The early morning walk home from the Playhouse was birdless with the exception of a Robin singing in the darkness. 9 hours later and it was off to Whitlingham to start the birding year. Predictably it was a popular destination for first of January birders, thanks to the Black-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver, both of which I had watched on my own a few days ago, but now attracted crowds. Still, there was a good atmosphere and was nice to see some familiar faces.
We started in the car park, where two Marsh Tits fed from the bird table along with Blue Tit, Great Tit and Robin. On the way down Whitlingham Lane an Egyptian Goose had been surveying its territory from a cut tree, Canada and Greylags were on the slipway. The broad was awash with Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Coot, whilst Cormorants were also present. A look through the gulls produced only Common & Black-headed. I was quickly put onto the Black-necked Grebe, still diving a lot. A snow flurry lowered visibility, but the Great Northern Diver was bulky enough to stick out regardless.
Looking across the river we saw a Grey Heron and some Herring Gulls. The conservation area bay held around 20 Teal, 1 Wigeon and a Snipe, but no Shoveler. Further along we saw three Bullfinches, including a nice perched male. We had also added flyover Skylark and Redwing by this point. Near the watersports centre a redhead Goosander was a bonus, meaning we had seen about 40 species with the Little Broad still to stomp round.
Walking along the alders we saw a small flock of Siskins feeding above us. Waiting near the east end I found a Kingfisher, which to my delight had just caught a fish, and proceeded to bash it against a branch before eating it. I can't remember if I've actually seen one eating before, so many sightings are of the back of one! Along the road we saw Mistle Thrush and Treecreeper, with House Sparrow back at Cath's to make a round 50 for the day. A nice day to start the year.