Late Autumn in Norfolk with the Bird ID Company - 30th October - 2nd November 2008

Published by Stuart White (stuart AT

Participants: Stuart White et al


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Norfolk is one of the top birding destinations in the UK. Autumn is a particularly good time to see rare vagrants blown off course as well as more normal migrants, resident species and the first winter visitors. Late October was particularly good this year due to ideal fall conditions. From Thursday 30th we had a low pressure over northern France combined with high pressure sitting over Scandinavia resulting in North Easterly winds along with various weather fronts bringing showers and lots of birds.

Daily Account

30th Oct 08

The tour began early in the Brecks five miles east of Thetford in south central Norfolk. I managed to pick out the AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER amongst 300 golden plovers fairly quickly, heading north we picked up 2 Stone Curlews, three days earlier I’d seen 24 in the same place. With the fall conditions starting to turn up birds we quickly headed north to Holme which is on the north-west coast of Norfolk. In the NOA reserve we saw Bullfinch and Garden Warbler in the hand, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and excellent close up views of 6 Crossbills including a nice red male. Walking back to the NWT reserve car park we found our own PALLAS'S WARBLER along with another birder and were the only people to see this un-ringed bird before the rain came down. Two other birds had been ringed in the NOA reserve earlier. After lunch we added Snow bunting and Short Eared Owl to the list and had good views of one of the ringed PALLAS'S WARBLERS again in the NWT car park.

31st Oct 08

Today we started at Warham Greens in central North Norfolk, 2 woodcocks were seen along with Redwings, Fieldfares, a big fall of Blackbirds, Song thrushes, yellowhammer & Greenshank. At a site nearby we found a Long Eared Owl that had obviously just arrived as we flushed it from grass, it showed well for a short time in a nearby hedge. In the afternoon news broke of a good bird near Weybourne, we had a few brief but good views of the RED FLANKED BLUETAIL on top of Muckleburgh Hill, also a flock of 10 Brambling and a Barn Owl.

1st Nov 08

A good day in north-west Norfolk with lots of birds, driving from wells west we had a flock of 5,000 Pink Footed Geese on Burnham Overy Marsh. Holme was our first port of call where we saw 2 Shags, Woodcock, Common Scoter, Goldeneye and a fall of Goldcrests. At Titchwell we had cracking views of Bearded Tits with up to 6 birds seen, quite a few waders and Brent Geese on the beach, a Water Pipit with lots of Meadow Pipits from the hide and 30+ Pintail. Heading back east we had a male Hen Harrier over the coast road. Burnham Overy Staithe produced a flock of 13 WAXWINGS and finally Burnham Deepdale gave us brief views of a YELLOW BROWED WARBLER and trees literally dripping with goldcrests.

2nd Nov 08

An excellent day today in the Holkham area. Starting with a walk out into the bay, we saw a flock of at least 20 Snow Buntings and a few Rock Pipits out by the dunes. Moving on to wells woods there were amazing numbers of goldcrests in almost every tree and one of the first birds in the ‘dell’ was my 10th YELLOW BROWED WARBLER of the autumn, it showed very well for everyone in the group to see. A report of a pallas’s warbler near the drinking pool had us move pretty quickly, we couldn’t find this bird but saw a FIRECREST with lots of goldcrests. Other birds seen included 2 Common Redpolls, a fly over calling Crossbill, Siskin, Chiffchaff, literally hundreds of Blackbirds and a Treecreeper. With some perseverance we managed to see a PALLAS'S WARBLER doing a circuit of the dell area, it helped if the bird was calling as it was easier to follow. To finish off we watched 2 Short Eared Owls hunting for half an hour, a ring tail Hen Harrier and several thousand Pink Footed Geese close to lady Anne’s drive.

Final comments

All in all a very successful 4 days with Red-flanked Bluetail, American Golden Plover, 3 Pallas’s Warblers, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, Firecrest, 3 species of owl, Waxwings and much more. The accommodation was based at the Cobblers in Wells, a very comfortable Bed & Breakfast within walking distance of all the facilities and several different pubs.