Monday 30 April 2012

Florence OTL

I managed to add Nightingale to the ol' SFYL tonight with two near Sandy.  Unfortunately I was a few seconds too late to add Barwit though - Martin Stevens picked one up flying in at Broom this evening, and a lovely brick-red male too.

The shot of Matt above is him all ready for the in coming storm.  Fireman Sam to the rescue!

Thurleigh godwits

Well I never!  My fifth SFYT of the day and one I might have expected at lunchtime at Broom. Arriving at Keysoe Row West and scanning with bins, four waders. Flying away the blighters...but landing. Trouble was, about a km away at the end of the runway. But were they Bar wits or Whimbrel? So with just 30 mins to go before I had to take Frankie to cubs, I ran, yes ran, coat on and and scope in hand, down to the end of the airfield where I found four fabulous Bar-tailed Godwits feeding with the Wood Pigeons. Even managed a quality iPhone shot as the flew off.

Four Warbs

Failed Nightingale survey this morning at Wyboston but the trip got me Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler for the year.  A stop off at Waterloo Thorns on the way to work gave me Whitethroat and best of all, a Grasshopper Warbler - not a species I was expecting to get as I don't generally see/hear them in my usual birding haunts. 

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Sandwich filling

Some decent birds at last - but by the skin of my teeth.  After spending an hour at Roxton last night and an hour at Wyboston this morning, there was no sign of any gull or tern movement for me despite there being hundreds at Grafham and a fair few at Broom.  So after an appalling lunchtime (but thanks for the company Steve...), Mark Ward was sent on an errand to get some pet food by his other half.  Stopping off at Derek's he finds some Arctics (where we had none) and then on to Broom and finds...some Arctics (where we had none).  And we got wet.  Seems like after the rain, the birds flooded in.  I watched the messages of quality birds appear on my screen for about 20 minutes before cracking and taking another lunch break and heading to Broom (passing a tern filled Derek White's).  At Broom, lots of Arctics on show, and a considerable passage carrying on for the 90 mins I was there.  But best was the large white tern I saw on arrival - a nice 'grip back' after last week's near miss - a fine Sandwich Tern.  Also here was the county's first Sanderling of the year which didn't stay.  A couple of Swifts added another.  But no Little Gulls.  Can't be too greedy I guess...

Here's a shot of some Arctics and a bigger one.  Nice aren't they.

On my way back home and with 25 mins to get to the school to pick up the kids, I reckoned I could check Roxton in just five.  I did, and scored an adult Little Gull.  That's more like it.

Now then, House Martins...

Monday 23 April 2012

Lunchtime sandwich was my best yet

Eggs Sandwich

The last week or so hasnt been the tick-fest we were hoping for.  However, Ive managed to extract a few species on my travels.  Best of these has been a Sandwich Tern under the nose of RIB, which stayed for less than half an hour at Dereks.  Also had my first Cuckoo, Reed Warbler, Whitethroats, Sedgies and so on but still lacking some of the later stuff  Garden Warblers, Nightingale etc.  I also did my usual check of our shared Firecrest population and found an excellent six singing males over the weekend  the best score yet since monitoring began.

So, where are the easterlies?

They're avoiding me!

Out in the field and birding by 6am and three and a half solid birding at the prime sites of Harrold and Radwell.  You'd think I'd be rewarded with some migrant padders.  Well thanks a lot Bedfordshire...for the Sedge Warbler valiantly singing all by itself at Harrold.  Where were the Reed Warblers and Cuckoos?  Then some hedgerow wanderings and driving-with-the-windows-down failed to give me either whitethroat species.  And as for House Martin...

The much needed Garganeys, Whimbrels, Redstarts and Ring Ouzels didn't show either.

So now we have the (quite frankly shocking) situation of MJP jumping into second place, a mere nine scarce quality passage migrants behind SCB.  The sly Mr Grimsey is also doing well.

A Harrold scenic.  A local initiative to improve the view of the Cormorant colony.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Bricking it up

In order to try to keep up and strengthen up some ticks, I have been poking around in the brick pits on the last two Saturday mornings. A cold and gloomier morning on the 14th brought me a couple of Little Gulls on the Pillinge which left eastwards 25 minutes before two identical birds arrived at Broom. Also my first two Groppers and an early Lesser Whitethroat to add to a handful of other expected new visitors and a good look at a Slav Grebe of course. Thought I had caught a nice photo of this as well until a couple of minutes after posting on Bedsbirds Images Blog when some others images appeared and I realised that in comparison it was sh*t.

This morning, 21st, a Cettis warbler singing at the far western end of Brogborough was a proper self-find to add to the weak previous claim on the unmissable three that I have had within MVCP. A Common Sandpiper flitting across the water from the bricks in the SE corner of the lake was also a good list padder as these are not a species you can just go out and get.
The other weaker tick I had for the list this year was LRP at Broom, for which I have taken a couple of barbed comments, so it was good to come across two of my own on new sites for me this morning. One individual was on the MVCP Pillinge and another was found on the flattened rubble of a previous industrial complex. A nice morning to be out with plenty of warblers now in and singing and my first Cuckoo of the year as well…

Monday 16 April 2012

A rouzely rouse

Its a funny ol game this self-finding lark.  Ive been struggling to add much to my tally of late, mostly because of the cool north winds keeping stuff from arriving.  So when six Ring Ouzels were seen at Pegsdon I popped along there in the evening to take a look myself.

After wandering around without much to show for my efforts I stood pondering what to do next on the edge of Chack Valley.  After a few minutes I hear the soft distinctive scalding of Ring Ouzel thinking it was in the bushes near me I back away slowly.  After a few minutes more I hear it again and realise its coming from across the valley from some scrub.  I put my bins up to be greeted with a spanking male Rouzel atop a hawthorn.  After only a few seconds a shower of black and white shoot through my bins as a Buzzard piles in to the trees above the bird I was watching scattering more Rouzelage that were hidden deep in the bushes above there seemed to me more than six!

After the Buzzard moves on, I decide to walk round to a better vantage point on the opposite side of the valley.  After a long wait the Rouzels eventually pop out and fly across to the sunny side of the valley to feed.  I count them 1,2,3,4,5,6 excellent, Ive got them all.  Hold on a minute, there is another one, and another, and another!  Nine Ring Ouzels all bouncing round the sunny slope together fabulous.

So it would appear Ive found three extras.  But have I?  I receive an email from an anonymous source (lets call him Randy Whimsey) calling in to question my finding of these three extras how to you know they weren’t some of the previous six he comments.  My only reply to that is how do you know theyre not new in?

Monday 9 April 2012

Chasing scarce before the Spring rush

Despite the season, not much to be added for me these last couple of weeks. A thorough search of Maulden Woods did not get an LSW but a hopeful stakeout of the pool in the pines did bring me a SFYL Crossbill coming down to drink as well as a few Redpoll and Siskin in late March. A weak tick in form of a pair of LRP at Broom was claimed after an otherwise empty early morning there.

I was expecting to drop back a little with no Bedsbirding over the four day Easter holiday as I was required to work on Friday before a dash up to parents in Coventry for the whole of Saturday and Sunday family stuff so I squeezed in an early Pegsdon on Fri 6th and was delighted to pick up a male Ring Ouzel to start off the season at that location. All I’ve got to do now is refind the G. W. Egret next time it comes into Beds.

Did find a free flying small white Cockatoo sp on my parents TV aerial and then later in the next road. It seems that the SFYL activity is yielding more than its usual share of exotics.

Cockatoo - just departing stage right

To maintain the standard of images, here is a record shot from Pegsdon in the fog, no prizes for getting the species right

Saturday 7 April 2012

Can I 'ave it?...................

I found this Falcon Sp. just south of the Village Pit, Broom GPs today. It is an extremely rare Saker Falcon no doubt blown off course from South-east Europe............or the Shuttleworth Birds of Prey Centre.

I did in fact give the centre a call and they did confirm losing a Saker X Falcon four days ago. After my call they did try to relocated it without success.

I did look on the SFYL, and to my dismay the species isn't present. Could someone add it onto the google document so I can have a tick?........I'm falling behind ;^)

Twitching mammals is good.

Whilst waiting patiently on Good Friday afternoon for the Water Shrew to show at Jack's Pond, The Lodge, Sandy, I was suitably pleased and surprised to self-find a pair of Common Crossbills coming down for a drink. Martin Palmer

Thursday 5 April 2012

Nice but no tick

More RCPs for me but thinking of trading these in for a Little Gull or similar. Any takers? Thought not...

Sunday 1 April 2012


I am enjoying this challenge but it does produce some weird emotions - great to see your first Sand Martins and hear your first Blackcaps but in SFYL-ting terms, they are trash birds. Far better to score with a biggie - a fine migrant wader or a winter blocker before the spring comes along - (still missing Woodcock and don't even mention Short-eared Owls). But the end of March was a bit slow - no Rock Pipits or Avocets at Derek's - and I looked - most lunchtimes doing the Derek's, Gypsy Lane East circuit. You just have to get the common migrants so the old SFYL keeps up with the others - while hoping for a Ring Ouzel or Whimbrel. Anyroad, here comes April (the best month for gripping...)