Saturday 7 December 2013

Two top birds and back in the medals...

Running some errands this morning so not much time to get out and decided a trip down to East Hyde was in order to see for myself the results of the digger's visit to the scrape. Loads of birds around the scrape area included a flock of 16 redpoll, some of which sitting up nicely revealed a nice pale one with gleaming white wing bars and my first BedsSFYT since Stonechat on 20th October. With brownie points in the bag and a fine late afternoon in prospect, I negotiated a trip out with the idea of finding a SEO so headed for Sandy Smith NR thinking that would be as good as anywhere; my reward a male Hen Harrier, yep take that, beats a SEO, shame it did not hang around long. You did not think I would give up third place for long did you ?


First tick since October in the form of a smart, adult female Goosander at Warren Villas NR yesterday morning. I should really spend more time in the Ivel Valley next year, but it is a bit of a walk - four miles there and four miles back. Nevertheless, it will keep me fit and I should see an improvement on my dismal waterbird tally of this year.

Roll on 2014. (And that is 'twenty fourteen', not 'two thousand and fourteen'...we didn't refer to dates in the last millenium as - for example - 'one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven', did we?)


Resident blog pedant

Sunday 1 December 2013

Got Shortie!

I'll have to get on the airfield and see what's there of an evening!  The view of the three Short-eared Owls was pretty distant and I only saw them when they were flying high. Maybe more in there.  But whatever, one more species for 150...

Wednesday 20 November 2013

What a bunch of whoppers!

Thought I'd better scope those four sleeping swans at Derek's today - and what do you know - Whoppers!   I'll go large with that. Number 157.

Friday 15 November 2013

Stonechat at last

iPhone held up to bins for "in the field action type shot" at Sandy Heath, behind the paddocks. 

Sunday 10 November 2013


A Great Black back last weekend and a Pink-footed Goose at Radwell today adds a couple more.  Not sure if I can make it to 150 for the year but reckon that's a suitable target now.

Thursday 24 October 2013

'Avin a 'chat

Like everyone else, I've finally snaffled myself a Stonechat. This one was at Sandy Smith NR. Quite a traditional location in recent years but I guess no one else has checked it until now.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Waterfowl Wonderland

Having long bemoaned the lack of waterfowl on the local gravel pits, Poppy Hill fishing lakes have been having a bit of a purple patch this autumn with 11 species so far. The Tufted Duck flock has reached an unprecedented 80 birds and has possibly acted as the attraction for the other species of duck. A Garganey in late July was a first for the site and it or another was seen again in mid-September. In the meantime the ponds were also visited by a couple of Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall and a single Shoveler while a single Pocard has at times joined the Tufties.

On my regular walks round my patch, I have been scanning through the Tufted Duck flock in the hope of something rarer and came up with this female Scaup on Monday 14th October and which was still present today (15th).

Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mallard are the other species of waterfowl, while other waterbirds regularly recorded include Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe, although the latter have recently disappeared.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Who needs Pegsdon for Ouzel?

Missed it in the spring, but by the power of the bike, added to the list in the grotlands of nw Bedfordshire.  Flew out of a garden after a harsh "chack" and off into the distance.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Monday 30 September 2013

Another stint in the field

Well, after at least three visits per week and nothing new to show for it, a Little Stint at GLE was welcome.  Alas, the two Rock Pipits which flew up and over my head were too flighty for me to pick up although I did hear something call.  Mr Blain who claims his hearing is not up to scratch doesn't really need to worry.

Thursday 26 September 2013

What have you left to go for?

Hello gentlemen and fellow-self-finders,

With three-quarters of the year almost gone, what do you realistically have a chance of getting before 2013 is over?

I'm sure some finds from here on in will be a case of 'more luck than judgement', but I think I have possibilities with the following. A couple are probable, some are possible, most are on a wing and a prayer, but frankly, I haven't got a hope in hell of any of them...but I've said that about a few so far...

1) Stonechat
2) Hawfinch
3) Rock Pipit
4) Water Pipit
5) Hen Harrier
6) Marsh Harrier
7) Merlin
8) Scaup
9) Goosander
10) Short-eared Owl
11) 'northern' bunting spp.
12) 'wild' anser spp.
13) 'wild' cygnus spp.
14) lanius spp. (much wanted...)
15. Two-barred Crossbill ;-)
16. Dotterel?
17. Black-necked Grebe
18. Bittern

And I'll have to get a shake-on if I'm to find these:

19. Ruff
20. Osprey
21. Grey Plover
22. Bar-tailed Godwit

What are you all hoping for?

Yours, wishfully thinking,


Saturday 21 September 2013


I have had a remarkable run of birds at Myers Farm and its six-a-side-sized reservoir this year: Black Redstart, Tree Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Pintail, Yellow-legged Gull. I guess that with no other wetland nearby, anything that needs to rest/ feed/ wash doesn't have a lot of choice about where to drop in.

Visiting the site two or even three times a day also ensures that I don't miss very much. My visit at dawn this morning was rubbish - as it has been for the past three weeks or so - and it didn't appear much better when I arrived again mid-afternoon...apart from a sparkling, silvery-white beacon of a larid amongst a loafing group of Black-headed Gulls. It was as shiny as an Italian pimp's sun tan. All-white primaries - check; heavy, blood-red bill - check; dark mask - check.

A beauty, and the first I have self-found in the county since one at Willington in 2004. I invited Steve to come along and savour its beauty, but he politely declined. The site is also a bit of a bugger to get to if you're driving.

134 self-found, zero-carbon - the only list that matters to me.


Sunday 15 September 2013

Black bonus

Decided to sleep in Sat morning with rain forecast and lots of rain the day before so missing out on a potential scoter find but had an unusual opportunity to get out in the evening. Knowing I had Yellow-legged Gull as a gap in the list (there seems to be a distinct lack of big gulls and attractive plough this year), I thought it would be a good chance to try a roost. Diving into Quest Pit first found me two more Ruff and two Black-tailed Godwit which I did not need for SFYL but arrival at Stewartby brought a bonus tick juvenile Black Tern before three YLG were spotted coming into the roost with just over a hundred LBBG. Two ticks in five minutes, can't be bad.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Spot the Ruff

Not found one of these in Beds for a few years so pleased to pick out a SFYT juvenile Ruff running around between the legs of geese on Quest Pit last Saturday 7th. It's in the pic somewhere...just left of centre.
The brown on the reeds indicate how much the water has needed to drop over the summer to allow the meagre amount of mud to appear. There was female Pintail in the pit as well, matching a record of one I found in the same location at start of Sep in 2012, maybe even the same bird as I found in Chimney Corner back in March.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Early autumn SFYL list padders

Twelve weeks had passed with nothing added to my SFYL so I needed to pick up a bit on return from holiday after four weekends and a bank holiday missed. With a fall on the coast a few days previously, Wryneck was on the cards so I dutifully covered Pegsdon on Saturday from early morning, scoring a SFYT with two Whinchat before also finding two Redstarts to add to the tally from the spring. No Wryneck though...

Sunday offered another chance to get out for a few hours and try to see some wet stuff. For the third year in a row, my list of self found waders was looking poor (I guess the lack of habitat does not help that) so once again I went looking for some mud, or at least exposed water edge, in the brick pits. Scored at Brogborough No2 with Greenshank but failed to pick out anything at Quest where the water level is finally looking slightly wader friendly.

+2 for the day and the attempt to reclaim third place has begun...

Tuesday 27 August 2013

150 up

With the advent of some easterlies and bands of rain sweeping in, last weekend had the promise of a few good birds.  Luckily the birth of my daughter hasnt (so far) impeded my self-finding ability although I am yet to make it to Pegsdon and find myself a Redstart.  I managed a few nips to Broom and lucked in on some nice birds and two new SFY ticks.

First up was a Ruff on Friday lunchtime although this was gazumped by Lee a couple of hours later who found 30!  On Saturday morning things improved again with 8 Arctic Terns, a Whinchat, Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, and some Ringed Plovers.  Sunday morning was again pretty good 5 Whimbrel flew over Matt and I, with at least 17 ringed Plovers though, two more Ruff, 9 Golden Plovers and my second SFYL addition of the weekend a Black Tern.  Monday things were a little quieter with 4 Ruff disappearing in to the distance as I got to GLE, but a new Greenshank flew over, 3 Snipe came in, and a Herring Gull loafed in the evening.

Wonder what else I can eek out before the year end?

Sunday 25 August 2013

The Myers Farm 'Complex' Site List

1. Mute Swan
2. Greylag Goose
3. Canada Goose
4. Mandarin Duck
5. Teal
6. Mallard
7. Pintail
8. Shoveler
9. Tufted Duck
10. Red-legged Partridge
11. Grey Partridge
12. Pheasant
13. Cormorant
14. Grey Heron
15. Red Kite
16. Sparrowhawk
17. Buzzard
18. Kestrel
19. Hobby
20. Peregrine
21. Moorhen
22. Oystercatcher
23. Ringed Plover
24. Little Ringed Plover
25. Golden Plover
26. Grey Plover
27. Lapwing
28. Snipe
29. Woodcock
30. Black-tailed Godwit
31. Common Sandpiper
32. Green Sandpiper
33. Greenshank
34. Black-headed Gull
35. Common Gull
36. Lesser Black-backed Gull
37. Herring Gull
38. Yellow-legged Gull
39. Common Tern
Rock Dove
40. (Feral Pigeon)
41. Stock Dove
42. Woodpigeon
43. Collared Dove
44. Cuckoo
45. Swift
46. Kingfisher
47. Green Woodpecker
48. Great Spotted Woodpecker
49. Magpie
50. Jay
51. Jackdaw
52. Rook
53. Carrion Crow
54. Raven
55. Goldcrest
56. Blue Tit
57. Great Tit
58. Coal Tit
59. Skylark
60. Sand Martin
61. Swallow
62. House Martin
63. Long-tailed Tit
64. Chiffchaff
65. Willow Warbler
66. Blackcap
67. Garden Warbler
68. Lesser Whitethroat
69. Whitethroat
70. Grasshopper Warbler
71. Treecreeper
72. Wren
73. Starling
74. Ring Ouzel
75. Blackbird
76. Fieldfare
77. Song Thrush
78. Redwing
79. Mistle Thrush
80. Spotted Flycatcher
81. Robin
82. Black Redstart
83. Wheatear
84. Dunnock
85. House Sparrow
Yellow Wagtail
86. (Yellow Wagtail (flavissima))
87. Grey Wagtail
Pied/White Wagtail
(White Wagtail (alba))
88. (Pied Wagtail (yarrellii))
89. Tree Pipit
90. Meadow Pipit
91. Chaffinch
92. Brambling
93. Greenfinch
[Domestic Canary]
94. Goldfinch
95. Siskin
96. Linnet
97. Lesser Redpoll
98. Common Crossbill
99. Bullfinch
100. Yellowhammer
101. Reed Bunting
102. Corn Bunting

Black-tailed Godwit

My intention yesterday evening was to go to Tetworth this morning to carry out my WeBS count. I'm rather pleased with my decision at dawn this morning to text my friendly gamekeeper and postpone until tomorrow, on account of the poor weather.

Instead, I stayed closer to home and again visited my closest 'wetland' at Myers Farm. I was kind of expecting something to be there, and my mind was full of Wood Sandpipers and Spotted Redshanks as I made my way there. Predictably, neither was, but a familiar call and a leggy wader on the mud had me adding yet another wader to this surprisingly productive site's list - a juvenile islandica-type Black-tailed Godwit.

In a way, it's a shame the site is so out of the way, but on the other hand, I'm pleased to have it all to myself.

However, I really do think that I should buy myself a smartphone with a reasonably proficient camera.


Friday 23 August 2013

Pintail at Myers Farm Reservoir, Potton

''Rubbish little farm reservoir on county border pulls in another good bird shocker.''

It isn't really rubbish, it kind of resembles a mini-GLE, but about the size of a six-a-side football pitch and with lots of exposed mud.

Following a Shoveler here (another site first) on 19 August, this morning at dawn a female Pintail was present - by far my earliest date in the county. I think a lot of stuff gets pushed off the fishing lakes just over the border at Little Heath, Gamlingay. Hence, some mornings, there can be reasonably high numbers of wildfowl and on others, nothing at all.

Tuesday's Greenshank was still present and there are now two Green Sandpipers. Not bad really...



Wednesday 21 August 2013

GK 3

Yesterday (20th) at Myers Farm Reservoir, north of Potton, I finally self-found-carbon-free-year-ticked Greenshank, then today at Tetworth Hall Wetlands, another two were present.

That takes me to 137 - already surpassing last year's total and nudging me (temporarily, I suspect), into third place.


Friday 9 August 2013

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Raven on the CF list

My cycle to work got me a Cams tick and a carbon free self found year tick. As ever,here is the photographic proof of the bird in Cambs flying into Beds.


Thursday 25 July 2013


Thought I had blown this one too. Today, I flushed one out of a ditch at Myers Farm near Potton. I must have visited this site 20+ times at dawn and dusk looking for them, so can only assume that this one was on migration. Saw it well in flight, then it started to scold me from the dense herbage.

So following CS and YG at Tetworth on Saturday and GH today, I am now on 128 self-found, zero-carbon (136 total) - the only list that really matters to me. Game on Messrs Bashford and Grimsey (although I suspect Mr Lynch will be right in the mix when he updates his total).

Tetworth is sure to score me some ticks this autumn...



Wednesday 24 July 2013


Thought I was running out of time for this one and what a rubbish year it is for Quails too.  But my bike to work period started on Wednesday and hit the jackpot with a quailfest at Tempsford.  Great bird and carbon free too.  Excellent!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Greenshank 1 - Quail 0

Well, yesterday I managed to find a Greenshank (at last) on GLE, and also get gripped off by Carrie with a Quail from our bedroom while I was at The Lodge!

Some you win, some you loose.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Stuff to find in July

I had a little think about what we might be looking for in July.  Below are a few reporting rate graphs from BirdTrack showing a few species of interest.

It looks like our chances of bumping in to a Quail are diminishing, especially as we head further in to July:

Two gulls should be at their 'most findable' in July - Med Gull and Yellow-legged.  So if you haven't manged to find these two, get in to some fields and scour some gull flocks.

I put Greenshank in as jammy Bashford has found the only one in Beds this year.  However autumn, from July onwards, is by far and away the peak time for this regular wader to pass through.

Monday 1 July 2013


Has anyone found anything in the past month?  I know I haven't.  Been too pre-occupied with looking for Corn Buntings (and hoping I'll bump in to a Quail or Monties).  I have found over 110 singing Corn Buntings though!

Saturday 22 June 2013


It's the season for BBQs but all I seem to get is BBPs... Bikes, Barley and Partridges.
A good number of Corn Bunts with a few Yellow Wags and Reed Bunts in the fields to pass the time though.
Still not going to self-find a Quail standing in the garden wearing an apron and cooking burgers...

Thursday 6 June 2013

Non-singing Quail

Went up to 'Potton Heights'  (Hatley Road) this morning with no specific targets in mind, although when I arrived, I said to myself ''I'll have to come back this evening and listen for Quail.'' This is a site that I was getting fed up with visiting at dusk in the vague hope of Grasshopper Warbler and/ or Nightingale last month.

Bugger me if twenty minutes later, I didn't flush a Quail from a grassy farm track - the first I have actually seen in the County. I must have been no further than five yards from it before it flew into the crop. I wouldn't exactly say I am a loud person, but neither do I possess the stealth of a ninja. What struck me about the bird's behaviour upon being flushed was how Jack Snipe-like it was - completely silent and a low flight over only a short distance and into cover.



Monday 3 June 2013

jip jip jip jip jip

Lucky I only found five Crossbills around New Wavendon Heath on Sunday morning otherwise the title of this post would have been even more tedious. One more on the SFYL but not found a new Firecrest colony yet. Quail may be the only other thing to really look/listen for this month specifically, I'll have to join the carbon friendly crew and get the bike out in the evenings

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Avoiding the wetland stuff

The 22nd May and despite dropping into likely wet localities, the lack of wader habitat away from the over-watched GLE pit and the lack of proper tern migration have limited my SFYL additions so far this month to three - Turtle Dove, Gropper (that was a struggle too) and Hobby. A fair way below expectations but the big one is more likely as the end of the month approaches…glass half full and all that… 
make mine a Wherry !

 One of five Hobbies perched up on snags in the middle of Coronation pit while looking for Redfoots

Stewartby Lake - any morning in late April or May you like - look no terns, no little gulls, no birds in fact

Friday 17 May 2013


Knowing peoples love of 'record' shots, I thought you'd like this one.  Two Avocets at Gypsy Lane today.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

2 by 2

Two Whimbrel flew over GLE last night and two new Turnstones turned up there this morning.  After days of seeing very little at Broom this last 24 hours have been rather good!

It was a great sight to see a flock of three Turnstones, 24 Ringed Plovers, six LRPs, and two Redshanks all running round the mud together this morning.  I was however, a little gripped by Mr Warrens Sanderling which must have turned up just after Id left for work. Its ok though, Ive already SFYLd that one.

Monday 13 May 2013

Prrr Prrr

Driving into the scrapyard corner pull off at Stewartby in the vague hope of finding a Turtle Dove, it was a real surprise to see two doves and a Wood Pigeon fly up from the gravelly road side and disappear over the hedge towards the lake side path. My immediate thought that they were Turtle Doves was doubted when I realised I was wearing my shades for driving on the sun and knowing there was a pair of Collared Doves on the corner the previous week. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, it was time for a walk and five minutes later they were on the list, one even coming down into the scrub 10m in front of me above the ditch. I must admit that I was not expecting to get TD on my SFYL for 2013.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Local Patch Ton

The first Swifts of the year over Poppy Hill Lakes brought up the 100 species for my Henlow Grange local patch (roughly the area west of the East Coast Main Line railway with the A507 to the south and Langford to the north). The hundred arrived some five months earlier than last year with some pleasant surprises along the way top of which must be the singing Wood Warbler that was present one morning although my favourite is the male Redstart, perched on a fence where I have been expecting to see one since we moved to Henlow (10-years ago now!).
My first local Cuckoo, calling from the back of Poppy Hill Lakes, added another to the patch total and does not leave many more regular species to find. I wonder what the rest of the year will turn up.


Tuesday 7 May 2013

Not worthy...

So, we go to GLE today, safe in the knowledge that whatever we see on a lunchtime visit will be added to both our SFYLs, but as this bloomin' Osprey was above us and he was looking up, I don't think I can claim it.  Shame.  Here he is, grinning knowing he's got a good one in the bag.  And you can see the Osprey too.

Monday 6 May 2013

Mattyboy bags a triple!

At this time of year getting 3 in a day gets pretty hard. But today Broom yielded a trio of terrifics.
Whimbrel, Barwit and Little Gull all bagged, without another SFYLer in sight. Blain was skulking around GLE  and The 'Reaper' had made a serious schoolboy error and ended up in Warwickshire for the weekend.
Bring on that Wader Cup!!

Thursday 2 May 2013

I love chats

Poking around at the weekend, I managed to find a Nightingale that sang a few chook-chooks in Coronation Pit before I played my phone at it and got a full long repertoire of song. Nice SFYT and always fantastic to listen to, if not to look at. For good looks though you can’t do much better than a male Whinchat, unfortunately one seen on Tuesday was a bit distant as one of two found while twitching a bird reported by Dave Odell, (not having that one as a SFYT). Then, and a similar stunning looker, I found a stonking male Redstart on Pegsdon this evening which showed really nicely feeding in the sun and giving me the opportunity to capture an image worthy of this blog with bins in one hand, camera in the other and both a foot in front of my face…
I love chats.

Sunday 28 April 2013

A bit slow

I'm struggling at the moment.  Doing plenty of odd bits of birding, but my heart doesn't really seem to be in it at the mo.  Perhaps this week my luck will change and a flood of rares will come my way?

On Friday evening, after work I headed up to Thurleigh to fill my boots with the apparent Wheatearfest which is happening this year.  Despite walking most of the way around the east end all I ended up with was six Wheatears and a Curlew.  I somehow seemed to be missing a zero off that Wheatear total.  Mildly disappointed I went to twitch RIBeye's Yanky Teal which Keith O had refound earlier in the evening at Meadow Lane.

With the stripey Teal under my belt I had a wander around the rest of the site.  I quickly picked up four more Wheatears bouncing around the rubble and then another smaller bird popped up on a stem next to them - Whinchat!  Bonus.  Other scrot included two White Wags, five Dunlin, and four Little Egrets.

That was as good as it got for me over the weekend - other things added were Hobby and Swift.  Come on waders...

Migrant crud

A pretty poor weekend for me with just a few padders which may well mean I'm in the lead for a while or until Steve gets a swift or something common.  This here Greenshank was a half decent bird but not one most others will have trouble with.

The Grim Sleeper

I liken AG to Borussia Dortmund's performances in the Champions League: quietly efficient, stealthy, exhibiting great tactics and coming up on the blind-side. In short, he has me worried...

Whilst Steve 'Barca' Blain and Richard 'Real' Bashford steal the headlines with moments of sheer brilliance, Mr G has been displaying stereotypically Teutonic qualities, married with inspired strategy, in order to maximise his tick potential. In short, he has me worried...

On the other hand, I feel a bit like Malaga: unfancied outsider, exceeded expectations, but ultimately going out. I'll give you odds of no more than 2/1 on Mr G claiming the crown. In short, he has me worried...

Deutschland, uber alles!


Friday 26 April 2013

Garden Warbler and Stuff

My first of the year in Pegnut Wood today will not strike fear into the hearts of my SFYL adversaries. However, whilst I was walking around seeing virtually bugger all this afternoon, I started thinking about the veracity and authenticity of my year list. For example:

i) This business of species x being reported at site y, and self-finding year-lister z going to site y and discovering that in fact 2x are present, so claims the second species x as self-found. This sounds a little dodgy to me. For one thing, would self-finding year-lister z have visited site y in the first place if the original birder had not found species x? Are you still with me? No? OK...but I'm seriously considering taking the few examples of this kind of 'self-find' off of my list, for my own peace of mind.

ii) I 'found' a Cetti's Warbler during the first few days of the year, but it was at a site only a few hundred yards from where they have been in residence for four years (apparently). Can I really claim this? I'm uneasy with it...

...and another thing, can anyone seriously, honestly, hand-on-heart-and-without-tongue-in-cheek claim to self-find Lady Amherst's Pheasant at the site that must not be named? That would be a bit like me claiming to have self-found Black-winged Stilt during a visit to Titchwell or Thornham back in the noughties! Let's face it, the Stilt didn't breed (apart from a few forlorn passes made towards the local Oystercatchers) and neither - to my knowledge - do Lady A's, unless one or other has undergone a sea bass-like sex change in its dotage.

Just my thoughts; I don't make the SFYListing rules, but I'm sure no one will lose any sleep if I deduct ticks from my tally!




Forgive me but I feel I should brag.  And highlight that I'm now level-pegging with Mr Blain.  My Whimbrel this morning brings me to 132.  Shame the godwit I saw with it wasn't a Bar-tailed...  but I'll enjoy the moment as it won't last long I'm sure!

Not sure if this was the godwit or the Whimbrel...


Wednesday 24 April 2013

Passerine Progress

The middle ten day period of April passed without me finding a Redstart on the hills despite regular walks and plenty of Ouzels and Wheatears entering the notebook. Then on Sunday morning a distinctive call had me jogging up the face of Deacon Hill from the fence line to get some glimpses of an elusive female dodging around the base of the bushes near the trigpoint. In the bag ! …though was not too worried as I have never had a problem finding them on autumn passage. Better and more SFYtickworthy was a Tree Pipit that sat almost totally still for quite a few minutes on a tree top before bounding on northwards. Added to a blue-headed moustached reedbed dweller I had found on Saturday, that completed three decent passerines for the weekend, making up for the complete lack of terns or waders that I had been hoping to find at daybreak; maybe next weekend…

Tuesday 23 April 2013


I don't get to visit damp places very often...or wetlands either, for that matter. However, today in the company of JOS, I visited Gypsy Lane East whilst Steve, Richard et al were at work, and we managed to luck in on a fly-by Curlew.

I must confess that as it was flying towards us from the south, I did say ''Hmmm, is this a Whimbrel?'' fully expecting it to be one, but as it drew closer and flew directly in front of us, the proportions and languid flight action made it fairly obvious to us both what it was, despite the light being somewhat against us. A nice bonus!



There's a Reed Warbler singing in there.

Monday 22 April 2013

Just a trickle

Just some crud for me this weekend - both Whitethroats.  Oh and some Firecrests on the Greensand Ridge with DOM yesterday.  Only had seven, and only one of them in Beds.  It's FAR too nice out there...

Friday 19 April 2013

Wybo WeBS wonders

My last WeBS count of the month.  An Arctic Tern among the many Commons (video'd and frozen for your viewing pleasure), and, as far as I can see, an adult Yellow-legged Gull.  Appeared to be paired with a Lesser Black-backed.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Third time lucky

It was on only my third visit to Broom today that I finally found something to go on the SFYL - Sanderling.  I guess the three Arctic Terns were nice at lunchtime, and the 15 or so White Wags were good too. I am mildly annoyed at not bothering to look at the main lake this evening (apart from from the road side to check to see if the terns were still present) only to hear of two sum plum Slavs there at dusk.  That pesky M Stevens gets everywhere.

Monday 15 April 2013

Tree Pipit deja vu

On 21 August 2012, I found a migrant Tree Pipit in Myers Road Quarry, Potton. I'll be damned if I wasn't there this morning, and at almost exactly the same spot - in the birches in the corner of the same quarry face - if I didn't chance across two. They were settled, silent and happily preening, no more than 6' from each other, suggesting to me that this could be a pair. Given the precarious state of the species, this could be an exciting development; conversely, they could have buggered off by tomorrow morning.

I was more 'expecting' a Redstart this morning, but TP was not wholly unexpected bearing in mind the habitats I frequent. Indeed, above my desk I have a sheet of paper with about 40 migrants listed that I expect/ hope to find - Tree Pipit is/ was one of those.

I want that Passerine Cup, although I appreciate that it would be an achievement akin to winning the Europa League, whilst the big boys are competing for the serious business of the Champions League. ;-)

I also passed two milestones today: my 30,000th ever BirdTrack record and my 6,000th of the year.


Sunday 14 April 2013

Nothing to tick here...

WeBS at Cuckoo Bridge tonight and no new selfers except Swallow but one of the pinkies is on show again.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Hard work for easy ticks

Three SFYT's in two days, involving 20+ miles walking over 14.5 hours; a thorough drenching yesterday evening whilst failing to find a SEO five miles from home and again this afternoon on my way back to Potton from the Ivel Valley. What do I have to show for it? Three ticks: Sand Martin, House Martin and Little Ringed Plover.You'd think something rare would have had the decency to put in an appearance for me. Goddam it, I couldn't even find a Wheatear - not for want of trying.

Ah well, on the bright side, I've collected about 300 records via Birdtrack and I'm keeping myself in shape. Worryingly however, I notice that Matt is technically leading the Zero Carbon Cup. Of the birds he's found in the county this year, he has 'zero-carboned' 95.74% of them. My zero-carbon percentage is a paltry 95.57%.

I can't win. ;-)


Friday 12 April 2013

On the claw back............

........and with a lot to do as I find myself languishing in last place. But then some championship form ensued with no less than 8 birds tagged and bagged.
OK, so I've been away for 3 weeks. But Swallow, Sand Martin, Oyk, LRP, Chiffy, Green Sand, Yellow Wag and Willow Warbler were all new for me.
Another few days like this and I'll be in the lead ;^)

Matt 'Tropicbird Thunder' Burgess

Two more

Another visit to Broom today and two more are knocked off the list.  Ok, so one counts for zero 4 White Wags on GLW.  But the other is legit at least one House Martin over Peacocks.
Warm and wet just how I like it.


Three new ones this morning from an hour at GLE - 3 Blackwits were the highlight, but also Yellow Wag, and two Common Terns.  The next two weeks should see loads tumble!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Birthday present

After telling everyone how great Castle Mills/100 Acre/Meadow Lane was looking and then disappearing off to Bath for a long birthday celebration with the family, I watched with envy as Tom gets a Ruff on Saturday and then today, Lol and Lee get Rock and Water Pipit.  So my plans for a birthday afternoon birding at the site were switched to Broom.  I was there at 3.30 and noted the four Dunlin SCB had reported from lunchtime on GLW.  At least six LRPs and four Ringed Plovers were also present.  GLE had a Dunlin - good enough for a SFYT, as was the singing Chiffchaff.  Scanned the area from the first gateway, the mid way point and failed to find anything new.  But with my hopes pinned on Rock Pipit, I stopped at the far south end and scanned the wet bits.  Nothing...but what's that wader?  Looking good and indeed it was, a lovely 'coming into summer plumage' Spotted Redshank.  A welcome birthday present.

Later with SCB at Meadow Lane, failed with any rare pipits but three more Dunlin had arrived and also got my first Wheatear.

Notching 'em up...

Bleary eyes

I thought it was about time I started putting in some effort.  So this morning I did an early morning at Broom, followed by a lunchtime back at Broom, then an after work look at Pegsdon, and another drive past Broom on my way home.  I managed two sfyl birds - two Egyptian Geese flew north over Broom in the morning, and a group of three Rouzels amongst a flock of Fieldfares at Pegsdon was the evenings prize.

Next up - waders, Little Gulls, terns, and perhaps some more migrant passerines?

Saturday 6 April 2013

100 Zero Carbon

Every morning this week, I have visited the 'Myers Road disused pit' (for want of a better name for it), specifically hoping for a Ring Ouzel - it just looks and 'feels' right for one and the other thrush spp. seem to like it. Thursday morning's Black Redstart there was a massive bonus, but it has kept me going back (sometimes twice a day). There is something about the site that I like...especially when youths aren't riding motorcycles around the quarry at weekends.

I was there again this morning and whilst lighting a cigarette, heard a distinctive 'bill-smacking' chacking from the brambles; if I had not stopped, I would have passed by obliviously. RZ - in the bag and my persistence pays off.

If I can stay healthy during the spring migration season, I have a feeling I could score quite heavily on the passerine front (everything crossed). Let's face it, I have no chance in any of the other categories.



Thursday 4 April 2013

Hitting the Jackpot

I've been walking around various likely looking grassy pools in several places this winter.  As we headed into April, I was thinking I was going to have to wait until the end of the year to add Jack Snipe but tonight, I saw four of the blighters at Meadow Lane.  All landed in wet tyre tracks in the adjacent stubble field but I couldn't find them again.  Maybe tomorrow.

Black Redstart

After a couple of weeks out of the game through illness, a local quarry near Potton (with no water) came up with the goods again for me this morning with an immaculate and very showy male Black Redstart, flitting around on a midden that the local farmer has very obligingly just put there. Not the Ring Ouzel I was hoping for, but there is plenty of time left for dross like that. ;-)


Wednesday 3 April 2013

Bike ticking a Marsh Harrier

To continue the theme of virtuous harrier ticking, I saw this fine female Marsh Harrier while I cycled to work near Little Barford this morning.


I guess there has to be some benefits from having to walk to work.  This mornings bonus was a ringtail Hen Harrier which flew over Biggleswade Common.  I was really hoping for a Rouzel...

Tuesday 2 April 2013


First day back at work after Easter and one of the first birds I get from my window is a Crossbill.

Monday 1 April 2013

Carbon free Godwit

Hard times for me with not much time for birding and still no migrants. Only managed Redshank today... Any road up, what a nice cycle ride today making it to what was one of the best bits of wader habo on the bypass (in 2010). Well, if it stays wet, it's going to be the best bit of wader habo on the bypass this year too.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Spring started

An early start on Friday to get a walk in (as I had to work) was rewarded with my first summer migrant and a decent one at that; a female Ring Ouzel lurking with a couple of Fieldfares just above the wood at Pegsdon. Not unexpected about now but good to get one in before the hordes descend on the site into April and potentially steal the “finds” from under my nose. Maybe I should get up there and monopolise so the other SFYL listers have to go elsewhere but that would bring nose and face to mind as I probably would not find very much else of note…
Adding to my successes in the pits early Saturday was a male RCP in Quest which I was fortunate to bag for the self-find list as I had not read or heard anything about Mr Blain finding it the night before as I sat at home watching films and scoffing down some nice red. Not much else about but I also checked out some potential wader habitat in an unsuccessful look for Wipit, though finally bagged Chiffchaff and a small group of Barnacles to add two more to the list. Surprised not to get an LRP or a Wheatear though but they will come to me in the next month no doubt.

Friday 29 March 2013

Summer plumage

No, spring still hasn't arrived.  Still freezing out there.  I spent most of the day bimbling around looking at quite a few sites ready for when spring arrives properly.  Best bits were finding a nice newish gravel pit with some excellent wader potential, and importantly, well away from the well-watched Broom.  Watch this space!

Bird highlights were seven Scaup on Broggy, drake Red-crested Pochard on Quest, three Chiffchaffs at Marston Sewage Works, and best of all a sum plum Slav Grebe at the Stewartby Lake roost.  Ok, initially it was picked out as a 'small grebe' by Neil, but identifying it was a team effort as it was quite a long way off and nearly dark.  I added something else to the year list too today, but I can't remember what it was - must have been exciting!
It was a long way off.  And dark.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Still cold

It's not got any warmer, has it. Still two Curlews over Biggy Common this evening were nice.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Snowy plovers

Stayed in most of Saturday with the snow but figured that most others would have done so as well so leaving a week’s worth of arrivals to be found on Sunday. Had a few waders today around the brick pits: Redshank, Oystercatchers, a few Snipe, a couple of flocks of Golden Plover (one of 11 and a second one of 50ish was probably GP though could not be certain with the distance and gloom), two Ringed Plovers over MVCP and then two in Quest with two SFYL Dunlin.


More snow. Wonderful. Still it didn't stop me having a quick drive down to Gypsy Lane to see if I can find a Dunlin or something. As I neared the pools something shot across the road, then back again, before flashing a white bum and landing in a bush. It couldn't be. I quickly parked up and looked back up the road. Yup, it was a Wheatear!

After Roger's earlier in the day I didn't expect to find one myself a bit later. It bombed around on the muddy snow-free bits of the path and spent quite a while on the road edge before I left it alone trying to eek out a living in the harsh conditions.

Interestingly, food must be scarce out there at the moment as a couple of Robins were both pecking at some road kill Rat and Rabbit carcasses just along from the Wheatear. I hope she survives.

Winter Wheatear

It was cold this morning. Snow covered the ground and a cold wind blew out of the east bringing more snow with it. Normally, much of my regular walk around my local patch of Henlow Grange is in the lee of the trees alongside Poppy Hill fishing lakes but today there was no protection from the wind and the birds were sparse. Signs of spring noted earlier in the month were no longer in evidence: the Great Crested Grebe nest was a flooded mat of rotting vegetation and nothing was singing. It has been a month since I have added a species to my patch list (Pochard on 23 Feb) and  I was hoping for some different ducks, possibly a Brambling or,  even more unlikely, a passing Waxwing. But a flock of 40 Linnets in a cabbage crop were the only finches I could find. I paused long enough to count the nests in Poppy Hill rookery, now up to 59 (from 31 last weekend) and caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. A bird was foraging, out of view, in a snow-free plough rut by the track. I was expecting a Yellow Hammer or Corn Bunting, but not a harbinger of spring. The male Wheatear hopped out onto the track, hanging around long enough to allow me to extract the camera and get the above picture, before it flew off north across the fields. Can't help wondering what its fate will be, given the current cold snap is supposed to last for the rest of the week.

Saturday 23 March 2013


After slipping away for a couple of weeks on a well earned break in Cyprus I thought I'd probably be safe from missing anything exciting back home. How wrong was I! Ring-billed Gull at Stewartby. Arse.

So, what did I do when I got back home? The gull roost of course! The weather wasn't quite what I'd been accustomed to during the last couple of weeks however.

Needless to say I didn't see a Ring-billed Gull, but I did have a sparkling adult Med Gull, and best of all, a Curlew over at 6pm.

It's not Cyprus!

Can you see the Med?

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Slipping in another Scaup

Here’s a shot of 4m2f Scaup I took at Broggie the other evening – the extra drake was up the north-eastern end of the lake whereas these were at the western end out from the gull watchpoint. The previous week, John Lynch and I had seen 3m1f + 1m early afternoon on 13th March so a pair of these Scaup count as SFYT’s for me.