With the turn of the season, our landscape completely changes – and not just in the obvious way. We have many migratory bird species that only visit us during certain seasons. Some migrate south during the winter to spend it in warmer climates, while others flock in.
Take a look at our winter birdwatching in Norfolk guide, detailing what species of birds can be spotted in the colder months, in our county.
If you’re lucky you might even spot some whilst visiting us this winter.
(Photo credit: Julian Thomas, Norfolk Wildlife Trust)
Despite having a healthy population, the Waxwing typically only visits in small numbers during the winter – about 1,000. During some years, though, they arrive in greater numbers. This is called an ‘irruption.’ They can be found feeding on berries – especially hawthorn and rowan among others, so they can often be found on supermarket car parks, where such berries grow.
Look out for: Their smoothly coloured, wax-like plumage and the crests on their heads. They’re about the size of a starling but are more colourful. Their distinctive black mask and throat is a giveaway.
2. Bewick’s Swan
(Photo credit: John Miller, Norfolk Wildlife Trust)
The smaller of two swans that visit us in the winter, the Bewick’s Swan is on the Amber list for conservation status, meaning its population has been on the decline. Fun fact: individual swans of this species have recognisable beak patterns.
Look out for: These swans are the smallest that can be found here in winter. They look similar to the more common Whooper Swan, but have smaller necks and bills.
(Photo credit: Paul Taylor, Norfolk Wildlife Trust)
Despite being on the amber list, the Pink-Footed Goose flocks here in the tens of thousands every winter – especially in the north-west of Norfolk and part of the Broads.
Listen out for: Their shrill, cackling call. These birds are often heard before they are seen. You won’t always see their pink feet through the mud or mist, so look out for the brown-coloured features and shorter necks.
(Photo credit: Jackie Dent, Norfolk Wildlife Trust)
The Bittern, or as it’s known in Norfolk, the Butterbump, is one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK. Additionally, it is well camouflaged and hides in the reedbeds, so to find one is quite the achievement. Their famous deep booming call, however, can be heard from up to 2 kilometres away! While they live here all year round, their populations are boosted in the winter by those visiting from abroad.
Listen out for: Loud booming calls. They’re almost exclusively seen in the reedbed, and can be identified by their black and brown plumage, and large throatsLapwing
(Photo credit: Elizabeth Dack, Norfolk Widlife Trust)
This unique bird’s numbers boom in the winter, increasing to around 2 million! They stand out from the crowd with their beautiful green and purple iridescent plumage, and can be seen on open farmland, mudflats and meadows. The best place to see them is Breydon Water, as they arrive in great numbers there.
Look out for: Iridescent plumage and poignant crest are incredibly unique to them.
Winter is a perfect time to come to the Norfolk Broads for a spot of birdwatching. Our lodges overlook the spectacular Carlton Marshes meaning you might not even need to leave the comfort of your lodge with hot tub to witness one of these birds.