THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY
Following an early morning post from Tony P, I decided to spend my day targeting a number of Bedfordshire Yearticks - starting once again with Broom's adult male Merlin which I manage to miss virtually every time. Today was no different, and despite Tony leaving it on its favourite perch at 0900 hours, it was nowhere to be found at 0940......
The pair of Common Shelduck were still present on GYPSY LANE WEST, as were 2 Mute Swans, 3 Wigeon, 2 Great Crested Grebe, Common Buzzard, 7 Stock Dove, 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush.
On the opposite side of the road, at GYPSY LANE EAST, numerous wildfowl including 2 Greylag Geese, 24 Atlantic Canada Geese, 9 Mute Swan, 3 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 4 Teal and 13 Pochard, as well as 298 Lapwing & 28 European Golden Plover at the shallower end.
Nearby, the adult PINK-FOOTED GOOSE was feeding with a small number of Greylag to the west of PEACOCK'S LAKE (BROOM), while at the VILLAGE PIT (BROOM), I was pleased to find 4 LESSER REDPOLL in the Silver Birches there - a species hard to come by locally this winter. The pit held 6 Little Grebe, 18 Coot, 16 Gadwall & 8 Tufted Duck, while 4 Red-legged Partridge, 8 Redwing, 2 Linnet and a Goldfinch were noted.
Targeting MARSH TIT, I made my way to PALMER'S WOOD, OLD WARDEN, where a pair were duly found. Far more lucrative however was a crop field adjacent to the horse paddock and opposite the church car park, yielding a female BRAMBLING amongst 45 Chaffinch & 5 Reed Bunting - another species very scarce this winter. The wood harboured most of the common species one would expect, including Jay, Song Thrush (several singing males), Nuthatch, Fieldfare (130), Long-tailed Tit, Redwing (116), both Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk & Tawny Owl, as well as over 15 Reeve's Muntjac Deer & a Brown Hare.
There was no sign of any Egyptian Geese at HARROWDEN LANE WATER MEADOWS - just 31 Canada Geese & 270 feeding Woodpigeons, nor of any Peregrines at CARDINGTON but House Sparrow numbers were holding up well with at least 15 surviving on the outskirts of CARDINGTON. The road between there and OLD WARDEN produced Red Kite, Common Buzzard, 3 Common Kestrel & a flock of 40 Lapwing.
Joining Tony P at the SANDY SMITH NATURE RESERVE (CLOPHILL), we both searched in vain for the wintering Great Grey Shrike (seen yet again yesterday), compensation coming in the form of 26 Yellowhammer, 15 Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting, 70 Common Starling, 90 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing & 2 Green Woodpecker.
At FLITWICK MOOR SSSI, not a sniff of either Lesser Spotted Woodpecker or Siskin - just 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Song Thrush (in song) and Common Kestrel and at BARTON HILL ROAD/SWEDISH COTTAGES ICKNIELD WAY TRACK, nothing in the way of Corn Bunting (or Great Grey Shrike) - 100 Skylarks highlighting here. I also had a good look for the Great Grey Shrike reported from near Pegsdon but once again drew a blank