The official visitor website for Norfolk
Search this website

Birdwatching in Norfolk

Norfolk may well be the birdwatching capital of Britain. It certainly has Premier League status nature reserves - just the names of Titchwell, Cley, Holkham, Blakeney, Snettisham and Welney make birdwatchers weak at the knees. There's plenty to see whatever the time of year.

brilliant birdwatching all year round

A stunning range of bird life, and beautiful nature reserves

Watch the winter migrants on the coast, or the spectacular raptors coming in to roost in the Broads; listen to enchanting dawn chorus in the spring in ancient woodlands, or marvel at the nesting peregrines over summer on the Norman cathedral right in the heart of Norwich.

From speciality birds in Norfolk such as the marsh harrier, bittern and stone curlews to easily recognisable birds like kingfishers and geese, Norfolk has a stunning range of bird life, and beautiful nature reserves in which it can be discovered.

Common birds in Norfolk range from ghostly barn owls cruising along field margins to the bright flashes of kingfishers hunting along a river. Cetti's warbler sing loudly from rustling reedbeds and moustached bearded tits join the warblers with their pinging call.

Norfolk is a birdwatchers' paradise and a wonderful place for children to begin to learn about their feathered friends. With child-friendly visitor centres and nature reserves, you'll find all the help and information you need to get started.

Winter Wildlife Safari 

Outdoors & Wildlife in Norfolk

Norfolk Birding tours

Birds on the coast top 12


Norfolk has the best birdwatching in the UK, and a wide range of coastal nature reserves from which to observe.

Read more 

Birds in the Broads top 12

Grey heron

You can spot Herons in the unique man-made Norfolk Broads National Park - maybe even an elusive Bittern.

Read more 

Birds in the Brecks top 12

Hobby feeding young

With its own unique microclimate, the Brecks attracts a range of birds, from Hobbies to Nightjars.

Read more 

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Look out for Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Redwing, Blackcap and many more in Norfolk's woodland.

Read more

NWT Cley Marshes

For many birders, NWT Cley Marshes is a compulsory port of call. This peerless nature reserve, the oldest in the county Wildlife Trusts movement and still among the most celebrated, has such a range of habitats and attracts such a diversity of birds that it is a birder's default choice for Norfolk's splendid birds.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's work at Cley has provided a template for nature conservation which has been copied across the country.

Cley Marshes comprises shingle beach, saline lagoons, grazing marsh and reedbed that support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as speciality birds such marsh harriers, bittern and bearded tits.

NWT Cley Marshes

Cley visitor centre

NWT Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve

Venture into the Broads and make a stop at NWT Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve, the largest of the Norfolk Broads.Its wide skies and open landscape offer the perfect place for a walk at any time of year, and a boat trip April-September.

The reed beds are home to the birds in Norfolk Broads including booming bitterns and bearded tits. On the water look out for great crested grebes and watch the skies for the stunning marsh harriers.

You might also spot osprey, spoonbill, avocet and even common cranes which have returned to nest in the area.

NWT Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve

Bittern at Hickling

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham Nature Reserve is vast, with rugged coastal wetlands, saltmarsh, dunes, pinewoods and scrub, grazing marsh and foreshore.

It stretches from Burnham Norton to Blakeney and covers about 3,706 hectares.

It is possible to explore most of the area by following footpaths from the main car parks. The core section of the reserve, from Wells to Holkham Bay, is crisscrossed by paths allowing access through the pine woodland.

Recently Blakeney has seen the first recorded sighting of the Balearic shearwater seabird, Puffinus mauretanicus.

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham beach

RSPB snettisham Nature reserve

RSPB Snettisham has amazing displays of waders and wildfowl, attracted by the mudbanks and salt marshes of The Wash.

Norfolk bird watching offers a breathtaking flight of up to 50,000 wading birds leaving the mudflats of The Wash and landing in front of Snettisham's hides which is one of nature's most impressive sights.

Though waders can be seen on all of the highest tides from mid-July to late May, the best period is from August to January.

RSPB Snettisham Nature Reserve

Snettisham spectacular

RSPB Titchwell Marsh nature reserve

RSPB Titchwell Marsh has good birding all year. In Spring you will see migrating waders such as ruffs in breeding plumage, black-tailed godwits and spotted redshanks.

Watch marsh harriers perform their amazing ‘sky-dancing’ and listen out for a booming bittern. Watch out for dragonflies and damselflies in summer as well as water voles along the meadow trail.

Catch curlew sandpipers and little stint in autumn and roosting birds of prey, rafts of wildfowl and skeins of pink footed geese in winter.

RSPB Titchwell Nature Reserve 

Spotted Redshank at Titchwell

Wildfowl & wetlands trust welney

Explore these fascinating and unique wetlands, set in the heart of the Fens.

At Welney you'll enjoy wonderful wildlife encounters year round, with lots of family activities, including trails, explorer backpacks and crafts, expert tours and feeding station for garden birds.

Welney is probably best known for the annual migration of whooper and Bewick's swans.

WWT Welney 

Swan feeding at Welney

pensthorpe natural park

Set in over 700 acres of woodland and lakes in the upper reaches of the River Wensum, the most important chalk river in Europe, Pensthorpe Natural Park is a wildlife lover's dream. You might discover all kinds of birds, including Great White Egrets, Common Teals, Common Cranes, Cetti's Warbler and Marsh Harriers.

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Common Teal

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

Explore RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in the heart of the Broads in all seasons. A number of nature trails lead you through a variety of habitats including reedbeds and woodland.

Listen out for cuckoos and drumming woodpeckers in Spring and walk the wildflower meadows alive with colour. Six species of wild orchid can be seen as well as a whole host of dragonflies and butterflies including the rare Norfolk hawker.

Keep your eyes peeled for the infamous swallowtails too floating through the summer skies.

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen 

Female cuckoo

NWT Foxley Wood

NWT Foxley Wood is Norfolk's largest ancient woodland, believed to be over 6,000 years old. Sparrowhawks and tawny owls breed in the wood and you may well see great spotted and green woodpecker.

In areas of young coppice look for birds such as garden warbler, blackcap and whitethroat as they flit through the bushes in search of insects. And of course a visit in the spring will reward with stunning displays of bluebells.

NWT Foxley Wood

Foxley Wood

high lodge, thetford

High Lodge visitor centre is in the heart of Thetford Forest, Britain's largest lowland pine forest. Deep in the maze-like forest you can hope to see species including nightjar, crossbill, woodlark and tree pipit.

High Lodge is the Forestry Commission visitor centre at the heart of Britain’s lowest lowland pine forest.

High Lodge

Thetford Forest Park

High Lodge, Thetford

RSPB Berney Marshes & Breydon Water

At RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water you can experience the wide open spaces of grazing marshes and mudflats.

Watch out for owls and birds of prey such as hen harrier quartering the land for mice and shrews and watch the spectacular displays of wintering waders and wildfowl.

Huge flocks of golden plover, lapwing and wigeon can be seen both on the water and across the marshes.

RSPB Berney Marshes & Breydon Water

Berney Arms

sculthorpe moor

Set up by the Hawk and Owl Trust in 2002, pocket-sized Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve, in the Wensum Valley, is just over 18 hectares, a tenth the size of Titchwell and 200 times smaller than Holkham, but it's an excellent chance to get close to birds throughout a patchwork of habitats including wet woodland, hazel coppice, reed and sedge beds, open water and wet meadow.

Sculthorpe Moor

Sedge warbler

NWT weeting heath & wayland wood

In the Brecks NWT Weeting Heath is the foremost place to spot the rare stone curlew, a bird that requires open, stony ground with short vegetation to breed, making this Breckland habitat ideal. That's where the sheep and rabbits come in handy.

Wayland Wood, near Watton, is a small patch of ancient woodland and nature reserve which is probably the best place in the country to see golden pheasant..

NWT Weeting Heath

Wayland Wood

Stone curlew, Weeting

see more of natural norfolk