A common query we have here is why the water levels at this time of year are high, so hopefully this answers some of your questions.
Water levels are managed dynamically throughout the year to benefit the differing needs of bird at different times of the year. During the winter we raise the water levels to cover the islands as a form of habitat management to supress vegetation growth ready for the upcoming breeding season. The higher water levels also benefit the wintering wildfowl such as Wigeon, teal and pintail which are an important component of Titchwell. In the evenings large numbers of lapwings and at times golden plover will drop in to roost before heading off to the fields during the day to feed.
As we head in to Spring we will begin to drop the water levels ready for the upcoming breeding season to reveal the islands at different times to benefit the breeding species such as avocets, black headed gulls and common terns. By pulsing water through we can also manipulate the habitat to benefit passage waders on their migration in spring and autumn.
However the weather can play a significant role in how the water levels appear. After heavy rain water levels will rise whereas long periods of drought will result in much lower water levels and the appearance of dry cracked mud. Due to its shallow nature the wind also plays a role. A strong easterly will push water towards the west bank path giving the impression of high water levels whereas a westerly pushes water away from the west bank path and thus water levels appear lower.
Back in 2008 as part of the Coastal Change project we created a hole in the East Bank sea wall. This work combined with the rebuild of the Parrinder Bank at the time has ensured the freshwater habitats remain protected from the changing north Norfolk coast line, rising sea levels and the increasing amount of storms we encounter. This work has resulted in volunteer marsh now being tidal, as the tide comes in water levels will rise and as the tide drops the water leaves.
At this time of year the Volunteer marsh is a good place to look for redshank, black tailed godwits and spotted redshanks. Wigeon can also be seen grazing the vegetation towards the eastern end.
The Norfolk coastline is incredibly dynamic and as such during the winter of 2017/18 the beach changed shape removing a creek which once existed. As a result as the tides comes in water can enter tidal marsh but cannot leave as the tide drops which has lead to water levels appearing high. This process has created a saline lagoon, an important and scarce habitat. We have had discussions with our Reserves Ecology department and have decided we won’t be reinstating the creek to allow water out but to leave it to nature. During the summer period water evaporates and water levels drop creating ideal feeding conditions for little egrets and spoonbills.
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