A full day round the patch in the company of MickH netted us 70 species OFFH (on foot from home)
We got off to a good start with a Little Owl mobbed by Blue & Great Tits on the main road between Houghton & Fencehouses.
Heading downstream, morning birding conditions were good, calm & dry. Whilst former new years guarentees,Water Rail & Kingfisher eluded us, our first bonus was soon picked out by MH on call as a Green Sand zipped high upstream, a great bird to see on NYDay.
All the thrushes & most of the finches came along no problem, as did Dipper, Kestrel & Grey Wagtail. On the other hand Long tailed Tits had all evaporated, as had Sparrowhawk & Partridge.
Further interest was added with a flock of @40 redpoll which landed close by including 2 fine Mealies sat up nicely. A quick stop at the petrol garage for chocolate & pop & off again.
Midday now & we added Coal Tits & Goldcrest with another Little Owl, surprisingly well inside a conifer shelter-belt. Onto Elba Park for well over an hour, a thorough search for Jack / Snipe drew a blank but a Water Rail skipped out in front & a 60 flock of Mipits was another addition.
The weather broke early afternoon, with rain & blustery wind on the approach to the Oaks of Morton Wood. Hit on lucky straight off with 3GSW & 4Treecreeper from one vantage spot - MH took us to the exact bramble bush for a Woodcock, but STiLL no Long tailed Tit.....
Next stretch over open ground saw us getting wet, with Yellowhammer a new one, as the weather closed in & the meadows at Rainton came into view. I split to check a flock of passerines & missed the first of Micks Sparrowhawks...
The pools here can be very frustrating -but it seems to have been a quiet day allowing us to add small nos of several wildfowl inc:- Goosander, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pink-foot, Greylag & Canada Geese, Mute Swan & Coot !
A Redshank flew in & a handful of feeding Curlew & 4 Jays were further easy additions to the list.
A large mixed flock of gulls drifted across the main pool, & a shrill call at the same time alerted us to a Dunlin flashing through north amongst the gulls. A real unexpected bonus bird.
The feeding station area produced the recently resident Tree Spugs, Reed Bunt & very early singing WillowTit which took us up to 70.
Had the weather held out we'd have stayed till dark o'clock, but made off hoping for Snipe - i chose the wrong side of the marsh & missed not only any snipe, but another spuggyhawk !
2/1 Couple of hours afternoon: #77 Linnet, Skylark, Sprawk, Leo, Nuthatch, GreyPart, Tawny.
3/1 Couple of hours morning: #80 Jack Snipe, Kingfisher, Snipe.(&another GSand)
4/1 Afternoon/early Evening #83 Barn Owl, Dabchick, Goldeneye.
These 83 all OFFH.
Sunday afternoon saw a dash in the motor to twitch 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese (#84) - only the 2nd second on our local patch, also there was a Barnacle Goose(#85) & a duck Shoveller (#86)