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).

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Finally get a county STONECHAT

Darin Stanley and I had this beautiful singing male COMMON STONECHAT today at a site in the north of the county - the first I have seen this year in Bedfordshire.

The gorse stricken site was also very good for Song Thrush (6 singing males), Common Whitethroat and Dunnock

With a short spell of sunshine late afternoon, I moved on to Bison Hill, Whipsnade, where in addition to singing Common Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, butterflies on the wing included 3 DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARIES, a SMALL HEATH, a DINGY SKIPPER and a SMALL BLUE

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

WOOD SANDPIPER at Broom for second day (plus CURLEW SAND lingering)

A moderate NE wind blowing, with fairly cool temperatures and a lot of cloud cover
Failing to locate any local Spotted Flycatchers again and dipping on CDRH's Roseate Tern pair at QMR which disappeared after 22 minutes, I made my way over to AMWELL NATURE RESERVE (HERTS) where Bill Last had located a transitional plumaged TURNSTONE on the increasing mud in front of the Watchpoint there.
Unlike Jay Ward's Wood Sandpiper (who incidentally arrived at Amwell the same time as me), this passage wader was still there and showing extremely well. I managed to get at least 30 decent images of it (see below), the bird staying until at least early afternoon when I departed (in fact it was still there at 1600 hours per Simon Knott). Four displaying LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were also on the mud, as well as a pair of Common Redshank and a COMMON SANDPIPER, whilst two Eurasian Wigeon were still lingering as well as a pair of Shoveler. Also present were 15 Common Terns, COMMON CUCKOO, 2 male Blackcaps and the GARDEN WARBLER.

I then moved north into BEDFORDSHIRE and GYPSY LANE EAST, BROOM, where belatedly I connected with my first county WOOD SANDPIPER of the year (see pix below). It was furtively feeding along the southern edge of the main scrape. The transitional plumaged CURLEW SANDPIPER was also still present (fourth day), creeping through emergent vegetation on the east shore. Eight Little Ringed Plovers were noted, whilst 400+ Common Swifts were in the general area. Still no Hobby.

Record shots of the Wood Sandpiper (top two) and Curlew Sandpiper
Events then unfolded in Woolwich curtailing my days birding abruptly....

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Local Mega: CURLEW SANDPIPER at Broom

Taken at 300 yards range - CURLEW SANDPIPER in transitional plumage at Gypsy Lane East
A beautiful evening with the day's heavy cloud clearing away to leave a clear blue sky. Quite warm too at 17 degrees C.........
Arriving home from work at 1700 hours, I was pleased to see that my COMMON SWIFTS had arrived during the day - 8 birds noisily wheeling around CHAFFINCH HOUSE - the first of the year
I then had to make the daily commute to GYPSY LANE EAST, a journey of some 76 miles round-trip, this time to see a CURLEW SANDPIPER found by Andy Impey at 1515 hours........
And it was not good news when I arrived there at 1855. Pip, Darren Thomas and others had been searching for over half an hour and had seen nothing - seemingly the bird had moved on. Knowing that Andy Plumb and Stuart Warren had been watching the bird as recently as 1755, I phoned both of them to get the lowdown. Apparently the bird had been difficult and was skulking for much of the time, some observers leaving the site after only seeing the head and bill ! This was encouraging, even though everyone else had given up. I concentrated my efforts on the back pool and eventually located the bird, sheepishly feeding amongst vegetation on the near edge. It was very difficult to see and only really showed when it was attacked and chased by Lapwings, forcing it out into the open. It was very distant - perhaps 300 yards - but I did take these record images as it fed alongside a Common Redshank.
Placing the bird back on RBA, both Darren and Pip returned, whilst Martin Stevens, Matt Burgess and Barry Squires also turned up. It remained on view until at least 2015 hours when I departed
Not much else on offer other than Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Shoveler, 8 Common Shelduck and 6 Gadwall; Greylag Geese broods were everywhere totalling over 60 birds - yuck!

Friday, 17 May 2013

AVOCET gripped back

This pair of PIED AVOCETS spent the day at Gypsy Lane East today, both birds remaining until dusk (see images above). Two summer-plumaged TURNSTONES also remain as well as 10 Common Shelducks.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Stephen Northwood found this singing COMMON NIGHTINGALE just under three weeks ago in the thick scrub photographed immediately north of the Bowling Green in Ampthill Town Centre. The bird was singing at 2pm today but normally sings from 8pm through to midnight and from 0400 to 0830 hours each day. It is typically skulking but can be seen if patient. Access from Church Avenue then The Leas, the bird being easily audible from the footpath at the end of the cul-de-sac

Wader-fest at Broom

Lots of rain overnight leading to some localised flooding with showers persisting throughout the morning and into early afternoon. During this period, the temperature struggled to get higher than 4 degrees C, incredibly unusual for this late in May. The sun started shining at 1500 hours and temperatures did then recover to 12 degrees C.
My first port of call was WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS) where a Sanderling had been seen flying around early morning (per Paul Reed). There was no sign of it when I arrived at 0800 hours, in fact there was very little of anything other than EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS........
I carefully checked through them for a Red-rumped but there was no immediate sign and a click-count from the jetty revealed the presence of no less than 433 hawking back and forth over the reservoir, an exceptional number so late in the spring. There was a surprisingly low number of Common Swifts - just 55 - whilst House Martins peaked at 32 - whilst other migrants included a male YELLOW WAGTAIL on the east bank and 5 Pied Wagtails near the car park.
At nearby MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, another 80 BARN SWALLOWS were logged, many taking to sheltering in the reeds due to the cold and wet. A drake Gadwall was also present, as well as 6 Great Crested Grebes, with 15 or so Western Reed Warblers singing from the reeds.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR held even more incredible numbers of BARN SWALLOWS - a bare minimum of 713 birds - as well as 168 HOUSE MARTINS. The latter were in a terrible state, taking refuge on the bank (see photographs below) and I worried for their welfare.
On the water, 2 drake Gadwall, a Mute Swan, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Coot, a drake Northern Pochard and two pairs of RED-CRESTED POCHARD were present, with both Greylag Geese and Atlantic Canada Geese pairs accompanying 3 goslings a piece. In the car park, the Carrion Crow was still incubating and a pair of Greenfinch were prospecting, with a Grey Wagtail on the west shore and 4 migrant YELLOW WAGTAILS in the horsefield at STARTOP FARM.
Replacing Francis Buckle in the main hide at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT gave me the opportunity to photograph the 6 summer-plumaged DUNLIN that had arrived early morning but both Paul and Francis confirmed that the Wilstone Sanderling had not relocated here. Other waders present included singles of both Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, the Oystercatcher pair and 5 Common Redshank, whilst Common Terns had increased to 27 and showed signs of real interest in nesting. The two COMMON SHELDUCKS were both present, with Mute Swans down to 12.
Stuart Warren then found another SANDERLING and this one was sticking and part of a major arrival of passage waders at BROOM GYPSY LANE EAST PITS in Bedfordshire. I decided to make a move that way, arriving just as Lol Carman and John Temple were leaving. The wader flock were still in situ and comprised of 3 summer-plumaged TURNSTONES, a winter-plumaged SANDERLING, 23 Ringed Plover (including several considered to be of the Arctic form tundrae), 6 Dunlin and 4 Little Ringed Plover. I took over 100 photographs of the Turnstone and Sanderling (see selection below). Not much else present though, with the Mute Swan nest still active, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an impressive 10 Common Shelducks.

In AMPTHILL at the BOWLING GREEN, the male COMMON NIGHTINGALE was singing away from at least 1400-1415 hours, whilst in WOBURN PARK, two drake MANDARIN DUCKS were on the lake by the gatehouse.

Half an hour later, the sun came out and temperatures recovered to 12 degrees C. I joined Jeff Bailey at STARTOPSEND RESERVOIR and we did a sweep of the site. This time, with large numbers of insects on the wing, COMMON SWIFTS were dominating, with perhaps 1,000 birds in all. A Common Redshank was also present, whilst 5 HOBBIES appeared from nowhere and began hunting the Buckinghamshire stretch of the bank. On neighbouring MARSWORTH, the CETTI'S WARBLER sang from the reedbed.
BOVINGDON BRICKPITS (HERTS) this evening yielded both BULLFINCH and COMMON WHITETHROAT, with 3 Common Buzzards and a Red Kite overhead and two Common Chiffchaffs singing