Norfolk Coast

Wild Geese & Waders

A 4-day, single-centre, small group birdwatching tour to Norfolk

Late autumn is the ideal time to seek Norfolk’s wild geese and waders, and Limosa’s November birdwatching tour to the Norfolk Coast finds our winter visitors arriving in force - with who knows what could be with them! With masses of waterfowl and waders, birds of prey, Barn Owls, Bearded Tits, Shorelarks and Snow Buntings to look for on the coastal mudflats and marshes, our all-inclusive ‘Wild Geese & Waders’ long weekends are not only filled with birds, but great fun too! Based at a comfortable seaside hotel in Old Hunstanton, close to all the top birding spots.

Tour Dates & Prices

Fri 6th November 2020

Mon 9th November 2020

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Fri 5th November 2021

Mon 8th November 2021

  • Spaces

Tour Cost: 4 Days from £595 from Old Hunstanton (or Norwich railway station)

Deposit: £150Single Supp: £70Group Size: 8Leaders:  David Fairhurst

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • 3 nights accommodation in Norfolk, based at a comfortable seaside hotel in Old Hunstanton *1
  • All main meals - breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, plus packed lunches, teas and coffees, too
  • Minibus transport
  • All excursions, entry fees, permits
  • All tour-based tips and taxes
  • Limosa Checklist of birds
  • Free pick-up and drop off at Norwich station for rail travellers, as described *2

Cost Excludes

Insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

*1 Option to stay an extra night at the hotel before or after the break available at additional cost, and payable locally, for those that wish to extend their stay in Norfolk, or wanting to allow time for a more leisurely journey home after breakfast the next morning. Please ask for a quote and availability at time of booking.*2 Tour starts/finishes at the hotel in Old Hunstanton or with collection from/drop off at Norwich railway station. There is NO additional charge for pick up and drop off at Norwich railway station, as described.

Tour Cost: 4 Days from £595* from Old Hunstanton (or Norwich railway station)

Deposit: £150Single Supp: £70*Group Size: 8Leaders: TBA

* 2020 tour costs shown. Please note costs for our 2021 tour TBA (available summer 2020)

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • 3 nights accommodation in Norfolk, based at a comfortable seaside hotel in Old Hunstanton *1
  • All main meals - breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, plus packed lunches, teas and coffees, too
  • Minibus transport
  • All excursions, entry fees, permits
  • All tour-based tips and taxes
  • Limosa Checklist of birds
  • Free pick-up and drop off at Norwich station for rail travellers, as described *2

Cost Excludes

Insurance, drinks & other items of a personal nature

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

*1 Option to stay an extra night at the hotel before or after the break available at additional cost, and payable locally, for those that wish to extend their stay in Norfolk, or wanting to allow time for a more leisurely journey home after breakfast the next morning. Please ask for a quote and availability at time of booking.*2 Tour starts/finishes at the hotel in Old Hunstanton or with collection from/drop off at Norwich railway station. There is NO additional charge for pick up and drop off at Norwich railway station, as described.

Tour Highlights

  • Late autumn birding along the beautiful North Norfolk coast
  • Tens of thousands of wintering wild geese, waterfowl and waders
  • Barn Owl, Hen Harrier, Peregrine and other birds of prey hunting over the coastal marshes
  • Purple Sandpiper, Rock Pipit, Shorelark, Twite, Snow and Lapland Buntings to look for
  • Divers, grebes, seaduck, Gannets, skuas and auks moving offshore
  • It's November in North Norfolk - always a chance of something unexpected!
  • Small party size - maximum of 8 participants
  • Relaxed, friendly and informal, with as much help with bird identification as you need
  • Expertly led by Limosa guide David Fairhurst

Outline Itinerary

  • We meet for dinner at our seaside hotel on the North Norfolk coast. Night Old Hunstanton

  • Two full days of guided birdwatching in North Norfolk. Old Hunstanton (2 nights)

  • After enjoying a full morning birdwatching and our picnic lunch today, we return to our hotel around 2.30pm this afternoon for farewells and departure for home

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Trip Reports
snow bunting walberswick suffolk brian small card.jpg
It's late autumn, and a Snow Bunting forages for seeds amongst the coastal shingle © Brian Small, Limosa

The clamour of Pink-footed Geese on a winter’s eve... crowds of grey-suited waders bustling along the tideline... a ghostly Barn Owl hunting right beside us... harriers floating silently over the lonely marshes... Water Rails squealing like pigs in the reedbeds... Little Egrets and Twite dancing across the saltings... It’s easy to see why the North Norfolk coast has been such a mecca for generations of British birdwatchers!

Now you can experience the magic for yourself on an all-inclusive long weekend break with Limosa - friendly and fun, small group tours that are designed to help you make the most of your birding.

Divers, grebes and seaduck haunt the shore in late autumn, when gatherings of winter wildfowl and waders can be truly spectacular. Numbers of Knot alone can top 100,000 birds and Norfolk’s ever-increasing population of geese includes tens of thousands of Pink-feet and Brent as well as small flocks of White-fronted, too. Water Rail and Woodcock creep furtively along the marshy fringes and passerines such as Shore Lark, Rock Pipit, Twite and Snow and Lapland Buntings are regularly present on the saltings.

Birds of prey are another special feature of our late autumn tours. Marsh and Hen Harriers patrol the coastal marshes, where they may be joined by Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin as well as the occasional Short-eared Owl. Sightings of Red Kite, Peregrine and Common Buzzard have increased dramatically in Norfolk over the past 20 years and the scarce Rough-legged Buzzard is also possible at this exciting time of year.

Each trip will have its own special moments, of course. Come November, troops of silken Waxwings may be about to enliven the North Norfolk hedgerows; scarcities such as Little Auk or Pomarine Skua may be passing by offshore; and numbers of wild geese, ducks and waders continue to build along the coast. Being Norfolk, one never quite knows what will turn up next and the season often holds one or two surprises!

Our November tours are based in comfort at one conveniently located hotel - the Le Strange Arms, beside the sea in Old Hunstanton - set 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 David Fairhurst 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 35 years now... Join us in autumn and treat yourself to the very best of British birding!

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FORE... teen!! Unperturbed by a peppering of golf balls, a gaggle of Dark-bellied Brent Geese grazes at Brancaster Golf Course, along the North Norfolk coast © Brian Small, Limosa

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 get our trip off to a flying start! Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Avocet, Barn and Short-eared Owls, Woodcock and Bearded Tit are among many exciting species to look for in November. Persil-white Little Egrets are also well established on the Norfolk scene - and easy to spot as they prance energetically along the tidal creeks.

November finds musical flocks of Pink-footed Geese in the coastal marshes and fields, with Redwings, Fieldfares, Linnets, Chaffinches and Bramblings adorning the hedgerows. Flocks of ‘grumbling’ Brent Geese graze the littoral pastures and sometimes conceal the odd Black Brant, too - the latter a vagrant from Siberia. Parties of waders scurry along the tideline as we check offshore for flotillas of seaduck such as Eider, Common Scoter and Long-tailed Duck. Red-throated Divers are regularly present on the sea, their numbers increasing as the season progresses, and we have good chances of seeing Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake and other seabirds passing along the coast.

To the south of our hotel (where a spot of optional pre-breakfast birding for those that wish can also be rewarding, by the way - we have seen Black Redstart in the grounds), the immense tidal flats of The Wash support more wintering shorebirds than any other estuary in Britain. Wader-watching - either here or ‘just around the corner’ between Old Hunstanton and Titchwell - in late autumn is exciting. If you are new to birdwatching our guides will help you learn how to tell the different species apart, while ‘old hands’ will derive enormous pleasure from the sheer spectacle of so many birds.

Tides, season, wind direction and weather on the day will of course all have a bearing on the number and location of the birds. But we should find plenty of Oystercatchers, Curlews, Ringed, Grey and Golden Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Dunlin and Redshank, together with parties of 'clockwork' Sanderlings scuttling back and forth along the tideline. From time to time, the big flocks suddenly erupt as one to drift across the pale winter sky like ever-changing plumes of smoke - a breath-taking spectacle.

Beyond the cliffs (where Fulmars may already be prospecting for a breeding ledge), we may find more seaduck, possibly including Velvet Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. November offers the chance of Slavonian and other grebes on the sea, and although this is not a rocky coast, one or two favoured spots hold Turnstone and even Purple Sandpiper.

Moving inland, we’ll check the hedgerows and fields for Little Owl as well as flocks of wintering finches, Yellowhammers and the now very scarce Corn Bunting. Tree Sparrows have also declined dramatically in Britain in recent decades, but we may be lucky to find a few at favoured spots around the farmers’ grain stores.

Heading east along the coast from Titchwell, the sweeping saltmarshes at Holkham and Wells are not only a regular haunt of movie film crews, but Shore Larks and Snow Buntings in winter, too. Rock Pipits are often present and the fields hold thousands of Brent and even more Pink-footed Geese, together with lesser numbers of White-fronted and Greylag Geese. Nearby Holkham Park is home to woodland birds, including Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Marsh, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch and Treecreeper.

Continuing east, we might decide to visit the celebrated coastal marshes of Stiffkey, Morston, Blakeney, Salthouse or Cley. If conditions are right, early November can be productive for seawatching, bringing chances of a late autumn skua or Little Auks passing offshore. And if there are any Waxwings about, this is usually the best time of year to find them - before the invading hordes of Fieldfares and Redwings have stripped the coastal hedgerows of berries! Wildfowl are numerous here, with Brent Geese, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler present in good numbers, and mixed flocks of waders, gulls and other waterfowl gracing the coastal fields.

As dusk descends, Barn Owls drift silently back and forth over the marshes, and Marsh and Hen Harriers quarter low over the reedbeds before finally dropping down to roost. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and one or two Merlin are regularly about in November, too - and Red Kite, Peregrine and Common Buzzard are being seen with increasing frequency in recent years. The perky Stonechat is also active late in the day, surveying its territory from a prominent post for one last snack before nightfall.

The Norfolk coast has a long history of turning up surprises and the chance of coming across something quite unexpected invariably adds a little extra spice to our birding here. Late autumn highlights enjoyed by our groups over the past 35 years have included everything from Cattle Egret (November 2019 tour) and Northern Harrier to Pallas's Warbler and Red-breasted Nuthatch!

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. While we 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 will always be plenty to see!

shore lark suffolk easton brian small card.jpg
Having a bit of a stretch... Shore Lark is a regular autumn and winter visitor to the immense sandflats along the North Norfolk coast © Brian Small, Limosa

WHAT TO EXPECT
Late autumn is the ideal time to seek Norfolk’s wild geese and waders, and a November visit to the North Norfolk coast finds our winter visitors arriving in force - with who knows what could be with them!

With masses of waterfowl and waders, birds of prey, Barn Owls, Bearded Tits, Shorelarks and Snow Buntings to look for on the coastal mud flats and marshes, our all-inclusive ‘Wild Geese & Waders’ long weekends are filled with birds - and great fun, too! We stay at a comfortable seaside hotel in Old Hunstanton.

Led by Limosa’s friendly expert guides, these holidays are suitable for birdwatchers of all levels of ability, interest and experience. Our helpful guide will be on hand to help you with your bird identification skills, too. Just bring your bins and your 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 during the late autumn months, with daytime temperatures typically in the range of 0-14C (32-57F). It can sometimes feel cold at the coast, especially if there’s an onshore wind blowing - where, for migration, we hope for an easterly wind!

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 warm winter clothing, just in case - and join us for the very best birding in Britain!

BIRDS
90-120 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 to help make the most of each day.

WALKING
Easy. Short 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 with overnight dew.

TRAVEL
Excursions will be by minibus.



HOW TO GET THERE

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).

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Its stop-start action, beady black eye and stout black bill help identify the Grey Plover in winter © Arnoud van den Berg, Limosa

Tour Gallery

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