The first life tick of 2010 came via a gruelling 5 hour drive to the frozen north for the now long (ish) staying female Black Throated Thrush (#363) in a front garden in Newholm (Nr Whitby North Yorkshire).
The bird continued its good form by showing well. Unfortunately the light was appalling and combined with sleet did not make ideal digiscoping conditions, as you will see from this poor record shot.
From here I headed to Scalling Dam to view the feeders outside the hide, for Willow Tit, which I didn't have to wait long for. 10 minutes later I was up on top of the frozen moor, searching for Red Grouse, once my eye was in I was spotting them regularly, probably half a dozen in total.
Heading south I arrived at Anglers Country Park, West Yorkshire, about 1.5 hours later. None of the dozen or so "birders" on site seemed to seen the Ring Necked Duck, so from the hide I duly went about trying to locate it. To my surprise it was in front of the hide to the left just 50 yards away. I suppose it helps if you actually look rather than drink tea and have a chat.
Next I headed further south to Hoveringham Gravel Pits for a Red Necked Grebe. Eventually I found the site, with light fading. Unfortunately there appeared to be half a a dozen pits with no obvious access, so I decided to call it a day and head to Derbyshire to stay over night with friends.
I was at Cromford Meadows first thing looking for Hawfinch. I only had an hour at most before I had to head to Derby for a meeting. No Hawfinches were found but I got some more precise gen from some local birders I met as I left which should be handy next time I am in the area.
Leaving Derby at 3pm I had at most 2 hours of light to play with. I managed to get to Rutland Water by 4pm and luckily found the area where Long Eared Owls have been roosting. A local pointed me in the right direction. I speed walked the long muddy walk (1.5 miles) to the trail leading to the Fieldfare Hide where the owls were easily located in dense cover. Finally with the light now really fading I made the 20 minute journey to Eyebrook Resevoir hoping to jam in on the Green Winged Teal and grip off Hawky. As you can see it was just a bit too dark by the time I got there.
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