Temperatures have plunged to record lows across all of the British mainland but the lagoons and marshes are providing a lifeline for thousands of migrant birds and geese desperate to feed themselves before the bitter winter brings their life to a sudden frozen end.
The huge reserve consisting of marshlands, reed beds and lagoons are a haven of life to Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers, Great Bitterns and Goldeneye - and as Richard Burton, RSPB volunteer at Titchwell informs me - Northern Harriers have come to roost in the salt-marshes close to the beach.
This is an exciting time for the RSPB as Mr Burton explained, "the Northern Harrier originates from north America and has a white band on its tail and an orange underside. It has been spotted in the salt marsh area which has not frozen over as it is still tidal and is essentially a moving body of water."
Unlike other hawks, the Northern Harrier relies on its hearing and its vision to capture prey. The feathers of the face are stiff to help transmit sound, and it shows a pronounced "round-face" just like that of an owl
. Mr Burton explained, "Hen Harriers, and its north American cousin, declined rapidly in 20th century from loss of wetlands and changes in farming practices. It's now stable or slightly declining in most areas. So to see it here in Titchwell is a joy."
Just two years ago in much of the reserve was abandoned to the sea
During the Second World War, the area was a gunnery range for training tank crews. The partially-buried, wrecked hulls of two, World War 2, Covenanter tanks are shown below. The tanks were likely used as targets during gunnery–training.
Avocets are an amazing site here too - around 50 pairs nest in the brackish marsh around spring and up until 1947 these amazing black and white birds where virtually extinct. as a breeding species in the UK, now 80-per-cent of these breed here in the Titchwell Marshes. They have an upturned bill and blue legs.
The Reserve has a new hide known as the fabulous new Parrinder
hides. It is from here one can easily spot Bittern, Turnstone, Dunelin and pink-feet geese. Mr Burton says, "Even this time of year mute swans and Hooper swans are common on the marsh close to the beach - and look out for the Oystercatchers on the beach in their hundreds".
The reserve therefore has an impressive list of rarities
, and it is sometimes nicknamed Twitchwell
- as in twitching. It is one of the most popular RSPB reserves, receiving over 100,000 visitors each year, not including the birds.