Location 14: North Norfolk Coast (Britain)
"Saltmarsh, mudflats, sand dunes, woodland with geese and waders in winter and general wildlife in summer."
I recommend the Goose Watching (premium link) activity.
Holkham (premium link) for geese and Snettisham (premium link) for waders/shorebirds are my favourite spots in the winter. Burnham Overy Staith (premium link) is my favourite wildlife-watching spot in the summer.
Norfolk is approximately a 2 hour drive north of London. The North Norfolk Coast is a popular destination with general tourists in the summer and wildlife tourists all year round. A highlight is the large number of waders (shorebirds in American English) and geese found in the winter.
There are flowers, butterflies and dragonflies/damselflies to see in the summer, along with some birds. I prefer to spend more time inland at places such as the Norfolk Broads in the summer.
- Salthouse (site 1) (premium link) is an area of saltmarsh to the east of Cley. It is essentially a continuation of the Cley reserve: If you are a keen walker you can combine them both in 1 day. (GPS coords 52.9550N 01.0665E)
- Cley (site 2) (premium link) is a famous nature reserve with good views of waders/shorebirds all year round and particularly during migration and winter. (GPS coords 52.9545N 01.0561E)
- Blakeney Point (site 3) http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney is a long spit leading out to sea with a footpath running along it. Grey Seals can be seen all year round on Blakeney Point with boat trips available. (GPS coords 52.9653N 01.0477E)
- Morston (site 4) (premium link) is one of many places on the North Norfolk Coast with some great walks and birdwatching. (GPS coords 52.9587N 00.9858E)
- Stiffkey (site 5) is between Wells (Wells-next-the-Sea) and Morston. I always see very few people at Stiffkey and find that this lack of disturbance can help me get good views of wildlife such as overwintering geese (although they tend to be in much smaller numbers compared to elsewhere). A coastal footpath passes through here. (The GPS coords 52.9574N 00.8514E are for starting at Wells where I usually park and it is also possible to start at Morston and walk west.)
- Holkham (site 6) (premium link) is one of the premier birdwatching sites in Britain in winter. Tens of thousands of Pink-footed Geese regularly feed in the fields. In the summer the geese head north to the Arctic. (GPS coords 52.9620N 00.8148E)
- Burnham Overy Staith (site 7) (premium link) has saltmarsh and dunes with birds such as geese and ducks in the winter. Some butterflies and flowers can be seen in the summer. (GPS coords 52.9649N 00.7452E)
- Titchwell (site 8) (premium link) is an RSPB reserve with a good range of birds all year round. (GPS coords 52.9627N 00.6065E)
- Holme (site 9) is a popular place with many birdwatchers during migration. Rare birds often seem to appear here outside their normal range during migration and there can be flocks of small migrants flying past. (GPS coords 52.9652N 00.5267E)
- Snettisham (site 10) (premium link) is a famous place to see tens of thousands of waders/shorebirds for most of the year and tens of thousands of geese on winter mornings. (GPS coords 52.8685N 00.4516E)
- Sandringham (site 11) (premium link) is a woodland site that can be worth a visit if you want a change from coastline. (GPS coords 52.8296N 00.5036E)
- Many species of wildfowl, waders/shorebirds and finches were just some of the birds that I saw in 5 days on the North Norfolk Coast in winter (premium link).
Wildlife of the North Norfolk Coast
- main habitats: saltmarsh, wet fields, reedbed, sand dunes
- other habitats: woodland
- key birds: ducks (Holkham), geese (Snettisham, Morston, Holkham, Burnham), waders/shorebirds (Snettisham, Cley, Titchwell)
- birds that are rare or difficult to see: Kingfisher, Bittern, Bearded Tit/Bearded Reedling (I often see them in willows near reeds), Water Rail, Short-eared Owl (active during the day), Barn Owl (I often see this species at dusk in Norfolk), Peregrine Falcon (can be seen chasing waders/shorebirds), Waxwing (can be more likely if the winter is cold in Scandinavia), Shore Lark (on dunes and beaches), Snow Bunting (on dunes and beaches)
- mammals you might see: rabbits, Muntjac Deer (fairly common in Norfolk), other species of deer, hare (Norfolk has a lot of agricultural land where I often see hare)
- suggested itinerary: Saltmarsh/Cley (combined to make one site for a wide range of different birds), Holkham Hall (for the Pink-footed Geese), Snettisham (for waders/shorebirds)
- birds seen on a 5 day visit: 84 species
- birds most often seen on a 5 day visit (winter): (starting with the most common) Redshank (Tringa totanus) 37x2 (m5), Curlew (Numenius arquata) 31x4 (m24), Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 31x14 (m80), Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 27x14 (m200), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) 26x66 (m600), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 25x9 (m50), Blackbird (Turdus merula) 23x2 (m5), Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 21x2 (m6), Brent Goose (Branta bernicla) 19x60 (m160), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 18x2 (m4), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) 18x2 (m4), Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) 16x42 (m600), Wigeon (Anas penelope) 16x62 (m320), Teal (Anus crecca) 15x42 (m300), Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) 15x2 (m3), Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 11x2 (m2), Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) 10x102 (m1000), Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 10x1 (m1), Magpie (Pica pica) 10x2 (m2), Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 10x2 (m3), Greylag Goose (Anser anser) 9x23 (m60), Shoveler (Anas clypeata) 9x3 (m8), Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 9x5 (m10), Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) 8x3 (m4), Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) 8x2 (m2), Black-tailed Godwit/Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa/Limosa lapponica) 8x5 (m8), Gadwall (Anas strepera) 7x6 (m10), Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) 6x4 (m6), Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) 6x2736 (m9000), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 6x2 (m3), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) 6x1 (m1), Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 6x4 (m14), Dunlin (Calidris alpina) 6x102 (m270)
- average birds seen in 1 day (winter): 44 species
Wells Harbour at low tide can be very sandy.
This article is part of the Nature Travel Guide and was published on October 19th 2018.
Larger-scale information relating to this page include the Planet Earth, Europe and Britain articles.
Even more articles including detailed site descriptions, illustrated wildlife-watching activities, self-guided walks, itinerary recommendations, birdwatching overviews and mammal-watching overviews are available in the premium eBooks.
The Nature Travel Guide has numbers next to many of the animal names and other advanced features for keen readers. Find out more with the reader's guide.
Discover the Nature Travel Guide email list.
A nature email every season.