With very light winds early on and sunshine forecast for this morning, I left home at 5.45am where I drove over to Nethergong and parked up for an hour to listen for any owls or anything else flying over calling. I failed to hear any Little Owls which seemed to have moved out of the area after a few tree were removed but did hear a few Mallard and Teal flying over and the first of 2 Tawny Owls was also heard calling nearby. At 6.30am I got all the gear together and walked up to the gate along the northern boundary in the dark where I saw 1 Woodcock in flight and saw the second Tawny Owl perched in a tree near the gate. As I listened in the dark, the day started to wake up and I heard the first of 5 Water Rail as well as 2 Cetti's Warbler and the odd Skylark flew over. I'm pretty sure I could hear a Grey Partridge calling from somewhere out in the dark but try as I did, I could not confirm this although I suspect there will be partridges around as it looks good for them. I birded the area until 11am in lovely windless conditions where I managed to log an excellent 58 species and this included missing out on Starling and Collared Dove. Birds noted were 1 Gadwall (72) seen flying over early morning, c170 Cormorant flying out from the Stour Valley, 1 Redpoll, a few Siskin flying over calling, 4 Stonechat, the first Kingfisher (73) was seen flying up the stream as I stood at the gate, 5 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 3 Great spotted Woodpecker, 3 Reed Bunting, 4 Bullfinch and a Merlin (74) was seen whizzing over the north side of the area providing me with a few rushed images of this first for me at the site.
There were 3 Jay, 2 Bearded Tit, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Ring necked Parakeet and 2 ring tail Hen Harrier, one watched and distantly photographed over the northern fields as it flew towards Grove Ferry and the other was seen a few minutes later from the gate hunting the fields. Again a record shot was grabbed.
ring tail Hen Harrier
Also noted today were 5 Yellowhammer, 2 Green Woodpecker, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Chiffchaff (75) was seen as I started the second circuit feeding high up in the trees in the sunshine, 3 Goldcrest were actively chasing each other around with a male in song providing yet more photo challenges and 2 Little Egret flew from the stream as I walked by.
A great session with four new year ticks and a real bonus in the form of the Merlin. Still the Linnet and Little Owl eludes me but I'm sure they will fall soon if I keep trying. I wonder what else January has to offer? Its certainly been very good so far.