Norfolk Nature Reserves - Snettisham Nature Reserve
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Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography

Snettisham RSPB reserve covers 1755 hectares of which 1703 hectares are intertidal habitats and 52 hectares of brackish lagoons and grassland. By controlling water levels and keeping the islands and roost banks free of vegetation the RSPB can maintain the correct conditions for nesting common terns and black headed gulls and for roosting waders. It is important to take into account the time and height of the tide, state of the moon and time of year.

Wader Roosts occur in every month of the year except June. Birds are pushed into the south east corner of The Wash by the rising tide. Bigger tides covering all of the mud and saltmarsh are best as these force many of the birds onto the roost bank and islands in front of the RSPB hides.

Pink footed goose roost - a winter visitors from Iceland and Greenland. Betweeen november and January up to 40,000 can be seen leaving their roost on The Wash at dawn. On moonlit nights the geese may stay in the fields to feed, so avoid visitng on mornings around the full moon. 

Nesting birds - between April and July ringed plovers and oystercatchers make their camouflaged nests on the beach. 

The Wash is one of the last greatest wildernesses in southern England. With over 300,000 birds present in the winter it is the most important estuary in the UK for wildfowl and waders. At peak times more than 100,000 birds can be found on Snettisham RSPB reserve making it the most important part of The Wash.

The reserve is a vital part of the East Atlantic Flyway (one of the natural worlds great migration routes) which stretch from Arctic Greenland and Siberia to the coastline of Africa. Waders and wildfowl use the flyway twice a year as they travel between their Arctic breeding grounds and wintering areas in western Europe and Africa. Birds use "The Wash" as a place to rest and feed, some spending the whole winter here, whilst others continue further south.

Thirteen species occur on The Wash in internationally important numbers, they are pink-footed goose, brent goose, shelduck, oystercatcher, grey plover, lapwing, knot, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank and turnstone.

Picture (c)
                    by John Ashley Photography