Jewels from the north - 10 migratory birds heading our way this winter
- Credit: Nick Appleton/Julian Thomas/Key Mantripp/Elizabeth Dack
Millions of feathered visitors head to Norfolk and Waveney each year.
In winter months, many species of birds fly south from the Arctic north. They travel from as far away as Siberia and Greenland to our shores, flying great distances in search of better weather and food.
According to Robert Morgan, reserves officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT): "Some of our summer birds are often replaced by their northern cousins in the winter, such as blackbirds, robins and many thousands of starlings that come all the way from Russia.
"However, there are birds that can only be found here in winter, specifically coming to Britain for our relatively mild winter weather.
"Whether in your local wood or along the seashore, Norfolk is a great county to search for and discover these wonderful winter visitors."
Here are 10 migratory birds to look out for this winter.
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"This orange and black finch arrives from Scandinavia in November," Mr Morgan said. "It often forms flocks with chaffinch. Beech woods are the best places to find them, but most woods will hold a few. You may be lucky to find them visiting your garden."
2. Brent Goose
"A small black goose that spends the summer in the Arctic Circle. In winter it can be found around the Norfolk coast, with NWT Cley and Salthouse Marshes one of the best place to see them.
"In most years Norfolk will hold a large percentage of the world population."
3. Pink-footed Goose
"Norfolk’s commonest, truly wild goose. Look out for large V formations and their ‘wink- wink’ call as they travel across the skies looking for fields of discarded sugar-beet tops."
"This ‘Traveller of the fields’ has a grey/blue head and rump with a rust red back. It is quite a large thrush with a deeply speckled chest. You can often hear them cackling in the hedgerows, feeding on haws and berries, or gathering in parks in search of earthworms."
"Our other ‘winter thrush’ is smaller than the fieldfare, but often associates with them. The red under wing, that gives the bird its name, can be seen on its upper flanks. It also has a noticeable pale ‘Supercilium’, a line which runs from the base of the beak and over the eye."
6. Whooper Swan
"Unlike the mute swan, the whopper are truly wild. They come south from their breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland. They can often be seen on the flat farmland of the Fens. Smaller numbers will also congregate at favoured spots in the Norfolk Broads."
"Normally thought of as a summer warbler, in recent decades (possibly due to climate change) more blackcaps are over-wintering in the UK. This is also helped by them being happy to visit garden bird-tables and feeders. Our winter blackcaps actually migrate here from Germany."
8. Snow Bunting
"This bunting is a real gem to find on a cold over-cast day. The male, when in its summer plumage, is a very attractive black and white bird. In winter they are streaked with light brown markings. They are surprisingly approachable, having little fear of people.
"In Norfolk they can be found along our coast in winter, particularly near saltmarshes or sand dunes. Winterton-on-Sea and NWT Cley and Holme Dunes are great places to look for them."
"This small green and black finch is a resident bird that breeds in Norfolk in small numbers, however in winter thousands arrive in the county. Flocks of them can be found in stands of alder trees, as they search for alder cones to prise the tiny seeds from. They have become increasingly common in gardens in winter."
"This is arguably the UK’s most beautiful bird, it is cinnamon in colour with a fine up-right crest. The numbers arriving in winter can vary, but when bad weather and shortage of food drives them out of central Europe, many hundreds can arrive in the county.
"They are constantly on the move searching for berry laden bushes."