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, 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.