The Safari was up and at em before Frank this morning. Normally he wakes up just before six but today it was almost half past when we woke and found him still fast asleep - looking for all the world like he'd been out on the ran-dan-dan with the all the other merry-makers last night.
Shame to wake him but we did! He went back to bed after a short walk in the half-light before dawn which gave us a Blackbird, a Robin and a few Herring Gulls to kick-start our 2014 list. Once back at Base Camp we checked the tower from the back bedroom window but there was no sign of the Peregrine.
Carrion Crow, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Woodpigeon were duly added to the list, seen in or over the garden early morning.
The latter half of the morning was taken up with family duties and torrential rain, so we weren't overly bothered we couldn't get out, although the visits did produce Black Headed Gull, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, the latter five being seen as we drove past the park lake, Starling and Jackdaw fell at the in-laws.
Once our duties were over and a slab of Christmas cake demolished we headed back out to the park...not sure we should have been driving after the alcohol-laden cake! An adult Lesser Black Back Gull was spotted paddling for worms on the recreation ground on the way.
At the park we made our way down the hill to the boat-house to see if we could find any more ringed birds. There were lots of Black Headed Gulls about but very few people and none of them throwing bread so the almost all the gulls were in the water.
We did see yesterday's to Darviked Black Heads, both of which were ringed in Denmark VLJ in March 2008 and 4FC in April 2013. Neither have been reported anywhere else apart from at or near their Danish breeding grounds or the park here, VLJ sometimes going almost a year between reports! If you see him/her (or any others) report your sighting here - don't assume someone else has already done it that week.
We didn't find the sub-adult Herring Gull we saw yesterday but found a ringed adult instead that we failed to get anywhere near.
It took a while to locate KB's Darviked Coot but this one from the earlier scheme of his was a sitter!
The Tufted Ducks played nicely in the poor light too.
Try as we might we couldn't get you an underwater shot...nearly but not quite...needs to be tried on a much brighter day but possibly not a sunny one otherwise there's be too much reflection off the water's surface.
Wandering away from the tame stuff, where we only added dodgy Canada Geese to the list, we soon saw a flock of Shoveler sheltering from the wind under the trees along the far bank and fishing in front of them way out in the middle of the lake was the Shag; choosing our words carefully we can say we've never had that species on the opening day of the year before!
The only Common Gull we noticed all afternoon was sat on the rail and a little further on a bright male Pied Wagtail pattered through the washed up flotsam from the overflowing lake.
Cormorant, Pochard, Gadwall and Mute Swan were easily seen on the lake but the Treecreeper creeping up a nearby tree behind us was a more satisfying entry in to the notebook. Shame we couldn't say the same about Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest or Coal Tit...the day would end with a few such notable omissions...but that's the way the cookie crumbles when birding - you're not going to get everything all in one go!
A lone Grey Squirrel was the only entry onto the new year's mammal list.
A small flock of Goldfinches circled round the car park as we approached the Land Rover.
Back at Base Camp we checked the tower again but no Peregrine...until we checked it again an hour or so later in the swiftly gathering gloom, and there it was!
So 30 on the list for today and a pleasant enough dry afternoon with a bit of science thrown in for good measure...a reasonable start.
Where to next? Not at work tomorrow so with better weather forecast we should be able to get out to the nature reserve and maybe beyond.
In the meantime let us know how kind your outback was to you today.