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).

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Lodge RSPB - bumper number of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS


The last day of May started off rather chilly and overcast (with the odd light shower) but as the day progressed, a ridge of high pressure moved in from the Southeast bringing clear skies, sunshine and increasing temperatures. As such, it was a very pleasant evening.

Apart from a brief excursion to Bedfordshire, most of my time was spent locally, where I was delighted to see more SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and an abundance of HOUSE SPARROWS.......

(1200-1515 hours)

Spent several enjoyable hours in the company of the reserve warden Andy Schofield attempting to fathom out what was happening with the FIRECREST by the reserve gatehouse - very intriguing to say the least. This bird, first seen by Andy in mid March, was still present and singing from a variety of trees and shrubs - but was incredibly difficult to see - flitting between branches largely out of view in the foliage. It sang several times from a tall Cedar in the car park and from the line of Laurels bordering the car park and was joined on at least two occasions by a singing male Goldcrest.

Perhaps of more significance were the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS - new for me for the year in Beds. The reserve this year is hosting up to five pairs of this diminishing summer migrant, with 1-2 pairs in the gatehouse garden and adjacent coppice, another singing male in the vicinity of the first grid on the access road and two different pairs in the Lodge house gardens themselves. Terrific news - and supplemented by the pair not far away in Tempsford Churchyard.

Steve Blain, Mark Ward, Andy and I also enjoyed remarkable views of a family group of Nuthatches - three juveniles all lined up on a branch waiting to be fed in turn by the parents

A COMMON CROSSBILL flew high across the 'new' heath and at least 7 Common Swifts were overhead.


Not much happening other than a pair of Little Ringed Plovers chasing each other about, 27 Black-headed Gulls (several pairs nesting on the central island), 6 Common Terns (also nesting) and a pair of Linnets feeding on the mud.

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in Rookery Pit - Monday 30 May


After what seemed like an age, a band of heavy rain moved across the region yesterday afternoon and evening on the fringe of an Atlantic Front that moved northeastwards. This managed to 'down' numerous passage waders, including impressive numbers of SANDERLING, a PURPLE SANDPIPER in Oxfordshire and a number of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. Incredibly, one of the latter was forced down into Rookery Pit - the first ever to be twitchable in Bedfordshire and sparking off a major local twitch..........


Keith Owen stumbled upon the male RED-NECKED PHALAROPE in Rookery at 1145 hours, about half an hour before the belt of rain moved in. It was joined by a single SANDERLING. Keith immediately contacted Steve Blain and others of his momentous find and within minutes Andy Plumb had broadcast it to the county's keenest.....

I happened to be in West Wycombe at the time so it was a very hasty retreat but in just under the hour, I had made it to the damp pitside, joining MJP, Dave Odell, Pip Housden, SB, LC, BC, Mike Ilett, Cliff Tack, Richard Woodhead and others by the second railway bridge. The phalarope was still present and feeding along the east shore, swimming in and out of the shallow muddy bays. By now, it was drizzling and in the poor weather conditions, a further 5 migrant SANDERLINGS had dropped in, as well as 2 summer-plumaged Dublin and 2 apparent Tundra Ringed Plovers. There were also a few Common Redshank to be seen.

As with most waders in the pit, the phalarope could only be viewed at great range and it was not possible to make out finite feather detail. LC had been closer and had managed a few shots and from what I could ascertain, the lack of contrast and intensity in the plumage and the presence of a pale supercilium suggested that the bird was a male. It constantly fed in the shallows and took short flights on occasion but was still present until 1500 hours when I departed (and much later when Darin Stanley visited at 1945 hours).

Red-necked Phalarope is a surprisingly massively rare bird in Bedfordshire with just ONE record mentioned in Steele-Elliott (1904) - a female shot on the glebe pond at Houghton Conquest on about 1 June 1890. (note the close proximity of date with our bird). Since then, only TWO have been discovered -:

2) A female in breeding plumage present at Priory Country Park during the morning of 30 May 1991 and observed from a distance of just 10 feet ! (Park rangers Roy Tomes & Roy Bates - photographed)

3) A juvenile seen very briefly by Jack O'Neill at Dunstable Sewage Works on 31 August 1995.

In addition, two phalaropes watched very distantly at Stewartby Lake on 12-13 September 1969 were considered to be most likely this species by observers.

So, as you can see, a very rare bird in the county indeed and a new species for virtually everyone, and representing my 259th species in the county and my 170th species of the year.

In addition to the waders, the 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were still present (two drakes).

Monday, 30 May 2011


Keith Owen discovered a male RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on the mud in Rookery Pit at 1145 hours, the bird then remaining until dusk allowing virtually all of the county's keenest listers to connect. There were also 6 SANDERLINGS present, part of a widespread influx of the species inland today. I shall write a full report tomorrow...........

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


What a corker. Steve Blain obtained this terrific shot. This was the breeding plumaged adult SLAVONIAN GREBE that graced Priory Country Park lake all day Saturday before moving north to Mary's Lake at Summer Leys NR in Northamptonshire. Well it was going well for me, but with dipping so many good birds, MJP is now at least 5 species clear of me at the helm, as regards 2011 County Listing...........

Monday, 23 May 2011


Dave Barnes discovered a SLAVONIAN GREBE at Priory Country Park on Saturday 21 May early morning - the bird remaining until dusk

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sunday 15 May - MJP Diary Notes

a quick round up of my wanderings today 15/5/11....

Willington GP's (mid morning) ~ 1 Turtle Dove, 1 Nightingale, 2+ Garden Warblers, 1 Small Heath butty

Dunstable STW (from noon) ~ the drake Ring-necked Duck turned out to have a dodgy grand parent of the Tufty persuasion, a feral Whooper Swan flew off honking (thanks for access Rob)

Brogborough Lake (c12.45) ~ 23 G C Grebes but little else

Green Lane, Stewartby ~ Turtle Dove on wires at breakers yard, north corner of Stewartby Lake c3.45pm

Rookery South ClP (3.50 to c4.30) ~ a Grey Plover was new in, numerous Swifts, 2 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 9 Ringed Plovers, pair Teal, 1 drake Red Crested Pochard

London Lane, Houghton Conquest ~ a Cuckoo seen on roadside wires

Gypsy Lane (crop field by public footpath on west side of road north of excavations) ~ 1 Quail heard on 3 occasions between 5.00 and 5.45pm, numerous Swifts

A421 Harrowden ~ a Hobby flew low over the Bedford by-pass c 6.00pm


p.s. Grasshopper Warbler heard from roadside adjacent to public footpath up from play area at Lidlington Village c9.15pm Friday 13th May approx SP992388

Sunday Highlights

A winter-plumaged GREY PLOVER was present in Rookery Pit all evening (MJP, LGRE), whilst 10 ARCTIC TERNS flew quickly through Grovebury (Johnny Lynch)

QUAIL calling Gypsy Lane West pits in field north of flood occasionally early afternoon, per Martin Stevens.

Ring-necked Duck hybrid

This drake Tufted Duck x Ring-necked Duck hybrid was present on Lagoon 2 at Dunstable Sewage Farm all day yesterday (Lol Carman)

Friday, 13 May 2011

A good morning at The Lodge

A few bits of news from the Lodge thanks to Andy Schofield:

Woodlark - one seen this morning (13th) flying over the new heath then off towards the transmitter. The first sighting here since early april.

Tree Pipit - one heard briefly on the new heath on Wednesday (11th).

Spotted Flycatchers - now four singing along the drive between the gatehouse and the main house.

Common Crossbill - one over the new heath this morning (13th)

Steve Blain

LITTLE TERN briefly in Rookery (05 May)

Little Tern Rookery South now MJP. MJG. DHB 17.45

Broom summary this morning

Broom summary for this morning:

Black Terns:
4 through at 06:37
3 through at 06:43
3 through at 07:07
2 through at 08:40

Total: 12

Little Gulls:

2 through at 06:37
3 through at 07:10

Total: 5

Also a Bar-headed Goose, a Tundra Ringed Plover, and two LRP's.


Broom passage of LITTLE GULLS and BLACK TERNS (05 May)

At least 10 BLACK TERNS and 5 LITTLE GULLS flew east through Broom early to mid morning on 5 May (per Mark Thomas)

Now 3 WOOD SANDPIPERS in Rookery

3 WOOD SANDPIPERS, male Ruff, Greenshank the highlights from Roookery this evening (Steve Blain)

Waders present today - 03 May

In Rookery this morning: Whimbrel, Ruff, Wood Sand, 2 Common Sands, Garganey.

At Broom GP this afternoon:2 Turnstones on main lake

All news thanks to Jim Gurney.

03 MAY: first SPOTTED FLYS at The Lodge

Andy Schofield reports a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER in the area between The Lodge shop and the toilet block this afternoon (03 May). By 13 May, at least 4 birds were present along the access road.

More news from Broom (03 May)

RED KNOT on Gypsy Lane East pits still, Greenshank and 1s Little Gull on the main lake, Broom GP this lunchtime (SB/MG/MW)

Also late news for 30th April concerns a male MONTAGU'S HARRIER seen briefly but well west of Harrold by Mark Bolton. Also a male Ring Ouzel up in a paddock there (SP935566) and still present yesterday (Steve Blain)

WHITE STORK of unknown origin over Stewartby Lake

WHITE STORK currently circling over Stewartby lake gull watchpoint, 12:23, per Bob Hook and Martin Green.

03 MAY: Late RING OUZEL at Blows

07:15-11:00 Blows Downs - 3 May

Ring Ouzel - Female on top of 'New Slope' - Staffan

03 MAY - BLACK TERN at Brogborough

Dave Odell has just called me to report a BLACK TERN on the westernmost of the private pits of the old Brogborough Landfill site[NOT Brogborough Lake]. This is not too far from where SCB found a Snow Bunting a couple of years back and ties in nicely with the passage observed by MT at Broom today (MJP)

BLACK TERNS at Broom (03 May)

Broom BLACK TERNS - The 3 left out after 5 mins and another has just come in (Mark Thomas)

02 MAY - WAXWINGS still present near Heath and Reach

At least 25 Waxwings remain in Sandhouse Lane, Heath and Reach, in the hedgerow near its junction with the A5 this afternoon (Geoff Dawes)

02 MAY - TEMMINCK'S STINT in Rookery

An elusive TEMMINCK'S STINT was present in Rookery Pit South this evening, seen by 15 or so observers before dusk

Two WOOD SANDPIPERS in Rookery South (02 May)

Two WOOD SANDPIPERS, 2 RUFF, 2 Turnstones and drake Garganey in Rookery South. 15.45, Steve Blain

Broom Update (02 May)

Red Knot, Turnstone, and 1s Little Gull all still present at Broom GP 14.00 - Steve Blain

PURPLE HERON still present (02 MAY)

The PURPLE HERON was feeding out in the open on the far side of Rookery Pit this morning, loosely associating with five Grey Herons. It flew up and away over the terraced earthwork area well to the right of the blue hut (Barry Squires)

More passage at Broom (02 May)

6 ad Little Gulls in/out of Broom GP at 08.25, also 2 Turnstones in at 08.30 (Steve Blain)

More BAR-WITS at Grovebury (02 May)

7 new BAR-TAILED GODWITS at Grovebury SP 07.30, per Johnny Lynch

TURTLE DOVE returns to Stewartby

02 May: EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE purring on wires above my parents garden 200 yards east of Stewartby Lake gullwatch at 6.30am on 02 May (Martin Green)

The passage of BAR-WITS continues (o2 May)

4 BAR-TAILED GODWITS at Derek Whites Eggs pit 05.45 - Steve Blain

02 MAY - early morning update - KNOT still present

Mark Thomas reports the RED KNOT still present on Peacock's Lake, Broom - 0530 hours at least

01 May - RED KNOT

Thanks to MJG for the txts and JG for the call, I was able to dash over to Broom this evening and take a gander thro' Steve's, Pip's and Jim's 'scopes at the excellent quartet all together on the north corner of Peacock's Island ~~ summer plumage RED KNOT, first-summer Little Gull, Pied Avocet and Common Sandpiper all still present at 8.00pm - more than made up for dipping the Knot duo present only briefly in Rookery South ClP this lunchtime - MJP

RED KNOT at Broom (01 May)

Mark Thomas discovered a RED KNOT at Broom Peacock's Lake this evening (01 May)

01 MAY: A total of 53 WHIMBRELS through Broom today

Pied Avocet, Arctic Tern, and another Whimbrel on Peacocks Island (making 53 for the day here!) 15.30 - Steve Blain

01 MAY: 2 RED KNOT in Rookery

2 RED KNOTS in Rookery South 12.30, per Keith Owen - the first of the year in the county

And yet more passage waders

7 BAR-TAILED GODWITS in at Grovebury SP at 09.30, per Johnny Lynch.

2 Greenshanks over, 3 Dunlin, 5 Tundra Ringed Plovers at Derek WE pit 10.00, per Steve Blain

Also a Greenshank at Gypsy Lane East, Broom GP 10.30, per Matt Burgess.

01 May: PURPLE HERON still about and more passage waders

01 MAY: between 06:30 and 08:30 this morning at Rookery Pit South;

Ruff 2;
Dunlin 2;
Bar-t Godwit 4;
Common Snipe 2;
Green Sandpiper 2;
Common Greenshank 1;
RC Pochard 1;
Common Redshank 6;
Garganey continuing drake

According to the security guy the PURPLE HERON was seen at 06:00 in the far corner of Rookery South, nearest to the two blue metal boxes (Barry Nightingale)

01 May: more rare waders

4 BAR-TAILED GODWITS and a WHIMBREL on Derek Whites Eggs pit 06.30, per Jim Gurney

01 May - yet another AVOCET

PIED AVOCET now on Peacocks Island, Broom GP, 09.00, Martin Steven (01 May)

First LITTLE TERN of year

Johnny Lynch recorded the first LITTLE TERN of the year today as it briefly passed through Grovebury Pit (1 May)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

WOOD SANDPIPER at Gypsy Lane - 30 April

WOOD SANDPIPER briefly on Gypsy Lane East pits, 17.35, but no sign since, per Martin Stevens

More waders in Rookery South - 30 APRIL

2 RUFFS, a WHIMBREL, the 2 TURNSTONES and 2 COMMON GREENSHANKS all present at 1540 hours - MJP

GREY PLOVERS at Grovebury - 30 APRIL

30 April: Two GREY PLOVER at Grovebury, found by Bob Henry 14.00 - later seen by Bob & Lol

First TURNSTONES of year - and PURPLE HERON still present

30 APRIL: Two TURNSTONES and a Marsh Harrier in Rookery 11:30, per Roy Nye

Earlier, PURPLE HERON still present and seen briefly in flight this morning - between north and south pits 08.15, pet Mike Ilett. Also EURASIAN CURLEW and 5 BAR-TAILED GODWITS in there.

30 April: More BAR-WITS through

Mid-morning Broom GP update:

5 More Barwits in at 07:45, then out at 08:15
Peregrine - imm north
Little Egret - 1 north at 08:40
Little Gull - 1 first-summer
Med Gull - 1 first-summer on Peacocks island

And Martin Stevens had a Marsh Harrier over at 11am (per Steve Blain)

Earlier SCB had 2 Barwits north 06.55, also 3 Greenshanks N, 2 tundra Ringo's, Dunlin, Green and Common Sands briefly on Gypsy Lane West flood.