Monday 31 March 2014

Scaup bonus

Oi, come back I'm bigger than you.

Drake Scaup following Tufties at Chimney Corner South on 29th March. Nice to get this one after potentially overlooking the first winter female found there earlier this year (she must have been asleep if present!). Interestingly I also had male Scaup at this site last year on 23rd Feb and 2nd March. Any bets on a "Lesser" soon ?

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Rare trash

I'm not proud of it, but I'll add it to my list.  Mainly because I've not found a Green-winged Teal yet this year for some reason.  So this will have to do - about as rare...

Monday 24 March 2014

WTF goose

WTF Goose is that you may ask looking at these photos.
I did not have a camera with me, only an HTC Wildfire phone and it was quite breezy at 27x mag
But obvious white blaze and orange legs is enough for a classic BedsSFYL Blog record shot and matches the quality achieved from a similar distance on the GND recently.
A second decent grey goose this winter and slightly less debatable perhaps for the purists than the last

Saturday 22 March 2014

True Pink at Harrold

This is the way to do it. New bird, new site, that certain look in its eye. And not the injured bird nearby. Pink-foot on my SFYL  '14.

Friday 21 March 2014

'SFYL Table is fake'

Above: José Mourinho's reaction when asked if DOM could maintain his challenge in the SFYL Championship.

In an exclusive interview with Self-finders' Digest and several hundred other quality periodicals and blogs throughout the English and Portuguese-speaking worlds, Mourinho gave his opinion on the chances of the key SFYL players, as we approach the crucial spring migration season.

In his trademark broken English, when asked about DOM's chances, Mourinho's opinions were surprisingly reminiscent of his thoughts when asked if his Chelsea team could win the Premiership.

''The self-finding table is fake'' he fibbed. ''Look behind...big players are close...and if you think I use the words 'behind' and 'big' in the same sentence and am thinking of 'someone'....well, you would probably be wrong.'' he further untruthed.

''These are big players, big champions, big characters, big personalities, big lists.'' he monotoned. ''Look at Senhor Palmer - he has been self-finding birds in Bedfordshire since the late 19th century, I think. Big experience. He know that marathon is not won in first 100 metres. He also know that marathon is not a chocolate bar.'' he snickered.


Tuesday 18 March 2014

Pink-footed Goose

(definite article/ indefinite article)

Recently, I was reminded that we are playing by Punkbirder rules.

This morning (18 March) there was a Pink-footed Goose with Greylag and Canada Geese at DWE Pits. According to the Punkbirder website, this would be a valid self-find; satisfying both the time and distance criteria:

Unless, of course, someone is able to cite an obscure and esoteric self-finding by-law from 1856.

Just to be on the safe side, I thought I would check for recent, local records:

i) 04 February 2014, Henlow Grange, (RH)
ii) 12 January 2014, Southill Park, (BJN)
iii) 19 January 2014, Wardown Park, (AG)
iv) 06 January 2013, Warren Villas NR (DOM)
v) 02 November 2012, Broom GP's (RIB)

(NB - I cannot find the 2013 SFYL spreadsheet and the only records on the Bird Club BirdTrack account are from Cainhoe and the presumed injured Harrold bird.)

Barry doesn't self-list (ii) and I did not count iv, but why have records i, iii and v been counted as self-finds? The particularly galling point about record v is that I was with Richard at the time but refused to tick it. As I said to him ''I'm not claiming that because there is no way I'd have picked it out, at that distance, and with bins only!''

So, I think that everyone should be able to tick PG's or no-one should, in the same way that we deal with Barnacle Geese.

Also, I am sure I am not the only one to question some claims (I question my own!), so perhaps we should hold votes on the veracity of certain disputed claims as they arise?

Thoughts please gentlemen?


Monday 17 March 2014

Untickable stuff

Done ok in March particularly finding Crossbill in Maulden Woods and Merlin at Sandy Smith NR as well as added a few padders such as Green Sandpiper, Golden and Ringed Plover, Shelduck etc typical for time of year - but also come across a few untickables in one way or another

Black Swan - a pair in Chimney Corner South, same day as a pair reported attending a nest in Woburn so four in the county that day at least.

Black-winged Stilt showing still at Meadow Lane on Sunday 16th March - how are any of us going to tick a real one unless we can show no ring

Goose showing signs of cross between blue and white phases of Snow Goose but guessing from bill shape and the company it is keeping has some Barnacle as much else

Saturday 15 March 2014

A couple of Oycs

Had a good week with five additions to my SFYL, one of the few Corn Buntings in territory in the south west of the county was in full song, and Tawny Owl is always good to see. Two Oystercatchers at Grovebury today will hopefully stay for a while.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Bedfordshire ZC100 Club

I am usually rubbish at waterbirds.

The first person to mention that the w, a, t, e and r in the statement above are superfluous, is going to get a punch in the face....although you would probably have a valid point.

I am rubbish at waterbirds because the nearest decent bodies of water are about a four mile walk away. But since I gave up smoking six months ago, the trek down to the Ivel or Tetworth is no more onerous than a walk in the park. ;-)

My 100th zero-carbon tick this morning with a smart drake Pintail at a fog-bound DWE Pits. As I mentioned in my post to the message group, I am pleased that it wasn't something more challenging.

I expect to score higher in the wader and wildfowl categories this year, but will still probably come in around last place.



Sunday 9 March 2014


With the report of three Glossy Ibis nearby, and the assumption no one has bothered looking for them, I headed to Radwell yesterday.  Loads of birds!  But no Glossy Ibis.  It doesn't matter because it was a nice walk round, with no other birders in sight.  I managed to score four Pintail, Whooper Swan, two Goldeneye, and a whopping flock of 250 Goldfinches (only one SFYL addition in that lot).

As it was so nice, I thought I'd check on Harrold too - not as many birds but glorious views of the Goldeneye there, and the pair of Red-crested Pochards are always lovely to see.

I also had a quick sneak over the border to Summer Leys - what a fantastic site this is!  I wish the Wildlife Trust would create a reserve like it in Beds.  Just tons of birds, excellent views, and loads of visitors.  The two Great White Egrets were easily seen within five minutes of getting out of the car.  Beds is a very poor relation.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Co2 be, or not Co2 be...

...that is the question.

I think I know the answer to the first, but it raises another issue:

i) public transport is presumably low-carbon, not no-carbon. However, this raises a wider issue - offsetting. I think it would be justifiable for those who use public transport and cars to claim birds as zero-carbon finds if they offset their emissions (and can prove it). Thoughts please.

ii) if I visit relatives in Bedford, who live a few hundred yards from Fenlake Meadows, and I walk to the site from my relatives' house, is this zero-carbon? Would I need to get to Bedford by zero-carbon means, or just from my relatives (if I stayed overnight, for example)? Thoughts please.



Wednesday 5 March 2014

Curlew Pair

I stopped off for a brief look at Grove on my way home yesterday (4/03/2014).
Nothing unusual, until two strangely silent Curlews flew in to view. They flew around the lake looking for somewhere to land, then eventually landed on one of the raised sand banks beside the lake before being frightened off east by one of the passing earth movers. The water level is so high again this year I'm going to struggle for waders again.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Where are we now...

So MJP is still keeping the lead.  And its nearly time for migrants - Well done Martin!  DOM on foot is the nearest challenger and doing well.  The rest of the pack are all in a similar ball-park with a few obvious gaps - with few really really good SFYL "blockers" in there.

Wheatears maybe only ten days away, and it kinda all starts again.


Adding easy ones

Gadsey Brook this morning gave me four new birds - but nothing no one else hasn't already got - 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Redshank, 2 Shelduck and Siskins - the latter, yeah I know, how have I missed seeing that until March...

Saturday 1 March 2014


Not many new birds for me in the last couple of weeks.  I had to make do with a bit of an owl session and both Barn and Tawny Owls around Old Warden.  However, the Tawny did put on a bit of a show, as you can see...