As regular readers of this drivel/quality writing will know, I rarely get out birding on New years Day, in fact I don't normally surface until about 3rd January.
This New Year was different. Nothing to do with resolutions, which I never stick to anyway (like updating this blog more regularly), I was laid-low with manflu on New Years Eve and stayed at home. So, there was me, fresh as a daisy, out on the patch on New Years Day.
It was nice to get some air into the lungs and for once it wasn't raining or windy (it didn't last). Janet and I had a good walk around the patch, through the fields to the preceptory and back by the farm and cottages. I managed to see 63 species in a little over two hours, which ain't bad.
Highlights included water pipit, drake scaup (different bird to the hybrid Aythya I and others have seen), twite, whooper swan, pochard and black-tailed godwit.
I've only been back twice since then. Yesterday I popped down for an hour so, a short-eared owl heading south from Druridge Farm, before dropping into the grass field was rather nice as were the covey of eight grey partridge in the dunes opposite.
A water rail was calling from the small pond behind the feeders, clearly audible from the Budge screen - it was still there when I drove home, mooching around the vegetation. Two whooper swans were on the very wet Budge fields. I am pleased to see the Budge fields so wet, it will suppress grass growth and encourage the ponies to eat things they wouldn't normally, like soft rush.
Offshore yesterday, I picked up a slavonian grebe, not far beyond the breakers. There were also two red-throated divers and handful of mergs and scoters.
Today, I did a drive-by. Jonathan Farooqi had reported ten dark-bellied brents in the fields off the haul road. So, on our way back from Amble market, we called in to see them.
I am back in the Patchwork Challenge this year. After ten days I am on 68 species for 77 points.
After last years total were added to my spreadsheet, my annual species count, based on all records since 2008 works out at 160.125 species per year - so last years 161 was bang-on average.