7 unusual birds to spot in Norfolk

Late March and early April is a great time for bird spotting in Norfolk

Late March and early April is a great time for bird spotting in Norfolk - Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto

News of a sighting of a white-tailed sea eagle over the Norfolk coast has got hardcore twitchers and amateur birdwatchers excited in equal number.

But what other birds should you be looking out for at this time of year that are slightly unusual to see in Norfolk? 

Here are just some of the birds to look out for over the next few weeks:

Kingfisher numbers are on the up, says the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Kingfisher numbers are on the up, says the Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Credit: Getty Images

Kingfisher
With its electric blue back and orange underparts, the brightly coloured kingfisher is a distinctive bird seen throughout the year on many Norfolk rivers and in the Norfolk Broads.

Kingfishers can appear blue, green or even almost black. Under most conditions, the kingfisher’s back and the top of the head are electric blue and the underparts bright orange – a colour combination displayed by no other British bird. 

Kingfisher numbers in Norfolk have probably increased in recent years with milder winters undoubtedly enabling greater numbers to survive the winter. Courtship starts early in the year around February and March. Some early young hatch in April and some pairs have up to three broods a year. 

Robert Morgan of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: "Kingfishers are very territorial and will guard their 'patch'. They start pairing in February and if a male and female have neighbouring territories they will merge. They may form the same pair in proceeding years, but this is normally out of convenience rather than loyalty."

Nick's tip: Often can be seen around Riverside Road/Cow Tower on the river bank in Norwich.

A peregrine falcon in flight frontal flies the mountains of the Cantabrian coast in Spain in search

A peregrine falcon - you can monitor their progress at Norwich Cathedral online - Credit: Getty Images

Peregrine falcon
The Hawk and Owl Trust have had a webcam high up on Norwich Cathedral for a number of years which relays live footage of Peregrine falcons straight to your phone or desktop - and it makes for addictive viewing.

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You can see the birds feeding and perhaps more importantly, you can see how many eggs they've laid. 

The Hawk and Owl Trust say that on average they usually see four eggs in the nest site, known as an eyrie, perched on the side of the Cathedral Spire and the secluded hard surface is exactly as the falcons like it.

Eggs started to appear this week and by Thursday morning four had been laid.

In normal years volunteers would have telescopes in the cathedral grounds pointing at the nest but this year the webcam is the best place to view these birds - though if you walk through the grounds you will almost certainly see them.

Nick's tip. Loiter in the cathedral grounds to see them, although you may end up with a sore neck from looking up!  For more comfort, you can watch the webcam at www.hawkandowltrust.org/web-cam-live/norwich-cathedral-side

A red kite has been shot dead and hung from a tree in Cockley Cley

A red kite has been shot dead and hung from a tree in Cockley Cley - Credit: Getty Images

Red Kite
Red kites sightings in Norfolk have increased this century, they're often see along the coast but have been spotted in the centre of the county too.

With its distinctive forked tail and reddish-brown plumage the red kite is master of the skies and a joy to watch. Often seen over open spaces they are commonly mistaken for buzzards, who have a fan or wedge-shaped tail.

Like the buzzard, red kites have benefited from a reintroduction programme in the last 30 years and have become more common. You may see one over a dual carriageway flying high over the verge edge or hovering like a kestrel looking for prey.

Nick's tip: Head down to the Brecks where these are a familiar sight - either in Thetford Forest or the NWT reserve at East Wretham Heath

Jay Garrulus glandarius adult perched on stump Norfolk U.K.

A jay perched on a stump - they're often seen on their own - Credit: Getty Images

Jay
A fairly rare site 30 years ago, the jay had become a common visitor to garden bird tables, and being a relative of the crow, is noticeably very bossy when it comes to obtaining food from your garden.

Seeing one in your garden is not rare, but can certainly be regarded as an unusual visitor.

Jays do not form large flocks and are unsociable birds - even pairs of jays don't spend much time together.

They'll eat a wide-range of foods - not just acorns which they are often seen eating. They're known to eat larger insects and will even raid the nests of other birds to take eggs and young birds.

Their distinctive markings include their blue wing feathers which make them easy to identify. Often seen perched high up in trees, they're confident enough to enter your garden and take food from a bird feeder or bird table.

Nick's tip: You'll see them in most woodlands, often high up in trees.

A great-spotted woodpecker

A great-spotted woodpecker - Credit: Getty Images

Great-spotted Woodpecker
If you visit a park or woods and hear the distinct sound of drumming, often in a hollow tree, it will probably be a woodpecker.

Three types are found in the UK - the more common great-spotted woodpecker and the lesser-spotted woodpecker are similar in appearance with black, white and red plumage. They're smaller than you may think and are often found high up in trees and they're recognisable by their swooping flight pattern. 

Green woodpeckers are slightly larger and very distinctive with bright green plumage. Although you'll often see them in trees, they are common on the ground too and can often be seen jumping or hopping in woodland.

Nick's tip: Likely to be seen in most woods - I've seen them in Catton Park and Cary's Meadow in Norwich over the past month - and seen a green woodpecker in the grounds of the UEA near Bluebell Road.

Swimming/fishing in sea

No prizes for spotting a cormorant on the coast, but far rarer inland - Credit: Getty Images

Cormorant
Fairly common around the coast, but occasionally spotted on inland rivers and lakes looking for fish.

A large and conspicuous water bird, the cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear reptilian.

It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past.

Nick's tip: You'll do well to see one away from the coast, but they've often been seen on the River Wensum in Norwich around Riverside and Carrow Road.

Photo taken in Crawley, United Kingdom

A pair of great-crested grebes - Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm

Great-crested grebe
The great-crested grebe is a delightfully elegant water bird with ornate head plumes which led to its being hunted for its feathers, almost leading to its extermination from the UK.

On land they are clumsy because their feet are placed so far back on their bodies. They have an elaborate courtship display in which they rise out of the water and shake their heads. Very young grebes often ride on their parents' backs.

These birds are great to watch on the water where they'll dive under for around a minute looking for food and will emerge many metres away from their dive spot. 

Nick's tip: Head to the UEA Broad to see these.

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