Thursday, 30 April 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Monday, 27 April 2009
Four visits and four hours spent at Broom today. Virtually nothing of note all day (except three Common Sands) until dusk. 1 Arctic Tern, along with 58 Common Terns in to roost. No Whiskered Terns.
I did have to pop up to Paxton to see their Whiskered after work though. After about twenty minutes of watching it flew high south, giving me false hope. It had returned to its favoured pit another twenty minutes later.
Posted by Steve Blain at 16:05
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Woke to find frost on the car. Darren called while I was defrosting it so
ditched it and went in his car. First stop Broom (naturally) and jammed in
to another Sandwich Tern sat on a post - my seventh in Beds this year! It
was only there about four minutes before a Sparrowhawk flew over the gull
colony and flushed everything. The Sarnie circled up high and headed off
We waited round just in case anything else flew in, but apart from a
Greenshank, Common Sand, Snipe, and a Little Egret, nothing did. We went to
have a look at Stewartby, just in case. It was dead as a door-nail. Broggy
was just the same so we went for a wander in the woods instead.
Over an hour later and we had very little to show for our efforts.
Goldcrests seemed to have been decimated by last winter's cold snap, and our
meagre Firecrest population seems to have gone the same way - none again on
Popped up to Coopers Hill on the off-chance of Tree Pipit, but no joy.
Highlight was bumping in to Paul Wright, who I hadn't seen for a few months.
We chewed the fat for a while, saw nothing, and parted company. We went off
Just as we got out the car at Rookery Rob called. "Hoopoe on Blows!" But
he'd lost it flying away from him. Bum. Do we go and help them look, or
check out Rookery first? Rookery won. A lovely hour was spent gazing over
this wonderful wetland in the heart of Beds. The best birds were at least
one drake Garganey milling around the reedbeds, and confirmed breeding
Black-headed Gulls - five nests. There was no further sign of the epops all
Darren wanted a cup of tea we intended to go to MVCP, and did, but never got
to the cafe. We ended up looking for the Cetti's but it was better at
playing hide-and-seek than us. Two Cuckoo's performed brilliantly though!
A cup of tea and a monster burger at Little Chief later, we then went out to
some old gravel workings near Salford. Unfortunately they were now past
their best, but we did see Yellow Wag, Lapwings, and plenty of Linnets.
Also had a displaying Meadow Pipit, which is always nice to see.
By early afternoon we were knackered, so ended up going home. I cut the
grass, had a quick ride round on the off-chance of a Dotterel, and ended the
day with a lovely roast.
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:19
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Whimbrel on the deck, and two of the Barwits from yesterday were still
there. Another Greenshank flew around calling too. By 6:30 there were
about six of us all stood waiting expectantly.
Unfortunately I had to leave at 7, bound for an exclusive tour of a private
estate. Rob and I were there to add species to their bird list, and to
spread the good word of the Bird Club.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable few hours with some excellent birding thrown
in. We had Cetti's Warbler, Raven, two Shoveler, 14 Grey Heron nests, and 8
Cormorant nests - all excellent county records. Hopefully now more records
will be coming from this secret corner of Beds, thanks to Rob's hard work.
After a mid-afternoon snooze (its hard work birding in spring) I was out
again, this time with Carrie. We ended up back at Broom, and met Robin
there. The two Barwits were still there but had been joined by another
Whimbrel - making two. I also found a lovely adult Little Gull right in the
middle of the gull colony. They really are tiny, even when compared to a
Black-head. We also had a very dark-billed Common Tern. Over the last
week, several birds with very dark bills have been seen at Broom. I guess
they've still got some of their winter plumage going on with a dark bill?
Not sure really.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
After work birding started at Broom, naturally. I pottered around Gypsy Lane East hoping to see my White Wag from the other day to try and digiscope it. It wasn't there. There was a rather tame Mistle Thrush bouncing around the stubble though.
After half an hour of not seeing very much I went to Langford for a wander along the river. A few warblers were singing - Blackcap, Sedgie, Whitethroat. A distant Cuckoo cuckooed, and a wonderful Barn Owl did a few fly pasts. No Groppers though. I guess they can't be in yet, as there were three along this stretch last year.
I also had to switch my atlas head back on again when I found three broods of Greylag goslings on the edge of the river - 8, 5 and 3. I will have to see if they've already been recorded in the tetrad.
Home just after 7, with a curry waiting for me - nice.
Ps - also just heard the BMA was a pukka call, and it's on its way out!
Spent an hour at Broom before work - lovely morning, no birds. Well, I say no birds, but I did have a fly-over Fieldfare (heading the correct north-east, as if off back to sunny Finland.)
While at work, dipped a Crossbill outside my window because of a large silver Saab. It was apparently drinking at the pond just beyond it.
Lunchtime back at Broom was cut short by a BMA (Baby Mega Alert) which MST had to rush back home for. I've had no news either way since to say if it's showing. Let's just hope he didn't dip. However, before the BMA came through, we counted 17 Common Terns over the lake. A nice increase on the ten at lunchtime yesterday.
Posted by Steve Blain at 15:38
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
Did find another White Wag at Gypsy Lane East this evening though.
Posted by Steve Blain at 20:03
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Broom mid-morning was quiet again. 10 Teal, two pairs of Shovelers. A glorious lye-in was to blame.
Brogborough Lake mid-afternoon - drake Common Scoter showing well. It was showing just off the ex-gull watchpoint diving continually. This is the last of at least 40 Common Scoter so far this spring in Beds, and I've seen all of 'em! Last year I saw zero Scoter in Beds, being away for then the few single birds turned up.
Rookery had a fantastic pair of Hobbies hunting the sides of the pit. Also a pair of Teal still. This pit is probably the best wetland site in the county, but unfortunately it's going to be developed in to a huge incinerator! No doubt the planning process with promise some sort of wetland compensation for its loss, but will deliver diddly-squat, like usual.
Will Bedfordshire ever get a decent bit of wildlife-friendly wetland? The Marston Vale Country Park could have been this, but has been turned in to a Mecca for kids and people out for a nice Sunday afternoon stroll. It charges people to walk round the 'wetland', but with its two hides you can't see out of after 9am because the sun's in your eyes, and paths that go no-where near the wet bits, it's totally missed the point. The place is a joke for the visiting naturalist, and massively frustrating as it could have been SO good! What's worse, is the same consortium have also purchased the Willington GP area, and are going to turn that in to a similar thing. We've been in contact with them, to try and influence their land use and make it slightly birder frendly, but whether this will happen is another story. High-horse now gotten off.
Willington GP early evening - good views of the Nightingale, and a single Little Egret. Also heard my first Reed Warblers chatting away in the old washout lagoon.
Several other pits looked at but bugger-all seen.
Posted by Steve Blain at 20:01
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Missed the 1st summer Med Gull at Broom, but I'd gone by the time it turned up. Did see a Common Sand, and two Snipe.
The 2 local Peregrines were chasing feral pigeons, but failing dismally, despite a bit of tandem hunting. The male of this pair has bright custard yellow feet and cere. He's a very hansom beast. Hopefully they're now using the box provided.
Nightingale, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Cuckoo all singing at Willington. Along with a fly over Greenshank, and a Little Egret. MST has apparently recorded a Greenshank on this day each year for the last five years. It has to be the same returning adult each time? An incredible coincidence if not.
The Southill Estate had a single Raven flying over, and c.10 Lesser Redpolls. The Redpolls are presumably late migrants filtering back north. It’s a shame they are now virtually extinct as a breeding bird in Beds. Check out the provisional Beds breeding Atlas map for them:
Rookery South had a pair of Garganey, single Shoveler, 2 Teal, 9 Pochard, and 3 Common Terns. LBB's on territory, and perhaps four BH Gulls also looking to perhaps nest?
Quest had over 400 LBB's, 50 Herring Gulls, and at least two Yellow-legged Gulls, all loafing on the exposed mud. Two pairs of LBB's appeared to be on territory at the south end, with several Pochard and a pair of Teal. This is another sites that's going to have millions of tonnes of concrete poured all over it - this one is going to be called NIRAH.
Posted by Steve Blain at 19:58
Friday, 17 April 2009
Another quiet morning at Broom, at least it was for me as I got there at 07:30 and had missed the two Little Egrets and Dunlin!
MAW and I popped back in at lunchtime and found two Arctic Terns buzzing over the lake, with up to five Commons. Two Dunlin flew in as well, making it a successful trip.
By mid-afternoon Matt had got three Arctic's, and Dunlins had risen to five. By the evening, the Two original Arctic's were still around but had dropped to one by the time I left at 19:15.
All the above flight shots are the same lingering Arctic taken in the evening
Thursday, 16 April 2009
The weather closed in at lunchtime so a return visit to Broom was in order. Not long after MST and I had turned the hedge corner we found a wonderful Black Tern dipping over the lake. Nice. Also six Common Terns, and numerous other birders followed. The BT eventually headed off high east with a groups of Sand Martins after half an hour. It looks like it's the only one in the country at the moment!
Posted by Steve Blain at 12:50
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
As the Bean Geese had been seen a few days ago, I decided to have a quick look. Unfortunately they were still there. I say unfortunately as should have gone back north by now. The 'escape' factor is looming large.
Lunchtime visit to Broom in the vain hope of something new. I found something new, but it wasn't quite the eastern waif I was hoping for - it was a rattling Lesser Whitethroat.
Three Common Terns had increased by one from this morning, and two Grey Partridges blasted up from the scrub when I was trying to photograph a singing Willy Wobbler.
Posted by Steve Blain at 13:43
Two hours spent stood in the cold this morning at Broom. Unfortunately there were more birders than birds! Two Common Terns were the best we had to show for our efforts.
The highlight of the morning, apart from the banter, was seeing the preview copy of the 'Guide to Broom' penned by the fair hand of Mr Stevens. A labour of love, and littered with all the bird records from the Broom GP area. When it's finished, it's sure to be an excellent read. Watch this space.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
It's just been one of those days in Beds today. The promise was good, with hanging showers and heavy overcast conditions all day in eastern England. And by-golly was it good!
I was up way before dawn and down at Broom just on day-break. Unfortunately, unlike yesterday morning, Broom was dead. Everything from yesterday had cleared out and it was just two Goldeneye that were new in. Soon after 6am I'd started getting news from Stewartby. Martin Green was also up and checking his local patch. Two fabulous Black-necked Grebes were first on the menu, quickly followed up by a drake Red-breasted Merganser, a Sandwich Tern and three Arctic Terns! RIB had also found two more RB Mergs at Harrold, and Neil had found two more at Brogborough Lake, along with three more Arcitc Terns! This was getting silly.
However, I cracked big-style when I got wind of a bloody Arctic Skua flying around over Stewartby, then chasing a Kittiwake!
Just over twenty minutes later I was at the sailing club end of Stewartby lake not seeing the Skua. I had missed it by seconds - oh arse-tits! The Kitti, two Bn Grebes, and a spanking Mergnaser did little to lift my spirits! Well, at least for a short while anyway.
I decided to have a look at some other pits in the valley, but RIB (who also just dipped the Skua) beat me to the goodies - he'd found the three Arctic Terns and the Sarnie, which had apparently been chased away by the Skua, up at Chimney Corner North. I arrived a few minutes later, and RIB pulled a sum plum Black-tailed Godwit from under my nose, while I was watching the terns. Gurn also turned up on the far bank, and while I was videoing the Sarnie on the deck we all simultaneously realised there were two Sarnies sitting together! Bonus!
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:07
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Drake Garganey still present on the G&M Growers pits, but well and truly gripped at lunchtime by Whitey. He had a Sandwich Tern flew north just a few minutes after I'd left! Good job I don't need Sarnie for my Broom list…
Think I might go to Pegsdon later to sulk.
Posted by Steve Blain at 15:38
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
A drake Garganey still present, spending most of its time on the G&M Growers pits. Single Dunlin on the main lake, but precious little else. It was so empty I had a rest on the south bank with one eye on the sky for any migrating Ospreys…
Two Brambling in my garden in the evening.
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:14
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
3 Garganey found at the crack of dawn by Burgess were new in, but the excitement of Little Gulls and our first Common Tern had all gone.
A lunchtime visit yielded a cracking female 2cy Peregrine, which took a Lapwing in flight! Peregrines in Beds are becoming common place now, and can be expected almost anywhere. However I hardly ever see them hunting!
After school visit to the neglected Gypsy Lane end produced the female type Merlin again, this time chasing a Skylark high in the air. No pipits, and only three Pied Wags, but also a pair of LRP's, and some hissing Shelducks.
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:13
Monday, 6 April 2009
A lunchtime visit back to Broom with Mr Ward was good. Little Gull numbers had risen to 7, all winter plumaged adults, and we also had a Red Kite over (different one to the individual on Saturday) and a female Merlin zip east.
Broom or Pegsdon this evening? That is the question...
Posted by Steve Blain at 13:31
In typical murky April conditions this morning, three adult winter Little Gulls and a Common Tern dropped in just after 8am. I'd already had a text from Mr Broom (Martin) that there was a Common Tern there at 07:15 but by the time I'd got there (at around 7:45) there was no sign of it. So I suspect, as the tern and gulls appeared at the same time, the tern was a new arrival. On my way out of the site a Willow Warbler sang from the edge of the wood (my first this year), and three Blackcaps scratched from various bush areas.
This sort of weather (low cloud/mist, with an easterly wind) in April is quite exciting for an inland birder. These sort of conditions typically mean you should be out early looking for passage terns, gulls, and waders. This is where Broom currently scores well. The site is on a north-south river valley, and the size of the lake means it draws stuff in from a reasonable distance. Most things only come in for a look, fly around a few times and are off again, but sometimes they stick. The dedication of a hardened few in recent years has also meant that Broom gets excellent coverage during the spring period. Things still get missed, but a huge amount has been seen for such a small site. I'll probably leave there for now...
Posted by Steve Blain at 10:12
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Spent lunchtime walking round the Lodge in the hope of picking up the recent Wood Lark. No sign again, but Lesser Redpoll on the Gatehouse niger feeder.
As the Kumlien's Gull had been showing well during the day, Gurn and I popped over to the brick pits for another look. I'd just stepped out of my car when Pete called to say it was briefly at Stewartby before disappearing again. We checked a few of the lesser pits without any luck before ending up at Stewartby with plenty of other birders. It eventually flew in to the middle of the roost and gave good views. Plenty of debate was sparked from one vocal individual about its identification.
The views tonight were quite good. It's a very striking bird, and one you won't miss if it turns up in your gull roost! Two-tone bill, with grey washed primaries, a hint of grey on the mantle, and the rest of the bird is virtually white. It also has a pale eye, but this was difficult to discern on gull-roost views. The build was heavy (for an Iceland Gull type) but still smaller than most Herring Gulls, and between that and a Lesser Black-back. To be honest, if you chopped off its primaries, you wouldn't look twice before calling it an Iceland Gull, despite its build.
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:17
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Broom before work and at lunchtime today. Not much has changed. 8 Redshanks, and 4 Ringed Plover were the highlights. Plenty of Buzzard activity at lunchtime with several parties spiralling over the woodland around Old Warden. The gulls have settled back on Peacock's island and were displaying well. Just waiting for the first Common Terns to arrive back, any day now…
After work shot around Gypsy Lane East - 3 Green Sands, 2 Shelduck, 1 LRP, and 1 Ringed Plover the best. Very few pipits and wags this evening.
Headed over to Stewartby Lake to see if the 2nd winter Kumlien's would come in. It did, and early, but was spooked by the boats on the far side. I decided to try and relocate it, and finally found it roosting in Quest. A really striking gull. Almost completely white from a distance. Its grey wing-tips were about the darkest park of the bird. The bill was two-tone, and it was just about getting a pale grey mantle. In flight, it had a dark (broken) band on its tail, which was about the same shade of grey as the wing-tips. It looks identical to the Leicestershire bird, so it presumably moving south with the Lesser Black-backs?
After a lot of strange and odd looking gulls in the county recently, it was nice to see such an obvious Kumlien's. Mark and Mark turned up shortly afterwards and we watched it 'till dusk. As we were about to leave a Barn Owl did a fly-past - nice.
Posted by Steve Blain at 21:21