Hundreds of visitors flock to RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Tiny bearded tits darting over reed beds, short-eared owls hunting and marsh harriers busy nesting were some of the sights delighting bird watchers at RSPB Titchwell Marsh over the weekend.

This year's Wings Over Titchwell event attracted about 750 enthusiasts and more than 100 different bird species were spotted within just a couple of hours.

May is a busy month for the reserve, near Hunstanton, as the spring migration reaches its peak and the skies were aflutter with activity.

As well as providing a home for the species yet to head north, the reserve is welcoming new arrivals preparing to breed and is a refuge for those with a longer journey ahead of them.

'Some of the birds are just passing through on their way to breeding grounds in the north,' said the RSPB's Jasmine Atkinson.

'They are just resting and feeding, building up energy for the rest of their long journey.

'Hopefully, we will start to see some chicks soon. We've had four bearded tits fledge already and we have four pairs of avocets on eggs which could hatch any day now.'

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Staff and volunteers set up telescopes at key locations and each post was in radio contract so sightings could be shared and recorded.

Kestrels, sanderlings, marsh harriers, bearded its, sparrow hawks and a buzzard were among the bird species spotted before lunch, but visitors were also enchanted by a water vole building its nest and a Chinese water deer.

'Bearded tits can be quite tricky to see, but with so many people out we had more eyes,' Jasmine added. 'They are quite rare and found only in reed beds. They don't actually have beards, but they do have moustache markings.'

Wings Over Titchwell coincided with World Migratory Bird Day yesterday (Saturday), which this year explored the relationship between birds and people.

Events were held around the globe to promote the conservation of migratory birds and to celebrate the spectacular journeys they make each year.

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