Total Number of Species Recorded in 2011

2010 saw a total of 196 species recorded in Bedfordshire. Of this total, LGRE recorded 183, closely followed by Jim Gurney and Steve Blain on 181, Lol Carman on 180, Martin Palmer on 179 and Bob Chalkley on 177.

In 2011, a total of 452 species was recorded in Britain and Ireland of which I recorded just 69% (312); Bedfordshire recorded 204 species (of which I saw 94% at 191), Hertfordshire 192 (of which I saw 88.5% at 170) and Buckinghamshire 192 (of which I recorded just 86% at 165)

In 2012, I came fourth (on 168), following Steve Blain (177), Jim Gurney (174) and Martin Plamer (171).

Sunday, 31 March 2013

SLAV still

Transitional-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE still present at Stewartby Lake today, showing well in the Marston corner; also 52 WAXWINGS still in Flitwick and smaller flocks elsewhere

Friday, 29 March 2013


Just had four HAWFINCHES from my house (Bloomsbury Close, Woburn). They were in an ash tree behind one of my neighbours houses, in an avenue of trees which forms part of Wayn Close (the avenue of trees running from Woburn Park towards the old Maryland College). Wendy and I watched them for about 5 minutes before they flew east along Wayn Close towards the park. They went out of sight quickly so I couldn't tell how far away they went.

My 100th species from my house/garden.

Barry Nightingale

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Male in NW corner of Sandy Quarry this evening (per Dave Buckingham)

Large WAXWING flock in Flitwick for second day

Hi Lee, the WAXWING flock is now in Flitwick, about 50 of them roosting in a tree on the Coniston Road side of Tesco car park this morning at 06.40. Never seen them before, amazing site. They were there yesterday at the same time as well but didn't manage to get a decent look at them until today with sunlight on them

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Recent Highlights 15-25 March

A female BLACK REDSTART was at Cardington Hangars on 15th March (Mark Thomas), with a male COMMON STONECHAT at Blows Downs on 17th. The Streatley GREAT GREY SHRIKE remained throughout, whilst 2 KITTIWAKES were in the Stewartby Lake roost on 15th (MJP, NW, et al). The SLAVONIAN GREBE was again on Stewartby on 17th (Andy Grimsey), whilst a female COMMON SCOTER took up temporary residence on Priory Country Park Lake on 23rd-24th (David Kramer et al).

Migration has been very slow due to the Arctic conditions, with just a few NORTHERN WHEATEAR reported.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

RING-BILLED GULL - 6th record for Bedfordshire

The first-winter Ring-billed Gull at Stewartby Lake this evening was a
tremendous find by Neil Wright. A further dozen local birders got there to
enjoy the bird which was still on show near dusk at 6.15pm. Neil called me
c5.15 to tell me of his exciting discovery and Pip Housden and I got there
in just over 15 minutes to join Neil and Andy Plumb. Paul Wright and Keith
Owen arrived soon after followed by Dave Ball, Martin Stevens, Jim Gurney,
Bob Chalkley, Lol Carman, Mark Thomas and John Bowler.

Very many congrats are due to Neil and also to Dave Ball who has now gone
one ahead of the pack to lead the County listings - the first to reach 260
in Bedfordshire. DJO, LGRE and I all remain second on 259.

Other gulls present included 135 Lesser Black-backs, 1 second-winter Great
Black-back, 4 Herring Gulls - an adult pair and first winter argenteus and
an adult argentatus, also a few hundred Common Gulls and a few thousand B H
Gulls. At least 1 adult Med Gull was also present and later I found a
probable second bird (or the original I had found relocated).

The RBG could have easily been overlooked as a Common Gull but once locked
in view the differences from that species were immediate and obvious. The
head was obviously larger and with a longer thicker pale yellow bill with
extensive black distal end but for creamy culmen distal edge. The head and
bill of equivalent aged Common Gulls were decidedly feeble in comparison.

The mantle was only a tad darker pale grey than the many Black-headed Gulls
alongside, obviously lighter than the mantles of the Common Gulls. The long
dark brown primaries were held decidedly uptilted. The coverts were speckled
brownish and the tertials clearly brown with a narrow white fringe. There
was no white tertial crescent as on many of the Common Gulls.

The RBG drank frequently which made it easy to pick out amongst the melee at
the 400m or so distance 'scoped by us from the Caulcot gull watchpoint
half-way along the north-west bank. After dipping its bill to drink, it
would raise its bill to swallow often. We didn't see it in flight - a shame
perhaps - but the i.d. was unmistakeable on the extensive views enjoyed by
all who got there.

This is, I believe, the first RBG since a second-winter on 28th March 2005
found by Kevin Shepherd and Neil Wright at this same site which was also
seen that evening by PH, LGRE and myself. Thus, this is only sixth
Bedfordshire record.

Martin J Palmer


1720 hours update: first-winter RING-BILLED GULL on Stewartby Lake currently (Neil Wright)

1745 Update: bird still present (8 birders now connected - Paul Wright, MJP, Andy Plumb, etc) - also adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL

Scored eventually (with GREAT GREY SHRIKE that is)

My efforts today - remember this bird was a good 220-250 yards away at least
After not being able to get there yesterday, when Lol, Bob, MJP and others succeeded in seeing the Great Grey Shrike in Bedfordshire, I thought today would be a doddle - especially considering the much better weather (little wind, clear and bright). How wrong could I have been?
Darin Stanley had got up bright and early and confirmed that the bird was still present east of the Swedish Cottages at STREATLEY at 0700 hours. It was still present two hours later when others visited but when a dogwalker marched up the hedgerow shortly later, the bird took flight and went off over the brow of the hill towards Lilley direction. MJP, Pip, Mike Campbell and perhaps 5 others searched in vain for the next two hours and gave up. I took up the task as they were leaving but despite wandering tracks in all points east, south and north, I too drew a complete blank.
Anyway, early afternoon came and went and I got talking to Tony Hukin about trips he had recently been on, and after he had confirmed the presence of at least 1 Wallcreeper in the Spanish Pyrenees but couldn't remember the site name, we agreed to meet up on the Barton Hill Farm road, where we would broaden our search for the shrike. This proved a very worthwhile gesture, as at the second spot we stopped - there it was - the GREAT GREY SHRIKE staring us in the face. It was actually in the same hedgerow as yesterday, but much closer to the old A6 - and how I hadn't seen it earlier from the other side, god only knows. Although it was constantly on the move, we both kept on it, but at 240 yards best, it was difficult to get a decent shot of any kind (see my efforts above). It remained on view long enough (22 minutes from 1315 hours) to enable Cliff Tack to get round from the usual track, but I then lost it and I don't know if the remaining souls searching relocated it again.
The shrike is favouring the hedgerows east and north of the Swedish Cottages at Streatley (located at TL 076 279), either that hedgerow immediately east of the cottages or that which runs parallel and best viewed from the layby at TL 075 282 or from Barton Hill Road at TL 082 285.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

GREAT GREY SHRIKE showing well today - Typical!

a mid morning call from Bob and Lol informed me they were watching the Great
Grey Shrike at Streatley. On my way, a Red Kite flew over the A6 at Barton.
By 11.30 I was watching the G G S with Bob and Lol, who'd kindly waited for
me and any others to arrive. We were toward the brow of the hill along the
track east of the Swedish Cottages and the A6 which track is on the left
some 400m south of the Streatley r'bout. There is a gap in this long
hedgerow approx half a mile along the track and just beyond the third large
pylon. We were 'scoping north to the next hedgerow and the G G Shrike was
very happy sitting out in the open on the south face of this hedge near a
telegraph pole.

The Shrike would move from time to time, sometimes into the hedge but always
soon re-appearing. B + L told me they'd been watching for and hour and half
by the time we departed and that Clive Harris had been watching it a similar
time prior to their arrival. The Shrike was clearly enjoying a bit of
sunshine and was sheltered from the north easterly chill wind. Several Reed
Buntings were alongside the main track, in the hedgerow or in the plantation

By 12.30 I was at Southcott Village near Linslade. Parking away from private
gateways at the end of the lane, I walked a further half mile up the main
track to the last field on the right and there was the long-staying
Ring-necked Parakeet flying around and squawking from its favoured ivy clad
tree. Plenty of Redwings were frequenting the meadows.

Stockgrove Country Park next and I was pleased to see my first Mandarins of
the year, 5 drakes and 2 females and at least 18 Grey Squirrels alongside
the main track from the road to the lake.

At Upper Drakelow Pond in Woburn Park were 3 Black Swans and a further trio
of Mandarin, two drakes clearly giving unwanted attention to a female.

Next, it was Brogborough Lake and with John Lynch also present we enjoyed
watching 4 drake and 1 female Scaup, 35+ Goldeneye and new arrivals in 2
drake Red Crested Pochards.

At half past two, I called briefly past a private site near Kempston and saw
a Jack Snipe fly up with 7 Common Snipe, also 4 Redwings, 9 Fieldfares and 1
each Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush. I was home just before 3pm for a nice
bowl of soup, a slice of cake and a snooze in my armchair! 55 species in
four hours included 3 county year ticks for me and also 3 sfyt's.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dabbling with photography: LGRE's efforts from Stockgrove Park today

Local Snippets

The two TUNDRA BEAN GEESE remain at Felmersham, whilst 7 Egyptian Geese are in the usual field at Little Barford.

GREAT GREY SHRIKE again at Streatley but we all dip

Another freezing cold day, with that blasting and fierce Northeasterly wind still blowing at around Force 7 in gusts. The odd heavy snow shower too and temperatures barely climbing above freezing.
The early part of my day was spent in SURREY where over the last couple of days, a flock of 130 Hawfinches had been frequenting a Yew tree-rich valley near Box Hill in Mickleham Woods. Despite birders being on site from 0615 hours, not a SINGLE Hawfinch was encountered today - they all seem to have moved on. I just wonder whether they were a migrant flock of birds suddenly displaced by the unusual weather, perhaps moving from wintering grounds in France towards breeding grounds in Eastern Europe...........
Anyway, a Master Dip and nothing more than 2 Marsh Tits, a Common Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Robin, Nuthatch and 3 Goldfinch for my efforts
Returning back to the Home Counties, I hear Jim Gurney has the Great Grey Shrike again at STREATLEY (BEDS) and has photographed it along the track east of the Swedish Cottages. Arranged to meet Lol and Bob there and we searched in vain for it - searching the entire area with no luck. Highlights were 3 GREY PARTRIDGES and 6 Reed Buntings..
My dipping spree then continued with the female Pintail at CHIMNEY CORNER SOUTH (BEDS) - no sign of it - just 7 Wigeon, 58 Pochard, 43 Tufted Duck and the usual LITTLE OWL.
I buried my duck as to speak at STOCKGROVE COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) where 9 MANDARIN DUCKS had returned and I got some nice shots of Grey Squirrel, Robin and a few other birds

Monday, 11 March 2013


This morning apparently (Monday 11 March).........

Also, GREAT GREY SHRIKE reported again yesterday at Streatley and a COMMON STONECHAT at Milton Ernest today

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Grovebury on Saturday

Following last weeks brief burst of spring weather, Winter returned with a vengeance this weekend, with very cold Easterly winds blasting in from the Continent pegging temperatures back to just above freezing. Skies were largely grey and overcast
Due to Highways Agency commitments, my birding day was limited to post 1530 hours, by which time virtually all of the day's goodies had passed through - eg, Pintails in Bedfordshire and Little Gull, Pintails and Dunlin in the Tring Area. Also unbeknown to me at the time was a Pied Avocet at Marlow, frustratingly twitchable for just under two hours.
Anyway, just as I was available, Lol Carman notified me of an adult KITTIWAKE in Bedfordshire at GROVEBURY PIT, LEIGHTON BUZZARD - so that was where I headed. Within half an hour, I joined Rob Dazley and Johnny Lynch at the mud-infested site, where the KITTIWAKE in full breeding plumage was affording some reasonable views. Two YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, an adult and first-winter, were also in the roost, whilst a drake GOOSANDER and 3 COMMON SHELDUCK were also present. At 1650 hours, the distinctive whistle of a EURASIAN CURLEW was heard, and flying around we quickly picked up three birds in flight, seemingly trying to find somewhere to land. The calls continued for the next five minutes as the three birds wheeled around when suddenly a fourth bird joined them from the ground, this increasing to an exceptional EIGHT when I latched onto them again, some time later. All eight eventually landed on the east side of the pit (much to Bob & Lol's delight), the pit also attracting a flock of 5 Oystercatchers. Also noted were a flock of 32 Linnets.
I returned to the Tring Area (Herts) and joined David Bilcock and Jenny Wallington on the concrete pad at WILSTONE RESERVOIR. The ten Pintails from earlier had gone but most impressive was the gull roost - the best and varied I had seen it this year. Although Black-headed Gulls probably numbered no more than 1,200 birds, three different MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were with them - two adults in breeding plumage and a 2nd-winter - as well as 46 Common Gulls. Large white-headed gulls were well represented, with an exceptional 43 Lesser Black-backed and two Argenteus Herring Gulls (a first-year and a fourth-year). DB was just commenting upon KITTIWAKE occurrences when I came face-to-face with an adult in my 'scope - another pristine adult in full breeding plumage. Dave quickly got on to it and over the next half hour or more prior to dusk, it showed well, frequently being chased by Lesser Black-backed and Common Gulls. It seemed to frighten the Black-headed Gulls too as it hastened to land, and was heard calling on at least two occasions.
Whilst we were stood on the bank, two Common Starling flocks totalling some 330 birds flew east towards dusk.
A further deterioation in the weather with a swing in the wind to an incredibly biting north-easterly - it was raw and felt absolutely mind-numbing freezing in the field. There were a few light snow flurries in the wind and it remained grey and overcast, with temperatures failing to rise above 2 degrees C.
I spent the first couple of hours (1030-1230) of my birding day at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL SITE (BUCKS), trying to locate the recent adult Iceland Gull but again it was nowhere to be seen.  Gull numbers had dwindled to around 3,000, with perhaps 750 large white-headed gulls still present. Just 2 Great Black-backed Gulls were identified (an adult and a first-year) and 250 Lesser Black-backed, whilst predominantly Argenteus Herring Gull numbered 462 (the majority juveniles). Amongst the Black-headed Gull throng was a nice breeding-plumaged adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL but most interesting of all was an apparent adult breeding-plumaged BALTIC GULL (form fuscus), standing out like a sore thumb from the other Lesser Black-backed Gulls present. It was like a miniature Great Black-backed Gull in appearance, with very black upperwings leading to little contrast with the wing-tips. It was also strikingly smaller, shorter-legged and longer-winged, with a smaller rounded contrasting clean-white head. It was quite small-billed by comparison and had a more 'gential' feel about it. Sadly, it was bearing no rings, so ruling it out from the blackest intermedius was not possible, but I did get a few distant record shots of it as it fed amongst the rubbish clearly illustrating its blackness and easy detection. In flight, the upperwings appeared all black with no contrast, with the thin white trailing edge to the secondaries and inner primaries and hardly any evidence of white tipping to the outer primaries. It just had to be a fuscus it was so distinctive.
Frozen to the core, I warmed up in the car and drove the 27 miles west to PORT MEADOW in OXFORD (OXFORDSHIRE), which was in absolutely superb condition. Undoubted highlight was the presence of 6 PIED AVOCETS, noisily moving back and forth over the flood. Other waders present included 200+ European Golden Plovers, a single Oystercatcher and 4 Ringed Plovers, whilst the huge numbers of wildfowl present included 604 Common Teal, 698 Wigeon, a few Shoveler and 18 PINTAIL. A flock of 6 GOOSANDER (3 adult drakes) was also present.
Following the presence of a small flock of Sand Martins at midday, I stopped off at SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) (BUCKS) on my way back but the only evidence of migration in the bitter wind was the flock of 14 Pied Wagtails on the far spit. The massive gull roost held no less than 3 different breeding-plumage MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and 780 Common Gulls, whilst wildfowl highlighted with 2 Common Shelduck and 2 drake PINTAIL.
Last off, I visited CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS), where Chris Pontin had seen a pair of GREYLAG GEESE only an hour earlier. They had departed but compensation came in the form of 2 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS flycatching in the ditch of the smaller lake - my first of the year in the Recording Area

KITTIWAKE at Grovebury

LGRE, Johnny Lynch, Lol & Bob Chalkley had a cracking summer-pluamged adult KITTIWAKE at Grovebury Pit this evening, where also 8 EURASIAN CURLEW, 5 Oystercatcher, a drake GOOSANDER, Peregrine and 2 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (adult and first-winter) were also present.

Elsewhere, 9 PINTAILS were at 100 Acre Pit, near Priory, early morning (Dave Kramer), with a pair at The Pillinge, Millbrook (Martin Green, Paul Wright), and 4 Oystercatchers, Common Raven and an adult summer MEDITERRANEAN GULL, the latter at Stewartby Lake. Roy Dunham had the female PINTAIL again at Chimney Corner South and a flyover CURLEW.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Broom hitting the big time

After 3 DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE flew through Broom yesterday evening, a PIED AVOCET appeared on Peacocks Lake today, and remained present from mid afternoon until dusk (many observers including Lol, Bob, MJP, Pip, JG, etc)

Sunday, 3 March 2013


Female this morning (09:00) on edge of Pegnut Wood/ Potton STW. From bridge
over the brook from Biggleswade Road, view the copse looking towards STW,
with John O'Gaunt GC behind you (per Darren Oakley-Martin)

BITTERN again at Chimney Corner 2/3

Another run around some pits this morning produced some nice birds. Firstly I passed a flock of 22 WAXWINGS sitting in a tree behind bungalows just north of Westoning by A5120 as I went that way with the A6 closed for roadworks. Brogborough had some new GREATER SCAUP'S, last weekend's two males have now been joined by two more pairs so four males and two females there altogether, also plenty of Goldeneye remaining, many displaying. Chimney Corner South had remaining male SCAUP from last week, a female PINTAIL and a BITTERN in flight while Rookery contained a scattering of Teal, a COMMON RAVEN cronking over and a Little Egret which may have been the same as one seen dropping in from height to the Pillinge earlier in the morning, where an Oystercatcher was my first one in beds this year. Also heard my first Cetti song of the year this morning at WL9 by the vehicle entrance to MVCP and a Common Redshank seen distantly again on the slipway at Stewartby Lake. Back home to find a Stock Dove on the lawn, fir st this year of a very scarce visitor (Andy Grimsey)