January 1st means one thing in the birding calendar - year listing! Even if you don't keep lists, this is the one day that is the exception to the rule, and even then this particular list may only last for 24 hours. Think about it, we get up with more than the usual amount of enthusiasm and are fully aware of what the first species of the year will be - in my case a Robin.
I have metaphorically painted myself into a corner for 2015 by announcing to blogland that this is the year that I stay local. Very local. Walkable local. So this morning I left the house without car keys and walked to Ewell village, then along the watery LNR via Bourne Hall lake. And I quickly struck patch gold, (please remember that for me, 2015 patch gold will not necessarily contain many carrats)! First up was the semi-resident Little Egret, followed in quick succession by a showy Water Rail (I didn't even think that I'd see this species this year) and a bonus Common Snipe. All three were along this stretch of the River Hogsmill:
After adding Kingfisher to the list it all went a bit downhill. My attempt for the wintering Firecrest(s) on Banstead Downs drew a blank and Canons Farm was blustery, dull and virtually bird less. However, I had a good workout, possibly covering 10 miles on foot. I also stumbled across a few points of local interest - a daytime roost of 1,000 plus gulls on Priest Hill playing fields (this could be good for a future highlight or two) and a flock of 4 Bullfinches in the local park (I thought that they had vacated Nork several years ago). You see, this 'year of birding locally' is already producing results! Let's just hope that I don't fall into a birding malaise some time in February when it all goes as flat as a pancake.
At Priest Hill I came across several large clumps of Mistletoe. It was only when taking a photograph of the plants that I became aware of this Mistle Thrush on guard. It's how they got their name...
Whether you went twitching Bustards, year listing at Dungeness, or, like me, kept close to home, I hope that you had an enjoyable and successful day.