The North Norfolk Coast

Birdlife on the North Norfolk Coast

One of the main features of the natural history of the coastal region of North Norfolk is its exntensive variety of bird life. With its position jutting out eastward on England's North Sea coast, it is favoured by visists from may unusual migrant birds, apart from its extenses of salt marsh and estuaries providing the habitat for a wide variety of water (both fresh and salt) birds. Cley Marsh is well known for its look-out post manned by the Norfolk Ornitholical Association, whilst the Royal Society for the Protetion of Birds has a major wildlife centre at Titchwell Marsh

The following birds are to be seen on the North Norfolk Coast. The following listing is not exhastive, and many common garden birds are not included.

Avocet. This is one of the rarer of the waders to be seen. It has very characteristic markings, making it instantly recognisable. It nests in
the marshlands, otherwise ro be seen on estuaries and mudflats. (43cm)

(photograph copyright: Chris Gomersall)  
Bewick Swan. This swan is a winter visitor, and very like itsfellow-
visitor: thee whooper.  It has a much smaller yellow area on its beak. Its call is more musical  (122cm)
Bittern  This bird has become very rare. Additionally it is very secretive.It has a very pointed beak, but its major character is its booming call  (76cm)
Black tern.  About the same size as the Little Tern, it is distiguishable by its  extensive black-grey plumage. (24cm)
Brent Goose.  Anyone visiting this coast in late autumn and winter will be familiare with the flights of flocks of brent geese. It has a black head and breast. Otherwise its plumage is grey on its wings and pale
underneath. (59cm)
Canada Goose.  Seen either inland or on estuaries, this is a resident
goose. It is characterised by its black neck and whitecheeks. (97cm)
Common Tern.  Although almost identical with the Arctic Tern, this
species is by far more common. It has the characteristic red bill, and
white throat.  (35cm)
Coot.  Visit almost any pond or river and you will see the coot
.Black-feathered, the coot is distinuished from the Moorhen by
 its white 'shield'  (38cm)
Curlew Sandpiper Common on marshes and mudflsts, ut has a
characteristic down-curved beak.. Its plumage is brown in summer, but grey in winter (19cm)
Great Black-backed Gull This is much the largest of the gulls. Its
other major characteristic is its black wings  (66cm)
Green Sandpiper This is usually a passing migrant bird,though
occasionally one will over-winter.. It s characterised by its dark
underside and its divided tail, and in its zig-zag flight.  (23cm)
Grey Wagtail. This bird does wag it tail as it walks.. It is commonly to be seen near water, and where there's levl ground.. Its yellow breast is in marked contrast to its otherwise grey plumage.  (18cm)
Herring Gull.  Like the Common Gull, it has pearly-grey plumage, but is white underneath. It is much larger then its 'Common' cousin. (61cm)
Little tern  This is much smaller than most sea-birds. Its plumage is a characterisitc peraly-grey with a long yellow beak.  (24cm)
Mallard.   This is the commonest of the fresh-water ducks. The male has a characteristic green head, with white neck-band and brown chest and bright blue speculum.  (58cm)
Mute Swan. This is our only resient swan. If you need to distinguish it then you can do so by its bright orange bill.  (152cm)
(Photograph copyright Mike Richards)
Oystercatcher. Very common on this coast, it is easily recognisable by its red beak and long pink legs. It is instantly recognisable on the estuaries and mudflats.  (43cm)
(Photograph copyright Andy Hay)
Pied wagtail.  Like its 'grey' cousin, it is recognised by its habit of wagging its tail. Its plumage, which varies with season is always white and black or slate-grey  (18cm)
Red-necked Grebe This is a summer visitor. Its yellow-orange ear-tufts offset its dark grey plumage.  (43cm)
Shelduck. This rather rare duck is commonly found by the sea and on mudflats.. It has vivid colouring, with a bright red bill and green, white and chestnut chest plumage. (61cm)
Skylark This bird has suffered from modern farming methods and has become somewhat rare. It is still to be found on the North Norfolk coast. You will rarely see it close to, but its hovering flight, verical ascent/descent and trilling song make it unmistakable.  (18cm)
Tufted duck. Apart from pale-grey flanks and bill this duck is all black. It is often seen diving.. The male bird sports a noticeable crest.  (43cm)
White-fronted Goose. This winter visitor  It is most easily identified by its yellow bill and yellow feet. It has black stripes of plumage on its belly.  (71cm)
Whooper Swan. A winter visitor, it is very like the Bewick Swan. It has a larger ywllow area on its beak, and a raucous call.  (152cm)
Wood Sanpiper. This is more an inhabitant of fresh water. Its appearance is rather undistinguished. Its has yellow legs.  (20cm)

Photographs by permssion ofRSPB