Holme Dunes, photo by Richard Osbourne 1/3
Holme Dunes, photo by Mike Page 2/3
Holme Dunes, photo by Liz Dack 3/3

Holme Dunes

At Norfolk’s northwest corner, where The Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds.

It also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants.

Various military remains from WWII can be glimpsed around the reserve, including the remains of a target-railway used to train artillery. Much earlier remains have also been discovered including Roman pottery and, in 1998, a well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle, which became known as ‘Seahenge’. The circle was uncovered by strong tides, having been hidden for some 4,000 years (no longer at Holme, the structure was removed for preservation purposes by archaeologists).

Sea Buckthorn

Probably planted to help stabilise the dunes, this spiky silvery shrub is prevalent here. In autumn, its bright orange berries are a godsend to the thousands of migrating birds, such as wintering thrushes, that stop off at Holme.

Barn Owl

There are few sights in Norfolk more evocative than the ghostly form of a barn owl carefully quartering the fields and dykes. NWT Holme Dunes is one of the best places to catch up with the ethereal birds as they hunt silently over the grazing marshes in the late afternoon. Calm days are the best time to observe them.


This unmistakeable black-and-white wader, with its characteristic upturned bill, breeds in small numbers on the reserve, and can often be watched feeding in front of the hides during the summer.

Migrating and vagrant birds

The perfect location of NWT Holme Dunes means it attracts large numbers of migrating birds. In spring, wheatears and warblers are common, with large numbers of finches and thrushes in the autumn. Scarce migrants such as wryneck, yellow-browed warbler and barred warbler arealmost annual. When the conditions are just right, thousands of tired migrants take shelter among the scrub and dunes in what is known as a ‘fall’.


Holme is a good place to seawatch: with the correct winds gannets, skuas, terns and divers can be watched passing by the coastline in their hundreds.

It's been a stunning spring at NWT Holme Dunes! Here is our comprehensive list of what's been seen, March, April and May 2014. Huge thanks to North West Norfolk Naturalists for their help in giving additional sightings.



Spoonbill, whimbrel, wheatear, yellow wagtail, ring ouzel, house martin, brent goose, rook, gannet, sand martin, little gull, ruff, redstart, greenshank, merlin, hooded crow, spotted flycatcher, cuckoo, crow, grasshopper warbler, golden plover(including northern), mistle thrush, Mediterranean gull, tree pipit, redpoll, little bunting, snipe, fieldfare, common sandpiper, grey plover, peregrine, barnacle goose, white wagtail, jay, whinchat, turtle dove, red breasted merganser, green sandpiper, common tern, little tern, sandwich tern, goosander, wigeon, siskin, alpine accentor(n.o.a), subalpine warbler, garganey, sanderling, osprey, sand martin, pintail, garden warbler, Egyptian goose, kingfisher, hobby, green woodpecker, ringed plover, tawny owl, barn owl, raven(1st for the reserve),cettis warbler, lapwing, woodcock, gadwall, marsh harrier, common buzzard, shoveler, tufted duck, black throated diver, eider, herring gull, lesser black backed gull, bar tailed godwit, black tailed godwit, oystercatcher, dunlin, knot, curlew, turnstone, little egret, grey heron, stonechat, black headed gull, starling, red throated diver, common gull, great black backed gull, meadow pipit, song thrush, tree sparrow, grey partridge, red legged partridge, goldcrest, redshank, pochard, crossbill, shag, cormorant, scoter, long tailed duck, snow bunting, kestrel, sparrowhawk, bittern, jack snipe, little grebe, great crested grebe, shelduck, brambling, skylark, chaffinch, goldfinch, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, wren, pheasant, moorhen, coot, mallard, grey wagtail, Canada goose, jackdaw, linnet, bullfinch, blackbird, teal, black redstart, robin, chiffchaff, common crane, redwing, slavonian grebe, dunnock, magpie, bearded tit, blackcap, razorbill, willow warbler, swallow, swift, reed bunting, reed warbler, sedge warbler, yellowhammer, red kite, coal tit, firecrest, stock dove, woodpigeon, collared dove, common whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, hen harrier, pink footed goose, redstart, house sparrow, shore lark, greenfinch, short eared owl, ruddy duck, guillemot, blue headed wagtail, little stint, velvet scoter, spotted flycatcher, goosander, black necked grebe, great northern diver, arctic tern, great skua, yellow browed warbler(n.o.a), black necked grebe, black redstart.

Plants seen in flower

Alder, Alexanders, Annual Pearlwort, Annual Wall-rocket, Apple, Beaked Hawk’s-beard, Bee Orchid, Biting Stonecrop, Bittersweet, Bladder Campion, Brackish Water-crowfoot, Bramble, Brooklime, Buck’s-horn Plantain, Bugloss, Bulbous Buttercup, Bur Chervil, Cat’s-ear, Celery-leaved Buttercup, Cleavers, Colt’s-foot, Columbine, Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Common Chickweed, Common Cornsalad, Common Milkwort, Common Mouse-ear, Common Nettle, Common Spotted Orchid, Common Stork’s-bill, Common Vetch, Common Whitlowgrass, Cow Parsley, Cowslip, Creeping Buttercup, Daisy, Dandelion, Dog Rose, Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill, Early Forget-me-not, Early Marsh-orchid, Elder, English Scurvygrass, Field Forget-me-not, Field Mouse-ear, Garlic Mustard, Germander Speedwell, Goat’s-beard, Gorse, Greater Sea-spurrey, Greater Stitchwort, Grey Willow, Ground-ivy, Groundsel, Hairy Bitter-cress, Hairy Tare, Hawthorn, Heath Dog-violet, Herb-Robert, Hoary Cress, Hound’s-tongue, Ivy-leaved Speedwell, Japanese Rose, Kidney Vetch, Lesser Celandine, Lesser Chickweed, Lesser Dandelion, Lesser Sea-spurrey, Lesser Spearwort, Little Mouse-ear, Meadow Buttercup, Meadow Saxifrage, Mossy Stonecrop, Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Parsley-piert, Pellitory-of-the-wall, Petty Spurge, Pignut, Pineapple-weed, Prickly Sow-thistle, Procumbent Yellow-sorrel, Ragwort, Red Dead-nettle, Ribwort Plantain, Rue-leaved Saxifrage, Scarlet Pimpernel, Sea Arrowgrass, Sea Bindweed, Sea Campion, Sea Mouse-ear, Sea Pearlwort, Sea Sandwort, Sea-buckthorn, Sea-milkwort, Sheep’s Sorrel, Shepherd’s-purse, Silver Birch, Silverweed, Slender Speedwell, Small-flowered Crane’s-bill, Smooth Hawk’s-beard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Snow-in-summer, Southern Marsh-orchid, Spindle, Spring Vetch, Springbeauty, Sun Spurge, Sycamore, Thrift, Thyme-leaved Sandwort, Wall Speedwell, White Campion, White Dead-nettle, Wild Strawberry, Yellow Flag, Yellow-rattle, Field Wood-rush, Heath Wood-rush, Sand Sedge, Brown Sedge, Common Sedge, Red Fescue, Sweet Vernal-grass, Sand Cat’s-tail, Soft Brome, Barren Brome, Smaller Cat’s-tail, Crested Dog’s-tail, Adder’s-tongue, Corsican Pine, Field Horsetail, Marsh Horsetail, Water Horsetail.


Small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock, orange tip, green veined white, small copper, small white, green hairstreak, large white, wall brown, brown argus, brimstone, common blue, small heath, speckled wood.



Post code
PE36 6LQ
Map reference
TF 714 449
Grid reference
OS Landranger 132
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