Norfolk, UK
2017 TBC

Winter birding in Norfolk

When it comes to top birding areas within the UK Norfolk needs little introduction. But for those of you that haven’t tasted this land I will say this – You will be walking in the footsteps of giants as this is hallowed ground. There is good reason why Norfolk is one of the top birding locations in Britain which is simply this – incredible and accessible habitats, geographical position and abundance of interesting birds in all seasons. Winter is no exception, so get ready to wrap up warm and come with us in search of raptors, cranes and geese!

3 day getaway

This 3 day excursion will connect us with some of Norfolk’s best wintering birds, whilst experiencing some of the top destinations within the county. With short daylight hours we will pack in a full day’s birding and still have plenty of time to relax around a cozy fire in the local pub. This is a great introduction to the wonder of winter birds where farmland, estuary, sea and reed bed habitats will all be included.

What is included?

  • Local transportation*
  • Entrance fees to parks and reserves
  • Professional bird guiding
  • Accommodation
  • Bottled water
  • Breakfast
  • Summit to Seashore birding checklist
 * Local transportation provided from pick up point in Woking.

What is not included?

  • Transportation to pick up point in Woking
  • Lunch and dinner costs
  • Travel and health insurance (if applicable)
  • Extra soft drinks, alcohol and additional snacks

Note: The itinerary may change on any tour depending on factors out of our control such as weather. If the tour is cancelled or delayed due to weather conditions you will receive a refund or be able to choose an alternative date. The tour leader’s decision on an alternative itinerary is final.  It is the responsibility of all guests to get to the pick up point as specified. Please familiarise yourselves with our terms and conditions policy before booking. See our FAQs and Terms and Conditions for more detailed information.

Additional information

Duration3 days
Weather10-15 Celsius
LeadersRich Mooney
Level of DifficultyEasy
CurrencyPound (GBP)

Day 1 – Hickling Broad

Pick up and drop off is at the Woking train station in front of Marks & Spencers on the Station Approach side of the tracks. We depart Woking at 10:00 am on day one of our Norfolk adventure! This part of the journey takes about 3 hours, stopping enroute at a services for lunch, giving us plenty of time to get acquainted. Our ETA at Hickling Broad NWT is approximately 14:00, giving us lots of time to walk out to Stubb Mill raptor viewpoint, one of the best in the county. Here there are around  50 or more Marsh Harrier roosting with regular sightings of Hen Harrier. Our top bird at this location is Common Crane, so with a little luck and patience we’ll connect with this iconic bird of Norfolk.  Other species of interest at this site include Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Bittern. Once we have lost the light we will continue on to our comfy accommodation in Cley where we will stay for 2 nights.

Day 2 – Titchwell

After a good hearty breakfast at our accommodation we will head up the coast to RSPB Titchwell where will spend the day. Prior to entering the reserve we will check the nearby farmland for Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Linnet, Pink-footed Geese and possibly Rough-legged Hawk.

Titchwell has wonderful facilities including, toilets, gift shop, cafe and good hides if the weather isn’t being kind. Here there will be a good selection of waterfowl to look through, including Brent Geese and Goldeneye. The feeders within the woods often attract a good variety of finches including Brambling and Siskin. Bittern and Bearded Tit make regular appearances in the reed beds and sea-watches should produce Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Eider. A visit to Thornham Harbour may be on the agenda as this is a hotspot for  Twite. Pink-footed Geese move en masse at dusk so we will position ourselves for the best opportunity to view that based on local information on the day. Once back in Cley we will freshen up and head out to a local pub  for an evening meal.

Day 3 – Cley Marshes

Our final day in Norfolk will involve a visit to the famous Cley Marshes located just a five minute drive from our accommodation. Here we will head out to the main hides centred in the middle of a giant reed bed. Here we have another good chance for Bearded Tit, Bittern, Marsh Harrier, wildfowl and waders. This is followed by a walk along the East Bank to the shingled beach where we have the best chance of locating wintering Snow Bunting. We can warm up with a bowl of soup and cup of tea back at the NWT centre before making our way back to Surrey. However, we aren’t quite done, as depending on local information, we may stop near Thetford en-route home for Hawfinch which regularly show in winter. This is Norfolk, things may change, its folklore birding history is well founded and there is always a chance of something rare!

December 2014

My wife Lori and I decided to spend a couple of days in Norfolk just before Christmas. We stayed at the Cromer Country Club but made a trip up the coast to visit Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve. En-route to Titchwell we noticed a big flock of geese get up and settle again at Holkham. Here we got great looks at hundreds of Pink-footed Geese. A little further up the road we pulled over again. Here there were more Pink-footed Geese, Greylag Geese, 2 tundra Bean Geese and 12 White-fronted Geese. Titchwell as usual produced lots of birds-56 species including: Marsh Harrier, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Ruff, Curlew, Goldeneye and Water Rail.

The following day we took a walk from our accommodation along the coastal path to Overstrand. The birding was a little dull but the views and scenery were beautiful. A good time to reflect the past year. I totaled 199 species for year including 18 lifers. The highlight for 2014 other than some new birds was showing my old Canadian pals Mike Force (seabird biologist) and Chris Charlesworth (lead bird guide for Avocet Tours) the wonders of our British avifauna!

January 2015

Had a great day in Norfolk with my good friend Jono Dudley yesterday. We hit the road at 06:00am putting us near our destination (Titchwell Marsh RSPB Reserve)  around 09:30. However, we made a quick pit-stop at Thornham Harbour where there were 65 Twite.

Though it was freezing cold the weather was perfect; with beautiful winter sun making everything look incredible. We bumped into a few other birders who too were looking for the Twite. It didn’t take long to spot the first group of about ten birds; perched on top of some grass near the water. They were highly mobile which kept us on our toes but we managed to get some good views.

Wind, distance and frantic feeding habits of this species made photography very challenging. I didn’t manage to get anything worth posting but Jono, however, did get some good record shots which is amazing under the conditions. Twite was a lifer me, so our day got off to a great start! Next we stopped at Titchwell Marsh RSPB where we spent a few hours birding the reserve. We tallied up 50 species, with good looks at most, though the high tide had put many species at distance.

There was a good selection of waders to sort through including Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Redshank, Ruff, Curlew, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oystercatcher. Next we headed to Wells-on-Sea to chase a Red-necked Grebe reported in the harbour. En-route we spotted a gathering of twitchers at the side of the road – stopped and got a distant look at Rough-legged Buzzard. The grebe at Wells was a no-show so we hit the road back to Woking! Good day, great company and a lifter in the bag – TWITE!

January 2016

I had a great weekend and wonderful start to the year (15th – 17th January 2016) in Norfolk staying in Cley by the Sea. The Starting point was at Hickling Broad where I arrived at 16:00. With daylight slipping away I picked up the pace to get out to Stubbs Mill to check the raptor roost site. All of my efforts to get here on time paid off with Common Crane, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl all present.

Saturday I mainly birded between Cley and Blakeney. Here I totalled 60 species most noteworthy being Snow Bunting, Twite, Water Rail, Kingfisher and Pink-footed Goose.

Sunday was somewhat hectic as I tried to connect with some key target birds. It started off well with 2 British ticks – Red-necked Grebe at Cley Marshes and Lapland Bunting at Blakeney.

My luck, at least on the rarity side ran out then. Rough-legged Buzzard was a no-show at Chosely drying barns, 3 missing Shore Lark at Holkham was my reward after a ridiculous hike and the Pallid Harrier at Flitcham decided to go MIA during my vigil. However, Titchwell was great as always with 14 shorebirds my first Siskin of the year and a cracking look at a Brambling.

95 species for the weekend

2 British ticks and 48 year birds

Top 27 is really just a bit of fun, as even the most common birds are obviously special. So, the list below represents not only the rare but the good the bad and the ugly! We are very aware of our customers hopes and dreams when planning a trip, so here are some targets that are high on our priority list.

  1. Common Crane
  2. Marsh Harrier
  3. Hen Harrier
  4. Barn Owl
  5. Short-eared Owl
  6. Merlin
  7. Rough-legged Hawk
  8. Bar-tailed Godwit
  9. Sanderling
  10. Curlew
  11. Ruddy Turnstone
  12. Pink-footed Goose
  13. White-fronted Goose
  14. Brent Goose
  15. Goldeneye
  16. Common Scoter
  17. Eider
  18. Long-tailed Duck
  19. Pintail
  20. Brambling
  21. Siskin
  22. Twite
  23. Lesser Redpoll
  24. Bearded Tit
  25. Snow Bunting
  26. Grey Partridge
  27. Bittern