It is tradition amongst many birders to spend New Years Day chasing the a day list to start the year but I more often than not bow out of this, I tend to have a little party on New Years eve and avoid driving on New Years day. This year the weather forecast was poor for the 1st so I felt even less inclined to head out early and so had an extra few glasses! On the 2nd I ventured out for my 'New Years Day' listing trip, fresh headed and in quite pleasant weather, my birding companion was Trevor Codlin and his account of the day can be seen here, I make no apologies for this being a repeat of Trev's post, after all we were birding together.
Our focus for the day was south-west Hampshire and we started early, Trev arrived at my house at 07:00 and we were at our first stop, Eyeworth Pond, in the dark. Our target bird was Mandarin, wow! As we drove through the forest there were various dodgy identifications in the car headlights including a Blackbird that looked remarkably like a Siberian Thrush. As the light lifted we could see the shapes of many Mandarin, Mallard and Moorhen on the pond and our count of Mandarin peaked at 22. In the surrounding woodland we recorded our first common woodland species including Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit and Nuthatch. It was nice to see Marsh Tit present here in good numbers and these showed well coming down to seed that had been placed for the birds.
Ten of the 22 Mandarin Duck at Eyeworth Pond
Mandarin Duck - Eyeworth Pond
Next up was Milkham Inclosure and Kings Garden where we hoped to see a Great Grey Shrike that had been present for a number of weeks but it was not to be. We did add Raven, Stonechat, Siskin, Crossbill, Dartford Warbler and Goshawk to the list. This area of the forest is an area that I had not birded before and I intend to head back hear in 2015 a little more often.
We then headed west across the New Forest to Blashford Lakes birding the Lapwing Hide, Tern Hide and a short trip to the Woodland Hide. We added the classic freshwater lake species here but as is Blashford birding most birds were very distant. Highlights were Chiffchaff, female Long-tailed Duck and Black-necked Grebe, Goosander amongst the Pochard, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe etc that are regular. A short stop at Kingfisher Lake produced Yellow-legged Gull and a heard only Firecrest but no sign of the Ferruginous Duck although it was seen by others later in the day.
Little Grebe - Blashford Lakes
Tufted Duck - Blashford Lakes
Long-tailed Duck - Blashford Lakes
Next down to the coast for some proper birding! Pennington Marshes produced the usual range of species with the highlights being Mediterranean Gull (at least six), four Slavonian Grebe, Eider, three Ruff and Cetti's Warbler but we missed several easy species including Knot and Reed Bunting which are usually almost guaranteed here.
We then headed into Denny Wood to pick up species such as Lesser Redpoll and Hawfinch which I almost invariably see when at this site but it was not to be, I think we were a little late arriving as at 15:00 the light was fading and the birding was slow. We called it a day with 94 species having missed a few easy to get species (Grey Wagtail, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting to name a few). Not a bad start though for a New Year dash around which was not too intense.