Sunday, 31 May 2009


Loads of stuff now either feeding young, or bursting out of nests. This hansom male Yellow Wag was feeding young near Broom today.

Check out the current distribution of Yellow Wagtail in Bedfordshire, by looking at the current Bird Club Atlas project website here.

Rare 'cat

A rare opportunity to see Polecat during the day was seized today. A family of four kits have been showing at College Lake, Bucks, recently and we got lucky with two animals visiting the hide this afternoon. Unfortuantely a crap shot, but a special one!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Tern muncher

Digiscoping flying birds is not easy. This Kestrel made it easier for me though, by hovering. It was flying over the Little Tern colony at Great Yarmouth (the UK's largest), but eyeing up the brood of Ringed Plovers scuttling around underneath. I suspect the Terns may get a hammering this year...

Friday, 29 May 2009

Relocation, relocation, relocation

What an excellent start to the weekend! Just as I was about to leave work I got a call asking if I knew anything about the Hoopoe reported on Birdguides? "No" came my reply. I checked the listings and sure enough, one had been reported as "briefly in the grounds of the hospital before flying south" that was at around 13:15 and the report didn't come on until 5pm. Should I waste an hour looking for it, I asked myself? After all, these things never materialise after a report like that, do they? Well, I did decide to look for it - at least it was on my way home.

Where would a Hoopoe head for? School playing fields. Especially if there's one just south of the hospital. I stopped the car at the end of the track and started slowly walking down to the playing field. Just as I reached a gap in the hedge I saw the head of a bird. I put my bins on it - Bingo! It was the long bill and shaggy crest of the Hoopoe. What a result. I was dead chuffed to re-find it. Within ten mins the first birders started to arrive, and after a bit of hide-and-seek, quite a few saw it.

Unfortunately after only about an hour on show, it flew off north, towards the hospital. But that was the last we saw of it.

My second Beds Hoopoe in as many years. They've been a very long time coming!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Swooping Swifts

About 300 of these fantastic birds over Broom this evening. Tricky to photograph well. Out of over 100 images the two above were probably about the best.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Wonderful Wicken!

Had another day out with Mr Hackett today. What a cracker! Started off by going back for the showy Tree Pipit (see the bottom shot) - then had a sausage sarnie break, before going for the Squacco Heron at Wicken Fen. Eventually it showed really well out side the hide overlooking Bakers Fen. A fantastic end to the day. I wonder what Mr H will have to show for his efforts?

Saturday, 23 May 2009


Cracking views of a singing Tree Pipit in mid-Beds today. The only one in the county. Ended the day by popping to the Lodge to see the juv Siskin which has been on the niger feeders by the shop - another rare Beds breeder.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Farmland bp

Had a nice evening taking shots of farmland birds with Mr Hackett tonight. Here are the fruits of my labour - Grey Partridge, Pheasant, Linnet, Corn Bunting, and Yellow Wagtail. Lovely.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Lapwing, Octagon Farm Pools, 17th May 2009

Friday, 15 May 2009

Warm and wet

A cracking morning at Broom!

Greenshank still on G&M Growers pits
21 Arctic Terns straight through at 07:20
3 more Arctic Terns through about 20 mins later
Groups of 3 and 4 Dunlin through
A Turnstone just appeared on Peacock's Island just after 08:00
2 superb sum plum Sanderling flew in ten mins later
4 more Dunlin and a Sanderling flew straight through shortly after
3 Whimbrel then flew through at 08:30
The last bird I saw before I left was a Turtle Dove which also came
straight through.

A shame I had to leave for work!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Northern waders still trickling through...

Improvement today - 4 Greenshank, 2 (new) tundra Ringed Plovers, 2 Shovelers at Broom this morning.  At least these easterlies have brought something new to Broom.  Lots of stuff sitting on eggs now.

Popped in to Derek Whites Eggs pit at lunchtime and found a Dunlin and a Ringed Plover there.  The Ringo is probably a tundra, but the light was rather harsh to properly nail it.

Monday, 11 May 2009


It's gone east, finally.  However two and a half hours so far sent at Broom today has produced bugger-all.  The best we've managed has been a single Dunlin, and three tundra Ringed Plovers.  Still 140+ Swifts over the site at the moment, and we've finally got a Garden Warbler back on territory in the wood around Moat Cottage.  It's quiet.

I might have to go somewhere else this evening, just to break the monotony!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Hurrah for spring!

It's back! Today was a lovely warm, sunny, and more importantly, bird filled, day in Beds.

It started off slow at Broom with just the single Dunlin and Ringo from last night still on the G&M pits.

Things improved when I looked round the Southill Estate, where on the way in found a Spotted Fly (my first of the year), and on the way out found a singing Siskin!

A quick look at the local Peregrines found the male flying high in stiff-winged display. There was also singing Yellow Wags and Meadow Pipits in the surrounding fields. Today really was a world away from the last few weeks of cold westerlies, and unpleasant conditions.
Tundra Ringed Plover

The day improved markedly when I arrived at Castle Mills pit. About the first bird I looked at was a tundra Ringed Plover - a sure sign of a few waders moving. However within a few minutes I was looking at this lovely beastie:

Temminck's Stint. My first self-found in the county, and about the 14th since 1946. A decent bird, which has been a long time coming this spring!
After a few hours watching this bird, and chatting with the various birders that came and went, I headed off to Stewartby. Unfortunately the Whinchat had moved on, but there were plenty of Grizzled and Dingy Skippers to keep me occupied. I also saw one Green Hairstreak vanish round a hawthorn never to reappear. Birds were thin on the ground but I did hear several Garden Warblers singing from the surrounding scub.

Rookery was next (and last) on the list of places to visit. Lol and Roy had just arrived too. As we stood chatting on the bank, Roy picked up a Marsh Harrier on the far side. This one was a different individual from the bird earlier on in the week, and looked like an adult female. With so many Marsh Harriers being seen now in Beds it surely won't be too much longer before we see the first breeding attempts?

Other stuff found in Rookery included three Hobbies, loads of Swifts (100+), a pair of displaying Ringed Plovers, several Redshanks, a pair of Oystercatchers, and a few ducks of various species.

Yellow Wag

Male Yellow Wagtail, Castle Mills, 9th May 2009

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit, Rookery, 9th May.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Had the builders in this morning, so my first opportunity for any birding was lunchtime.  Seeing that there were a few Sanderlings in other counties, I had a plan.  A quick look at the washout pit, and the G&M Growers pits at Broom, before heading to Derek Whites Eggs pit.

Unfortunately I'd just finished checking the washout when a Bashford called - he'd got a Sanderling on Gypsy Lane West!  Damn.  Beaten to the goodies.

It was a lovely little bird however, mostly in winter plumage, with the rusty flecks just coming through around the primaries.  I wonder if it'll still be there tonight?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Springs still hanging in there!

First stop this morning was the G&M Growers pits at Broom. The two sum plum Dunlin were still pottering around on them, along with two Ringed Plovers. The LRP from last night had disappeared. These pits have finally started to look good for the spring, with a nice muddy fringe forming, but is it too late?

While at work, and having all the windows open as our office had just been repainted, I heard a pleasing song - a Tree Pipit! It only sang once, and I guess was just flying over perhaps, but it was a totally unexpected new addition to the window list. It will probably be the only Tree Pipit at the Lodge this year. Long gone are the days where I once counted 12 singing males between the Lodge and Potton - that was in the early nineties.

A late decision to look at Derek Whites Eggs pit at lunchtime was a good one. About the first bird I looked at was a lovely Whimbrel sat on the island. This pit was also looking nice, with plenty of birds and some good habitat. One of the four pairs of Lapwings had two small chicks, there were three broods of Greylags, two pairs of Redshank, an Oyc, a LRP, five (or so) pairs of Common Terns, and a singing Meadow Pipit. I'll be popping in here again.

After work I headed for the brick pits. Coronation wasn't very exciting (but I got a nice Willow Warbler shot), Rookery held a single Hobby, female Red-crested Pochard, several Pochard, two pairs of Redshanks, and several Black-heade Gulls still stilling on nests.

The Cetti's was still belting out its song at MVCP, but the Millbrook station end of the site was pretty quiet otherwise. Quest was a bit more interesting, with two pairs of nesting Lesser Black-backs, another Pochard, a Ringed Plover, several Redshanks, a Yellow Wag, four Herring Gulls, and 17 loafing LBB's.

I ended the evening at Broom, for the tern roost. The best count I made was 105, with perhaps a few more missed. An excellent number for May.

Derek White Eggs pit

Monday, 4 May 2009

Cambs comes good

With Bedfordshire being so quiet, we defected today. By mid-morning we were walking along the central drove of the Nene Washes in Cambs. This place is such a wonderful cacophony of bird sounds in spring. Blackwits were wickering, Snipe were drumming and chipping, Lapwings were spaceinvadering (that's what I think they sound like anyway), and Redshanks were tu-tu-ing - it really was magical. Well, it was until the wind got up and the rain started coming down. We beat a hastily retreat back to the car and headed south!

The Nightingales at Little Paxton are often referred to as the most visible anywhere in the country. I usually venture there at least once a year to try and see them, but today was my first trip of the year. The weather had improved a little, and although overcast, at least it wasn't raining.

On the walk down to the Wray House area (usually the best to actually see a Nightingale) we saw the heads and tails of several individuals, but not a full-body view. After waiting around for a half-hour and seeing one or two birds zipping from bush to bush, and singing so closely they made your ears pound, a family walked past asking how we were getting on. The two young lads were hoping to see their first Nightingales, but they were proving tricky. They wandered on, and about 50 meters along the track one of the lads found one singing. They beckoned Carrie and I over and there it was, singing right in the open and head-height. Excellent. The only thing that could have been better was the weather. Still, I'm quite chuffed with the results.

The last bit of birding of the day was a dash to Broom at dusk. The net result was 107 roosting Common Terns on the main island - an excellent count for early May.

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Had a lazy day today. Spent most of the day pottering around the garden, cutting grass, moving bird feeders about, you know the drill. Best bird of the morning was a Song Thrush bashing the living daylights out of snails. It's something I've not seen for years, but have fond memories of seeing them in my parents garden doing this all the time. It really put a smile on my face.

In the afternoon we got bored, so went to Rookery for an hour. The wind was blowing a gale over the eastern bank, which made viewing difficult. However the Hobbies were giving fantastic views right over head. Absolutely mega birds.

I also saw my first Grizzled Skipper of the year, albeit briefly before being blown away just as quickly as it flew in.

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Started off at Broom, with Mark and Matt. For about the fifth day running there was absolutely nothing moving - no new terns, waders, or even any Swallows. Pretty dire. The only consolation was this Whitethroat shot. Several new Whitethroats had come in over night and now there were about five singing on my usual walk round to the watchpoint.
Darren came along after about an hour, and we headed off to try and find some tricky species for the county bird bird day.
First stop was Palmers Wood in the hope of a Lesser Spot. Failed. Not even a singing Marsh Tit in the wood.
Next was the local Ravens. Failed. An interesting Buzzard floated over, but soon shut the door on anything other than Common when it started 'rollercoastering'.
We moved on to Rookery where we had the best birds of the day - 13 Hobbies in the air at once, and a drake Garganey. Two drake Ruddy Ducks were also on the far side and a few Pochards were also kicking around. I guess in five years time this pit will be gone - how very sad.
Went home to see Carrie - slept for a couple of hours, then went to the Lodge in the hope of picking up a Siskin for the day. Failed. Not even a sniff of the Nightingales at the bottom of the heath. I did pick up a Peregrine sat on a pylon, which wasn't too much of a surprise given the number of records in the local area recently.
We ended the day by dusting down the bbq and slinging on some burgers, sausuages and chops! Nice.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Has spring finished?

What has happened to spring? There has been virtually nothing moving in the last couple of days. There is an up side to this however - and that's giving me some time to try photographing summer stuff before it gets down to breeding.
This still isn't easy mind you, and my plans for getting Garden Warbler tonight failed miserably. I did however happen upon another Cuckoo that showed really well. The Red-crested Pochard was still on the settling lagoon at Willington, and the pair of (rather skulky) Nightingales were still performing.

Related Posts with Thumbnails