Norfolk may as well be dubbed as the birdwatching capital of Britain, for birdwatchers around the UK, and even in other parts of the world, waste no time in paying this place a visit to have a glimpse of some beautiful feathered friends. From species like barn owls, kingfishers, and Cetti’s warblers to much rarer species, birdwatching havens in Norfolk, including Cley Marshes, are a must-visit for enthusiasts, especially if you are after a particularly rare sighting of two rare bird species from the Mediterranean.
The Alpine Citril Finch
Last May, lucky birdwatchers had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the citril finch, a species that’s often seen among the forested slopes of the Alps or Pyrenees. Greyish when viewed from above, with a hint of a brown tinge on their black-streaked backs and yellow-winged, citril finches are closely related to siskins, goldfinches, and linnets. In a way, they also resemble their close relative, greenfinches, with their olive-green plumage.
Citril finches were last seen in Britain back in June 2008 on Fair Isle and this year, bird enthusiasts, among them BirdLife International’s Jim Lawrence, had a stroke of luck in capturing this species on film, though it certainly wasn’t an easy spot since these birds would much rather play hide-and-seek.
The Subalpine or Moltoni’s Warbler
Less than a day after a citril finch spotting, Norfolk was once again graced by another extremely rare bird visitor from the south in the form of a male Moltoni’s warbler. A small typical warbler that has a grey head and back, terracotta underparts and plumage tones, and white streaks resembling a moustache, these bird species are usually found at the southernmost parts of Europe and in northwest Africa.
An observer in Blakeney Point was able to sight this visitor from the south, and has only been the fourth of its kind to visit Britain. Moltoni’s warbler was sighted twice on Shetland during the spring of 2009 and once way back in 1894, when it is reported that a Victorian collector shot one while on the Outer Hebrides.
Sightings of these two rare birds attracted over a thousand people, as most of them haven’t seen these species up close. Aside from citril finches and Moltoni’s warblers, Norfolk has also played host to a flock of dotterills, further proof that the county is the destination of choice for a top birdwatching experience.
With the long summer holidays almost upon us, where better to plan a short break than in Norfolk to have an up-close and personal encounter with various species of birds. You don’t need to worry about accommodation, for hotels like the George Hotel at Cley can happily provide you with the perfect place to stay.
North Norfolk Coast is a paradise for bird watchers with citril finch sighting, Express, May 12, 2015
1,000 people drawn to North Norfolk after rare bird spotted, Lynn News, May 15, 2015
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