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Birdwatching

Big Sky Cottages is the ideal place to stay if you are interested in birds as Norfolk is dubbed the bird watching capital of Britain. The cottages overlook a site of special scientific interest -SSSI, and Winterton Dunes are designated as a National Nature Reserve. There's plenty to see whatever the time of year - from Barn Owls to Kingfishers, Cetti's Warbler to Bearded Tits. Norfolk is a birdwatcher's paradise and a wonderful place for children to begin to learn about wildlife and birds. With child-friendly visitor centres and nature reserves, you'll find all the help and information you need to get started. More information can be found on the following websites here and here

Birdwatching in Norfolk - Spring

If you come to Norfolk in April or May you'll enjoy the peak months for spring bird migration. Listen to nightingales. Watch the sky-dancing display of Marsh Harriers and nesting Avocets at NWT Cley Marshes or Hickling Broad, see if you can spot the rare nesting Stone Curlews in the rabbit-nibbled heaths of NWT Weeting and look out for the Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Lapwing and Sandmartins arriving at Pensthorpe.

Birdwatching in Norfolk - Summer

Head for the Norfolk Broads or North Norfolk coast to watch Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Avocets, Terns and maybe a Bittern. It's also a good time to take a boat trip to see the seals or walk through orchid meadows at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen to spot Swallowtail butterflies and Norfolk Hawker dragonflies. Pay a visit to Pensthorpe and you will spot Raptors, along with Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. Also, keep your eyes peeled for Buzzards at Great Ryburgh and your ears open for Nightjars especially in the heaths of the Brecks and Thetford Forest.

Birdwatching in Norfolk - Autumn

Autumn starts early in the birdwatching world. Even by July you'll find the first returning waders, many still in their breeding plumage, appearing on the marshes. By August, the southbound waders will be at RSPB Titchwell, NWT Cley and RSPB Snettisham and in early autumn you may delight in discovering a rare Red Backed Shrike or Barred Warbler. A little later on you may be rewarded by spotting a Yellow Browed or Pallas's Warbler or even something rarer!

But with all this taking place along the coast and on the marshes, don't forget that at inland reserves like Pensthorpe, it's a good time to spot Woodpeckers, Grey Partridge, the Kingfisher, Barn and Tawny Owls.

Birdwatching in Norfolk - Winter

This is the season to visit if you're a serious twitcher. Come in late October to see the arrival of flocks of winter thrushes from across the north sea and the return of the wild geese and swans, particularly at WWT Welney.

The Wash is England's largest tidal estuary and one of the country's most important winter feeding areas for waders and wildfowl. At RSPB Snettisham you'll be spellbound as you watch tens of thousands of pink-footed geese from Iceland leave their night time roost site and head inland to feed. This is also the place to witness the spectacular movement of thousands of wading birds pushed off their feeding grounds at high tide.

The Norfolk coast and Broads are great places for waders and wintering birds of prey, including Merlin, Peregrine and Hen Harrier, and you can see them best at dusk at places such as RSPB Titchwell Marsh or HWT Hickling Broad. If you're lucky you may see Norfolk's resident flock of common Cranes at Hickling Broad too.

The countryside is also blessed with migratory visitors. At the reserve at Pensthorpe, it's a good time to see many native species of waterfowl including Golden Eye, Gadwell, Goosander, Shoveller and Pintail. It's a great opportunity to see Europe's smallest duck, the European Teal and you may even catch a glimpse of one of the UK's most endangered owls, the Long Eared Owl, as they come together in Winter for communal roosts.

Thoughout Norfolk you may be able to see wintering Waxwings, which have come over from Scandinavia to take advantage of a bumper berry crop - they're even regulars in inner city Norwich!

Dont Forget Your Binoculars!