Apparently this is my 200th post on this blog - pretty lame for four and a half years, but there you go. At least I'm still posting something occasionally.
Anyway, I thought as I'd made up a list of birds I might see within 2.5 miles of my house for the January Foot-it Challenge, I ought to go and have a walk round the area to remind myself what really is there. So this afternoon I did the 'short route' (about 3.5 miles round trip) in sunny but freezing conditions. This doesn't take me as far as the airfield - even to get to the nearest edge adds another couple of miles to the total and takes about an hour longer.
Ironically, having said I wouldn't include it in my target total, the first birds I heard/saw as I stepped out of the front door were 5 Waxwings in a tree opposite my house! They didn't hang around, and immediately flew off north before I could get any photos. My second record here in about two weeks, but I still don't expect to see them in January.
A couple of hours later I was back home just as it was getting dark, having remembered how bird-free most of my patch is, and why I don't walk round those fields very often. Although I did see two of my 'probables' with no trouble at all - a pair of Ravens and a Marsh Tit, and another 'unexpected bonus' in the form of 3 Golden Plovers in a field with some Lapwings, several species I thought would be straightforward proved to be worryingly absent. Specifically, I didn't see Red-legged Partridge, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Linnet or Rook, and the pond was completely frozen, so the usually resident Moorhens have buggered off.
Including birds I saw in and around the garden (which didn't include my left-over-from-the-invasion Jay for the first time in weeks, or the usually reliable Great Spotted Woodpecker), the total for the day was 40 species. Apart from the species mentioned above, single flyover Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, and a Treecreeper were the best of the rest.