6th Jan -
9th Jan 2025

Winter Wildfowl, Cranes & Owls

A 4-day tour with a particular focus on finding Owls, combined with winter birds on the North Norfolk coast and Cranes and winter swans in the Broads – a great way to start the New Year


We have a chance of seeing up to five species of owl on this tour. A number of Short-eared Owls generally arrive from the continent in October and November and often take up residence in Norfolk for the whole winter. The best locations for seeing Short-eared Owls vary depending on the availability of prey, so we normally have the best chance of seeing them on the longer tours. On recent tours, we have also ventured further afield to the Fens to see Long-eared Owls, and if an accessible roost is present in 2024 we will go to look for those too.

We will also look for our three commoner resident owl species on this tour – Barn Owls, Little Owls and Tawny Owls. With food increasingly scarce in the latter part of the winter, Barn Owls are most likely now to be active during daylight hours. Little Owls are declining and increasingly scarce, but we still have some regular sites for this species where we can often see them perched out in the mornings. Tawny Owls are at their most vocal and we have a site where we can often see them emerging from their roost at dusk, but in recent years we were also fortunate to have one which roosted out in the daytime.

Winter in North Norfolk

Winter is a great time for birdwatching in Norfolk. Large numbers of birds come here to spend the colder months, including wildfowl, waders, birds of prey and owls. In January, numbers of geese are at their peak, including large numbers of Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese. Sometimes a rarer goose may be mixed in with them – in 2022 we had a long-staying Red-breasted Goose in with the Brent Geese. There is always a good selection of ducks and waders to see too at this time of year.

Our over-wintering Shorelarks are always one of the highlights of the season here, and there may be flocks of Snow Buntings too. In some years we may have a Rough-legged Buzzard around for the winter.

The Broads

One of the highlights of the winter is a trip to the Broads to see Cranes, swans and geese. The resident population of Common Cranes here recolonised naturally since 1979 (unlike the reintroduced birds on the Somerset Levels) and we can often find small flocks in the fields at this time of year. We also have a small mixed herd of wintering swans, which normally gives us the chance to see Bewick’s and Whooper Swans alongside each other.

There are also impressive flocks of geese in the Broads at this time of year, with large numbers of Pink-footed Geese feeding in the fields of harvested sugar beet and sometimes having small numbers of Tundra Bean Geese in with them. The Yare Valley Taiga Bean Geese have become very erratic in recent years, but if there are any present we will look for those too.

We normally finish the day looking for Short-eared Owls and Barn Owls on this tour, but there are often Hen Harriers around and a good chance of Cranes as they head in to roost.

Gift Vouchers

If you would like to give a gift to someone who is interested in birds then a gift voucher from The Bird ID Company is an ideal present.

The vouchers can be flexible, and used against any tour or tours over the following 12 months, or can be bought for a specific tour.