Daily updates will continue to be replaced with summaries during the Covid-19 lockdown, which has meant that fewer records were received than usual. The bird hide remains closed and the viewing area outside no longer accessible. All of the reported sightings below were made following Government regulations and guidance. Stay safe and hope to see you all soon.
The month was both colder (5.6C) and wetter (120mm) than average but this was was very much a month of two halves with a minimum temperature of -4C on New Years Day with the maximum of 15.1C on the 28th. Over 25% of the months rainfall was on the 20th (31.4mm).
The year started well with the 13th record of Marsh Tit at the First Pond (no doubt the bird from Shutterton Lane), a Jack Snipe and a very rare midwinter Blackcap amongst at least 82 species recorded on the 1st and nine White-fronted Geese, two Purple Sandpiper and a Woodcock recorded on the 2nd. The 3rd saw Goldeneye and Kingfisher added to the year list but January was otherwise quiet with the annual tally rising to just 99 species by the months end.
Counts from the estuary were generally lower than average throughout the month with peaks of 1800 Dunlin, 710 Oystercatcher, 459 Teal, 326 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 210 Grey Plover, 206 Knot, 181 Bar-tailed Godwit, 117 Curlew, 110 Common Gull on 29th, 109 Shelduck, 102 Wigeon, 100 Snipe - above average count, 50 Redshank, 33 Ringed Plover, 30 Sanderling, 20 Turnstone, seven Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe throughout. A peak of just 13 Red-breasted Merganser was barely 10% of the numbers recorded only a few years ago.
Scarcer species included the first two Mediterranean Gull late month, singles of Golden Plover on 6th & 31st, Black-tailed Godwit on 22nd, Pale-bellied Brent Goose on 24th and Lapwing on 31st.
Offshore a good total of 86 Great-crested Grebe, with 14 Red-throated and three Great Northern Diver, but Common Scoter were largely absent, with two Eider only present on 17th. A pale phase Pomarine Skua on 15th was presumably one of the wintering birds from Torbay.
A couple of Firecrest were recorded on several dates early in the month with two Coal Tit throughout, but the Siberian Chiffchaff was last seen on the 6th. At least 12 Cirl Bunting are wintering almost outnumbering Linnet which peaked at just 14, hopefully numbers will pick up before the breeding season. A pair of Mistle Thrush on the Golf course late month is a positive sign for this early breeder with trilling Little Grebe and drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker showing Spring is just around the corner.