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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

North Norfolk 04.10.21 to 07.10.21

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

I had planned to stay in Hunstanton from Monday 04.10.21 to Saturday 09.10.21; however on the morning of 07.10.21 I took a Lateral Flow Test, which was positive for Covid, so I had to cut my birdwatching holiday short. I stayed in Hunstanton, from where the Norfolk Coastal Bus services (Lynx Buses and Sanders Coaches) serve RSPB Snettisham (to the south) and RSPB Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley and Salthouse Marshes (to the East). I had planned also to visit Holkham National Nature Reserve and the National Trust's Blakeney National Nature Reserve; but did nt do so

Despite my shortened holiday, I saw six species new to me (life list birds): Golden Plovers' Red-throated Divers; Pink Footed Geese; Bearded Tilts; Sanderlings and a Common Gull.

Monday 04.10.21

RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Located on the north coast of Norfolk, between the villages of Titchwell and Thornham, Titchwell Marsh is blessed with diverse habitats that include reedbeds, saltmarsh and freshwater lagoons where avocets, bearded tits and marsh harriers nest. There's also a wide sandy beach here, which offers extensive views across The Wash. Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve, Norfolk - The RSPB

The Freshwater Lagoon

The freshwater lagoon is probably the best part of the nature reserve. The first lagoon has two birdhides and provide a great view on the mudflats. These mudflats can be jam-packed full of birds, being mainly waders and ducks and especially during high tide. Large numbers of European Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Dunlin, Avocet and many more can be seen here. This is also a great spot for scarcer species, like Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover and Wood Sandpiper. In summer, roosting Sandwich Tern can be observed here too. The edges of the lagoon are covered with reedbeds. Species like Water Rail and Grey Wagtail can be seen foraging here. Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve |

A juvenile Shelduck foraging in the mud



Hides on the Freshwater Lagoon

Female Ruff

Golden Plover - in winter plumage

Female Ruff

Golden Plovers


A Lapwing and Teal


A Lapwing, a Dunlin and Teal

A Pied Wagtail


Greylag Geese

A Little Egret

Tidal Marsh

A Curlew and a Redshank

A Curlew

A Black-tailed Godwit

A Curlew


A view over the reserve

The beach at Titchwell

A Curlew

Old Hunstanton Beach 04.10.21 evening

05.08.21 Cley and Salthouse Marshes Nature Reserve - Norfolk Wildlife Trust



A Greenshank


A view north to Cley Windmill

View west to Saltmarsh

A Black-headed Gull

Cley seashore


A Red-throated Diver


Cley village

Cley Windmill

Cley windmill іs a five storey tower mill wіth a stage at second floor level, twenty feet above ground. Іt has a dome shaped cap wіth a gallery whіch was winded by an eight-bladed fantail, ten feet six inches іn diameter. The cap іs now fixed and unable to turn to wind. There are four double Patent sails wіth a span of 70 ft, carried on stocks 56ft long. The inner pair have eight bays of three shutters and the outer pair have nine bays of two shutters and оne оf three shutters. Іn 1819 the sails powered twо pairs оf French burr millstones, a flour mill and jumper but by 1876 thіs had been increased to 3 pairs of stones and a smut machine had been added.

Cley windmill was built іn the early 19th century. Іt was not marked on William Faden’s map of Norfolk published іn 1797. The fіrst mention was an advert іn the Norfolk Chronicle of 26 June 1819, where the mill was for sale, described as “newly erected” and іn the ownership of the Farthing family. The mill was not sold and remained the property of the Farthing family, until 1875, when Dorothy Farthing, the then owner, died. The mill was bought by the miller, Stephen Barnabas Burroughes. Іt was worked by the Burroughes family until c1912, when the business was transferred to theіr windmill at Holt.

In 1921, the windmill was sold by the Burroughes Brothers to Mrs Sarah Maria Wilson for the sum of £350 and she had the mill converted to a holiday home. The architect responsible for the conversion was Cecil Upcher. The machinery was removed, wіth the gear wheels being cut іn half and used as decoration within the mill. History - Cley Windmill

Black-tailed Godwits

A Female (or non-breeding) Shoveler

Pink-footed Geese

A Kestrel

A Dabchick (Little Grebe) with a fish

Canada Geese


Greylag Geese

06.10.21 RSPB Snettisham Nature Reserve

Wildlife observation hides give panoramic views across the saline lagoons, salt marsh and the vast expanse of mudflats that make up The Wash. On the biggest high tides from late summer onwards, tens of thousands of wading birds take flight as the incoming tide pushes them off the vast mudflats. We call this the 'whirling wader spectacle'. Snettisham Nature Reserve, Norfolk - The RSPB

I visited Snettisham on Tuesday as a planning visit for visiting on Friday at 6.15am for a high-tide Snettishiam spectacular; unfortunately I had to return on the Friday. Snettisham affords views over the flat mud of the Wash and gavel pit lagoons full of waders, ducks and geese.

The Wash is made up of extensive salt marshes, major inter-tidal banks of sand and mud, shallow waters and deep channels. As understanding of the importance of the natural marshes has increased in the 21st century, the seawall at Freiston has been breached in three places to increase the salt-marsh area, to provide extra habitat for birds, particularly waders, and as a natural flood-prevention measure. The extensive creeks in the salt marsh and the vegetation that grows there help to dissipate wave energy, so enhancing the protection afforded to land behind the salt marsh. This is an example of the recent exploration of the possibilities of sustainable coastal management by adopting soft engineering techniques, rather than with dykes and drainage. The same scheme includes new brackish lagoon habitat.

On the eastern side of the Wash, low chalk cliffs, with a noted stratum of red chalk, are found at Hunstanton. The gravel pits (lagoons) found at Snettisham RSPB reserve are an important roost for waders at high tide. This Special Protection Area (SPA) borders onto the North Norfolk Coast Special Protection Area. To the north-west, the Wash extends to Gibraltar Point, another SPA.

The partly confined nature of the Wash habitats, combined with ample tidal flows, allows shellfish to breed, especially shrimp, cockles and mussels. Some water birds such as oystercatchers feed on shellfish. It is also a breeding area for common tern, and a feeding area for marsh harriers. Migrating birds such as geese, duck and wading birds come to the Wash in large numbers to spend the winter, with an average total of around 400,000 birds present at any one time.[12] It has been estimated that some two million birds a year use the Wash for feeding and roosting during their annual migrations.

The Wash is recognised as being internationally important for 17 species of bird. They include pink-footed goose, dark-bellied brent goose, shelduck, pintail, oystercatcher, ringed plover, grey plover, golden plover, lapwing, knot, sanderling, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank and turnstone. The Wash - Wikipedia

The shores of the Wash at Snettisham

A Grey Plover


A Curlew


A Grey Plover



The jetty at Snettisham

Snettisham pits were dug out during World War II in order to provide shingle that was used to build concrete runways as the American Bombers were too heavy to land on grass. The pits stretch for over 2.5 km and are split equally between the RSPB reserve and privately owned beach properties, including the Snettisham Beach Sailing Club.

Evidence of the operation is still visible today as the concrete roads made to transport the shingle are still used today by the residents to access their property. Whilst the roads are no longer used in the reserve, pieces of them line most of the length of the pits. One of the most distinctive landmarks left from the operation are the ruins of the jetty used to load the shingle on to boats so it could be transported across the country. Snettisham RSPB reserve - Wikipedia

Brent Geese

The Gravel Pits at Snettisham

Egyptian Goose


Greylag Geese

Inside Knot's Landing hide - an explanation of the birds which overwinter on the Wash (Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Curlew, Pink-footed Geese, and Knots)

Knots Landing is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on CBS from December 27, 1979, to May 13, 1993. A spin-off of Dallas, it was set in a fictitious coastal suburb of Los Angeles and initially centered on the lives of four married couples living on a cul-de-sac, Seaview Circle. Throughout its fourteen-year run, storylines included marital strife, rape, murder, kidnapping, assassinations, drug smuggling, politics, environmental issues, corporate intrigue, and criminal investigations. By the time of its conclusion, it had become the third longest-running primetime drama on U.S. television after Gunsmoke and Bonanza[1] and the last fictional primetime show that debuted in the 1970s to leave the air. Knots Landing - Wikipedia

From Knot's Landing



Little Egret and Teal

Little Egret

Looking over the Wash

Walking from Snettisham to Hunstanton along the coast

Ringed Plover

Grey Plover

Boats at Snettisham

One of the beach huts at Snettisham


Large parcels (flocks) of Oystercatchers



Hunstanton Seafront

07.10.21 AM RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Bearded Tits; one of the birds for which Titchell Marsh is famous

A Dragonfly (possibly a Black Darter)

Red Kites

A Common Darter

07.10.21 PM The Wash - an Amphibious Boat Trip from Hunstanton

A Common Gull

Grey Seals

07.10.21 Evening Hunstanton Beach

An Oystercatcher


Oystercatcher footprints

A Little Egret

Hunstanton is a small seaside town on the northwest coast of Norfolk, in England, and home to one of the few west-facing beaches on the east coast of the country where the sun can be seen to set over the sea. The town is fringed along its western edge by a stretch of dramatic cliffs with contrasting colours of orange, red and white sedimentary rocks. These coloured rocks reflect the changing depositional conditions that prevailed towards the end of the Early Cretaceous and the onset of the Late Cretaceous period, 108-99 million years ago. The cliff stretches for 1.5 km from Hunstanton promenade, gently dipping towards the beach at St Edmunds point, which is just over a mile away in Old Hunstanton. The cliff is generally inaccessible, except beneath the lighthouse, where it is possible to examine the exposed strata up close.

The beach is littered with huge boulders or stones, covered in green moss, that lie in straight lines that defy nature. Walking along the beach, one can see three primary layers of rock exposed in the cliff face. At the top is white Ferriby Chalk; the middle is red chalk called Hunstanton Formation; and the bottom is the deep orange Carstone Formation.

The upper white limestone chalk layer was formed during the upper cretaceous period, when Hunstanton was even sunnier basking in a warm tropical climate. Known as the Ferriby Chalk Formation, this layer is approximately 10 meters thick and largely comprised of the skeletal remains of planktonic algae known as coccolithophores which accumulated to form a white ooze on the seafloor. This soft sediment was later compacted and hardened to form chalk.

The Hunstanton Formation in the middle was formed during the lower cretaceous period over approximately 15 million years. The red colouration of this layer is due to the presence of limonite ore. Macro fossils are common throughout the formation in particular belemnites, brachiopods, echinoids and corals.

The dark orange-brown rock layer at the base is sandstone rich in iron ore, and hence the colour. It has been used widely in buildings around the county. Much of Hunstanton is built from this rock which has been mined at nearby Snettisham for over a thousand years. Fossils are reported within the Carstone and include rolled ammonite fragments, bivalves and traces of burrowing organisms.

Other attractions of the cliff include large colonies of fulmars, a bird which look like seagulls, the 13th century St Edmund's Chapel and a 19th century lighthouse.

An Oystercatcher

The wreck of the Steam Trawler Sheraton test from Wreck of the Steam Trawler Sheraton – Hunstanton, England - Atlas Obscura

WEDGED IN THE SAND AT Saint Edmund’s Point in Old Hunstanton are the remnants of what was once the Steam Trawler Sheraton, a small vessel with a proud history of service in both world wars.

Built in 1907 in Beverley, the Sheraton was originally used as a fishing vessel and was designed to handle the often hostile conditions of the North Sea. However, the ship was built at a time when people were increasingly worrying about the expanding military power of a recently unified Germany, and the ship was soon assigned to a new line of work.

When war was declared in 1914, the Sheraton was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and took on the role of patrolling anti-submarine booms. During World War II, it was again used by the Royal Navy and armed with a 6-pounder gun. The ship was registered as an armed patrol vessel and served along the North Sea coast. After the war, the Sheraton was painted a bright yellow so it could be used as a target ship.

The Sheraton was anchored in the wash off Brest Sand until high winds caused it to stray from its moorings in April of 1947. The ship eventually settled on the beach at Old Hunstanton, where a large section of its hull can still be seen today at low tide.

The wreck of the Steam Trawler Sheraton

Hunstanton Beach



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