On the 11th January:
An overnight drive to start our weekend in East Anglia, near Northampton saw a Barn Owl and a Tawny Owl in the headlights. West of Norwich along the A47 we saw 100+ Bramblings and 9 Waxwings. We drove south into Suffolk reaching Westleton Heath and an area then called Charity Farm, were we saw a male and female Hen Harrier, 4 Hooded Crows, 5 Yellowhammers and 11 Red-legged Partridges. After a few hours we decided to visit nearby Minsmere, seeing 2 Stonechats, 230 Teal, 75 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover and heard a Spotted Redshank. We returned to Charity Farm where the birds we had come for were showing well, 3 Rough-legged Buzzards, new birds for Laurel and I, we also saw a Sparrowhawk and a Red Kite. With only a few hours of the day remaining we drove to Walberswick and along the road to Westwood Lodge, there were 11 Siskins, 3 Fieldfares, 2 Sparrowhawks and another 2 Hooded Crows.
Overnight by the Solway, in the morning a visit to the Caerlaverock Reserve produced 4000 Barnacle Geese, 60 Greylag Geese, 20 Pink-footed Geese, 300 Wigeon, 2 Scaup, several Pintail, Gadwall and Teal, 15 Whooper Swans, 6 Bewick's Swans, 150 Golden Plover and a Ruff. On fields nearby we saw hundreds of Lapwing, more Barnacle Geese and among the 1500+ Golden Plover the bird we had come to see. Reported as a Lesser or American Golden Plover luckily it was one of the closest birds in the flock, it was very grey with only a hint of brownish grey on the lower mantle and scapulars and it did stand out as different, but in the end proved to be an odd looking Grey Plover. After a long time looking at the plover we started for home, briefly stopping at Bankend to look at a finch flock which contained around 50 Bramblings, several Chaffinches and a Tree Sparrow.
Overnight in Invercargill, South Island New Zealand, in the morning I drove south to Awarua Bay, here I saw a pair of Double-banded Plovers and a Grey-tailed Tattler, at Riverton, there was a Black-fronted Tern and at Rowallan Forest a Tomtit.
There was a male Blackcap in the garden in Portishead, then a visit to Bucklands Lake at Nailsea to try out a new camera. On the lake were 2 male Goosander, Shoveler, Pochard, a Wigeon, Tufted Ducks, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Geese and an escaped Wood Duck. I also saw 2 Little Egrets which were roosting in the trees on the island.
Photos: male Goosander & Little Egret.