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).

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.

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