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).

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hi all, its "Gull Time" !!!

I did my first gull count of the "autumn" this afternoon scanning over the new borrow pits north-west of Marsh Leys, Kempston from the blue footbridge over the A421 by-pass.....

4 Yellow-legged Gulls - 1 adult, 1 fourth year, 2 first summers - also 180 variously aged, but mostly younger, Lesser Black-backs, 1 first-summer Great Black-back, 22 B H Gulls inc 2 fledged juveniles

others species present during my 5.10 to 5.30pm visit were a pair and singleton Little Ringed Plover inc a bird sitting on a scrape nest, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron, 12a 10j Mallards, 8 Stock Doves, 1 G C Grebe, 1 Mute Swan, 8 Pied Wagtails, and a few Wood Pigeons. 2 Magpies and a Green Woodpecker were by the old A421 close by the Kempston Hardwick turning.Earlier, I had visited Rookery South ClP from 3.35 until 4.55pm. Mammals were a Chinese Water Deer, 1 Brown Hare, a (presumed) Bank Vole and a few Rabbits. Buttys included Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Large Skippers and a couple of Marbled Whites.Some 35 bird species were noted as follows; quite a few G C Grebes inc juvs, 3 Dabchicks, 2 Cormorants, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, quite a few Mute Swans with 2 broods of 5 cygnets each, 2 x 2a 2j Canada Geese, several Mallards, 1 pair Shoveler, 3 Common Teal, well over 20 Pochards, Tufted Ducks, 2 Moorhens, numerous Coots, several Lapwings inc a family of 4 downy juvs, at least 10 R/LR Plovers inc at least 4 L R Plovers and 2 Ringed Plovers, 4 Common Redshanks, numerous B H Gulls inc 2 x 2 juvs, 2 L B Backs, 1 sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull flew over, at least 7 pairs of Common Terns nesting, 2 single Carrion Crows, 1 Stock Dove, numerous Wood Pigeons, 2 single Swifts, 2 single House Martins, 1+ Long-tailed Tit in mixed tit flock with a Phyllosc, 2 Common Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler heard, 2 Blackbirds, 1 singing Yellowhammer, 1 Chaffinch, a few Reed Bunting

Martin J Palmer

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Return migration now under way: BLACK-TAILED GODWITS in Rookery

In Rookery South ClP this morning: 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Lapwing broods, 1 Redshank brood, 09:30, per Keith Owen.

Monday, 27 June 2011

College Wood, Northill - butterflies

Splendid lunch-hour at College Wood (nr Northill) today. A Peregrine circling overhead, and two Tawny Owls flushed (one of which crashed outof its tree like a Woodpigeon). But more interest in the butterflies -at least six White-letter Hairstreak, two White Admiral and two Silver-washed Fritillaries. One of the latter coming down for moisture/salts on the gravel at the entrance to the wood, giving greatviews (Mark Eaton)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Another calling COMMON QUAIL

05:30 - 06:00 at least, west of footpath running SSW between Sutton High Street and West Sunderland Farm. TL217467 - just into TL24D. Also, atlas upgrades for TL24D: YW (FL) and CB (T).Yesterday, 4+ Marbled Whites at Sutton Mill Road, Potton - Darren Oakley-Martin

Sunday, 19 June 2011


New workings at Willington (NE of Ouse)

EURASIAN CURLEW flew west at 1720 (Dave Ball)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A rare trip up north


Well the forecasted rain failed to materialise. In fact, it remained dry all day, only clouding up late in the afternoon. Temperatures held up too, with the light westerly breeze continuing

With news of Richard's Quail coming up so early, my plans for the day were quickly made up..........


Grange Farm is at the extreme north of the county, almost on the Northamptonshire border, and falls within Richard Bashford's remit for BTO Atlas surveying. At 0620 hours this morning, he heard a COMMON QUAIL calling. As I had missed the only previous Quail in the county this year, at Broom West, I made my way up there as soon as I could.

I was eventually in position early afternoon and after a little tempting, the bird was heard calling from the spring rape field immediately north of the Grange Farm outbuildings at TL 075 664. It called on about eight occasions between midday and 1300 hours, uttering only its ''wet-my-lips'' call-note and never the ''wow-wow'' note of imminent breeding.

A winter rape field on the opposite side of the track at TL 076 667 held a singing male REED BUNTING whilst Linnets were particularly numerous in the area (45) with a number of family parties seen. A single RED KITE was also drifting over the fields.

Grange Farm itself held 8 Chaffinches, Dunnock, male Greenfinch and Common Blackbird and whilst chatting to the farm owner and informing him of the Quail, he told me that both Little Owl and barn Owl bred in the vicinity.


I then moved south to Little Staughton, where I was somewhat surprised (and pleased) by the number of House Sparrows - 22 in total. A male Yellowhammer was singing from the wires by South Hoo Cottage.

At a regular site at the extreme south end of Staughton Airfield, and opposite Berry Woods Farm at Bushmead, the thin coppice and associated scrub produced a 'purring' male EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE - only my second in the county this year. The coppice also yielded a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Greenfinch, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat. In fact, Common Whitethroats were frequently encountered this far north in the county.


I continued driving south down Chequers Hill, passing through Colmworth to Wilden. Again, House Sparrows were very prevalent on this road, virtually every farmhold having them, with 6 pairs in Colmworth, 4 pairs at 'The Cornfields' and a further 15 birds to the road junction. Colmworth also produced breeding Song Thrush and another singing male Common Chiffchaff.

At Northfield Farm nearby (TL 110 635), confirmed breeding by both Linnet and Barn Swallow was made.


In Great Barford, more House Sparrows were recorded, as well as a colony of 4 nesting pairs of House Martin.

BEDFORDSHIRE: checking one of our PEREGRINE nests, I was amazed to find no less than four well-grown chicks on site - suggesting plenty of food availability.


Following up a visit by Tony P on Thursday, I did a wide circuit of the wood trying to track down the Crossbill flock but failed; however the habitat looks superb, particularly the open heath to the south of the house for sale. Not too much in the way of birdlife but did manage both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Jay, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff, Wren, Goldcrest (2 singing males) and Jackdaw, Muntjac and Common Blue and Meadow Brown butterflies. There was a lot of Common Buzzard activity over the wood.


Met up with Martin Green briefly in an attempt to see either of the two pairs of European Turtle Dove on site but neither materialised - Martin had seen them earlier though, including one of them on wires above his garden. The CETTI'S WARBLER was repeatedly singing from the overgrown ditch between his garden and the lake and in Green Lane, RED KITE, a male Bullfinch and 2 singing Willow Warblers were noted.


Literally on the Bucks county border is Salcey Forest where this year, record numbers of WOOD WHITE butterflies have emerged (over 90 being transected between Piddington Lodge and the Milking Oak plantation this May). With 22 still on the wing prior to this week's deluge, I tried my luck this afternoon but the weather was against me - and increasing winds and cloudy skies meant that I drew a blank (park in the designated car park at SP 812 509 and follow the cycleway north).

Despite the lack of butterflies, the woodlands were a hive of activity, with many families of birds on the move - Blue Tits, Great Tts, Wrens, Long-tailed Tits, Common Treecreepers, Nuthatches, Common Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. More noteworthy were Common Buzzard, 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks, 3 Goldcrest and a singing male Garden Warbler.


In Dag Lane, 3 TREE SPARROW chambers were occupied in the main colony, the adults busily carrying in insect food for the 'cheeping' young. Nearby, I located 11 active House Martin nests under the eaves of 43 Chimney Cottage, as well as a nesting pair of Common Swifts.


Although I failed in my quest to locate any Little Owls at 5 sites kindly provided to me by Rob Hill, I did stumble upon an adult COMMON RAVEN accompanying a single begging youngster close to the hall. I was alerted to them both by the adult's unmistakable deep croaking calls - seemingly calling the youngster over or perhaps keeping contact with the partnering adult.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Another blank with Crossbill but CORN BUNTING numbers hold up in isolated areas


A breezy day with the wind coming from the Southwest, with some heavy rain showers in between some long spells of warm sunshine.

Common Quail was the target of the day, along with Common Crossbill, whilst I took the opportunity to do some Corn Bunting surveying whilst over that way.........


After Chris Beach and his wife scored with COMMON QUAIL yesterday evening, I started at that site first today. I was not disappointed as one male was repeatedly calling from a barley field SW of the Icknield Way Path at TL 171 314......

This area was also very good for CORN BUNTINGS, with 8 individuals being noted in the greener less advanced crop fields (two nesting pairs and 4 additional jangling males) (see locations on Google Earth maps above), whilst Pound Farm outbuildings themselves had both nesting Common Kestrel and Jackdaw and the fields either side of the path held at least 7 pairs of Eurasian Skylark.

The farmland transect also yielded Stock Dove and numerous Barn Swallows whilst the gardens opposite adjoining the A600 held Dunnock, Wren and House Sparrow.


Jim Gurney and I spent several hours wandering the new heath and reserve but failed in our quest to locate any Common Crossbills. The main highlight were the nesting SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS by the Gatehouse. The RSPB have established a watchpoint from where the pair can be watched, a few yards from the toilet block behind the shop. The sitting birds can be easily seen.


Pleased with my success at Pound Farm, I decided to check the farmland between the A600 and Shillington for Corn Bunting and carefully surveyed the countryside.

Holwell village was a new site for me and I was very pleased with the number of House Sparrows present - 6 at Holwell House along Holwell Road and another colony of identical number in Colindale garden on Pirton Road. A free-roaming Common Peafowl was at Burnden House, whilst Common Blackbird (9 pairs), Chaffinch (singing male) and Goldfinch (pair) were noted.

Just west of the village at New Wrights Farm Kennels (TL 155 327), two pairs of Barn Swallow were nesting and a male CORN BUNTING was singing. A family party of 5 Linnets was also noteworthy.


Next off was Pirton, where again breeding House Sparrows were significant - 1 pair at Rose Cottage, 3 pairs in Little Lane and a further 7 pairs along the High Street. Further proven breeding species included Collared Dove, Common Starling, Common Blackbird, Song Thrush and Goldfinch.

Between Pirton and Apsley End, the roadside hedgerow produced 3 singing male Common Whitethroats, whilst the horse paddocks at Rectory Farm held 35 post-breeding Rooks.


So, despite having high hopes, all I found was 1 additional singing male CORN BUNTING on my slow drive through perfect countryside. Streatley of course is another stronghold for this rapidly declining species and at the far west end of the road (see map above), a cluster of 5 or so birds was located within a small area. At least 8 Common Whitethroats were in the same area and a male Yellowhammer was in song to the east of Barton Hill Farm. On the road, I had a brief incursion with a family of Weasels.


In Sharpenhoe (at TL 064 305), a pair of House Sparrows was nesting in the roof of the Lynmore Country Pub, whilst in Barton-le-Clay, a very healthy population of 30 or more pairs of House Sparrow was recorded. In St Nicholas' Churchyard, two GOLDCRESTS were in song from the Junipers and Coal Tits had successfully bred but there was no sign of the nesting pair of Spotted Flycatchers.


Totternhoe is another traditional area for CORN BUNTINGS and I was very pleased to locate 5 different males in the Wellhead Road area (at least two males being paired up and breeding)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

TURNSTONE at second attempt but still no Crossbills


The wind shifted to the Southwest today but it still remained warm and dry with some relatively long spells of sunshine.

Being otherwise occupied adding a new bird to my British List in Cleveland when Keith Owen discovered a Turnstone in Bedfordshire last night, I tried my luck today after Steve Blain informed me that Stuart Winter had confirmed its presence today mid morning.......


It was bright sunshine when I visited Rookery Pit this afternoon and problematic for finding and identifying waders in the glare and at such distance. As a result and after nearly an hour of scanning, I admitted defeat and failed to locate either the Turnstone nor the Dunlins.

I did locate 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 5 Common Redshanks, as well as 3 Little Egrets, 21 Northern Pochard, Hobby and 10 Common Swifts, whilst successful breeding was proven for Great Crested Grebe (1 pair with 3 stripy young and another with 2), Mute Swan (both nesting pairs now accompanied by five small cygnets apiece), Coot (pair with 4 small young), Common Whitethroat (several juveniles fledged) and Willow Warbler (adult feeding single begging young).

A male Western Reed Warbler was singing from scrub near Jackdaw Bridge and 6 Stock Doves were at the manure pile by the track entrance.


I visited nearby Quest Pit on the offchance that the Turnstone had moved there but it hadn't. The site was looking superb though with lots of muddy edges and prime wader habitat.

There was a large loafing gull roost incorporating mainly Lesser Black-backs (just under 200), with just a single 3rd-summer Argenteus Herring Gull amongst them. Four Lapwings and a Ringed Plover represented the waders with the nesting pair of Mute Swans accompanied by 6 cygnets. A Little Egret was present, several Common Swifts and more fledgling Common Whitethroats being fed.

ROOKERY PIT (return visit)

With cloud blotting out the sun early evening (1730 hours), I was very pleased to get a call from Keith informing me that the (RUDDY) TURNSTONE was again present - and Little Egret numbers had increased to six. I raced over to join him and within ten minutes of his call was finally able to connect - the bird itself being a fabulous adult in full breeding plumage (waders don't come much better in appearance than Turnstones in full plumage). A few minutes after getting on to it as it fed on a distant island, it flew up with a single adult Dunlin and several Ringed Plovers, the flock heading off strongly east. Fortuitously, the Turnstone broke away from them and flew back to the island. It represented my 173rd species in the county this year.


Spent a couple of hours this evening searching for Common Crossbills but failed in my quest - large numbers of Common Treecreepers and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Chinese Water Deer but surprisingly little else of note.

TURNSTONE in Rookery last night

TURNSTONE, 2 Dunlin, 3 Little Egrets in Rookery South this evening, per Keith Owen.