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).

Monday, 30 January 2012

COMMON SHELDUCK still at Sandy

The Common Shelduck was still present on the large fishing lake south of New Road, Sandy (TL181476) this morning at 8.45 (Tim Robson)

Friday, 27 January 2012

A barren land..........


A glorious day weatherwise. Following an overnight frost, the day was dominated by clear blue skies and sunshine, with an increasingly biting NW wind and cold temperatures

I spent today locally with a few target birds but managed to miss most things.......


I returned to the stubble field first thing, mainly in the hope of connecting with a pair of Common Ravens that had been displaying in the vicinity. Despite prime conditions, they failed to turn up.

The YELLOWHAMMER flock was still going strong, with 124 still present and showing well on the 'deck'. Also mixed in with them were 8 Goldfinches and a few Chaffinches, whilst the flock of 60 Eurasian Skylark were still in the stubble. Two MEADOW PIPITS were new, whilst 8 Common Starlings, 3 Song Thrushes and 5 Stock Doves were also encountered.

Red Kites were very numerous, with at least 8 hunting the stubble, including an individual with wing-tags - a number 7 on both tags with the left one bright yellow with a bright red border and the right one pink. Several Common Buzzards were also in the vicinity.


My first visit in a while and not much change - 5 Little Grebes, just 1 adult and 1 of last year's young Mute Swans on view, 75 Atlantic Canada Geese, 11 Gadwall, 4 Tufted Duck (2 drakes), 61 Coot and an adult Grey Heron. The gull flock yielded 8 Argenteus Herring Gulls (an adult and 7 first-years) and 44 Rooks were back at the rookery.

A further 36 Rooks were back at the rookery at Winchmore Hill, whilst the Beech trees at Marrod's Bottom produced 60 Chaffinches, 5 BRAMBLINGS and a Nuthatch. Kevin Holt and I had pondered for years about where the Penn Wood Bramblings go by day and Dave Cleal came up with the answer. It seems that these Beeches west of Great Beard's Wood are attracting some of them.


Red Kites were everywhere today, including 3 circling low over Station Road in Tring.


My main aim for visiting the reservoirs was to see the drake Goosander that Roy, Mike C, Steve, Dave B and others had seen during the last week but despite searching hard, I could find no sign of it. With good weather, I fully censused the water birds present............

WILSTONE RESERVOIR held just 6 Great Crested Grebes, no Mute Swans, 70 Greylag Geese, 83 Atlantic Canada Geese, the first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE (very mobile today, flying about a fair bit), 22 Mallard, 12 Gadwall, 257 Eurasian Wigeon, 320 Common Teal, no Shoveler, 66 Tufted Duck, 68 Northern Pochard and 728 Coot. I could only find 1 drake Common Goldeneye.

Otherwise, 4 Sinensis Cormorants were attending nests in the remaining bund tree, 38 Lapwings were at the edges, a Green Woodpecker was in the north hedgerow, the North Fields harboured 38 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 96 Common Starlings and a male Chaffinch and the hide area 2 Wrens and 2 Great Tits.

A male Muntjac and 2 Chinese Water Deer were also at the reed edge.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR was where all of the Mute Swans were lurking with 31 counted (including 9 first-years), along with 1 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 313 Coot, 92 Mallard, 15 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 41 Tufted Duck and an impressive 98 Northern Pochards.

The first-year male SNOW BUNTING was putting on a particularly good show in the sunshine, showing down to just 10 feet on the stony beach - always in the vicinity of the steps at the NW end.

TRINGFORD harboured a further pair of Mute Swans with MARSWORTH yielding the only Shovelers - 35 of them - a further 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Pochard and my first Red Fox of the year; 3 Goldfinches too.


After the excitement of last Sunday, proceedings were back to normal today with little to see - and no sign of Wednesday's Egyptian Goose.

The rollcall included 10 Mute Swans (1 first-year), 18 Wigeon, 1 drake Gadwall, 1 drake Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, the usual pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on the west bank of the deep lake, 44 Coot, 20 Lapwing and 2 COMMON SNIPE.

I then decided to move on to BEDFORDSHIRE where I had planned to add several species to that counties' year list of mine. That proved disastrous though and in the end, I managed to locate just 1 target bird.


the ageing RING-NECKED PARAKEET of unknown origin was sleeping in its usual tree hole at the westernmost of the 6 trackside trees 75 yards beyond the gate following the dogleg in the footpath. This area also held 6 Yellowhammers, Goldcrest, 30 Rooks and 4 Rabbits.

At STEWARTBY LAKE, it was as barren as I have seen it in July, with no sign of the wintering Common Sandpiper and just 12 Pied Wagtails on the Sailing Club green.

The BROOM GP/DEREK WHITE'S COMPLEX was little better, with no sign of the Common Shelduck at any of 5 locations and just drake Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 1 Little Grebe and 50 Lapwings of note at the latter. Likewise, not a sniff of a Golden Plover flock and no Barn Owls at several sites too. Most notable was a Common Starling roost of some 400 birds in tall Leylandii at TOP HOUSE FARM, BEADLOW (at TL 104 385).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Grovebury Sand Pit gull roost quite impressive


The mild theme with the weather continued with temperatures reaching 9 degrees C this afternoon. It was primarily dry but overcast with some light drizzle in the wind.

Managed to get some birding in today, mainly in Bedfordshire this afternoon.......


The large plover flock was still present this morning, again favouring the large ploughed field immediately east of Little Hundridge Lane - all 112 LAPWINGS and at least 500 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS; 4 Stock Doves were also seen


Some major changes afoot at this location, with over 100 new houses being built at its southern end. Very difficult to access now and terribly overgrown.

The Quarry is a traditional place to see wintering Jack Snipe but despite an hour or more trudging around the site this afternoon, I failed to find one. Two COMMON SNIPES were seen - and a nice WOODCOCK but no Jacks.

I also recorded my first Beds MEADOW PIPIT of the year, as well as 8 Greenfinches, several Fieldfares and a singing male Song Thrush. The Common Magpie roost held 158 birds by 1600 hours

Nearby, the neighbouring fishing lake held an impressive roost of no less than 800 Black-headed Gulls

With a stream of large white-headed gulls heading west, I quickly relocated to Grovebury......


A most impressive gull roost awaited my arrival at 1620 hours and between then and 1700 hours, I click-counted the proceeds....

Stand-out birds were 3 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, with 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls also of note. Herring Gulls (both Argentatus and Argenteus) were very numerous, with 472 roosting, whilst Lesser Black-backed numbered just 59 (Calvert Lake really is the capital for this species in winter). A total of 52 Common Gulls was amongst the approximate 1,900 Black-headed Gulls roosting.

Very little of note otherwise on the lake - 29 Eurasian Wigeon, 17 Tufted Ducks and just 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A tour of North Bucks and North Beds


What a day. Rain, rain and even more rain. It started shortly after first light and then became very heavy for two hours or more before turning into drizzle - and then continuing on and off for the rest of the day. Visibility was often awful - down to 75 yards on occasions - and keeping optics clear was a major obstacle to overcome.

Anyway, I risked the conditions and spent the day trying to find some target birds, namely the long-staying Great White Egret, Pintail, Willow Tit, Red-crested Pochard and a few other species. I was half successful.....


Following up on some sightings by Don Stone and Dave Cleal of last week whilst I was away, I was particularly pleased, despite the attrocious weather conditions, to find the wintering flock of plovers east of Little Hundridge Lane (in SP 92 01). The birds are commuting between the large ploughed field immediately east of the lane and the grass fields west of Hundridge Manor and are in numbers not recorded in my area since at least 1987. The LAPWING flock numbers 112 birds whilst the EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (in two distinct groups) total an astonishing 658 birds. This is an exceptional record, with both species being particularly scarce in my Recording Area. Full marks to Don for locating them.

Two Common Buzzards and 2 Red Kites were also present in the area.


Checked out a report of a pair of Ruddy Ducks and found that they were captive birds, the same lake also housing a drake Common Eider and a Coscoroba Swan. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldcrest were of interest.

Nearby, just east of Haybinders House, a dead Badger was besides the A41 at SP 730 175


My first visit to this site this year and in heavy rain and viewing from the hide, highlight was a dapper adult drake PINTAIL to the left of the hide - my first in the county this year

Other wildfowl included an exceptional 185 Common Teal, with just 28 Eurasian Wigeon, 28 Tufted Duck, 8 Northern Pochard and 8 Common Goldeneye (2 adult drakes), whilst other species present included just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 6 Atlantic Canada Geese, 108 Coot, 34 Lapwing and a female Reed Bunting.

Just east of the reservoir, 20 noisy House Sparrows were in the garden of Cobblestone, Leckhampstead (SP 728 373


Pride of place went to the 6 GOOSANDERS (3 adult drakes, 3 adult females), with 41 Lapwings and 8 Common Gulls roosting on the islands.


No sign, in an exhaustive search (and in improving weather conditions) of the wintering adult Great White Egret but 5 Grey Herons prospecting and repairing nests on the island, 44 Mute Swans, 65 Common Teal, 85 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 28 Tufted Duck and 11 Northern Pochard.

Bumped into Rose & Mike Collard and Dave Parmenter and shortly later enjoyed excellent views of the apparent WILLOW TIT and 2 MARSH TITS at the Woodland Hide, very frequently visiting the freshly restocked feeders and birdtable. A Jay was also noted.

Visited both WILLEN LAKES and GAYHURST QUARRY (NORTH BUCKS LOCATIONS) but very little of note - 12 Common Goldeneye at the former and Stock Dove, 1 Little Egret, c300 Greylag Geese, 106 Mute Swans, 136 Mallard, 35 Wigeon, 20 Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested Grebe, Green Woodpecker and a single Rob Norris at the latter. Again, no sign of the Great White Egret.

At STOKE GOLDINGTON nearby, still no Tree Sparrows - a species still to be recorded in Bucks in 2012. The feeders were fully topped up but just Chaffinch, Greenfinch (8) and Great and Blue Tits were visiting them. A Mistle Thrush was also in the village.


I checked the two lakes visible from the A 509, with 6 GOOSANDERS (2 adult drakes), 4 Mute Swans, 15 Tufted Duck, 24 Coot and 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS being noted.

Nearby, at Olney Water Meadows, there was no sign of the 22 Barnacle Geese seen recently - just 80 Atlantic Canada Geese.


Being in North Bucks, I decided to spend the remaining hours of daylight in North Bedfordshire, with the sole aim of finding Red-crested Pochard and Pintail......

Harrold-Odell lake was full of wildfowl including no less than 126 Mute Swans (including orange-ringed adults numbers '387' and '392'), 91 Atlantic Canada Geese, 89 Wigeon, 48 Mallard, 38 Gadwall, 44 Tufted Duck and 7 Great Crested Grebes. Highlight was another pair of GOOSANDERS. No Red-crested Pochards though.


On the Viaduct Pit at the west end (TL 004 587), I did not find the two drake Pintails of last Sunday but did find 2 adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARDS. Feasting on the beet thrown out for them at the SW end were 3 EGYPTIAN GEESE, 2 Bar-headed Geese and a large number of Wigeon and Teal, whilst Mute Swan numbers here peaked at 36, with 73 on neighbouring Pit 5 and 15 more on additional pits. A few Shoveler were also seen.


The rain returned in the late afternoon so I decided to give up but was pleased to see a LITTLE EGRET on the roadside pits as I drove along the Kempston Bypass.

Monday, 23 January 2012


On 17 January, Neil Wright discovered a BITTERN in the NW corner of Brogborough Lake

15 January - PINK-FOOT still at 100 Acre

15 January: The A421 Bypass pits produced a few duck mainly Wigeon 101 and a surprise Peregrine . Chimney corner held good numbers of Tufted 181.100 Acre and Meadow Lane

The adult PINK-FOOTED GOOSE is still present among 168 Greylags,124 Canada's and 3 Snipe. 2 Common Buzzards over the S.T.W (Nick Cook)

Willington BITTERN - 15-16 January

Mark Thomas discovered a BITTERN on Willington Settling Beds on 15 January and MJP and others saw 2 different birds the following evening coming in to roost

MJP birding 15 January

I spent an hour and half birding with Francis Buckle at Eversholt and Milton Wood this morning from 10.10 and then from noon until 12.35 I was with Neil Wright at Brogboro' Lake. A beautiful crisp sunny morning with plenty of birds on show.... my highlights were:

a couple of Siskin at Eversholt, where 2 Coot were the only birds about the frozen lake, and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker heard just once but not seen. I flushed a Woodcock from beside the wallside stream beyond Milton Wood. a Red Kite was circling and hunting at the junction with the lane from Eversholt with the road east of Woburn Park.

4 GREATER SCAUPS (2 drake, a female and the original juv) were all found at Brogboro' Lake plus 42 Goldeneye counted.

5 Buzzards and 4 Kestrels were all seen en route - Martin J Palmer

Rare county ducks - 15 January

During his WeBS counts on 15 january, Richard Bashford had a pair of Red-crested Pochards at Harrold and 2 drake Pintails at Radwell Viaduct Pit


The long-staying (but generally elusive) first-winter male COMMON STONECHAT was showing well on the fence to the west of the small pool on Fenlake until 12.00 at least, viewable from the rather boggy footpath that runs towards the river from the small car park near the junction of Cardington Road and Harrowden Road (Tony P)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Eversholt Lake GOOSANDER numbers keep on climbingw whilst CHINESE WATER DEER are everywhere


The first frost in a while and temperatures struggling to climb to 8 degrees C during the day. Very pleasant though, with the ridge of high pressure bringing clear skies, watery sunshine and very light winds.

Virtually all of my birding today was in Bedfordshire, where I was pleased to record four species of owl.....connected with the only wintering Stonechat too


Just the 3 Little Egrets again - all in the Bois Mill and Neptune's Falls areas


Checked out a number of sites and was pleased to see the LITTLE OWL still surviving at SANDY SMITH NATURE RESERVE, CLOPHILL and the wintering female COMMON STONECHAT at THE WIXAMS, WILSTEAD. The latter site also harboured a couple of Chinese Water Deer.

At STEWARTBY LAKE, only the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER and Grey Wagtail were of note, whilst at nearby MARSTON VALE MILLENIUM PARK, 3 CETTI'S WARBLERS were worthy of mention (but no sign yet again of the Bearded Tits).

CHINESE WATER DEER proved to be abundant in the Ridgemont area, with no fewer than 18 in the fields around Beckerings Park Farm and a further 9 in the School Lane/Husborne Crawley area.


The GOOSANDER flock was outstanding and now numbering 24 (including 15 adult drakes and 9 redheads. Many of the drakes were displaying and the calm lake was echoing to the Red Grouse-like chuckling sound that they were making - and all in such finery.

The lake also held 118 Greylag Geese, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Grebe and 7 Coot whilst a wander around Milton Wood to the west produced 8 Grey Squirrels (including a Black variant), 9 Muntjac Deer, a conifer-roosting TAWNY OWL, Green Woodpecker, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (both drumming), 4 Goldcrest, Common Treecreeper, 15 Coal Tits (in one feeding flock), Great Tit, 5 Blue Tits, Jay, 2 Song Thrushes and a Bullfinch. A flock of 53 Greenfinches arrived at the Bamboo thicket roost at about 1530 hours.


All 3 GREATER SCAUPS were still present, as well as the ''oddbod'', whilst Northern Pochard numbers had climbed to 528 and Tufted Duck to 464. Common Goldeneye numbers were slightly up at 31, whilst Cormorants were at 84.

A SHORT-EARED OWL was hunting at dusk, with a further 15 Chinese Water Deer being seen

Thursday, 12 January 2012


I was in a similar area this morning, going through Eversholt Lake around 9:15 to 10am

My count was 13 male and 9 female GOOSANDER, 20+ Siskin, 2 Marsh Tits, Treecreeper, Nuthatch but no Crossbill there.

I did get COMMON CROSSBILL later in the morning with a minimum of 17 feeding on buds at Charle Wood near the first green you come to on the right as you go up from the parking spot. Also dropped into Stockgrove briefly where two male Mandarin were present on the island. Yet to find a Brambling this year though

Surprise of the day was this afternoon however when my Yaris once more got through its MOT unscathed just before it went through the 137000 mile mark.

Andy Grimsey

DIVER still

At Stewartby Lake today, the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still present (Steve Northwood)


At Eversholt Lake this lunchtime:13 Crossbills, including ten red males, in a roadside ash tree by the footpath gate into Eversholt Lake. They flew off towards the lake and late flew back in parties of 8 and 5.

21 Goosanders (ten males).
4 Siskins.

Tony P

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

SIBE CHIFFY leads a runaround !


Another very mild day with temperatures reaching 12 degrees C. Dry too, with some bright periods. Negligable wind.

Steve Blain's chiffchaff find was my main target bird of the day and Water Pipit......


No sign of the resident Ring-necked Parakeet but a lot of noisy fallen tree work going on. Six singing Robins, Goldcrest, Song Thrush and flyover SISKIN noted.


I checked out a small pond at the extreme northern limit of the town at SP 923 275 (in the hope of seeing Mandarin) but just 12 Mallards and a fishing Grey Heron in situ.


A repeat visit and a successful one - but only just! A single drake MANDARIN DUCK was present on the lake at SU 916 292 - along with Jay, 10 Great Tits, Coal Tit, 3 Goldcrest and 2 LESSER REDPOLLS in birches.


Another repeat visit but far more successful. A party of 12 COMMON CROSSBILLS (including 3 adult males) was visiting two or three puddles to drink by the spoil heap visible from by the burgundy sign scribed ''Marquess Course - To The 10th Tee'', literally just yards along from the ''Club House'' sign at the top of the climb as you walk up from the car parking place at the border.

Nearby, an estimated 450 Woodpigeons were feasting on crops by Job's Farm at SP 935 325


Another day, another dip. No sign whatsoever of the 4 wintering Bearded Tits - just Song Thrush, male Greenfinch, 8 Teal and a pair of Gadwall.


The SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was still present at the far end of Meadow Lane - in the hedgerow and scrub in the vicinity of the house. It was extremely mobile but at around 1400 hours, spent a 4-minute period calling repeatedly and following an apparent well-rehearsed circuit. It moved from the bush by the house fence, across the road to the hedgerow on the other side and then back into the sewage farm compound 40 yards south of the house. The call was very distinctive and sensibly taped by Steve Blain - and very repetitive. A typically piping and mournful note, but surprisingly penetrating and more drawn-out than normal for tristis. Appearance-wise, it was classic Siberian, with brownish-beige upperparts, a buffish tinge to a whitish eye-stripe, some green in the upperwing and tail remiges and jet-black bill and legs. This was no abietinus-intergrade but the real McCoy - despite its variant of a call (transcribed as a 'peeep' call). As such, it represents Bedfordshire's only second-ever record of this species, following a long-staying bird at Priory Country Park Fingers Lake from 17 December 2003 until 19 January 2004**

Other species noted whilst searching for the 'chiff' included 2 Mute Swans, 2 Stock Doves, 2 Grey Wagtails, 11 Pied Wagtails, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Blue Tits and 2 Goldfinches

HATCH (BEDS) (TL 15 48)


After completely failing to find a single covey on my previous visit only a few days back, today I was tripping over them along the road north of Hatch. They were all in fields to the west of the road and totalled 28 birds and 2 Red-legged Partridges. Several Common Pheasants too.


No sign of the Common Shelduck again but a drake Shoveler bonus - my first and only one of the year in Beds; also 14 Mute Swans

Nearby, along the Old Warden road, another covey of GREY PARTRIDGES - this time 9 birds at TL 156 450.


Staked out The Wixams until dusk but no sign of the 4 Short-eared Owls nor the Common Stonechat - just 5 Common Kestrels and 45 Fieldfares

Monday, 9 January 2012

SIBE CHIFF still in Meadow Lane

The 'Siberian' Chiffchaff was still present at Meadow Lane at 09.00 this morning, in the hedge opposite the house by the sewage works along Meadow Lane, calling frequently (per Tony P)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A return to Bedfordshire - LGRE Diary Notes


Another dry day although heavy cloud late on produced a few spots of rain. Another mild day too, with some long bright periods.

Dipped again on the Wilstone Water Pipit then returned to Bedfordshire for the afternoon..........


Just the 2 wintering LITTLE EGRETS again - today in trees just east of Bois Mill


Spent about an hour with Steve Rodwell, birding from the East Bank. Met both Lucy and Sheena.

Far and away the highlight were 3 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS - a very scarce species at the reservoirs. Firstly an adult flew NE, before two immatures, probably both third-winters, flew east shortly later. What was presumably the same adult then flew back west into Bucks. I generally see less than 5 GBBG's at Tring per year.

Despite searching, no sign yet again of the wintering Water Pipit

The first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was with 30 Atlantic Canada Geese as usual in the East Fields, whilst the Greylag Geese flock has very slightly increased to 72 birds. Mute Swans are now down to just 1 adult, whilst 4 Grey Herons were standing forlornly by their fallen nesting tree and just 7 Great Crested Grebes were present.

Still 6 COMMON GOLDENEYES present, including the splendid adult drake, whilst Stock Dove, the 54 Linnet flock and 24 Jackdaws were noted.


The geese flock had moved from just west of Grovebury Sandpit to Grove Lock on the Grand Union Canal, north of Grove at SP 918 227. The first-winter EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was present for its second day with 17 Greylag Geese (one with a damaged wing) and 175 Atlantic Canada Geese.


Very, very busy with visiting families, dogwalkers, ramblers, etc and consequently no sign whatever of any Mandarin Ducks - just 25 Mallard and 2 Moorhens on the lake.

The fenceline and woodland produced at least 15 very confiding Grey Squirrels, Chaffinch, 10 Great Tits, 6 Blue Tits, Nuthatch and 3 Goldcrests


Met up with Darren Thomas and birded the general area of the 6th tee, just 2-300 yards north of the parking spot by the border post at SP 923 327. A flock of 7 COMMON CROSSBILLS was in this vicinity (including 3 red males) but proved difficult, just fleeting flight views being obtained.

Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Jay, 3 Goldfinch, female SISKIN, Great Tit, 7 Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest were noted.


In stark contrast to yesterday when I visited, the lake was brightened up by the presence of GOOSANDERS. In fact, no less than 17 present, including 9 fabulous adult drakes. They afforded excellent views but once they realised they were being watched, all saw, strongly towards the east end and behind the island.

A single adult Mute Swan was present, whilst 3 SISKINS flew over and a male Mistle Thrush was in song.


Returned to Brogborough Lake to study the Aythya flock. Bizarrely, today the GREATER SCAUP numbers had increased to THREE, with yesterday's 2nd-winter drake and juvenile female still present and an additional first-year drake with them. The small 'scaup' was also still present but when seen well appeared to show characters more prevalent of a retarded juvenile female Tufted Duck and I guess that is what it is. The bill pattern was that of a juvenile Tufted Duck, as was the head pattern. The flock of 27 Common Goldeneye was still present, whilst 11 Herring Gulls were loafing.


No sight nor sound again of the 4 Bearded Tits, but 8 Reed Buntings roosted and CETTI'S WARBLERS were active. A Chinese Water Deer also crashed out of the reedbed.

At a neighbouring site, 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS were watched towards dusk but there was no sign of either of the Barn Owls seen in December.

COMMON SHELDUCK still at Broom

A late morning bike ride around the area produced a few bits and pieces.

Southill village - Just 1 Tree Sparrow opposite the shop with 5-6 House Sparrows. I didn't see the main flock.
Lesser Redpoll- c20 down School Lane in the arboretum Birches.
Also 2 Buzzards and a Red Kite, the latter perches in a tree to the east of Southill Lake.

Linnet- c200 in Birches on the southern edge of Gypsy Lane West Pit.
COMMON SHELDUCK once again on Peacock's Lake.

Matt Burgess

COMMON GOLDENEYE at Southill Lake - first since 1992

Rarest site bird by far was a duck Common Goldeneye, the first at Southill since November 1992. Otherwise counts inc 72 Mallards, 6 Gadwalls, one Shoveler, 25 Teals, 68 Tufted Ducks, 41 Pochards, 46 Coots and two Little Grebes - pretty average fare. No GC Grebes or Mandarins. Also a few Siskins over and Marsh Tit. Five Common Buzzards and at least two Red Kites made up the raptor contingent (Barry Nightingale)


Steve Blain saw an 'Eastern Chiffchaff' by the house at the end of the lane at Bedford Sewage Farm whilst 100 Acre Field held the adult PINK-FOOTED GOOSE with Greylags and a WATER PIPIT

Saturday, 7 January 2012

An attempted Bedfordshire January blitz but falling well short - 67 species noted (LGRE Diary Notes)


A very pleasant day weatherwise with predominantly clear blue skies, light westerly winds and temperatures of 10-11 degrees C

I devoted today to my first bash at Bedfordshire birding this year and by 1700 hours had acquired 67 species, highlights being both PINK-FOOTED & WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, GREATER SCAUP and GREAT NORTHERN DIVER......


My first Bedfordshire bird of the year was a lamp-post roosting Common Buzzard on the southern Luton bypass adjacent to Lower Kidney Wood. Looking east from Mortgrove Farm though, north of Lilley, there was no sign of the pylon-roosting adult Peregrine.


Met up with Darrel Bryant in Pegsdon, and later Martin & Di Palmer and their Christchurch friends Ian & Jean, and spent a good couple of hours birding The Meg and its associated valleys.

Pegsdon village yielded 25 House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Common Magpie, Common Blackbird and 18 Goldfinches whilst the general hilly terrain produced 2 Red Kites, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted & Green Woodpecker, 37 Fieldfares and good numbers of Rook, Western Jackdaw and Carrion Crow. The rarest birds noted were up to 9 BULLFINCHES and a single LITTLE OWL, but no Grey Partridge nor Marsh Tits.


No less than 16 Rook nests being repaired at the Apsley End of the village, with a total of 32 House Sparrows and Blue Tit and Common Starling noted


Driving into Southill both Common Pheasant and Jay were encountered, whilst in the village common species seen included Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail and 30 Redwings. Checking the usual site opposite the village stores, I drew a blank on my target birds but did count 15 House Sparrows in the vicinity of the last garden. The male Blackcap was nowhere to be found.

After some effort, I eventually tracked down the village TREE SPARROWS - at least 22 of them feeding in the back gardens of Stanford Road. This road produced a further 30 House Sparrows as well as both Red-legged Partridge and 5 Greenfinches.


A whistle-stop tour of Peacock's Lake added 12 Mute Swans, 18 Cormorants, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Wigeon, numerous Coots and 50+ Black-headed Gulls. Although SCB had seen the Common Shelduck less than an hour before, I dipped it.


Nothing much to see here other than 4 Mute Swans, 12 Atlantic Canada Geese, 4 Mallard and 49 Lapwings.


A single Eurasian Sparrowhawk ripped through the hamlet lane but despite searching perhaps ten fields in the area, I failed to locate any Grey Partridges (MJP & co later saw two different coveys here).


Viewing east from the village hall at TL 151 497, it took no time at all to see 34 wintering CORN BUNTINGS and 6 Yellowhammers as they flew up from the weedy field and perched on the overhead wires.


Not far from the Cambridgeshire border in the north-east of the county, the B 1043 south of Little Barford produced a Grey Heron, 45 Fieldfares and a Grey Heron. To the west of the road and north of the Lower Farm House were the Wyboston pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE, whilst about a mile to the south, the sloping field opposite 'The Barns' houses were the 187 Greylag Geese and the single EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE.


Both Great Tit and Goldcrest were by the river whilst the grazing geese flock included 268 Barnacle, the Barnacle/Snow/Ross's Snow hybrid and a single Atlantic Canada Goose


The gravel pits yielded 1 Little Grebe, 6 Mute Swans (4 first-years), 6 Gadwall, 9 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, with the geese flock comprising of 178 Greylag, 96 Atlantic Canada and the single adult and unringed PINK-FOOTED GOOSE. Passerines included single Skylark and Song Thrush.


A flock of at least 100 Lapwing was noted and an adult PEREGRINE


The two juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS were visible from the gull watchpoint early afternoon, staying mainly to the east end of the lake. Little else to see on there other than 8 Mute Swans, just 7 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Gadwall and 3 Little Grebes. The gull roost was very poor - just Black-headed and Common Gulls - no large white-headed gulls.


Did a lot of searching and listening but failed to locate the 4 Bearded Tits in the reedbed - excellent views of CETTI'S WARBLER though and Reed Bunting; Moorhen and 8 Common Teal were additions too. A WATER RAIL was also noted but the Pillinge Pit was very quiet with just 52 Tufted Ducks and 68 Lapwings of note.


The Aythya flock was out in the middle and substantive - hosting 354 Tufted Duck, 329 Northern Pochards and three ''Scaup-types''. I say three Scaup-types as two were clearly GREATER SCAUPS - a 2nd-year drake and a juvenile female - but the third was quite concerning being similar in size to Tufted Duck, with a rounded head profile, quite warm brown body colouration and quite extensive white on the blaze. It was too far away to see detail on the upperwing, even when it wing-stretched - and bill pattern was out of the question too - but Lesser Scaup was certainly a possibility. Note that there were two Tufted Ducks with white blazes also.

The COMMON GOLDENEYE flock numbered at least 27, whilst 4 first-winter Mute Swans were roaming around together and my only Great Black-backed Gull of the day - an adult - was seen.

As dusk approached, I made a vain attempt to see Goosander - both at Eversholt and Woburn Park - but failed - but did see a large Bat species hunting at last light and no less than 17 Chinese Water Deers in fields north of Beckerings Park NE of Ridgemont

It got dark at 1647 hours

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

PINK-FOOT near Bedford

Single PINK-FOOTED GOOSE with 104 Greylags and 102 Canada Geese at Meadow Lane GP, Bedford around 1.15pm today.

20 (twenty) Grey Herons together at nearby Octagon Farm GP shortly after plus Grey Wagtail and Little Egret over.

125+ Lapwings on Fenlake Meadows

Martin J Palmer

Monday, 2 January 2012


Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, c30 Goldeneye and juvenile GREATER SCAUP still all at Brogborough Lake at 3.55 and the original GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still at Stewartby Lake at 4.05pm so definitely the Broggy diver is new and I believe the Grafham and Caldecotte (MK) birds are still present today too. Also at Stew Lake, the Common Sandpiper was still present at 10.30 this morning and tonight's gull roost included more than 60 Herring Gulls, 45 L B Backs and 15 G B Backs (Martin Palmer).

Sunday, 1 January 2012


After Geoff Dawes saw the long-staying Linford GREAT WHITE EGRET flying south over Caldecotte North Lake at 1029 hours this morning, Neil Wright intercepted the bird at Brogborough Lake, where it perched in a tree for abouit three minutes. It then flew strongly back towards Milton Keynes. It represents the first county record.

Other than that, today's highlights included both GREAT NORTHERN DIVER and COMMON SANDPIPER at Stewartby Lake and a scattering of SHORT-EARED OWLS.