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).

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

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