Once upon a time New Years Day would involve a bunch of us scurrying all over the empty corner trying to see as many species as possible in the eight hours or so of daylight available to us. It was great fun, but we did try to get in a full days birding in all sorts of inclement weather and I think these days I prefer to just head out to Hannafore to see what's about.
This year I arrived just as the tide was peaking and found Gary already there, in the usual place looking out for passerines in the sheltered corner. From the car I could see that the three Slavonian grebes were still present and had been joined by a Great Crested Grebe. A juvenile male Kestrel was hunting the steep bank between the road and the promenade, and I made sure I got a good look at him given the luck that non-birding walkers from Knutsford had had at Zennor recently!!
Pipits were still there in good numbers and the ringed bird was particularly easy to pick out as it now has a dirty black mark on the right flank - I still couldn't read the ring though!
The only other passerines on the beach seemed to be Dunnock - which were everywhere. Conspicuous by their absence were the local Chaffinches and House Sparrows, hopefully they were feeding in the local gardens. I know that the Stonechats were wiped out here by the cold weather last winter but I hope it won't be long before they recolonise. Speaking of recolonisers, I had reports of Dartford Warbler in the field behind the beach last year so I hope to go and check them out soon - probably early April when the males start to sing. Diverting for a moment I always find Dartfords easiest to see before the Whitethroats get here - they seem to go quiet once their more numerous cousins arrive.
All of a sudden, and as if from nowhere, this little beauty arrived
She spent the next hour or so hopping between the wall, the beach, and surprisingly the nearby trees. We couldn't decide if two birds were involved or not - it seemed to move from one place to another amazingly quickly for a single bird, but we never actually saw two birds at once.
Out at sea a couple of Kittiwakes meandered across the bay and Gannets were fishing in the lee of the island, which is unusual here. A small flock of Wigeon passed through, but otherwise movement was non existent. Even the Med gulls had wandered off somewhere else with only one adult offshore.
The New Years Day Weather finally closed in and it started to rain - that cold uncomfortable rain which does nothing but make you miserable. I made my excuses and left. Not the most hardcore or the most exciting birding I'll do this year but it's a start, and as it's a leap year there are still 365 days to go.