Tuesday 21st – Friday 24th May 2019NORFOLK – SPRING BIRDING BREAK
The county of Norfolk has some of the most diverse habitats in the UK. With sand dunes, coastal lagoons, woodland, marsh and heath, these in turn attract some of the rarest birds in the country. Heathland species include Northern Goshawk, European Stone Curlew, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Common Firecrest and Hawfinch. Wetland species we expect to see are Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Spoonbill, Little Gull, Garganey, Pied Avocet and Ruff, with the added chance of a rarity.
This tour has been designed to see these special species
Tour Leader: Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 8
Travelling from Essex with possible pickups on route, we head to the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen, where in spring we expect to see and hear booming Eurasian Bitterns and Common Cuckoos calling in the poplar woods. Eurasian Hobby reach their highest numbers in May, with up to 40 in the air at one time! The reed-beds are full of singing European Reed and Sedge Warblers and in the last few years we have seen both Marsh and Savi’s Warblers here.
Rarities in recent years have included Little Bittern, Red-footed Falcon, Great Egret and Collared Pratincole amongst others.
We arrive at our delightful hotel in North Norfolk early evening and settle in before enjoying our evening meal.
Overnight: Old Hunstanton
Days 2 - 3
The next couple of days will be spent at various north and northeast coastal reserves such as Cley and Titchwell which will be alive with the sights and sounds of spring! In woodlands we can expect to hear Eurasian Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff along with the resident Cetti's Warbler, whilst on the marshes Avocets will be displaying, along with good numbers of wildfowl that should include the magnificent Garganey. In recent springs, Eurasian Spoonbills have become a regular addition to the county’s breeding avifauna.
Wader migration will also be in full swing and many will be resplendent in their summer plumage such as Dunlin, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Red Knot, Sanderling and summer migrants like Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank and Spotted Redshank. The sea and beaches should hold Common Scoter flocking offshore and Common, Little and Sandwich Tern will be passing by along the shoreline.
Depending on local bird news we have a choice of sites to visit, including the northeast corner of Norfolk looking for Common Crane and Western Marsh Harrier, as well as migrants like Common Cuckoo, Ring Ouzel, Northern Wheatear, Western Yellow Wagtail or something rarer such as Eurasian Hoopoe or Eurasian Dotterel.
Other choices include the area around Holme and Snettisham looking for migrant warblers and chats such as Grasshopper Warbler, Common Redstart and Common and Lesser Whitethroats amongst others.
The Cley area is fantastic in spring and with scrapes at their optimum level, they are alive with waders such as Ruff in their breeding dress as well as Common and Green Sandpipers, Whimbrel and Little Ringed Plover amongst resident Pied Avocets. Raptors should include Eurasian Hobby and Montagu's Harrier which pass through at this time of year and many pools, scrapes and scrub attract resident species such as Great Bittern, Bearded Reedling, Cetti's Warbler and migrants like Mediterranean Gull, Common Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler. Offshore we will keep our eyes peeled for a passing Northern Gannet or maybe Manx Shearwater!
Overnight: Old Hunstanton
Leaving our base after a hearty breakfast, we drive southwards to the Brecks. Northern Goshawk is a strong possibility in the vast woodlands. Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Red Kite can also be seen along with Common Buzzard.
In open areas of clear-fell, we look and listen for Woodlark singing their fluty song, with the possibility of Yellowhammer, Tree Pipit and European Stonechat perching on uprooted tree stumps. Moving on to other sites in the area, we hope to find Common Firecrest, Common Crossbill and Hawfinch.
Stony fields surrounding the Brecks hold small numbers of European Stone Curlew, a prehistoric-looking bird that makes any birder’s day!
Early afternoon, we head back after a great weekend's birding!
Full board accommodation for 3 nights
All ground transport
Full guiding throughout
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day 1
Relaxed, two to three miles walking per day
Expect between 120 and 140 species
Tour Price: £620
Single Supplement: £90