Official Visitor Website

Top 10 Autumn Wildlife in Norfolk

Norfolk has some of the best wildlife in the county and, with the weather still warm, Autumn’s a great time to enjoy it.

Rock pool rummaging

West Runton beach and rockpools

Head to the beach to visit a hidden world of colourful creatures. Rock pools are home to a wealth of marine life, such as bright red beadlet anemones and velvet swimming crabs. Visit Norfolk’s only rock pools at West Runton beach at low tide for the best chance of finding life amongst the rock pools. Norfolk Wildlife Trust runs a number of Rock Pool Rummaging events during the first week of September, so don’t miss out on being able to find and identify these strange water-dwelling creatures!

Rockpooling in Norfolk

West Runton and Norfolk’s Deep History Coast

Deer ruts

Fallow Deer Rut at Holkham Hall, credit Darren Williams

Hear the clash of antlers as fallow deer stags fight each other during the rutting season. The stags and bucks grow antlers in order to fight each other for dominance and to attract a harem of females. Holkham Park hosts a large captive herd of these beautiful mammals, but other species of deer roam wild across the heaths and woodlands of Norfolk, so keep your eyes and ears open for signs of the rut taking place.

Holkham Hall

Seals of approval

Blakeney Point Seals

Norfolk has the country’s largest seal colony in the country at Blickling Point, a four mile long spit caused by longshore drift. But you don’t have to walk there, you can take a boat! Before the nights draw in too much there are two visits a day, depending on the tides.

Where to see the seals in Norfolk

Flocks of birds

RSPB Snettisham The Wash, Norfolk

Throughout autumn, from August to October, look to the skies for signs of migrating birds leaving and arriving at our shores. Along the Norfolk coast, especially at RSPB Snettisham, shimmering flocks of waders can be seen on their migratory passage, bringing with them some of the less common wading birds, such as little stints and curlew sandpipers. NWT Cley Marshes is the perfect place to explore for the chance of seeing rare migratory birds blown slightly off course, such as shrikes and bluethroats. Even some of our commonest garden birds, such as chaffinches, flock in their thousands from Scandinavia to arrive at our shores for winter.

Where to birdwatch in Norfolk

Heavenly heathland

Take a wander across the heathland to enjoy the splendour of colour on show in early autumn. The glorious purple heather should be in full bloom, whilst the yellow gorse fills the air with its warm coconut smell. Gleaming blackberries should also be growing in the hedgerows. Visit NWT Roydon Common for an autumnal walk or NWT Weeting Heath for the chance to see the strange and rare stone curlew (above), with its big yellow eyes, before they migrate for the winter.

Wide open skies

As the nights draw in closer as autumn turns to winter, look to the skies in the late afternoon for the some of the year’s most spectacular sunsets. The sky arches over the flat land of the Broads, and on a clear night, the stars are dazzling. Nature reserves, being far away from the light pollution of the towns and cities, can be the best places for star-watching. Which constellations can you pick out amongst the clusters of stars?

Best sunsets in Norfolk

Birdlife swanning in

WWT Welney Swan feed CREDIT David Featherbe

Head over to internationally renowned WWT Welney and you’ll start to see the arrival of migrating Bewick’s and whooper swans, as well as birds of prey including peregrine falcon and hen harrier. The eco-friendly visitor entre is a great place to learn about the natural history and culture of the Fens, as well as enjoying nature programmes, trails and hides.

Birdwatching in Norfolk

Otters hunting

The sight of a gleaming otter, swimming along the river with a fish in its mouth, is undoubtedly one of the most special wildlife encounters you can have in Britain. Autumn and winter are brilliant times of the year to see these elusive creatures. They are most active at dawn and dusk, and they are identifiable from their broad head and long wide tail. Your best chance of seeing an otter would be to take a long walk along the Broads; they are often seen along the river Yare and Wensum. They are also seen at NWT Ranworth and Barton Broads, so a couple of hours waiting patiently in a hide could prove rewarding.

Woodland wonders

Take a wander through the woods in autumn and you will be awed by the stunning array of colours on display as the leaves begin to turn from lush summer green as well as an array of amazing fungi. Beech woods can be especially beautiful as the leaves turn yellow, gold and orange before they fall. Conkers and sweet chestnuts will also be ripening on the branches, whilst blackthorns will be sporting bitter sloes. Felbrigg, Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe and Holt Country Park are worth a visit. And you can take your dog too!

Dog-friendly parks and woods in Norfolk

Fluttering Butterflies

Holme Dunes beach West Norfolk

In September and October, you may still be in with a chance of seeing butterflies before they hibernate for the winter. Visit one of Norfolk’s coastal reserves, such as NWT Holme Dunes, to see the mottled grey and brown graylings drinking from puddles, and small coppers sitting prominently on flower heads.

Details of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves mentioned above can be found here.