Short daylight hours, freezing overnight temperatures and mist and fog predicted for early morning.
Why wouldn't you head straight for Norfolk from Essex. At 5.45am we were doing exactly that.
The drive was slow at times with black ice and fog along much of the route. First stop was at Wolferton, where we made our only mistake of the day, by spending far too long searching for a sighting of a Golden Pheasant.
We failed to get a sighting all last year, and we failed again this time. The two previous years did produce sightings, so we will probably give it another try at some point during the year.
Within the last four years we have only ever seen male Golden Pheasant, never any females. There have been reports that there are now only two males left in this area.
Disappointed we set off for Thornham and soon located a sizeable flock of Twite feeding close by.
This proved a good spot for adding a few year ticks, with Grey and Golden Plover, Knot, Brent Goose, Linnet and Rock Pipit all added.
Next stop was Titchwell, a quick scan of the feeders failed to produce any Bramblings, which seem to be much scarcer this year.
Heading along the main path, a quick search of the ditches either side of the path turned up a Water Rail on either side.
Chinese Water Deer were out and about feeding, with at least four individuals noted during our visit.
|Chinese Water Deer|
On freshmarsh a single Water Pipit was found along with Avocet, Pintail and both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits.
The sea was quiet with hardly any movement, But I managed to add Red-breasted Merganser, Sanderling and Turnstone.
A quick drive to Choseley Drying barns failed to turn up any Corn Buntings or Yellowhammers. A short distance along the road we pulled in and managed to add Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush and several Red-legged Partridge.
Holme was our next stop, with a reported flock of Snow Bunting the target. Parking up and heading along the path through the golf course and onto the beach we quickly found a large flock of feeding Linnets and Goldfinch, and among these were around 20+ Snow Buntings. A Lapland Bunting had been reported from Holme, but several scans of this flock failed to locate it.
Last stop of the day was to Burnham Overy, The roadside verge was full and the small car park area opposite was not much better.
As soon as the scope was set up a Short-eared Owl was found sitting on the grass, it soon took to the air and gave some great views as it searched the longer grasses along the fence line.
A scan of the fence posts produced two Common Buzzards and then two Rough-legged Buzzards were found sitting quite close to each other on the grass behind a metal gate.
Too few hours in the day at this time of year, but it was well worth the effort.