Wet Start But Things Soon Got A Lot Better In North Norfolk 22 October 2020

The view from Gun Hill back towards Burham Overy Staithe, Norfolk, October 2020.

We woke to another wet morning on the North Norfolk coast, surely our wettest ever House Party? But by the time we had finished breakfast the rain had at least eased and we yet again pulled on our waterproofs and headed out along the seawall from the house. A Kingfisher flashed past adding a splash of colour to the grey morning. Lots of waders and wildfowl were on the marsh and adjacent fields and as always a real thrill to see the sky full of birds and listen to the calls of thousands of birds.

After half an hour or so the rain stopped and we could see blue sky to the west coming our way and we were very happy to see it after so much rain. The Rough-legged Buzzard was again over Scolt Head Island hovering over the dunes in search of prey. Both Great White and Cattle Egrets were on Holkham Fresh Marsh along with thousands of Pink-footed Geese. By the time we reached the dunes the blue sky had caught up with us and it was a lovely morning – at last! A few Redwings were the only grounded migrants but it was just great to see birds in the sunshine and we enjoyed every bird we saw.

Barry and Wendy scanning the sea from Gun Hill, Burham Overy Staithe.

At the west end of the dunes we set up the telescopes overlooking the entrance to Burnham Overy Staithe harbour, a narrow gap in the dune between Gun Hill and Scolt Head Island. This a wonderful vantage point with 360 degree views over the saltmarsh, dunes and the open sea. Two Red Kites floated over the dunes of Scolt Head Island along with a Marsh Harrier, lots of waders in the creeks on the inland side of the dunes. Turning to the open sea we quickly saw Red-throated Divers, Gannets and Common Scoters and then a small wader flying low over the waves and twice almost landing on the sea before flying on – a Grey Phalarope! A very lucky encounter indeed with this scarce migrant, if only it had landed. More scanning and we picked up a Red-necked Grebe on the sea and had good views through the telescopes of this dirty necked grebe. A Red-necked Grebe had been seen from both Holme and Titchwell in recent days and we wondered if it was the same bird moving east?

Alan was suddenly shouting “get on this bird quick!” enough to get everyone scanning the blue sea. Alan continued “not even sure what it is! Oh it is a huge tern!” Adrenalin was now pumping a tern the size of a gull was cruising over the sea near some Gannets and we could clearly see a huge bill! The head looked dark almost hooded and there was lots of black on the flight feathers but the bird was pretty distant sadly. At one point the tern dived spectacularly towards the surface of the sea but pulled out at the last second without hitting the water before moving off west. We were all left elated at such a sighting but also frustrated that the views were rather distant. Looking at the Collins Bird Guide it was pretty straight forward the bird was a juvenile Caspian Tern! But the views were not great and we just hoped it would be seen again further along the coast, sadly no further sightings were reported.

We walked back to the house taking lots of stops to enjoy birds in the lovely autumn sunshine and being amazed at the number of people out on the seawall! A very late lunch was enjoyed, good job we had a big breakfast and had taken some of Wendy’s lovely home snacks – Becky’s Bites – on our walk.

This Common Redshank allowed lovely close views at Thornham Harbour in the sunshine.

We then headed over to Thornham Harbour always a wonderful place to visit; sadly a near gale force wind had sprung up making birding very tough even though it was still sunny. We watched lots of waders and geese and then spotted a lovely adult Little Gull flying over the marsh really close to us, a real bonus bird! Back at the house we enjoyed gin and tonics overlooking the marsh before walking the few yards to The Hero pub for a great last night meal. It had been a wonderful week and as always Barry and Wendy were the perfect people to share so many amazing birds with.

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. Our recent Tours for Two have visited the Highlands of Scotland, North Wales and the Yorkshire coast and we are planning many more! Let us know where you would like to go and we can put together a proposal perfect for you.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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