On the second day of this Norfolk exclusive birding tour we headed down into South Norfolk and the Brecks. We stopped off several times to look for Stone Curlew but the cold spring seemed to have lessened their activity levels and I couldn’t locate them in the usual spots. However, there was great close views of Tree Sparrow at one of the spots, and we also noted Lapwing, Shelduck and lots of Skylarks.

Tree Sparrow taken by Chris Wardell

We then headed further South and walked along the river near Santon Downham, it was busy with lots of birds and we were treated immediately to close views of 2 pairs of Mandarin, quickly followed by some very smart Brambling, that were coming down to drink along with a small group of Lesser Redpoll. Siskin seemed to be almost everywhere calling, singing and displaying overhead. As we walked along the river a Grey Wagtail also dropped on to emergent vegetation right in front of us. A little further on we heard Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, plus Nuthatch and then were soon looking up at a lovely bunch of Crossbills. They were slowly coming down to drink, in the reeds and we watched them for some time, the super Red males, also green/yellow females and some lovely second calendar year males that seem to merge green into red, such wonderful birds to see well. We stopped at the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker site, but decided after an hour to head back as they had become less active, and the group were happy to head on, there was Marsh Tit and Treecreeper as we walked back with repeat views of many of the others, also a Kingfisher flashed by.

Crossbill taken by Chris Wardell

We next headed to Lakenheath where we had a late lunch. Hockwold Flash still held a good number of wildfowl with Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, and Tufted Duck, in amongst these after a bit of searching I managed to locate a pair of Garganey, the handsome chocolate drake with his bright white head stripe standing out very well, the female much less obvious! There was quite a few Swallow concentrating around the water looking for insects, in the chilly NE wind. There was also a good number of Avocet, at least c25, a recent addition last year to the avifauna of this site. Other waders included 12 Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, and as a Sparrowhawk passed over the waters edge, a Snipe sprang into the air. A Sedge Warbler was singing as we walked up along the river. Views from the far viewpoint gave us several Buzzard & Marsh Harrier, plus Kestrel, Sparrowhawk a Water Rail called several times as did a Cetti’s Warbler and the walk back rounded off the day with 6 Snipe flushed by a Sparrowhawk, and a booming Bittern, unfortunately it refused to give us a fly-by!