A traditional New Year’s Day thrash through the valley yielded a meagre return of 85 species. Rather than delivering a load of more unusual birds, the recent cold weather appears to have prompted a mass exodus instead. With most pits still largely frozen duck numbers are very low. With a valley total of around 12 Smew, 8 Bitterns and 50 Goosander, numbers of these cold weather specialists are barely above average. Long-staying single Pink-footed Goose and Red-breasted Merganser, along with a couple of flocks of Waxwings, the bird of the winter, were about the highlights. Kingfisher, Chiffchaff, Snipe, Cetti’s Warbler and Little Egret remain distinctly difficult to find.