I was as usual quite excited about getting out early for the classic '1st January Big Day', a day where I try to spend as much time in the field as my feet and head will let me. After waking up a few times in the night with anticipation to get up I finally got up at 4.35am where after getting ready I was out of the house in the darkness and driving over to Reculver. It was 4.59am when I saw my first bird of 2015, a few Woodpigeon roosting in the trees and a few minutes later I picked out a Barn Owl sitting on a road sign near the old Roman Galley pub. I spent the next hour driving around the lanes and trying to see if I could catch up with the nocturnal birds in the area. I managed to hear 1 Little Owl and around 6.30am I drove over to Shuart where I met Julian and Alex Perry and we waited in the dark in the hope a few Woodcock would fly into roost. As we waited we both heard the call of a Tawny Owl not too far away, a rare bird in the area and only my second in the area in c10 years, a good start to the day. Around 7am we saw the first of 3 Woodcock flying in providing a nice silhouette as they flew by. With the sound of Red legged and Grey Partridge added to the list, we made our way to the Brook area as it got light. Here we added the usual suspects but it was nice to see 2 Common Buzzard coming out of roost. From here we drove over to the towers where the mammoth walk started. I'm not sure how many miles I walked today but my feet certainly knew about it later on. Birds of note we saw walking down the seawall included c400 Dark bellied Brent Geese, 1 Pale bellied Brent Goose, 1 Kingfisher, 4 Stonechat, 9 Snow Bunting, 15 Redshank, 16 Shelduck, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Peregrine and as we walked inland at Chambers Wall we added Cetti's Warbler, 1 Water Rail and c40 Corn Bunting. Julian and Alex made their way back towards the towers and I continued on inland towards Minnis Bay where after looking around I walked the long walk back along the seawall back to the towers.
Birds I saw on the way included 5 Yellowhammer, 4 Ring necked Parakeet, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Marsh Harrier, c60 Lapwing and on the small lake were a few Shoveler, Gadwall, 2 Little Grebe and 2 Wigeon. At Minnis I noted 4 Eider on the sea, 1 Rock Pipit and after getting back to the car I returned inland where I saw 5 Chiffchaff and heard a Grey Wagtail. I spent 10 and a half hours in the field today and managed a very creditable 83 species with the pride of place probably going to the Tawny Owl. A very enjoyable but tiring session with some good quality birds seen to get the year under way. Hopefully the first of many good sessions to be had at Reculver this year.