After spending the first two days of the new year in Kent and Norfolk, It was very much local birding for the next four days.
The 3rd was spent at home where a garden watch produced three additions to the year list, with a Redwing snapping up the remaining berries from the Holly along with House Sparrows and Ring-necked Parakeets regularly visiting the bird feeders.
I spent the morning of the 4th trying to locate the local Little Owls, but despite a walk around all the normal areas I failed to find them. Great-Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were seen with a pair of Mistle Thrush the only other additions.
With the weather showing signs of improving we spent the afternoon in Epping Forest, visiting a small pond that regularly holds good numbers of Mandarin Duck that have dispersed from their usual lake for the winter months. Several pairs were again on show as we approached. The surrounding woodland was alive with birds calling, and a walk deeper into the woods came up trumps with Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Jay all heard and seen at relatively close quarters. Walking back to the car I heard a Firecrest singing from within a patch of holly. I caught a glimpse of movement low down, but failed to get a clear view. I walked into the forest to scan the area from the other side and this paid off when the bird began foraging in a clearer area. The habitat has always looked perfect for Firecrest and this year I finally found one!
We dipped Waxwings in Norfolk earlier in the week and with news breaking of a flock only ten miles from home, we made the trip on the 6th. On arrival there was no sign, we drove around the surrounding roads trying to locate them. We started searching for likely areas the birds might come into feed and found just two suitable spots. We parked up and waited, and after forty five minutes three birds flew in and landed in a tree close to the berries. The three birds took flight but circled high and as they re-emerged they were joined by the rest of the flock. We watched them for over an hour happily flying back and forth from one tree to another.
One of the flock of 23 birds counted.