding grounds but a few are still lingering with a small number seen flying over the beach on 5th. Two Goosander were seen flying over the sea on 13th. A Red-throated Diver was noted on 30th.

The first of the migrant terns arriving back from the African coastline included a Sandwich Tern on 20th with 9 Sandwich Terns reported on 24th. Sandwich Terns continued to be seen until the end of the month.


Fen Trail

The Tawny Owl continues to be seen in its roost spot during the day along the Fen Trail, buried in the Ivy-clad tree giving our visitors a hard time trying to see it. For the most part only a few breast feathers can be seen on most days, but sometimes it shuffles revealing a little more of itself. Woodcock can be found by those using thermal imagers and these were recorded along the trail on 1st and 6th. Bullfinch, Jay and Goldcrest were noted here on 4th. Five Chiffchaff were seen along the Fen Trail between the Visitor Centre and Willow Wood on 14th. A Song Thrush was reported from here on 25th.

The first migrants reported from here included a Willow Warbler on 24th and a Blackcap on 30th.


Meadow Trail

Two Chiffchaffs have over-wintered at Titchwell and one of them was recorded along the trail on 6th.


East Trail, Patsy’s Pool, Old Tank Road area

Patsy’s Pool has been difficult to access recently because of all the rain and the contractors repairing the sluice making the path extremely muddy, but now that the work has finished and some gravel has been laid down to help raise the path above the lying water, more bird reports are filtering through to the Visitor Centre. Common Snipe were reported on 4th and 6th and a Water Rail was also noted on the same date. A Little Grebe was noted on 6th, but is probably under-reported from here. A Red Kite was reported from here on 1st. A Bullfinch was seen along the hedge line on 12th and a Kingfisher was seen over Patsy’s Pool on 12th. A Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk were seen on 22nd and a Swallow was recorded as the first migrant on 28th.

Grazing Meadow/Thornham Marsh

Brent Geese are generally the last of our wild geese to leave on their migration north and continue to be seen out on the marsh. A Short-eared Owl has been delighting visitors, especially our Senior Sites manager’s baby son whose delightful little voice told me that there was an owl on the marsh! It’s never too early to engage children in looking at nature! The Short-eared Owl was seen between 3rd and 17th on most days either sitting on a post on the Grazing Meadow or hunting over Thornham marsh. A Stonechat was seen on 5th, 8th and 11th along with a Merlin on the 5th. Eighteen Common Snipe were seen emerging from the marsh on 5th by a member of staff on an after-work walk and an amazing 45 were counted the following day by a volunteer. A Hen Harrier was seen flying over the marsh on 4th, 6th 7th and 16th hunting over the marsh. A Spoonbill was seen on 10th and 11th along with a few Pink-footed Geese. A Spotted Redshank was seen on one of the pools on the marsh on 11th and 12th. A Kestrel was noted on 11th but is probably under reported from here. A Rock Pipit was noted on 22nd here.

Additional birds include a Bittern on 26th, Water Pipit and Spoonbill on 31st.

Short-eared Owl  Photo Credit: Cliff Gilbert


Thornham Point

A Short-eared Owl was seen out at the point on 14th.



A Great White Egret was seen on 1st and 3rd along with a Peregrine on 1st and 3rd. Two Rook were noted flying over on 1st which is an unusual sighting for the reserve. A Hen Harrier was recorded on 4th and 5th. A Kestrel was seen on 4th, but this will be another bird that goes unreported to the Visitor Centre. Four Barnacle Geese were seen flying through on 4th which are probably feral birds. A member of staff had a bit of a shock as he was demonstrating some binoculars to a customer as he looked up and saw a White Stork flying overhead on 5th. The bird was seen in several places along the coastline as it continued east. Its provenance however will probably remain a mystery though, as the date is a bit early for spring overshoots from the continent. A Spoonbill flew over on 6th and a Cattle Egret flew over on 8th with 3 more birds seen on 10th. Siskin were seen flying over on 10th. A Red Kite was reported on 11th but we know that they are seen on most days from somewhere on the reserve. A Rock Pipit was seen flying over on 11th. However, the most exciting bird seen flying over was a record of a Rook on 12th and again on 22nd, which is quite rare as a sighting on the reserve. A Lesser Redpoll was seen in flight on 22nd. A Sparrowhawk was recorded on 14th. A Bittern was seen flying over the reserve on 27th landing somewhere near the Tidal Pool.

However, all eyes are often looking towards the sky from the middle of the month onwards as it is always good to see the first hirundine of the year, so a Sand Martin report was nice to receive on 19th and a Swallow on 28th.

Winter migrants leaving us include a Redwing on 27th and four Whooper Swans on 25th.


Other Wildlife

Scarlet Elf caps remain to be seen on the reserve in the damp areas under the trees in the woodland. A Stoat was seen near Patsy’s Pool on 14th. With some better weather arriving it was nice to see some insects emerging in the sun and on the 30th, Holly Blue, Comma and Peacock Butterflies were observed and a Large Red Damselfly was also seen.