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Our October Norfolk Houseparty

A real birding bonanza!

Sunrise over Holkham

Out for a dawn walk to enjoy the geese lifting off from the fields at Holkham

With a whole week to enjoy the delights of birdwatching in Norfolk we had time to really soak up the amazing birds and stunning scenery. Our base was a beautiful house over-looking the marshes, where the upstairs lounge acts as a bird hide. The coastal path runs right past the gate and we loved taking an early morning walk along the sea-wall. To see, and just as importantly hear, thousands and thousands of Pink-footed Geese lift into the dawn sky is a magical experience. The huge skeins of geese head off to feed on the fields and cross the sun-rise all calling their "wink-wink" cries. We never tire of this bird specatcle and it has the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention.

Our early walks produced an amazing number of species as well as huge numbers of individual birds, possible to see over sixty species of bird before breakfast! Amongst the long list seen from the sea-wall were hunting Barn Owl, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Green Woodpecker, Mediterranean Gulls, Bearded Tits, masses of waders and wildfowl and even dazzeling Kingfishers!

The feeders and the garden fruit trees also attracted a great selection of birds including Blackcaps and Fieldfares, a Barn Owl drifted through the garden and Pink-footed Geeese and huge flocks of Golden Plover were regular fly-overs.

Cley Marshes waders

Always plenty of birds to enjoy at Cley Marshes NWT reserve

Each day we set out to visit the very best birding sites along the Norfolk coast. RSPB Titchwell is always one of our favourite birdwatching places and the reserve again delivered amazing birds. The beach provide top notch sea-watching with the most gorgous Long-tailed Ducks just offshore - allowing scope filling views. An Arctic Skua showed off chasing gulls and flushing flocks of waders, thrilling stuff. Nine Shore Larks flew in off the rough North Sea - amazing to see migration happening right before us. One of these colourful larks dropped down on the sand and we enjoyed great views. The lagoons at Titchwell were equally entertaining, full of waders and wildfowl. Swirling flocks of Golden Plover were mezmorizing in the Autumn sun, two Jack Snipe bobbed in the grass, these proved very popular indeed. A Red-crested Pochard dived in the pools as Marsh Harriers drifted over the reedbeds.

At Cley NWT reserve we again enjoyed wonderful waders and wildfowl including great flocks of dark-bellied Brent Geese and masses of Wigeon. Avocets waded through the shallows, a Cetti's Warbler sat up in a dead bush, a lovely Barn Owl floated right past us as we walked the famous East Bank.

Holme Dunes NWT also provided great sea-watching with both Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes on the sea, two Great Skua powered past. On one visit visible migration was in full swing and thousands of birds were pouring west over the dunes! It was brilliant to stand on the dunes and witness huge flocks of Starling, thrushes, finches and larks flying right past us.

Waders at Snettisham

Waders rippling like smoke over the marshes at high tide at Snettisham

Hard to pick one moment amongst so many wonderful birding experiences but if we had to pick just one then the day at RSPB Snettisham for the high tide wader roost would be it! The sight of over 100,000 waders in flight over the Wash estuary will never be forgotten, just breath taking. A Peregrine Falcon tore across the sky and attacked the mass of Knot, time after time the falcon twisted and turned through the flocks until at last a Knot was singled out and fell prey to the fastest bird on earth! Having been wowed by the Knot spectacle we headed over to the hides over-looking the lagoons. Plenty of waders rooosting here and we soon picked out three Little Stints on a small island. While watching these Alan noticed a wader that had very long wings and alarm bells were ringing! Luckily the small wader stayed in view and soon shook itself showing a nice neat white rump, we had just found a very rare White-rumped Sandpiper!! Amazing with so many thousands and thousands of waders here to pick out one rare one amogst them was just the icing on an already wonderful morning.

Two barred Crossbill

Two-barred Crossbill at Lynford Arboretum

On one occassion we headed south from the coast and had a wonderful day seeing some top draw rarities and some very special resident birds indeed. Our day began at Lynford where Barry soon picked out a stunning male Two-barred Crossbill feeding with a flock of Common Crossbill. The morning sunshine really showed off this rare visitor and his cousins as they fed in larch trees. Everyone was thrilled by the frame filling views through the Leica telescopess.

Shore Lark

Shore Lark stretches his wings

Next stop was Winterton beach and soon found our main target bird, three lovely Shore Larks. These colourful little birds posed for us on the sand allowing us all to feast our eyes on these scarce visitors. Just offshore we had great looks at three Velvet Scoter on the calm sea. A walk further north along the beach and we caught up with a delightful flock of 25 Snow Bunting feeding in the dunes.

Rose-coloured Starling

Rose-coloured Starling enjoying the view from the chimney tops of Caister-on-Sea

After a great lunch in the beach cafe we were off again in search of another rarity, a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling that had taken up residence in the nearby town of Caister-on-Sea. Wendy soon spotted the fawn coloured starling on a chimmney pot but it flew before we could all see it. Then Alan relocated it drinking from a gutter but again it was over the roof tops before everyone could see it, frustrating. After a good search we were just about to leave when Alan again saw the Rose-coloured Starling drop behind a nearby house. A tense few minutes with no sign and we began to think it had again given us the slip. Then Carolyn had the bird! This time it posed for us nicely and we all had great views of this rather scruffy rarity, whew!

Common Cranes Stubbs Mill

The first of several Common Cranes coming in to roost on the marshes at Stubbs Mill

With the day drawing to a close we headed for Hickling Broad to try and see some very special birds indeed, Common Cranes. We were, again, very lucky as three of these majestic birds flew in and actually landed in view. Often we only see these birds in flight only here as the reeds usually hide them on the ground. Two adults and a juvenile gave lovely views in the late afternoon sun. Lots of Marsh Harriers were coming into roost here and were joined by a Hen Harrier and a male Merlin. A super meal in the nearby pub tasted very good indeed after such an amazing day packed with so many wonderful birds.

Burnham Overy Staithe sunrise

Another wonderful morning walk along the seawall at Burnham Overy Staithe

Fallow Deer Holkham

Fallow Deer can always be found in Holkham Park!

Cley Marshes at sunset

Atmospheric Cley Marshes at sunset

Barn Owl at dusk

Ghostly Barn Owl flies past in the rapidly-fading light

Vis migging at Holme

The Houseparty Team vis-migging at Holme-next-the-Sea

Birders lunch at Cafe Blah Blahh

All that birding makes you hungry, time for a delicious lunch at Cafe Blah Blahh in Hunstanton, with a guest appearance by Her Majesty!

Whooper Swans at Welney

Family party of Whooper Swans at Welney WWT reserve

Bewicks swans

War and Peace: argumentative Bewick's Swans plus a more placid Whooper

Thanks to Jayne, Barry and Wendy, Alex and Shelagh, and Dale and Carolyn for making our Norfolk birding week such fun! We are running lots more tours, three days and more week long "house parties" do come and join us for the very best experiences.

For more information about our tours to Norfolk, please email us on

We look forward to you enjoying the best of birdwatching with us soon.


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