17-19th May 2019 – Norfolk 3 Day Group Spring Birdwatching Tour

Day One May 17th – NW Norfolk

The day started very successfully, as we stopped off in the Choseley area and were soon watching 6 Dotterel – present for several days now. They were still in a large ploughed field. Today was cool and cloudy, but bright, and this gave us really nice views of these birds with no distortion from heat haze. Several fine female Dotterel showed beautifully with scope views. Nearby there was 2 singing Corn Bunting, plus several Yellowhammer.

We then headed to Holme a walk through the paddocks produced a good selection of birds, the highlights were Cetti’s Warbler, Common Whitethroat, European Stonechat, Eurasian Bullfinch and a cracking Grasshopper Warbler that gave us great views eventually reeling out in the sunshine. Another highlight were at least 3 Cuckoos providing good views, on flight and occasionally perched.

© Neil Lehane

The saltmarsh pools gave usCommon Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Little Egret, Avocet, & Common Redshank.

We then headed round to Redwell marsh where there was a few waders, several nice Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Lapwing and a much appreciated Wood Sandpiper.

We then walked up to Gore point from here there was several nice summer plumaged Grey Plover, plus Ringed Plover and nearby lots of Linnets, several Meadow Pipit, Whitethroat and a pair of Stonechat.

© Linnet Neil Lehane
© Meadow Pipit Neil Lehane

We lunched up at the Observatory and had nice views of Marsh Harriers, plus 2 late Pink-footed Geese were out on the grazing marsh, before heading to Titchwell.

It was fairly quiet at Titchwell, the best birds out on the main scrape were Red-crested Pochard, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit 2 summer plumage Turnstone, and a few late Brent Geese. We did eventually have nice views of Little, Sandwich and Common Tern. There was a cold wind, and there was a nice group of c70 Swift, plus a few House Martins and Swallows all hawking insects low over the reedbed. We also managed brief views of Bearded Tit.

A Spoonbill flew over and there were at least 30 Mediterranean Gulls in the gull colony. Out on the shore there was several more Turnstone, plus some nice summer plumaged Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Day Two May 18th – North Norfolk

We headed up to Kelling Water meadows where there had been a few waders the day before. On the way, we stopped off for a Little Owl perched on top of a barn.

© Little Owl – Neil Lehane

There was a strong easterly breeze and a low cloud, an interesting combination in mid May! There was a Greenshank on the pools and as we headed down to the main pool a small bird flew in and out of the bushes, it then perched out along the edge and it was a lovely female Pied Flycatcher. We then had a look offshore and there was Common, Little and Sandwich Tern plus a few Gannets and 3 Common Scoter flew West.

© Pied Flycatcher – Neil Lehane

As we wandered back up the hedge, a passerine flicked out, a reddish tail and a second brief view gave it up as a male Redstart, it then did a complete disappearing act and sadly we didn’t see it again. There were no more nice surprises and we headed to Cley.

We had lunched at Cley and had a Hobby and a Peregrine fly over, more surprising was a Barn owl overhead, out in the middle of the day hunting.. We then headed out to the central reserve hides. There was a nice selection of waders, an excellent count of 12 Common Sandpipers, c50 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover, a single Dunlin and 2 Red Knot. Apparently the Temminck’s Stints had moved towards North Scrape, so we headed over that way.

When we got to North Scrape, there was a nice group of 6 Ruff, plus a Greenshank but no sign of any Temminck’s, just a very abraded Dunlin!

We decided to head back to the main hides, as waders seemed to be dropping in and out. There was now a Little Stint and 3 Whimbrel, but the Temminck’s seemed to have moved on.

© Little Stint – Neil Lehane

We headed back for a cuppa and then we headed out for a group evening meal. We then went searching for Owls & Nightjars. One of my Little Owls was showing, but the Barn owls were keeping a low profile, good job we had seen one earlier in the day! This was all forgotten when we arrived at the Nightjar location, we had 2 male Nightjars at point blank range, wing-clapping and giving mazing views, plus perched up and churring. Over the next 45 minutes we had on and off views of at least 3 male Nightjar and one female, with very good views and lots of display and churring. We rounded off with 2-3 Tawny Owls, in the darkness, just about visible in flight in the tree tops.

Day Three May 19th – Mid-Norfolk The Brecks

We started the day with distant views of Stone Curlew, slightly hampered by a warm heat haze. We then headed off to the forest where over the next couple of hours we did very well, first a pair of Garden warblers showed very well, unusually for this species! We had good views of Treecreeper and then brief views of a Spotted Flycatcher, but that was soon forgotten when a really showy singing Firecrest gave us lovely views.

© Garden warbler – Neil Lehane
© Firecrest – Neil Lehane

We then wandered out on to one of the clearings and there were at least 2 singing Tree Pipits. There was also nice views of Yellowhammer and Mistle Thrush.

© Tree Pipit – Neil Lehane

We spent a late lunch scanning for raptors, Red Kite and Buzzard appeared but it was late in the season for Goshawk and they were keeping a low profile.

We spent the final afternoon at Lakenheath, where we were treated to excellent views of Hobby, with a total of 24 Hobby in the air together. Nice views of Cuckoo, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler and the highlight 3 Garganey including this nice drake below.

© Garganey – Neil Lehane