Author: Heather Coath, RSPB Titchwell Marsh Volunteer

Recent research carried out by Persil came to the startling conclusion last week that British children are among the most housebound and screen addicted in the world.

This is pretty shocking stuff, and as someone who had the good fortune to enjoy many a wild yomp as a child, it makes me wonder if, as a nation, we have inherently lost our love of nature and the outdoors? Or perhaps, as we slowly emerge from the honeymoon period of our relationship with new technology, gizmos and gadgets, we are all just in need of a little fresh inspiration?

Here to help is RSPB Titchwell Marsh volunteer, Heather Coath, with her top tips on how to extricate your family from the Xbox and tear them away from the TV:

Holding a bird RSPB Titchwell Marsh. Credit: Rahul Thanki (RSPB)

  • Keep it simple. Just taking time away from technology to enjoy the calming effect of a short walk through nature is a great place to start. I don’t rush. I just stroll along, stopping to catch a dragonfly, watch a barn owl flying overhead at dusk or explore anything else that grabs my interest. Any season will do whatever the weather, the effect is the same. Gadgets are great, but if you look closely, wildlife is truly amazing.
  • Wildlife is entertaining for all ages! When my family visit, I take them for an afternoon walk around Titchwell Marsh. We count the ducks on Patsy's reed beds, listen out for the rare bittern’s unique booming call (it sounds like a really loud fog horn!), and check out what wildlife lives under the boardwalk. Depending on the time of year we might also spot water voles, Chinese water deer, marsh harriers and the enormous array of freshwater and sea birds that have made the reserve their home. Kids are enthralled; adults let their inner child loose, and not a screen in sight!
  • Head to the beach. On a visit to Titchwell, I always leave time to walk along the West bank path, which leads to one of North Norfolk’s best beaches. Look west towards Thornham and east towards Brancaster beach and then keep walking. Not only do you get the chance to explore a peaceful part of the coast but you’ll also spot a variety of sea faring birds such as goldeneyes, common scoters and red throated divers. You might also chance upon the atmospheric remains of an old forest or a Second World War tank hull, real life relics that could have come straight from a video game!
  • Embrace the off switch and turn all the lights out too! Night time events at Titchwell, such as stargazing, are a magical and revitalizing experience. Nothing beats gazing at the constellations against the open backdrop of the marsh. As the sun goes down and nature sleeps you can see the harriers come in to roost for the night and listen to the birds calling good night to each other before viewing the sparkling heavens under a clear, dark sky.
  • Use friendly staff and volunteers to make the most of your visit: Forget video game scores; why not give yourselves points for all of the different wildlife you spot? Whether you are new to the reserve or a regular visitor, as the seasons change, so does nature, which is why we have experienced guides available to help you discover exciting new wildlife and habitats at Titchwell, every visit.

For information on activities and walks available at RSPB Titchwell Marsh, visit or call 01485 210779.

Grey heron, wading. Credit: Chris Gomersall (RSPB)