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bird watching day trips norfolk

Day Tours within Norfolk. Bird watching, wildlife and photography

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Norfolk Bird Watching Day - £65 per person

Run on demand. Pick up from, and drop of at, your accommodation or residence. hot drinks and snacks, all transport and guiding included. Discount for 3 or more persons.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Norfolk Safari - £69 per person

Run on demand. Looking at all wildlife. Pick up from, and drop of at, your accommodation or residence. Hot drinks and snacks, all transport and guiding included. Discount for 3 or more persons.                                                                          

As Seen on BBC Look East

bird watching day trips norfolk

Photographing Wildlife Day - £75 per person

Run on demand. Pick up from, and drop of at, your accommodation or residence. Hot drinks and snacks, all transport and tuition included. Discount for 3 or more persons. Download the itinerary below for full details.


Check out some of our own photographs at Wildcatch Photography

bird watching day trips norfolk

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Our latest publication regarding birdwatching in Victorian north Norfolk is now available here .

bird watching day trips norfolk

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Norfolk Guided Birding with Gary Elton

Guided Birding trips in Norfolk. WordPress.com site

bird watching day trips norfolk


Guided birdwatching day trips and tours in and around norfolk..

Norfolk Guided Birding specialise in arranging individually tailored guided birdwatching trips for visitors to Norfolk, which is arguably one of the best birdwatching destinations in the country. The area offering a range of habitats and birds,  from coastal marshes and lagoons, to the unique woodland and heath habitats found in the Breckland areas and the famous reed fringed Norfolk Broads.

Catering for Beginners and  more experienced birders alike,  principle guide and company founder, Gary Elton , will design birding itineraries around both your time of visit and hoped for target species. Arranging these tours around your own personal and birding requirements allows a large degree of flexiblity, with both timing and number of people in the group ( an important consideration at the moment !)

Day trips and itineraries are specifically arranged around your needs and requirements, ranging from species you would hopefully like to see, to general birding around some of the countries top birdwatching sites here in Norfolk.

  Accommodation can also be arranged with a selection of good quality characterful options available close to where we are based.

If you are planning to visit Norfolk and would like a guided birdwatching trip to top sites around the county, then please click on the above links and browse through my website to see what we can offer.

Also please visit my Blog to see what has been happening in the county during the year.

Prices, terms and conditions

For further details or information please contact me on 07947 843905 or email [email protected]

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The Birds of Norfolk

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  • guided tours
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Guided Tours

Our premium partner, The Bird ID Company, offers a variety of tours, all of which provide fantastic opportunities to see a wide range of different birds in and around Norfolk. The tours range from one day trips to five day holidays during migration times. They cater for all abilities from complete beginners who are interested in a general selection of birds to more experienced birdwatchers who may be targeting certain species.

The Bird ID Company specialise in helping bird watchers get more from the hobby by teaching them identification skills in the field. Their ethos is to help you experience not only regularly seen birds but also unfamiliar new species in order to improve your bird identification skills. This should enhance your enjoyment as well as giving you greater confidence in your own ability. You can expect to see around 60 - 90 species a day depending on the time of year and it is not unusual to encounter a scarce or rare bird, which always adds to the excitement on the day.

Their main tours throughout the year are day trips to well known reserves in Norfolk and Suffolk. At appropriate times of the year target species tours are offered in order to see some of the Speciality birds. For example Cranes, Geese and Owls in the winter, Breckland trips in the early spring and Golden Oriole, Montagu's Harrier and Wader tours in the Summer. During spring and Autumn migration they run 5 day and weekend trips with Customised tours also available at any time of the year.

For more information about The Bird ID Company and to find out more about their services please visit their website at www.birdtour.co.uk .

Birding Tours – Day Tours

United kingdom, norfolk birding day tours, which we run at any time.

Norfolk is regarded as one of  the  premier birdwatching locations in the United Kingdom (UK). Its variety of habitats and high number of species make it a must-visit for birders from other parts of the UK and abroad, find out why below.

The county of Norfolk sits on England’s east coast and forms the northern section of the region of East Anglia. Norfolk covers an area of 2,074 square miles (5,372 square kilometers), which makes it the 5th largest county in England, and it is relatively sparsely populated. With a population of around 900,000 people it is the 25th most populated county in England.

Norfolk is a county steeped in an enthralling history. One of its most famous residents is also one of its oldest. Boudica, the Queen of the Iceni tribe, led rebellions in AD 47 and AD 60 against the Roman invasion of Britain. The second rebellion ultimately failed but it cemented her name in British history forever. The name of Norfolk was given to the region in the 5th century by the Angles who controlled the region until it merged with Mercia and Wessex. Vikings arrived in the 9th century and raided the area up until the Norman conquest of 1066. In the 20th century Norfolk became a key center for aviation, especially during World Wars One and Two.

Norfolk’s geography primarily consists of low-lying agricultural areas interspersed with woodland, wet bog, and heathland. The exception to this is the vast Norfolk Broads which are found in the east of the county. This area, of 117 square miles (303 square kilometers), dominates the landscape of east Norfolk and contains 63 broads and seven rivers with over 120 miles (193 kilometers) of navigable waterways. This area is a vital site for wildlife in this part of the county and the UK as a whole. Another key feature of Norfolk’s geography is its varied coastline which includes impressive sea cliffs, vast sand dunes, mudflats, grazing marshes, and reedbeds; all home to an abundance of wildlife throughout the year.

Following  International Ornithological Congress (IOC)  taxonomy (v10.2 in November 2020) the bird list of Norfolk stands at  482 bird species . This list includes many migrant and vagrant species and there are 135 regularly breeding species. Norfolk is a great place to bird year-round.

Our Norfolk day trips will enable you to see many of the key species of the region. What you see will depend entirely on which season you chose to visit the county, and our tours are designed to maximize the sightings of these key species in each season. We have highlighted below some of the key features and species of each season but please read our detailed itineraries for a more comprehensive idea of what you can expect to see. In each season we have several tour routes which visit different areas and habitats to increase the number of species possible.

Winter day tours

Norfolk is an incredibly important area for a wide range of overwintering birds, from further north in the UK or from east and northeast Europe. Vast numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders (shorebirds) are present along the coast, along with nationally important counts of birds of prey. There are also plenty of exciting resident and migrant passerine species too, many of which form large non-breeding flocks making their presence more noticeable. Some of the highlight birds include:  Pink-footed Goose ,  Tundra Bean Goose ,  Greater White-fronted Goose ,  Common Crane ,  Black-tailed Godwit ,  Red Knot ,  Purple Sandpiper ,  Eurasian Bittern ,  Hen Harrier ,  Rough-legged Buzzard ,  Short-eared Owl ,  Merlin ,  Bohemian Waxwing ,  Bearded Reedling  (Bearded Tit),  Black Redstart ,  Water Pipit ,  Brambling ,  Twite ,  Lapland   Longspur  (Lapland Bunting), and  Snow Bunting .

Spring and summer day tours

Norfolk is one of the premier spots for spring migration in the UK. Displaced birds often find themselves on the Norfolk coast before carrying on their journey from Africa to Scandinavia and beyond. There is also a chance of something rarer and unexpected. Tours during the summer months will focus on the breeding species of the county. Some of the highlight species of this period include:  Garganey ,  Common Pochard ,  European Nightjar ,  Common Cuckoo ,  European Turtle Dove ,  Eurasian Stone-curlew ,  Pied Avocet ,  Eurasian Dotterel ,  Wood Sandpiper ,  Little Tern ,  Eurasian Spoonbill ,  Northern Goshawk ,  Eurasian Hobby ,  Woodlark ,  Common Grasshopper Warbler ,  Garden Warbler ,  Lesser Whitethroat ,  Dartford Warbler ,  Ring Ouzel ,  Whinchat , and  Tree Pipit .

Autumn day tours

Autumn, as during Spring, is dominated by the migration of birds through Norfolk. This time, the southerly migration sees birds moving from the far north of Europe to their wintering grounds in Africa. Often these birds become displaced and arrive in the region, sometimes in vast numbers. There is also the chance, with the right winds, of something truly special from further east. While this is a season of the unexpected, some of the typical highlights in autumn include:  Greater Scaup ,  Eurasian Woodcock ,  Eurasian Whimbrel ,  Bar-tailed Godwit ,  Ruff ,  Temminck’s Stint ,  Little Stint ,  Red  (Grey)  Phalarope ,  Little Gull ,  Great Skua ,  Long-eared Owl ,  Short-eared Owl ,  Eurasian Wryneck ,  Merlin ,  Yellow-browed Warbler ,  Barred Warbler ,  Lesser Whitethroat ,  Common Firecrest ,  Ring Ouzel ,  Black Redstart ,  Common Redstart ,  Water Pipit , and  Brambling .

On all of these tours there is the added potential for a scarce or rare bird being found where we will be birding, so it is always worth expecting the unexpected!

Norfolk is such an important county from a birding point of view that it features heavily in our two UK set departure tours:  United Kingdom: Ultimate Spring Tour  and our  United Kingdom: England in Winter Tour . If you fancy a longer birding trip around England and Scotland these are great options.

United Kingdom, Norfolk day tours

Spring and summer tours (april – july).

Norfolk Spring and Summer Birding Tour

UK: 1-day Norfolk Spring and Summer Birding Tour – Birding the Yare Valley

Norfolk coast day tours

UK: 1-day Norfolk Spring and Summer Birding Tours – Birding the Norfolk Coast

Autumn tours (august – october).

Northwest Norfolk day tour

UK: 1-day Norfolk Autumn Birding Tour – Birding the Northwest Norfolk Coast

Winter tours (november – march).

Norfolk broads birding tour

UK: 1-day Norfolk Winter Birding Tour – Birding the Norfolk Broads

Norfolk coast birding tours

UK: 1-day Norfolk Winter Birding Tour – Birding The Norfolk Coast

Yare Valley winter birding tours

UK: 1-day Norfolk Winter Birding Tour – Birding The Yare Valley

All Rights Reserved, Birding Ecotours

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  • Momotidae – Motmots
  • Musophagidae – Turacos, Plantain-eaters & Go-away-birds
  • Numididae – Guineafowl
  • Nyctibiidae – Potoos
  • Oceanitidae – Austral Storm Petrels
  • Odontophoridae – New World Quails
  • Opisthocomidae – Hoatzin
  • Otididae – Bustards, Floricans & Korhaans
  • Pandionidae – Ospreys
  • Pedionomidae – Plains Wanderer
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  • Pelecanoididae – Diving Petrels
  • Phaethontidae – Tropicbirds
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  • Phasianidae – Pheasants, Grouse, Partridges & Allies
  • Phoenicopteridae – Flamingos
  • Phoeniculidae – Wood Hoopoes & Scimitarbills
  • Picidae – Woodpeckers
  • Pluvianellidae – Magellanic Plover
  • Pluvianidae – Egyptian Plover
  • Podargidae – Frogmouths
  • Podicipedidae – Grebes
  • Procellariidae – Petrels, Diving Petrels & Shearwaters
  • Psittacidae – African & New World Parrots
  • Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots
  • Psophiidae – Trumpeters
  • Pteroclidae – Sandgrouse
  • Rallidae – Rails, Crakes, Gallinules & Coots etc.
  • Ramphastidae – Aracari, Toucans & Toucanets
  • Recurvirostridae – Avocets & Stilts
  • Rheidae – Rheas
  • Rhynochetidae – Kagu
  • Rostratulidae – Painted Snipe
  • Sagittariidae – Secretarybird
  • Sarothruridae – Flufftails
  • Scolopacidae – Woodcock, Snipe, Sandpipers & Allies
  • Scopidae – Hammerkop
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bird watching day trips norfolk

The recording area of Norfolk (areas 27 & 28 in the Watsonian system) is co-terminus with the ceremonial county of Norfolk; a large county in East Anglia in the east of England. It borders Lincolnshire to the west and northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and, to the northwest, The Wash. The county town is Norwich, which is the largest settlement followed by King’s Lynn in the northwest, Great Yarmouth on the east coast and Thetford in the south. With an area of over 2000 square miles and a population of 850,000 people, Norfolk is a largely rural county.

The west of Norfolk is part of the Fens, an extremely flat former marsh. The centre of the county is gently undulating lowland; its northern coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and in the south is part of Thetford Forest. In the east are the Broads, a network of rivers and lakes which extend into Suffolk. The area is now the Broads National Park. The geology of the county includes clay and chalk deposits, which make its coast susceptible to erosion. Much of Norfolk’s fairly flat and fertile land has been drained for use as arable land. The principal arable crops are sugar beet, wheat, barley (for brewing) and oil seed rape and 20% of those in employment work in farming and the food industry. Fishing and Tourism are also important.

Birding Norfolk

Norfolk is renowned as probably the best all round county for birding in the UK. This is based mostly on its reserves and other protected areas because the farmland is some of the most intensively used around. Nevertheless, Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers and other finches and buntings can be found, often flocking in winter to glean spilt seeds and newly ploughed fields. Keepered estates can be a mixed blessing, some gamebird feed stations favouring passerines, while some ignorant land managers allow illegal shooting and trapping of raptors.

Sticking out into the North Sea it is well placed to receive more than its fair share of migrants in season. These can turn up anywhere, but mainly along the coast. Areas with isolated bushes or other cover provide the best chance of seeing passerines. One in particular, Blakeney Point, has a long history of mega rarities. Now a few Arctic Terns breed there. Seawatching is good at Cley Coastguards and Sheringham.

bird watching day trips norfolk

The View of North Foreland Woods & NWT Cley Marshes taken from Walsey Hills NOA Reserve © Chris Lotz

The Broads network of rivers and lakes in the east of the county, extend south into Suffolk. The Broads and other wetland areas have many breeding birds that are scarce or missing in other parts of the country such as Bittern, Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, and Avocets. For many years it was the only place to have breeding Cranes. Winter brings very large flocks of pink-footed and Brent geese and the only regular bean geese, along with spectacular gatherings of knot and other waders in the Wash.

In the south, straddling the Suffolk border, Thetford Forest is dominated by managed conifer plantation with clear-felled areas and is home to Goshawks, Crossbills, Tree Pipits and Woodlarks. Santon Downham still has a few pairs of lesser-spotted Woodpeckers. Also in the south is Breckland – this was heath that was cultivated and then allowed to revert back to heathland; it is a stronghold for Stone Curlew.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Titchwell RSPB Reserve © Chris Lotz

Its location also makes it one of the top counties for rarities which turn up in Autumn and Spring and bring even more birders to the coast. The well-watched reserves along the coast at Holme, Titchwell, Cley and so forth, have more than their share of rarities and scarce birds. However, Norfolk is also a great county for birds that are under pressure in many other parts of the UK such as Barn Owls; as its narrow lanes and vast agricultural areas keep road casualties to a minimum. Some of the best-known sites appear below.

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bird watching day trips norfolk

Cley - Blakeney Point

Great yarmouth - breydon water, lyndford arboretum, santon downham, snettisham rspb, strumpshaw fen, waxham - winterton, wells / holkham, paul burrows.

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Steve Rowland

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Neil Lawton

Scolt Head Boatshed, Harbour Way, Brancaster Staithe, PE32 8BW

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Number of bird species: 484

The norfolk bird list.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Best Birdwatching Sites: Norfolk

Birds new to norfolk, birds in norfolk, birds of the yare valley, dvd guide to birdwatching in norfolk, national trail guides: peddars way and norfolk coast path, north norfolk's wildlife, robert gillmor's norfolk bird sketches, the birds of norfolk, the norfolk bird atlas: summer and winter distributions 1999-2007, the norfolk cranes' story, the north norfolk coast, where to watch birds in east anglia, holme bird observatory, bto - british trust for ornithology, broads authority, cley bird club, nwt breckland local group, nwt broadland local group, nwt mid norfolk local group, nwt north norfolk local group, nwt norwich local group, nwt wymondham nature group, nar valley ornithological society, norfolk & norwich naturalists society, norfolk birds records committee, norfolk coast partnership, norfolk ornithologists association, norfolk wildlife trust, north east norfolk bird club, waveney bird club, wensum valley birdwatching society.

Abbreviations Key

* NNR Norfolk's National Nature Reserves

* norfolk wildlife trust reserves, accessible reserves, lnr cley marshes, lnr hickling broad, lnr sculthorpe moor nature reserve, nnr holkham national nature reserve, nnr winterton dunes, nwt thorpe marshes, nwt weeting heath, pensthorpe natural park, rspb berney marshes & breydon water, rspb buckenham marshes, rspb lakenheath fen, rspb ouse washes, rspb rockland marshes, rspb snettisham, rspb strumpshaw fen, rspb surlingham church marsh, rspb titchwell marsh, wwt reserve welney, birding in norfolk - rare and scarce birds, norfolk county rare bird alert, norfolkbirds, norfolkbirdnews, birding ecotours, bird id company, breydon water cruises - waveney stardust, oriole birding, swallow birding, 2017 [03 march] - christopher hall, 2019 [05 may] - toby collett, 2021 [07 july] - chris lotz - 1-day norfolk summer birding tour, 2022 [10 october] - chris mills - 3 day ladies tour, 2023 [02 february] - chris mills - 3 day winter birding tour, 2024 [01 january] - winter weekender in norfolk, andover house - great yarmouth, beachscape contemporary holiday home - bacton, deepdale backpackers hostel, fieldview guest house - east barsham, globe inn - wells-next-the-sea, heacham manor, lavender cottages, le strange arms hotel - old hunstanton, moonriver - martham, norfolk broads, oaktree cottage - briston, pheasant hotel - kelling nr holt, rose & crown, the king william iv - sedgeford, birdwatching in norfolk, hawk & owl trust, norfolk wildlife centre & country park, north west norfolk stonechats, alan & brenda fossey - birding paradigms, barry madden - wingsearch birding blog, david bryant - birds of the heath, james emerson - birds and beer, jim swalwell - lost geordie birding, jim's birding blog, mike lawrence - back in birdland, sean locke - the autistic naturalist, artist - james mccallum, artist - keith nash, photographer - kevin elsby - wildlife on the web, photographer - steve gantlett - cley birds, sculptor - richard t roberts.

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Ancient woodland, chalk streams, sandy heathland, forests, saltmarsh, wetlands, pebble beaches, shimmering stretches of shingle and mudflats, farmland, fens, rivers, atmospheric ruins and city streets. From North Norfolk, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to the unique Broads National Park, the sheer variety of habitats in Norfolk are home to extraordinary populations of wild birds, both migratory visitors and permanent residents. Wondering where to start? Check out these nature reserves and bird watching suggestions; each is a great day out in every season, especially when combined with a good lunch! Or go wild and visit them all in one trip!

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A Storm of Birds

A Storm of Birds

Visit to Snettisham RSPB Nature Reserve – see unique natural spectacle of thousands of birds in flight on the highest tide of the year.

High tide roosts are a natural spectacle that reach their peak on spring high tides.   Although the spectacle still happens outside of the highest tide and the geese are consistent during the Autumn and winter months.

At RSPB Snettisham, the highest tides give rise to an astonishing phenomenon. A natural wonder of the world, these epic aerial displays happen just a few times a year and are never the same twice.

This a wild, liminal land of lagoons, tidal mudflats, shingle beach and saltmarsh. Part of the wider Wash, it’s a refuge for many thousands of wildfowl and wading birds including Red Knot, Dunlin, Plovers, Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits who stalk the mud hunting for shellfish and worms. During the highest tides, known as Spring or King Tides, salt water completely covers the mud. Only then will these thousands of birds take to the air in a fluid symphony of sound and movement. This extraordinary winged ballet is choreographed by instinct, season and weather.

Because Spring Tides are rare, it’s essential to check the date and time before your trip.

If you can’t make a high tide, how about a frosty sunrise? Winter is the season of pink-footed geese, arriving in their thousands from summer breeding grounds in Iceland. Roosting on The Wash mudflats, vast skeins of beating wings fill the skies at first light as they fly inland to feast on sugar beet fields. On icy mornings, it’s tempting to stay tucked up in bed, but witnessing the haunting calls of wild geese at first light is one of life’s most exhilarating and unforgettable experiences. Truly a Norfolk spectacle not to be missed.

Inclusive Coastal Nature at RSPB Titchwell

Inclusive Coastal Nature at RSPB Titchwell

Norfolk is one of the best places in England for winter birding. Nowhere matches this stunning county for variety of migrating birds, vast numbers of wintering wildfowl and rare sightings. RSPB Titchwell contains most of Norfolk’s magnificent coastal nature in one place, from graceful avocets and majestic marsh harriers to booming bitterns and bearded tits ‘pinging’ from the reeds. Titchwell is accessible if you can’t manage uneven or muddy tracks, wheelchair friendly hard paths take you from open fields to the coastal foreshore via reedbeds, marshes, lagoons and beach.

The haunting cry of geese fills the winter air, echoing across silver skies while the marshes ring with the whistles of wigeon and teal. You might even see elusive otters or busy water voles. It’s a place of constant change, fascinating all year round.

Head through woodland from the car park towards the visitor centre. A steaming coffee will warm you on your way through new worlds of discovery! Follow the boardwalk to explore the marshy woodland carr at the edge of the reedbeds, then head to the main path where reedbeds give way to freshwater lagoons full of sound and movement. Shelter in accessible hides to watch birds dip feeding over the water. Then pass brackish lagoons to tidal mudflats and a sweeping expanse of sand, sea and sky. Listen for the calls of oystercatcher, dunlin, or curlew. Immersed in nature’s wild winter, it feels like you’re on the edge of the world. And then, head back for cake!

Bird Watching in Stiffkey Wood

Bird Watching in Stiffkey Wood

The small North Norfolk coastal village of Stiffkey nestles between saltmarsh and deep river valley, reminiscent of Devon. A narrow band of woodland clings to the last vestiges of dry land before the saltmarsh stretches towards the sea. Stunted and aged by winter gales and salty winds the trees are battered, facing northerly lands. They are often the first landfall Norfolk’s world famous bird migrations in Spring and Autumn, when yellow browed warblers, shrikes and firecrests, blow in on winds from the east and north. Other species, like the woodcock, wait until the right moon. Author Henry Williamson lived in the village and wrote about the woodcock’s annual arrival to Stiffkey Wood.

‘It would be pleasant to be a bird-watcher for a year: to wander thoughtless through the calm sequent days of summer’s ending: mist at morning: pallid disc of sun: windless heat and light of pale blue heaven and yellow line of sand dimming to the small red smoulder of sunset: the strings of tired birds, arriving over the sea, and settling at once on the marshes and in the low sand-dunes.

Day after day of windless calm and of sunlight, serene and warm, as though all life were suspended on earth, save for the movement of wave and tide, the piping and passing of birds. The early autumnal days were the most beautiful for that soon the sea would be black, with white lines on shoal and sandbank, while the tractor driver on the hills fastened the sack closer round his waist, against the bitter winds. Soon through the mists would float the woodcock moon, pale and circular; and with the north-east wind would come those strange birds, with dead-leaf mottle plumage and long beaks and gentle brown eyes, flapping across the North Sea, from the forests of Norway, and the stone walls of cold fields above fiords in whose green, glissading depths great salmon moved to their spawning beds.

Soon the wind would arise, and the woodcock flights over the sea begin. Singly and twos and threes, while the moon moved up the sky wind-burnished and bright, with purple shine about its winter beginning, the woodcock would come darkly over the waves.’

Discover Bird Watching

Discover Bird Watching

You may put out peanuts for perky little blue tits in your garden but could you tell a marsh tit from a coal tit? This half day course at Pensthorpe is for novice birdwatchers, curious about how to identify birds and, even if they’re hidden, know them by their song.

Pensthorpe’s spectacular diversity of habitats from lakes, ponds and rivers to woodlands, farmland and wildflower meadows means there’s always a fantastic mix of birds on the reserve. No wonder it’s been a popular filming location for BBC Springwatch! You may see winter visitors like skeins of pink-footed geese or busy fieldfare and redwing, just flown in from Scandinavia to feast on berries in the Norfolk hedgerows. Perhaps you’ll spot a red kite high above or hear a kingfisher as it darts by in a flash of turquoise.

When nature writer Melissa Harrison learned to recognise birds, she wrote in The Stubborn Light of Things, ‘more and more species swam out of anonymity into sharp focus…my brain no longer relegates bird calls to background noise. This is a change anyone can make.’ Once you know how to tune in, the instruments of the avian orchestra become distinct, a rich, layered tapestry of sound. The species you’ll see changes by season so if you fall in love with birdwatching, annual memberships are a great gift. At Pensthorpe, arrive as a beginner and leave as a birding expert. It’s never too late – or too early – to start.

RSPB Exclusive Bird Spectacular

RSPB Exclusive Bird Spectacular

Join the RSPB for an exclusive bird spectacular at their Snettisham reserve with panoramic views over shining mudflats and salty lagoons. Without question, this is one of the most memorable and enthralling natural events to be seen anywhere in Britain! Witness the noise, chaos and wild drama of the whirling waders as the sky roars to the exhilarating sound of ten thousand wingbeats.

Take your place at the Wader Watch point or in the Shore hide for this exclusive Snettisham experience and watch all the action in the company of an experienced and knowledgeable guide. When the birds have taken flight and the Wash falls quiet, you’ll spend time with your guide looking for other shorebirds and gulls feeding on the mudflats or resting in the saline lagoons. During the morning you’ll have a chance to learn more about these dynamic birds, their breeding and migration behaviours and why The Wash is such a unique and special eco-system. Finish the tour at Knots Landing, a new hide opened by Chris Packham, and watch bird action in the pits.

This event coincides with one of the highest spring tides of the year and public parking is always very limited. Your VIP ticket will guarantee you premium parking for this ever  popular occasion, as well as the opportunity to spend the morning with an RSPB ranger.

To see the birds up close bring binoculars or a scope. And remember to bring your camera to capture the sheer thrill of nature’s magnificence.

Walk on the Wild Side: Ken Hill

Walk on the Wild Side: Ken Hill

A good walk on a cold, bright day does wonders for wellbeing, restoring the joy of connecting with nature. And you can always follow it with a hearty pub lunch! Start at the Snettisham Wood car park (PE31 7PF). Face west towards the sea and follow the left hand path along the edge of the woods past the old railway crossing house. Slender young oaks, birches with bark like white paper and chestnut trees grow alongside the uneven path which gradually ascends the hill. Walk deeper into the resting wood where trees are taller and older, many first rooted centuries ago. Gnarled branches of oak and beech form a living canopy until, west of the path, the view opens to rolling fields and a stunning vista towards the Wash. On clear days the wooded ridge of Sandringham can be seen. Walk round the edge of the wood, still sheltered by its ancient branches.

Listen for the plaintive ‘ki ki’ of buzzards. Around snowdrop time, you may see a courting pair, spiralling on the thermals in a mesmerising sky dance. The path divides, either take the circular woodland route or walk on to the beach, across a rewilded landscape, balanced for nature through regenerative farming. Pass flooded fields of ducks, where marsh harriers glide low over the reeds and peewits (lapwings) call. Here, for once, nature and people are held in balance. To explore more of this area, check out the Activities you can book through Wild Ken Hill.

Build your own itinerary

If you fancy creating your own itinerary for a day trip to Norfolk or a longer visit, it couldn’t be simpler. Just go to Search Activities and select from our wide range of free and paid-for experiences, saving any that capture your imagination with the click of a button.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll find all the information stored in My Favourite, where you can drag and drop activities to create your own day-by-day itinerary! You can download this to a calendar and even share it with friends.

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bird watching day trips norfolk

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bird watching day trips norfolk

North Norfolk Birding (Day Trip)

A day trip in search of the spring birdlife of north Norfolk's marshes, coastal dunes and heathlands.

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The north Norfolk coast is one of the UK’s most famous locations for birds – and it therefore follows that we really should spend some time enjoying what it has to offer! This trip will allow us to cover a remarkable range of habitats, from heathland and woods to coastal grazing marsh, reedbeds and the open beach. We’ll start by checking the coastal heathland for Woodlark, Stonechat and Dartford Warbler, while Common Buzzards and perhaps Red Kites patrol overhead. Willow Warblers sing from the birches and there’s always the possibility of a migrant Ring Ouzel. Nearby, we’ll walk out to the marshes along the famous section of coast between Cley and Salthouse to enjoy a wide range of coastal migrants and breeding birds. The likes of Avocet, Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill, Little Egret, Bearded Tit and Cetti’s Warbler will give us plenty to look for at any time of year; in spring, waders will be in their breeding finery, while in autumn, their numbers will be increased by the appearance of the year’s youngsters. A glance offshore in suitable conditions might also produce a few seaducks, Gannets, Guillemots or even a skua or two! And of course, being Norfolk, there’s always the chance of a real rarity to enjoy! Our attention is likely to be drawn mostly to the wealth of birds, but we’ll also keep an eye out for other wildlife according to season, too, including Common Lizard, Green Hairstreak, European Hares and some interesting wild flowers.

Led by naturalist Mike Crewe, these Day Trips will start at 9am at Kelling Heath and will cover up to 4 miles on foot over easy terrain. Please also allow up to £10 for car parking charges.

  • Explore north Norfolk’s great range of habitats
  • Heathland birds such as Woodlark and Dartford Warbler and waders such as Ruff, Spotted Redshank & Whimbrel
  • Migrating chats, thrushes, warblers & finches and Norfolk residents such as Marsh Harrier, Avocet & Bearded Tit
  • Chance of something unusual such as Red-backed Shrike or Black Tern
  • Learn about the conservation work of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust
  • Led by expert Naturetrek naturalist

Day Trip Location

Fantastic day trip in beautiful North Norfolk led by Mike Crewe, a local naturalist with Naturetrek. We know the North Norfolk area well but this tour ticked all the boxes discovering new sites, new birds and made all the more enjoyable by our leader Mike. His enthusiasm and knowledge are incredible and he also has a cheeky sense of humour with a gift for story telling. On a day of mixed weather we still saw a remarkable number of birds. Naturetrek have responded to the demand for UK day trips led by their expert leaders, please may they continue.... Excellence all round for communication and detail. S.G. Surrey, May 21
We spent an excellent day out with Mike [Crewe, tour leader] in North Norfolk. His knowledge of the fauna and flora was excellent. The weather could have been better but we managed to see 65 birds including 5 cuckoos at one spot. P.M. West Midlands, May 21
Just a great day, lovely weather, entertaining guide (and informative), good company and a really good bird watching experience. Just one of the best, still personal despite its size, great holiday always geared around the wildlife, with fantastic guides.  C.A. Suffolk, Nov 20
A great day out with like minded folks, seeing some rare and some not so rare species of birds. Felt totally Covid safe. Well planned day out with a knowledgeable guide. S.R. Cambridgeshire, Oct 20
One of a series of days out to see British wildlife. The 4th one I've done and just as good as the others. Beautiful area of the Norfolk coast, varied birdlife, excellent guide, small group for agreeable company and easy listening. M.N. Buckinghamshire, Oct 20
The North Norfolk day took us to a variety of well chosen sites, and a variety of birds, including two rarities, so I feel I saw much of what the area can offer in terms of landscapes, habitats, and birds.  Our leader Mike Crewe was excellent and kept everybody happy.  His knowledge of not only birds but plants and habitats seemed inexhaustible, which greatly enriched our experience! I look forward to going on more Day trips in the future. A.M. Somerset

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At Naturetrek we craft expertly-guided group and tailor-made wildlife holidays and cruises to all seven continents. On one of our holidays, you can be assured that our passionate team will enable you to experience and enjoy the best of the world's wildlife and natural spectacles in as comfortable and rewarding a manner as possible, caring as best we can for the environment in the process. We are proud to provide:

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Furthermore, as a Naturetrek client, our office team are always to on hand to help you – so if you have any queries about your holiday, whether before or after you have booked, we will be delighted to answer them on the phone. Please just give our team a call!

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Birdwatching in Norfolk – the best places to birdwatch in Norfolk

Norfolk may well be the bird watching capital of Britain. It certainly has Premier League status nature reserves – just the names of Titchwell, Cley, Holkham, Blakeney, Snettisham and Welney make birdwatchers weak at the knees.

And there’s plenty to see whatever the time of year.

Watch the winter migrants on the coast, or the spectacular raptors coming in to roost in the Broads; listen to enchanting dawn chorus in the spring in ancient woodlands, or marvel at the nesting peregrines over summer on the Norman cathedral right in the heart of Norwich.

From speciality birds in Norfolk such as the marsh harrier, bittern and stone curlews to easily recognisable birds like kingfishers and geese, Norfolk has a stunning range of bird life, and beautiful nature reserves in which it can be discovered.

Common birds in Norfolk range from ghostly barn owls cruising along field margins to the bright flashes of kingfishers hunting along a river. Cetti’s warbler sing loudly from rustling reedbeds and moustached bearded tits join the warblers with their pinging call.

Norfolk is a birdwatchers’ paradise and a wonderful place for children to begin to learn about their feathered friends. With child-friendly visitor centres and nature reserves, you’ll find all the help and information you need to get started.

Coastal reserves

Cley Marshes


For many birders, NWT Cley Marshes is a compulsory port of call. This peerless nature reserve, the oldest in the county Wildlife Trusts movement and still among the most celebrated, has such a range of habitats and attracts such a diversity of birds that it is a birder’s default choice for Norfolk’s splendid birds.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s work at Cley has provided a template for nature conservation which has been copied across the country.

Cley Marshes comprises shingle beach, saline lagoons, grazing marsh and reedbed that support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waters, as well as speciality birds such marsh harriers, bittern and bearded tits.

Holme Dunes Nature Reserve

bird watching day trips norfolk

At Norfolk’s northwest corner, where The Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds.

It also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants. Various military remains from the Second World War can be glimpsed around the reserve, including the remnants of a target-railway used to train artillery.

Holkham Nature Reserve

Holkham Lavender Marsh

Holkham Nature Reserve is vast, with rugged coastal wetlands, saltmarsh, dunes, pinewoods and scrub, grazing marsh and foreshore. it stretches from Burnham Norton to Blakeney and covers about 3,706 hectares. It is possible to explore most of the area by following footpaths from the main car parks. The core section of the reserve, from Wells to Holkham Bay, is crisscrossed by paths allowing access through the pine woodland. Recently Blakeney has seen the first recorded sighting of the Balearic shearwater seabird, Puffinus mauretanicus.

RSPB Snettisham

RSPB Snettisham The Wash, Norfolk

RSPB Snettisham has amazing displays of waders and wildfowl, attracted by the mudbanks and salt marshes of The Wash. Norfolk bird watching offers a breathtaking flight of up to 50,000 wading birds leaving the mudflats of The Wash and landing in front of Snettisham’s hides which is one of nature’s most impressive sights. Though waders can be seen on all of the highest tides from mid-July to late May, the best period is from August to January.

RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Titchwell Marsh birdwatching West Norfolk

Inland reserves

WWT Welney Wetland Centre

WWT Welney Wigeon Credit David Featherbe

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Welney Wetland Centre is internationally-renowned with good sightings all-year round, particularly in the early winter when the Bewick’s and whooper swans reappear. It is also attracts wintering birds of prey including hen harrier, peregrine falcon, merlin and short-eared owl. In the Spring you might see breeding snipe, lapwings and redshanks.

The eco-friendly visitor centre has exhibits about the natural history and culture of the Fens, and there are many nature programmes, trails and hides – and swan feeding in the winter is a highlight.

On the Ouse Washes between the River Great Ouse and the Hundred Foot Drain, this is the largest area of frequently flooded grazing marsh in the UK.

Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve

Hickling Broad

Venture into the Broads and make a stop at NWT Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve, the largest of the Norfolk Broads. Its wide skies and open landscape offer the perfect place for a walk at any time of year, and a boat trip April – September. The reed beds are home to the birds in Norfolk Broads including booming bitterns and bearded tits. On the water look out for great crested grebes and watch the skies for the stunning marsh harriers. You might also spot osprey, spoonbill, avocet and even common cranes which have returned to nest in the area.

Hickling Broad

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

Birdwatching River Yare Strumpshaw Wheatfen Southern Broads

Explore RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in the heart of the Broads in all seasons. A number of nature trails lead you through a variety of habitats including reedbeds and woodland. Listen out for cuckoos and drumming woodpeckers in Spring and walk the wildflower meadows alive with colour. Six species of wild orchid can be seen as well as a whole host of dragonflies and butterflies including the rare Norfolk hawker. Keep your eyes peeled for the infamous swallowtails too floating through the summer skies.

RPSB Strumpshaw Fen

And here’s a few others…

NWT Foxley Wood is Norfolk’s largest ancient woodland, believed to be over 6,000 years old. Sparrowhawks and tawny owls breed in the wood and you may well see great spotted and green woodpecker. In areas of young coppice look for birds such as garden warbler, blackcap and whitethroat as they flit through the bushes in search of insects. And of course a visit in the spring will reward with stunning displays of bluebells.

High Lodge visitor centre is in the heart of Thetford Forest, Britain’s largest lowland pine forest. Deep in the maze-like forest you can hope to see species including nightjar, crossbill, woodlark and tree pipit.

At RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water you can experience the wide open spaces of grazing marshes and mudflats. Watch out for owls and birds of prey such as hen harrier quartering the land for mice and shrews and watch the spectacular displays of wintering waders and wildfowl. Huge flocks of golden plover, lapwing and wigeon can be seen both on the water and across the marshes.

In the Brecks NWT Weeting Heath is the foremost place to spot the rare stone curlew, a bird that requires open, stony ground with short vegetation to breed, making this Breckland habitat ideal. That’s where the sheep and rabbits come in handy.

Wayland Wood , near Watton, is a small patch of ancient woodland and nature reserve which is probably the best place in the country to see golden pheasant.

Set up by the Hawk and Owl Trust in 2002, pocket-sized Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve, in the Wensum Valley, is just over 18 hectares but it’s an excellent chance to get close to birds throughout a patchwork of habitats including wet woodland, hazel coppice, reed and sedge beds, open water and wet meadow.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Privacy Overview

bird watching day trips norfolk

Guyana 2024

Norfolk birders welcomes you to norfolk birdwatching, birdwatching in norfolk is a delight, where you will find wonderful birds and friendly birders..

Starting at the age of seven with the Observer Book of Birds to identify a Waxwing eagerly feeding on the berries on our garden Cotoneaster I have remained captivated by birds and wildlife throughout my whole life. I have travelled all over the world birding and wildlife watching in Europe. Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America to Antarctica. Having seen over half the world’s birds my travels continue. I have also done many pelagics worldwide with my daughter who has an interest in cetaceans.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Norfolk Sites

Norfolk is considered to be one of the best counties in England for the serious birder and for those who just enjoy watching birds at a more leisurely pace.

All birders are spoilt for choice of where to begin. Most head straight for the North Norfolk coastline, where, because of its geographical position is renowned for its ‘fall’ of Autumn migrants if the right weather conditions prevail. The North Norfolk Coastline has one of the most beautiful and unspoilt coastlines in England and has several bird reserves that are linked by other superb places for birdwatching. The coastline continues westwards and on into The Wash and eastwards until heading in a southerly direction to the Suffolk border. Both continuations of the coastline also offer wonderful vantage points for the keen birder.

Meanwhile Norfolk also offers some excellent inland sites for birding too, for those prepared to go off the beaten track to look for their own birds.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Norfolk Shorebird Spectacular

Late summer in Norfolk is a time of plenty as balmy summer days offer great birding opportunities during the start of the southbound autumn passage. For many birdwatchers, this is thought of as a quiet period in the avian calendar but with Norfolk’s diverse range of habitats, vast coastal marshes and strategic geographical position, scarce and rare shorebirds often occur at this time as huge numbers of birds start to head south. Our itinerary on this Norfolk birding tour will be flexible to take into account the weather and presence of anything unusual, but we are bound to spend a great deal of time observing the vast concentrations of shorebirds that congregate on the pools at Cley Marshes and Titchwell RSPB reserve. This gives participants a chance to get to grips with this, one of our trickiest groups of birds to identify, as the waders pass through in their variety of guises both adult and juvenile.

The sea can be rewarding at this time and if the tour coincides with onshore winds, skuas, shearwaters, terns, ducks and waders can pass by. Throw in excellent birding on the Wash at Snettisham for the whirling flocks of shorebirds over the high tide roost and you can see why we are passionate about Norfolk at this time of year! You can expect to walk four to five miles per day on mostly easy terrain, though the walk at Snettisham is of about five miles on mainly shingle. Your tour leader will be Ashley Saunders and you can expect to see approximately 120 species on this exciting Norfolk birding tour. 

  • Norfolk Shorebird Spectacular August 2018
  • Norfolk Shorebird Spectacular August 2019
  • Norfolk Shorebirds 2020
  • Norfolk Shorebirds July 2021
  • Norfolk Shorebirds August 2021
  • Norfolk Shorebirds 2022
  • Norfolk Shorebirds 2023

bird watching day trips norfolk

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Oriole Birding is a UK based birdwatching tour company specialising in small group holidays throughout the UK and to over 30 countries worldwide


A fabulous first morning in Bhutan with @OrioleBirding after a smooth journey. Ibisbill close to the airport followed by Black-tailed Crake nearby (my 1st lifer) & Paro Rinpung Dzong (built in 1637). Earlier we saw Kangchenjunga from the plane (third highest mountain the world).

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bird watching day trips norfolk

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bird watching day trips norfolk

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Birdwatching and wildlife in Norfolk

North-west Norfolk has some of the best birdwatching national nature reserves in the country. Three days here will let you take them all in with plenty of other activities to enjoy, all in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty .

There’s fine birdwatching year-round but we’d suggest Autumn through to Spring is best when you have huge numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders.

Base yourself on the coast itself or in the lovely countryside inland.

bird watching day trips norfolk

Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes Nature Reserve has created a template for nature conservation that has been copied across the country.

The reserve features shingle beach, grazing marsh, saline lagoons and reedbed that support large numbers of wildfowl and waders, as well as speciality birds such as Bittern, Bearded Tits and Marsh Harriers.


Nearby is the largest seal colony in England at National Trust Blakeney Point . Take a boat trip to see them from Morston Quay. Check sailing times and book in advance.

Blakeney Point

You could also take yourself up to the heights of the Cromer Ridge, the highest point in the East of England, for stunning views at Kelling and at the National Trust Sheringham Park .

Sheringham Park

RSPB Snettisham has incredible displays of waders and wildfowl, attracted by the safe mudbanks and salt marshes of The Wash estuary.

Arrive early, at day break, and you’ll see the breath-taking sight of up to 50,000 birds leaving the mudflats to feed inland during the day.

RSPB Snettisham

Then head to Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Welney , situated in the fascinating and unique wetlands of The Fens. There’s good birdwatching year-round but Welney is best-known for the annual migration of Whooper and Bewick’s swans.

WWT Welney

While you’re in the area, you could visit Sandringham , the Royal Family’s private country residence that is open when Her Majesty The Queen is not in attendance, and the impressive Castle Rising, built by the Normans.


Or take a look around historic King’s Lynn, which has more graded buildings than any other town in the country.

RSPB Titchwell has good birding all year, from black-tailed Godwits and Spotted Redshanks in Spring to Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stint in Autumn. Look out for Marsh Harriers performing their amazing ‘sky dancing’ and, in Winter, you’ll see rafts of wildfowl and skeins of Pink Footed geese.

Titchwell Spotted Redshank

Your second stop of the day is Pensthorpe Natural Park , a wildlife lover’s dream. Set in 700 acres of woodland and lakes in the upper reaches of the River Wensum, the most important chalk river in Europe, you’ll discover all kinds of birds, including Great White Egrets, Common Teals, Cetti’s Warblers, Common Cranes and Marsh Harriers.

Pensthorpe Natural Park

If there’s time, head into the Holkham Estate to enjoy the large herds of Fallow and Red deer, or take in the Burnhams – Burnham Thorpe is the birthplace of Horatio Nelson and Burnham Market is called ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’ for its upmarket boutiques and dining establishments.


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  1. Birdwatching in Norfolk Guided Birdwatching Trips

    bird watching day trips norfolk

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