What a dismal day. Dry but grey overcast with poor light. Not much wind to start off and then a very strong westerly by early afternoon.
We must remember not to set off too early next year. We left soon after 6.30 but it wasn't light enough to peer for birds until an hour later. Sunrise was at 8.07 when it was still very dull with poor light. We ate breakfast in a field entrance watching hares - same as last year - waiting for more light.
A Blackbird showed under North Walsham street lights as the first bird of 2015, the second, a Barn Owl near Fakenham, much better. Valley Farm Lane added Song Thrush and Grey Partridge, the lanes and hedgerows en route to Abbey Farm adding many of the commoner passerines including a pair of Yellowhammers.
Approaching West Newton, our first raptor, a lazily flapping Buzzard, changed perch.
We knew that the tide was at its nadir at Snettisham but thought that it was a better destination than Titchwell on Jan 1st, mecca for both birders and the Chelsea set. Goldeneye at the caravan site pit and on the reserve itself was a good start. Tufted Duck on the first pit at the very furthest reach were discernible through a scope. I couldn't see yesterday's reported female Long-tailed Duck.
The miles of mud was scattered with hundreds of waders and duck. A flock of over a 100 Pintail was notable, a large, well scattered flock of Golden Plover, a few Grey Plover, hundreds of Teal, Dunlin, Shelduck and Wigeon, a scattering of both Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank. Curlew with one Lesser Black-backed Gull. A lone Canada Goose popped its head up from a creek and was the only one we saw all day.
I'm sure that there were thousands of Knot along the very distant shoreline, none that were identifiable for sure through my scope so they didn't go on the list. Snettisham without seeing Knot? Remarkable. Not even any smoke-like flying shapes along the water.
Seeing a Black-necked Grebe from the Causeway, we returned to the Rotary Hide for a better view. There was also a dirty cream juvenile Glaucous Gull on the far beach. Two good sightings.
Hunstanton Beach added Sanderling and Oystercatchers, Fulmar from the cliffs. Holme in an increasingly strong wind which made a swollen flap in the Broadwater Hide bang constantly and annoyingly. That curtailed our visit. A beautiful male Marsh Harrier and our only Shoveller were the highllights. The NOA hide is badly maintained, dirty and in need of repair.
A general meander along the coast adding the odd species here and there. Incredible that we had to wait until Stiffkey for the first Little Egret.
J and D had texted news of a wintering Greenshank at Morston. Not that we could find it, the area was very crowded with boat trippers on the way to see Blakeney Point's record number of seal pups.With the final addition of Avocet and Carrion Crow at Cley and Rooks near North Walsham, our total was a respectable 76.
I didn't see a Robin..........
Man U drew again, away to Stoke, 3rd place looks the best outcome. Man City plough on and we watched Chelsea lose 3-5 to Spurs, very good match to watch.
Jim texted during the day to say that Kate had a sickness + bug so to-night's meal was cancelled. We enjoyed just loafing and watching TV.