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).

Saturday, 18 October 2014

No shrike but an impressive flock of LINNETS...

Darin Stanley had last seen the GREAT GREY SHRIKE disappearing north from Barton Hill Road at 0910 after it had emerged from its regular roost-site just east of the Swiss Cottages along the Icknield Way Path. Along with others, I searched the area extensively later on in the morning but it was nowhere to be found. In addition to the 6 Corn Bunting and 20+ Yellowhammer was this impressive flock of LINNETS, numbering at least 450.....

Bedfordshire's Purple Patch continues......

On Tuesday (14 October) following a day of Northeasterly gales on Monday, Barry Nightingale discovered a juvenile GREAT SKUA on Brogborough Lake - the bird remaining for about two hours before flying off high west. It spent the majority of its time attacking the resident Coot flock (see my images below)....

Whilst trying to relocate the Great Skua on Stewartby Lake, Tony Donnelly then discovered a juvenile NORTHERN GANNET - this bird too spending about two hours in the county.

On Thursday (16 October), Steve Blain relocated the Radwell DOTTEREL in fields between Biggleswade and Sandy after it had been photographed Wednesday evening at Gypsy Lane East with the Golden Plover flock.

Lastly, Jon Palmer located the Streatley GREAT GREY SHRIKE for its 4th consecutive winter - the bird roosting in the hedgerow just east of the Swiss Cottage on the Icknield Way. Like in previous years, best looked for two hours after dawn.

No sign of the Great Grey Shrike when I visited Friday but 6 CORN BUNTINGS were of note

Monday, 13 October 2014

LITTLE GULLS at Stewartby this evening

Having done my WeBS this morning at Brogborough (nothing of note there) I returned to Brog and Stewartby late this afternoon to see if any skuas had got as far as Bedfordshire. About a dozen Bonxies were seen to enter Cambs from the Wash this afternoon, heading SW, so I was quite hopeful.

Brogborough Lake was much as this morning with nothing of note apart from 2 Grey Wagtails heading west. Stewartby Lake, however, was a little better with a rapidly increasing gull roost containing around 40 LBB, 6 GBB and several thousand BHG which contained a 1w MEDITERRANEAN GULL. At around 6pm the first of three adult LITTLE GULLS was noted, with two more in the next few minutes. I held out for a skua but had to concede defeat as by that stage I was totally soaked through to the skin and my Cocker Spaniel, Luna, looked more like a drowned rat than a dog! 

The Little Gulls were still flying round with BHG’s when I left at 1820h - even in the failing light their crisp black underwings stood out a mile as they energetically chased up and down with the BHG’s.

Stuart Elsom

Sunday, 12 October 2014

DOTTEREL in Bedfordshire now

I was able to watch the DOTTEREL with RIB from just before 11.00. When we left, at 11.20, the bird was still present in amongst a flock of 400+ Goldies and several Lapwings. I put out directions on Rare Bird Alert and Lol,C, sideshow Bob, the “Elsoms” , PH, JG and at least one other arrived on site before I drove off. I’ve seen another pager message to say the Dotterel is still present at 12.45.

Due to bridge works over the railway, the best route in is to park next to Sharnbrook Mill Theatre walk down the path and cross the river bridge, walk maybe 400 metres to the old portakabin then turn left (south) along the main track keeping the lakes on your left. Approx halfway along the lakes is a large oak and the plovers etc are in the large field thereabouts viewing west up hill toward the railway.

It occurs to me that these birds may be present from the A6 pull-in but it would be very distant from there. The birds are quite flighty and the views are at 200-300 metres so it would be advisable to take a ‘scope if you’re contemplating visiting.

Please be aware that the entire complex is on private land. If asked to leave please do so without protestation, that said, Richard (who has a permit for the WEBs Count) and I spoke to one of the site “wardens” this morning and explained a few might come looking for the bird and he was fairly easy with the situation but please do not stray from the main tracks. Good luck!

Another cracking RIB find at this site – they should rename it “Bashford Lakes”!!!


I arrived much later in the afternoon and spent a number of hours searching - just 94 European Golden Plover present and no sign of the Dotterel - no sign at Thurleigh Airfield either

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Well LESSER GREY SHRIKE lasted all of 6 hours.....

Here’s a couple of record photos of the LESSER GREY SHRIKE…….. the upper shot was the first taken (3.13pm) and from which I called the bird as a Lesser and not Great. So good that so many managed to get there during the afternoon – over 40 I think.

Thanks especially to Kathy Sims who put an email out at 2.17 re her husband Peter finding a (presumed) Great Grey Shrike at 11.30, (and picked up on by RBA with a pager message at 2.23), but also a huge thanks to Andy Plumb for sending out text messages at 2.30 so as some of us old’uns out in the field got to hear and went over to check it out. JG and I got there at c3.05 at much same time as Andy Jackson who had just latched on to the bird along its favoured fence line. With a mask that huge, alarm bells rang as soon as I looked at it and it was time to get ‘phoning…. Hoorah!!

Congrats on your 250th. Pete Smith said it was his 260th and Bob Chalkley his 255th as it was for Jim Gurney. Pip moves on to 254 as does Rob Dazley. John Bowler and RIB used to be on similar tallies, hopefully they’ll let us know how many soon. DHB moves to 263, Barry, Lee, DJO and I are on 262 – that’s BOU listings Lee. I doubt we’ll find out what Lol’s list is!

Martin Palmer

Friday, 10 October 2014

LESSER GREY SHRIKE in Bedfordshire!!

When Pete Sims espied a grey shrike species this afternoon at Biggleswade Common, little did he realise (or expect) that it was a LESSER GREY SHRIKE - the first in the county in over a hundred years. He had reported it via his wife Kathy as a potential Great Grey Shrike but when seen by Martin Palmer and Jim Gurney a few hours later, they realised the magnitude of the bird and phoned the news out immediately. Over the next few hours, the majority of Bedfordshire's keenest listers connected - perhaps 40 observers connecting by dusk.

I of course was in East Sussex photographing a confiding Tawny Pipit when MJP phoned and with Friday evening traffic in heavy rain showers, took just over four and a half hours to get there. Thankfully, I was able to persuade Keith Owen to keep on it for me and at 1817 hours, I finally set eyes on it. It was feeding on Dung Beetles in the large field immediately NNE of Furzenhall Farm and continued to do so virtually into darkness at 1847. An exceptional record - and hard on the heels of the Blows Downs Barred Warbler.

It represents the first 'confirmed' record for the county - Steele-Elliott (1904) mentioning a possible at Woburn Park in September 1894. There is also a claim of a dead one on the River Ouse on the rather unlikely date of 25 January 1907 (Gardner 1907-8)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

HOOPOE's now been resident for a week.....

The HOOPOE at Hill Farm, just south of Willington village at the end of Wood Lane, was still showing as well as ever today, despite the torrential rain and near gale force winds. In fact, during one such shower, I found out where it was roosting - in one of the barns where the horses live. Once again, it was feeding voraciously - one worm or grub after another. I have to say that this is the most confiding Hoopoe I have ever been lucky enough to see in Britain - it is just so tame. Even when one of the horses went into a full stampede it stood its ground today - it is unbelievable. Well worth every effort if you get the opportunity......

This NORTHERN WHEATEAR also remained today, as well as up to 525 European Golden Plovers in the field opposite.