25 x autumn wonders
1. Holkham Park – Rutting Season
A visit to Holkham Park is a favourite place to spot a large captive herd of fallow deer roaming amongst the parkland with the backdrop of Holkham Hall. Keep your eyes open to other species of deer including little Muntjacs roaming wild across the heaths and woodlands of Norfolk.
2. West Runton – Rock Pooling in September
Rock pooling - a hidden world and wealth of marine life, bright red beadle anemones and velvet swimming crabs low tide for best chance of finding life amongst the rock pools. Norfolk Wildlife trust runs a number of rock pool rummaging events during the first week of September.
3. Holt Country Park
Great for an autumnal walk amongst the heathlands and spotting hedgerow dwellers. The glorious purple heather is in full bloom with striking yellow gorse that fills the air with its warm coconut smell.
4. Sandringham Walks amongst the Autumnal Trees
Explore the Queen’s Norfolk residence at Sandringham Estate with lovely woodland walks where children can play amongst the golden leaves whilst foraging for conkers and sweet chestnuts. There is also a great adventure playground for them to explore and for the adults, view the amazing colours of the rhodendendrons.
5. Cley Marshes
Perfect place to explore and see rare migratory birds such as Shrikes and Blue Throats, commonest birds chaffinches flock in their thousands to our shores from Scandinavia to August – October, look to the skies for migrating birds.
6. Grey Seals at Blakeney
Explore the colony of grey and common seals at Blakeney Point, the largest seal colony in England. Take a boat trip from Morston and see the seal pups or visit Horsey beach in the winter months with the arrival of sea pups peeping out of the sand dunes in clear view, adorable!
7. Snettisham Farm Reindeer Park
Not quite wildlife but something for the whole family to enjoy amongst the 329 acre working farm. Take the deer safari and feed the magnificent red deer herd. There are some wonderful trails to explore, ride ponies or bottle feed lambs during lambing season.
8. Red Squirrels at Pensthorpe
A haven for wildlife why not visit the red squirrels at Pensthorpe, one of the rare places red squirrels can be spotted with breeding programmes underway. Walk through the tranquil gardens and spot the kingfisher’s and cranes amongst the ponds or sit back in the viewing gallery whilst the wardens feeds the bird collection
9. Pink footed Geese
Featured on Springwatch, the RSPB at Snettisham is full of migrating birds and great wildlife spectacles. In the middle of winter, a dawn or dusk visit may reward you with the sight of thousands of pink-footed geese flying from their overnight roosts inland to feed.
10. Snowdrop Walks
The garden and grounds surrounding Walsingham Abbey are famous for the spectacular ruins of the mediaeval Priory. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere surrounding the Priory ruins, wildflower meadows and acres of woodland carpeted with snowdrops in the season with an unrivalled display of massed snowdrops in February.
11. Spot the Marsh Harriers at Hickling Broad
The largest of the Broads and a haven for wildlife where you can see the marsh harriers roosting in the reed beds. Barn Owls can be spotted and if you are lucky the Kingsfisher. Interesting mammals include the introduced Chinese water deer, red deer and hard-to-see otters.
12. Norfolk’s Great Chalk Reef
Just off the coast of Cromer and Sheringham is the longest chalk reef in the world, known as Britains Great Barrier Reef! One way to enjoy the reef is to eat the famous Cromer crab or the famous Sheringham lobster, the reason they are so sweet and meaty is because they feed off the reef. Marine life is abundant here, including blue mussel beds, over 30 species of sea slug, harbour porpoises, grey and harbour seals, alongside occasional sightings of sunfish and basking sharks.
13. Holme Dunes
There the Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds.
It also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants.
14. Ancient Oaks at Thursfood Wood
It is thought that some of the oak trees in Thursford could be more than 500 years old. As well as containing some of the oldest oak trees in Norfolk, Thursfood Wood also has an excellent display of spring bluebells, summer ferns and autumnal fungi. In the canopy of the trees have to be removed to prevent them from becoming unstable or dangerous.
15. Marvellous Beaches, Holkham to Wells-next-the-Sea
Holkham beach was recently voted ‘Best Beach in the UK’ and is one of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand in the country and popular with dog walkers where you can continue along the beach to Wells-next-the-Sea.
16. The Peddars Way
Enjoy the fantastic scenery and landscape of the Norfolk Coastal Path with over 93 miles of the Peddars Way to explore. The majority of the trail runs through the Norfolk coast area of outstanding beauty, a unique area of forest, heath and low river valleys. The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path has a mixed history of the old and ancient combined with the new and purposely created and has existed since Roman times.
17. Salthouse Marshes
Salthouse Marshes is an area of small pools and extensive grazing marsh offering close views of waders and wildfowl. The site comes alive in winter when wintering snow buntings usually take up residence. Barn owls can regularly be seen hunting over the marshes, as well as marsh harriers.
18. Foxley wood
In the village of Foxley is Norfolk’s largest remaining ancient woodland, in early spring pale yellow primroses peek out from the banks of ditches. In mid/late April to early May bluebells carpet the woodland floor amongst woodland plants and wildflowers along with spotted woodpeckers, nuthatch, marsh tit and jay.
19. Sheringham Park
A great time to observe butterflies with freshly emerged red admirals, peacocks and small tortoiseshells to be seen. Southern hawker and common darter dragonflies are both very active, the Bower pond is good place to sit back and enjoy them.
20. Ringstead Downs
On the edge of the village is Ringstead Downs, one of the largest remaining areas of chalk grassland in the county. You will find a diverse range of plant and animal species and around twenty species of butterfly. You can sometimes spot nationally declining birds including the yellowhammer, whitethroat and linnet.
21. Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve
A haven for migrating and native birds, the freshwater and saltwater habitat at Titchwell support a huge variety of wildlife as they migrate here for the winter.
22. Whitlingham Country Park
Close to Norwich this is a great place to walk, cycle or birdwatch. Formerly a quarry Whitlingham offers moth and bad evenings, pond dipping, quarry safaris and a Canadian canoe trail. A beautiful country park ideal for picnicking, with walking and cycling routes, a great place to spend time with the family.
23. Swans at Welney Wetland Centre
A perfect place to explore the wetlands with incredible wildlife encounters set in the heart of the Fens. Experience wild swans being fed by floodlight from the comfort of the centrally-heated main hide and close-up views of whooper and mute swans, great photography opportunities for all the family.
24. Booton Common
Booton Common lies in the valley of a tributary of the River Wensum, about a mile east of Reepham. The species-rich fen and wet heathland contain several rare plants. A variety of breeding birds are present including snipe, woodcock, grasshopper warbler and lesser whitethroat.
25. Otters at Strumpshaw Fen
Set in the wild and beautiful Yare Valley, near Norwich, Strumpshaw Fen is an enchanting nature reserve where you can get close to the outstanding wildlife of the Norfolk Broads.
Winter is a great time to see otters, as the temperature drops. Stroll through a timeless landscape of reedbeds, pools, meadows and woodlands. Marsh harriers hunt over the reeds and you might see a kingfisher, bittern or even an otter.
By Amanda Howarth