Jewels from the north - 10 migratory birds heading our way this winter

Norfolk Wildlife Trust winter migratory birds

This winter, Norfolk will be visited by many different species of winter migratory birds. - Credit: Nick Appleton/Julian Thomas/Key Mantripp/Elizabeth Dack

Millions of feathered visitors head to Norfolk and Waveney each year.

In winter months, many species of birds fly south from the Arctic north. They travel from as far away as Siberia and Greenland to our shores, flying great distances in search of better weather and food. 

According to Robert Morgan, reserves officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT): "Some of our summer birds are often replaced by their northern cousins in the winter, such as blackbirds, robins and many thousands of starlings that come all the way from Russia.

"However, there are birds that can only be found here in winter, specifically coming to Britain for our relatively mild winter weather.

"Whether in your local wood or along the seashore, Norfolk is a great county to search for and discover these wonderful winter visitors."

Here are 10 migratory birds to look out for this winter.

brambling Strumpshaw Fen Norfolk Wildlife Trust winter migratory birds

A Brambling spotted at Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve - Credit: Nick Appleton/Norfolk Wildlife Trust

1. Brambling

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"This orange and black finch arrives from Scandinavia in November," Mr Morgan said. "It often forms flocks with chaffinch. Beech woods are the best places to find them, but most woods will hold a few. You may be lucky to find them visiting your garden."

Brent Goose Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Winter Migratory Birds

Much of the world's population of Brent geese travel to Norfolk every winter. Here is one spotted at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes nature reserve - Credit: Elizabeth Dack

2. Brent Goose

"A small black goose that spends the summer in the Arctic Circle. In winter it can be found around the Norfolk coast, with NWT Cley and Salthouse Marshes one of the best place to see them.

"In most years Norfolk will hold a large percentage of the world population."

Pink-footed geese Weybourne Norfolk Wildlife Trust

A gaggle of Pink-footed geese photographed at Weybourne - Credit: Julian Thomas

3. Pink-footed Goose

"Norfolk’s commonest, truly wild goose. Look out for large V formations and their ‘wink- wink’ call as they travel across the skies looking for fields of discarded sugar-beet tops."

Fieldfare in Ludham Norfolk Wildlife Trust Winter Migratory Birds

A Fieldfare spotted in Ludham, on a bush with only a few berries left to enjoy - Credit: Paul Taylor

4. Fieldfare

"This ‘Traveller of the fields’ has a grey/blue head and rump with a rust red back. It is quite a large thrush with a deeply speckled chest. You can often hear them cackling in the hedgerows, feeding on haws and berries, or gathering in parks in search of earthworms." 

Redwing at Lynford Arboretum Norfolk Wildlife Trust Migratory Birds

A Redwing spotted at the Lynford Arboretum - Credit: Kay Mantripp

5. Redwing

"Our other ‘winter thrush’ is smaller than the fieldfare, but often associates with them. The red under wing, that gives the bird its name, can be seen on its upper flanks. It also has a noticeable pale ‘Supercilium’, a line which runs from the base of the beak and over the eye."

Whooper swans Norfolk wildlife trust ludham airfield

A bevy of Whooper swans photographed at Ludham Airfield - Credit: Tabs Taberham

6. Whooper Swan

"Unlike the mute swan, the whopper are truly wild. They come south from their breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland. They can often be seen on the flat farmland of the Fens. Smaller numbers will also congregate at favoured spots in the Norfolk Broads."

Blackcap at Weeting NWT reserve migratory birds in the winter in Norfolk

A blackcap sitting on the edge of a pool at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Weeting reserve - Credit: Elizabeth Dack

7. Blackcap

"Normally thought of as a summer warbler, in recent decades (possibly due to climate change) more blackcaps are over-wintering in the UK. This is also helped by them being happy to visit garden bird-tables and feeders. Our winter blackcaps actually migrate here from Germany."

Winterton beach Norfolk Wildlife Trust Migratory birds

A snow bunting flying low across the shore at Winterton beach. - Credit: Elizabeth Dack

8. Snow Bunting

"This bunting is a real gem to find on a cold over-cast day. The male, when in its summer plumage, is a very attractive black and white bird. In winter they are streaked with light brown markings. They are surprisingly approachable, having little fear of people.

"In Norfolk they can be found along our coast in winter, particularly near saltmarshes or sand dunes. Winterton-on-Sea and NWT Cley and Holme Dunes are great places to look for them."

siskin at Lynford Norfolk Wildlife Trust winter migratory birds

A male siskin resting in an alder tree in Lynford - Credit: Nick Appleton

9. Siskin

"This small green and black finch is a resident bird that breeds in Norfolk in small numbers, however in winter thousands arrive in the county. Flocks of them can be found in stands of alder trees, as they search for alder cones to prise the tiny seeds from. They have become increasingly common in gardens in winter."

Waxwing in Holt Norfolk Wildlife Trust Migratory Birds

A male waxwing juggling with a rowan berry in Holt - Credit: Julian Thomas

10. Waxwing

"This is arguably the UK’s most beautiful bird, it is cinnamon in colour with a fine up-right crest. The numbers arriving in winter can vary, but when bad weather and shortage of food drives them out of central Europe, many hundreds can arrive in the county.

"They are constantly on the move searching for berry laden bushes."


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