• We meet early this afternoon at our hotel. After check-in we visit a nearby coastal nature reserve where we are likely to see marsh harriers flying in to feed their chicks. There may also be avocet, lapwing, redshank, shelduck and gadwall chicks on the marsh.
    • In the evening, weather permitting, we visit a local site for nightjars and woodcock.
    • Accommodation: Knights Hill Hotel, King’s Lynn, 4-nights on half board basis.
    • We spend today exploring the Norfolk Broads, Norfolk’s huge wetland, comprising rivers, mediaeval peat diggings, fens, grazing marshes and reedbeds.
    • At Norfolk Wildlife Trust Hickling Broad we look for a wonderful range of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and early summer flowers. Highlights here may include Norfolk hawker, hairy dragonfly, four-spotted chaser, azure and variable damselflies and the exquisite, endemic East Anglian subspecies of the swallowtail. Birds here may include common crane, marsh harrier, hobby, bittern and bearded tit.
    • Norfolk Wildlife Trust Upton Broad and Marshes is a much less well known reserve but is even better for insects and for fen flora. This is perhaps the finest place for seeing Norfolk hawker dragonflies in the UK, accompanied by red-eyed and variable damselflies, black-tailed skimmers, hairy dragonflies and swallowtails. Hobbies are often seen here and common cranes regularly visit in summer.
    • Breckland is a unique steppe landscape in south west Norfolk and north west Suffolk. It is the product of glaciation spreading a thin layer of sand over a bedrock of chalk, followed by centuries of grazing by rabbits and sheep, and shifting agriculture. The very word breck refers to the breaking of areas of ground for cultivation. The resulting steppe was colonised by many species, especially plants and insects, found nowhere else in the UK.
    • One of our key sites today is Norfolk Wildlife Trust Weeting Heath. This reserve’s name is synonymous with the preservation of the stone curlew. It is also a fine site for woodlark, tree pipit and spotted flycatcher.
    • Nearby at RSPB Lakenheath Fen, in addition to an array of dragonflies, breeding common cranes, bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits, cuckoos and hobbies may all be seen.
    • At Lynford Arboretum we look for crossbill, siskin, spotted flycatcher, firecrest and hawfinch, all of which breed in surrounding woodland.
    • No visit to Norfolk in early summer would be complete without an exploration of the wonderful North Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
    • Part of today is spent making a boat trip to Blakeney Point. This wonderful National Trust reserve is summer home both to a colony of harbour (common) seals, accompanied by non-breeding grey seals, and to a huge mixed colony of black-headed and Mediterranean gulls, Sandwich, common, arctic and little terns.
    • Depending on recent sightings, at other sites along the coast we may look for breeding spoonbills, great egrets, marsh harriers, Cetti’s and grasshopper warblers, bearded tits and bitterns. All along the coast we may also see dragonflies, including hairy dragonfly, broad-bodied and four-spotted chasers, red-eyed, common blue and large red damselflies.
    • In the evening we plan to visit either a site for nightjar and woodcock or a local natterjack toad colony.
    • This morning we visit a nature reserve close to our hotel, perhaps Dersingham Bog NNR or NWT Roydon Common. Both of these are breeding sites for stonechat and woodlark, while crossbill, tree pipit, shelduck and siskin are also often seen. Both sites have a number of interesting dragonflies, grasshoppers and heathland plants. Our tour ends at 12:30.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Accommodation
  • Guided activities
  • Breakfasts and dinners

Accommodation

Our hotel lies in North Norfolk farmland, on the edge of the historic town of King’s Lynn and close to the shore of The Wash. All rooms are en suite and have all the amenities necessary for a comfortable stay. The hotel also has a bar, a restaurant, a health club and a spa.

Meals

Breakfasts and dinners are taken at our hotel and are included. In order to give greater flexibility and maximise time in the field, lunches will be taken in local pubs or cafes and are not included in the cost of the tour. 

Birds

Early summer in Norfolk offers birding as good as can be found anywhere in the UK. In reedbeds, marsh harriers, cranes, bitterns and bearded tits are raising young. Over Breck grassland the songs of woodlark and tree pipit are heard, while furtive stone curlews crouch over their chicks. Meanwhile the coast is noisy and busy with gulls and terns at their breeding colonies.

  • Stone curlew
  • Sandwich tern
  • Common crane
  • Bearded tit

Mammals

The summer mammal highlight in Norfolk is the pupping of harbour seals on Blakeney Point. They are accompanied by grey seals which gave birth here in midwinter. This is also a fine time for seeing stoats in Breckland, as females hunt for rabbits to feed to their voracious kits.

  • Harbour seal
  • Chinese water deer
  • Eurasian otter
  • Stoat

Insects

Early summer is the finest time to visit Norfolk for its most special insects, which include the endemic East Anglian subspecies of swallowtail, hairy dragonfly, variable damselfly and the eponymous Norfolk hawker.

  • Swallowtail
  • Norfolk hawker
  • hairy dragonfly
  • black-tailed skimmer

Flora

This is a wonderful time of year for the flora of Norfolk. Fens are full of orchids now, including early and southern marsh, common spotted, marsh helleborine and, in a few special sites, fen orchid. Though much harder to see, in midsummer the Brecks have many special plants in flower including spiked speedwell and maiden pink.

Scenery

Norfolk is both rich in wildlife and very beautiful. Our tour takes us along the North Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and into the historic Brecks, where the landscape has been shaped by Ice Age glaciers and by centuries of grazing, shifting agriculture and rabbit farming. We also visit the Broads, a large and varied wetland with mediaeval peat diggings at its heart.

Boat trips

Weather permitting, we take a boat trip to see the harbour seal colony and mixed colony of gulls and terns on Blakeney Point.

Photography

Photographic opportunities on this trip are good to excellent, especially gulls and terns, Broadland insects and the scenery of the North Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Walking

Walks on this tour are typically short and easy. It may, however, be wet and muddy underfoot in some locations.

Ground transport

Ground transportation will be by minibus, driven by the leader.

Altitude

Low altitude throughout. In the words of Noel Coward, ‘very flat, Norfolk.’

Climate

Summer can be fickle anywhere in the UK, but this is typically a warm and pleasant time of year in Norfolk.

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