Today, being the NENBC New Years Day Birding Challenge, Jake and I were in the park before it got light! We’d finished our visit by nine o’clock with 53 species in the bag – highlights being a lovely Barn Owl at Park Farm, 125+ Siskin in a single Alder near the dam and a host of regular woodland species. After a hefty cooked breakfast it was off to West Runton, to walk the coast west to Skelding Hill. We dipped on Mediterranean Gull, Purple Sandpiper and Snow Bunting but did get Rock Pipit, several waders and a couple of marine species. Our luck changed with Stonechat and Yellowhammer at the west end of the golf course and then, heading inland, a nice male Merlin sat on a mud clump near West Beckham! On to Wolterton Park, where we picked up several water birds which we’d missed at Felbrigg, including an unexpected female Pintail – but we dipped on Shoveler (recovered later at Banningham Hall lake). Two Red Kite circling overhead was a bonus. A minor diversion via Blickling Hall added Little Egret and Egyptian Goose and then an impromptu stop at Ken & Carol’s in Gresham added Lesser Redpoll. Then it was back to the coast to catch-up with Mediterranean Gull – two nice adult winter birds on the horse paddocks at West Runton, and an obliging roosting Purple Sandpiper on the beach, in front of the Funky Mackerel. Then it was back to Felbrigg, where the hoped for Little Owl failed to materialised and nothing new was added. Following a tip-off from Carol & Ken, a late dash to Gresham sewage works produced our last species of the day – Fieldfare. We closed the day with a creditable total of 87 species – a big improvement on previous years. A great way to start your New Years birding – you should try it sometime!