Friday 31 August 2012

The 150?

The landmark beckons for SCB. What is going to be the milestone bird?

My money is on Spoonbill...

Monday 27 August 2012

Catching up

No picture, but I managed a reasonable sound record of my two Tree Pipits from The Pinnacle this morning.  Not a bad reward for my first 45 min vismig session this autumn.  Quite chuffed with them!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Target secured

This weekend, I undertook a monumental tour of outlying villages around Potton, taking in farmland around Everton, Tempsford, Sutton, Eyeworth, Cockayne Hatley and this morning, Wrestlingworth finally struck gold. Not just one Whinchat either, but three in the same field. Persistence finally paid off, although I estimate it took about 20 miles of walking, several litres of water and a potassium overdose through too many bananas to get there. But it was worth every minute, with many other (non-counting) highlights along the way.

That takes me to 116 - 97 of which were on foot within a three mile radius of Potton.

Saturday 25 August 2012

One more for the list.

The mighty Radwell and virtuous WeBS volunteering paid back kindly this morning with a handy SFYT with a couple of Garganeys.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The Hills

Two more nice SFYTs and an ace bimble too. Dragged my son up and also Mr Oakley-Martin to give him a break from Potton.

First was a Tree Pipit calling overhead as we reached the summit, followed by another. The first perched as you can see clearly from this photo.

Near the trig point, a male Redstart flew in front of us. Also two Wheatears and a Red Kite.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Tree Pipit

I thought joining this challenge would be fun and motivational, but boy are half-decent, self-found birds hard to come by when you have no transport. This much I have already discovered. Then add to this the lack of any significant waterbodies.

To date, the 'only' birds I have 'found' are a co-found Purple Heron with Steve (and I wouldn't have been there to bask in reflected glory if he hadn't offered to take me out birding for the day), a Lesser Spot, Whimbrel, Cetti's at a new site only a stone's throw from my mother's house (where I happened to be staying) and erm....some Mandarin on the local brook.

So having only been involved for a few days, I decided upon a suitable, un(der)-watched local site for Whinchat and went along to a disused quarry north of Potton. The quarry floor is crammed with ragwort: suitable look-out points, I thought.

I had scanned for about half an hour I guess, when behind me, I heard an explosive, high-frequency and drawn-out call. Instinctively, and despite being alone, I intoned ''Tree Pipit!'' I could now see the bird, bouncing nervously from its perch. It called again, seemingly looking for somewhere to settle, before with one last call, it rose and was gone.

Not what I had expected, but when is birding ever thus?


Sunday 12 August 2012

The policies

Following Mr Grimsey's fine piece in the Hobby about self-finding and whether it was possible to find 150 species in a year, I thought I'd write something on the subject.  Without ever having done such a challenge, I too wondered.  As Mr Blain is showing (on 147 by August), it certainly is possible.  I'm even thinking I should be able to do so - there are plenty of species to get still.

Before running through possible species left (for another post), I thought I'd muse on the different policies of those of us contributing to this challenge.  Feel free to contribute if I've made incorrect assumptions on your birding habits!  I think, to stand a chance, you either need to go birding all the time, or consider what you need to do to find the species you wouldn't normally find in a year.

SCB - very active - lots of free time before and after work (no kids) and very active.  No site really out of the question for him but lives near to Broom.  Also undertaking some decent ornithology and thinking about birding that contributes to the county - like looking for breeding Firecrests.  Did I mention he was very active?

RIB - less time but keen on regularly hitting some hotspots at the weekend early in the morning and with the opportunity to hit the Ivel Valley sites at lunchtime from work.  Also a serial surveyor - particularly WeBS, which is a useful policy for finding wildfowl.  Has been encouraged to look at gulls this year.

MJP - active birder but more so outside of summer, living next to some fine habitat and frequents one or two of the top county sites.  Also an active year lister so uses that as a driver to get out and about - in doing so, finds good birds.  Expect some serious late season action when the pollen disappears...

AG - Like RIB above - aware of the importance of making the most of birding time - good access to the hills and and make useful dents in the passage migrant list by doing so.  Tactical birder (claiming you need to be living in Luton, where water is rationed) will hit some of the wetter sites when others least expect it and find a fair crop of wildfowl and waders.  One to keep an eye on.

MB - Policy of no car, preferring bike and foot and mainly around Broom.  WeBS surveyor and often very active at key times - at one of the best sites to find your own birds (if you beat the others to them).  Impressive total so far considering no discernible carbon footprint.

RH - Also a local patch worker, sticking mainly to the home area - wanders for long periods of time, notebook at the ready, collecting valuable self found birds though handy local knowledge built up over time of the 10km square he lives in.

DOM - A late entry but joining in the fun of the game showing us what is possible solely on foot and mainly wandering around unpromising farmland, far away from any water - rarely finding any waterfowl but generating fabulous records for the county (and Birdtracking them all).


Wednesday 8 August 2012


One more for the SFYL but no closer to SCB's total, as he was standing next to me when we found a Whinchat at Furzenhall Chat Emporium today. This is a photo of the bush it was on a second before I pressed the button.

Monday 6 August 2012

More large gulls

How about this one then, a quick bit of low quality phone scoping and you can call whatever species you like!  Go on then, dare you make a suggestion?

Not only Grimsey can do gulls...

Many, many gulls on the airfield tonight.  Among them, a fine adult Yellow-legged Gull - maybe a couple of juvs but will spare the public those shots.  Also another adult gull with pale yellow legs which would be great to call a Caspian but I need a second opinion...

Saturday 4 August 2012

Waiting again...

Well, I've driven by a few but thought I should find my own flock of gulls with a YLG or two. So with a trip to Tesco (Eynesbury) on the agenda, I went via Thurleigh where some big gulls loaf. None there but a distant tractor doing some churning was worth following up. Twenty one LBB gulls and a Common Gull. Next time.


Matt and Richard just waiting for Andy G to turn up to an Avifauna meeting. As you can see, they found the perfect seat for him.

And yes, as you might have guessed, there are no birds around to find at the moment!

Friday 3 August 2012

michaellis delays beer

Heading down the Barton cutting for Silsoe with a pint of Wherry beckoning, the beer had to take temporary second place to the sight of my first bit of ploughing of the autumn. Pulling up it was clear that a good flock of gulls was feeding and roosting on the fields and after a few barren minutes I was able to pull out an adult and sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst a hundred or so Lesser Blackbacks and five Herring. So one for the SFYL and a site now found to check over the weekend for a Med or a Caspo. I did find an adult Med Gull around this time a few years ago on a field at the top of this hill opposite Streatley so feeling confident... just as likely to find a juvenile these days with so many in the UK