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, 28 December 2012

Southill area this morning

A good start to my usual walk around Southill when a male Tufted Duck flew over the garden with 4 Mallard - a new house bird (number 111 on the list). Then in Southill Millennium Woods a flock of 13 or 14 COMMON CROSSBILLS, 8 or 9 lovely red males and 5 females, one of them very yellow. They were giving great eye-level views in larches by the circular mound. Another new Southill bird for me, and some of the best views I've ever had of this species. A little further on at the second Premier Trees sign, a flock of 38 WAXWINGS appeared from the direction of the tree nursery and perched in the "usual" trees, and these were shortly joined by another group of at least 20, before the whole lot flew off into Southill Park. So, around 60 in the area. The fields north of Southill are hooching with birds, at least 800 Fieldfares, plus Redwings, Starlings, Linnets and finch flocks, including at least one Brambling. Small parties of Golden Plovers overhead, a flock of 1 20 Lapwings and 4 Tree Sparrows on the garden feeders. All in all, a great morning's birding! - Paul Donald

Not far away at Broom GP, Mark Thomas had 5 male BEARDED TITS

Thursday, 27 December 2012

WAXWINGS in Wigmore Lane Luton

There are at least 50 WAXWINGS around the ASDA carpark feeding on the cotoneasters between the library and the petrol station. Incredibly flighty because of all the human activity. (11.05am)

Nearby up at the country park  there's a large flock of about 70+ SISKINS

Mike Russell

This ASDA is along Wigmore Lane close to the airport.

Monday, 24 December 2012

SLAV still

David Kramer confirms the continuing presence of the Priory Country Park SLAVONIAN GREBE today whilst Dunstable Sewage Farm's Grey Phalarope was last seen on Tuesday 18 December; still quite a few WAXWINGS scattered about Bedfordshire including 20 in Dunstable

Christmas Bird Hunt 2012

A reminder that our annual Bedfordshire Christmas Birdhunt begins at
midnight tonight. From that time we want to see how many species we can see
/ hear in the county in the seven day period ending with the start of 2013.

Last year we had 111 species which was a low count so it will be good to see
if we can exceed that this year. I've not seen a mention of the Priory Slav
since Saturday but if that is still present tomorrow then it will be a new
species for the list as it has not been recorded in the past 10 years.

Please if possible email lists to me at
- though I will read all the emails on groups it makes it easier for me to
quickly see new species. I will put updates on the web about once a day in
the evenings.

For a full summary and some thoughts on the last 10 years please see the
article in the current Beds bird Report.

Good luck & Happy Christmas to all from Melissa and I

Andy Banthorpe

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Y'day afternoon (Friday), Keith Owen, Jim Gurney and I found a Slavonian Grebe at Brogboro' Lake. It was at the windsurfers end and still present at dusk.

Lunchtime, the Ring-necked Parakeet was again showing well it its favoured field up the farm track at Southcott Village, Linslade

Stockgrove Country Park was a waste of time....... 1 Nuthatch seen + 2 heard but no Mandarins and no Marsh Tits

8 Egyptian Geese were near the entry kiosk at Woburn Park

M J Palmer

David Kramer confirms the continued presence of the SLAV at Priory Country Park too

Still quite a few WAXWINGS scattered about the county, and the male MERLIN at Broom

Sunday, 16 December 2012


I joined Neil Wright from 3.55 and we both stayed until 4.20 with the SLAVONIAN GREBE still present - only about 250m away from the gull watchpoint. Other speceis noted were 27 G C Grebes, 8 Dabchicks, 1 Grey Heron, 100+ Lapwings swirling about low over the lake,

An odd gull roost with hardly any smaller gulls and the larger gulls flying off in the last few minutes of our visit. Nonetheless 22 L B Backs, 15 G B Backs, 9 Herring Gulls, a probable small adult female Yellow-legged Gull - bill not as thick as expected but upperwing colour and primary black wedge strongly suggested this species - very clean white head and underparts, negligible sized primary spots. Only 28 B H Gulls and a couple of Common Gulls.

M J Palmer

Saturday, 15 December 2012

GREY PHALAROPE still showing

After yesterday's rain, it was comforting to see Saturday dawn bright and clear. And, after a week with temperatures barely creeping above freezing, a relief to see double figures once more. In fact, by late afternoon, it was 11 degrees C, but then heavy showers returned.....
I did not do a great deal of birding today just mainly duck counting.......
After stopping off there very briefly on two occasions during the week, it made a change to be able to have a relaxing look today. Thanks to John Tomlin and Johnny Lynch, who very kindly agreed to man the gate this morning, some 75 or so birders were able to savour the delights of the GREY PHALAROPE, now present for its third day. Once again, it was favouring the SW corner of the third pan, elegantly pecking at insects and flotsam on the surface of the warm water. Johnny Foster attempted a couple of images, despite it being some 100 yards away (see above).
Duck numbers had dropped since the freezing temperatures, such that today all I could muster were 2 Little Grebe, 3 Mute Swan, 88 Mallard, 44 Gadwall, 17 Shoveler, 18 Teal, 63 Tufted Duck and 22 Coot; JL and I also had a LESSER REDPOLL fly over us calling.
I met up with Darin and young Charlie, and after consulting the help of Andy Whitney and Andy Grimsey (thanks guys, and once again apologies for mixing you both up), checked the berry-bearing shrubs extensively covering the outer edge of the estate. Sadly, there were no Waxwings to be found, just a lot of winter thrushes and a Red Kite drifting overhead.
I then returned to home ground and set out to finish the duck counting duties for the remainder of the Chess Valley not already done. Lowndes Park Lake had now mostly cleared of ice and held 45 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Muscovy Ducks, 3 surviving Embden Geese, 86 Mallard, 9 Moorhen and 126 Black-headed Gulls, whilst the parkland yielded 2 Mistle Thrush and 6 Long-tailed Tits.
Chesham's Bury Lake (SP 955 015) was filling up with water again (after being dry for the best part of two years) but was birdless; CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (SP 971 003) however held 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 15 Mallard, a drake Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 21 Coot and 6 Moorhens.
Two WATER RAILS were showing well on the pool just by the footpath SE of the smaller lake, with 1 of 2 wintering COMMON KINGFISHERS there too and 3 SISKIN and BULLFINCH pair also. The adjacent Pow Wow Lake held 2 Mute Swans (the two first-years), 34 Mallard, a female Tufted Duck and 4 Moorhen.
At GREAT WATER, LATIMER (BUCKS) (SU 997 987), the biggest surprise was a redhead GOOSANDER, swimming just upstream of Neptune's Falls. Mute Swan numbers were down slightly at 16, with 113 Atlantic Canada Geese still accompanied by the single adult GREYLAG GOOSE (the sole occurrence in over 15 years), 18 Mallard, 18 Tufted Duck, 8 NORTHERN POCHARD, 2 Little Grebe, 56 Coot and 24 Moorhen. Three LITTLE EGRETS were fishing the stream east of Bois Mill, with 4 Mistle Thrushes, a single Fieldfare (the huge numbers now departed since the freeze) and 3 Goldcrests also encountered.

Friday, 14 December 2012


The GREY PHALAROPE was still present at Dunstable Sewage Farm this evening, feeding voraciously where the inlet valve pumps water in at the SW corner of Pan 3. Special access will be available tomorrow if the bird is still present.

Bedfordshire still has a lot of WAXWINGS at various sites, including the 21 in Luton.

Lee Evans

Thursday, 13 December 2012


The GREY PHALAROPE was still present on the third pan at Dunstable Sewage Farm today, special access being granted temporarily at this private site


Jenny and I had a quick wander around the back of the Bushmead estate early this afternoon (Thursday). Three Bullfinches by the car park at TL086259, 20 WAXWINGS near the end of the Riddy path at TL094243, 4 Siskins by the play area at TL092246.

Also lots of Fieldfares mixed with some Redwings in the hedges between the path at the back of the houses and the field.

The Waxwings should be there tomorrow as there seems to be plenty of food for them.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012


A first-winter GREY PHALAROPE spent the day at a private Bedfordshire site today, delighting about 22 observers prior to dusk. If you are a member of the Bedfordshire Bird Club, give me a call and I will discuss access arrangements.

Quite a few WAXWINGS still around in the county.

BITTERNS back at Brogborough on ice

Jim Gurney and I saw one of the two BITTERNS (both found by Roy Nye) fly across the west end of the lake, south to north at 3.45pm.

Also at Brogborough Lake were a roost of 1000 Common Gulls (967 clicker-counted plus others flying in) and a similar number of B H Gulls but only 4 Gt Black-backs, 1 Herring Gull (argentatus) and 7a 1w Lesser Black-backs.

Amongst the hordes of diving duck and coots were 20 Teal, 12 Wigeon and the hybrid drake Tufted x Pochard.

Quite a few Goldeneye were present, also 50 Cormorants roosted. 2 Common Buzzards passed south-west at 3.15 mewing as they went. A male Sparrowhawk sped low past the gull watchpoint; a Little Egret is uncommon here and several Fieldfares were noisily passing along the hedgrerows to roost.

My thanks to Rob D, Don G, Lol and Bob and Jon Lynch et al for access to Dunstable STW earlier this afternoon - my first visit there for maybe 18 months - in fact since the hybrid Ring-necked Duck drake was first reported - uncannily it was there again today, having re-appeared in the last few days, per DG.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

WAXWINGS.........and SLAV

WAXWINGS today included 60 at 101 High Street, Sandy, and 35 in Harlington.......

Meanwhile, the long-staying SLAV remains at Priory

A single immature GREATER SCAUP on Brogborough and 5 BEARDED TITS still at Marston Vale. Another small flock of BEARDED TITS is at Broom, on the G & M Growers complex

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

WAXWINGS all over the place

Seen at Harlington today (11 birds), Wilstead (30+), Potton (11), Woburn (20), Pulloxhill (14) and in Biggleswade (3), whilst neaighbouring Cambs has several hundred.

Monday, 3 December 2012

SLAV still present and belated news of a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE

The long-staying SLAVONIAN GREBE was still present today at Priory Country Park whilst a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE spent all weekend in a field at TL 011 560 near the railway bridge east of Milton Ernest Garden Centre.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Impressive flock of RUFF

18 RUFF on the fields between Milton Ernest and Radwell bridge; Pair of PINTAIL on A6 pit (Richard Bashford)

Friday, 30 November 2012

You can never get too many WAXWINGS

Still 40 or more on Leighton Street, Woburn, today, as well as 55 still in Kempston and odd ones elsewhere.

SLAV GREBE still at Priory and a female GREATER SCAUP on Blunham Lake

Here are my photographic efforts from Woburn yesterday........WAXWINGS and Common Blackbirds on the White Rowans.....

Thursday, 29 November 2012

WAXWINGS - such wonderful and charismatic birds

WAXWINGS galore today in Bedfordshire, with 55+ at Kempston, 31 in Woburn, 15 in Marston Moretaine and 20+ still in the Sandy area. Simon Gardner obtained this superb portrayal of one of the Woburn adult males

More and more WAXWINGS

Well after the floods, now comes the deep freeze..........
It was a heavy frost this morning and with clear blue skies and winter sunshine throughout the rest of the day, temperatures really struggled, reaching a high of just 3 degrees C
On his way to work, Steve Rodwell noticed a single WAXWING perched high on the hedgerow just beyond and opposite the entrance to LONG MARSTON CRICKET CLUB (HERTS) along Cheddington Lane at SP 902 159. Mike Campbell, who lives in neighbouring Cheddington, arrived shortly later and found 2. Having not seen one in Hertfordshire this year yet, I set off in hot pursuit, but by the time I got there (25 minutes later), the two birds were nowhere to be seen - they had flown off.
The hedgerows and fields to the east were swarming with winter thrushes, including some 500 Redwing and 400 Fieldfare; a single Reed Bunting was also in this area.
Nearby, about a mile north of HORTON (BUCKS) on the B488, a dead Chinese Water Deer was in the centre of the road at SP 916 215 - the first one I have recorded in this area.
Stopping off in WOBURN (BEDFORDSHIRE) to glance at the traditional Leighton Street Pink Sorbus berry-bearing trees, I was delighted to see no less than 31 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - affording outstanding views to all those present, including residents, photographers and birdwatchers alike. Not one colour-ringed bird with this group either, and at least 8 first-winters. They were favouring the shrubs at numbers 45 and 47 and were a delight to watch and photograph - spooking frustratingly each time a few vehicles passed. The odd bird was getting 'drunk' and allowing closer approach. Some argy-bargy going on though, so photographers do need to be respectful of each other and avoid rushing up to the birds as they alight. A pretty sizeable turnover of watchers too - these birds really are popular.
Being the greedy person that I am, I could not resist a drive over to KEMPSTON (BEDS), where on the Woburn Road Industrial Estate (accessed along Wolseley Road), up to 76 WAXWINGS have recently been present (DJO, MJP, et al). Nothing like that number in the half-hour or so that I cruised the trading estate - just 13 showing well in ADAMS CLOSE.
Being back in Bedford, I decided to have another go at reaching PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) and this time I succeeded. Adorning wellington boots, I managed to traverse the remains of the swollen Ouse and reach the NE corner of the main lake - and there the first-winter SLAVONIAN GREBE was showing well - hugging the East shore and diving frequently for food. Also 13 Great Crested Grebes on the lake, some 36 Tufted Duck and just 8 Northern Pochard. Amongst the 15 or so Mute Swans were two orange ringed birds - '500' and '44GM'.
At CHURCH END (BEDS) in their normal grazing fields at SP 962 365, I counted no less than 19 Chinese Water Deer.
I then received a call from JT informing me of a rare duck on HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS). So, being on the M1 anyway, I made my way down, getting delayed by over half an hour as a car overturned between Junctions 5 & 4. The duck in question was a juvenile COMMON SCOTER and was still present at 1600 hours. I also located two different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in the 3,000 or so Black-headed Gull roost, and a single adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Kempston WAXWING flock now up to 76

DJO has contacted me twice this morning - firstly the flock had increased to 68 from max 49 y'day - and now there's c76 - they're mobile and now in Postley Road downhill from the Kia/Peugeot garage on the corner of Woburn Road by the traffic lights and a few hundred metres only from the Wolseley Road site they've previously favoured on this business estate.


Monday, 26 November 2012

WAXWING deluge in Kempston but a total Beds washout for me

Well, what can I say. It really has rained a lot in recent days and on Saturday, non-stop for the best part of 17 hours ! Parts of the West Midlands are now testament to that fact, and are under several feet of water where rivers have burst their banks.
It did rain a lot again last night but eventually gave way to clearer conditions from the north this morning. I had to get out.
Although my temperature gauge was recording just 8 degrees C, it felt considerably milder in the field. It was flat calm too - all in all pretty pleasant.
QUEEN MOTHER RESERVOIR (BERKSHIRE) is certainly having a good run at the moment and it was here that I started my birding day. A juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCK had arrived overnight and was showing very well, close inshore to the NE bank, about 200 yards along from the Yacht centre. It was diving frequently, staying underwater for at least 28 seconds a go. The first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE was still present too, but much further around than before, as well as 22 Tufted Ducks and 2 Meadow Pipits. Two excellent birds less than a mile from my home county.
I then headed north-eastwards into HERTFORDSHIRE, where I wanted to recce a few species for later in the New Year. I spent several hours in the vicinity of THERFIELD HEATH, walking the Icknield Way north from Mill Lane for a couple of miles. Some outstanding birding was to be had, although I failed to find the 2nd-winter male Hen Harrier present recently in the area.
The GREAT GREY SHRIKE, present for its second winter, was showing well, and was watched to pursue and kill a Dunnock. Like recent days, it was inhabiting very much the same area - the hedgerow that runs due east at about TL 348 395.
Lots of farmland birds on offer, particularly winter thrushes and buntings, the following of note.....
Red Kite (1)
Common Buzzard (8)
Common Kestrel (4)
*GREY PARTRIDGE (covey of 13 birds)
Red-legged Partridge (62 in numerous coveys)
Woodpigeon (around 300, including a partial albino individual)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Song Thrush (7)
Mistle Thrush (3)
Redwing (just 25)
Fieldfare (58 - single flock)
*Common Blackbird (at least 76 noted, feasting on berries in the hedgerows - many black-billed first-years)
Common Magpie (8)
Jay (2)
Common Starling (106 on wires - one feeding flock)
Chaffinch (45)
Linnet (318, including one large flock east of the Icknield Way)
Yellowhammer (65 in stubble)
* CORN BUNTING (single flock of 25 birds in stubble)
Also 3 Brown Hares there, and 15 Rabbits.
I then checked the COOMBE ROAD at KELSHALL scanning the fields (TL 325 375) - no birds but 94 Fallow Deer (including 4 marker animals) and 23 Brown Hares. Close to BALDOCK, I had a singular feeding flock of 800 Woodpigeons in cereal crop.
It was then off to BEDFORDSHIRE for the afternoon but I fared really, really badly.
Despite what Steve Blain says, the overwintering male Merlin was just nowhere to be found - not anywhere at Broom. Although he connects perhaps once every four visits, I never connect - and today was just another repeat of such.
At the HATCH site (TL 155 484), nice covey of 7 GREY PARTRIDGES besides the road, but approached Priory Country Park from the east was an absolute no-go - the Great Ouse flooding the entire area making it impassable (and consequently no Slav Grebe).
I then chased after DJO's Waxwing flock (34 birds I believe) but I got there too late - they had all flown off to roost - the site by the way is just off of the new bypass at the Kempston turn-off. At the first roundabout, take Wolseley Road into the Woburn Road Industrial Estate and after 200 and 450 yards respectively, are the flock's favouring feeding berry-bushes by 'Paragon' and 'Kempston Radiators' (TL 028 463). Ran out of time to try for Barry Nightingale's additional 8 Waxwings, at their traditional location of Woburn.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

More updates

An adult Mediterranean Gull was in the Stewartby Lake roost this evening, per Neil
Wright. A Short-eared Owl was hunting the old Sundon refuse site this
evening, at approx TL037287, per Chris Deary.

The best I could manage this afternoon was a count of 95 Common Snipe at
Derek Whites Eggs pit. Easily one of the highest counts in Beds over the
last decade.

Steve Blain

Sunday Highlights

was no sign of the Priory Slavonian Grebe today but a single GREATER SCAUP was on Brogborough Lake (Neil Wright), the male MERLIN was again at Broom (Steve Blain), just 1 WAXWING in Sandy along Sunderland Road (Jim Gurney) and Darin Stanley found a female-type BLACK REDSTART in his road in Lucas Gardens, on Bramingham Estate, at the north end of Luton.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

SCAUP flock

Richard Bashford reports 5 female-type GREATER SCAUPS NE of Willington at Cuckoo Bridge Lake this afternoon, whilst nearby the SLAVONIAN GREBE is present for a second day at Priory Country Park, Bedford


One JACK SNIPE was amongst 25 Common Snipe on the boggy field north of the old
sewage works sludge lagoons and west of what's left of Castle Mill pit at
09.15 (Tony P)

Friday, 23 November 2012

SLAV GREBE at Priory

David Kramer has located a SLAVONIAN GREBE at Priory Country Park this morning....

Yesterday saw at least 7 WAXWINGS recorded in the county, including one still remaining in Sunderland Road in Sandy

Monday, 19 November 2012

male MERLIN at Broom

I saw the adult male MERLIN again on the muddy area of Gypsy Lane West this lunchtime. This must be one of the easiest to see Merlins ever in Beds, as I've now seen it about six times in the last month, with others seeing it in between.

The best times to have a look seems to be weekday lunchtimes when it's fairly quiet. It tends to sit either on the mud or on the wooden levelling posts around grid ref: TL177439 and is surprisingly faithful to this small area.

This area is easily viewed from the bridge which the bridleway crosses at grid ref: TL178441 but you may need a scope for a good view. My last tip is to scan carefully, as the blue back can be easy to miss against the grey of the clay mud, especially if it's a south-west wind as it will be facing away from you from the bridge.

Other news includes a single WAXWING along Sunderland Road, Sandy this morning, per Mark Gurney.

Steve Blain

Sunday, 18 November 2012


Steve Thompson had the 16 WAXWINGS still at John O'Gaunt's Golf Course this morning )see photo above), whilst Steve Rooke and others had the 5 in Sunderland Road, Sandy, again. Mark Telfer heard 2 in Eaton Bray.

Meanwhile, Richard Bashford may have had a DIPPER at Harrold - if so, constituting the first record in over 40 years.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Those wonderful trilling WAXWINGS now starting to invade the region

Those wonderful trilling WAXWINGS now starting to invade our area......
Following Steve Thompson's flock of 16 at John O'Gaunt's Golf Course, near Potton, present for much of the week, Jim Gurney discovered 5 today in nearby Sandy. These happened to be showing well and performed all afternoon, allowing at least MJP, Mark Thomas & family, Martin Stevens and I to obtain excellent views and photographs. They were frequenting the few berry bushes just inside the perimeter fence of Marshalls Building Merchants in Sunderland Road Industrial Estate and were easily viewable from the car. Apart from feeding on the berries, they were also flycatching and drinking in the puddles, The flock consisted of four adults and one first-winter. Mark Thomas also bumped into another flock of at least 14 as they flew over Sainsbury's supermarket car park in Biggleswade.
In BUCKINGHAMSHIRE today, WAXWINGS reached Aylesbury (10 near Jewson's on Gatehouse Lane), Great Missenden (fire station area) and Chesham (still 7 in Bellingdon Road), whilst 3 were still being seen in Old Amersham (along Mill Lane still)
Just to put these sightings into context though, an astonishing 1,300 Waxwings remain in the Kyle of Lochalshe area in Highland Region, including a single flock of at least 550 birds. So, in essence, many more hundreds to come this winter when the berries are exhausted further north,,,,,

Today's KNOT sighting at the Pillinge

Having arrived at Wetland 3 hide at just after 1100 hours, I got chatting to a couple of visiting birders (did not get names). After a few minutes they asked if I had been to the other (Pillinge) hide. I said I was on the way there next. They said they had seen a pale grey wader (dark bill and legs with dark wing tips visible), there earlier which they could not identify. My interest was immediately aroused and I made my way to the hide. After about 5 minutes I saw the head of the bird appear from behind the nearest island - pale grey with a light supercillium. It had a dark bill, about the same length as its head. It appeared to be feeding by moving quite slowly in a mainly horizontal posture probing the fringe of the lake. This was at about 1140. The bird then appeared fully to reveal a winter plumaged RED KNOT. Unfortunately the bird then vanished again behind the island. I decided to attempt further views from the watchpoint at the southern corner of the lake. Good 'scope views were had for several minutes before the bird disappeared again behind an island. I returned to wetland 3 hide to inform the visitors of what they had seen.
When I returned to the viewpoint ten minutes later the bird was still not visible (Tony Revell)

Friday, 16 November 2012

WAXWINGS at John O'Gaunts

The WAXWING invasion into Bedfordshire has started in earnest this week.On Wednesday at John o Gaunt's Golf Club, Steve Thompson saw 14, whilst today he saw 16 (last seen at 12.45).

A typically brief KNOT

It was pretty foggy early on so my visit to the hills was delayed. However a NUTHATCH in the garden more than compensated for it - being the first record for this year
At around 1030 hours, I did finally get to IVINGHOE HILLS but it was pointless - the fog was much thicker here and had hardly cleared at all
Anyway, Tony Revell discovered a RED KNOT at MARSTON VALE MILLENIUM PARK (BEDS) and gave me a good excuse to change location. Of course it was gone before I got there (Martin Palmer and Andy & Melissa Banthorpe getting there before me and dipping) but I did stumble in to a nice HAWFINCH as I wandered towards the hides, undulating over and calling as it headed from the Park over the line of Poplars and away beyond towards the test track. There were a large number of winter thrushes present too, particularly Fieldfares. A single OYSTERCATCHER was a surprise sight on the Pillinge (replacing the Knot that was present for perhaps just ten minutes) but as I sat in the hide, Adam Bassett contacted me to say a RED KNOT had just dropped down into SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (BUCKS) with a Dunlin - Was it the same bird?
I had a half-hearted look for Penduline Tits then departed south......
I met up with Adam, Dave Cleal and Jackie at SPADE OAK some 40 minutes later but as suspected the Knot was long gone - it had only made landfall about 15 minutes (although none of the aforementioned observers had seen it fly off) - the DUNLIN was still there though !
Not a great deal of interest, with low duck numbers noted, but did count 7 Great Crested Grebe, 54 island-roosting Sinensis Cormorants, 52 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 13 Shoveler, 10 Pochard, 638 Lapwing, 13 Common Snipe, Common Kingfisher and a single LESSER REDPOLL. An adult Mute Swan was dead besides the spit.
I left Alan Stevens scanning as Malcolm, Adam, Jackie and I departed and less than ten minutes later, the first-winter CASPIAN GULL came in at 1513 hours

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Another day - another PENDULINE TIT dip !

After dipping five times on Penduline Tits during this past week in Kent (three times at Grove Ferry and at Oare Marshes and Dungeness ARC), I was not expecting a call this morning to say that two had been found in BEDFORDSHIRE.......
Anyway, at around 1045 hours, Paul Wright 'phoned to say that he and Neil had just found 2 PENDULINE TITS feeding on bulrush heads to the left of the main hide overlooking Wetland 3 at the Marston Vale Millenium Park. I jumped in the car immediately but knew it would be too good to be true. Both Paul and Neil, along with Bob Hook and Rolf, had been running a Bird Walk for the centre and what luck for the six participants - an absolute mega for the county and a real chance sighting.
After negotiating the Luton-Bedford 50mph stretch of the M1, I eventually arrived on site at 1145 hours. Tony Revell had stumbled in on the birds, and both Andy Plumb and Steve Blain had successfully twitched them, albeit the latter observer just getting less than ten seconds of viewing before they flew off.  The two birds actually remained in the area for 45 minutes, actually returning on one occasion after they flew off. They called several times, particularly in flight, and did go missing for ten minutes at one time, even though they were still in the reeds.
I checked the site exhaustively - from every angle - and on every wetland - but it was a needle-in-a-haystack job. Those bulrushes to the left of the hide definitely seemed to be the best crop but there were a lot more scattered all over - and very difficult to view. As expected, I failed to find the two birds, as did the 50 or so other observers that eventually turned up.
Compensation came in the form of 6 BEARDED TITS (a party of 5 including two ringed males and a single male performing intermittently from the hide), 2 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS (initially seen by Neil and Paul in flight before being relocated by I not far from the bench some 15 minutes later and then showing intermittently in Hawthorns by the hide early afternoon) and a very late BARN SWALLOW that Steve Blain and I saw over the Pillinge Pit, presumably a European.
Also noted were up to 5 different Cetti's Warblers, 25 Fieldfares, 40 Redwings, 6 LESSER REDPOLL and a number of Siskins, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker regularly visiting the bird feeder in front of the hide.
There has been just ONE previous record of Penduline Tit in Bedfordshire - an adult at Priory Country Park on 18 September 1991. I missed that one too.......
Let's hope we get another chance.....

Monday, 5 November 2012

A rare excursion into BEDS (DOTTEREL intended)

Following yesterday's torrential rain, today dawned clear and bright. In fact it was a beautiful late autumn morning, with light NNE winds and largely cloudless skies. It was still very much on the chilly side though, with temperatures hovering around 7 degrees C.
I had high hopes for Woodpigeon migration following the recent weather but this proved to be a non-event - in fact migration was virtually at a standstill.
I did an hour or so of vizmig at PICADILLY HILL KNOLL, IVINGHOE BEACON (BUCKS), before walking the usual circuit, but it was dire - passage consisting of just 9 Redwing, 12 Skylark and 11 Chaffinch and the berry-bearing shrubs in Inkombe Hole supporting 21 Common Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 2 Jays and 2 Bullfinches and Top Scrub producing just 2 Goldcrests.
I decided to move onto BEDFORDSHIRE, where I had not visited in any proper birding capacity in over a month........
At STANBRIDGEFORD (BEDS) near Eaton Bray, a large cereal crop held at least 25 Skylarks, whilst STOCKGROVE PARK LAKE (at SP 914 283) produced a superb count of 62 MANDARIN DUCKS and the adjoining BAKER'S WOOD an impressive 25 Jays, 66 SISKIN, 2 Nuthatch, MARSH TIT and Coal Tit.
BROGBOROUGH LAKE (BEDS) (at SP 975 395) held an enormous number of Aythya ducks and after diligently click-counting them twice came up with a total of 2,134 birds, 1,625 of them Tufted Duck and 509 Northern Pochard. The two long-staying BLACK-NECKED GREBES were still present at the West End, viewable from the Watchpoint at SP 973 393, with 17 Great Crested and 8 Little Grebe noted also, and 4 Mute Swans.
I was just about to bird Marston Vale Millenium Park when Lol and Bob 'phoned to say that they had relocated the Dotterel in the Southill area, first seen by Steve Blain, Paul Donald and Steve Heath yesterday. It was in the fields north of the village at about SP 434 158 but was flighty. I aborted Marston Vale and drove over to join them both.
At around 1410 hours, after Lol & Bob had lost the flock, I relocated some 650 European Golden Plovers in the cereal fields just NE of SOUTHILL VILLAGE (BEDS) at around SP 157 425 and after a quick scan, located the juvenile DOTTEREL in with them. Managed some pretty decent views before I was joined by Stuart Warren in the layby. I pointed it out to Stuart and after a while, he managed to get his 'scope on to it, but within minutes the entire flock took flight again and wheeled around for a while. Thankfully, they came down in a field on the opposite side of the footpath where large numbers of Starlings and Lapwings were feeding. Once again, I quickly relocated it and got Stuart on to it, and then Bob Chalkley, Lol and Cambridgeshire birder Aubrey. Dave Odell arrived shortly later and eventually he latched on to it too. It was difficult to see, due to the undulating nature of the field, but for a while it sat in full view preening in the sunshine.
Then disturbance from walkers on the footpath (one of them a birdwatcher) saw the flock take flight again at 1435 hours and after a long time in the air, they dropped back down again in the field about a mile north of Southill. I did not see the Dotterel again after that time and left Phil Rhodes, Mike Campbell, Jack O'Neill and others searching for it. These do seem to be the favoured fields however but as always, the flock is particularly mobile. Have patience if you are visiting.
Lee Evans


Darren Oakley-Martin has found a RING OUZEL - on waste ground between Chicken Farm
and where the footpath turns sharply towards Potton Wood on Hatley Road (Potton).

Sunday, 4 November 2012

DOTTEREL today in Beds

A DOTTEREL was identified amongst Golden Plovers today at Southill, whilst 5 RUFF were discovered at Radwell Floods and the 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBES remain at Brogborough Lake. Up to 6 BEARDED TITS are present in the reedbed of Marston Vale Millenium Park, with a late NORTHERN WHEATEAR on Pegsdon Hills.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Johnny Lynch had a juvenile KITTIWAKE at Grovebury Pit briefly this morning whilst 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBES remain at Brogborough Lake.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Still at least 3 SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS present at Broom Gypsy Lane West today (Richard Bashford), whilst 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBES remain at Brogborough Lake. WOODLARKS continue to be seen at The Lodge, Sandy, as well as the odd RING OUZEL.

Monday, 8 October 2012


1-2 BLACK-NECKED GREBES have been present for nearly a week on Stewartby Lake (MJP et al) but other than a few first arriving REDWINGS and large numbers of immigrant JAYS, overall it is very quiet in the county

Monday, 1 October 2012

More rare waders at BROOM

On Saturday, a SPOTTED REDSHANK was seen by Grahame Madge at Gypsy Lane East and on Sunday, a very late WOOD SANDPIPER was reported from Peacocks Lake

At Pegsdon Hills, still at least 1 COMMON REDSTART

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Today's Celebrities at Broom

The view from the Watchpoint and the observers: recognise anyone ?


Another day of strong WSW winds but dry and bright and much cooler than of late
After discussing the bird with the finder Kevin Duncan, I felt I must go down and have a look at the bird just on the outside chance it was a SemiP - after all, no less than 12 of them have appeared in the UK this September. Although just over the border in Bucks, once again I was stood in the county when studying this small wader. Although somewhat flighty, it was showing well and was indeed a LITTLE STINT, although it had largely moulted into first-winter plumage. A nice record and proof of what a bit of floodwater can do (a Dunlin also arrived there later).
DORNEY COMMON held at least 100 Meadow Pipits, with 8 migrant SISKINS overhead and the boundary ditch harbouring 3 CETTI'S WARBLERS and a Grey Wagtail
Joan and I then returned north back to Bedfordshire where over the lunchtime period, we met up with Johnny Lynch, Ted & Evelyn Reed, Stuart Warren, Steve Blain, Graham White, Richard Bashford, Mark Ward and others. This time we were quids in - the juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER was on view and giving fairly good, albeit distant views. It was favouring the pit on the right (the furthest one visible from the watchpoint) moving between the left hand and right hand gravel edges. It was often with a single Ringed Plover, whilst on the lefthand pit were a juvenile Dunlin and Green Sandpiper. Quite a few Teal and Shoveler, and 25 or so Meadow Pipits on site.
The drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD was still present, along with 63 Northern Pochard and 11 Great Crested Grebes.
Spent several hours in the hide. The GREAT WHITE EGRET was performing well, fishing in the shallows to the right of the hide. A very popular bird with countless photographs being taken, a large selection of which are now published on my Tring Reservoirs blog site.
Also LITTLE EGRETS now up to 6 (just how does the message get round so quickly that feeding conditions are optimum), with large numbers of returning waterbirds including 8 Great Crested Grebe, 42 Mute Swans, 72 Pochard, the 3 PINTAILS, 200+ Teal, 75 Shoveler and 566 Coot.
The single RINGED PLOVER was still in the NW corner, with a male Sparrowhawk over and no less than 66 House Martins feeding.
Got home and almost immediately received a call from Graham Smith - two COMMON STONECHATS were present for their third day at Springfield Farm Quarry - an excellent record and a species that really needs to be flagged up on Marek Walford's site

Monday, 24 September 2012


Martin Stevens discovered a juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Gypsy Lane East Pits, Broom, this evening - the bird present until at least 6.30pm

Friday, 21 September 2012

REDSTARTS at Streatleybury

Two COMMON REDSTARTS remain for a second day at Streatleybury whilst the family of HOBBIES are still to be seen from the access track to the Lodge RSPB

Thursday, 13 September 2012

GREY PLOVER over Potton

GREY PLOVER calling (three times at five second intervals, heading roughly north
east towards Gamlingay) over the disused pit on Common Road, Potton and
Everton Sand Quarry this morning at about 07:00. Grid reference
approximately TL 225 503. Could not be relocated at the farm reservoir just
to the north.

Rather pleased with that, if somewhat serendipitous!

Darren Oakley-Martin

Friday, 31 August 2012

First bit of county excitement for some time - SPOONBILL at Broom

The "Ivel Valley Dream Team" headed to Derek's (nothing much except good
numbers of Little Grebes), then Gypsy Lane East, set up scopes. Mr
Blain did not swear at all but calmly noted at around 12.20, that there
was a Spoonbill on the small island with some Black-headed Gulls. We
managed to enjoy this bird on the deck for some 10 seconds (during which
time Steve whipped out his iPhone for this shot before the bird
headed over the road, then Gypsy Lane West, Ash Covert and to the main
lake at Broom. It circled here for about five minutes, nearly landing
twice but eventually circled higher and higher. It was still over GLW
at 12.35 but headed north after that. Utterly fabulous!

Also two Hobbies over main lake Broom.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

HONEY BUZZARD at the Lodge and numerous WHINCHATS

A big surprise in the form of a HONEY BUZZARD on my lunchtime walk to the shop and back today.

I picked it up circling low to the north over the shop as I approached at around 14.20 (when on raising my bins I expected to see a Red Kite due to the 'droopy' wings and tail-twisting). It circled for a few minutes overhead, gaining height all the time, enabling eight other people in the vicinity to see it.

It eventually headed off strongly south (ish).

Mark Ward

Also in Beds, up to 6 WHINCHATS have been seen NE of Wilstead, with others elsewhere

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

CROSSBILLS on the move

16 Crossbills flew over the Quarry car park at The Lodge early this morning, and Dave Odell has 11 over his Wootton garden this afternoon.

An eclipse drake Garganey was at Blunham lake at lunchtime, along with two Wigeon, 14 Pochard, and a new brood of Tufties.

This evening at Broom GP at least 16 Ringed Plovers on-site including 14 together in the field to the west of Peacocks Lake (with two Dunlin still). Otherwise fairly quiet.

Steve Blain

Saturday, 7 July 2012


Following up on Mark Thomas' email.........
The adult WOOD SANDPIPER was still present at Gypsy Lane East GP at 1745 hours, commuting between the two flashes south of the Green-winged Teal pool (with 3 Green Sandpipers).
I also saw 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Ringed Plovers, 2 Oystercatchers and a pair of Common Shelducks with 4 surviving young

Monday, 11 June 2012

TURTLE DOVES at Totternhoe

Up to 3 TURTLE DOVES at Totternhoe Knolls today, still singing and displaying

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


There is a pair of GARGANEY present at Derek White's Pit today. Whether or not this is the same pair I saw at Marston Vale yesterday is unknown - both birds being visible on the reserve Jubilee Meadow.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Neil Wright discovered a BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Brogborough Lake today

GOLDEN ORIOLE on my county list at last

It was certainly panic stations this morning after a 'Red Alert' was issed following Conor's discovery of a first-summer male GOLDEN ORIOLE in trees close to Tempsford railay crossing in Station Road. After David Pennington was eventually contacted and found, SCB relocated the bird and over the next hour in light drizzle and low cloud, a handful of us finally connected with this dream Bedfordshire rarity. Joan Thompson, Allan Stewart, Martin Palmer, Peter Smith, Tim Robson, Pip, Jim Gurney, Stuart Warren, Dave Odell, Bob Duckhouse, Lol, SCB and I enjoyed some great 'scope views of the bird as it moved between the canopy of tall Oaks and Ash trees about 100 yards north of Station Road just west of the railway. At around 1110 hours, it flew off and was not seen again.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Recent news

On 18 May, Broom GP attracted a WOOD SANDPIPER and SANDERLING (SCB), with a singing male WOOD WARBLER near Harrold (Duncan Woodhead).

A drake GARGANEY was on the Pillinge on 19 May (Steve Northwood), with BLACK TERN on Peacock's Lake, Broom, on 20 May (SCB) and a WHITE STORK gliding south very high over Upper Caldecote at 1740 hours on 22 May (Alan Wakeford).

A RUFF was at Derek White's on 24 May, with 2 GREY PLOVERS at Radwell Viaduct Pit and a SANDERLING in Rookery South.

More recently, a COMMON QUAIL has been calling near Wrestlingworth at TL 264 464

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

NIGHTJAR near Potton for second evening

The male EUROPEAN NIGHTJAR at Pegnut Wood showed for around 30 seconds at 21:25 this evening, before flying in to the wood and not showing again before we left at 21:45.

It was present around the field planted with whips at approx TL228480.

Steve Blain

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Broom this evening

Ringed Plover - at least 31 on site this evening, including many tundra
Sanderling - 1 still in ploughed field
Dunlin - 13 (10 on ploughed field, 3 on GLE)
Greenshank - 1 GLE
LRP - 7+
Redshank - 6+
Arctic Tern - 3 still
Hobby - 2

Steve Blain

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Sightings 5-8 May

All 3 BLACK-NECKED GREBES remained throughout at Derek White's, whilst early Saturday saw 6 GREY PLOVERS still at Gypsy Lane West, Broom, and the first WOOD SANDPIPER of the spring (Mark Thomas/Lol Carman et al). A COMMON GREENSHANK appeared on 7th-8th.

A female RING OUZEL was at Skimpot, Blows Downs, on 5th (Mick Price), with 2 at Pegsdon Hills that day and 2 WHINCHATS throughout at Stanford (Stuart Warren) and another at Marston Vale (Paul Wright).

Friday, 4 May 2012

Another hectic but frustrating day

Early morning saw a SANDERLING at Gypsy Lane East (many observers), with the GREY PLOVER still in the field just west of Peacock's Lake (Steve Blain). Next off, a TURNSTONE appeared on Millbrook Pillinge (Nick Cook), whilst on Stewartby Lake, the breeding-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE, drake COMMON SCOTER, 8 Yellow Wagtails and TURTLE DOVE remained (LGRE et al).

A WHINCHAT was behind Toddinton Services (Chris Dreary), with the female still at Blows Downs.

Yesterday's Pillinge BLACK-NECKED GREBES (3 birds) relocated east to Derek White's Pit (SCB et al), whilst Broom Gypsy Lane East & West during the afternoon produced a single DUNLIN and Common Sandpiper (LGRE & Stuart Warren), a BAR-TAILED GODWIT (SCB, Matt Burgess, et al), a WHIMBREL very briefly (Jim Gurney) and a flock of 6 GREY PLOVERS (JG, MJP)

The first-summer LITTLE GULL continues for a third day at Brogborough Lake (LGRE) with a WHIMBREL at lunchtime on Biggleswade Common (Kathy Sims)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Broom takes the biscuit with bird after bird being found - excitement all day in NE winds and rain

The day started with 3 full breeding-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBES on the Pillinge Pit at Marston Vale Millenium Park. They performed well all day (JG, LGRE, MJP, LC, BC, BN, et al).

Then Mark Thomas started a day-long vigil at Peacock's Lake, Broom, with Matt Burgess for company for most of the morning. BAR-TAILED GODWITS were moving with firstly 11 east, followed by 26 NE, before the first of 2 GREY PLOVERS came through. The second proved more obliging and stayed long enough in the adjacent soil field to the west to allow LGRE, BC, LC, MJP, JG, Mark Ward and SCB to connect. A drake and two female GREATER SCAUP dropped in late afternoon, followed by a WHIMBREL briefly.

At around lunchtime, Richard Bashford found an adult KITTIWAKE on floodmeadows at Begwary Brook, Wyboston, but it had already gone 10 minutes later when LGRE visited. A cracking summer-plumaged BAR-TAILED GODWIT made up for it, showing very well on Derek White's (JG et al). Five ARCTIC TERNS were also there (LGRE).

Meanwhile, at Gypsy Lane East Pits, Broom, 5 DUNLIN there were followed by 5 GREY PLOVERS and a flock of 32 BAR-TAILED GODWITS (MJP) with BLACK TERNS at Cainhoe (Peter Soper) and Brogborough (Neil Wright), with the first-summer LITTLE GULL still at the latter site (MJP, NW).

Late on, a female WHINCHAT was by the middle track at Blows Downs (Rob Dazley, LC, BC, LGRE)


Without doubt, bird of the day was a first-summer PURPLE HERON that Mark Thomas picked up flying SE over Peacocks Lake, Broom, at 1857 hours; Jim Gurney managed to just get onto it too after a hasty call from MT

Meanwhile, early on, Stewartby Lake had been the place to be, with 2 adult KITTIWAKES present from 0650-0800 hours (Keith Owen, Chris Dreary), the drake COMMON SCOTER, the continuing SLAV, a nice summer-plumaged SANDERLING on the slipway (KO et al) (flew off just before midday) and a first-summer LITTLE GULL briefly (KO) (which relocated to Brogborough - Dave Odell).

Returning to Broom GP, Mark Thomas found a summer-plumaged TURNSTONE on Peacock's Lake, with DUNLIN numbers at Gypsy Lane East increasing from 4 to 13 by the end of the day (Matt Burgess, SCB, et al). A male WHITE WAGTAIL also appeared there, with 6 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS north through Peacock's at 2034 hours (SCB).

Martin Palmer discovered 3 SANDWICH TERNS at Stewartby lake at 1145 hours, these remaining for about 20 minutes before flying off, with 3 ARCTIC TERNS at Derek White's later (SCB). Another TURNSTONE appeared at Millbrook Pillinge early afternoon (Dave Ball et al), with 5 Northern Wheatears and a female WHINCHAT at Poppy Hill Farm Paddocks at Langford (TL 191 397) (Roger Hicks; Andy & Melissa Banthorpe)

Tuesday 01 May

Steve Blain noted the drake COMMON SCOTER, SLAVONIAN GREBE and 6 ARCTIC TERNS on Stewartby Lake, with a COMMON GREENSHANK and first-summer MEDITERRANEAN GULL on Millbrook Pillinge

Early on, David Kramer had 3 ARCTIC TERNS at Priory Country Park from 1430-1522, whilst an impressive 22 YELLOW WAGTAILS were counted at Radwell

In the evening, Keith Owen and Neil Wright had 8 BLACK TERNS briefly at Brogborough Lake, whilst MJP and Pip Housden the singing COMMON NIGHTINGALE and purring TURTLE DOVE in Scrapyard Corner, Stewartby

Monday, 30 April 2012

Today's Highlights

A WHINCHAT was seen at Blows Downs briefly (Rob Dazley) whilst BAR-TAILED GODWITS flew through Broom and Thurleigh Airfield this evening (1 & 4 respectively) and BLACK TERNS included 3 at Broom and singles at Priory and Stewartby. A COMMON REDSTART was at The Lodge.


Can you believe it - not a single drop of rain today. It was pleasantly warm, the sun shone brightly and the skies were clear intermittently. The wind, initially blowing from the south, veered SE and then due east..........
New arrivals in TOP SCRUB were two singing male GARDEN WARBLERS - my first of the year. Also, at least 6 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS in that area, and a further 3 on Steps Hill.
Another new arrival was a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT in scrub below the Beacon knoll, whilst most impressive, was the sheer array of WHEATEARS, 5 of which were GREENLANDERS. There were 23 individuals in total, matching Mike Wallen's total of early morning, with a party of 12 birds along the fenceline beyond the gate at the bottom of the slope, 5 on the SE slopes, 3 on Gallows Hill and 3 more in the fenced-off sheepfield enclosure. Two singing male CORN BUNTINGS were also observed in the latter, whilst 3 migrant Barn Swallows went through.
(1145 hours visit)
Highlight for me was a single HOBBY chasing Common Swifts in the sky above the Black Poplars in the SE corner, another first for the year.
Otherwise, disaster had struck, with 9 Grey Herons just standing around forlorn, after presumably falling foul of the weekend weather, most likely killing the young.
18 Great Crested Grebes still, 14 Mute Swans (reedbed nest washed out), female Mallard with 3 surviving ducklings, 8 Gadwall, 1 drake Common Teal, 38 Tufted Duck, just 3 Northern Pochard, 83 Common Terns and 40 Common Swifts.
At MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, the male COMMON CUCKOO was still calling, with 8 Common Terns and 5 Blackcaps noted. A tree had been blown down and had fallen across the causeway footpath.
Thankfully, the raft-nesting Mute Swans had survived the floods and wind on STARTOP'S and a pair of Greylag Geese was accompanying 4 yellow goslings.
Next off, I had to undertake two comprehensive wildlife surveys to areas affected by HS2 - both areas completely new to me. The sites were just west of Aylesbury and part of the Thame floodplain, south of the A41. The starting point of the survey was at Putlowes Farm at SP 783 150 before fully surveying the Thame flood meadows in grid square 78 14. The plain was completely flooded due to the recent rains, with many grass fields completely sodden or underwater. This is the area where the HS2 viaduct will be built.
A total of 30 species was recorded in Part 1 of the survey -:
Grey Heron - 4 individuals noted, 3 adults and a first-year
Greylag Goose - 1 pair
Atlantic Canada Geese - 18
Mallard - two pairs on the floods with an additional female with 12 small ducklings
Red Kite - 1 flying overhead
Common Buzzard - single very vocal adult
Common Kestrel - 1 male
Common Pheasant - 15
Argenteus Herring Gull - 3 first-years on the floods
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 8 adults on the floods
Stock Dove - 2 pairs around the farm buildings
Woodpigeon - 15
Collared Dove - pair around the houses by the access road
Eurasian Skylark - just 2 singing males in the cereal crops
Barn Swallow - 2 pairs around the farm buildings
*YELLOW WAGTAIL - single male in the cereal fields and water meadows. According to 83 year-old farmer Geoffrey Jarvis, this species has bred in this area for at least 35 years.
Dunnock - 1 pair in hedgerow
Robin - just 1 pair
Common Blackbird - single pair
*COMMON WHITETHROAT - 2 singing males in hedgerows bordering cereal crops
Blue Tit - 1 pair
Long-tailed Tit - single nesting pair
Common Magpie - single pair
Jackdaw - 90+ of floodplain
Carrion Crow - 5 nesting pairs
House Sparrow - 6 pairs in the vicinity of the barns at the farm
Chaffinch - two separate singing males
LINNET - 3 nesting pairs in hedgerows
Goldfinch - 2 pairs in vicinity of farm buildings
YELLOWHAMMER - pair in hedgerow
The second part of the survey was of the golf course primed as a target for the HS2 route. This and Lower Hartwell Farm were particularly rich in bird diversity. Most unexpected was a migrant male WOOD WARBLER - moving through and singing along the Thame Valley Walk, about 200 yards north of the Newt Pond at the extreme NW end of the golf course.
Mute Swan - pair on Hartwell House Lake
Atlantic Canada Goose - 8 in the grounds of Hartwell House
Common Buzzard - single flew high over Lower Hartwell Farm
Common Pheasant - 12
Coot - pair on Hartwell House Lake
Woodpigeon - 35
Stock Dove - pair nesting in tree hole on golf course
Green Woodpecker - 1 yaffling
Great Spotted Woodpecker - pair feeding young
Wren - 6 territories
Dunnock - pair breeding in vicinity of Hartwell Farm
Robin - two nesting pairs, with singles at Hartwell Farm and on the golf course
SONG THRUSH - 4 birds on the golf course with nesting suspected
Common Blackbird - 5 nesting pairs
Blackcap - 4 singing males
COMMON WHITETHROAT - singing male by Newt Pond
*LESSER WHITETHROAT - rattling male by Newt Pond
Common Chiffchaff - 2 singing males on Golf Course
Great Tit - 4 birds
Blue Tit - 2 nesting pairs
Long-tailed Tit - 3 nesting pairs
Common Magpie - 4
Jay - single pair
Jackdaw - 50+
*ROOK - colony in trees on west flank of golf course with 72 active nests in main cluster and an additional 9 in a neighbouring colony
Carrion Crow - 3 nests
House Sparrow - breeding pair in barns at Whaddon Hill Farm
LINNET - pair
Goldfinch - 2 pairs
Greenfinch - singing male on golf course
YELLOWHAMMER - pair in cereal fields and hedgerow
A single Grey Squirrel was noted, whilst butterflies included 2 Peacocks, a Large White, 4 Brimstones and a Speckled Wood. The ponds hold Great Crested Newts
Both the adult drake COMMON SCOTER and the still-transitional-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE were still present, with a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and several Willow Warblers present close to the Scrapyard Corner of the lake. With MJP, watched 4 ARCTIC TERNS fly straight through to the east at 1635 hours but failed to locate the Common Nightingale noted earlier.
At PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) at 1709, the single BLACK TERN was present, whilst at PEACOCKS LAKE, BROOM (BEDS), all 3 BLACK TERNS could be seen at 1739. A pair of GREY PARTRIDGES was showing in a cereal crop opposite. Nothing else of significance though, although Richard Bashford and SCB saw Bar-tailed Godwits later in the evening in the area.
Returning back to Wilstone at 1930 hours, I was very pleased to see the adult drake GARGANEY found by Stuart Wilson just prior to my arrival. It was showing very well swimming back and forth along the Drayton Bank and at times was only 75 yards from the hide. Barry Reed had found a different drake at Amwell early morning and that bird was also still present this evening.
Whilst watching the Garganey, an adult summer LITTLE GULL dropped in whilst COMMON SWIFT numbers reached 90. The pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present as well as 4 Teal.
The first local WESTERN REED WARBLER of the year arrived today in the larger lake reedbed on the west shore, with both Great Crested Grebes and 28 Tufted Ducks also present
The end of another exhausting day

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Some drought this is

White Storks (Roger Wyatt)

It rained virtually from dawn until dusk - perhaps for 13 hours in all. It was also very cold, with strong winds blowing in from the Northeast. I managed to stay in the field all day despite the soaking and was highly rewarded for my efforts, culminating in my largest-ever flock of WHITE STORKS in Britain
Despite being on site by 0715 hours, I still managed to dip out on the two Common Shelduck (College pair) that Ian Williams had seen close to the hide. There was also no sign of last night's Northern Wheatear in Cemetery Corner and most frustrating of all, missed yet another Osprey by a few minutes (Dave Bilcock watched one fly along the Dry Canal just as I left the car park)
Anyway, browsing across the windswept pallet, noteworthy were just 7 Mute Swans, 40 House Martins, 120 Barn Swallows and 45 Common Terns
A CETTI'S WARBLER was singing loudly from the far reedbed whilst a COMMON CUCKOO in the Black Poplars was my first of the year
Returning once more at 0800 hours, primarily to search again for the Osprey, a first-summer LITTLE GULL had dropped in and a female YELLOW WAGTAIL was with 2 Pied Wagtails by the steps. As I stood talking to Ian, Steve Blake 'phoned to inform me of 2 PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger.........I left Ian to grip me off
Just as I arrived at a wet and soggy Tyttenhanger, Steve Blake 'phoned me to say that the Avocets had only that minute just flown off. Great I thought. Anyway, there was a possibility that they had flown on to the Fishing Pit, so I got back into the car and drove around to the north side. Thankfully, just as I was parking, SB phoned again to say that they had both returned and so with a little hastiness, I ran to the watchpoint and clocked on to them, just in case they got airborne again.
Both PIED AVOCETS, an apparent adult pair, were showing very well on the main sandy spit of the east shore and were both wading and swimming just offshore. Although annual these days, still a great bird to see in the county and rarely any more than a one-dayer. Perhaps due to the inclement conditions, they remained all day.
Also noted were 2 Common Redshanks, 10 Common Terns, a COMMON CUCKOO and single singing SEDGE WARBLER and COMMON WHITETHROAT by the conveyor belt.
After speaking to Lol, Keith Owen and others, it was clear that driving up to Broom to search for Mark Thomas' Rough-legged Buzzard was going to be a waste of time - it had not been seen since MT had watched it fly north not long after 0600 hours !
Instead, I chose to twitch Martin Green's Pillinge Pit Grey Plover, still present in front of the hide at 0730. The rain got gradually worse as I drove north and was now constant. I joined both Lol and Bob in the Pillinge hide but no joy - the plover had long gone. The only waders present were 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and the OYSTERCATCHER pair.
A COMMON CUCKOO flew past the hide and landed in Poplars to call, whilst a COMMON SWIFT was over the lake - both new species to my 2012 Beds list. Over 50 House Martins were also over the lake, whilst 2 different CETTI'S WARBLERS were singing.
More frustration was to follow. Scanning back and forth over the lake revealed the presence of 175 Barn Swallows, 110 House Martins and 70+ Sand Martins, with the male COMMON WHITETHROAT still singing opposite the car park. There was no Turtle Dove to be found along the Green Lane wires and at that time, the first-summer Kittiwake that Martin and Dave Ball both saw for 10 minutes later (1239-1249) had not arrived.
After consulting with Simon Nichols and Graham Smith, next stop was Manor Farm but typically the waders had gone (particularly the 2 Dunlin I was after). However, opposite where I parked the car, a female RING OUZEL was showing very well in the sheep field adjacent to the access track.
Much of the complex was flooded and waterlogged, with 1 Oystercatcher and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on view.
(complete inventory for Simon and Rob)
With Linford scoring heavily early morning (Whimbrel, Little Tern, etc), I decided it was worth a visit, especially as MJG had informed me that the Stewartby Kittiwake had departed. As such, I had a good look around and conducted a full survey of the reserve's birds (the majority of which had been washed out by the floods) -
Great Crested Grebe (6)
Little Grebe (2)
Sinensis Cormorant (9 roosting on the bund)
Grey Heron (12 nesting pairs)
Little Egret (5 nesting pairs)
Mute Swan (single pair)
Greylag Geese (12)
Mallard (15; just 1 female with ducklings)
Gadwall (2)
*GARGANEY (pair on the bund, seemingly washed out by rising water levels)
Shoveler (2 drakes)
Tufted Duck (32)
Northern Pochard (2)
Common Tern (4)
Sand Martin (75)
House Martin (55)
Barn Swallow (80)
YELLOW WAGTAIL (2 males on the bund)
Wren (6 territories)
Dunnock (1 pair)
Robin (2 pairs feeding young)
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (1 reeling from Swans Way Meadow)
Blackcap (14 noted, including 9 singing males)
Common Chiffchaff (5 singing males)
WILLOW WARBLER (8 singing males)
Blue Tit (5)
Long-tailed Tit (3 nesting pairs)
Common Treecreeper (2 singing males)
Jackdaw (46)
Carrion Crow (7 nesting pairs)
Common Magpie (4)
No Common Cuckoo or Garden Warbler noted
Alan Nelson had relocated Steve Rodwell's Wilstone Whimbrel on the main marsh but it had only stayed a short time. As such, it had gone when I arrived mid afternoon. Click-counting the main lake revealed the presence of 196 Barn Swallows - clearly a major arrival of this hirundine.
Both RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were seen (male and female) with nesting Greylag still, OYSTERCATCHER, 12 Lapwing, 9 Common Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and Gadwall. The Mute Swan pair seem to have abandoned (or been washed out).
My third visit of the day at 1545 hours heralded little change, except for an impressive arrival of hirundines and numerous COMMON SWIFTS. With the click-counter to hand, no less than 753 BARN SWALLOWS was logged, along with 116 House Martins and about 70 Sand Martins.
The first-summer LITTLE GULL was still present, whilst Common Terns were back up to 88
Decided to dip yet another Grey Plover, this time the winter-plumaged bird that Jim Rose had discovered by the 750m mark late morning, but just as I was walking back, news came in of a White Stork in Oxfordshire so I was off..........
In still constant rain, I entered Oxfordshire, and after gleaning the knowledge of local guys Adam Hartley and Roger Wyatt, arrived in Standlake village shortly after 1815 hours. After a nervy 500 yard march, there they were, a flock of 6 WHITE STORKS in the grass meadow - resting and preening. After being first seen in Worcestershire (initially in a flock of 9) and then splitting up and moving to North Wales, these 6 had hit Oxfordshire on Thursday, where they had last been sighted flying SW over Didcot and Drayton late afternoon. This was the largest single flock of White Storks to have been seen in Britain for at least 50 years so I was mighty desperate to see them. And there they were - showing exceptionally well just 110 yards away. Both Roger Wyatt and Ewan Urquhart obtained some fabulous shots of them (see above) and despite me phoning RBA within seconds of me seeing them, just 10 observers arrived in the next hour. The birds rested for a bit, sheltering from the increasing NE wind, before lifting up one by one and flying half a mile south to land out of view just north of the River Thames at 1840. All of the birds were identical in plumage barring two birds with much brighter pinkish-red leg colour. All were lightly soiled on the upperparts. Rather surprisingly, none were ringed. It had certainly been an eventful day and this had capped it off well.
Just before I left to drive home, I stopped off at Farmoor, where 5 full breeding-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBES were showing at 25 yards range just 100 yards along from the main car park.