Birds to spot...

Published: Wednesday 14th Dec 2016

Written by: Lucy Downing

A focus on birdwatching...

Norfolk is renowned as one of the country's best counties for bird-watching.  But have you ever wondered what those people with large binoculars are looking at?  Ever fancied having a peep yourself?

Well, here are our top five local bird species and when and where to spot them in our beloved Norfolk...


Number 1 - Bittern

How to identify? Their plumage is so perfectly adapted to its surroundings that they're quite difficult to spot! They have warm-brown feathers with black markings.  Related to the heron family they have a dagger-like beak and broad rounded wings.  Their booming call is unmistakable. 

When? Winter is a great time to see them at either dawn or dusk.  Their boom can be heard during their breeding season from March to June.

Where? The Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Hickling Broad, North-East Norfolk Coast.


Number 2 - Marsh Harrier

How to identify? It is quite hard to distinguish this from other local birds of prey.  These are the largest of the harriers, generally dark brown, and the males often have rich-rust coloured bodies and grey wings with black tips.  They fly close to the ground with their wings in a prominent V.

When? They can be seen year-round, but increase your chances of spotting one during late-summer.

Where? Wet grazing marshes, so we suggest the Fens, Broads or the coast.  RSPB Cley Marshes is a safe bet.


Number 3 - Avocet

How to identify? This quirky bird comes to Norfolk for its breeding season.  It is quite large, with a predominantly white feathered body displaying a pattern of thin black stripes on its back.  It has a long, upturned black bill and black cap, and long blue-grey legs.

When? Most common in spring and summer, but recently they have been seen year-round.

Where? Along the coast, but we recommend heading to the RSPB Titchwell Reserve, North Norfolk


Number 4 - Stone Curlew

How to identify? This stone-coloured bird is very distinctive and well-known for its long yellow legs and round yellow eyes.  Listen for its wailing call - the 'cur-lew-eek'!

When? From mid-March to October

Where? Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Weeting Heath near Thetford, South Norfolk


Number 5 - Pink-footed Goose

How to identify? You can normally hear their cackling call before seeing them!  They have a brown underbody, small bill, short neck and pink-blotched bill and pink legs.

When? They migrate here for winter, so anytime between September and March.

Where? Head to Docking, Holme and Snettisham, Royal Norfolk Coast, or Horsey and Martham in the Broads area.

Lucy Downing
Lucy Downing


I enjoy walking along Norfolk's beaches with my family and dog, theatre trips, dancing, laughing and knocking up a scrumptious feast for friends using local produce finished with a tipple of Norfolk Saffron's King Harry orange and saffron liqueur!


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