Norfolk Monthly Review


The third of our monthly round-ups for Norfolk written by Moss Taylor, one of the authors of the acclaimed The Birds of Norfolk. The report is based upon sightings reported to our Bird News Extra service.

Unfortunately Norfolk did not share in either the rarity extravaganza enjoyed by the west of the British Isles, nor the marked influx of Cranes earlier in the month, but then we do have our own resident flock! Rarities during the month included an American Wigeon (although it was suggested that it may have been a hybrid), one or two Ferruginous Ducks, the long-staying King Eider, a fly-by Richard's Pipit and two Serins (the first March records for the county). An extremely early Cuckoo and a Swallow were both the earliest ever for Norfolk.

Black-throated Diver

Sightings of birds, probably returning north to their breeding areas and some in summer plumage, reported from Titchwell on 22nd, Blakeney on 12th/13th, Cley on 8th, Waxham on 24th and Winterton on 9th.

Great Northern Diver

One at Titchwell on 2nd/3rd.

Red-necked Grebe

One at Holme on 19th.

Slavonian Grebe

One at Titchwell on 1st.

Black-necked Grebe

Up to 4 at Welney 25th-31st.


2 at Hunstanton on 23rd, a species that has been notable by its absence this winter.


None reported away from known breeding sites.

Little Egret

As usual, highest counts from Titchwell where up to 15 roosted during the month. Elsewhere singles at Welney and King's Lynn, and 4 at Stiffkey.

Great White Egret

A report of a probable Great White Egret flying west on 3rd.

White Stork

Birds of unknown origin reported from Ludham on 15th, St. Olaves (2) on 26th and one with damaged primaries in the right wing at Wolterton on 26th, Aylsham on 27th, Cringleford and Caister-on-Sea on 28th, Norwich on 29th and North Walsham on 31st.


The first of the spring at Welney on 18th.

Bewick's Swan

41 still at Welney on 17th.

Whooper Swan

At Welney 600 were still present on 27th with 230 remaining on 31st. Elsewhere up to 11 at Horsey and 9 at Cley. The long-staying bird at Salthouse was accompanied by a Black Swan for most of the month.

Tundra Bean Goose

Up to 4 daily at Welney until 17th.

Pink-footed Goose

In early part of month, up to 1000 at Snettisham and 800 at Holkham.

Black Brant

Single adults reported from King's Lynn, Snettisham, Blakeney, Cley and Salthouse, with 2 at Titchwell, where one still present on 31st.


Drake at Holkham Park Lake on 2nd and 17th, and pair flying towards Felbrigg Lake on 16th.

American Wigeon

A first-winter, possibly a hybrid, at Burnham Overy 16th-21st.


First drake reported at Hickling on 17th, with others at Welney, Cley, Strumpshaw and Berney Marshes later in month. Typical arrival dates for the county.

Shoveler x Blue-winged Teal

Hybrid again at Titchwell on 3rd, 24th and 30th.

Red-crested Pochard

Female at Whitlingham last seen on 2nd and up to 2 females at Hickling Broad on 27th/28th.

Ferruginous Duck

Drake last reported at Fowl Mere on 11th, and that, or another drake, at Hickling Broad on 16th.


An unusual spring concentration of 20 off Heacham on 23rd.


Highest monthly count of 70 off Blakeney Point on 12th.

King Eider

The long-staying immature drake remained off Wells/ Holkham all month.

Long-tailed Duck

Up to 20 off Titchwell at start of month with late birds in Blakeney Harbour (2) on 13th and Holkham (2) on 31st.

Common Scoter

Up to 2000 were still present off Holkham at the end of the month.

Velvet Scoter

The only ones reported were on 31st with one off Titchwell and 5 in Holkham Bay.


Single redheads at Welney until 17th, Tottenhill GP on 5th and Burnham Overy on 16th.

Red-breasted Merganser

80 off Heacham and another 60 off Hunstanton on 23rd were impressive late winter counts.


Up to 10 remained at Sparham GP until 26th and 2 at Welney on 31st.

Ruddy Duck

Double-figure counts of 16 at Tottenhill GP on 5th and 11 at Fowl Mere on 9th.

Red Kite

Spring migrants at Hickling on 10th, Guist on 12th and Cromer on 18th.

Marsh Harrier

Up to 15 still present at Stubb Mill roost in mid-month.

Hen Harrier

Titchwell roost peaked at 8-9, including 3 adult males, in mid-month.


A migrant in off the sea at Cley on 25th.

Rough-legged Buzzard

The long-staying female at Haddiscoe remained until 29th and four migrant sightings were reported: Burnham Overy and Wells on 16th, Titchwell on 24th and Bodham on 25th.


Up to 5 still using the Stubb Mill roost in mid-month.


An early bird over Thorpe St Andrew on 30th. Only the fourth March record for Norfolk.


Singles at Welney, Holme, Wells and Cley.

Golden Pheasant

Up to 5 reported at Wayland Wood.


Up to 15 in Hickling/Horsey/Waxham area during the month. Elsewhere the only possible migrants involved in the March influx were 4 west over Burnham Overy on 7th and 3 at Briston on 19th.

Black-winged Stilt

The long-stayer remained at Titchwell all month.


The largest concentrations reported were 116 at Titchwell on 8th, 74 at Cley on 22nd and 52 at Hickling on 27th.

Stone Curlew

6 had returned to Weeting Heath by 23rd.

Little Ringed Plover

First of spring: 2 at Buckenham Marshes on 11th and singles at Cley on 16th and Welney on 18th. The first spring arrivals in the county are normally recorded towards the end of March.

Little Stint

Up to 3 wintering birds last reported from Cley on 10th.

Purple Sandpiper

2 at Hunstanton on 4th and one daily at Titchwell up to 8th.


Highest monthly counts of 25 at Berney Marshes and 23 at Buckenham Marshes.

Jack Snipe

One at Cley SF on 23rd was surprisingly the only one reported.

Black-tailed Godwit

Peak monthly counts of 500 at Welney on 18th, 102 at Titchwell on 25th and 208 at Cley on 22nd.

Spotted Redshank

Up to 8 wintering birds at Titchwell up to 8th and single at Cley.


One at Titchwell on 18th was presumably a locally-wintering bird.

Great Skua

One off Titchwell on 20th.

Mediterranean Gull

During month reported from Heacham/Hunstanton (2), Titchwell (7 different individuals), Holkham, Cley, Hickling Broad (2) and up to 15 still at Great Yarmouth in mid-month.

Little Gull

An unusual inland report of a first-winter at Whitlingham CP on 21st.

Ring-billed Gull

An unconfirmed report of one at Great Yarmouth on 12th.

Iceland Gull

Annual March influx with first and second-year birds reported from Snettisham, Titchwell, Wells, Blakeney Point and Cley, and inland at East Harling Heath 4th-23rd.

Glaucous Gull

Reported from King's Lynn (2 on 5th), Titchwell and Cley, with the last record on 21st of a first-winter west at Sheringham and later at Wells.


One calling on telephone wires at North Elmham on 20th. This now becomes the earliest spring record for Norfolk, beating the previous one, in 1903, by just one day. There have only been four previous March records in the county.

Long-eared Owl

A migrant at Weybourne on 27th.

Short-eared Owl

Singles at Blakeney Point, Cley and Thurlton.


Migrants reported flying west at Aylmerton and south at Winterton, both on 9th.


10 still present at Holkham on 29th.

Sand Martin

First of spring: 2 at Titchwell on 24th.


One at Hopton on 7th was the first report of a summer migrant in Norfolk, an honour normally reserved for Wheatear or Sand Martin. It was also the earliest-ever record of a Swallow in Norfolk by three days. Two other unusually early sightings at Rudham Heath on 13th and Titchwell on 16th.

House Martin

First of spring: Thetford on 27th and Lower Kelling on 30th.

Richard's Pipit

One west at Weybourne on 16th, unfortunately only a fly-by. Until recently, extremely rare in spring, but one or two recorded annually in March/April in Norfolk since 1997.

Water Pipit

Highest counts of 7 at Cley on 9th and 11 at Buckenham on 28th, by when most were in breeding plumage.

White Wagtail

3 at Winterton on 19th and singles at Hunstanton on 24th and Buckenham Marshes on 30th were the only ones reported.


15 departing migrants at Brooke on 2nd.

Black Redstart

First migrant reported from Blakeney on 17th, thereafter singles at Heacham, Lower Kelling, Sheringham, Waxham, Winterton and Norwich (2 localities).


Impressive counts of 8 at Beeston Bump on 8th and 17 at Cley on 9th. An early spring passage of Stonechats around the Norfolk coast is characteristic of March, many of the birds moving in pairs after having spent the winter together.


First of spring: 2 at Salthouse on 16th and one at Cromer on 18th. But by the end of the month there were still only a few reports.

Ring Ousel

First of spring: Holme on 28th.


Excluding two wintering birds at Cley SF on 7th, the first spring migrants were on 12th with singles at Great Yarmouth Cemetery and Wayland Wood. By the end of the month, singing males were well established in many areas of woodland throughout the county.

Willow Warbler

An early spring migrant at Hickling on 25th.


A typical small influx of migrants during the month with singles at Great Yarmouth Cemetery 9th-30th and 2 on 31st, Holme on 12th/13th, 25th, 28th and 31st, Cley on 31st and Waxham on 23rd, 30th (2) and 31st. Others at Holkham on 1st and Lynford Arboretum 6th-24th may well have been wintering birds.


One showing the characteristics of the eastern race at Pentney GP on 31st.

Hooded Crow

Singles at Hopton 3rd-5th and Winterton on 30th, and 2 Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrids at Hickling on 11th.


One at Winterton on 19th and one reported flying over Great Yarmouth Cemetery on 31st. Most records of Serins in Norfolk have occurred after periods of southerly winds in the spring, but there have been no previous March records.


The last bird was reported at Happisburgh on 20th.

Common (Mealy) Redpoll

Amongst 15 redpolls at Holme on 3rd were 4 Common Redpolls that were ringed.


3 migrants at Holme on 26th.


Up to 6 at Lynford Arboretum most of the month.

Lapland Bunting

Up to 4 at Happisburgh with the last reported on 21st and 3 at Hopton on 9th.

Snow Bunting

2 at Holkham on 20th and one at Choseley up to 31st were the last reported.

Written by: Moss Taylor