January 2018 Tour reports
Double click to edit
Friday 5th January - High tide tour
We started this day tour with a wonderful high tide visit to Snettisham. c4000 Pink-footed Geese left their roost, a great Norfolk winter scene! Added to the magic, 40,000 Knot & 2000 Bar-tailed Godwit added to the drama. Lots of duck, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall & 6+ Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. Also nice views of raptors, several Marsh Harrier.
Plus nice views of 2 Short-eared Owls sat roosting in amongst the bushes.
We then headed to Holme, this provided great views of 150 Brent Geese, plus more wildfowl. We then headed out to the saltmarsh where we located c30 Twite, also Rock Pipit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Stonechat and Pink-footed Geese overhead. Plus c200 Golden Plover in amongst the masses. Offshore we had Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and a large flock of Common Scoter.
The day was neatly rounded off at Titchwell with Barn Owl and 25 roosting Marsh Harriers.
Saturday 6th January - Exclusive day
We kicked off the day, successfully with, a now, difficult species. It took a while to get satisfactory views of this Willow Tit as it moved swiftly from one area to another, it was generally heard more than seen, but it did eventually sit still long enough to pick out all the plumage details. We then headed on to Santon Downham where we connected with a singing male Parrot Crossbill also a rather quieter female Parrot Crossbill showed well alongside the male. We then had brief views of 2 Otters always great to see.
We had a late lunch and then headed to Lynford, where we scored well with great views on feeders of Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and Marsh Tit. Last off we had good scope views of 5 Hawfinches as they went to roost.
Norfolk Winter 5 day tour - Day one Wednesday 10th January
A complete 5 day tour, covering all the habitats and wintering species, based from the comfortable The Burleigh Guest house in Hunstanton,tour included all transport, guiding, breakfasts and packed lunches.
We kicked the tour off with visit to Snettisham. A spectacular c10,000 Pink-footed Geese left their roost, a great Norfolk winter scene! No high tide, but still lots of waders, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover, c2500 Golden Plover and lots of duck, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall & 6+ Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser.
Also nice views of raptors, several Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl and Peregrine. Plus the 2 Short-eared Owls were again sat roosting in amongst the bushes.
We took a look at Hunstanton en-route and we had good views of numerous Fulmars on the cliffs, plus Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling and Dunlin along the shoreline.
We then headed to Holme, before looking on the sea we noted 2-3 Marsh harriers over the grazing marsh, plus Wigeon, Teal & Shoveler on the pools. We then headed out to the saltmarsh where we located c20 Twite, also Rock Pipit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Stonechat and Pink-footed Geese overhead. We had lunch at the Observatory and were priveleged to see a Blackcap and a Fieldfare being ringed.
After lunch we took a look a the sea, several Red-throated Divers, Red-breasted merganser, a large group of Common Scoter. The day was slightly punctuated as the fog rolled in, but we had several Marsh Harriers coming into roost.
Norfolk Winter 5 day tour - Day two Thursday 11th January
We started the day back at Titchwell in improved visibility. Out on the sea we did very well with Red-necked Grebe, a drake Goosander, 100+ Common Scoter, 6+ Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Goldeneye and 3 Red-throated Diver.
We then headed to Holkham and from the usual vantage point we had - 3 Red Kite, c40 Russian White-fronted Geese, Great White Egret, 1000+ Pink-footed Geese, Snipe, 4 Grey Partridge, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail plus Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank and Egyptian Geese.
The day was rounded off well with 2 Marsh Harriers, Merlin and 2 male Hen Harriers.
Norfolk Winter 5 day tour - Day three Friday 12th January.
We set off towards the Brecks today, but stopped en-route in the fens and did very well after a bit of searching, for wild swans. A superb flock of c1100 Whooper Swans were enjoyed along with 5 Bewicks. Also here c200 Fieldfare, Redwing, Reed Bunting and several Kestrels.
A brief look for Goshawk provided a displaying Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard, but no large accipiters!
There was a small flock of c30 Brambling feeding on field margin. We then headed to Santon Dwonham where we were fortunate to very quickly bump into the Parrot Crossbills, we marvelled at around 12 Parrot Crossbills feeding on pine cones. Also Siskin, 1-2 Redpoll and 1-2 Brambling. Nearby, we had great views on feeders of Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Brambling.
We finished the day at Lynford where we had wonderful views of 2 Firecrest, 3+ Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper
of 12+ Hawfinch arrived at a roost.
Norfolk Winter 5 day winter tour - Day four Saturday 13th January
Today we started the day at Holkham and were soon admiring great views of 9 Shorelark feeding on the saltings, also c20 Skylark and Rock Pipit. Out on the freshmarsh there were lots of Pink-footed Geese plus c70 Russian White-fronted Geese. From Lady Annes drive there was superb views of Eigeon, Teal, Redshank, Ruff and Snipe.
We lunched then then walked out at Salthouse , there was a nice mixture of Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler on the pools. We walked out along the shingle and initially spotted a distant Snow Bunting flock, we steadily walked in their direction and then had amazing views of the a large flock of c80 Snow Buntings. Also nearby c100 Linnet and offshore 20+ Red-throated Diver, 5 Red-breasted merganser, Goldeneye and Common Scoter.
We next headed up to Letheringsett and waited for the Redpoll flock to arrive, there had been a small group here for the last few days, including Lesser, Mealy Redpoll and 2 Coues Arctic Redpoll. We had to wait a while but we were lucky and had views of all three species, Lesser, Mealy Redpoll and 2 Coues Arctic Redpoll. The Arctic Redpolls, standing out with very white underparts, white undertail coverts, white rumps, pale mantle braces and cool grey ground colour to the mantle.
From here we headed down to the Broads, and just arrive in time for a nice roost. We rounded the day off brilliantly with 2 male Hen Harrier, 40+ Marsh Harrier, a Merlin and 30 Cranes!
Norfolk Winter 5 day winter tour - Day five Sunday 14th January
The sea had hosted a few additional birds for our trip on the previous day, so we headed there first thing this morning. The sea was calm and viewing excellent. We had a wonderful couple of hours! The first bird located was the Black-necked Grebe, quickly added was a Slavonian Grebe, also 12 stunning Long-tailed Ducks, 12 Red-breasted Merganser, a drake Velvet Scoter and what we assumed must be a wild flock of 42 Barnacle Geese passed overhead moving North East - I later find out this flock moved along the entire North & East Norfolk coast passing over Sea Palling later in the day!
The shoreline was also teaming in shorebirds, numerous Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Redshank and Turnstone.
We headed to Thornham next and scored instantly with the lone Waxwing, it was showing well just outside the orchards. A spectacular flock of c300 Linnet were feeding in fields nearby. We then headed to Holme and amazingly offshore we found a Red-necked Grebe and another Slavonian Grebe, that was all 5 regular grebes seen in 6 hours! The female Blackcap was still present as well as good numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing and Blackbirds. There was an amazing number of Pink-footed Geese with c8500 roosting out on the grazing marsh.
Whilst enjoying the sight and sounds of these geese, 200 Dark-bellied Brents flew past, and 3 Marsh harrier were overhead.
A fantastic five day tour had culminated in us recording 136 species!
Norfolk Winter 3 day winter tour - Day One Wednesday 17th January
A 3 day tour, covering a wide variety of habitats and wintering species, based from the comfortable The Burleigh Guest house in Hunstanton,tour included all transport, guiding, breakfasts and packed lunches.
We started today at Thornham harbour in very windy conditions, though it was dry and bright. We were fortuante as we arrived the Twite were flying around and eventually settled and we had nice views of 20 Twite, they were very flighty but several treated us to great views coming down to drink at the car park pools! Also Rock Pipit, Linnet, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Teal, Wigeon and several hundred Brent Geese plus a Spotted Redhsank all showing beautifully in great light.
We then headed out into the nearby farmland and over the next couple of hours had a lovely mix of famland birds, c20 Tree Sparrow, c200 Linnet, c20 Yellowhammer, 5+ Brambling, c20 Reed Bunting.
We nipped into Holme where the lone Waxwing was still showing very well and we had very close views!
Next we headed to Holkham where the 9 Shorelark were remaining faithful to their favoured area. Nearby we had - Red Kite, c60 Russian White-fronted Geese, Great White Egret, 500+ Pink-footed Geese, c300 Dark-bellied Brents, Snipe, 2 Grey Partridge, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail plus Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank and Egyptian Geese.
A wonderful days birding was rounded off fantastically with 2 male, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 4 Merlin, Barn Owl and 5 Marsh Harrier.
Norfolk Winter 3 day winter tour - Day Two Thursday 18th January
We set off into the fens and soon found a group of wild swans. A nice flock of c500 Whooper Swans were enjoyed along with 5 Bewicks. Also here Fieldfare, Redwing, Linnet and several Reed Bunting.
We then headed to Santon Dwonham where we couldn't initially locate the Parrot Crossbills, we did a lovely circualr walk along the river and had great views of 3 Otters and Treecreeper, Siskin, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and several Brambling.
We were just leaving and I decided to check the puddles near the railway crossing, I had just had a "thumbs down" from the birders tsitting in the cars when I noticed the Parrot Crossbills flying into the tops of nearby trees!! A few minutes later we watched on as a 15 Parrot Crossbills came down to drink giving perfect views!
We finished the day at Lynford, there was no sign of the Firecrest from my previous visit, but 3+ Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper
and good views in great light of 12+ Hawfinch at their roost.
Norfolk Winter 3 day winter tour - Day Three Friday 19th January
We started the day at Salthouse and had great views of the c80 Snow Bunting, showing down to a few feet. Offshore there was good numbers of Red-throated Diver, a few Guillemot, a single Razorbill, a few Common Scoter including one drake closer inshore. There was a nice pair of showy Stonechat, plus Meadow & Rock Pipit.
We stopped off at Cley and and had a pleasant couyple of hours, nice views of several Bearded Tit, lots of Wigeon, Teal and several Pintail. Nice groups of Lapwing, Golden Plover and small numbers of Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit. We had a nice realxed lunch whilst watching a displaying Marsh Harrier.
We then headed over to Titchwell, where we located the Water Pipit on Thornham pools, the main reserve held a nice mixture of wildfowl and waders and the tidal pool was busy with Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Redshank and Turnstone. There was real nice close views of Black-tailed Godwit and Little Grebe and a Little Eget fishing. Out on the sea we had good views of 10 Long-tailed Duck, mixed in with a small group of Goldeneye, plus a nice group of 15 Red-breasted Merganser.
Another successful winter tour with 118 species recorded. The Parrot Crossbills proving to be the stand out moments!
27th January to 3rd February - A Seven day tour to Islay, Scotland - read the full trip report here