This year was different with Lys joining us on our adventure.
I drove 249 miles and we walked a minimum of 14.75 miles, and here is how we did.
I woke at 30 minute intervals all night as its my heads way of making sure I don't lie in, but 3 o'clock came and I got up and collected Adam.
We drove to the city picked up Lys and James and headed for Santon Downham.
We arrived in the area at around 4.45am and stopped just before the railway to see a Tawny Owl (1) fly over the road.
We parked up and headed down the river obviously looking right so as not to see any Suffolk birds. Crow, Pheasant, Magpie, Moorhen, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Blackbird, Mallard, Great Tit. Blue Tit and Treecreeper (12) were all added before we arrived at the LS Woodpecker site. With one bird annoying us as a Barn Owl refused to fly over the river and thus was not counted.
The wait then began Mandarin (13) flew past and circled round us, and a Water Rail (14) called from the wet area under the trees. I then spotted a small bird creeping around the tree tops to find it was a Nuthatch (15).
Starling, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw and Stock Dove (19) were all added in the 30 minutes or so waiting before James then found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (20) in the tree tops shortly followed by a second.
We watched the pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for a while before heading further along the path, a Kestrel (21) flew through the trees and a Lesser Redpoll (22) flew over calling. The Mandarin sat in a tree with a second pair before we then headed back along the river.
Another quick look at the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Song Thrush and Marsh Tit (24) were also seen, we carried on along the river adding Kingfisher, Greylag, Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed tit, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Cormorant and Grey Wagtail (39)
This Mandarin showed wonderfully well during the walk back
We then walked up past the car and down to an open area after hearing a Cuckoo.
Here we saw Coal Tit, Siskin, Goldcrest and Robin (43) the others did add Jay at this point to but I was scanning for Cuckoo's at the time and missed it, no sign of the Cuckoo either.
We then headed to the St Helens car park. At the car park we get out of the car and Linnet, Greenfinch and Goldfinch (46) are all flying around.
We then walked up to the Church and I got to see my Jay (47) and catch up with the others. On a roof of one of the houses near to the church was a Pied Wagtail (48), and some "arty" Mute Swans (49) were on the river before we left.
Here are some atmospheric shots.
Next stop was Two Mile Bottom where the Tree Pipit (50) was an easy bird to find.
Other birds added at the site before we left were Skylark, Willow Warbler and Stonechat (54)
The next site was Lynford and in the car park was got views of a cracking male Bullfinch (55) before we walked down to the gravel pits.
As we walked down a Lapwing (55) flew over and Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe (57) were on the pit.
A Coot (58) was also seen before we started to walk along the shore, we then heard and found a Cuckoo (59) over the far side of the lake. Adam then spotted a Common Sandpiper (60) that flew over the lake.
We then walked to a scrubby area where a Wheatear and Woodlarks (62) were present.
After this, a quick look from the hide added nothing so we headed to the arboretum seeing a female Bullfinch on the way.
The first bird heard upon entering the arboretum was a Firecrest (63) that was soon located in a tall pine tree.
We then walked to the lake and a Buzzard soared over our heads. on the lake was a Little Grebe (65) and on the paddock a Mistle Thrush (66). I then heard a distant call of a Grasshopper Warbler (67) which we then found in some reeds.
We walked back via the Hall and saw Canada Goose (68) on the lawn. Walking further I heard a call, I recognised it eventually and it was a Hawfinch! (69) that flew over the arboretum.
We left Lynford and went to Weeting in the village we saw Collared Dove, Swift (first of quite a few for the day), Rook, House Sparrow and Swallow (74) .
At Weeting reserve we only saw Lapwings on the fields and no Stone Curlew which was a shame.
Next stop was Welney and on route but close enough to count as Welney we saw Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull (76) over the fields.
Just before the reserve James spotted a Yellow Wagtail (77) we all missed it so I reversed up, it couldn't be seen but driving slowly back we then found it in a field the other side of the road with White and Pied Wagtails, also Red-legged Partridge (78).
We then drove a bit further when I spotted a Little Owl shaped blob on the end of a building. It was indeedy a Little Owl (79).
At the car park of the reserve we could see Avocet and Shelduck (81) on the pools next to us.
We then paid the fee (£7.90) and headed to the main hide. Garganey (82) were the first birds spotted which was lucky as they shortly flew away.
We then quickly bagged Whooper Swan, Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Shoveler, Teal, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Common Tern and House Martin (92) before walking towards the Lyle Hide.
On route we saw Sedge Warbler and Wigeon (94) and heard a Cetti's Warbler (95).
We then heard and saw a Lesser Whitethroat (96) before having a peak from the new Willow hides and from here we saw Dunlin and a large number of Ringed Plover (98). James then manged to spot the Great White Egret (99) in the undergrowth.
Before leaving the makeshift hide we got to see a Reed Warbler which was the 100th bird of the day and it was only about 11.30.
We walked back and just before the bridge a Meadow Pipit (101) was seen.
After Welney we went to Tottenhill but on route at Nordelph we saw Herring Gull and Feral Pigeon (103).
At Tottenhill we saw a Pochard (104) straight away, and after some scanning through the Little Grebes we finally manged to pick out the fine summer plumage Black-necked Grebe (105).
We carried on and went to Flitcham whilst driving down the road I spotted a long winged large bird of pray, it was a very showy Red Kite (106) wizzing around a little to much for a photo but never mind it was great to watch.
Egyptian Geese (107) were seen from the car before we parked up and went to the hide, we walked in and I laughed at Adam as he suggested that a Yellow-legged Gull might be there as we had seen one in a previous year, I sat down and the first bird I saw made me 'eat my hat' there was a Yellow-legged Gull (108).
Nothing else was seen from the hide and we only added Tree Sparrow (109) before going to Snettisham.
We parked at the south end of the coastal park and wondered through the scrub.
I straight away heard a Ring Ouzel but we could not find it anywhere. We carried on and James managed to spot a Redstart (110) in the bushes. A Sand Martin and Marsh Harrier (112) flew over on what seemed an almost pointless visit with birders verses Dog Walkers and us losing. That with the added disappointment when we went to "bag" some waders to find the tide was in.
So we trundled back to the car James then spotted a Whinchat (113) on the seaward side.
Great we thought, it gave us the go to head back into the scrub to try to find the Ring Ouzel. I lucked in again and heard and saw the Ring Ouzel (114) in nearly the same spot as before.
A quick stop at Hunstanton so see Fulmar (115) before we then went to Thornham Harbour in the hope of a wader or two. We got out of the car and saw some Brent Geese (116) and found some Curlew (117). Adam and James then scanned the field towards Holme and found a Grey Partridge (118) and as we were about to get in the car to move on a Whimbrel (119) called as it flew over us.
We then went to Choseley this Wheatear was in the field as we parked the car.
The 8/9 Dotterel (120) were visible although very distant.
At the drying barns some grain had been put down and Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and this Turtle Dove (123) were all making the most of it.
After Choseley we went to Titchwell we walked around the meadow trail to Patsy's Pool, 6 Red-crested Pochard (124) were on the pool and a clean up of the Gulls with Common, Mediterranean and Great Black-backed Gull (127) all on the centre island.
We then walked to the freshmarsh where two cracking summer plumage Mediterranean Gulls were . A Turnstone was also on a island and a Grey Plover (129) was on the salt marsh behind us. We also heard Bearded Tit (130) but could not see them
We then walked up to the Parrinder Hide and eventually found the Little Stint (131)
We walked to the sea adding nothing on the way. But upon setting up on the old brick ruin a flock of Sandering (132) flew threw as did a handful of Sandwich Tern (133).
James picked out some distant Common Scoter (134), before Adam found a distant Black-tailed Godwit (135).
We headed back to the car and when to Burham Overy Staithe to look out from the main road across the marshes.
Our second Barn Owl (136) of the day was actually in Norfolk so was countable this time, and a Short-eared Owl (137) was also hunting.
Spoonbills (138) were also around as were a handful of Pink-footed Geese (139).
Next stop was somewhere secret were we saw nothing.
Then after that Cley Marshes, we parked in the beach car park and walked enough to scan the reserve and sea. We added no new birds here either we had hope for at least one of some of the easier birds like Pintail, Golden Plover, Little Tern, Knot and Green Sandpiper that we had not yet seen.
We added nothing and took our chances in the fading light and headed to Norwich to try to get Peregrine.
We parked near the cathedral and ran around to be able to view all of it, we checked the web cam and could see the female on the nest, but no sign of the male sitting up anywhere.
After this we got out 140th bird of the day at Whitlingham as we watch the sky go dark the bats come out we listened to a Nightingale.
So 140 for the day (4 heard only) not the highest but some really great birds, with great company. Roll on next year.