Our first destination on this short tour will be Cley Marshes, the premier reserve of the Norfolk Naturalists’ Trust and one of the most famous in Britain. Cley holds a wide range of exciting breeding birds including Bittern and Bearded Tit, and at the time our visit it’s also a superb location for migrant waders such as Ruff and Garganey, and the scrub and wet fields are a magnet for migrant passerines. Our next stop is Holkham, where we’ll hope to get good views of Marsh Harrier and late winter waterfowl such as Brent Geese. Lastly we’ll spend a day exploring Breckland and the ancient Wayland Wood for Nightingale, Stone Curlew and the beautiful Golden Pheasant among other special birds.
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Présente le mardi et vendredi toute la journée
Fri 15th May - Sun 17th May - 342€
-Accommodation: We stay in a comfortable guesthouse in Hunstanton, The Shellbrooke Guest house. All rooms have private facilities.
-Food: Breakfast and evening meals are included. Allow around £10/£15 per day for a pub lunch.
* These tours are operated by Naturetrek (ABTA Y6206) for which Nature et Terroir acts as agent.
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Toby has been an avid birder, inspired by his father, since childhood, and spent his early years on the Lincolnshire side of the Humber estuary enjoying the thousands of wading birds in Winter, ringing migrants at RAF Donna Nook in the Autumn and day trips to RSPB Blacktoft Sands and Tetney Marshes in the Spring and Summer. After spending nearly 5 years as Assistant Warden at RSPB Saltholme, he is now the Warden of the RSPB's Lincolnshire Wash Reserves of Freiston Shore and Frampton Marsh. Toby has travelled extensively and enjoyed birding in North and Central America, Africa, Europe, Australia and South East Asia. As fantastically fun as this was, he never found anything to recreate the thrill and excitement of an east coast Autumn, UK birding at its best!
Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned programme of excursions. However, adverse weather & other local considerations can necessitate some re-ordering of the programme during the course of the tour, though this will always be done to maximise best use of the time and weather conditions available.
Day 1 - Friday
Your tour leader, Toby Collett, will meet you at our hotel base in Hunstanton, the Le Strange Arms, in time for dinner. After you settle in, Toby will give you a short introductory talk outlining the programme for the weekend and some of the birds we will hope to see. After dinner, he will take you for a walk locally to stretch your legs.
Day 2 - Saturday
Our optional pre-breakfast walk sets the scene for day one. A quick 10 minute drive to Holme National Nature Reserve allows us a glimpse into the habitats and geography that make the North Norfolk coast so special. Sea, beach, saltmarsh, dunes, wet grassland and then scrub into farmland give us a lot of habitat and a lot of species to get stuck into to work up an appetite. Natterjack Toad is also a possibility in the dune slacks.
After breakfast we head to Cley Marshes (approximately 50 minutes to the east), the premier reserve of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and one of the most famous in Britain. Cley holds a wide range of breeding wetland birds, including Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit and Avocet. At this time of year it is also an excellent locality for migrant waders. Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Ruff, Blacktailed Godwit and Curlew Sandpiper are all spring regulars, while Garganey, Little Gull, Spoonbill and Great White Egret are becoming more frequent. The coastal location combined with the time of year means something more unusual is always possible. In addition to the waders and water birds, Cley is also a magnet for migrating passerines with the surrounding scrub and wet fields regularly holding migrant, warblers, chats and flycatchers.
After lunch at Cley we will drive back west, keeping an ear to the bird news services in case anything unusual arrives en-route to our next destination. RSPB Titchwell has long attracted some of the best birds to the Norfolk Coast. Recent work on the scrapes has seen a big increase in their breeding colony making it one of the best sites to see the very handsome Mediterranean Gull. Little Tern often feed just offshore with both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers displaying in front of the hide. Barn and Short-eared Owl often hunt over the saltmarsh while Cuckoo and Turtle Dove can be heard in the car park. We will also get the chance to work on our bird song with up to 9 different warbler species singing across the reserve. We will return to our hotel at about 6.00 p.m for a breather and to enjoy an evening meal.
An optional evening excursion for Nightjars at nearby Dersingham Bog may also pick us up Barn and Little Owl on the way.
Day 3 - Sunday
Today will offer a complete contrast to the teeming wetlands of the north coast. In keeping with Day 2 there will be an optional pre-breakfast trip. We will drive out to Chosely Barns, a regular coastal arrival site for Dotterel. Here we may also see farmland species like Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Turtle Dove and lolloping Brown Hares.
After breakfast our destination will be the dry sandy heaths of south Norfolk, known as the Breckland, and now planted with large tracts of Forestry Commission conifer plantation. Our first port of call will be Weeting Heath, the best place to reliably see Stone Curlew as well as a host of Nationally scarce plants that can only be found at a handful of sites. Spotted Flycatcher, Firecrest, Tree Pipit and Woodlark are all possible in the woodland walk around the hides. After lunch we will head to Lakenheath where Bittern and Crane will be on our radar to finish with a flourish. In recent visits we have also been lucky enough to see up to 50 Hobby’s circling over the reeds feeding on dragonflies.
As always we will leave space and gaps for the unexpected which if unfilled, will give us more time to enjoy the above locations and take our time with some of these scarcer species.