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.