It was still dark at 6.55 when we eventually set off. No bird noise at all at home, which was very unusual. I could see the sky lightening in the east but overhead was a heavy grey.
Our papers are not delivered on New Year's Day. The North Walsham corner shop was open and our first bird, a Robin, sang as I crossed the road, he must have been fooled by the road lights.
Black-headed Gulls and Wood pigeons were the only other birds until we were the other side of Holt, when Collared Doves and two separate Barn Owls were seen.
I don't think we've ever got as far as Harpley still in single figures. Along the lane, a single Redwing was barely discernible at the foot of a hedge before sighting a Buzzard standing in a ploughed field before hopping along feeding on worms. My photograph is pretty dire - so was the light.
Four Red-legged Partridges and a single Grey wandered onto the road to lift the spirits.
No birds in the hedges en route to Abbey Farm.......only Teal, Mallard and Moorhens at the farm itself. Where is everything this morning?
As we left the car park, a single Brambling was in the Chaffinch flock scattered by a sneaky Sparrowhawk. Now you see it, now you don't.
Two more Buzzards later and a fruitless drive around Wolferton Triangle, we arrived at Snettisham Chalet Park. Storm surge damage was much in evidence. Eroded banks on the pit, sea debris amongst the caravans and chalets, one caravan tipped off its base and well on its way into the pit, another chalet with cracked walls from a shifting foundation.
Due to the path being washed away, it's no longer possible to drive into the reserve. The gate has a huge notice and is wired shut. We managed to see the Black-necked Grebe against the far bank before squeezing through the bramble beside the gate and walking to the top of the bank in order to view the Wash. A bulldozer/grader had flattened the path sufficiently. It was freezing ! My eyes were watering so much, nothing was in focus. A pretty quick scan added redshank, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little grebe, Dunlin, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Curlew and Pintail. Time to flee back to the car.
No sign of the grebe when we got back and others didn't see it later.
Porridge breakfast on Hunstanton clifftop. In the promised rain. 11.00 was a bit early though. Plenty of Fulmars to-day, a few Rock Doves, Cormorant and three Common Scoters bobbed up into view. Turnstones were looking for crumbs amongst the many dog-walkers.
Shall we get out at Holme?We did walk to the Broadwater Hide where many Shoveller were asleep in the reeds with more Teal and a few Mallard.
By now it was raining hard, a strong wind hurling the drops like icy arrows at one's face. Oh dear. Very dark too.
A single Tundra Bean Goose and a lone Barnacle had been reported ' between Docking and Choseley'. off we drove, finding a flock of about two thousand Pinkfeet in the usual undulating beet harvested field.We found an opening and I scoped - in hope - until my arm, face and the front of the car were too wet to continue. I did have another shorter go but had to give up.
Whilst we were lunching at Brancaster Staithe, adding Grey Plover and Ringed Plover, Jax texted to say that they'd seen the Glaucous and a Red Kite at Edgefield Tip this morning. I replied that I'd planned it for the way home and she gave me instructions as to where the bird was hanging out. We met J and dave at Stiffkey , they were going home, freezing feet.
We gave up too, it was very dark at 2.00, and made our way as quickly as was legal to Edgefield. Jax's instructions were good an I soon made out the large, all white Glaucous Gull , hunkered down in a grassy field behind the tip.
Time for the warmth of home, driving through water-logged lanes and widely puddled main roads, we were there by 3.30.
One of our worst first day totals ever, upper 60s, with some good birds. In those conditions, raptors weren't flying and passerines were sheltering.
Not as many as usual non birding Hoorahs either but, more than enough. Dogs off the lead in nature reserves, large groups completely filling roads, Pam had to hoot on two occasions to get through. Unheard of, she never uses the horn. That was in Thornham village not even on one of the minor roads. Good for trade I suppose.