Just a short couple of hours, for what is usually the most anticipated patch visit of the year, was all that was possible for this new years day. Once again heavy rain and gale force winds put an early end to the walk.
It wasn't too bad a visit as far as sightings were concerned, with the first bird of the year being a ROBIN, as is invariably the case, this was quickly followed by WOODPIGEON, BLACKBIRD, DUNNOCK, WREN, JACKDAW, BLUE TIT and a flyover HERRING GULL, plus GREAT TIT and PIED WAGTAIL that called from the Greenhouse Grounds as I passed.
A line of BLACK HEADED GULLS passed over the Ashes lane Field, where 3 MEADOW PIPITS took flight as I walked through, a CARRION CROW sat out in the field and a GREEN WOODPECKER flew across and into an adjacent large garden.
Entering the Lakes and Scrubby Woods area, both CHAFFINCH and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER called, as did a SISKIN as it flew over, a TREECREEPERS high pitch trembling call came from a well wooded garden nearby.
The lakes really came up trumps for the year list this morning, with the MUTE SWANS carrying on their presence on the Ornamental Lake, the COOT that was seen yesterday had thankfully stayed into the year too, and even better so had the female GOOSANDER. Another good bird for the year list was the KINGFISHER, it flew across the Small Lake, where a pair of CANADA GEESE were sat preening, plus to top that lot off, at least 2 pairs of MANDARIN DUCKS were picked out amongst the tree overhang of the Main Lake, MALLARDS and MOORHENS made up the species count, until a bonus CORMORANT dropped in to fish - rarely are these water bodies so active, maybe it's because they are so full of water now!
GOLDFINCH, BULLFINCH, LONG TAILED TIT, GOLDCREST, MISTLETHRUSH and two flyover LESSER REDPOLL were added to the year list from the Scrubby Woods, on the way out I at last added MAGPIE and COLLARD DOVE to that list :-)
A party of 5 REDWING flew over the Small Holding and a JAY squawked abuse at me for disturbing it from its sheltered spot.
Over at Migrant Alley, the expected ROOKS were seen, as were a few STARLINGS. The last place visited were the Greenhouse Grounds, where I found the male KESTREL up hunting, added SONGTHRUSH and HOUSE SPARROW to the 2014 list, and a real bonus - a GREY WAGTAIL was also found.
So despite some awful weather, and the shortness of the first patch visit of the year, an ok total of 43 species was found, one better than last years new years day :-), this was added to, when from my garden, COAL TIT and NUTHATCH were seen at the feeders there.
45 species is a fair enough start to January, still a way to go to reach the record January total of 68 though, which was achieved in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
As usual, you can follow my year list as it progresses, i've listed them in order of appearance over in the margin to the right.