Total Number of Species Recorded in 2011

2010 saw a total of 196 species recorded in Bedfordshire. Of this total, LGRE recorded 183, closely followed by Jim Gurney and Steve Blain on 181, Lol Carman on 180, Martin Palmer on 179 and Bob Chalkley on 177.

In 2011, a total of 452 species was recorded in Britain and Ireland of which I recorded just 69% (312); Bedfordshire recorded 204 species (of which I saw 94% at 191), Hertfordshire 192 (of which I saw 88.5% at 170) and Buckinghamshire 192 (of which I recorded just 86% at 165)

In 2012, I came fourth (on 168), following Steve Blain (177), Jim Gurney (174) and Martin Plamer (171).

Monday, 31 January 2011

A gorgeous day but no Goshawks; additional owl species take my January County Total to 107


A perfect birding day for a change with wall-to-wall sunshine, light winds and a light frost underfoot. It was ideal for raptors, so I took the chance to do my first large accipiter searching of the year


As up to 6 Goshawks had been showing at one site this morning in the New Forest, I decided to give a traditional site in Bedfordshire the once-over. Despite a constant rising of thermalling Common Buzzards above the plantations and ridge, the resident pair of Northern Goshawks did not appear.

An outstanding 12 RED KITES danced together in the sky over Deacon Hill, whilst other species noted in the Pegsdon Hills included a WOODCOCK, both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and 50+ Fieldfares.


At last, and presumably due to the change in weather, the resident LITTLE OWL at Speedsdairy Farm showed well in the dead tree. I also managed two LONG-EARED OWLS at a neighbouring site, pushing my tally for the month to 107 species - 8 behind MJP.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

My weekend ramblings - LGRE


Absolutely freezing again, with biting NE winds and very overcast skies. I spent all day in BEDFORDSHIRE trying to break the ton barrier - just made it by dusk


Following up on MJP's recommendations, viewing the filter beds through the fence revealed the presence of a female GREY WAGTAIL and just 1 MEADOW PIPIT - both species incredibly difficult in the county since the New Year. There were also 4 Chaffinches feeding on the pans and 4 Pied Wagtails.


At long, long last and not for the want of trying, finally connected with the highly elusive wintering WATER PIPIT. It was feeding on the filter beds within the compound and as a worker went to walk around the site, it flew up calling, came over my head and disappeared off in the direction of Octagon Farm.

There was quite a lot of activity from the hedgerow and water-filled ditches bordering the public footpath running down the eastern perimeter fence of the site including 2 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin, Common Blackbird and Long-tailed Tit but there was no sign of the Common Chiffchaff seen here during the week. A Common Kestrel was in the area, 6 Linnets flew over and 2 Little Egrets were on the gravel pits north of the old railway.


The Derek White Eggs Pit is now under new ownership and strictly out of bounds with a brand new fence erected and flash signs warning of dangerous dogs on the loose - so that's the end of another premier Bedfordshire birding site.

Peacocks Lake at nearby Broom still housed the continuing COMMON SHELDUCK, with 230 Greylag Geese, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 22 Wigeon and 33 Pochard in support.

(Parking at the church at SP 136 443 and then following the public footpath to the wood)

My visit coincided with a weekend shoot and as such affected proceedings. I joined the shoot as it did a sweep of the southern end of the wood and was astonished at the number of MUNTJAC running out - an incredible 35 in all. Even more of interest was the 3 WOODCOCKS that were flushed - and the acknowledgement from the gunners that these were now too scarce to kill. All flew away unharmed thankfully. Over 1,000 Common Pheasants had been released on this estate and today's bag was just 8 birds - all cock birds as females are preserved from January onwards. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen but no small birds.


At least 13 BRAMBLINGS were still in the tall trees by the bend 500 yards north of the Tree Nursery and 11 TREE SPARROWS in the village.


No sign of either resident Barn or Little Owls - just 40 Fieldfare

(with Steve Blain and Keith Owen)

A distinct lack of Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls but 4.000+ Black-headed, 350 Herring and 37 Great Black-backed Gulls. The partial albinistic Black-headed Gull also roosted.


A much better day with the wind dropping and temperatures improving. Still cold though but much more bearable. Local birding was again the order of the day.


GREY PARTRIDGE are exceptionally rare in the Tring Area these days so when Ian Williams sent me a text message to say that he had found three, I raced straight over. It had been over two years since I had last seen this species in the Reservoir Recording Area, so the sight of these three late morning was especially significant. Grey Partridges are now in steep decline in Britain, with declines of over 77%, due to a combination of agricultural practises and loss of habitat - a key ingredient is the lack of insect matter when the young birds are very small.

Anyway, these three were most welcome and were on the upward slope of the short grassy field at cSP 915 131 and easily viewed from the gate at SP 918 132 - 40 yards in from the road.


Rob Andrews had discovered a wintering flock of buntings in stubble just north of the B489 yesterday afternoon including an impressive number of CORN BUNTINGS. The field is situated at SP 963 174, with the birds commuting back and forth between the field and a line of Hawthorns on the opposite side of the Ivinghoe Aston road SE of 'The Briars'. The maximum number of CORN BUNTINGS I counted today was 83, with 42 Yellowhammers and 1 Reed Bunting.


This was all new territory to me so I took the opportunity of exploring the area and carefully logging the bird species recorded. I was delighted to find a very healthy population of HOUSE SPARROWS in the vicinity - with 8 in gardens in the area of 'The Village Swan' public house and another 4 in the Hartop Close new development. The village also yielded a pair of Collared Doves and 4 Common Starlings, with a female Common Kestrel by Ivinghoe Aston Farm and Long-tailed Tits on the suet feeders at Oak Cottage.

At SP 935 196, a mile NW of the village, Corvids were very much in evidence in the fields, with 22 Carrion Crows, several Rooks and 2 Common Magpies noted.

SLAPTON (BUCKS) (SP 935 205)

Lying just south of its border with Bedfordshire, this small hamlet yielded even more HOUSE SPARROWS - a population of at least 60 birds including one flock of 45 on the Horton Road.

The fields at Hill Farm (SP 933 202) held 22 Rooks, 40 Fieldfares and 25 Redwings, whilst the Equestrian Centre paddocks (SP 934 214) produced a further 90 Redwings.


The long-lived resident RING-NECKED PARAKEET was easily seen - squawking loudly from its favoured trees about 250 yards west of the houses. Its roost-hole has relocated one tree further west !


Another site almost on the county border. Fortunately, my visit here coincided with that of the feeders, and as each post was covered in both peanuts and seed, I was able to savour the delights of hungry birds showing to distances of less than two feet! MARSH TIT was what I was after and Marsh Tit was what I got - three individuals in all including two with shiny BTO leg rings. The food also attracted 4 Robins, 15 Great Tits, 5 Blue Tits, 3 Coal Tits and 3 Nuthatches, whilst Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Goldcrests and 40 Siskins were also seen - the latter dropping down into the stream to drink and bathe.


Green Lane produced 5 BULLFINCHES - my first in the county this year - whilst 'scoping from the Flood Balancing Reservoir Outlet across the water yielded 27 Great Crested Grebes, Grey Heron, 5 Mute Swans, 22 Atlantic Canada Geese, two female NORTHERN PINTAILS with the Mallards on the western shore, a pair of Eurasian Wigeon, just 41 Tufted Duck, 33 Pochard and a COMMON REDSHANK on the shoreline in front of the Boat Club.


No Little Owl as usual but a recently covered field with straw along the lane side produced a flock of 26 Yellowhammers and 46 Common Starlings; 8 House Sparrows were in Moor Lane gardens too.


Almost birdless apart from a pair of Teal, a Coot and 4 Moorhens but a silage field opposite (at TL 043 367) held a flock of 65 LINNETS.


No sign of either Little or Barn Owl again - just 50 Redwings.

(overviewing the gull roost with Dave Bilcock, Steve Rodwell, Mike Campbell & Jack O'Neill)

It was an impressive gull roost this evening with over 4,016 Black-headed Gulls roosting (probably close to 5,000 birds eventually including 16 approaching breeding plumage), an outstanding 346 Common Gulls (including an adult in full breeding plumage), a single juvenile HERRING GULL and 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Despite all five of us vigilantly scanning, we could not locate the first-winter Mediterranean Gull of recent evenings.

Three LITTLE EGRETS roosted, 29 Cormorants, whilst other species noted included just 59 Wigeon, 44 Shoveler, NO Pintail, 3 Common Goldeneye (1 drake) and 11 Great Crested Grebes; a Grey Wagtail flew over.


The three RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained (see Tara Hinton's excellent images above) and Great Crested Grebes increased to 6.


The two wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS put on another blistering performance tonight, with the paler bird wandering about in the open in its favoured reedbed 'channel' and the darker climbing up the stems to roost. Just 1 WATER RAIL squealed and CORN BUNTINGS weighed in at 80 birds.


Dave Parsons photographed what appears to be another SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL in Bedfordshire this winter. This one was in a private garden that backs on to Rowney Warren on Thursday (27th), with approx 200 redpolls. I had a quick look in the same area today but couldn't find the flock.

.I also understand the Lodge ARCTIC REDPOLL was seen again Saturday, with 120 Lessers, and 40 Mealies (Ade Cooper, Richard Patient).

Other news for today (Sunday):

20 Waxwings in Flitwick by Billington Garage, per Tony Revill.
One Waxwing near the Bricklayers Arms, Potton, per Steve Thompson.

Steve Blain

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Lodge REDPOLLS - Mike Lawrence

A mixture of Mealy and Lesser Redpolls coming in to drink, as well as the first-winter exilipes SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL

The Potton WAXWINGS - Mike Lawrence


22 Waxwings in the Sunderland Road / Tyne Road area Sandy 3.45-4.00 pm when they flew off over Marshalls, presumably towards the Lodge.Earlier this afternoon 50+ Redpolls, mostly Lessers but with some Mealies in birches around the hide at the Lodge, occasionally coming down to drink, plus a mixed flock of 16 near the main building (Tim Robson)

Friday, 28 January 2011


Yesterday afternoon had a male BLACKCAP in the middle of Barton-le-Clay in Bradshaws Close feeding on a Pyracantha bush (Ian Kelly)

Pair of SMEW briefly at Priory

A pair of SMEW was on the main lake from about 0800 this a.m. but departed at about 0830 (David Kramer)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Another very cold and bleak day

Pip Housden and I had a late start this morning meeting up with Jim Gurney at Meadow Lane, Bedford STW shortly before 11.00am.

A Treecreeper was a good find by Jim low down in the hedgerow and we had brief flight only views of a silent Chiffchaff flying across the track and a little after low along the water-filled ditch and hedgerow.

A slog around Octagon Farm yet again failed to produce a Water Pipit - even a lone Meadow Pipit was proving elusive. A Common Snipe flushed up from a pool on the hardstanding, a Green Sandpiper flew over calling, 56 Mute Swans were counted and 2 Buzzards and 8 Stock Doves were seen.

Jim went back to Sandy whilst Pip and I headed over to Marston Vale. Yet again there was no call of a Cetti's to brighten our day but we had star birds with excellent views of a lovely Barn Owl near lagoon 3 where we also saw a splendid male Bullfinch and then a flock of small finches included a few Goldfinches, 1 Lesser Redpoll and c20 Siskins including some stunning males.

Rookery South was bleak indeed but the drake Red Crested Pochard was seen distantly along the wide inlet beyond the blue sheeting as looking diagonally out from the railway bridge corner.

Four probable Grey Partridges flew off at Dane Lane but no owls showed nor the Merlin we were hoping for so we headed off to Stewartby Lake for the last hour of our day where we joined Lol Carman at the gull watchpoint.I picked out at least 3 Yellow-legged Gulls - 2 adults and a fourth winter and amongst the distant throng there were possibly 3 or more more but as well as the argenteus Herring Gulls now gaining full new plumage, some of the Scandinavian argentatus birds are now appearing very clean and need to be ruled out when thinking of a YLG.

It was some time after a cold Lol had headed off back toward Dunstable that I eventually picked out a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL which gave prolonged if a tad distant views for us to enjoy.

Some nice birds on a bleak day with some 65 species noted between Pip and myself (Martin Palmer)

That colour-ringed BLACK-HEADED GULL in Wardown Park, Luton

Dmitrijs Boiko has very kindly supplied me with full details of the yellow colour-ringed BLACK-HEADED GULL I encountered in Wardown Park, Luton, on 25 January 2011 (Moskua PS -18232)

It was ringed in the nest at Sosnovaya Polyana, St Petersburg, Russia, on 10 June 2010

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

BITTERN still at Priory

I had good views of the Priory Bittern from the Kramer hide this morning. It flew into the reeds in the right hand corner of the pool and was in view off and on for an hour though viewing was often through obscuring trees or reed. A kingfisher from the hide on monday morning was the first I have seen since before the christmas freeze (Ray Roche)


Dave Odell and his partner Marj visited Whipsnade Wildlife Park on Sunday and enjoyed superb views of the wild pair of COMMON RAVENS visiting the captive bird near the wood near the main entrance and the toilets; Cliff Tack pointed out that the wild birds are regular visitors here. The pair are busy repairing the usual nest in the conifer plantation and were seen on several occasions last week (LGRE, Lol Carman, Bob Chalkley)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Colour-ringed BLACK-HEADED GULL in Wardown originates from Latvia or Russia

This first-year Black-headed Gull was one of 193 birds ringed in Russia and Latvia last summer and follows other recoveries of birds seen this winter in The Netherlands (per Jeroen Nagtegaal and Dmitris Boiko)

Mopping up a few Beds Year Ticks - LGRE


Another pretty miserable day weatherwise, with cold NW winds and intermittent rain all day. The light remained very poor and the rain got heavier throughout the afternoon.

After several false-starts, I finally got down to doing some target-birding in Bedfordshire.....


BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS returned to my village today with a vengeance; firstly, a small group of 4 appeared on the few remaining Pink Rowans by the entrance to the Anglo Office Park in White Lion Road and then, half an hour later, this figure increased to 18 - with an additional 26 in trees surrounding Shardeloes Lake early afternoon. None appeared to be colour-ringed.

In White Lion Road, a Mistle Thrush was acting very aggressively towards the flock.


Very quiet apart from 18 Gadwall and a GREEN SANDPIPER in the stream.


I spent over two hours searching for Darin's two male Blackcaps but to no avail - the well-stocked front garden of no.43 did however produce 2 Rooks, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Dunnocks, Nuthatch, numerous Great and Blue Tits, 7 Long-tailed Tits, Greenfinch, 5 Chaffinch and 2 Reed Buntings.

The GREEN SANDPIPER was still present on the Sewage Treatment Works, with a nice COMMON KINGFISHER (perched and feeding on a Stickleback) and GREY WAGTAIL on the river inside the tiny nature reserve.


The usual pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE were present in the field opposite the mill, whilst 4 Common Teal (2 pairs) were feeding at the cress beds. At least 30 Redwing were in the area but yet again I failed to find any Common Ravens in the area and worryingly they have not returned yet to the usual nest (another pair I know of has now started nest-repairing).

At Bendish Lodge (TL 166 224), both Red Kite and Common Buzzard were noted, with a covey of 6 Red-legged Partridges at TL 154 232, the junction of Church Road and Lilley Bottom.


Despite the grim weather, a RED KITE was soaring above Pegsdon Hollow, whilst in the Lilley Manor Farm area, a Common Kestrel and 80 Fieldfare were seen.


Thanks to Mike Russell, I was finally able to add EGYPTIAN GOOSE to my 2011 Beds Year List - two birds of unknown origin feeding on the grass at the north end of the park and easily visible from the A6 adjacent.

Two free-flying pairs of non-naturalised adult WHOOPER SWANS were also back on the lower part of the lake, these being additional to the pair currently residing at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring.

I did a full inventory of the park's resident water birds, accumulating 2 Greylag Geese, 98 Atlantic Canada Geese, 109 Mallard-types, just 18 Coot and 12 Moorhens.

There were also a large number of loafing Black-headed Gulls in the park (246), including a colour-ringed first-year (Yellow KO29), as well as an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.

The only passerines noted were 5 GOLDCRESTS in overhanging Willows by the lake.


Had an abortive attempt as usual for the Little Owls at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve but did see a covey of 15 Red-legged Partridges feeding by the junction at Beadlow at TL 105 383.


I achieved much better success at Southill where in the trees at the sharp bend at TL 151 430 (200 yards east of the lake), a superb flock of 41 BRAMBLINGS was on display, including some smartly plumaged adult males. In fact, they far outnumbered any other species present, with just 9 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinch and a Goldfinch.

A TAWNY OWL was a very welcome addition (sat roosting at a hole entrance), whilst Ring-necked Pheasants were abundant in the Warden Warren area.


At the instruction of MJP, the male COMMON SHELDUCK was easily 'collected' - showing well roosting on the end of the spit. Nothing else of significance present though.


Nearby at Brook End Farm (TL 162 476), coveys of 9 Red-legged and 4 GREY PARTRIDGES were noted in the field east of the B 658.


As expected, a complete blank drawn on the overwintering but next-to-impossible-to-see Water Pipit; the adjacent field held a mixed flock of 69 Lapwing and 29 European Golden Plover.

The light then faded and the rain more heavily set in and my remaining birding of the day turned up nothing.

Monday, 24 January 2011

ARCTIC REDPOLLS still present

The Lodge RSPB SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL again in birches behind the hide early afternoon (MW, SCB, MG), and 43 Waxwings along the drive around 4pm (MB).

Sunday, 23 January 2011

MED GULL in Stewartby Roost

One winter adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL today, found by Keith Owen, not much else of note in a quite large, close roost. No large streaky-headed mid-grey gulls (Dave Ball). Also up to 50 Waxwings at MVCP per Bob Hook.

Lodge ARCTIC REDPOLL still present

The elusive first-winter SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL at The Lodge was seen briefly again today by Mark Ward. It was in a flock of c.120 redpolls by the hide late afternoon. There was another flock of 250-300 redpolls on the old heath. Also 17 Waxwings headed south over the Sandy Ridge Trail at around 4pm (per Steve Blain)


This morning, a Peregrine over the old heath at The Lodge and two Woodcock near Sandy Ridge. Also two Waxwings opposite the Bricklayers Arms.

Dave Buckingham has had 17 Waxwings at Everton mid-afternoon and 49 at the Gatehouse, The Lodge, shortly before dusk (Darren Oakley-Martin)

CURLEW pair still at Radwell

Harrold CP: 3 Goosander 1 Male 2 Females. The Male and 1 Female flew north around 09:30.

Radwell: 142 Mute Swan no sign of the Bewicks. The pair of CURLEW still at the end of the far lake Pit 1. 56 Golden plovers in with the Lapwings at bottom end of the field. Viewed from the Gateway near railway bridge (Nick Cook)

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Party of 4 along Everton Road in Potton at 2pm (per Tim Stowe)

WAXWINGS still in Clifton

40+ in Fairfax Close, Clifton at present, in Sycamore and feeding at Cotoneaster. One bird found stunned having apparently flown into a window (Alan Outen)


1 GREATER SCAUP, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and 4 Red-crested Pochards on Stewartby Lake this morning (Steve Blain)

Sandy WAXWINGS still

Still 20+ WAXWINGS along Sunderland Road, Sandy this morning. They are along the bridleway next to Marshalls (per Tim Robson 11.35)

Friday, 21 January 2011

SHORT-EARED OWLS at The Wixams Development Fields

The two wintering SHORT-EARED OWLS were still present at The Wixams Development Fields this afternoon, showing well parading back and forth over the grassland. Francis Buckle obtained these superb shots above.
The area is actually strictly private and earmarked for house building but small numbers of birdwatchers are being ignored at the moment, provided they do not cause any damage or block the entrances to houses in nearby roads. Access from the southernmost Wixams Development roundabout (fourth roundabout if driving south down the A6 from the new bypass in Bedford). After no more than 40 yards into the estate, turn immediately right and park sensibly on this road. Veering slightly left, you will see Dane Lane. Walk down this road for about 400 yards to just beyond the pond, then cut in left through the steel gates to the 'wasteland'. Continue walking in line with the hedgerow until you get to the lone tall Oak and view from here

Afternoon Sightings from Martin Palmer

4 Waxwings were showing well in the sparsely berried tree opposite the Mulberry Bush Pub, Orchard St, Kempston at 10.10

Around mid-day I was in the Southill area and saw 3+ Tree Sparrows up the lane opposite the small shop - respect owners' privacy here please - a Tawny Owl was basking in the sunshine from it's roost hole between the village and Broom lakes and 7+ Brambling and a Jay were by the sharp bend between Southill village and Southill Lake. Two Common Buzzards and 2 Kestrels were in the general area. 2 Coal Tits were at garden feeders in Old Warden. A Green Woodpecker was on the paddocks SW of Ickwell. Another Buzzard was south of Cople along the lane toward Sheerhatch.

A Common Shelduck was on Peacock's Island, Broom Lake.

The Bittern was showing really well for around half an hour c1.30 this afternoon from the Kramer Hide at Priory CPk and I counted 60 Mute Swans about the lakes. 5 Shoveler were nice too.

50 species in all for my couple of hours birding - and only one species of gull! (MJP)

WAXWINGS in Churchill Way, Sandy

My next door neighbour. Jan Pye, spotted 50ish WAXWINGS on path between our two houses, near generator. and was kind enough to tell me. I was very pleased because I have been rushing all over the place, down Sunderland Road and 101A High Street, fruitlessly I add. Unfortunately, they were a bit scatty and flew away only to return later, but then disappeared completely. This happened about tennish. (Janet Albone)


The Priory Country Park BITTERN woke up at 0905 in the reeds directly in front of the Kramer Hide at 0905. After 15 minutes it had had enough, crawled back behind some more reeds and disappeared from view. A COMMON SHELDUCK was presumably a spring migrant (David Kramer).

WAXWINGS in Clifton

100+ WAXWINGS briefly in the large Sycamore in Fairfax Close Clifton at 08.10 this morning before flying to a tree further off and then back towards Shefford (Alan)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

COMMON CROSSBILLS at The Lodge - first of the year

One or more COMMON CROSSBILLS 'glipping' in the pines on the southern perimeter of the staff carpark at The Lodge at 12:10 today; two WAXWINGS north over Sandy Heath towards the tree nursery at 08:00 this morning; a Peregrine over Sandy Ridge just after dawn on Tuesday and a Woodcock put up near the Sandy Ridge trail soon after.

Our Lodge list now stands at 66, compared to the BTO's impressive Nunnery list of 84. We'll struggle to grip back their Goshawk and Bittern, but they might just struggle with exilipes Arctic Redpoll. You can read all about it here:

Darren Oakley-Martin

Priory BITTERN still posing

The BITTERN deigned to stick its head up from 0920 onwards - outside the Kramer Hide. I watched it for 20 mins or so before I departed. Don't know whether it continued to show (Dave Kramer)


5 over John O'Gaunt GC this morning, per Steve Thompson. Also 30 around Clarence Road, Leighton Buzzard, 100m NE of Post Office, per Andy Whitney.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

WATER PIPIT still present

Having enjoyed a few days in Norfolk (with considerably more success than I did at Rainham on Saturday), I decided on a local trip this afternoon not straying too far from Kempston.

First off was Kempston Mill where the high river levels seemed to have pushed off the local drake Mandarin duo as I hadn't seem them here last Friday either.

Stimulated by excellent views of Water Pipit at Titchwell from the new Parinder hide (where also a trio of Shore Larks and 17 Twite all at close range) and up to 4 Scandinavian Rock Pipits at nearby Thornham, I decided to have yet another try for the Water Pipit at Octagon Farm. The hardstanding area was bare so I continued on around the bund to the big field and first of the two lakes. The filled in flash area has been sown along with the rest of the big field and the rain-filled hollows were attracting Pied Wagtails - 21 in total. I waited a while at the corner of the first lake and soon heard the clear single notes I was hoping for and saw the WATER PIPIT fly several metres along the shoreline, perch momentarilly in a low willow and drop to the ground out of sight.

I approached cautiously and was rewarded with good views of a long clean supercillium and double white wing-bars and all to soon the bird was up again and flying straight past me calling repeated single notes as it went off toward the hardstanding and (presumably) on toward the sewage works. Nice to get such close flight views and an unmistakable bird, the Water Pipit being generally greyer than would a Rock Pipit and uttering the single "seep" note repeatedly as it took to flight - the white of the supercilia and wing bars being equally diagnostic. I watched the WATER PIPIT at 3.05 initially and then at 3.10pm. My 112th species of c122 in Beds so far this year.

I then drove over to Stewartby Lake and from 3.35 to 4.50 scanned the roost from the gull watchpoint, mostly in the company of Roy Nye who'd already been there an hour. Roy had seen a Bittern fly to the west (Marston) corner just before I joined him and had also seen a female Scaup earlier. The gulls were all quite close this evening in sunny, fine, calm, if cold weather. I soon found 2 first-winter drake SCAUP by the opposite east corner and then a first-winter and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Roy had also seen a first-winter YLG earlier and though my bird differed subtly from his so likely 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS in all were present this evening.I click-counted 265 Herring Gulls - significantly down on the 472 of last Friday - 97 Great Black-backs and 71 Lesser Black-backs (Martin Palmer).



A light frost overnight and a welcome return to calm conditions. There was little wind all day and little cloud - in fact a glorious birding day. Not too cold either.


Decided to head north in to Bedfordshire. The main lake at Stockgrove was extremely swollen due to the recent heavy rains and hence only 8 MANDARIN DUCKS (4 pairs) were in attendance. They were quite frisky though, with two females standing on top of the nestboxes.

Although a cluster of Great, Blue and Coal Tits were present, I failed in my quest to find Marsh Tit. A few Nuthatches were noted, a Siskin and a Stock Dove - the latter my first in the county this year. Also 16+ Grey Squirrels.


Checked out and counted the two main lakes inside the Park - no Goosander but 118 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 58 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 12 Mute Swans and the resident adult Australian Black Swan.

A male Sparrowhawk dashed through with a Common Buzzard feeding on the ground.


I was very chuffed to see a pair of GREY PARTRIDGES just north of the village - a species I have not noted in this particular area for a very, very long time.

Furthermore, very intriguing were 3 Common Starlings. Towards dusk, all 3 birds dropped down from the roof of a house and disappeared into a hole in the guttering. I had always believed that all Common Starlings roosted communally in winter in reedbeds or in trees in town/city centres often around lighting but clearly not the case.

Visited other sites during the afternoon but failed once again to find Grey Wagtail, the Ring-necked Parakeet and both Barn and Little Owl again


Today's two-hour TTV in TL15Y (Little Barford) produced nothing remotely remarkable except for an EGYPTIAN GOOSE standing in the middle of a field (on the western side of the main Tempsford-Eynesbury road, just south of the power station). - Tim Sharrock

WAXWINGS in Kempston today

4 WAXWINGS opposite the Mulberry Bush, Orchard Street, Kempston, at 1520 hours today[Wednesday]. Seen whilst taking Grace (aged three weeks) and Nicola to collect George (six). Nicola already had Waxwings on her list but George was excited and went for a closer look. Tick for Grace too and first birds on her list (Dave Odell)

SHORT-EARED OWLS performing well this afternoon

I spent a couple of hours at Dane Lane (The Wixams) in the company of a distant Darin Stanley and a chap from Watford, and despite being constantly nibbled by a bunch of scruffy horses, we managed stonking views of two SHORT-EARED OWLS. One passed within 50yds of the oak tree where I was standing seemingly oblivious to my presence, its keen yellow eyes brilliant in the early evening sunlight.What a show! One fly past Peregrine and two Common Stonechat played support and about 400 Fieldfare came in to roost on the telephone wires as a finale. Great stuff (Paul Anness)

BITTERN still at Priory

BITTERN currently showing well from Kramer hide at Priory CP, per Ray Roche 10:10

WAXWINGS in Stagsden Village

Two WAXWINGS at High View, Wick End, Stagsden this morning, per Mr Alan Simms.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


36 WAXWINGS in Potton this afternoon. 18 in silver birches opposite Bricklayers Arms coming down to berries on bushes at postbox height. another 18 round the corner on an Oak tree along Sandy road. some were still about at 3.50pm (Steven Thompson)


Single SHORT-EARED OWL seen by 3 of us around 2.30pm. First seen quartering near the new houses, then perched briefly on a post, and then flew west (Roger Christopher)

BITTERN at Priory

The Bittern showed well outside the Kramer Hide this morning. It flew out from behind a bush at 0907 and was in view until at least 1020 when I departed. People were still watching it when I left. Richard Bowler also had two Waxwings (Dave Kramer)

Monday, 17 January 2011

An afternoon out in North Beds - LGRE


Another very wet day. In fact it rained heavily virtually all morning. Still fairly mild though, with brighter conditions moving in during the afternoon.

I finally got out just after midday and decided to concentrate on North Beds today. Not a great deal seen but a few decent snippets.......


Site was in great shape again with many shallow pools and scrapes appearing after the recent rains - no sign of the Water Pipit though despite an exhaustive search, but the flock of 11 Pied Wagtails were still feeding.

Highlight was 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS on the car park pools, with 150 Greylag Geese, 160 Lapwing and 6 Common Magpies noted.


Still pots of wildfowl to be seen including a staggering 783+ Eurasian Wigeon, 176 Common Teal, 38 Northern Shoveler, 177 Tufted Duck and 104 Northern Pochard, whilst 198 Mute Swans were visible from Moor End Lane Bridge. The Bewick's Swan herd had gone and again I dipped the Egyptian Goose.

A pair of EURASIAN CURLEW was feeding at the southern end of the main field west of the Ouse and could be 'scoped distantly from the bridge. Not much else though - 4 Grey Herons and 25 Fieldfares worthy of mention.


Still no sign of any Egyptian Geese - certainly none present on the main pit or the adjacent sites where they are normally seen. A reasonable selection of wildfowl present, highlighted by the presence of 13 Common Goldeneye (3 adult drakes) and 6 redhead GOOSANDER. The far car park area yielded 60 Redwings.

Spent the last hour searching suitable locations for Owls but once more drew a complete blank - too wet for them perhaps?

Octagon Farm WATER PIPIT finally nailed for 2011

The WATER PIPIT was again at Octagon Farm this morning, although unlike the previous sightings at the end of last month, it is now feeding with Pied Wagtails around the puddles on the recently reconstituted southern end of the large arable field. immediately to the east of the hard standing area. A nice reward for several recent blank visits and braving the rain this morning! (Tony P)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL still present at Coronation


Another very windy day, with blustery SW winds bringing moist moderately mild conditions. It did just about remain dry during daylight hours but was generally grey and dull.

I took the opportunity to do a full count at the reservoirs and was impressed by the number of wildfowl and waders had returned since the freeze. Lapwings were in impressive numbers, whilst other highlights were a redhead Goosander and 4 Little Egrets........


My first Beds LITTLE EGRET of the year was feeding in a brook south of the Thorn turn at TL 008 247.

(O & M Developers, who own and manage the site, refuse permission for birders to visit because of Health & Safety issues)

All 43 redpolls still present and showing well in the Silver Birch trees at the NW corner of the pit, including the well-marked first-winter SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL and at least 5 grey MEALY REDPOLLS. In reality, I believe virtually all of the flock are Mealy Redpolls.

Sadly, like many of the Stewartby Area Brickpits, this site is STRICTLY PRIVATE with no permissive footpaths nor access.


A drake Shoveler was the only bird present.

Again, the last hour of daylight was spent searching for both Little and Barn Owls but without success

Today's Highlights

A BITTERN was in Rookery Pit first thing (Stephen Northwood), with 382 naturalised BARNACLE GEESE at Willington (Robin Edwards) and 56 MANDARIN DUCK at Stockgrove Park (Mary Sheridan).

WAXWINGS today included 30 in Shefford (Adam Hough) and 40 in Potton (Mark Gurney & Darren Oakley-Martin)

Duck-counting with Richard Bashford

My contribution was done of Friday but I've been on the lash all weekend so this is my first chance to post.

A full day covering my six WeBS sites and a few smaller sites in-between - 8.30 to 4.15.

Just the highlights - Harrold - quiet with the highlight a group of four female Goosanders. Six Goldeneye. Also did Tustings Lake - Cormorant on a nest. Turvey Flood - 72 Mallard

Radwell - very flooded and looking fantastic but taking over two hours to cover. Best was the count of Wigeon - 759 of them by my tally! Also the three Curlew. No sign of the Bewick's though. 196 Mutes on the site and the usual Egyptian Goose keeping them company.

Back east 112 Mallard at Tythe Farm res near Staploe. Roxton 198 Coot, 92 Gadwall, 70 Wigeon.

Cuckoo Bridge only held 54 Mute Swans but the Red crested Pochard was back. 79 Tufted Duck.

Great Barford Lake - 46 birds of nine species.

My final site was Wyboston which had an Egyptian Goose, 90 Tufted Duck and 40 Pochard. A Woodcock over the bypass here was also notable.

A total of 4250 watery birds in 7 and a bit hours. Best site as ever, Radwell with a total of 2112. I was a bit tired by the end of it but it was a good day - Richard

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Highlights today

The first-winter SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL was still showing well today in Coronation Pit, as well as 3 MEALY REDPOLLS (several observers), whilst elsewhere, there was Bittern in Rookery, 13 Waxwings by Milbrook play area, and Red-crested Pochard on Stewartby lake today (per Steve Thompson), 16 Waxwings by Bricklayers Arms, Potton (per Darren Oakley-Martin) and 100+ Waxwings in Ampthill Park this morning (per Neil Wright).

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS remain at The Wixams Development Fields.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

REDPOLL flocks still present

The 278 or so redpolls were still present at The Lodge RSPB Reserve today but very skittish and flighty and the 43 still at Coronation. The first-winter SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC at the latter site was seen again but remember the site is STRICTLY PRIVATE.

BEWICK'S and CURLEWS still at Radwell

Chris Deary reports 14 BEWICK'S SWANS still, 3 Curlews, 52 Golden Plovers, and a Peregrine from the A6 pull-in at Radwell Lakes, 12:15 (per Steve Blain)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

More detail on the Priory BITTERN

My son David first picked up the Bittern and it showed well for about half an hour this afternoon. It was in a large clump of reed looking off to the left from the hide. It eventually disappeared from view into the back of the reeds. We then went to one of the fishing swims on the north shore of the lake opposite the river channel, and at 4.30 PM watched it fly across the length of the lake and drop into the cresent reed bed to roost (Ray Roche)

REDPOLLS put on a great show despite the gloomy weather


Rain moved in very quickly this morning and continued all day. Fortunately, it was combined with unseasonably high temperatures (14 degrees C) and was more drizzle than heavy rain. Regardless, it was still a problem birding in it and required constant drying of lenses. There was little wind so conditions for studying redpolls was surprisingly good.....

And that was my task of the day - scrutinising redpolls - and by the end of the day, I had seen at least two SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLLS in Bedfordshire - perhaps more.........

It must be stressed that the Redpoll species identified today were made using the strict Guidelines that I have laid down in my two recent identification papers on the subject respectively located at and

Had I have been using criteria utilised by BBRC members Martin Garner and Andrew Stoddart, the number of birds claimed would be more.


In light but fairly constant rain, I met up with MJP and Pip Housden this morning, along with Clive Harris, Tony P and Jim Gurney, at the extreme NE end of Coronation Pit. A group of 43 redpolls had been repeatedly visiting the 7-8 tall Silver Birches in that location and were showing well on occasions, albeit somewhat flighty. We spent some considerable time on site but frustratingly views were often fragmented and the skittish behaviour of the birds meant that prolonged viewing was not possible.

Of the 43 birds present, the vast majority were larger, cloaked-feathered MEALY-types but primarily brown in plumage. As discussed in my paper, only well-marked paler MEALY REDPOLLS can be identified with any certainty and of the flock, FIVE individuals easily met this criteria, with two very well-marked adult males, one very well-marked first-winter and two typical grey first-winters. Whether any of the flock were actually Lesser Redpolls was debateable, certainly on wing-length, hindneck and tibia feathering and leg length.

One bird however was very stand-out and easily picked out. It was substantially larger than the rest of the flock, very white, long-tailed and markedly cloaked on the tarsi and on the rump and hindneck. It was a bird of the year (first-winter) but crucially exhibited ALL of the following characters -:

1) It was substantial in size, with the cloaked feathering giving it more bulk, particularly on its hindneck and on its raised/rather bulging rump feathers and on its tibia;

2) It had a distinctive short, pinched-in bill, giving it a characteristic appearance;

3) The mantle was basally pure white with dark feathering, rather than just showing two mantle braces like the greyer Mealies;

4) The wing-bars were striking and extensive and pure, gleaming white, with a much broader greater covert bar and a less obvious median bar;

5) The crimson poll was rich and contrasting, with streaking behind on the head and contrasting ear-coverts;

6) The tail was noticeably long with a deep cleft;

7) The flanks and sides were sparsely marked, predominantly gleaming white;

8) The undertail-coverts appeared to be pure white and unmarked;

9) The rump was gleaming white, unstreaked and extensive

Sadly, whilst attempting to get better and more rewarding views, we were approached by Derek Hyde, the employed Security Manager of the site. He had been instructed by the owners of the site (O & H Property Developers based in Watford) to find out what was going on and why all of the interest. I knew Derek from previous encounters at Brogborough Lake and Rookery Pit and an interesting discussion followed. Derek explained to us that the site was STRICTLY PRIVATE and that we were trespassing and that no public footpath ran through the site. Martin, Clive and I tried to work out an amicable outcome but Derek was just not interested in listening. I telephoned Matthew Carter at the security headquarters but despite pleading with O & H to allow temporary access, it could not be secured. Derek then escorted all of us off site and I agreed with Matthew to comply with the requests of the company regarding news dissemination from the site. Derek was very forceful in his view that if he caught further observers on site that he would fire off flares at the redpoll flock in an attempt to frighten them away.

So, in essence, Coronation Pit is absolutely out of bounds for birdwatchers and all access is denied. Anyone trespassing will be escorted away from the land.

Whilst on the phone to Steve Blain, the Beds County Recorder, he informed me of the presence of up to 300 redpolls at The Lodge, so I rushed straight over there......


In just over 20 minutes I was on site. The flock had been favouring a cluster of Silver Birch trees between 900 and 1,000 metres from the gatehouse car park, accessed by turning left just past the first stile on the Sandy Ridge Trail. The sheer mass of birds allowed me quickly to relocate them and for me they were fortunately favouring the Birches on the lower slope about 50 yards beyond the bench and the sharp bend in the trail. I was able to set my 'scope up and carefully pan through the flock - they were all feeding in the canopy but at parallel eye level to me as I stood at the top of the slope. Despite the rain and gloom, I was able to obtain some great views - the flock consisting of a total of 278 birds, with 3 Siskins mixed in with them.

On about the fifth scan, I picked up two individuals of interest that met my exilipes criteria. MEALY REDPOLLS were perhaps the most abundant species in the feeding flock but again, applying strict criteria, only 8 were of significant paleness to be identified with certainty. One first-winter redpoll was particularly well-marked and strikingly obvious - lacking hardly any streaking on the sides, with gleaming white undertail-coverts and an extensive and rather bulging white rump. This was an undoubted SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL.

Once again, this bird had a noticeable bulk, with the white back 'protruding' where the cloaked feathers had gathered at the hindneck. It had a buffish face and an obvious white eye-stripe, with strongly contrasting darker ear-coverts. The white tarsi feathers were thicker, with the rump gleaming white and unstreaked. The chin and throat were dark and contrasting with the white underparts, with prominent white fringing to the flight feathers and an obvious, broad, pure white greater covert bar. The bill was distinctly pinched-in.

A second individual was very similar but had far more streaks along the sides and flanks, a much narrower crimson poll and a longer bill. It had a hint of pale pink on the breast and was less white in the wing. It was a borderline bird but well within the variation shown by some photographed exilipes in Sweden and Norway (a few of which I have placed on my Bedfordshire Birding blog).

The entire flock flew off strongly towards Biggleswade Common at 1515 hours after being spooked by a Sparrowhawk.


After taking advice from Steve Blain, I did a tour of the Southill area in search of partridges. In addition to the numerous Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Common Magpies I encountered, the Greylag Goose flock was located north of the village at TL 158 423. In amongst them were still the two PINK-FOOTED GEESE - the adult and first-winter - both feeding together.

A covey of 4 Red-legged Partridges was just east of the Stanford turning at TL 158 418 whilst respective coveys of 3 and 8 GREY PARTRIDGES was located east of the village at TL 161 427 and TL 162 422 - the latter very welcome indeed.

BITTERN still at Priory

Ray Roche is currently watching the BITTERN at Priory CP from the Kramer hide. 15:50 (per Steve Blain)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Male HAWFINCH in Stockgrove Park

Luton birders Mick Price and Allyn Hill had a male HAWFINCH at Stockgrove CP this afternoon. It was 50 meters from the bridge and seen at around 15:10 (per Andy Plumb). This is the first sighting of this species in the county this year

Woburn Park GOOSANDER numbers back up to strength following Christmas freeze exodus

As I drove through Woburn Park today, 12 GOOSANDERS on Lower Drakelow and 1 on Upper Drakelow Pond (Barry Nightingale)


Just had a reliable report of an exilipes ARCTIC REDPOLL amongst a flock of 60 redpolls in the north-east corner of Coronation ClP (11:30). The flock is mobile but regularly in the birches in this corner. The area is probably best accessed off Kiln Road, off the B530 (per Steve Blain)

Lol Carman and Bob Chalkley arrived mid afternoon and relocated the flock and enjoyed excellent views of the bird. MJP and I will search for it tomorrow and provide detailed instructions

Redhead SMEW at Priory Country Park

A redhead SMEW (perhaps the recent Stewartby Lake individual) was outside the south hide this morning (Dave Kramer)

WAXWINGS still in High Street Sandy

Up to 10 WAXWINGS at 101a High Street, Sandy at 08:40 this morning (per Tim Robson)

Ringtail HEN HARRIER at The Wixams

Tony P, Roy Nye, Francis Buckle, Tony Heukin, Jim Gurney and others were fortunate in seeing a hunting ringtail HEN HARRIER over the west side of The Wixams development fields yesterday afternoon - between 1430 and 1600 hours. The female MERLIN was also seen again but no sign of the Short-eared Owls

Monday, 10 January 2011


I had Ring-necked Parakeet at Southcott Village, Linslade yesterday morning. It popped its head out of its roosting hole as I stood under the large Ash tree, then flew up to a branch where it sat posing beautifully in the sunshine (Mary Sheridan)


34 WAXWINGS outside the Bricklayers Arms in Potton at 1.40pm flew offinto the housing estate (Ian Dillon)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Both 'SHORTIES' perform well this evening

Short-eared Owls (David Bilcock)
I went over there this afternoon, taking the walk from Wixams, only takes a few minutes. First SHORT-EARED OWL came up at 15:25, second at 15:45 and both were still visible when I left about 16:00. Superb light for viewing. One COMMON STONECHAT was found and also year-ticked a flock of flyover Lapwing and a couple of local birders (Andy Grimsey)

BITTERN still at Priory

A BITTERN came in to roost in the Crescent reed bed Saturday night, per Dave Kramer. No sign this morning but had a report from a guy this afternoon of one in the reed bed in front of Kramer hide. He showed me the video he had shot which was quite good (per Dave Barnes)

Additional weekend snippets

Two adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS roosted at Stewartby Lake this evening, per Keith Owen/Mark Ward.

30 Waxwings were still in Glebe Close, Flitwick this afternoon, per Chris Deary.

Two Mealy Redpolls were along Carthagena Way, between Sutton and deepdale, per Mark Gurney.

Ed Taylor and I had only around five Redpolls at The Lodge this morning, but one Mealy gave excellent close views along the Sandy Ridge Trail (Steve Blain)


A flock of 32 WAXWINGS showing really well this morning around 11am in trees at the junction of Goldington Road and Polhill Avenue, right outside Bedford University (Mike Russell)

Shefford WAXWINGS update

I have just returned from there, just want to say cheers for Adam Hough for finding them and getting the word out and providing directions. I parked in the 1 of the 3 spaces opposite the post office in the town and walked down the river. I'd say there is definitely 50 WAXWINGS present, maybe more. They are quite mobile but due to the large number of them quite easy to find (and hear!!). Berries are scattered around, I wouldn't say there is "plenty" left but due to it being near a housing estate i would guess there is a decent supply around; some just may be inaccessible.

The birds are confiding with dog walkers/kids on bikes etc going right underneath them although they are mobile and are flying around all over the place, they are even coming down to the stream in large numbers to drink. Passers by/residents seem quite interested asking questions.

Mark Thomas was present and spotted a colour ringed bird so keep your eyes out, i'm going to trawl through my many photos to see if i have any! Enjoy them, they are brilliant! - Ben Andrew

All 15 adult BEWICK'S SWANS still at Radwell; and 2 CURLEWS

20 CORN BUNTINGS in Hatch Lane, Thurleigh
The 15 adult BEWICK'S SWANS still at Radwell with about 190 Mutes. Loads of Wigeon and a female Goosander among them. Strange to see it dabbling with the Wigeon on the flooded A6 pit. Also 2 CURLEW on the edge of the flood nearer the southernmost railway bridge. At Felmersham, a flock of c20 Lesser Redpolls with one maybe two Mealies. (Richard Bashford)

Sandy High Street WAXWINGS

20 WAXWINGS still in the garden of 101A The High Street, Sandy at 11:40 - apparently well settled. The birds are sitting in a high bare tree about 20 yards back from the main road most of the time, and are flying down to feed on some berry-covered bushes that are just out of sight behind the obvious double garage. Not particularly photogenic but a lovely sight in the bright winter sunshine (David Fisher)

BITTERN at Cuckoo's Bridge

I saw Roger & Rose Hartwell this morning returning from their morning walk in the village and they told me they had seen a female Goosander on the river upstream of Danish Camp near the moorings.

They also told me that they had disturbed a Bittern just downstream of the weir and lock on Saturday morning first thing. The bird had been on the river edge and flew in the direction of Cuckoo Bridge pit. (per Robin Edwards)


The WAXWINGS in Shefford are present on the Millenium green site just off the river , they were very confiding yesterday even with my dog with me and were still there this morning with a maximum count of 47 although they were a little more mobile (Adam Hough)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

BITTERN at Priory Country Park

A Bittern was seen at Priory CP today. More details here: (per Steve Blain)

A semi-successful day out in Bedfordshire - LGRE


The first bright day in a while with clear blue skies and winter sunlight virtually all day long. Fairly cool, with a brisk westerly wind.

Decided to spend the day in Bedfordshire where I had very mixed results. Distinct lack of redpolls again......

HATFIELD (HERTS): flock of 10 Lapwings flew west across the A1

BIGGLESWADE (BEDS): in the peafield immediately SW of the Grizzly's A1 layby were 107 Lapwings and 92 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS.

(0830-1130 hours)

Very very poor with just 2 LESSER REDPOLLS found in the Drinking Pool/Quarry areas and 5 SISKINS. Little else of note too - Robin, Fieldfare, 5 Goldcrest, Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit, 17 Blue Tits and 5 Great Tits.

SANDY TOWN: 10 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS perched in tall trees along the High Street - at number 101A.


Thanks to Peter Holden and Richard Bashford, quickly located the large feeding flocks of birds in fields west of the village at TL 150 514 and TL 148 518. Redwings predominated with 170 counted, whilst CORN BUNTINGS numbered 137 (highest count after numerous efforts - mainly when the flock perched on the overhead wires), 40 Yellowhammer and a much smaller number of Reed Buntings (15+). There were also 2 Song Thrushes in the field, 8 Goldfinches and 15+ House Sparrows in the village, as well as singing male Dunnock and Mistle Thrush..


Stopped off briefly to check out the non-naturalised Barnacle Goose flock - 300 in all - with 20 Lapwings and Long-tailed Tits also noted.


Roy Nye, Francis Buckle, Tony Heukin, Peter Smith and others had seen a Slavonian Grebe late morning hugging and swimming along the northern edge of the lake. Not long after, MJP, SB, AP, LC, BC and I pitched up but despite an exhaustive search, none of us could relocate it. We did find 13 Dabchick, 45 Great Crested Grebe, 500 Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye and 2 GREATER SCAUPS (the first-winter drake and one of the adult females).


Did two separate stints of watching - from early afternoon to 1450 hours and again from 1600 hours until dark.

Initial highlight was a pair of sparring PEREGRINE FALCONS (the Stewartby chimney pair) whizzing over the rough fields, 1 or 2 of them being seen again very distantly on two further occasions.

A resident pair of Common Kestrel was present, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk (my first of the year) and 3 Common Buzzards - whilst 5 Gadwalls departed the tiny village pond with 21 Mallard and 2 Eurasian Skylarks flew over. A pair of COMMON STONECHATS was particularly welcomed as following the cold spell, this is a very difficult species to find.

Returned much later to join Tony Donnelly, Darren Thomas and Richard and at 1640 hours, one of the SHORT-EARED OWLS appeared and began hunting - the first sighting of the day !

(Others had seen Little Egret and Merlin at the site)

BROUGHTON GROUNDS (NORTH BUCKS) - 80+ European Golden Plovers in fields west of the motorway.


The adult WHOOPER SWAN was showing well in fields north of the river but nearby I failed to locate the Tree Sparrows at Dairy Farm.

BITTERN bonanza

No sign of Slav but a brilliant 5 BITTERNS all roosting together at 4.30pm in the reed bed in the west corner by the stream inlet (Tim Stowe)

Problems with parking at The Wixams

Still 20+ Waxwings near Sunderland Road/Tyne Road junction in Sandy (seen c. 1515 this afternoon).

I was at Dane Lane, The Wixams, earlier but did not stay (I note the lack of reports from there thus far). The neighbours are getting very frustrated with the numbers of birders' cars, which, they say, are causing them problems with getting in and out of their drives - a further point was made that if a fire engine or ambulance had to get to the bottom of the lane it would be unable to do so. I was approached by a lady who, in a very calm, pleasant and reasonable way, made these points. I suspect that the problem is increased because, with the weekend, more birders are turning up. The lady claimed that the whole lane is in fact a private road - although there is certainly no sign to indicate that this is the case (apart from the very bottom of the lane where there is a sign).

I hope that we would all agree that it would be counterproductive to fall out with the people who live in the area. They would advise birders to park at the "top" (the eastern end) of the lane and walk down to the area where the SEOs and the Merlin have been seen.Over to us!! (Peter Cook)


Worth a bit of time looking through the Common Gulls which hang around on the grass field next to the lakes. Around 50 Common Gulls in the area but no Ring-billed (a 2nd-winter was photographed in Cambs recently). One EGYPTIAN GOOSE with 180 Greylags - Richard Bashford


20+ WAXWINGS near roundabout at junction of Norse Road & Goldington Road at 1230pm (per Beds Birds)


First 7 then a flock of at least 47 at junction of Sunderland Road and Tyne Road at 10.45-11.15 this morning. They were very mobile and eventually flew off into the maze of housing estates between Sunderland Road and St. Neots Road and I was unable to relocate them in a brief search (Tim Robson)


SLAVONIAN GREBE on Stewartby Lake, in the north-west corner 10.45 per Roy Nye, Francis Buckle, Tony Heukin, et al, but not seen in extensive search later by LGRE, MJP, SB, AP, et al.

Flitwick WAXWING flock increases

Julian Knowles reports 90 WAXWINGS along Steppingly Road by the middle school In Flitwick this morning, presumably part of the Woburn flock relocating.

Friday, 7 January 2011

JACK SNIPE showing well

A single JACK SNIPE was showing well in the stream by the bridge this afternoon at East Hyde, whilst in the Hertfordshire sector, the two adult EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still present, along with 24 Gadwall, a drake Shoveler and the family group of 8 EGYPTIAN GEESE.

For further details of East Hyde sightings, see my Hertfordshire Birding site (Lee Evans)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

WAXWINGS at last - and BEWICK'S, RCP's and dodgy GARGANEY


Well it rained heavily all morning, rendering ordinary birding pointless. At around lunchtime, it eased off somewhat and I ventured out. Waxwings were my main target and eventually I saw some in Bedfordshire......but still not Hertfordshire.....

Tried both Watford then Welwyn Garden City but failed in my quest to intercept any of today's flocks thereabouts.....much better luck in Bedfordshire though


At last, finally caught up with BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Bedfordshire in 2011. Early afternoon, I located a flock of 21 on the Bilton Way Estate, feeding on ornamental berry bushes and shrubs alongside the feeder road. They were very mobile and frequently spooked and did not settle much.

I located a further 36 birds in trees by Foxdell Junior School and Foxdell Recreation Ground.

Earlier, Paul Anness, Tony Donnelly and others had seen 75 birds in the vicinity.

Driving north towards the brick pits of Mid-Bedfordshire, 8 Goldfinches were seen in Millbrook and a group of 12 Common Magpies together at Quest Pit.


The party of 10 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were showing well today (5 drakes and 5 females), feeding just north of the reedbed in the middle section. I also recorded my first Beds wader of the year - 14 Lapwings.

A good number of wildfowl was present including 12 Mute Swans, 66 Mallard, 98 Common Teal, 58 Eurasian Wigeon, 298 Tufted Duck and 112 Northern Pochards.


The majority of the swans were feeding in the fields towards the west of the complex at TL 010 580 and included 167 Mutes (24 first-years) and 15 adult BEWICK'S SWANS. There were also 146 Greylag Geese present but I could not locate the lone Egyptian Goose present during the first few days of the year.

A redhead GOOSANDER was on the southernmost pit closest to the A6 as well as Grey Heron, 85 Eurasian Wigeon and 15 Gadwall.


My first local Mistle Thrush was a bird feeding in a Rowan in Blunham village.

Blunham Lake was still largely frozen but the western flank was filled with birds. The drake GARGANEY of highly suspicious origin was present - trailing a pair of Mallard - whilst other wildfowl present included 48 Gadwall, an impressive 136 Common Teal, 1 drake Shoveler, 53 Eurasian Wigeon, 27 Tufted Ducks, 8 Northern Pochard and 3 female Common Goldeneyes.
I had no joy with (yet) another visit to Dane Lane, Wilstead - I was there with Tony Hukin from 3.35 to 4.05pm and TP was just walking back to his car as Tony and I shielded ourselves from owl view by the large oak tree. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker were both seen. Tony had been present there since 2.30 but the 2 SEO's seen by RAN earlier failed to materialise for us.

As dusk began to fall, I dashed over to nearby Stewartby Lake where I 'scoped the gull roost between 4.15 to 4.35pm. 2 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS showed well and I counted 164+ Gt Black-backs, 184+ Herring Gulls amongst the hordes of B H and Common Gulls with several L B Backs - I also noticed a single female GREATER SCAUP amongst the very numerous Tufted Ducks scattered in large groups about the general shorelines of the lake (M J Palmer)


Four WAXWINGS were in a Rowan tree, Grebe Close, Flitwick at 13:45 hours. The tree is covered in berries, so the birds are likely to stay. Grebe Close is off of Eagle Drive, a short distance from Manor Way.

At 14:50 hours a Little Egret was flying towards Westoning along the A5120, just North of the Harlington turn (Norman Finan)


There was a SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL in the birches near the hide at The Lodge yesterday, Wed 5th Jan, it was with only 16 redpolls. It was seen by myself, Mark Eaton, Mark Gurney, and Mark Ward and I managed to get three video clips. I have added some grabs to my blog:

There was no sign of it today at lunchtime when we walked round, but we only saw a handful of redpolls, but it is no doubt still around. This is the culmination of two months of following the redpoll flocks around. There could perhaps be others...Steve Blain


A Short-eared Owl and brown Merlin have been seen at Dane Lane, The Wixams at 1pm today, per Roy Nye.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


A Little Egret was perched on the bank overlooking Renhold Brook, just across from Norse Road, Bedford, this morning (Mark Fitzpatrick)

PINK-FOOTED GEESE still but no owls or Waxwings


Despite a fresh SW wind, it remained very cold; in fact, I was surprised how cold the wind was. It was dry throughout and fairly bright.


The Waxwing drought continued and I was also to dip on this species in Barton-le-Clay and Shefford (meanwhile, Andy Plumb saw 35 in Flitwick !). There was no sign of Barry Nightingale's huge flock in Woburn.

I had better success though with Cowhill Belt Pond in Woburn Park (thanks Barry !) where the drake GOOSANDER was still present (viewed from George Street opposite the Triumph Motorcycle garage), 8 Wigeon and a Mute Swan. Bonus birds were a very vocal 'cronking' pair of COMMON RAVEN which flew west from the park and over the south side of the town.

Either side of The Turnpike and south of the A507 (in fields west of Moneypot Hill) were 5 Chinese Water Deer.


Another blank - Little Owl - the Duck End Nature Reserve at the end of Moor Lane yielding just 1 Yellowhammer.


Eight Redwings and 55 Common Starlings had conveniently replaced the 23 Waxwings in Shefford but Southill village performed by producing 18 TREE SPARROWS in the usual hedgerow and two different PINK-FOOTED GEESE - the regular adult and a new first-winter - with the 358-strong Greylag Goose flock east of the road just north of The Garden House at TL 150 422.

The rest of the day was a wash-out. Joined Andy Plumb and Clive Harris at yesterday's Short-eared Owl site at The Wixams, Wilstead (Dane Lane Developments) and saw nothing and failed to locate any Red-crested Pochards at Chimney Corner North.

The Lodge WAXWINGS relocated

23 WAXWINGS around the staff car park at The Lodge, 15:55-16:05 at least (Steve Blain)


Ten WAXWINGS flew over the meadow at around 12:40. Also c.30 MEALY REDPOLLS amongst 100 redpolls around the meadow (in front of the house) this lunchtime too (Steve Blain/Mark Gurney/Mark Ward)


12 WAXWINGS present in Shefford at corner of Bedford Road and Hardwick Close at 09.55 hours (John Kirkham)

SISKINS at Eversholt

Walked from Paris House, through Milton Wood and then Eversholt Lake this morning. Very quiet, with the best being 8 Siskins near the bamboo clumps between Milton W and the lake.

300 Fieldfares, 75 Redwings, three parties of Bullfinches and several Green and Grt Sp Woodpeckers were the best of the rest.

Eversholt L was totally frozen, so not a single bird.

No sign of any Waxwings as we came back thro the village - Barry Nightingale

Barton-le-Clay WAXWINGS

A flock of about 20 WAXWINGS was in an Ash outsisde Barton Library then flew towards Osborn or Ramsey Road. Yesterday, I had 17 on corner of Arnold Close off Osborn, feeding on Hawthorns, whilst on 2nd eight in Ramsey Road but berries now finished there. No more records from Old Road but many berries in garden but guarded by Mistle Thrushes.

On New Years Day had EURASIAN CURLEW over Barton Hill Farm and a large diver-type bird flying over the village in the murk (Ian Kelly)

LITTLE EGRET in New Road, Sandy

An egret seen this morning, in a field which usually has a couple ofhorses in...was unfortunately a Little Egret (Richard Bashford)

Woburn WAXWINGS have stripped the Sorbus bushes bare

About 180 WAXWINGS still present in Woburn's Leighton Street at 08:05 this morning, most of which then flew north, the remaining 20 or so staying until 08:10, before they took off and flew west towards Timber Lane. I couldn't see any berries left at all, so that might be it (Barry Nightingale)

MERLIN again at Broom

Had a MERLIN chasing a singing Skylark over Broom GP this morning. Also 34 Baracle Geese still present. 10+ Bramblings between Southill village and the lake (Steve Blain)

Beds Yearlisting with Martin Palmer

All 15 (fifteen) BEWICK'S SWANS were present at Radwell, viewable distantly from the A6 pull-in, mid afternoon - I'm guessing these are the dozen from Priory CPk having joined the three present at Radwell during the week between Xmas and New Year - also at least 118 Mute Swans and a single Egyptian Goose as well as lots of Wigeon, Greylags and Canada Geese were seen.

I'd started off today, visiting the south-east of the county with 4 Red Kites and a Woodcock seen, then enjoyed the sight of 40+ Corn Buntings on telegraph lines west of Barton Hill Farm.

At Moor Lane, Maulden, mid morning, I located 23+ Lesser Redpolls accompanied by a very smart Mealy Redpoll. There were no Redpolls at all at Coopers Hill, Ampthill a little later.

Late morning there was a male Peregrine over Rookery South ClP with the female viewable very distantly atop one of the Stewartby brick chimneys - 20+ Linnets flew south-east over the railway and wildfowl included 67 Teal, 8 Wigeon, 40 Mute Swans, 103 Mallards and c130 Pochard (but no Tufted Ducks) - 80+ Greylags flew over.

Soon afterwards from London Lane, south of Houghton Conquest, there were 3 Brambling amongst the numerous Chaffinches and well over 100 Linnets

Around 1.00pm, 10 Red Crested Pochards were at Chimney Corner South ClP (5 drakes, 5 females) and plenty more Pochards and other wildfowl.

A Grey Wagtail was a year tick at Marston STW c3.15.

Stewartby Lake roost was poor with probably under 50 total large gulls - no tipping on the adjacent landfill over the New Year being the cause but 14 Goldeneye were on view plus 3 Scaup in a brief scan about the lake.

Last light I joined DHB, PH, KRO, SCB+C trying to find our way round the Wixhams, off the A6 south west of Elstow, so S E Owl wasn't seen which would have been my hundreth species in Bedfordshire for the year.

Still quite a few common birds to catch up on, most notably Siskin, Bullfinch, Meadow Pipit and Golden Plover plus some owls I hope......Best wishes,MJP

BITTERN and BEWICK'S SWANS at Radwell - 3 January

My first bit of birding of 2011 and over to Radwell for the last 90 minutes of daylight. Scanning the Mute Swans and saw about 10 BEWICK'S SWANS. I walked to the viaduct pit, once again giving the reeds on the small pool a good grilling on the way to the viaduct pit. Nothing doing. The viaduct pit was hooching with birds - lots of Greylags and lots of Wigeon but nothing noticed among them - one male Goldeneye.

Then for dusk back at the reedy pool with fingers crossed. After about ten minutes I heard a crashing in the reeds and then a large brown bird climbed to the top of the reed to watch me. It posed for about twenty minutes while I tried to take mobile phone photos down my telescope. The best of which is here

Back at the swans in the gloom, three BEWICK'S, perhaps the original three, were near the portakabin and flew to the A6 pit. From the railway bridge, a group of eleven remained grazing. A fabulous start to the birding year - Richard Bashford


At 2.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, 13 WAXWINGS in Everton Village in 2 trees at the top of the hill on theroad to Tempsford airfield (per Ian Woiwood).

WAXWINGS in Shefford

17-23 in Hardwick Close and tree opposite on Bedford Road in NW Shefford for their second day (Martin Stevens)


No sign of Red-throated Diver today at Stewartby Lake. but 4 GREATER SCAUP still, the redhead SMEW and 1-2 BITTERNS (per Martin Green)

SHORT-EARED OWL over setaside at Wixams, Wilstead - 3 January

A SHORT-EARED OWL was hunting intermittently from 1430-1600 hours yesterday afternoon (Tony Donnelly, Andy Graham, Darren Thomas & Andy Plumb). It was flying back and forth over the wasteland/setaside immediately south of Dane Lane in the new estate complex west of the A6.


Delighted to spot a single WAXWING atop a tree in a neighbours garden earlier this morning, then heading out to investigate further found a modest flock of 10+ birds between Silver End and Northwood End.

Further excitement as on trying to follow the Waxwings down North Lane found 2 TREE SPARROWS in a cottage garden.

Three Bramblings regularly feeding in my garden now - started with just 1 at the outset of the cold weather (Christine)

Monday, 3 January 2011


Two drake Goosanders on Cowhill Belt Pond (Woburn Pk) this morning. Park by the Triumph garage, and look thro the trees to view.

In the park a little bit more free water than a week ago, and wildfowl numbers slowly building back up. Didn't do a full count, but 3 Shovelers, 90 Wigeons, 120 Greylags, 15 Gadwalls, 5 Teals, 18 Mute Swans, 65 Canadas and 100 Mallards,

The Waxwing count was 220 at 0830-0840 (Barry Nightingale)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

RED-THROATED DIVER still present on Stewartby

After a mediocre Ist January birding around MK lakes decided to have a look around Bedfordshire today.

Meeting up with Jack O' Neill at Woburn we immediately had cracking views of 180+ WAXWINGS feeding off the white rowans on the corner of Duck Lane and Leighton Street. They were perching up on the Antique hall roof then coming in to feed; they were also bathing and drinking in nearby house gutterings. One lone Mistle Thrush was calling and trying to keep them away from its favourite food source. also there

At Stewartby Lake, we soon found the RED-THROATED DIVER present for its second day at the railway end of the lake, leaving a wake behind it which was easily picked up by the low sun. At the other end we had a redhead SMEW, the continuing drake NORTHERN PINTAIL, 2 kingfishers, Green Woodpecker, a group of 4 GREATER SCAUPS (2m, 2f) and two (difficult) EURASIAN BITTERNS in the corner nearest Marston Moretaine. The icing on the cake was a superb flyby PEREGRINE. We also had Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel nearby.

On Pip Housden's suggestion we took advantage of the recently opened new roads to nip over to Radwell where Jack saw a Gippo Goose. We both saw a couple of BEWICK'S SWANS with a larger flock of Mutes nearby. Also present redwing & fieldfare flocks.

A first rate day's birding. Just goes to prove I should go over the border a bit more often (Dick Bodily).


7 WAXWINGS in tree on Goldington Road near Brookfield Road junction (per Beds Birds)

As are the 12 at Priory Country Park

The herd of 12 BEWICK'S SWANS arrived at Priory Country Park at 1645 last night and departed NE at 0758 this morning (Dave Kramer).

The 3 BEWICK'S SWANS are still at Radwell

The three adult BEWICK'S SWANS and an Egyptian goose are still present at Radwell today viewed from the railway bridge (Pip Housden)

WAXWINGS galore again in Wobirn

Between 178 and 225 WAXWINGS again in Woburn today, resting in trees around the green opposite the Inn at Woburn (per Peter Nash)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

RED-THROATED DIVER on Stewartby Lake - LGRE Diary Notes


Virtually all of the lying snow has now melted but on the lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, thick ice is still prevalent and many sites are still not ice-free. It was another reasonably mild day though (temperatures reaching 7 degrees C) but very dreary and grey, with rain moving in during the afternoon.

The undoubted highlight of the day was a RED-THROATED DIVER in Bedfordshire, found by Roy Nye.


Following a text from Johnny Lynch, I stopped off at Grovebury where I eventually located both flocks of Atlantic Canada Goose feeding in grass fields between the sand quarry and the Grand Union Canal. A single Greylag Goose was found amongst the 310 birds but I could find no trace of the very wary PINK-FOOTED GOOSE that John had seen earlier. The fields also yielded 2 Common Kestrels.


The last hour or so of daylight (1520-1615 hours) was spent at Stewartby Lake in intermittent rain, partly in accompaniament with Tim Robson and Martin Stevens.

The RED-THROATED DIVER was still present and favouring the sailing club end. It was very mobile and diving constantly and appeared to have somewhat scaly-fringed upperparts indicating a juvenile.

Being ice-free unlike neighbouring Brogborough Lake, large numbers of waterfowl were present at the site, including exceptional numbers of diving duck.......

Great Crested Grebes (127)
Little Grebes (9)
EURASIAN BITTERN (although up to 6 birds were seen during the ice, Tim and I obtained awesome views of a very pale individual wandering out in the open and on top of the Phragmites in the reedbed in the NW corner)
Mute Swan (1)
Mallard, Coot & Moorhen
Eurasian Wigeon (18)
Common Teal (44)
Tufted Duck (772)
*GREATER SCAUP (a first-winter drake with Tufted Ducks to the east of the watchpoint and two adult females in the NW arm to the right)
Northern Pochard (98)
Common Goldeneye (32)
WATER RAIL (2 heard)
A total of 800 gulls roosting, predominantly Black-headed, but including 55 Common, 18 Argenteus Herring, 90+ Scandinavian Herring, 44 Lesser Black-backed and 21 Great Black-backed; also 1 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL in with them too.
Common Kingfisher (1 by the stream)

Common Pheasant (1 male), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rook, Fieldfare, Redwing, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Wren, Robin, Long-tailed Tit and Blue Tit

At dusk, 1 PEREGRINE was roosting on top of one of the chimneys.


I was surprised to see a CURLEW feeding in the arable field adjacent to the road south from Cardington to Old Warden (the field is on the west side of the road, immediately after the road crosses the old railway line, Grid Ref approx TL 093466). I saw it at c4pm and again at 4:20pm. It appeared to be on its own - there were a fair number of thrushes also in the field, but no other waders visible (Mark)

Broom GP and environs

2+ BEARDED TITS still, 2 JACK SNIPE, 1 Woodcock, 3 Snipe, and Martin Stevens reported a probable Knot briefly at 11:10, but no further sign.

A single PINK-FOOTED GOOSE is still with the Greylag flock in fields north of Southill, and there are plenty of TREE SPARROWS to be found in the village. 70+ Bramblings are also still around the sunflower fields (Steve Blain)

WAXWINGS in Bedford

There are 20 WAXWINGS on Norse Road on the north-east side of Bedford this morning, until 11.50 at least, just east of the large roundabout with Church Lane and Wentworth Drive (per Tony Ploszatski)