Saturday, 26 September 2009

Gettin' high on petrel fumes!

I know its a bit small in frame, but they have a delightful jizz about them. Almost Black Tern-like.

Only the twelth record this century for the county, the last one was on Brogborough lake on 29th October 1989. Others were in 1988, '83 (2), '78, '70, and five (!) in 1952. You could say it's been quite a blocker for the new gen of Beds birders.

My shot are poor when you compare then to those of MST's boat shots - check them out here.

Well done to Pete Smith for this magnificent find - it was well worth the 50 year wait, eh, Pete!

Friday, 25 September 2009


Few birders can resist watching a chat for a few minutes. They are always bursting with charisma. This chap was very obliging at Broom today - thanks to Matt for finding it.

Fancy a 'chat?

Whinchat, Broom, 25th September 2008

A bit of viz

I've been doing odd days of vismig on the Pinnacle in recent weeks, but very little has been moving. I tried again today with a bit more success. The highlights were six Crossbills and three Siskins.

Cormorant - 5 > N
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 3 > W
Meadow Pipit - 39 > S
Dunnock - 1 > W
Song Thrush - 1 > W
Chaffinch - 15 > W (3 > E)
Greenfinch - 5 > W
Goldfinch - 1 > W
Siskin - 3 > S
Crossbill - 6 > W

Meadow Pipits were obviously moving reasonably well, but were often too high for me to pick up most of the time so had to go down as singles. I'd love to find a good spot to pick up migrating Mipits in the county! Dunstable or Blows Downs could be good I suspect?

Monday, 21 September 2009


Leucistic Black-headed Gull, Broom GP gull roost, 21st September 2009

Friday, 18 September 2009


Adult Med Gull in the Broom GP gull roost, 18th September 2009

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Bright and beautiful

Pegsdon sunrise, 13th September 2009

Friday, 11 September 2009

Pinnacle 'pecker

A dawn start on the Pinnacle again this morning. Migrant birds were thin on the ground, but I had a bit of amusement from a Green Woodpecker digging around in the soft sand. I couldn't quite work out what it was after, but it was certainly doing it with gusto!

I also saw a Grey Heron fly over Sandy and land on a house roof. Not something you see every day so I 'papped' it.

Will upload the video and Heron shot later on.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Golden dawn

Goldfinch, Pegsdon, 5th Sep.

Startled Starling

A strange mix of ugly and beautiful. Adult Starling, Pegsdon, 5th Sep.

September dawn

Another vismig session up on the Pinnacle this morning.

Nothing startling, but a lovely still and warm morning.  The run down is as follows:
Yellow Wag - 1 >S
Cormorant - 3 (2>N, 1>S)
Chaffinch - 12 >W
Yellowhammer - 2 >N
Meadow Pipit - 13+ >SW
Pied Wag - 3 (2>S, 1>N)
Reed Bunting - 1 >SW
Linnet - 2 >N
Swallow - 1 >S
Hobby - 1 milling around over Sandy
Sparrowhawk - 1

Bit of a mixed bag, but Chaffinches are steadily increasing and Mipits are still dribbling through.  In another months time it will (hopefully) be heaving with Scandinavian waifs!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Dropped in to Broom after work to find five Black Terns dipping over the main lake. Checking them carefully for dusky flanks and I found one which had some! Unfortunalty with better views it turned out to be a moulting adult, rather than a juvenile American. The other four were clean-cut juvs. The shot above is digiscoped.

Pallid Harriers

Aren't they bloomin' marvellous!

A scoot up to the fens straight from work last night was well rewarded with excellent views of this super-model styled raptor floating around some arable. However, after around twenty minutes, like a silver enigma, it floated off over the river never to be seen again.

What a fantastic start to September!

Friday, 4 September 2009

A pied pintailed mipit sort of a day

Got a real feeling of things moving today.

Stepped out my front door at 7am, to eat my breakfast crunch-corner, and a Meadow Pipit flew over. My first obvious migrant mipit this autumn. I've been doing exactly the same thing (eating breakfast outside) for the last week and not getting anything fly over, so this was quite pleasing.

Them my short pre-work walk around the pits at Broom produced another surprise - a female Pintail flying around the main lake then off west! Pintail are pretty regular in September in the county so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise, but they're not usually this early in the month. Another couple of Mipits flew over compounding the feel of their south-bound migration taking effect. The rest of the complex was pretty quiet otherwise. All the recent Greenshank have now finally gone, and there were only two Green Sands on show. Other bits included 12 Shoveler, 13 Great Crested Grebes, and just five Sand Martins (down from over 120 three days ago).

After hearing of a few seabirds inland today, including a fly-over Fulmar a few miles north of Sandy, I went on a punt and tried the Pinnacle at lunchtime. It was pants. Four Buzzards up and milling around, and just two Swallows. Still if you don't try these things once in a while you'll never know if they're any good.

As I toddled back to the Lodge and came down the drive I was greeted to a mass of people with bins staring in to a bush outside my office. Oh bum, what have I missed this time?! "Pied Fly!" came the reply. So I parked and got my bins on the boy. Lovely bird - probably a juvenile if the tail feathers are anything to go by. Flicked its tail a few times, got chased by a Robin, then I realised I should try and get it on my office window list! Two mins later and there was no sign of it from the office. Had I left it too late? Nah. Dr Gurney had pulled it out the bag and found it in the original elder from the window. Nice. Pied Fly makes number 61 with the last two being Marsh Harrier on 25th Feb, and Cormorant on 30th March.

Wonder if I'll see anything else surprising this evening...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Migrant spotting

Spotted Flycatcher, Broom GP, 1st Sep.

Bank Hol Beds birding

Had two early morning starts in a row on Pegsdon - Saturday and Sunday. Both were good, with 4 Whinchats, 2 Tree Pipits, and a Grey Wagtail being the best of Saturday. Only one Tree Pip, the same 4 Whinchats, a light passage of Yellow Wags, and a newly arrived Spotted Fly (we saw it fly in high from the south) was the best of Sunday. We were also gripped off by other birders on the hill with a possible Nightingale seen by some, and a few Redstarts dotted around.

I think Autumn is my favourite season birding Pegsdon. You never know where birds are going to pop up next, or what you're going to bump in to. I hear today that another Pied Fly has been found there (well done Matt!) which isn't terribly surprising given the coverage this piece of chalk is getting at the moment. It only takes a few birds (and birders) to make a site go from zero to hero around here. I'm sure if Blows Downs got the coverage in Autumn that it does in Spring, a lot more would be found there. It's potential for being a top vismig site is also untapped at the moment too - its position on the chalk looks excellent.

Back to the weekend - Saturday evening was spent at Stewartby Lake. The two Black Terns were still zipping about (looking very un-American!) and there were 17 Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost. Herring Gulls are slowly coming in now with at least four noted. No Sabs Gulls for us again though.

After Pegsdon on Sunday I popped out with DOM to go up to Willington. The main was a bit of a surprise in that it has got its islands back! The last time it looked like this, a Pec turned up, so it will definitely have to be watched a bit more in the coming months. We found a Garganey sat on one of the islands with a few Teal, always a nice find. Octagon Farm was interesting too, although the water levels are very low and it won't be long before it vanishes under a load of top soil. The highlights here included a Greenshank, 5 Green Sands, 2 Common Sands, and two Ringed Plovers.

Monday was mostly spent at home, but a quick cycle ride around Broom cleared a few cobwebs away. The birding was slow though - 2 Greenshanks, and 80 Sand Martins were about the highlights, with duck numbers still fairly low.

Photo opportunities in recent weeks have been hard to come by, so I'll have to put some old stuff up instead...

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