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Discover the Broads' Best kept secret

Spring Birdwatching in Norfolk

Spring is the season of rebirth. As life and leaves return to our faithful foliage, so, too, do many species of birds. While Norfolk contains many species that stay here all year round, we still have some fascinating visitors that arrive in spring, then depart before the cold winds arrive. Here’s our guide to birdwatching in Norfolk this Spring.

Common Tern

spring birdwatching in norfolk
Photo credit: Ray Jones, NWT

Arriving in April is this small seabird. They can be found flying out to sea to find fish to feed their young back at the colony. Unfortunately, they were brought close to extinction at the end of the 1800’s, however, they have made a recovery since.

Look out for: Their light build, pointed wings and deeply forked tail. Their red beaks stand out prominently against the colours of the sea and coastline.

Cuckoo

spring birdwatching in norfolk
Photo credit: Nick Appleton, NWT

Swooping in earlier than some other spring visitors, the Cuckoo arrives in late March. With an iconic call that is characteristic of the arrival of spring, this bird is unmistakeable. Interestingly, the Cuckoo probably deserves the award for worst bird parent ever – as it invades other nests, removes their eggs and lays its own! Even the egg mimics the colour of those that were removed!

Look out for: its yellow eyes and grey body and wings. Its lower body area is white with black ribs. Also, you’re likely to hear its instantly-recognisable call.

Spoonbill

spring birdwatching in norfolk
Photo credit: David Savory, NWT

The silent Spoonbill stealthily creeps in around spring time, before departing after the summer. A large, white wading bird with a broad-tipped bill. You can spot the Spoonbill at NWT Cley Marshes and Holkham Nature Reserve, where they breed.

Look out for: this is a very large bird with a wingspan of up to 135cm. They fly with their necks outstretched unlike other, similar birds, and sport a white crest during the breeding season.

Bullfinch

spring birdwatching in norfolk
Photo credit: Elizabeth Dack, NWT

The colourful Bullfinch pairs vie for territory in March before building their nests in dense hedges come April. They have a relatively long breeding season, too, attempting up to three broods. As it happens, you won’t usually hear their call, however, because they often mate for life.

Look out for: The male’s bright read breast sticks out like a sore thumb – even amongst the colours of spring. They have quite a thick-set, broad-shouldered appearance

Yellowhammer

spring birdwatching in norfolk
Photo credit: Nick Goodrum, NWT

If you spot a flash of gold darting around in long grass or in shrubbery, it could well have been the brightly-coloured Yellowhammer. While they can be found in winter, too, they are more present in the warmer months while they brood and raise their young.

Look out for: their dashing gold bodies – males in particular have bright yellow heads. Listen out for their repetitive, monotone call.

We are blessed to have a wide variety of subjects when it comes to birdwatching in Norfolk in the spring – and there are a few others, such as the Swallow, who didn’t get a mention in this article as, while they’re more common in the spring, they do still live here year-round.

Hopefully this article inspired you to keep your eyes peeled this spring for all of our beautiful feathered visitors! You can learn about all of these species and more at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust website.