Bird Watching at Pentney Lakes
If you are planning a bird watching holiday in Norfolk, Fir Lodge is an ideal base for your explorations. A four-night self-catering, self-planned birdwatching break with a few friends (at discounted mid-week -prices) - what could be better?
The best books for research are Best Birdwatching Sites in Norfolk and Where to Watch Birds in East Anglia; copies are in stock at Fir Lodge. Here are some start-up ideas.
Pentney Lakes itself is packed with wildlife - innumerable varieties of water birds, including a nesting colony of terns and black headed gulls, ducks and geese and waders, and woodland birds, even Nightingales. An evening drink on the balcony listening to night-bird sounds, or early in the morning for the dawn chorus must be an occasion to treasure.
Another feature is the complete absence of light-polution, giving clear stary skies.
Pentney is at its best in Winter. Flocks of geese (Canada, Greylag and Egyptian)occupy "Bird Lake", plus cormorants, grebes and ducks, all of which are constantly flying around the estate.
Birds of prey spotted include hobby, peregrine, buzzard and even osprey (second week of September - if you're lucky).
In "the top county for birdwatching" a highlight is the spring and autumn migrations, and RSPB Titchwell and NWT Cley are the top sites. It's lovely to sit in the dunes at NWT Holme watching skeins of geese flying in over the sea. Winter walks on the beach at Holkham or Salhouse can produce snow buntings and lapland buntings, and shore larks.
Fir Lodge is located a short run from the sites of two winter spectaculars:
At RSPB Snettisham - massive clouds of waders whirling around as they are pushed off the mud by the incoming tide. The very best days are the one or two highest tides per month, but the flocks collect on the mud with every high tide. And in mid-winter great flocks of pink footed geese are seen leaving their roost on the Wash at dawn or returning at dusk.
WWT Welney plays host to thousands of whooper and bewick swans, plus assorted ducks and geese. It's also a brilliant destination the rest of the year for breeding birds, wetland plants and wildflowers and butterflies.
In December and January you could visit Horsey dunes to see the breeding seals on the beach, and follow that up with NWT Hickling Broad, and then the raptor roost (up to 100 assorted birds of prey, plus cranes) at Stubbs Mill.
Spring and summer feature breeding marsh harriers, spoonbills, stone curlews etc.etc.
The flagship reserves, Titchwell, Cley, Minsmere, are world-renouned, and there are scores of other sites on the North coast, in Broadland and Breckland. All guarantee rewarding birding trips on any day of the year.
Bittern at Minsmere - photo by Thea Nicholls