Spring has sung!

Guest blogger Marcus Nash of The Bird ID Company guides us on the birds to spot this spring

Spring is a particularly exciting time of year to visit Norfolk. Our breeding birds return from the countries where they have spent the winter and activity levels are high, with lots of singing and display, and many more species pass through on migration, on their way to their breeding grounds further north.

By April the pace of migration picks up noticeably. Ring Ouzels normally appear around the turn of the month, and small flocks can often be found along the coast or even some distance inland. Yellow Wagtails are very scarce breeding birds here now, but good numbers still pass through on passage, often stopping off to feed particularly where there are livestock. Smaller numbers of Whinchats and Redstarts can also be found at this time of year. By the second half of April, migration is in full swing and in the right conditions, numbers of migrants moving along the coast can be spectacular. All the summer warblers can be heard singing now and a small number of Nightingales will hopefully return again later in April to enchant us with their beautiful song.

Late April and early May is a good time to look for waders on spring migration. As well as all our regular wintering species on their way back north, small numbers of species such as Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Temminck’s Stint can usually be found. The Spotted Redshanks look particularly fine at this time of year, in their stunning spangled black breeding plumage. Small trips of Dotterel pass through now, and often stop off in the same fields each year before continuing north.

Migration continues apace into May and this is the month when anything can turn up, given the right weather conditions. Even into early June, the right conditions can bring falls of migrants. Amongst the Redstarts and flycatchers heading for Scandinavia there could be Icterine or Marsh Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes, possibly even a Bluethroat or perhaps something even rarer. Last May, a very rare Citril Finch spent a couple of days here (found by your very own correspondent!), only the second time one has been seen in the UK, and the first for the mainland. People travelled here from all over the country to see it. Who knows what exciting rarities spring 2016 will bring us here?

To book a tour with Marcus Nash at The Bird ID Company, call 01263 861 892 or 07785 534 734. Alternatively to find out more visit birdtour.co.uk follow on Twitter a Twitter @norfolkbirdtour, Facebook at facebook.com/pages/The-Bird-ID-Company/355925021149845 or The Bird ID Company – YouTube