Norfolk 1


A few of the birds we caught up with

Winter in Norfolk brings vast skies and some great birds. I’ve visited the north Norfolk coast on a few occasions in the last year or so sometimes as part of bird race with friends (good company and good birding and if you’re up for a year list, gets you off to a flying start with well over a hundred species possible in a few days) and sometimes on my own.

Shorelarks, Snow Buntings, Twite, impressive Harrier and Crane roosts, tens of thousands and geese and waders, Short-eared Owls, and Barn Owls make this part of the world one of Britain’s best birdwatching locations.

Holkham Gap’s a good place to catch up with the beautiful Shore Lark
Holkham’s also good for Snow Buntings, holding as many as 60 at times

Snow Buntings continually on the move as they feed on the shoreline
Twite are fairly reliable down at Thornham harbour

It’s always cold on the east coast at this time of year and sea watching, which always takes a fair bit of our time, can be a bit of a challenge but well worth it with Red and Black-throated divers, winter grebes and sea ducks on the radar.

We called in at Rutland Water on the way over to catch up with the Smews, twelve in all, five males and seven Redheads


Great White Egret at Rutland
Our first stop over for the night was at RSPB Frampton, we got there late and were treated to huge flocks of Golden Plover
Late evening rise of Golden Plover
Brent Geese heading out to the saltmarsh
Brent Geese – Frampton

An early start from Wales always allows for a visit to a spot or two on the way and this year we called in at Rutland Water for the Smew, the drake being a real gem and the female, or Redhead as it’s known, is not bad either and surely the most attractive the British hen ducks.

Golden Plovers

We also called in at RSPB Frampton in Lincolnshire and were treated to a birding spectacle that is right up there with the best, over 14,000 Golden Plovers filling the skies and thousands of Brent Geese out on the Saltmarsh.

Late Barn Owl over Holkham grazing marsh
Juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard at Wells-next-the-Sea
Dark-bellied Brent Geese

On the way back we also manage a stop off before the long drag home and the last couple of years it’s been Deeping Lakes near Peterborough for a Long-eared Owl roost. Last year an impressive five were in residence, this year, however we drew a blank.

Woodcock showed really well at Titchwell
Glaucous Gull off Cley
Pink-footed Geese
White-fronted Geese with Greylags at Holkham
Common Crane at Stubb Mill
Tundra Bean geese at Welney, another stopping off point on the way back from Norfolk
The very attractive Grey Partridge, again at Holkham
Common Scoter off shore at Holkham Gap with a Velvet in amongst them
Marsh Harrier roost at Titchwell – we counted 60 coming in as the light dropped
A single Ringtail (female Hen Harrier) came into roost with the Marsh Harriers
Long-eared Owl at Deeping Lakes near Peterborough

Generally there’s a rarity or two around, last year a Coues’s Arctic Redpoll at Sculthorpe Moor and this year a hard won, for us at least but not others, Blue-headed Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Sedgeford. Throw in great views of a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard and you’ve got a fair bit of fine birding.

Blue-headed Eastern Yellow Wagtail at Sedgeford

A very smart bird that took us many hours to catch up with
Coues’s Arctic Redpoll at the bottom of the feeder with Common Redpoll at the top and Mealy Redpoll in the middle at Sculthorpe Moor

Two places I’ll look at separately will be the high tide Knott roost at Snettisham on the Wash, extraordinary! and the 14,000 thousand Goldies at Frampton not bad either!

Filed under: Birds Eloquent ProjectTagged with: , ,


  1. Always a fab place visit. Great pix Tim. I’ve got the Deeping Lakes location earmarked for Anne & my trip up there next Jan. We missed it this year as we were abroad. Saved your ‘spot the Velvet Scoter’ puzzle!

  2. whoops! “solved” not ‘saved’ in my last line!!

  3. Thanks John, Yeah the Velvet Scoter’s not that obvious. Was hoping for a Surf or Black but couldn’t fashion one out of this lot! We went to Deeping again this year but couldn’t find any – maybe they were so deep in – there were a few about apparently.

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