Following an aborted plan for New Year's Day to be spent in the southwest, the day instead was spent around Thetford which dawned dull and grey. Starting the year list whilst making a cup of tea, a few Lesser Redpoll were first up busily feeding on the nyger feeders in the garden, then a Wood Pigeon flew over and then a pale bird appeared with the redpolls which soon revealed itself as bird number three for the year - a Common (or Mealy) Redpoll.
After a quick breakfast, I headed to a local site in the hope of a Golden Pheasant and was amazed when before I had even turned the ignition off, there in front of me on the edge of the wood stood a stunning male Golden Pheasant. Two good local birds already and it wasn't even 8.30 in the morning!
Next up before the weather made a turn for the worst and wiped out the afternoon was a walk round the Nunnery Lakes. After a fairly fruitless hour or so, a bird on top of an Alder drew my attention, at first glance I thought it was a Starling but on raising my bins, the huge bill and white wing patch proved it was in fact a Hawfinch, a very scarce visitor to the reserve and only my second ever record there. Remarkably, despite the blustery conditions it stayed on the tree top long enough for Nick to twitch it.
A bit further up near the hide a Mealy Redpoll with a single Lesser Redpoll was another unexpected bonus and with Water Rail and a Little Egret made for a great start to the year.