Avocets

Local Guide

Birdwatching

The beautiful and unspoilt North Norfolk coastline forms part of one of the largest coastal nature reserves in England and Wales. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA), the Reserve is of international importance and famous for the rare and unusual birds it attracts. It is a haven for both the enthusiastic or first-time birdwatcher, whatever month of the year.

The Holkham National Nature Reserve
The Holkham National Nature Reserve stretches from Burnham Norton through to Blakeney and can be accessed from Lady Anne’s Drive at Holkham. or Wells Beach Car Park. The reserve encompasses dunes, salt marshes, sand flats, mudflats, grazing marsh and pinewoods, which attract a wide variety of migratory and nesting birds. From October through to March the skeins of pink-footed and Brent geese are a truly spectacular sight. They can be seen arriving and departing daily from their roosts to their feeding grounds, audibly making you aware of their flight. A recent count at Holkham yielded approximately 30,000 geese, over a third of the total of 80,000 that arrive for the winter on this coastline. The summer visitors, such as common and little terns and avocet, start to arrive in April and May from warmer climes further south. Likewise, the rare marsh harrier arrives to nest and can be seen hunting the meadows and fields along the Reserve. Holkham Bay becomes ‘home’ to many larks and pipits which nest in the dunes for the summer and in the winter months, visitors such as snow buntings, shore larks, or rarities such as the red-breasted goose can be seen.
NB: Visitors are asked to remember that the Reserve is a haven for rare and interesting wildlife. Please respect wildlife and its habitats, by keeping your dogs under close control at all times.
For more information click here.

Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve, Titchwell (RSPB)
Situated on the A149, five miles east of Hunstanton is the reserve at Titchwell. The habitat of reed beds, with salt and freshwater marshes, tidal creeks and dunes attracts a variety of birds, including waders, dabbling duck, winter geese and grazing duck. The site has a visitor centre which offers binocular hire. Disabled visitors are adequately catered for.
For more information here.

Snettisham Nature Reserve, Snettisham (RSPB)
Signposted from the A149 at Snettisham you will find the flooded shingle pits, tidal sandbanks and mudflats of Snettisham reserve. Large numbers of waders — oystercatchers, ringed plovers and redshanks — to name but a few, migrate here and remain to breed. In November, up to 40,000 pink-footed geese arrive filling the skies in the early morning and late afternoon.
For more information click here.

Holme Bird Observatory (Norfolk Ornithologists)
Accessed from the A149, the Holme Bird Observatory is the only accredited bird observatory in Norfolk, one in a chain of 20 in England. The area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, set amidst sand dunes, pines, scrub, salt and freshwater pools; its position makes it is a key migration point for waders. An active ringing programme takes place throughout the year and visitors may watch this process.
For more information click here.

Cley Marshes (Norfolk Wildlife Trust)
Situated on the A149 between Cley and Salthouse, Cley Marshes is the oldest Wildlife Trust nature reserve in the country. It is internationally known as one of the best places to see birds in Britain. The path along the east bank has been called the most famous bird walk in Britain. The fresh and saltwater marshes provide an excellent habitat for rare and scarce birds both resident and migratory, waders and large flocks of wildfowl. There is wheelchair access to much of the area.
For more information click here.

Blakeney Point (National Trust)
Renowned for its colony of common and grey seals, the 3.5-mile sand and shingle spit of the National Trust Nature Reserve at Blakeney Point can only be accessed by boat at high tide from Blakeney and Morston quays, or by a 4-mile beach walk from Cley. A nature reserve and bird sanctuary, it has record numbers of birds and species of flowering plants recorded. The area is both nationally and internationally significant as a breeding colony for several species and for migratory birds. An information kiosk is situated at Morston quay.
For more information click here.

Pensthorpe
Situated on the A1067, one mile from Fakenham, Pensthorpe is a haven for wildlife. The variety of habitat includes woodland, wader, scrape, lakes, ancient fen meadows and farmland. There are great views from the purpose built hides and walks along the miles of trails. Discover the work being done by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust with endangered species and walk through huge free-flight aviaries.
For more information www.pensthorpe.com