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).

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Following calls from both Mike Ilett and Alan Reynolds yesterday, I made plans this morning to visit BRAMFIELD VILLAGE where the HAWFINCH flock has returned for the winter. Although pretty murky and grey and with temperatures struggling to get above freezing, I arrived on site at about 0900 hours. Francis Buckle, Tony Hukin and others had already seen 3 birds but they had flown off in the direction of the Old Rectory. Knowing a garden on that side of the road where they favour, I walked around and in no time at all espied two birds feeding on the ground beneath a Yew tree in the front garden. Both birds quickly flew and joined 3 others in flying back to the churchyard, where some excellent 'scope views were obtained. All 5 then dropped down into a garden where some 19 or so Greenfinches were also feeding, between the churchyard and the next road. I then located an additional 3 birds feeding in a garden behind the pub car park, all 8 eventually perching together in the tall trees within the churchyard. Throughout the hour or so I remained, the birds were very mobile, perching only briefly before returning to the gardens. Very vocal though, uttering the high-pitched, sharp 'ticc' from the evergreens. The village map below shows the favourite haunts occupied by the Hawfinches......
Bramfield Village also yielded 2 Mistle Thrush, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 15 Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Nuthatch and a flyover flock of 32 Linnet.
In PANSHANGER LANE, this Common Buzzard made repeated attempts to cart off a dead Rabbit from the road...
Francis, Tony and I then visited AMWELL GP, where the drake SMEW was still present on Great Hardmead Lake, showing distantly from the watchpoint on the far SE bank. Just 2 Common Goldeneye too, but no sign of yesterday's Pintail - presumably flown back to Rye Meads. Northern Shoveler numbers were impressive, with 84 counted, with 16 Gadwall, 107 Wigeon, 62 Teal, 45 Mallard, 73 Tufted Duck, 22 Pochard, 335 Coot, 1 Mute Swan and 8 Great Crested Grebe making up the numbers.
Up at Tumbling Bay, a COMMON RAVEN circled overhead, while along the trail to Hollycross Lake, 2 Bullfinch, a Coal Tit and a MARSH TIT were the highlights, the latter feeding on the ground beneath the feeders.
Moving north, I drove through THERFIELD VILLAGE, where 15 House Sparrow, 2 Greenfinch and 45 Fieldfares were noted - the Pedlars Lane Rookery harbouring 21 nests. Not a single Grey Partridge to be found in the area unfortunately, but the Fallow Deer herd east of COOMBE ROAD (KELSHALL) held a total of 117 animals.
At least 66 Rook, 35 Jackdaw and 8 Common Gulls were at DEADMAN HILL (SANDON), while driving all round searching for Grey Partridge did eventually reward me with a flock of 200+ CORN BUNTINGS near WALLINGTON - 50+ Yellowhammer too, 15 Linnet, Common Kestrel, 4 Red-legged Partridge and 265 Fieldfare also.
It was then time to relocate to BEDFORDSHIRE, where a Stock Dove flew across the road in STOTFOLD. Not a sniff of the Great Grey Shrike at SANDY SMITH NR, CLOPHILL, nor of any Common Stonechats nor the Little Owls, but 35 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 7 Common Blackbird, 26 Yellowhammer and 9 Reed Bunting noted.
All 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (3 pairs) were still in the QUEST PIT (STEWARTBY) (with 2 Mute Swan, 58 Wigeon, 62 Pochard, 45 Mallard and a Meadow Pipit in there) and a male PEREGRINE roosting on the chimney in the brickworks.

At dusk, I visited a traditional WOODCOCK roost, where 15 individuals emerged from the plantation between 1650 and 1715 hours

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Two MEDS in roost

An adult and a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the roost at Stewartby Lake this evening plus just a single Lesser Black-back, 2 Herring Gulls and 2 Great Black-backs. 374 Common Gulls but probably under 1000 B H Gulls.

The drake COMMON SCOTER remains and 38 G C Grebes were counted.

Earlier, nought of note at either Rookery North ClP or Chimney Corner South ClP


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

4th-ever GREAT WHITE EGRET for Bedfordshire

I finally caught up with this GREAT WHITE EGRET this afternoon, thanks to Jim Gurney and Roy Dunham. Despite dipping twice on the bird at Roxton River Pit, I eventually saw (and photographed) it when Roy relocated it on the main pit; it's stay was very short-lived though - the bird flying west to roost on the islands of the River Pit at 3.45pm.

These two drake GOOSANDERS were present on the River Pit...

At Blunham Lake, a single Little Egret was roosting on the island, with 6 Grey Heron present, 106 Greylag Geese, 70 Mallard, 8 Gadwall, 34 Wigeon, a drake Shoveler, 84 Tufted Duck and 62 Pochard

Roy had also located the Pink-footed Goose with Greylag just west of Peacock's Lake, Broom, but there was no sign of it when Jim Gurney and I looked shortly later (nor of the wintering male Merlin)

Monday, 5 January 2015


A light frost followed by a few fog patches, then a pleasant winter's day, with temperatures of around 6 degrees C and mostly blue skies
First thing, all 5 BULLFINCHES were feasting on white sunflower hearts in the CHAFFINCH HOUSE garden

Following Stuart Elsom's late Sunday afternoon find, I joined Jim Gurney, Martin Palmer, Pip Housden, Lol Carman and Bob Chalkley at 100 ACRE, MEADOW LANE in BEDFORDSHIRE, where fortunately the adult DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was still present and showing well. It was busy preening on the eastern shore with a couple of Greylag Geese and at 130 yards distance, an opportunity for me to photograph it was not to be missed. The Greylag flock numbered 116, with the Canadas much fewer in 26, but far more impressive was the 850 or so European Golden Plover wheeling overhead, and 450+ Lapwing. All of the usual wildfowl were represented (85 Wigeon, 25 Teal, 15 Gadwall, etc), as well as 4 Fieldfare and the pair of COMMON STONECHATS.

Three Common Chiffchaff were flycatching either side of Meadow Lane just north of the sewage works (two ringed) but there was no sign of anything tristis-like.
I then visited WILLINGTON, where I counted the BARNACLE GEESE flock - too far away to read any of the red rings but 425 birds in total - plus 1 Barnacle x Snow hybrid and 1 Atlantic Canada Goose. Great Spotted Woodpecker, 25 Redwing and 9 Common Blackbird were the only other noteworthy sightings here.

At HATCH, the large flock of winter thrushes was still to be found in the grass fields, as well as 2 GREY PARTRIDGE and 4 Red-legged Partridge; 8 House Sparrows were within the confides of the hamlet.

In UPPER CALDECOTE, I was more than delighted to find 27 TREE SPARROWS in the maize crop and adjacent hedgerow just north of the Briar Patch Nursery and Elizabeth Smith Veterinary Practise, as well as 17+ Yellowhammer, 20+ Linnet, several Reed Buntings and a Green Woodpecker.
At GYPSY LANE EAST, BROOM GP, I teamed up with Lol & Bob again, where we were to find 7 JACK SNIPE in one small area of sedge. Not much on the water other than 1 Greylag Goose, 8 Shoveler, 19 Pochard and 2 Mute Swan, with 76 Lapwing overhead. Neighbouring PEACOCKS LAKE was even quieter, with just 2 Mute Swans, 4 Greylag Geese, 15 Sinensis Cormorant and 44 Coot.

No luck with Little Owl at the SANDY SMITH NATURE RESERVE at CLOPHILL, but 90 Fieldfare, 2 Red-legged Partridge, Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, 5 Yellowhammer, Common Buzzard, 2 Common Kestrel and 35 Linnet were notable.

After staking out a few other 'target birds' and improving on previous photographs, I then concentrated my efforts in relocating Mike Campbell's GREAT GREY SHRIKE at GROVE. Parking by the church and lock, I ventured south along the west side of the Grand Union Canal to the farmland 400 yards south of where the pylons cross the area - the area where MC had seen the shrike on two occasions. But nothing - no sign of it - just 150 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing, 33 Linnet and a Sparrowhawk. I wandered further south towards Slapton, checking both sides of the canal, but still no joy - a needle in a haystack. Then bingo - a joyous Peter was walking back along the towpath - he had espied the shrike just 10 minutes previous just NW of Slapton - result! After 10 more minutes walking, I arrived at canal bridge 118 and there, across the field to the east of the canal, was the GREAT GREY - sat in good view on the telegraph wires. It remained on view for a few minutes before darting down into the hedgerow, presumably to roost - at approximately SP 927 212 - well into BUCKINGHAMSHIRE by about half a mile. Having been present for over a month, this bird is particularly wide-ranging, the map below giving some guidance as to where it has been seen during that time.
A PEREGRINE was roosting on a pylon as I walked back north to the car.

The adult ROSS'S SNOW GOOSE was still present at GROVEBURY SANDPIT, still feeding with 65 Atlantic Canadas and 6 Greylag, whilst the gull roost attracted in excess of 1,200 birds, including 937+ Black-headed, 71 Common, 53 Herring (primarily argenteus including several clean-headed adults), 67 Lesser Black-backed, 17 Great Black-backed, 5 YELLOW-LEGGED (3 adults, a 2nd-winter and a first-winter) and a first-winter CASPIAN.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

First-ever BLACK-NECKED GREBE for Dunstable Sewage Works

Out and about in BEDFORDSHIRE today but birding restricted due to very dense fog which persisted all day.....

Highlight was DUNSTABLE SEWAGE WORK's first-ever BLACK-NECKED GREBE - showing well on pan 3 (see images below). Also there were both semi-resident Whooper Swans, 15 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler, the odd Teal, 5 Redwing, 2 Bullfinch and a wintering COMMON CHIFFCHAFF...
STOCKGROVE COUNTRY PARK held just 1 drake MANDARIN DUCK, with 20+ Grey Squirrel, Nuthatch, 8+ Great Tit and Goldcrest showing well and Sparrowhawk also recorded.

Little of note in WOBURN PARK other than 155 Wigeon, 10 Mute Swan, Australian Black Swan pair, 18 Gadwall, 32 Tufted Duck, 43 Coot, Nuthatch and Coal Tit, whilst EVERSHOLT LAKE added 2 GOOSANDER (pair), Jay, Song Thrush and a charm of 42 Goldfinch feeding on Alder mast beneath the trees.

The drake COMMON SCOTER remained on STEWARTBY LAKE, as did 5 COMMON CHIFFCHAFF and a SIBERIAN-TYPE at Marston Sewage Works

The leucistic Cormorant was roosting on BROGBOROUGH LAKE