History of the NOA










The Norfolk Ornithologists’ Association (NOA) was founded in 1970, initially as a parent body to manage Holme Bird Observatory, and the history of the NOA is intimately connected with that of the Observatory.

The NOA’s roots involve the legendary “Guardian Spirit of the East Bank”, Richard Richardson, who established a bird observatory at Cley after the Second World War. In the 1950s, Peter Clarke, the founder Warden of Holme Bird Observatory, recognised the potential of the pines and dune scrub at Holme as a site for studying bird migration. The location of these and other habitats at the north-east corner of The Wash added to their attraction, and the site was recognised as a potential magnet for migrating birds. The Cambridge Bird Club had already carried out ringing there. Holme Bird Observatory came into being on September 6th 1962, with Peter Clarke and Graham Byford as co-directors.

The first winter was very difficult, since it brought some of the most severe and prolonged winter weather of the twentieth century. However, the following year, Richard Richardson retired from his post as Honorary Warden of the observatory at Cley, and that observatory was disbanded. The balance of funds was donated to Holme Bird Observatory, helping it to become established financially. Peter Clarke remained Warden of Holme Bird Observatory until he retired in the 1990s, and Richard Richardson served as Holme Bird Observatory President until his death in 1977. Malcolm Cox was warden at Holme after Peter Clarke’s retirement in 1994, and Jed Andrews was then NOA Warden from 1995 to 2011, when the current Warden, Sophie Barker, was appointed. In 2012, the NOA marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Holme Bird Observatory.

The NOA has expanded beyond its base at Holme Bird Observatory. Land was acquired at Walsey Hills in the 1970s, at Redwell Marsh (Holme), Whiddington Wood (Holme), Kelling Quags and Salthouse Heath in the 1980s, and at Hempton Marsh (Fakenham) in 1999. This has allowed our small network of reserves to be established.












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Norfolk Ornithologists Association, registered charity no. 267670, Broadwater Road, Holme Next The Sea, Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 6LQ