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Norfolk Coast North Norfolk in Spring

An all-inclusive 4-day birdwatching tour to Norfolk

Enjoy a long weekend with Limosa, exploring the beautiful North Norfolk coast - our own 'home patch' - at a time when Britain's resident birds and summer visitors are settling down to nest... and migration regularly brings surprises! Get to grips with rare breeding species such as Avocet, Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tit; listen and learn how to identify a confusion of different warblers by song; and revel in the impressive range of northbound waders along the shore - all looking at their best now, in their smart summer dress. Based at a comfortable hotel, ideally situated overlooking the sea in Old Hunstanton.

Tour Dates

2019

Available

Leaders
Gary Elton

Max Group Size: 8
Duration: 4 Days

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Cost: £585

from Old Hunstanton or Norwich

Deposit: £150

Single Supp: £65

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Cuckoo flying (1) BirdWalk Lakenheath Suffolk 2013 Keith Suffling 6

Harbinger of spring... The Cuckoo's voice is familiar to all, but actually getting to see one isn't quite so easy! © BirdWalk participant Keith Suffling, idesign4.co.uk

Spring birdwatching around the Norfolk coast is hard to beat! As the days lengthen and summer migrants arrive, an air of expectation begins as birds find their voice and settle to breed. Days may be filled with the lovely lilting song of Willow Warblers in fresh leaved birch and sallow woodland; Reed and Sedge Warblers chattering from the reedbeds; Ruff and Spotted Redshank in super summer plumage on the coastal marshes; Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins skimming across the fields... It's a great time to be out and about in North Norfolk. And if you would also like a little help learning to pick out birds by song and call, or unravelling the mysteries of wader identification, then this relaxed, easy-paced break is perfect for you.

The RSPB's famous Titchwell reserve lies within a short drive of our hotel. Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Avocet and Barn Owl are among resident species to look for, and in spring we can watch and listen for the elusive Bittern, too. On the coastal pools and beaches, large numbers of waders will be on the move - northbound in May - with the bonus that many will be in looking at their very best now, in full breeding dress. Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot and Grey Plover can look particularly resplendent and we may well see the flamboyant Ruff and perhaps a Little Stint or Curlew Sandpiper or two. Scarcities too can, and indeed do, turn up and our last May group was treated to a tiny Temminck’s Stint and a trip of 21 Dotterel! Up to 30 species of wader are possible, while Little, Common and Sandwich Terns fish offshore.

In spring, Norfolk’s extensive woodlands burst back into life - and new arrivals of summer visitors ensure that each day’s birding is as exciting as it is different. On one morning, we offer the chance to go out early (optional!) to experience the best of spring bird song. During the first few hours of the day, the cool morning air is filled with the magic of bird song across a misty marsh, where our senses may be accosted by a secretive Cetti's Warbler, 'shouting at us' from a watery thicket, or soothed by the sound of a distant Cuckoo.

We’ll check favoured spots along the coast for newly arrived migrants such as Ring Ouzel and Firecrest, while inland we may be lucky to find scarce breeding species such as Woodlark and Red Kite. The latter is slowly establishing itself around the Norfolk coast and we could see one quartering the saltmarsh alongside the scarce but more numerous Marsh Harrier. Spring birding is always full of surprises, especially in Norfolk: the likes of Spoonbill, Black Tern and Hoopoe occur most years... and with them come the occasional rarities, too!

Our spring tour is based in comfort at one conveniently located hotel - the Le Strange Arms, beside the sea in Old Hunstanton - right on the bend of the North Norfolk coast and close to many of the region's top birding sites.

Whether you are new to birdwatching or more experienced, guide Gary Elton will be on hand to take you to the best spots and ensure you have as much fun as possible whilst enjoying seeing lots of great birds and wildlife. Limosa has been operating birding tours in Norfolk for more than 30 years now... Treat yourself this spring to the very best of British birding!

Cetti's Warbler Suffolk Robin Chittenden April 2014 065

So that’s what they look like! Unlike most of the UK's warblers, which are summer visitors, the secretive Cetti’s Warbler remains in Britain all year round - but cold winters can take their toll © Robin Chittenden, robinchittenden.co.uk

Our birdwatching tours to the North Norfolk Coast commence with arrival at the hotel on the evening of Day 1, where we meet for a welcome drink and informal get-together in the bar around 7.00pm prior to enjoying dinner. The next two days are spent in the field, with packed lunches and flasks of hot tea and coffee available on demand. We return to the hotel again each evening in time for a delicious dinner, followed by the day’s log call over coffee and the chance to relax and chat informally about the day’s events. After enjoying a full morning of birdwatching and packed lunch in the field on Day 4, the break concludes back at the hotel at around 2.30pm that afternoon to allow good time for farewells and departure for home.

Destinations will be chosen from the following outline programme to ensure your visit is both worthwhile and rewarding. We leave the final choice of places to visit to the discretion of our expert guide, according to the weather, local conditions and what’s about at the time.

BIRDS & PLACES

The RSPB’s flagship Titchwell reserve lies within a short drive of our hotel and a visit there should ensure our trip gets off to a flying start. Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Avocet, Mediterranean Gull and Bearded Tit are among many exciting resident species to look for in May. Persil-white Little Egrets are well established on the Norfolk scene - and easy to spot as they prance energetically along the tidal creeks.

Tides, season, wind direction and weather on the day will all have a bearing on the number and location of the birds, of course. However, in spring most of the waders on the marshes will be in full breeding plumage, richly hued with the colours of orange and rufous needed to hide them on their tundra breeding grounds. Alongside Oystercatchers and Curlews on the beach, we might find a brick-red male Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed and silver-backed Grey Plovers, Red Knot, Redshank and black-bellied Dunlin, while the adjacent freshwater marshes add the prospect of Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit, all acquiring their summer finery. Small parties of Brent Geese may still be about, grazing the saltmarshes, and given onshore winds we could be lucky to spot a late Red-throated Diver or perhaps an Arctic Skua or two passing by northwards. We also have good chances of seabirds such as Gannet and Kittiwake as well as Common, Sandwich and Little Terns.

Heading east along the coast, the sweeping saltmarshes at Holkham and Wells are backed by woodlands of birch and pine. They provide a welcome sight for weary migrant passerines and a spring visit here could produce anything from Redstart and Pied Flycatcher to Ring Ouzel and Red-backed Shrike. This is also an excellent time of year to come across the tiny Firecrest. We will watch for Spoonbills along the coast, which have bred at Holkham in recent years.

Further east, we may visit the celebrated coastal marshes at Blakeney, Salthouse or Cley, while the hinterland of coastal heaths hold small populations of breeding Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Dartford Warbler, Wood Lark and Stonechat.

An early, pre-breakfast start one morning (optional for those who wish to participate) will allow us to experience the magic of spring bird song: local Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Robins are joined by Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers among many others - and afterwards, breakfast will taste even better! At the opposite end of the day, as dusk descends over the coast, Barn Owls drift silently over the marshes and Marsh Harriers quarter the reedbeds before finally dropping into roost. Red Kite, Peregrine and Common Buzzard have all been recorded with increasing frequency in recent years and with sharp eyes we may be lucky.

The North Norfolk coast has a long history of turning up rarities and the chance of stumbling across something completely unexpected always adds a little extra spice to our birding at this exciting time of year. Surprises in May can range from 'more frequent' Black Terns, Little Gulls, Wrynecks and Bluethroats to perhaps something really rare - Broad-billed Sandpiper, Caspian Tern and Subalpine Warbler have all occurred in recent years.

As with all our Norfolk breaks, we may vary the above itinerary to take best advantage of the weather and other local conditions, as well as what birds happen to be about at the time of your visit. And while our guides can't promise to find you a rarity on every trip, one thing’s for certain - whenever you come and whatever we choose to do, in Norfolk there's always plenty to see!

Bearded Tit, male, Norfolk © Jo Latham/www.wildlifephotocards.co.uk 2010

Although a species more often heard than seen, with patience - and a little luck - we may see the beautiful male Bearded Tit at Titchwell © Jo Latham, wildlifephotocards.co.uk

What To Expect

Enjoy a long weekend with Limosa, exploring the beautiful North Norfolk coast - our own 'home patch' - at a time when the UK's resident birds and summer visitors are settling down to nest... and migration regularly brings a few surprises our way! Get to grips with rare breeding species such as Avocet, Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tit, listen and learn how to identify a confusion of different warblers by song, and revel in the impressive range of northbound waders along the shore - all looking at their best now, in smart summer dress. Based at just one conveniently located hotel, overlooking the sea in Old Hunstanton

Led by Limosa’s friendly expert guides, these holidays are ideal for birdwatchers of all levels of ability, interest and experience. Just bring your bins and enthusiasm for birds - we’ll do the rest!

The UK's climate is famous for its unpredictability, but extremes are rare. Expect a mix of sunshine and showers in spring with May temperatures in the range of 7-20C (45-68F). It can feel cooler near the coast when an onshore breeze is blowing. Norfolk is one of the driest parts of the UK, but some rainfall is of course possible at any season so come prepared with rainwear and lightweight layers of clothing, just in case - and join us for some of the very best birding in Britain!

Birds

90-130 species

Mammals

Up to 5 species

Accommodation

3 nights accommodation at the comfortable Le Strange Arms Hotel, overlooking the sea in Old Hunstanton - and perfectly situated for easy exploration of the North Norfolk coast. All rooms are en suite.

Meals

All main meals are included in the price, commencing with dinner on arrival at the hotel on the evening of Day 1 and concluding with a packed lunch on Day 4. Breakfasts and dinners will be taken at the hotel. Participants regularly tell us that meals at the hotel are excellent. Lunches will be picnics taken in the field.

Walking

Easy. Short walks (approx. 1-3 miles) at a gentle pace over good trails and mostly flat terrain. Sturdy trainers will suffice if the weather is dry; if not, wear comfortable waterproof walking shoes or boots. Wellies recommended in wet weather and can be handy first thing when the grass can be damp with overnight dew.

Travel

Excursions are by minibus.

Participants arriving in Norfolk by car will be sent a map and joining instructions for the hotel. We meet for an informal get-together in the hotel bar at 7.00pm on the first evening.

For those without their own transport, we pick up at Norwich railway station at approx. 4.45-5.00pm on the first afternoon (most routes arrive into Norwich just ahead of this time). We are able to drop off there again by about 4.45pm on the last afternoon. There is no extra cost for pick-up and drop-off as outlined above.

Please note: if you intend to travel by rail and wish to spend an extra night or two at the hotel before or after the tour, we are unable to offer return transport to/from the station. Instead, it will be necessary for you to arrange a taxi from Norwich to Old Hunstanton or vice versa (a distance of approx. 45 miles) or to the nearest station at Kings Lynn (approx. 17 miles).

Teal m Norfolk Robin Chittenden Feb 2014 133

The Teal is our smallest duck, fast and rather wader-like in flight but revealing a bold white wing stripe and emerald green speculum in all plumage © Robin Chittenden, robinchittenden.co.uk

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