Norfolk Biodiversity

“Three little birds, each by my doorstep”

The nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder and the temptation to stay indoors increases. However, this is no excuse to keep cooped up, since there is still plenty of wildlife out there to see! And, to be honest, here in Norfolk, we don’t have to travel that far either. To make it easier, our wonderful colleagues in Norfolk Trails maintain a large number of paths all over Norfolk to help us get out, which may even go through our neighborhoods. One such route is the Marriott’s Way, that starts in Norwich but goes all the way to Aylsham – 26 miles away! 

So what can we see on the Marriott’s Way at Winter?

Although not exclusively, probably the most likely wildlife we will see and hear at this time of year are birds. The county has over 420 species, which includes very rare resident species and winter visitors, as it is a very popular passage for migrating birds.

“It is one of the few counties in Britain where it is possible to see in excess of 100 bird species on any given day without too much effort” (

Hence the list of birds to look out for is endless, and far beyond one blog post. Hence, if you want to read extensively about and see the latest bird sighting photographs, Norfolk Bird Tours is a great blog! However, here are three to look out for on the Marriott’s Way at this time of year.


Waxwing (Credited to The RSPB)

Waxwing sitting on a ‘berry-liant’ feast (Credited to The RSPB)

There are approximately 11,000 of these guys present in the UK between October and March!  As recently as last week, five were seen in Norwich!  They tend to arrive first at the East Anglian coast, then move inland on their quest to find more food. Food, being berries, especially those from the Hawthorn, Rowan or Cotoneaster plants. They have a large appetite and are well-known for stripping a plant bare in no time. 

Song Thrushes

Song Thrush (Credited to Elizabeth Dack)

Song Thrush (Credited to Elizabeth Dack)

Thrushes are among the most common types of bird in the world and there are 65 known species recorded, exhibiting a variety of colours and behaviours. As their name suggests, they produce distinctive but beautiful songs, which often last several minutes. However, they are not just known for their singing, but also because of their role in one of my favourite stories, The Hobbit. In one of the films, they perform a typical feeding technique, smashing open a snail shell against an anvil stone to wake the dragon. However, nothing more will be said on their significance in the book to avoid possible spoilers, but here is a link for the curious.


A Robin on the Marriott's Way (Credited to Pawel Rozenek)

A Robin on the Marriott’s Way (Credited to Pawel Rozenek)

Now a list of British birds at Winter wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful orangy-red of the Robin to bring some colour against the white backdrop (an optomist’s point of view). These guys are one of the only birds you’ll catch singing by the time it gets to Christmas Day, due to their cheeky and highly territorial attitudes. They continue to guard their territory all year round, and sometimes, even for the rest of the lives! They use songs to warn off intruders which is fine by me, cause as they shout, “get off my land”, we misinterpret and enjoy their lovely music. One interpretation to follow:

“Singing: don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright” (Bob Marley).

Although, if we get a really cold spell, don’t be surprised to find Robin’s side-by-side on the same feeding table!

What do we need to prepare?

To be honest, all we really need to do is to wrap up warm and take those first steps out of the house, anything else is extra. However, why not check out the Norfolk Trails Interactive Map to get all the walking, cycling and horse-riding information for the Marriott’s Way and your nearest trail in Norfolk? Meanwhile, The Natural History Museum and RSPB have some good bird watching tips.

How can we help?

One way we can help preserve these wonderful birds and their habitats is to join the RSPB who do such good work to, (cheesy phrase to follow), help give nature a home. Alternatively, we would love for you to record what you see using our online form, which we find really helpful when doing our work to help preserve wildlife in Norfolk.

However, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write a comment or send us an email at:

(Title attributed to Bob Marley)

About Matt Thorne

Works in Environment, Transport and Development at Norfolk County Council

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2014 by in Birds, NBIS, NBP, Norfolk's Wildlife and tagged , , , , , .

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