Yesterday my intention was to go for a big day but the drizzle and my lack of planning put paid to that. A few years ago I managed 102 I think and that was the last time I twitched a Desert Wheatear on New Years Day so I thought that would be a sensible plan (making no heed for other tricky species). No photos sadly as the drizzle was a bit omnipresent.
A look out of the curtains this morning produced a surprise in a group of Long-tailed Tits on the feeders along with Tree Sparrows and other standard fayre. I started at Barmston which failed to supply divers and/or seaduck but there was a solitary Great Crested Grebe and more suprisingly a couple of flyover Grey Wagtails. Score. I gave up quickly and pushed off to Bempton to twitch the Desert Wheatear. Despite Keith Clarkson's assurances it was just round the corner it wasnt to be seen. From the cliffs I had a probable Little Auk flying with a Guillemot but failed to clinch it. Shame. 2 Red-throated Divers were amongst a flock of gulls and Gannets & Fulmars were all over the place. Just as I was clearing off the wheatear was seen on the cliff face feeding amongst the Gannet nests. Thats now 2 Desert Wheatears seen in 4 years. In the style of Opta on Twitter. Padder.
I was then informed that my day pass had been shorted and I negotiated a couple of hours at Tophill rather than the tour de force that I had planned. Even that said I wouldnt be seeing the gulls or SEOs. I headed for a packed Watton nature reserve with many of the local great and good present trying to pick out the varied gems on show. I also bumped into Pink Cuckoos for a year tick. Down at the hide the Garganey, LEO, Bitterns and Greenland White-fronted Goose stayed out of view but I still managed the drake Green-winged Teal which was kicking about with an interesting, well marked female. Open wing shot someone please! There were also over 100 European White-fronted Geese present and a redhead Smew. Working through there were singles of Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Egyptian Goose and Pintail. All nice year-tickage. A pretty good assemblage considering that Watton consists of 3 small borrow pits and a few seasonal pools.
Walking back a bounding Great Spotted Woodpecker plus an overflying Little Egret presumably headed to roost at Watton were bonuses. And thats it. A pretty good day and nice to see the various birders I bumped into.