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 October 2011


Much of morning spent at Kings Wood, Ampthill in company initially with SCB and NC, later PH. Tit flock proving elusive but usual suspects eventually all seen well, especially a nice Marsh Tit. Both Steve and Nick got a brief view of a FIRECREST some 300m along the central path from top end but it wasn't associating with the mixed flock. I twice saw a female Muntjac here.

On walk back to the car, a chunky finch flying low south at 12.40 just a little ahead of me as I approached the farm was calling chip chip chip and proved to be a nice "green" juv or female Crossbill.

Super gull views of some 200+ feeding on Stewartby Tip but I didn't connect with Steve's f.w. Caspian Gull which I'd seen yesterday. Steve and Nick saw it before I got there this morning and it wasn't about when I re-visited from c12.50 to c1.10. 98 Herring Gulls, 52 L B Backs and 49 Gt Black-backs were counted (MJP)

OSPREY still present

Martin Stevens had the OSPREY south over Broom GP at around 10:00 this morning, whilst a MERLIN was seen in Southill (Paul Donald).
Late morning Di and I walked all round the Lodge - old and new heaths - nothing exciting but a cronking Raven SE of the car park, 4 mewing Common Buzzards from the hill fort, a few Siskins here and there - no Common Crossbills or Woodlarks today.

Mid-afternoon at Kings Wood, Ampthill with JG and PH, - I eventually located a small tit flock within the top end of the wood - Nuthatch and Treecreeper and, for me but alas not for Jim or Pip, the persistant shrill calls of a Firecrest high up in ivy clad trunks; another Buzzard and a distant Sparrowhawk

Quest Pit brought a departing Steve Blain but I made counts of 112 Great Black-backs, only 18 Herring Gulls, just 12 Common Gulls but a fine adult Yellow-legged Gull. 227 Lapwings were counted, 20 Linnets, 18 Skylarks flew over, 20 Wigeon, 14 Teal, 2 Gadwall

Stewartby Tip: Keith Owen and I enjoyed brief but good views of the first-winter Caspian Gull found by Steve Blain just minutes after he'd 'phoned me with the news.Stewartby Lake: the Common Scoter looks to have departed. A poor roost ~ an adult Yellow-legged Gull, but only 92 Herring Gulls and lowish numbers of the other common species. 3 Gadwall and 7 Dabchicks, a Goldcrest heard

Rookery North: a quick dusk visit with KRO and SCB produced a roost at least as big as that on Stewartby Lake tonight - perhaps because of the westerly wind direction. I located another single adult Yellow-legged Gull (MJP)

FIRECRESTS at Ampthill



Following a conversation with Neil Wright, I decided to travel north to Bedfordshire, just on the offchance that the recent Hen Harrier might still be around. Neil had found a FIRECREST so I decided to follow his directions and have a look. As it was, the flock of birds contained two FIRECRESTS - both birds showing very well in the ivy scrub fairly low down in the canopy. They were amongst a group of 8 Goldcrests, a Common Treecreeper, a Nuthatch and 10 Blue Tits - the flock being fairly mobile. The area also produced quite a few Fieldfares.

DIRECTIONS: From Ampthill town centre, drive north on the Bedford road and as you leave the town at the top of the hill, turn right on to the concrete drive to Houghton House. Drive to the end of the road and park by the houses and then continue past the pumping station and aerials to the last house and pond. Continue to the entrance to the wood and take the right hand footpath leading north and parallel to the edge of the wood. Continue for a further 300 yards and just 70 yards before the metal gate - the flock is in this area

Friday, 28 October 2011

COMMON SCOTER still on Stewartby

The juvenile COMMON SCOTER still at Stewartby at 12.30 today.

Rookery South is pretty dry now apart from the pools in the southeast corner and a few small wet bits at the north end. Still a few birds of interest though: 3 Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 65 Teal, 2 Buzzard, 10 Siskin and quite a few Common Darters still on the wing, including several pairs in cop, making the most of the warm autumn sunshine.

What a lovely day (David Fisher - Sandy)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

I sipped again on the Holcot Hen Harrier

Dave Odell 'phoned me early afternoon to say that the ringtail Hen Harrier was flying above his car over the road at the west end of Cranfield Aerodrome (at SP 946 415) - about a mile north of where Neil Wright had first discovered the bird at Holcot Wood.. I was watching a Pied Wheatear at the time but decided to give it another go later in the afternoon.

I arrived at Cranfield Aerodrome at about 1500 hours and remained in the area until dusk, checking out both the east and west suitable ends of the airfield, all of the farmland between there and Holcot Wood and the 'new' Brogborough forest reclamation project as well as back at the original site. No luck whatsoever - just Common Buzzards, Common Kestrels, Common Pheasants, lots of corvids and 25 Lapwings

The OSPREY was still present today in the Biggleswade area, fishing at the Manor Farm Fisheries east of the A1 (Mark Ward) and roosting up at The Lodge again

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Neil's ringtail HEN HARRIER

This ringtail HEN HARRIER lingered for a couple of days over a rough field NW of Brogborough Landfill. Neil Wright managed these excellent flight images of his find

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Stewartby Roost this evening

Unpleasant viewing at the roost between c5.35 and 6.08 this evening with wind toward me and gulls diagonally facing away.....nonetheless, I was pleased to find a winter-adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 50+ Herring Gulls, a few hundred each of L B Backs and B H Gulls but only a few Gt Black-backs. Also present were a Kingfisher and the juvenile Common Scoter was still present.,,,,,,MJP

Two CASPIAN GULLS roosted last night

Additional information on the Brogborough HEN HARRIER

Thanks to some excellent directions from Neil Wright, Di and I were able to obtain cracking views of the HEN HARRIER hunting over a rolling rough grass field between 1.00 and 1.20 today. Neil was watching from the ridge but a quicker access for the casual visitor is to take the old A421 to the western end of Brogborough Lake then turn under the by-pass signed North Common Farm. Turn right immediately afterwards and park on the verge then take the public footpath for 600m roughly north with the tip fence on your right and some mature lleyllandii trees on your left. Eventually you'll see a brick barn in the distance. Continue to the end of the footpath and view the field to the left of the barn. Good luck if you go - super bird and a great find by Neil (Martin Palmer).

FIRECREST at The Lodge

FIRECREST ringed at 1pm today, to the joy of the ringers and many Feed The Birds Day event visitors. (per Richard Bashford)

Ringtail HEN HARRIER still in Brogborough area

Ringtail HEN HARRIER again in fields south-east of Holcot Wood, and south of Brogborough tip SP958398 at 12.00 today, per Neil Wright. Neil first found this bird yesterday afternoon


BLACK REDSTART on roof of Avocet building (new building) at end of staff car park (per Richard Bashford)

Vizmig at Potsgrove today - WOODLARK

Here as they say on the European Song Contest are the results for Potsgrove.

Best of all was a single WOODLARK moving south-east at 07.31, I saw it well as it was giving its distinctive call and flying at a height of only 200metres or so.

The highest scorers were; Wood Pigeon 255, Chaffinch 89, Redwing 32, Starling 25, Goldfinch 15, Sky Lark 8, Greenfinch 8, Fieldfare 7, Pied Wagtail 6 and Meadow Pipit 3.

Peter Smith

OSPREY at The Lodge

Col Campbell just called to say the OSPREY was again in a dead tree eating a fish on the new heath at The Lodge this morning. If flew off towards Warren Villas at around 11am. Also Woodlarks still present too (per Steve Blain)

Friday, 21 October 2011


An OSPREY flew over Brogborough Lake this afternoon (Roy Nye) with another reported over the hill fort at The Lodge, Sandy

COMMON SCOTER still present


It was very cold overnight, with temperatures dropping down to almost freezing. The light Northwesterly wind continued today, with bright conditions and predominantly clear skies......


Noticeable vizmig first thing, with 4 Skylarks and a Siskin flying west over my garden, as well as one flock of 55 Woodpigeons


Thanks to an early morning call via Pip H, I made my way up to Stewartby Lake, where Keith Owen's find of last night was still present. The juvenile COMMON SCOTER was straight out from the gull watchpoint, roughly in the middle of the lake, diving infrequently and in brief flight on one occasion. It constituted my 184th species of the year and thus taking me to my highest annual score ever in the county (a long way off Andy Plumb's record count of 200 though). MJP, Lol and Bob C were also present.


A dead Badger was at the side of the road by the main car park.

I walked the entire circuit but in the slack NW conditions, virtually nothing was on the move. The highlight was 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS on the fenceline by the sheep pens, whilst 27 Skylarks and 80 Linnets were in the rough field adjacent.


The highlight was two COMMON RAVENS that were actually lingering in the area. Both very vocal, they were first seen over the Cemetery Corner Poplars before flying east towards Startop's. They then remained in the air for over half an hour, mainly flying over the NW corner of Startop's and over the adjacent horse fields.

Wilstone held 3 Little Grebes, 34 Mute Swans (including the family party, the cygnets being banded with orange rings), the 2 adult Whooper Swans, 134 Wigeon, Teal, 52 Shoveler, 92 Pochard, a pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARD and 147 European Golden Plovers on the bund.


This reservoir is now very low and suitable for waders, etc. There were 3 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Egret, 2 Mute Swans and 28 Common Teal.......


Very, very low water level with two emerging gravel islands. No less than 5 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were present (4 adult drakes), along with 15 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, 55 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 5 Shoveler and 29 Pochard

Thursday, 20 October 2011

First live COMMON SCOTER of year

Keith Owen located a juvenile COMMON SCOTER on Stewartby Lake this evening, the first this year other than one hit by a car on the Leighton Buzzard bypasss...

Meanwhile, a cream-crown Marsh Harrier flew south over The Lodge at 12:00, per Andy Schofield and Andy Grimsey, and the 6 Woodlarks remain around the hill fort

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

CROSSBILL at last - and WOODLARKS to boot


The day dawned clear and cold, with a light Northwesterly wind blowing. Until early afternoon at least, the sky remained clear, with wintry sunshine shining through. As the afternoon progressed, the wind increased and cloud moved in, with a sharp short rain shower mid afternoon......

(0900-1145 hours)

Third time lucky. After an abortive trip on Monday, I returned again to The Lodge this morning, joining up with Barry and Wendy Nightingale and another chap from Bedford on the heath. It was a gorgeous morning with some vizmig still going on, including a single LESSER REDPOLL, 8 SISKINS, a few Meadow Pipits, 3 Skylarks, several Chaffinches, 4 Fieldfare and 33 Redwing.

A party of 4 COMMON RAVENS afforded excellent views at the Hill Fort area, tossing and turning in the sky above the pine trees there. Monday had seen my first-ever Raven at this site.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Carrion Crow, Nuthatch, Goldcrest and Coal Tit were also noted and most pleasing for me, two COMMON CROSSBILLS flew over Hill Fort calling - my first of the year in the county.

But it was the WOODLARK flock I had returned for. A work party was busy putting up a new Muntjac-proof fence around the 'new heath' and it was inadvertently one of their guys that did Barry and I a favour. As he wandered from the gatehouse car park to join the other workers on the heath, he flushed up a single WOODLARK, allowing Barry and I to follow its course in flight. It disappeared over the isolated clump of Hill Fort pines inevitably returning to where MJP had seen them yesterday. The four of us ambled over to the fort area and scanned the cleared bracken area adjacent to the footpath. Within seconds of our arrival, all 6 WOODLARKS took flight and immediately disappeared over the top of the trees and out of view. Drat we thought! However, no less than a few minutes later, four birds returned and landed again. We carefully made our way to a better vantage point and after a lot of scanning, Barry eventually located one - heavily camouflaged on the ground. Once one was located, we could see all four and over the next half an hour, enjoyed some fabulous views as they picked their way through the heath understorey at about 20 yards range. They were quite vocal, even when feeding on the ground, uttering liquid notes in contact calling. They were also into 'sunbathing' - sitting still and absorbing the sun for long periods. All individuals were unringed.

I was delighted at finally connecting with these difficult county birds and 6 is possibly the largest single congregation I have ever seen (my memory of the flock on the opposite side of the road fails me at present). The two species (and this week's female RUDDY DUCK) now move me forward to 183 species - equalling my previous highest annual Beds tally of last year.

A memorable morning

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


The flock of 6 WOODLARKS was still present on the main heath at The Lodge RSPB today, although mobile and elusive; there were also 4 COMMON RAVENS still in the area

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Another eventful morning at The Lodge - RING OUZEL, WOODLARK and HEN HARRIER

RING OUZEL, 2 WOODLARKS, 3+Raven, 1 Crossbill, 3+...but best of all, Steve and I got onto a ring-tail HEN HARRIER north over the new heath at 09:55, briefly mobbed by the Raven. (Pallid ruled out!)

Steve Blain/ Darren Oakley-Martin/ Jim Gurney/ Pip Housden

WOODLARKS remain at The Lodge

Five WOODLARKS on the new heath this morning (15 October), c.07:30, per Mark Gurney

14 October: Vizmig on Pegsdon Hills

Unfortunately I was unable to get out early today to make best use of the excellent vismig conditions. A cup of tea on the patio at home revealed plenty of Redwing moving west or southwest through around 8am, with around 200 in six groups over a ten minute spell, also a small group of Fieldfare, some Skylark also.I arrived at Pegsdon around 9:15 and climbing the hill, a group of 3 COMMON CROSSBILL and then 45 Fieldfare flew over with a few small parties of Redwings, some Mipits and more Skylarks but generally dribs and drabs of passage going through for the rest of the morning.

On the hills in addition to the BLACK REDSTART reported earlier (had slightly paler panel in the wing so maybe immature male), just a selection of Mipits, Skylarks, usual finches and tits, with a noticeable increase in Chaffinch around the site, and a few feeding Redwings. A few Chiffchaff remain and Marsh Tits were particularly vocal this morning. Did not see any hirundines today though.

Larger bird count was 3 Red Kite, 2 Raven, 4 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel and 1 Little Owl. Nice day to be out, will be two hours earlier tomorrow so to get the main expecting vismig passing by, and wearing an extra layer...Andy Grimsey

Vizmigging 14 October

A storming morning on The Pinnacle at The Lodge (Sandy)! An excellent movement of Redwings with 4877 counted before 09:35, with backup numbers of 464 Fieldfares, 287 Chaffinches, and 541 Woodpigeons. Other odd bits include 48 Song Thrushes, 97 Linnets, 11 Great Tits, and 3 Bramblings. 6 highflying Bullfinches were giving an odd call which I'll have to do some more research on, and I also picked up two single Woodlarks – one at 09:20, and another as I was leaving at 09:35. All in all, just brilliant.

Everything's on Trek:

Steve Blain/Matt Burgess

And another BLACK REDSTART (19 October)

19 October: And I just found a male BLACK REDSTART along Mill Lane to the west of Potton. It was in the Cypress hedge at the western end of the big winter rape field to the north of the track. Masses of Skylarks in this area, 2 Crossbills calling near the transmitter and masses of Redwings and Fieldfares in the tree nursery, along with a nice big mixed flock of Lesser Redpolls and Siskins. Two Corn Buntings in the field behind our house in Southill this morning (Paul Donald)

BLACK REDSTART on Pegsdon Hills

14 October: Andy Grimsey has just found a female type/imm BLACK REDSTART on Pegsdon Hills. It's on the fence line at the base of the hills - roughly grid ref TL121298.

A mini influx of WOODLARKS

14 October: Mark Gurney and I had two WOODLARKS over the new heath at 07:50 thismorning and Guy Anderson has just 'phoned to say he and Mark have three more, currently perched in a silver birch on the new heath now. (08:50) (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Another ROCK PIPIT at Broom

A ROCK PIPIT around islands on west side of main lake, Broom GP, 18.15 (Steve Blain)

Redwings on the move

Priory Country Park this morning -:

100 Redwings W (+21 local) flocks: 48, 38, 10 plus 4 singles)
227 Fieldfares WSW (4; 116; 47; 60).
3 Mipits S
4 Skylarks W & SW
6 Siskins W (plus one over heard)

The Redwing and Fieldfare passage didn't start until 0920 with most passing over between then and 0940. Finished at 1000.

Others: 6 Wigeons, 2 Kingfishers, 6 Gadwalls, 33 GCG, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Little Egret, etc.

Dave Kramer.


The great vismig potential from The Pinnacle this morning was hampered by low cloud and drizzle from the off. However five hardy souls braved the conditions and were rewarded with a flyover Woodlark!

Also a dribble of Redwings with 264 west, 4 Bullfinches were a surprise, and good numbers of Skylarks moved south too.

All the mornings results can be found here:

Steve Blain, Nick Cook, Jim Gurney, Will George, and Matt Burgess

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A single Common Tern was roosting on a buoy at a chilly and windy Stewartby Lake this evening. Only a couple each of Common Gull and G B Back noticed amongst a few hundred B H Gulls, an estimate of c2000 L B Backs with 62+ Herring Gulls and c13 Yellow-legged Gulls inc 1f.w.

Other species noted were 11 G C Grebes, 8 Dabchicks, 10 Mallards, 40 Mute Swans inc 1f.w., pair Gadwall, around 150+ Jackdaws through to roost, a few C Crows, 1 Wood Pigeon, 1 Green Woodpecker, 8+ Long-tailed Tits, 1 Robin heard, 1 Oystercatcher still on the sailing club lawn (MJP)

ROCK PIPITS just north of Biggleswade

Two ROCK PIPITS, female Pintail, three Snipe, and a Little Egret at Derek White's Eggs pit this evening. Please view only from the metal gate off the A1, or across the river from Biggleswade Common (Steve Blain)

Chris Deary reports the Whinchat and three Green Sandpipers still present around the pools between Toddington Services and the railway this afternoon.

Monday, 3 October 2011

PALLID HARRIER - more meat on the record

A little bit more detail on the Pallid Harrier sighting. Thanks Steve for putting out the news after I'd phoned you.

Laura (my girlfriend) was driving us to work at The Lodge this morning and we were coming down the hill on the road between Little Barford and Tempsford that runs roughly parallel with the A1. I was looking at the images of the Pallid Harrier at Gamlingay Wood on the internet, and getting texts from Steve about that bird - including the fact that it had been seen there early this morning. You couldn't have scripted it better...

Suddenly Laura said, "What's that big bird?" I glanced up from my phone to the right to get an eye level view of a juvenile Pallid Harrier coasting alongside the car, over the edge of the big undulating field between the road and the A1. She was understandably alarmed at my reaction, but soon got the message that we needed to slow down fast, so I could pick up as much detail as possible. Fortunately, its course continued to take it directly alongside us and the road, allowing me to run through the features, which were there in glorious detail at such close range. My `search engine' was also well and truly tuned in having just been looking at photos of Pallid Harrier - so that was handy!

This is approximately where it was: TL 16727 54739 and it was heading W/SW from there at approximately 08.45. Quite likely to be the bird from Gamlingay, but it is quite some influx we are having this autumn.

I always knew I didn't need a girlfriend who was a birder...

Mark Ward

PALLID HARRIER in Bedfordshire - first county record

Mark Wark and Laura Stevens have just seen a juvenile PALLID HARRIER fly south-west over the road between Little Barford power station and Tempsford. 08:45 It was last seen heading towards the Roxton area and the A1. Roughly in this grid square - TL1755. An amazing Beds first! (per Steve Blain)

What was presumably the same bird was seen earlier by Stuart Elsom in Cambridgeshire