Sunday 3rd January 2016
Spent the day in BEDFORDSHIRE, where heavy rain curtailed most of the birding bar the last hour of daylight....
Below is a list of the highlights, spent in part with Stuart Warren & MJP...
GREAT GREY SHRIKE briefly in rain perched high on the fragmented hedgerow on the opposite side of the railway line at TL 193 390 and viewable from the concrete track that leads to the sewage works - TL 192 390 (Poppy Hill Farm, NNE of Henlow)
Stuart & I put up 2 JACK SNIPES at G & M Growers Pits (Broom), with 2 Teal there and a Meadow Pipit but no sign of any Bearded Tits or Common Snipe. The early COMMON SHELDUCK was nearby at Gypsy Lane East (Broom) but there was no sign of neither Peregrine nor Merlin in the driving rain
Ten of the 13 LITTLE EGRETS were on show in the damp field adjacent to Stockbridge Close in Clifton (situated at TL 173 390, while at Upper Caldecote, I could only find 5 Yellowhammers, with no sign of either Tree Sparrows or Grey Partridges.
At the Hatch Turn, most notable were a mixed flock of 105 Common Starling, 39 Fieldfare and 8 Redwing, with not a single Corn Bunting or finch flock in the Moggerhanger area.
I spent a while in heavy rain looking at the entrance gate feeders at The Lodge, Sandy, but drew a complete blank on Bramblings.
At TL 094 487, opposite Octagon Farm, a massive flock of Lapwing and European Golden Plover, click-numbering 538 and 2,007 respectively!
On Rookery Pit North, both GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS were still present but none of the Scaup (a lot of Aythya's though) and likewise a wildfowl busy Quest Pit failed to relinquish the 5 Red-crested Pochard MJP had seen there on New Years Day.
Dropped in to Stewartby Lake to join MJP and his self-found adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL, with 38 Great Crested Grebe there, 35 Common Gulls, 8 Herring Gulls and a single adult Great Black-backed Gull; a single PEREGRINE was roosting on one of the chimneys (MJP had seen 4)
Brogborough Lake added 3 GREATER SCAUP in with a relatively small group of Aythya's by the Cormorant islands - an adult drake, a first-winter drake and an adult female (although NW tells me the adult has a hint of a tuft indicating some outside influence) as well as 384 Coot, 43 Common Goldeneye, 8 Great Black-backed Gulls and 6 Argenteus Herring Gulls.
I then rushed over to Upper Drakelow Pond in Woburn Park, where MJP's 3 GOOSANDER were still showing and waking (2 drakes and a female) before just arriving at a Woodcock roost for Martin to ring me with 2 Little Gulls!! I hastily raced back but alas to no avail - the light had gone - all 3 observers having lost them (MJP, Pete Smith & Bob Hook)