Norfolk - winter wildfowl and natural history

Norfolk is justly famous for its wildlife. Our itinerary is designed to take in the most spectacular avian events and to give us a chance of seeing some of the county’s splendid mammal-life.
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From our base just north of Norwich, we’ll explore the great wetlands and sweeping vistas of the Norfolk Broads. We’ll visit a colony of Grey Seals and hope to witness both newborn seal pups and rough-and-ready courtship. We’ll also visit the Thurne catchment where we have a high chance of finding winter geese and charming Chinese Water Deer. We end the day at the spectacular roost of harriers at Norfolk Wildlife Trust Stubb Mill, where up to 100 Marsh Harriers may be accompanied by other raptors, Cranes and occasionally Bitterns. Our second day in Broadland will be spent in the Yare Valley, where we have a fair chance of seeing Otters at play, before we enjoy the evening spectacle of thousands of Jackdaws and Rooks coming in to the roost which inspired Mark Cocker’s celebrated ‘Crow Country’.

After our time in the Broads, we will head spend two days visiting the North Norfolk coast. One morning we will head to the Wash, arriving at Snettisham in time for the incoming high tide, where thousands of Knot, Dunlin and other waders feed on the mudflats, attracting the attention of hunting Peregrine and Merlin. Elsewhere, we turn our attention to the coastal marshes and beaches in search of Twite, Shorelark, Snow Buntings and any rare birds which may appear at this rewarding time of year.

A feature of this time of year are the large flocks of Pink-footed Geese feeding out in the fields, and we will hopefully end one of our days in North Norfolk with the cackles of innumerable thousands of Pink-Footed Geese in our ears as they fly in to roost. Unforgettable!

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

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Day 1 Our holiday starts in Crostwick where we will meet this evening at our hotel in time  for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together.

Day 2 We explore the edge of the Broads National Park, starting by heading to the coast at Horsey. We walk through the dunes, looking out for migrant birds passing through the scrub, but the main attraction is the breeding colony of Grey Seals on the beach. In the grazing marshes we may find feeding flocks of White-fronted Goose or Whooper Swan. As the shadows lengthen, we will make our way inland a little way to watch what will hopefully be the first of several impressive evening roosts in the county. Here the highlight should be the presence of Common Cranes.

Day 3 We head south to explore the nearby Yare Valley. The RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen gives us access to alder woodland and open pools in the reedbeds. We will be listening out for the pinging of Bearded Tits as they move through the reeds and the squeals of secretive Water Rail. The hides also offer some of the best chances for seeing Otter and Bittern in the county.

Day 4 We head to the North Norfolk Coast. Today is perhaps the least predictable, as our itinerary will depend very much on where the birds are. Rarities frequently turn up, and wherever we end up visiting, we are sure to enjoy the day.

Day 5 We head to the Wash , the wintering grounds for tens of thousands of waders, with large flocks of Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher feeding out on the mudflats. We hope
to arrive at Snettisham in time for the high tide, when the birds are pushed closer to the shore. Although this won’t be one of the winter’s highest tides, we should still enjoy some great views of the wintering birds. From here, we will travel to nearby Titchwell RSPB reserve, where Avocet and Little Egret may be amongst the birds we see from the well-positioned bird hides.

Day 6 One final breakfast, and then it is time to bid farewell to The Old Rectory and to Norfolk and to head home, hopefully taking some good memories of the big skies and spectacular flocks of a Norfolk winter.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.

Our accommodation will be at The Old Rectory in the village of Crostwick, which lies ten minutes north of Norwich on the B1150 towards North Walsham. If travelling by train, we will arrange for a shared taxi from Norwich (cost not included). All rooms are ensuite.

We shall be taking packed lunches each day. Evening meals will be taken at our hotel, with an emphasis on local food. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.

If you would like to extend your stay in Norfolk, we can book extra nights accommodation at the hotel, and give advice on good places to visit.

Our transport for this trip will be by small coach or minibus.

Travel to Crostwick

The holiday starts and finishes at our accommodation in Crostwick.

You can reach Norwich by train, from there you would need to take a taxi to Crostwick.

Crostwick lies around five miles north of Norwich, off the A1270.

The English weather is of course anything but predictable. We should expect cool and possibly damp conditions, although who knows, the weather could be bright and sunny on some days and cold and wet on others! We will adapt our itinerary to the weather. It can be ‘breezy’ or even windy on the coast at times. We will not walk for long in adverse weather conditions. Evenings can be cold.

We will be walking for much of the day, each day, albeit at a slow pace. In some locations ‘facilities’ are scarce! You therefore need to have a reasonably good level of fitness although none of the walks are strenuous. There are likely to be steps at the hotel.

Covid-19 security

We will be following the government’s rules on social distancing for this trip, with the final group size dependent on those rules at the time of the holiday. We will ask travellers to wear face coverings while on the bus, with hand sanitiser available at all times.