Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th January 2019

Norfolk 2 day Winter birdwatching tour

Nice start to the day at Hunstanton with a drake Common Eider, a Peregrine, Shag, 100+ Dark-bellied Brents plus 25+ Fulmar.

We then headed to Thornham, stopping off for a nice flock of c200 Linnets in the nearby fields. Down at the harbour we were soon watching 12 Twite coming into drink, there was also 5 Rock Pipits here and great views of 4 male Red-breasted Mergansers displaying. Plus several Marsh Harriers passed overhead and several skeins of Pink-footed Geese.

We headed on to Holkham, on arrival we were greeting with nice flocks of Dark-bellied Brents and Pink-footed Geese, plus masses of Wigeon, which were soon erupting as a Peregrine stopped down on them several times.

Out on the saltmarsh it wasn’t long before we were admiring 23 stunning Shorelarks, feeding eventually at our feet. As we headed further east to search out the Snow Buntings, I swiftly got everyone onto a juvenile Glaucous Gull that passed overhead moving east. It was all action! just a second later 22 Snow Buntings arrived and we watched these, getting nice scope views.

One of the 23 Shorelark seen today – digiscoped image!
Twite- Thornahm harbour

Next we scanned the sea and were alerted by another group of birders to a nice close inshore Red-necked Grebe. Tricky, as it continuously dived but everyone managed to get views of it. We then headed over to the West end and from the Jordan hide we had great views of around 110 White-fronted Geese, plus lots of Curlew, a Ruff, Redshank, and briefly a Bittern, as it walked out in the open across the reed edge.

We enjoyed a late lunch back at the Holkham Lookout and had great views of 9 Grey Partridge, plus admired lots more Pink-footed & Brent Geese.

The day was rounded off superbly at Titchwell with a very close scoped Woodcock and then an hours roost session, culminating in 52 Marsh Harriers, 3 Hen Harriers and another Bittern. Plus skies laden with Pink-footed Geese heading for roosts.

Sunday 13th January 2019

Today dawned a bit grey and damp! We headed to Snettisham and stopped off to admire several thousand Pink-footed Geese, leaving their roost. This was interrupted by lovely views of a hunting Barn Owl, much appreciated as there are few around this winter away from their main haunts.

Barn Owl – quite scarce away from the core areas this winter

We arrived at Snettisham just as the tide was heading in, although it wasn’t a high tide – we thoroughly enjoyed a great spectacle of birds out on The Wash. The real highlight was around c5000 Golden Plover, possibly the largest group I’ve seen here over the years! Out on the mud there was a plethora of shorebirds and wildfowl, tens of thousands of Red Knot, hundreds of Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, 1500 Oystercatcher, 400 Lapwing, 8 Pintail, plus smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Sanderling.

We then took a look at the pits, lovely views of several groups of Goldeneye, some beautiful drakes, lots of Wigeon, a few Gadwall, Little Grebe and Cormorants.

We managed to locate the redhead Smew – present for several days and even got close enough for some records shots.

Goldeneye – lots of handsome drakes today!
Smew redhead, probably a female, present for a few days now at Snettisham

We headed to Titchwell and had lunch and then headed out on to the reserve. There was lots of beautiful Teal close in and Wigeon, we managed to locate a few new birds out on the marsh, Black-tailed Godwit and a single lone Avocet. We then spent a couple of pleasant hours on the shoreline, with close views of shorebirds plus 3 Little Gulls moving west offshore, 3 Eider out on the shore, a drake Red-breasted merganser, a female Common Scoter and a Great crested Grebe.

As we walked back we looked through the pre-roost of Gulls, a 2nd cal year Mediterranean Gull was the best bird, amongst 1000+ Black-headed, numerous Common Gull, plus a Lesser black-backed, Herring & Great black-backed Gulls.

On the way back to the centre we stopped and we finished off with lovely close views of a Water Rail.