Summer Birdwatching Tours – 2023

Our Summer Tours take place during June & July and are amongst the most exciting summer bird watching experiences in Britain. We are lucky to have a number of rarer breeding species which occur here in East Anglia and are hard to see elsewhere in the country. It is also a great time of year to look for several of the other iconic species for which the area is well known.

Our featured tours for Summer 2023 are as follows:

As usual, a wide variety of additional dates are available, both for guided group tours and private customised birding days. Group tours will operate on most weekends through the summer, and additional single weekday tours may also be available, subject to availability and demand.

We can sometimes offer the flexibility to pick only a single day, or choose shorter weekend or weekday bird watching breaks from within the longer tours. Please check the itinerary for precise tour destinations and contact us for more details.

Summer Birds

East Anglia is lucky to be blessed with several very rare or scarce breeding species – including Spoonbills, Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks, Bitterns, Cranes and Stone Curlews. Our summer tours will focus on looking for these rare breeding birds, as well as providing opportunities to catch up with other iconic local species, such as Marsh Harriers, Avocets and Bearded Tits. We also offer tours to the Norfolk Broads, to look for Swallowtail butterflies, dragonflies and birds.

The itinerary of the tours will change slightly as the summer progresses. In June, we may also look for late passerine migrants. If conditions are right, these can include such exciting species as Marsh & Icterine Warbler, Red-backed Shrike or Bluethroat. By July, the focus will increasingly change to passage waders, as birds start to return south from their breeding grounds. In late June and July 2016, we were lucky to have a very rare Great Knot which appeared here with some of our returning Knot and in July 2018 we saw a Lesser Yellowlegs from North America on several of our tours.

August is considered by us to be a summer month, but for most of our birds it is the end of the breeding season. Wader numbers really start to increase through the month and Norfolk, with its variety of wetland habitats, is a great place to see a variety of them at this time of year. In August, we will offer Wader Tours particularly designed to look for the variety of returning waders. Please see the separate Wader Tours page here.

Stone Curlew – Norfolk, July 2015 ©The Bird ID Company Stone Curlew – Norfolk, July 2015 ©The Bird ID Company

More details on the possible individual day tours are given below. All tours are available as standalone day trips, or as part of longer 2-day/weekend or 3-day breaks. Please see the itinerary for provisional tour dates or contact us to discuss the possibilities.

Spoonbills & Dartford Warblers

Spoonbills have recently set up the first breeding colony in Britain for over 300 years, and we will spend part of the day watching these spectacular birds. Later in the summer, large post-breeding flocks of adults and juveniles gather on the coast, a real birding highlight at this time of year. Norfolk holds one of the most northerly breeding populations of the very localised Dartford Warbler. We will explore the local heaths, looking for the Warblers, as well as for Woodlarks and Turtle Doves. During the day, there will also be time to look for passage migrants and waders and we may also see local specialities such as Bearded Tit, Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Avocet.

Stone Curlews, Cranes & Bitterns

The Brecks, with its mix of habitats including ancient heath and wet fen, has its own specialised breeding birds. Stone Curlew is still a very scarce breeding species in the UK and this is one of the best areas to see it. We will visit several sites around Thetford Forest and spend time looking for Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatcher & Firecrest. There may even be a chance of finding a Hawfinch. We will also spend part of the day at Lakenheath Fen, where the vast reedbeds host several breeding Bitterns and two pairs of Cranes. This is also a great place to see Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Cuckoo and Bearded Tits. Unfortunately the Golden Orioles, for which this site was famous, have failed to return in recent years.

Nightjars & Woodcock

Nightjars are summer visitors to heaths and forest clearings, and we are blessed with a good population here. Listening to their distinctive churring on a warm evening is a unique experience, and we can watch them performing from their favoured perches. We will also look for Woodcock 'roding' overhead at dusk. The breeding population of this species has declined in recent years and it is great to be able still to witness the display flight of this secretive wading bird. There will also be the opportunity to look for owls, particularly Barn Owls, and we often at least hear the hooting of the local Tawny Owls.

The Nightjars & Woodcock evenings will be available on all 3 day tours and on other dates by arrangement. For this tour we will meet at 7.30pm at an agreed location and we should finish by 10.30pm.

Swallowtail Tour

The Swallowtail butterfly is a true Norfolk speciality. Our largest native butterfly, its range is restricted to the Norfolk Broads. It is a real spectacle to see the adults flying over the reeds or settling to feed on a Marsh Thistle. The area is also alive with dragonflies at this time of year and we will look for the distinctive Norfolk Hawker amongst them. This species is similarly restricted to East Anglia and can be found at many of the sites where the Swallowtails are present. This is also a good time of year to look for orchids, and we have some particularly scarce species here. At the same time, there should still be plenty of birds to see, with the Norfolk Broads playing to host to such rare breeding species as Cranes and Bitterns, as well as Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Grasshopper Warblers and many others.

This tour will run subject to demand, so please contact us if you may be interested in coming along.

Tour Details & Prices

The Three Day Tours run from Friday morning through to late Sunday afternoon with accommodation from Thursday evening. This includes 3 nights B&B accommodation, all transport during tour days to and from your base, guiding and packed lunches.

Our basic prices are detailed below.

Day Tours £60 per person per day
includes all guiding and transport on the day from a convenient meeting point.
2 Days / Weekend from £230/295 per person single/double includes 2 nights accommodation based on Bed and Breakfast, all guiding, transport & packed lunch.
3 Days  from £335/445 per person single/double includes 3 nights accommodation based on Bed and Breakfast, all guiding, transport & packed lunch.
Nightjar evening  £30 per person includes all guiding and transport for the evening from a convenient meeting point.

As all accommodation is booked to order, final pricing will depend on the availability of rooms at the time of booking, and a single supplement may be payable. All tours are also available without accommodation, and it is very easy to add extra nights if required. Please contact us for a quotation.

Prices are based on a minimum of four customers booked per tour. If there is only a single customer booked, pricing may have to vary by negotiation or the tour may not be able to proceed as planned.

The accommodation for tours is at White House Farm B&B in the village of Hindolveston, well placed to explore the north coast of Norfolk and the Broads and Brecks. However, we can usually arrange alternative accommodation to suit your requirements and budget, if required.

To book a tour please select your preferred date from the tours on these pages or the itinerary. It is advisable then to contact us first to discuss availability. You will then be required to return a completed booking form to us at the address shown. For guidance please refer to the booking page.

During the Rare Breeding Bird Tours no species are disturbed and The Bird ID Company abides by the Bird Watchers Code at all times and asks our clients to do the same. We do not visit close to the nesting sites of rare species and report any suspicious activities in the areas of these breeding birds. The bird's welfare must always come first. Our success rate with the species involved is generally high, though can be dependent on the weather and we cannot guarantee success.

T: 01263 861 892
M: 07785 534734

Cley Spy
Cley Spy – specialist in
Bird watching tours in Norfolk and beyond