1-Day Norfolk Autumn Birding Tour Report, November 2021

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06 November 2021

norfolk autumnGreat (White) Egret was one of the highlights of our Birding the Northwest Norfolk Coast tour.  



This Birding the Northwest Norfolk Coast day tour saw us enjoy some of the lesser-known birding locations on this stunning part of the Norfolk coastline. The tour was conducted for sisters Mallory and Abi as a belated 30th birthday present for bird mad Abi! Conditions were, unfortunately, less than ideal with persistent strong winds throughout the day, but we still managed a respectable total of 51 species, including some top birds and good views of them.

Detailed Report

Our tour began at the wild and beautiful Thornham Harbour. The area around the car park proved immediately fruitful as Common Linnet, European Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Common Starling, and Eurasian Skylark all made themselves known quickly, often in flight overhead. Birds of prey were also present with a distant Red Kite and prolonged views of a stunning male Western Marsh Harrier starting off what turned to be an excellent day for sightings of this species.

Waterbirds and shorebirds were the most numerous species found here with the tidal channels hosting Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Brant (Dark-bellied Brent) Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Black-headed Gull, European Herring Gull, Great Cormorant, and Little Egret.

norfolk autumn birdingEurasian Wigeon proved a firm favorite for our clients Mallory and Abi.

After a mid-morning stop for coffee and cake we proceeded to our next location. The beautiful Burnham Norton loop is a fascinating section of coastline, with extensive freshwater grazing meadows and incredible views across the saltmarsh to Scolt Head Island.

The wind had really begun picking up by the time we arrived here, but we were still able to enjoy some great birding. The grazing marshes held good numbers of Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Brant (Dark-bellied Brent) Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, and Eurasian Teal and these were joined by smaller numbers of Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Northern Lapwing, Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, and White (Pied) Wagtail.

While walking along the sea wall we enjoyed prolonged views of Grey Plover, Common Redshank, and Eurasian Curlew in the tidal channels, and we got to watch Great (White) Egret and Grey Heron fly across the grazing meadows at close range. As we reached the end of our walk, a sheltered area allowed us to hear the distinctive song of Cetti’s Warbler and watch a Common Blackbird fly from nearby gardens to willows by the car park.

Other notable species recorded during our visit were Little Grebe, Western Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, and Eurasian Skylark.

norfolk autumn birdingPink-footed Geese winter in large numbers on the Norfolk coast and we were able to enjoy great views of this species.


Our final stop of the day was at the dramatic expanse of Burnham Overy Dunes. This area is well known in birding circles as being an excellent location to visit at pretty much all times of year. Despite the near gale force winds, we had a productive visit and racked up a respectable 41 species at the site, in just a couple of hours.

The tidal channel by the sea wall proved especially productive with great views had of Brant (Dark-bellied Brent) Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Common Ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Common Redshank, and Great Black-backed Gull.

The grazing meadows to the east of the sea wall gave us an amazing spectacle of five Western Marsh Harriers perched in the long grass, trying to shelter from the battering wind. This group included two wing tagged birds but unfortunately, they were too distant to get a reading of the tags. Also present around the meadows were Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Brant (Dark-bellied Brent) Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Common Wood Pigeon, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Skylark, Common Starling, White (Pied) Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, and Common Linnet. The small lake set into the meadows gave us distant views of a beautiful female Common Goldeneye, a surprise species.

norfolk autumn birdingBurnham Overy Dunes is a wonderful place for birding, although it wasn’t quite as sunny as this during our visit!

Continuing the walk, we eventually reached the great expanse of dunes. Just before moving through them, we enjoyed watching a Little Egret hunting in a small pool and close to the path a Eurasian Wren gave out its distinctive alarm call, but sadly did not show. Moving through the dunes to the beach gave us excellent views of shorebirds (waders) feeding on the tideline with scores of Common Ringed Plover and Dunlin joined by smaller numbers of Ruddy Turnstone, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, and Sanderling.

After a windy but bird filled day, we made our way back to the car park just as the heavens opened. Thank you to both Mallory and Abi for joining me and making this day tour so enjoyable.

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included.

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