01692 580623/4

Norfolk & Suffolk Goshawks & Hawfinches

A 4-day birdwatching break to Norfolk and Suffolk

Early spring is the best time to find the specialities of East Anglia’s unique Breckland region - home to some of Britain’s most difficult-to-see resident birds. Displaying Goshawk, Common Crane, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark, Firecrest, Crossbill, Brambling and Hawfinch among highlights on previous tours. Great Grey Shrike is occasionally about, too. Based at a tucked away village inn on the edge of Thetford Forest - close to all the key birding spots.

Tour Dates

2018

Full
Full

2019

Available
Available

Leaders
Gary Elton

Max Group Size: 8
Duration: 4 Days

Ask About Tour

Cost: £615*

Tour starts/finishes at the hotel in Mundford or with collection from/drop off at Norwich railway station

Deposit: £150

Single Supp: £75*

* Prices Provisional (tba)

Book This Tour

Ask About Tour


If you have any questions about our tours or require further information, we are always happy to hear from you.
Feel free to contact us by email, fax or telephone to discuss any aspect of our tours. We look forward to hearing from you!

 
SEND US YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS:
  • Click here to read our Privacy Policy

  • * REQUIRED

Hawfinch, Norfolk © G Elton/Limosa Holidays 0412

Male Hawfinch and Grey Squirrel foraging for seeds beneath the trees at Lynford, Norfolk © Gary Elton, Limosa

Stretching from Swaffham in the north to Bury St Edmunds in the south, the area known as Breckland lies at the very heart of East Anglia. One of the driest parts of Britain, this fascinating region was once a wilderness of windblown sand and heath, where droves of Great Bustards roamed! The nation's demand for timber following the Great War led to extensive Forestry Commission planting during the 1920s and the creation of Thetford Forest - Britain’s largest lowland pine forest - a mosaic of coniferous woodland, clearfell and remnant heathland that nowadays forms one of the most important wildlife areas in Britain. Some of the country’s scarcest resident birds occur here - and March is the optimum time to seek them.

The fine, bright days of early spring are enough to stir Breckland’s early breeders into song. The first Woodlarks will be singing, and troops of ‘chipping’ Crossbills may already be settling down to nest. The Brecks also preserve some fine areas of broadleaved woodland. With the trees yet to break into leaf, this is the ideal time to search for two of Britain’s most elusive resident birds: Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The secretive Goshawk is another Breckland speciality best looked for at this time and we will visit one or two favoured spots, hoping for a sighting of this impressive bird of prey rising up above the treetops in territorial display.

Four of eastern England’s loveliest rivers meander quietly through the Brecks: the Thet, Wissey, Little Ouse and the Lark. Fed by the latter, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s excellent Lackford Lakes reserve is well worth a visit. Kingfisher, Water Rail and Tree Sparrow are usually about and this is a noted haunt of Goosander and Goldeneye in winter. The thousands of gulls and Starlings that regularly gather here to roost on winter evenings can provide a thrilling wildlife spectacle at the end of the day.

Not far away lies one of the UK’s premier wetland sites: the RSPB’s remarkable Lakenheath Fen. This impressive manmade wetland is perhaps the finest example of habitat creation anywhere in the British Isles. Sought after specialities such as Bittern, Little Egret, Marsh Harrier, Crane, Cetti’s Warbler and Bearded Tit are resident and in March we could also be lucky to see a marauding Peregrine.

Other localised Breckland specialities to try for in early spring include Firecrest, Stonechat, Siskin and Brambling. The recent run of mild winters has even encouraged the odd Stone-curlew to over-winter in the forest - who knows, we could strike lucky again this year! The predatory Great Grey Shrike is an irregular late winter visitor to clearings within the forest, and if one is about this year we may have time to try for that, too.  

We stay at a tucked away village inn on the northern edge of Thetford Forest, within an easy drive of all the key birding spots. Guide Gary Elton lives in Norfolk, is a frequent visitor to the Brecks and knows the area well. We have an excellent track record finding the more difficult species on our birdwatching tours to Norfolk / Suffolk, but please keep in mind that weather can be a factor and none of the specialities can ever be guaranteed - nor are they always easy to find!

Firecrest, Norfolk © tour participant Steve Nicklin, 0311

Male Firecrest at Lynford, one of several spots in Thetford Forest where this amazing little gem now breeds © tour participant Steve Nicklin

Our early spring birding tours to the Norfolk / Suffolk borders commence with arrival at our hotel on the evening of Day 1, where we gather at around 7.00pm for an informal get-together in the bar prior to enjoying dinner. The next two days are spent in the field, with packed lunches and flasks of tea and coffee available on demand. We return to the hotel each evening in time for a delicious dinner. After enjoying a final morning of birding and a packed lunch together 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.

The following itinerary is intended only as a guide and we may decide to vary this to take best advantage of weather, local conditions and what birds are about at the time of your visit - or to include visits to other sites not mentioned below. Most of the key Breckland specialities are best looked for on fine bright mornings in late winter, so the prevailing weather will play an important role in determining where and when we go and what we look for...

Day 1
ARRIVAL AT MUNDFORD

Evening rendezvous at our hotel to the north of Brandon, where we gather for an informal get-together in the bar around 7.00pm, followed by dinner. Night Crown Hotel, Mundford

Days 2 – 3
THE BRECKS: THETFORD FOREST, LYNFORD & LACKFORD LAKES

Lynford Arboretum is one of Thetford Forest’s most productive spots. Conveniently located within a mile of our hotel, it makes a great place to begin our winter birdwatching break. Best known as a regular haunt of Hawfinch in winter, Britain’s largest and most powerful finch is best looked for during February, March and early April, before the leaves are out and when these shy and undemonstrative birds are at their most vocal.

Lynford’s fine mix of coniferous and broad-leaved specimen trees in an open, park-like setting is also attractive to a trio of key Breckland breeding species: Siskin, Common Crossbill and Firecrest. Although finding the latter is a lot like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack (usually, there are only two or three pairs), we have been lucky on many previous visits. If Crossbills are about – they are an irruptive species that may be common one year but absent the next - they often give themselves away by their tell-tale ‘chipping’ calls. Siskins can sometimes be numerous in late winter and we may hear the male’s peculiar song, its fast chattering interrupted by an unexpected mechanical wheeze. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch and Treecreeper are resident, and a late winter visit to nearby Lynford Water could reveal Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye and Egyptian Goose.

Corridors of alder and poplar woodland beside Breckland’s clear rivers and streams are an ideal habitat to look for the much-declined and ever-elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - adults are barely the size of a sparrow. Encouraged by fine weather from mid-February onwards, like the Hawfinch, these diminutive tree-climbers are also at their most vocal in late winter, indulging in bouts of active ‘drumming’ and calling, making this an ideal time to search for them, too.

The Woodlark is one of the UK’s finest avian songsters and has a major stronghold in Thetford Forest’s sprawling coniferous woodlands, which support around a quarter of the British breeding population. Fine, bright mornings during March and early April are the best time to hear this amazing little bird, whose far carrying, fluting voice is outstanding for its clarity. Given in circling song flight, the sound seems to come and go as the birds drift across the clear-fell.

In late winter, the same conditions also stimulate one of Britain’s most secretive and powerful birds of prey, the Goshawk, to indulge in aerial display over the forest. A few pairs are resident in the Brecks and we may be lucky to see this impressive raptor, perhaps swooping and diving at great height over the trees or patrolling its territory in flapping, harrier-like flight.

Unlike the Woodlark and Goshawk, Coal Tits and Goldcrests are numerous and widespread throughout the extensive pinelands, with Red-legged Partridges and Yellowhammers common in the fields. A late winter visit adds the prospect of flocks of Redwing, Fieldfare and Brambling, too.

Breckland is home to a number of other species that are generally scarce in East Anglia and we will be checking likely haunts for some of them: Common Buzzard, Gadwall, Grey Partridge, Grey Wagtail and Stonechat are possible. The recent run of mild winters has even encouraged the odd Stone-curlew to return early to the Brecks, while Great Grey Shrike, a nomadic and erratic visitor to the UK, occasionally appears here in late winter. The latter favours areas of young plantation and clear-fell broken by avenues of pine stumps and brashings, where several of our previous groups have been lucky.

Set beside the River Lark, Lackford Lakes have been transformed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust from unattractive worked-out gravel pits into a wonderfully diverse wetland reserve with meadows, woodland, reed beds and streams. A superb site for wildfowl in winter, Lackford regularly attracts Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard and a few sleek Goosander. Cormorants are often to be seen fishing or ‘hanging out to dry’ in the tall trees by the river, and this is one of the best places in the region to see Kingfisher. There is a large winter gull roost (which can hold as many as 28,000 birds), and numbers of Starlings sometimes gather to perform aerial ballets over the reserve before dropping down to roost, making a late afternoon visit to the reserve especially rewarding. Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk are often about, Tree Sparrows are present year-round at the bird feeders and Water Rail is regularly spotted from the hides. Nights Crown Hotel, Mundford

Day 4
LAKENHEATH FEN

Where the westernmost of the elevated heaths fall away into the valley of the Little Ouse and the poor sandy soils of Breckland meet with the darker and much more fertile soil of the intensively cultivated Fens, the RSPB has created its magnificent Lakenheath Fen reserve. Twenty years ago, the land that is now one of Britain's finest nature reserves was predominantly carrot fields, with little to offer in the way of wildlife interest. Now it is a superb patchwork of bird-rich reed beds, grazing marshes and lagoons!

Classic reedbed species such as Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Bearded Tit are firmly established, along with the furtive Cetti’s Warbler, a bird whose spontaneous, loud shouted song may be heard at anytime during the late winter months. Grey Heron and Little Egret are likely beside the river. Common Cranes have also bred at Lakenheath in recent years and on settled days from February onwards, we may be lucky to hear their evocative bugling calls echoing across the marshes. Although for all their size these great grey birds are seldom easy to see; we missed them last year, but our 2016 group's timing was perfect as two flew right past them at the watchpoint and were later picked up ‘on the deck’!

All in all, our visit to Lakenheath should make an exciting finale to our birding tour to Norfolk / Suffolk's Breckland. The break concludes with a return to our hotel at around 2.30pm this afternoon, for farewells and journeys home.

Common Crossbill, juvenile, Switzerland © Brian Small/Limosa Holidays 0612

Crossbills are resident in Thetford Forest but their numbers can vary dramatically from year to year. Our birding tours to Norfolk / Suffolk in early spring provide an ideal opportunity to look for them © Brian Small, Limosa

What To Expect

A 4-day birdwatching tour to the Norfolk / Suffolk borders focusing on the specialities of East Anglia's unique Breckland region - home to some of Britain’s most difficult-to-see resident birds. Goshawk, Crane, Water Rail, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Woodlark, Firecrest, Crossbill and Hawfinch possible, as well as winter visitors such as Fieldfare, Brambling and occasionally the erratic Great Grey Shrike.

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 climate is famous for its unpredictability. Late winter temperatures at Thetford, in the heart of the region, are typically in the range of 0-9C (32-48F). Breckland is one of the driest parts of the UK, but rainfall is of course possible at any season in the UK, so do bring rain wear just in case.

Birds

80-100 species

Mammals

5 species

Accommodation

3 nights accommodation at the Crown Hotel in Mundford, a comfortable and traditional Norfolk village inn at the edge of Thetford Forest, and perfectly situated for easy exploration of this unique region. 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 lunch on Day 4. Portions are generous and the food is good. Breakfasts and dinners will be taken at the hotel. Lunches will be picnics in the field to help maximise our birding time.

Walking

Easy walks (approx. 1-3 miles) at a gentle pace over good trails and mostly flat terrain. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or boots recommended. Wellies will be useful in wet weather and can be handy first thing, when the grass can be damp after overnight.

Travel

Daily excursions will be 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 around 7.00pm on the first evening.

For those without their own transport, we pick up at Norwich railway station at 4.45pm on the Friday afternoon (most routes arrive into Norwich by about that time), and are able to drop off there again by about 4.45pm on the Monday evening.

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 at the hotel, we are unable to offer return transport to/from the station. Instead, it will be necessary for you to arrange a taxi between the station and the hotel - for this reason you might look into travelling to/from Brandon or Thetford stations, which are ca. 15 minutes journey by taxi (rather than travelling to Norwich, about an hour away).

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

A visit to the RSPB's excellent Lakenheath Fen reserve adds the prospect of reedbed birds, such as Bearded Tit © Jo Latham, wildlifephotocards.co.uk

query
RESULTSET
query
  AUTHOR TESTINTRO TITLE
1 Tony Charles, Norfolk & Suffolk Tour ... What can I say about Gary? Absolutely great as usual. As good if not better than any I have met ever!... Norfolk & Suffolk Tour
2 Johnnie Powell, Norfolk & Suffolk Tour ...Gary had great knowledge of the area and up-to-date information on where to find the target species. He had very good hearing. As a result we found nearly all the birds I had hoped to see... Norfolk & Suffolk Tour
CACHED false
EXECUTIONTIME 1
SQL SELECT Testimonial.TestIntro, Testimonial.Author, Testimonial.Title FROM Testimonial Left JOIN TestimonialTour ON Testimonial.TestID = TestimonialTour.TestID Where DeletedAt is NULL AND TestimonialTour.TourID = ? Order By TestimonialTour.ID, Testimonial.createdAt
SQLPARAMETERS
array
1 527
Request Tour Information Pack
×

SECURED BY

Privacy Policy

This website is owned and operated by Limosa Holidays ("Limosa Holidays", "our", "we" or "us"). Limosa Holidays is the controller of all personal information collected on this website. Limosa Holidays believe strongly in protecting the privacy of all website users ("you", "yours") and this notice sets out how we use your personal data. By registering on this site, you consent to the collection, use and transfer of your personal information under the terms of this privacy policy.

What data ("personal information") do we gather from you?

We gather personal information such as first and last names, telephone number and email addresses that you provide voluntarily when you fill in appropriate sections of our website. For example when you complete our contact us section, you provide us with personal information which we hold and use for the purposes set out in the next section.

Use of your personal information

Our main aim in gathering your personal information is to provide you with a customised service. If you fill your details in our contact us section we use your personal information in order that we can contact you and respond to any questions and needs that you may have. We use your personal information so that we can carry out your requests. We may also use aggregate personal information and statistics for the purposes of monitoring website usage in order to help us develop the website and our services and may provide such aggregate personal information to third parties. These statistics will not include any data that can be used to identify any individual. If, at some time in the future, we wish to use your personal data in ways other than those set out in this privacy notice, then we will notify you about this and seek your permission to do so.

Sharing of personal information

We may share personal information within the Limosa Holidays family ("Limosa Holidays Family"); by this expression, we mean the Limosa Holidays group and each and any of its associates. The Limosa Holidays Family will process your personal information in accordance with this privacy policy and all privacy and communications legislation. Those selected companies are those that provide technical assistance and support and perform other functions to support our marketing activities. All selected companies may have access to personal information if needed to perform such functions, but will only be permitted by us to use such personal information for the purpose of performing that function (which may include one to which you have expressly given your consent) and not for any other purpose.

We do not currently envisage our wishing to transfer personal information about you outside of the European Economic Area, but in the unlikely event we should wish to do so in future, we will only do so to the extent that it is permitted under all privacy and communications legislation applicable within England and Ireland. Of course if we need your specific and express consent to do this, we will obtain it before transferring any personal information. In all cases, any use of your personal information by the Limosa Holidays Family which has been instigated by us (as opposed, for example, to a promotional partner), will comply with this privacy policy.

Occasionally, with your permission and depending on the purpose for and context in which you gave that permission, we will send to you by e-mail or SMS text message marketing information and news. This may include our sending to you marketing information for the products or services of a promotional partner on that partner's behalf. However, in every case, if you do not elect to receive such communications or if you elect to discontinue receiving them, then we will not send or will cease sending them to you. Also, we reserve the right to use or disclose any personal information as needed to satisfy any law, regulation or legal request, to protect the integrity of the site, to fulfil your requests, or to cooperate in any law enforcement or regulatory investigation. Save for this, we do not sell, transfer or disclose personal information we have collected from you in connection with our web site activities, to third parties outside the Limosa Holidays Family.

Please note that if we are, in turn, a promotional partner of an unrelated company (for example where we are not asking you to submit any personal information to us but are simply providing personal information on our site) and a link exists to that other company's web site where one must visit to take part in that company's promotion, offer or other activity, then the privacy policy of that other company will apply instead of ours.

Whilst we make every effort only to tie-in with reputable companies which have a similar high regard for your privacy, you should make sure you are aware of what their privacy policies say, as we are not responsible for the policies and practices of other companies, including those of other members of the Limosa Holidays Family. If, in the future, a third party acquires Limosa Holidays or substantially all of its assets (whether by merger, acquisition, reorganisation or otherwise) customer data, including personal information, may well be one of the transferred assets.

Cookies

A cookie is an alphanumeric identifier which asks permission to be placed on your hard drive through your web browser when you visit our Site. Once you agree (or your browser agrees automatically if you have set it up in that way) it enables our own system to recognise you when you visit our Site to track the pages you looked at while visiting our Site and therefore to improve our Site and tailor the service to you. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences. For example, when you visit an electronic store such as ours a cookie makes it easier to shop by allowing you to place things into a shopping basket; the basket itself is not a cookie; the cookie is placed on your hard drive and keeps track of your basket versus others in use at the same time. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system. Denial of a traffic log cookie may prevent you from using the Site. Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better Site by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you other than the data you choose to share with us. This practice is strictly enforced. We know that people have concerns about cookies but we believe that the benefit that you and we gain from their proper use is worthwhile.

You may set up your web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) to notify you of cookie placement requests or decline cookies completely (although you acknowledge that declining them may prevent you from being able to use the Site properly or at all). You can delete the files that contain cookies - those files are stored as part of your Internet browser. To remove cookies from your web browser or to obtain further details on cookies including information on persistent and session cookies please go to www.allaboutcookies.org/manage-cookies/.

This website uses Google Analytics which adds it's own cookies and is vital for our marketing and the continual improvement of the website. As such please read the Google Analytics privacy policy [www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html].

Protection of your personal information and retention

The internet is not a secure medium and Limosa Holidays cannot absolutely guarantee the security of your personal information provided over the internet. However we have put in place various security measures as set out below. The Limosa Holidays website and associated databases are protected by certified firewalls in order to protect your personal information from access by unauthorised persons and against unlawful processing. The website uses the latest technology with full backups. We also keep your personal information confidential. All outgoing and incoming email is scanned for viruses.

We also keep your personal information confidential. We will retain your personal information for a reasonable period or as long as the law requires.

Accessing and updating

You are entitled to see the personal information held about you and you may ask us to make any necessary changes to ensure that it is accurate and kept up to date. If you wish to do this, please contact us by using the methods listed below. We are entitled by law to charge a fee of £10 to meet our costs in providing you with details of the personal information we hold about you.

If at any time, you would like to correct the personal information we have about you or if you would like to change your preferences for contacts from us or other members of the Limosa Holidays Family, you can let us know by contacting us by using the methods listed below.

Changes to our privacy policy

From time to time, it may be necessary for us to change this privacy policy, so we suggest that you check here periodically.

Links

This website contains links to other websites. Please note that we are not responsible for the privacy policies of such other websites and we advise you to read the privacy policies of each website you visit which collects personal data.

Questions or complaints: contact us

We reiterate that by submitting your personal information to us you consent to the use of that personal information as set out in this privacy policy. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or complaints about this privacy policy and/or our collection or use of personal information, or if you wish us to stop processing your personal information for any particular purpose or purposes, then please contact us on [email protected] or telephone us on +44 (0)1692 580 623.

×
Cookies on the Limosa Holidays Website

Our website uses cookies so that you can book tours with us and we can provide you with a better service. If you're happy with this, please continue to use the site as normal. Find out how the Limosa website uses cookies.

Accept Cookies