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).

Friday, 29 July 2011

Duff GARGANEY still at Blunham

At Blunham Lake this lunchtime: Eclipse drake Garganey, 2 Crossbills, 2 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 3 Mandarin, 1 Wigeon, c.30 Gadwall, c.50 Mallard, 1 Oystercatcher (Steve Blain)

Both Wood Warbler and Pied Fly gone but adult RUFF new in at Rookery


Mainly grey and overcast all day with a fresh northeasterly wind blowing. Consequently, a few passage waders arrived.......

(with Stephen Northwood)

Highlight here was a male RUFF that touchdowned for just ten minutes early afternoon.

Other waders present included 275 post-breeding Lapwings, 4 Ringed Plovers, 3 adult DUNLIN, 5 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Redshanks and 5 COMMON GREENSHANKS

Also noted were 11 Little Grebes, 5 Little Egrets, the pair of Mute Swans with four surviving cygnets, 2 adult HOBBIES, 113 Black-headed Gulls, 23 Common Terns, 3 Willow Warblers and several Common Whitethroats.


Returned once more to Bedford Park, putting in two hours of searching from 1400-1600 hours. No sign of the juvenile PIED FLYCATCHER nor 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS that I had seen the previous evening in the tiny coppice of trees immediately SE of the bowling green nor any sign of the Wood Warbler that had proved so elusive yesterday. At least 4 Common Chiffchaffs still in the coppice, the juvenile Willow Warbler and 12 Goldcrests. Also several Song Thrushes in the park, 25 Goldfinch and 12 Greenfinch, whilst a flock of loafing Black-headed Gulls yielded a single sub-adult Common Gull.

Rookery South

John O'Sullivan and I spent a very pleasant sunny hour at Rookery late afternoon yesterday. Perhaps the most unexpected bird was an immature Northern Wheatear which was hanging around the start of the access track just past the slurry heap. Apparently a migrant, but somewhat early for Bedfordshire I would have thought? On the pit itself we counted the following: 3 Little Egrets, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 4-5 Greenshanks, 4 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 1 LRP, 3-4 Ringed Plovers, many Lapwings, 1 female Shoveler, 3-4 Common Terns. Sadly no sign of Keith's Sanderling of the previous day (David Fisher and John O'Sullivan)

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Both still present, when I left just after 14:00 in the same group of trees. Excellent views of the WOOD WARBLER, frequently returning to the smaller Oak tree, at the base of the fork in the path, also favouring the Sycamores and Cherrys. Obliging pair of Spotted Flycatchers with three young, also in the same trees, as well as a couple of Treecreeper, and a bonus flyover calling Common Crossbill. Local, urban birding at its best! David Roche --- David had found both birds this morning - a Wood Warbler and a juvenile PIED FLYCATCHER in the same group of trees in Bedford Park. They are at grid ref TL051510 - basically between the band stand, pavillion, and lake. Take the path north-west from the band stand until the small cross-roads. Then take the right-hand path through some Hornbeams to the next group of trees. The Pied Fly was still showing this evening but not the Wood Warbler - the latter disappeared about 1830 hours......

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


In Rookery this evening: SANDERLING, 4 Greenshank, 2 Common Sands, Green Sand, 2 Snipe, 3 Little Egrets, and Peregrine - all per Keith Owen

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


A few bits of news, per Steve Blain

A EUROPEAN NIGHTJAR was seen at The Lodge by Graham Wilton-Jones on Sunday evening (24th), but unfortunately hasn't been seen since.

A Ring-necked Parakeet also flew over here on Monday morning (25th), per Andy Schofield. Another Ring-necked Parakeet (or perhaps the same one?) flew over Waterloo Thorns on Sunday 17th, per Guy Anderson,

Friday, 22 July 2011

Roosting gulls back in vogue

Ad Caspian Gull, 1s Med Gull, 2 Common Gulls, 6 Yl Gulls, 430 Bh Gulls, 460 Lbb Gulls roosted on the Washout pit at Broom GP this evening (Steve Blain)


Di and I spent a very pleasant late morning (10.55 to 1.35) strolling around Sharpenhoe Clappers followed by lunch at The Lynmore country pub at the bottom of the hill.

The array of wildflowers in full show were stunning but so too were the Buttys - 16 species seen inc over 50 Chalkhill Blues - the vast majority were fresh males which I got some good photos of and especially also photos of a coupled pair. A total of 12 Dark Green Fritillaries were seen too. A Marsh Tit showed well in the wood and a Green Woodpecker sat atop a fence post for a while.

Highlight of the pub at lunchtime - apart from the very good beef and horseradish sandwich and pint of Tribute - was a superb Hummingbird Hawkmoth at one the hanging baskets in the garden.

Early evening, I visited the borrow pits on the north side of the A421 s.w. of Marsh Leys, Kempston - a Little Ringed Plover, a Grey Heron and 3 Little Egrets gave good views from the new blue footbridge over the main road.

Just around the corner, along the Kempston western by-pass, a large flock of gulls were settled in a dry field ~ 115 Lesser Black-backs, 50 B H Gulls, 1 f.s. Great Black-back and an excellent tally of 21 mostly adult Yellow-legged Gulls were all scoped from the car (Martin Plamer)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

MED GULL at Priory

A fine adult Mediterranean Gull this morning, but it departed SW at 0853. Also the first returning adult Common Gull (Dave Kramer)

Saturday, 9 July 2011


An early morning visit on my way to Bedford bore fruit.

Little Egret 5, Greenshank 3, Reeve 1, Redshank 6, Lapwing 60+ with chicks, Ringed Plover 6, Little Ringed Plover 2, Green Sandpiper 1 and best of all 6 stunning Black-tailed Godwits in full breeding plumage.The godwits arrived at 07.50 and just as I was reaching for my mobile to phone Steve and Andy to put the word out they promptly took off and flew over my head heading in a south easterly direction, they were only present for about 4 minutes (Peter Smith)

Friday, 8 July 2011

QUAIL still calling at Willington

8:00 - 9:00 pm Thursday evening- Quail still calling from wheat field approx 150m west of Hill Farm, Wood Lane. Also single Turtle Dove and Curlew over in westerly direction (Robin Edwards)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rookery Pit today


Although the first half of the day was relatively bright and calm, the second half was dominated by increasing winds from the Southwest. A few sharp heavy rain showers also quickly swept through. This deepening front was responsible for pushing over 660 Cory's Shearwaters in front of it, moving west past the Runnel Stone at Gwennap Head, Porthgwarra (West Cornwall)......

With such conditions, I fully expected a wave of new waders in Rookery Pit South but the only arrivals landed after I had departed the site.........


Cliff Tack and I had a good look around Rookery Pit South early afternoon, recording 10 species of wader - not bad for early July......

The haul included 61 Lapwing (including 11 fledged young), the adult Oystercatcher, 4 Common Redshanks, 6 Ringed Plovers, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS, a female RUFF (second day), 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 COMMON GREENSHANKS and the continuing adult WOOD SANDPIPER. Keith Owen recorded a 11th species in the evening, when 4 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS dropped in.

Also noted were the single Little Egret, both Great Crested and Little Grebe with chicks, both pairs of Mute Swans including that with the 5 cygnets, 5 Common Teal, 3 Shoveler, 23 Northern Pochard and 76 Black-headed Gulls.


A post-breeding flock of 256 Common Starlings on wires, including virtually 50% (119 birds) juvenile birds.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

WOOD SAND still in Rookery, as well as RUFF and 5 GREENSHANK

Wood Sand, Green Sand, Common Sand, Ruff, and 5 Greenshank in Rookery South ClP this evening, per Keith Owen

Southill QUAIL present for second day

I heard the Quail again distantly from my garden at 9.15pm so I picked up Tony Squires and Gary Dilly and we walked round a few fields. We heard the bird a few more times between 9.30 and 10.15pm, always distant and never singing for long. It was in the field south of the road that heads west towards Ireland from the Southill-Stanford road. It might be audible from the beer garden of the Green Man in Stanford! Certainly further away than last night and it seemed to be moving all the time tonight (Paul Donald)




Another glorious day weatherwise, with long sunny periods, warm temperatures and no wind. Having been busy all weekend, I took advantage of the sunshine to do some butterflying - and in particular, for searching for PURPLE EMPERORS, my favourite British butterfly. I was not disappointed...........Avian highlights included a few returning waders, including a WOOD SANDPIPER....


In Wingrave Road, I came across a breeding colony of Common Swifts - some 8 adults entering a hole in the guttering at number 8, alomost opposite The Pheasant public house.


There was no sign of yesterday's adult Wood Sandpiper, seen by both Paul Reed and David Bilcock. In fact, there were much fewer waders present than of late, with no sign of the family party of 4 Oystercatchers.

A quick inventory check revealed the presence of 3 Mute Swans (the pair with just one surviving cygnet still), 1 Greylag Goose, 113 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 female Common Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, two family groups of Moorhen (1 with 5 chicks and another with 3 chicks), 4 Common Redshank, 15 Lapwing (including 9 young of varying ages), 4 Little Ringed Plovers (2 pairs), 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Terns and several Western Reed Warblers.


Once again, absolutely no sign of either adult Peregrine in the nest chamber or anywhere else on the building.


In an extensive search of the area and nearby sites, no sign of Richard Birch's pair of European Turtle Doves from last Friday. Warren Claydon also failed during a search over the weekend. If my bad luck continues throughout July, 2011 could go down as my first year with a complete blank on this species within the county - a sad show indeed and representative of the stark decline and situation this once common farmland species is really in.


By mid morning, the sun was radiating heat and the temperature had risen to nearly 70 degrees F - it was time to visit Finemere. I met up with local butterfly expert Steve Croxford and nature photographer Martin Parr and enjoyed an excellent hour or so of butterfly entertainment along the main drove up to 140 yards beyond the private parking area. The stars of course were the PURPLE EMPERORS - up to 7 on the wing today. Martin cheated a little bit - by relocating a major food source on to the track inside the wood - and within a short time indeed attracting two somewhat worn-winged males down (perhaps individuals attacked by birds). The views were spectacular - down to a few feet - allowing Martin to take over 250 photographs. They remained at the food source for at least an hour, with different more mobile individuals (including a single female) being seen flitting high in the Oak canopies and along the ride.

A WHITE ADMIRAL was also seen, as well as 5 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, along with 2 PURPLE HAIRSTREAKS, 7 MARBLED WHITES, large numbers of Ringlets, Large White, Green-veined White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper (40+), Small Skipper, Comma (3), Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell.

Avian highlights included no less than 8 BULLFINCHES (two single pairs and then two pairs together - all 'budding'), 2+ MARSH TITS, Common Buzzard carrying prey, Common Chiffchaffs, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, male Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Nuthatch and a large mixed flock of Long-tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tit.

(Note: Finemere Wood is a premier site for Purple Emperor in Buckinghamshire but this year has been eclipsed by Rushbeds Wood BBOWT, Brill, where up to 15 have been showing daily)


Sadly, another dead Badger - this time on the A418 north of Wingrave Cross Roads at cSP 860 203.


Another prime butterfly wood and again very productive today. Along one of the side rides was one mobile male pristine-conditioned and presumably newly-emerged PURPLE EMPEROR, no less than 9 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES and 3 WHITE ADMIRALS, along with good numbers of many of the commoner butterflies.


I arrived at Chicksands Wood shortly after 1400 hours, at the same time as Letchworth butterfly fan Dave Blofield. It was more Crossbills than butterflies that I had driven all the way over for, but despite walking all round, drew yet another blank on the former - my 8th dip now. Dave and I walked the main drove SW from the parking space (at TL 106 411) and soon came upon a stunningly confiding female PURPLE EMPEROR on the main track, just 30 yards along from the Obelisk (at TL 104 406). She was in immaculate condition and sat on the track just yards from us for 12 minutes before flying off and into the wood. Dave got some nice photographs. A second individual, this time a male, was seen 400 yards further on, along a track off to the left after a further 75 yards. This was in flight and highly mobile.

Just 1 WHITE ADMIRAL was seen along the main drove, and 3 different SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, along with 9 Commas, 2 Red Admiral, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, 15 Marbled Whites, large numbers of Ringlets, Meadow Brown, 40+ Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Small Skipper and in the usual bramble scrub adjacent to the Henry John Robert Osborn monument at TL 097 395, 4 well-showing WHITE-LETTER HAIRSTREAKS - my first of the year.

In the heat of the mid-afternoon, birdlife was scant, frustratingly Common Crossbills. No sign of any Spotted Flycatchers either, but Common Buzzard with food and Jay - as well as Southern Hawker and Ruddy Darter.

As MJP proclaimed only yesterday, the two vast Poppy fields at TL 104 441 are resplendent and well worth photographinge (just west of the parking spot on the Haynes Church End road).

(1600-1645 hours)

Two WOOD SANDPIPERS in our region in the first few days of July is very unusual and early so despite missing yesterday's College Lake bird, I was more than pleased to make up for it by seeing the Rookery adult, now present for its third day. It was feeding along the edge of the closest island on the right hand side of the complex viewing from the Jackdaw Bridge side. Newly arrived were two spanking adult summer-plumaged ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS.

Otherwise 52 Lapwings (flock of post-breeding adults and at least 9 juveniles wandering about), an adult Oystercatcher, several Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Common Redshank and a Little Egret. Also female Northern Pochard with single young, female Red-crested Pochard with single young and both Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe with young; one pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets and at least 17 juvenile Black-headed Gulls within the colony. Grisly was watching an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (one of the nesting pair) attack and kill a baby Moorhen and later devour it.

Both Western Reed Warblers and Common Whitethroats were feeding fledged young.


Although late in the day and fairly overcast, it was still very warm and in the wild flower-rich meadow immediately north and adjacent to the car park was highly productive for butterflies. No less than 10 DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES were seen (mainly nectaring on the purple flowering heads), 20 or more Marbled Whites, several Commas, both Small and Large Skippers and my first PAINTED LADY of the year. One further DARK GREEN FRITILLARY was seen in the usual meadow with the wooden bench 250 yards down along the footpath.


Thanks to Peter Stevens, I was able to locate the rest of the COMMON SHELDUCK family this evening - all 13 birds (including 11 surviving juveniles) on the largest of the three pools to the NE of the quarry buildings and offices just beyond the tall pines (see map). This is a record family gathering in my Recording Area and replicates an identikit family group that Chris Heard observed at Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire this evening. Interestingly, both family parties were accompanied by the fathers - at one time all of the males flying off to moult in Holland post-breeding.

Also tonight, the wader pools held 3 adult GREEN SANDPIPERS and an adult LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, whilst the female Lapwing with her two chicks was joined by 32 post-breeding adults of the species.

Further breeding success came from the isolated Oak-nesting Common Kestrel family - 3 juveniles fledging today - with Pied Wagtails feeding young at the cement complex and 11 Skylarks being seen on the meadow. The 63 Common Starlings roosted again in the row of tall pines.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Mainly buitterflies

it's been a good couple of days for seeing butterflies in Bedfordshire.....

On Friday, 1st, I visited College Wood near Northill and saw at least 5 excellent Silver-washed Fritillaries. Steve Blain and Mark Ward joined me at lunchtime and Mark found a dark individual - it was of the form "valezina" which I had seen only in the New Forest, Hants previously. It remained in the same vicinity near a stub turning on the left c50m up the main track from the gateway coming down to bramble when strong sunshine but then returning to the trees to "roost" when it clouded over. Lol Carman and I were both able to get some good photographs of it later in the afternoon. A Gatekeeper here was my first this year.

A White Admiral showed well too as did 4+ White-letter Hairstreaks. Plenty of commoner species about too in good numbers though my mid afternoon visit to Chicksands Wood was less successful as it clouded over during my visit. [I did find a Spotted Flycatcher though about 100m up the main drove from the parking area].

Yesterday, I called back at Chicksands from 9.55am. At c 10.10, I was talking to Tony Heukin and another guy about 100m south of the first monument when Tony got us both quickly on to a Purple Emperor - likely a female - that came very low along the main drove and carried on low past our feet and we watched it for another 50m or more before it was lost to view. I remained in the general vicinity for the next 1.5 hours but it didn't reappear. 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries and a White-letter Hairstreak showed well though. A Southern Hawker flew close to inspect me as I walked back down the hill and a Common Lizard scampered across the parking area. The field of poppies nearby are absolutely stunning - a must to see if you're near there.

Late morning I visited Sharpenhoe Clappers - more wild flowers in abundance and numerous Marbled Whites too. I was able to get some good photographs of Dark Green Fritillaries here seeing 8 just along the few hundred metres of roadside path. Garden Grass Veneers were frequent, a couple of Narrow-bordered Five Spot Burnets were photographed and a Shaded Broad-bar was seen.

I visited Marston Thrift mid afternoon but couldn't locate a Black Hairstreak - they're probably over now. A Purple Hairstreak showed briefly and the north-west corner pool had a pair of Broad-bodied Chasers, an Emperor Dragonfly which settled for close-up photos and a Brown Hawker. Another stunning Silver-washed Fritillary is, I think, my first at this site in around 25 years of visiting this wood.

Lastly, I visited Rookery South ClP late afternoon but again no Wall Browns were located. I did find return wader passage in full swing! Nine species were found comprising numerous Lapwings inc 2 broods of 2j and 4j, 4+ Ringed Plovers, 5+ Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Redshanks, 1 Greenshank, 1 WOOD SANDPIPER, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin and a pair of Oystercatchers. As I walking back to the Jackdaw Bridge entry point, a scan along the south-west side of this vast pit produced a female and a juvenile Red Crested Pochard to again confirm breeding at this site. A Little Egret was 'best of the rest' of 60 bird species noted today.

My 19 Butterfly species for the 2 days were: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Purple Emperor, White Admiral, Red Admiral, Comma, Marbled White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Holly Blue, Dark Green Fritillary and Silver-washed Fritillary bringing my County year list up to 32 species.

s separately emailed to the moth group - a Small Ranunculus in my Kempston trap was a moth tick for me yesterday morning - quite a coule of days!


GARGANEY at Priory

Eclipse drake GARGANEY at Priory, Finger Lakes this morning. Dave Kramer


Not had a lot to report recently, but a Siskin over my Biggleswade garden this morning was a surprise. However it is in-line with a host of Siskins reports this summer across Beds. Are they breeding regularly in our county now? I suspect so.

Yesterday (2nd) in Chicksands Wood I had three pairs of Spotted Flycatchers, a group of ten Crossbills, and a Tawny Owl. (Also two sighings of Purple Emperor, two Silver-washed Frits, White Admiral, Marbled White, 30+ White-letter Hairstreaks, 3 Purple Hairstreaks, and plenty of commoner butterflies) (Steve Blain)