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Norfolk Autumn Wildlife Expedition: 3rd-7th November 2023

3rd - first afternoon

We met at our base, the Le Strange arms hotel in Old Hunstanton and headed straight off in the early afternoon to RSPB Titchwell. The Freshmarsh was alive with ducks: Mallards, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and a few Pintail. Lots of Black-Tailed Godwits and Avocets around as well as a few Brent Geese and 2 Whooper Swans. Wandering down towards the sea we found a few Redshank, Curlews, Grey Plover, Greenshank and 2 Goosander on the pools with Great white and Little Egrets on Thornham marsh behind us. A few Bar-tailed Godwits, Sanderling and Dunlin on the beach with Common Scoter and a Female Velvet Scoter on the sea. As the light started dropping the Golden Plover began dropping into the marsh and Marsh Harriers into the reedbed. A calling Cetti’s Warbler on the walk back and a Ringtail Hen Harrier in golden light was a great finish to day 1.

4th - Day 2

Leaving the hotel we headed straight for Snettisham beach finding 3 Shorelarks feeding on the strandline, a great start! A few Turnstone, Knot, Sanderling and a charm of Goldfinches there too. Heading along to Snettisham RSPB for the huge wader flocks and ducks and geese mixed in. Sadly no swirling today due to the low tide. A Red-throated Diver on the pits and a Weasel dashing about were bonuses. Next stop was the fens finding a few Whooper Swans, Roe Deer and Brown Hares. We headed to the Nene Washes at Eldernell in less than ideal weather.. 30 Cranes flew into the marshes to join the Swans, Marsh Harriers, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Black-tailed Godwits, an amazing 75 Ruff! and a Spotted Redshank. Heavy rain followed us back to the hotel for the evening.

5th - Day 3

Back to the coast, the first stop was Holkham NNR with 8 Cattle Egrets as soon as we got to Lady Anne’s drive. Great-White and Little Egrets shortly after completed the set. Around the Freshmarshes were lots of Wigeon, Teal and Geese with Jays, Coal Tits and Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff busy in the pines. Next stop was at Wells lifeboat station finding a Black Redstart there as well as a Woodcock, female Blackcap, Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Diver and a Shag. An unwary Chinese Water Deer was the lunch break highlight! We then headed on to Warham Greens overlooking the saltmarsh to try and find a Juvenile Red-breasted Goose, which took some finding, eventually popping its head up in with the Brent Geese and flying across in front of us. At least 2 Merlins and a few Red Kites, Marsh Harriers and lots of Egrets around there in the setting sun.

6th - Day 4

We headed straight to Stiffkey spotting a few Fallow Deer in the woods on the drive there. Arriving at the floods a Glossy Ibis was there waiting for us and gave great views to the group's delight!

Heading on to Cley NWT, we headed straight for the east bank in the search of Bearded Tits.. not a peep on the way out to the beach but a Red-Throated Diver, Gannets, Razorbills, 2 Grey seals and then best of all a Ringtail Hen Harrier came in/off the sea right in front of us! The walk back was more productive with 4 Bearded Tits flying into the reeds calling, Cetti’s Warblers and a Water Rail calling and a flyby Kingfisher. To finish the day we headed back to Warham Greens, this time in search of a Pallid Harrier. A few Chinese Water Deer, Lots of Egrets, a Merlin perched up were great build up to a distant view of a juvenile female White-tailed Eagle! (from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme). With light fading the group started dwindling down to just a few of us, before Theo spotted the Female Pallid Harrier coming in in the golden evening light, hunting for around 3 minutes before dropping into roost! A great way to end the day.

7th: Last day

We headed straight to Thornham Harbour greeted by a Ringtail Hen Harrier almost instantly, a few “pinging” Bearded Tits were heard only in the reedbeds with Cetti’s Warblers and Reed Buntings around too. A walk down the east bank at Holme Dunes NWT produced great views of Curlew, Redshank, Golden Plovers, Brent Geese and other common species before lunch at the centre. After lunch we headed to Gore point on the Holme reserve for a look at the sea and the beach. Lots of Starlings whizzing around and Kestrels in the dunes before 3 Shorelarks flew in and landed on the beach in front of us! Shortly followed by 3 Snow Buntings! A Red-Throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Goldeneye flew by on the sea with a Shag also present. Back to the hotel to say our goodbyes...

Species list: 113 birds species and 8 Mammals

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