May I make it clear that I'm not the kind of birder who obsessively makes lists of sightings, nor am I in any way a twitcher. Having got that out of the way.....a trip down to Sussex gave a good opportunity for a boost to the New Year's list.
It's not often that Hume's Leaf Warbler is on the 'year list' before House Sparrow, but that's what happened today. As I was nearby I stopped at Beachy Head and yomped around the small wood that is known as Horseshoe Plantation, listening for any small-bird noises. After a while of being irritated by tits, robins and chaffinches, I heard a piecing call from the other side of the wood, so I made my way to it. Sure enough, a dull Goldcrest-looking bird was foraging at the base of some saplings, giving good enough views to confirm its identity - no crest, single wing bar, and that strong call. A while was spent in good company watching it flit around.
Looking back on historical records, it seems that there was another such bird in the same wood in November 1966, as well as two others nearby since then. Unsurprisingly, one was also recorded in St Margaret's, Kent, in November 1998.
So, a HLW listed at 48, followed by House Sparrow at 49, seen soon after.
Later, a visit to Dungeness RSPB reserve (my first ever tut,tut) added a variety of ducks including Smew, Goldeneye and Red-Crested Pochard, as well as a Shag and a Slavonian Grebe, while on the way home, a flock of about 40 Stock Doves was seen, and the herd of swans near Snave had increased to 121, including quite a few Bewicks.