Best Birdwatching Sites: Norfolk – 3rd Edition
It is now 11 years since Buckingham Press and Neil Glenn rewrote the script on birdwatching site guises when they took the brave step of publishing the first edition of Best Birdwatching Sites: Norfolk back in 2002. As most of us will already know Norfolk is one of the top counties for birds and birding in the country. It has a superb range of migrant hotspots, fantastic flocks of wintering wildfowl, and often those scarce passerines such as Shorelark, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting and Twite that will brighten any winter’s day. Throw in a couple of raptor roosts and you have the complete winter itinerary. There is no let-up in spring and summer either, with a dazzling array of summer breeding birds such as Marsh Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Bittern and Nightjar et al. in fact it is only a lack of upland bird species that stops it taking top spot from Yorkshire.
Norfolk is also easily accessible from many parts of the country that you’re as likely to see a celebrity in Holkham Gap as a Shorelark these days. Public transport is, at the time of writing, reasonably good however the excellent Coasthopper bus service is under threat. Uniquely this series of guides gives you all the travel details you need from a Postcode, GPS coordinates to the contact details for boat services. There is a list of sites within walking distance of a railway station. For disabled birders there is also full coverage of sites fully or partially accessible to wheelchairs. A really good touch that this series has perpetuated.
Neil features 85 sites that cover the wealth of birding habitat in Norfolk including and not forgetting Norwich city centre. Each site gets at least two pages that features one of the maps, by Hilary Cromack, that were so revolutionary all those years ago. The maps themselves are as up-to-date as possible and most importantly they are clear and consistent throughout the book and indeed the series. You also get the now familiar list of target species with a percentage chance of connecting provided you visit at the right time of year and most importantly day. There is a very useful at-a-glance key points sidebar with links to opening hours, tides et cetera.
The main meat of the guide is the site description that has been fully field-tested by Neil. It discusses clearly a suggested route to get the best from each site or if time is limited you can just dip into the bit you need. I don’t think I’ve yet found it wanting.
The book is enlivened with sketches by Cliff Robinson and a stunning cover painting by Steve Cale.
If I have to disagree with Neil on anything then I must say that, nice as they are, the pasties at Titchwell are nowhere near the best in the country – The Turk’s Head on St Agnes beats them by a Country Mile.
So, you’ve already got the first and second editions, why buy this book? Well the information is a bang up-to-date as it can be, there a couple of new hidden gems and most importantly we need to continue to support Buckingham Press and their excellent team of writers to produce site guides to new areas. So if you’re stuck for a stocking filler for a birding friend or relative here’s the answer to all your problems.