As with the last few years i spent New Year's Eve at Gary's we saw in the New Year then went to bed to rise bright and early to start out year lists all over again. The first bird of the year was as exciting as they come, a sleeping Feral Pigeon in North Walsham town centre.
As is tradition we were the 1st people to arrive at Titchwell RSPB in near darkness. The first few birds were identified from silhouettes but by the time we reached the brackish marsh we could confidently pick out more birds, with Spotted Redshank probably the first bird of note. With a southerly wind the sea was rather quite with a few Goldeneye and lone Great Crest Grebe the only birds seen. Luckily the foreshore was more productive with waders and gulls. Walking back we could view the Saltmarsh and Freshmarsh in better light and soon added most of the waterfowl we had missed walking out. 2 Water Pipit over the path were nice to see. The feeders by the visitor centre enabled us to add many small bird to the days list including all 3 species of Redpoll, with Coues' Arctic Redpoll being a life tick for me.
Leaving Titchwell we only had a total of 59 species rather lower than previous years. Choesley Drying Barns held less than expected but we did run into the Corn Bunting/Yellowhammer flock further through the back roads.
With the lack of sea duck at Titchwell we headed for the clifftop at Old Hunstanton, from were we also saw the corpse of a Sperm Whale on the beach.Back to the birds we picked up Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Eider and Fulmer.
A few more common species were added while driving before arriving at Flitcham, a flock of 70+ Tree Sparrow was nice to see along with 20+ Song Thrush, but the expected Little Owl were elusive. Stopping at Fakenham we soon found the Great Grey Shrike, but more frustratingly after being to early for a bacon sandwich at Titchwell, Morrisons was also closed, so no snacks for us.
Now with 90 species on the list we headed to Cley. The obvious target being he Western Sandpiper, which on arrive in the hides was nowhere to be seen. Avocet and Pied Wagtail were noted before eventually the Western Sandpiper return, close in directly in front of us. Gary then found a Peregrine on the deck has we frantically looked for a Snipe. Gary wouldn't give up and eventually succeeded. The day was however drifting away from us so in a very brief stop at Salthouse we added Guillemot and Razorbill.
Parking by Ranworth village hall a tit flock so found us, and we duly added Coal Tit, Long-tail Tit and Goldcrest, before a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Siskin flock put in an appearance. The female Ring-neck Duck was easy to pick out feeding very close to the Visitor Center with Tufted Duck and Pochard, you hardly needed binoculars.
As always we would finish at the Stubb Mill roost, but drive there via Ludham airfield where a flock of wild swans often feed. Although not the largest group we found 3 Bewick's mixed with 13 or so Whoopers to take the list onto 107. Walking down to the roost at Hickling 3 White-fronted geese flew over. Setting up our attention was soon drawn to 9 Common Crane on view not far away and a Merlin nearby. As the numerous Marsh Harrier dropped in we also picked up a male and ringtail Hen Harrier, and a Bullfinch flew across our viewpoint. With darkness drawing in the Woodcock started to leave the woods to feed on the marsh traditionally the last bird of January 1st, driving back to Norwich however a Barn Owl flew across the road bringing to an end my birding day on a total of 114, with 2 additions (Cetti's Warbler and Kingfisher) heard only.
THORPE MARSH: Phasia hemiptera
21 hours ago