Got some great birds and this is how the day went.
Up at 4.50am get my bits together and go to Collect Adam for 5.30am. On the way to his house I added the first birds of the year with a Robin in the headlights. I pick him up and we see Blackbird and Feral Pigeon before leaving North Walsham.
We then drive to Titchwell and as we drive into the village a Barn Owl is sat on the wall.
We arrive in the car park at 6.40ish and I flush Wood Pigeon and Pheasant from the trees around the car park (by accident) then we jammed in on a Tawny Owl flying over calling and silhouetted by the moon.
We then head to the beach in the dark to await dawn. A Cetti's Warbler calls on the walk down and we can now see just enough to identify some birds by call and silhouette. On the fresh marsh we saw Mallard, Brent Goose, Lapwing and Teal.
dawn on the Fresh Marsh - Titchwell
Then on the Brackish Marsh we could see Waterail, Black-tailed Godwit and Greylag Goose.
dawn on the Brackish Marsh - Titchwell
On the Tidal Marsh a few more birds were seen Redshank, Little Grebe, Snipe and the distinctive beak of the Shoveler helped to id it in the dawn light.
dawn on the Tidal Marsh - Titchwell
So we arrived on the beach already on 20 species a great start. It seems to take for ever to get light, but slowly we could start to id birds on the shoreline, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Knot, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Cormorant, Goldeneye, Great Black-backed Gull and Carrion Crow.
We were still struggling to make out birds on the sea so had a second look at the Tidal Marsh as the closer birds were easier.
sunrise on the Tidal Marsh - Titchwell
New birds picked out here were Wren, Spotted Redshank, Kingfisher and Wigeon before we popped back onto the beach.
Many more birds could be seen now and we quickly added Dunlin, Turnstone, Common Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser.
As it got lighter more birds were on the wing, Fulmar and Gannets flew past a Great Crested Grebe appeared from nowhere on the sea in front of us. A Goldfinch flew overhead as a Red-throated Diver flew past on the sea. This flock of Goldfinch's made me turn around and see a Little Egret and Reed Bunting behind us.
I know its not an amazing picture but I just liked that they were on the beach
Looking back at the sea we saw Sanderling and Ringed Plover and on the 'last scan' I picked out two female Eider, this was our 50th bird as we left the beach to check the marshes.
Our little sea watching friend, it was a bit Alfred Hitchcock though
Walking back along the Marshes nothing unexpected was added Moorhen, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Gadwall, Pintail, Avocet, Starling and Mute Swan. We did see our second Kingfisher of the day though.
Walking along the Meadow Trail we saw Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock and a stunning Male Bullfinch in the morning sun, was a shame he didn't stay long enough for a picture.
Then on Patsy's Pool we saw Coot and Tufted Duck and some Pink-footed Geese flew over. We then had our luckiest bird of the day Adam and I spotted a small wader jump up and down to the same spot, from the brief glimpse it was a Snipe but I wasn't convinced it was just a Common. So after some re-positioning I got view of a bobbing, crown-stripeless Snipe walking into the long grass it was a Jack Snipe.
We then headed for the food hatch stopping at the feeders and adding Greenfinch and Chaffinch. I was a bit gutted to see we were 5mins early for a bacon roll so I said about heading back to the feeders for a second look whilst we wait.
On the small piece of path that runs to the entrance road we saw Redwing and Song Thrush and this Waterail.
We then ordered food and with a few minute wait for the bacon rolls I ate my cake first to save time. I took my rubbish to the bin and heard a small group of Siskin and looked up and found Lesser Redpoll also.
The last bird and Titchwell was on the feeders from the picnic benches and this was the 75th of the day Brambling.
We then headed up to Choseley hoping to find a Rough-legged Buzzard, but we failed miserably at this, we were also disappointed with the general lack of birds around the drying barn with no Corn Buntings or Yellowhammers. We did see Pied Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Golden Plover though.
We then went down the hill and had another look, still no Rough-legged Buzzards but Red-legged Partridge, Mistle Thrush and Stock Dove were seen. We then got one more bird before we left as a female Merlin hunted the hedge line and perched briefly before carrying on.
We then headed to Thornham taking the back roads from Choseley in Choseley Village a Collard Dove flew from the road.
We then found a super flock of Buntings and Finches, and in amongst the Chaffinch were Brambling and new birds for the day Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Linnet with all birds in decent numbers.
We then arrived at Thornham Harbour and I noticed the birders at Holme on Thornham point, at the time I did not know what they were looking at when I ID'd the Shorelark running around infront of the crouching photographer. Our third Kingfisher of the day sat on a river post and a Skylark then flew over before we turned around and could see the Twite almost right infront of us.
At one point the Twite actually landed in the carpark to drink from the puddles.
Redshank - Thornham
We were going to head to Kings Lynn after this but negative news on the Iceland Gull meant we changed plans. So decided to head to Flitcham via Choseley once again in hope of a Rough-legged Buzzard.
In Titchwell we saw Jackdaw and House Sparrow before we met my Dad at Choseley and he got us onto a Rough-legged Buzzard. After talking to Dad we decided to not go to Flitcham as he had tried to go and could not park anywhere and it took him nearly 15mins just to drive through.
So with a change of plan we headed to Burnham Market where nearby we had a flock of 20+ Grey Partridges in the middle of the road. When we stopped we saw a Red Kite flying and had Tree Sparrow.
Next stop was Gun Hill and after a scan through the geese we only saw, Egyptian Goose, Canada Goose and Grey Heron. An even briefer stop at Holkham we saw White-fronted Goose but not the Great White Egret that we hoped for. The White-fronted Goose was the 99th bird of the day so the what will be 100 debate started as we headed for Holt.
At Holt, it wasn't long before I heard my 100th bird of the day, this was an exciting bird and I had to see it I then saw it fly up and land on a wire, It was a Grey Wagtail. It was exciting as this was the first time in 19 years of listing on the 1st Jan I had seen Grey Wagtail this was the biggest boggie bird bird ever. We then saw Rook, Coal Tit and Chiffchaff before adding another 1st Jan lifer the 175th bird seen on 1st Jan a Firecrest.
We carried on driving heading for Hickling, a quick stop at Walcott was a great choice as a flock of Scoter flew west which was only of around 40 birds an it had 12 (twelve) Velvet Scoter in it.
A quick pee stop near Lessingham was a wise choice also as the field entrance of choice had a flock of Fieldfare in it and Jays heading along trees.
We drove to Sea Palling but didn't see the Cattle Egret so carried on to Ludham where the mixed flock of Whooper and Bewick's Swans were on the Airfield.
On the penultimate stop at the Pleasure Boat Inn we saw our forth Kingfisher, Pochard and Lesser Black-backed Gull putting us on 112 with just the Stubb Mill roost left.
We got to Hickling and headed to the roost, Three Cranes flew over on the walk down and upon arrive a Long-tailed Tit was in the hedge behind us this was 114 so one more would beat the record and then Adam picked it out from the 30 or so Marsh Harrier a female Hen Harrier.
It was a great day packed with birds but as with every year I am left wondering with birds missed such as Razorbill, Guillemot, Red-crested Pochard, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and Woodcock what number could be achieved? Is the perfect day ever possible?
But do I care? Not really as long as I still enjoy it I will keep doing it. Next year will be my 20th and I cant wait, the 82nd bird that day will be the 2000th species I have record on 1st Jan that is assuming I get to the 82nd of course. (the 2000 is based on the combined totals of each year)