The Safari joined the thousands that had already completed the ridiculously easy BTO Early bird survey which aims to shed some light on how birds may be affected by light pollution.
If you haven't done it yet set your alarm for about 7.30am tomorrow - OK we know it's Sunday but you weren't going to lie in anyway were you.
Count the number of street lights and other lights within 50 metres of your feeders, record the time it becomes light enough to see and wait until the first birds turn up then note them down...as the Meerkats say - simples! Oh and record the temperature overnight too.
So without venturing far from the kitchen window with a cuppa close at hand we watched and waited.
Start time 07.30 Temperature at 06.30 6C
We had 7 lights in the 50m circle
Weather rain with 15mph Westerly wind
The light wasn't good enough to see the feeders even with binoculars until bang on 08.00. Sunrise was at 08.27 and the street lamps went off at 08.10.
A male Blackbird was first in at 08.00 followed a minute later by a Great Tit.
Next in was an uncountable female Blackbird, then a gap of a few minutes until a Blue Tit put in an appearance at 08.10. A 10 minute wait gave us a Chaffinch then an long wait until a Woodpigeon came down for breakfast at 08.46 and a pair of Magpies joined it a couple minutes later.
A Robin came in very briefly at 08.54, although three were heard singing at 06.00 when we took Frank out, and the garden's first Dunnock (Garden #15) of the year poked around under the feeders where we'd left some mealworms.
Also not recordable on the survey but there were now three female Chaffinches - it's surprising what's coming in to the garden when you have time to sit and watch, never thought that many came in together...bodes well for the Big Garden Bird Watch in a couple of weeks time. It's another oh so simple survey to complete.
We did spot that some of the buds on the Clematis at the bottom of the garden are bursting - already?
The Great Tit had done one after its early sortie but a pair returned at 08.55 and the local pair of Collared Doves dropped in at 09.14 the last new species for the session which we called time on at 09.30 just about an hour after sunrise by which time the temperature had dropped to 4.5C but then risen slightly to 4.8C
So that was that nine species, that's more than we expected - like we said -simples!
Compared to all the results so far the Blackbird was first in along with the average, the Woodpigeons were bang on time but the Robin was way behind his comrades elsewhere and we've no idea why the Collared Doves were half an hour later than they 'should' have been.
Two Greenfinches turned up two hours late to the party.
It was still only 6C although it was pleasantly warm in the sun and out of the wind, warm enough for a Bumble Bee of an unknown species to fly through the garden.
At lunchtime a couple of Goldfinches possibly more, we were no longer concentrating, dropped briefly on to the sunny hearts, the 16th species for the garden this year.
10 days of the new year done and are targets are looking like this
Total - 78 39% of our target
Foot It - 28 not doing so well as we had hoped not been able to get out anything like as much as we would have liked but the second half of the month might be more productive.
Patch 2 - 23 25%
Garden - 16 36%
Marton Mere nature reserve - 52 43% of our target.
The percentages are nothing to go by at this stage but they do show how quickly they shoot up so early in the year.
Sorry no pics today - not been anywhere near the camera!
Where to next? We're doing a guided walk at the nature reserve tomorrow afternoon so it would be good if the Long Eared Owl continued to show itself - Iceland Gull there today...far better then the owl for some of us.
In the meantime let us know who took their time to show in your outback