Thursday 3 December 2015

Henlow Grange piccies

Just a couple of piccies of some of the birds to have graced the patch recently. Not up to Steve or Jim's standards but hopefully they will meet with Matt's approval!

Great Grey Shrike 26 Nov 2015 - Henlow Grange 

Goosander 26 Nov 2015 - 1 male on Poppy Hill Fishing Lakes

Merlin 03 Dec 2015 1 male in ploughed field

Friday 27 November 2015


It was finally my turn! After creeping round the G&M Pits at Broom and expecting nothing, two very showy birds appeared on the top of the reeds and then perched within 10 ft of me in some nearby Sallows. About time...............
Photo courtesy of (Jammy) Jim.

Monday 23 November 2015

Golden Patch

It generally does not take long to count the waterfowl on Poppy Hill fishing lakes. There are usually only a few Mallards, a couple of Moorhens and a family of Mute Swans. Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal are occasional visitors, while Tufted Ducks are more regular. This morning the three male and one female Tufties were joined by a female Goldeneye, the first I have recorded on the patch and my second new duck inside a week - a male Goosander was seen flying west over the pits on 16th November.  

The Goldeneye takes my patch list for 2015 to 115 species.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Nothing to see - hear!

Standing having a natter with Martin S in the general area of the recent #titgate affair and we got around to birds that the site should be perfect for but haven't been recorded there. We'd just mentioned Cetti's, when one gave a blast from the reeds. We hung around for a fair old while after and did get the usual fleeting views, followed by calls from its new position, but not even a chance of a blog standard record shot.

Another one I thought I'd missed this year.

The next bird on the missing list was Bittern........


Saturday 21 November 2015

GLE does the business again

I really didn't think I was going to get Goosander (in Beds) this year for some reason but lady luck played its part again today. I couldn't park at my "usual spot" at GLE, so had to move along the road a bit and saw these flying around and then over as I got out of the car.


Sunday 15 November 2015

Wildlife photographer of the year contender?

I suppose as record shots go it's all you need to confirm ID. After seeing a Skua reported in Herts I thought we'd be in with a chance of some wind blown strays today but 3 of these on Peacock's Lake this morning was the best I could manage. Funny ducks seem to be the flavour of the month just now.


Tuesday 10 November 2015


...not my ideal but I've tried to find a Caspian on a number of occasions.  Sending the odd photo to Steve to check - but they always end up being Moorhens or Herons.  But maybe I've got my eye in now.  We got on this gull at Derek's and hey presto, it was a 2nd winter Caspian Gull.  Phone-binned for the correct standard for this blog.

Monday 9 November 2015

Patch Gold!

Highlight of this morning's walk round my Henlow Grange patch was a Great Grey Shrike!!!! Not only a patch tick; not only a SFYL tick but (probably) the first GGS I have found for myself. There was a commotion of Linnet and Corn Bunting alarm calls as they chased something across the horse paddocks alongside the railway. It took me a while to realise it was a shrike, but when the penny dropped I'm sure I had a big smile on my face. The smaller birds chased the Shrike until it landed on a hawthorn bush alongside the railway where it stayed for about 5 minutes before it was flushed by a train. While perched, it was not mobbed by any smaller birds. After another 5 minutes the Shrike reappeared on top of another hawthorn bush on the far side of the railway. This time it remained in view for about 10 minutes, occasionally dropping into the bush where it could be seen moving about. It was flushed by another train and this time flew east towards the solar panel farm, landing in a hedge (alongside the track to the farm) where it was lost to view.
Distant view of Great Grey Shrike, Henlow Grange, 08/11/2015
Distant view of Great Grey Shrike, Henlow Grange, 08/11/2015

Saturday 7 November 2015

Dodgy ducks

Looking for a wandering (plastic?) Bufflehead last weekend, bumped into a wandering (plastic ancestor?) Red-crested Pochard. Always a useful SFYT but did not need it for 2015; blocked it out for others, and me in 2016 though...

Sunday 1 November 2015

Still coming up short

One of two Short-eared Owls, photographed at some distance tonight at Thurleigh Airfield tonight.

Saturday 24 October 2015


Really not in the running this year, but always nice to be surprised with another selfie.  Was actually looking for a migrant Great Grey Shrike or Yellow-browed Warbler, but this will do.  Its a lark, near a wood.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Another Broom GPs 2 bagger

A bit of a bimble around the Broom area today threw up a Jack Snipe in the area of the G+M Pits and then a Caspian Gull at GLE having a wash and preen, before it flew off in the direction of Langford. I did get Steve to check my homework on this one and although my proper camera is away being looked at just now did get a few shots through the scope with the phone.

Not for the SFYL but I was also treated to the stunning sight of a Peregrine making a couple of failed attempts at taking Mallard off the water in the G+M Pits.

Tree Sparrows are back (I haven't seen them mentioned recently) on the hedge along the game strip at Upper Caldecote. I won't be adding these to my SFYL total, as I think that would be a bit cheeky.


Sunday 18 October 2015

2 bagger

At this late stage, 2 in a day is much more difficult. But the feat was accomplished today at Broom GPs. I managed to add Rock Pipit and SEO to the SFYL. Both decent patch birds and green too!
No photos I'm afraid and I'm not sure I've got another decent field sketch in me................

Thursday 15 October 2015

Garden Mig yields

This time of year is fantastic! The birds come to you.....25 minutes in the back garden and I was lucky enough to bag 2 Brambling flying SW… a SFYT. Also Redpoll, Siskin, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Redwing and Song Thrush.
One day I will get an Ouzel..........

Sunday 11 October 2015

Sunday 4 October 2015


Wandering around Sandy Smith NR with the dogs enjoying the sunshine when I decided to have "one last look" along the tops of the bushes in the field with the silos for anything along the lines of Whinchat or Stonechat when a blurry grey, black and white thing flew through the scope and landed on top of a bush! I never tire of seeing these birds and physically smile every time I see one.

I know the pic looks more like a Monet abstract but I think I've finally got the SFYL standard of shot cracked.


Saturday 3 October 2015


At last, a new SFYT. Female Pintail playing hide and seek with 200 Wigeon on GLW, Broom.

Saturday 5 September 2015

BJ @ Stew

The BTO two-letter species code for Black Tern in case you wondered.  This was at Stewartby this morning and captured for posterity with this photo.  (It's the left hand smudge)

Friday 4 September 2015

Monday 31 August 2015

Bank Holiday Bankers

As a member of the full-time employed having limited time available for birding around family activity, Bank Holiday weekend can allow a few extra hours in the field to ensure that two scarcer chats hit the list. Was not around for vast majority of this weekend, but still found the pair needed. Redstart (a few days early) on a sneaky extra half hour walk before work on Tuesday and Whinchat as part of a scout around on Saturday. Now for the hard work to find something really decent on them there hills.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Mellow Yellow

I'm not proud and I'll take them whatever way they come. Noticed a gathering of large gulls in a stubble field next to the A600, opposite the bike park area of Rowney Warren and stopped in the handy layby for a look, where this beast stood out from the crowd.

I'm not even going to mention what should have been another "tick" this morning with a Wood Sandpiper......


Wednesday 19 August 2015

Sunday 16 August 2015

Thursday 13 August 2015

I knew if I complained enough...

Within a day of my SFYL-ing lament, I managed to add a new bird to my SFYL - only just mind you.

I arrived to a deserted GLE roadside and a wader flew in and landed - sandpiper...pale underwings...looking good.  A quick scope revealed a Wood Sandpiper which stayed for at least a minute while I phone-scoped it.  It then started raining and it flew up and over but calling frequently.

The ace GLE bird finders Stu Warren and Martin Stevens walked into view saying they reckon they'd had a Wood Sand a few minutes earlier.

Back of the net!

Wednesday 12 August 2015

My last SFYT was over 14 weeks ago...

My last SFYT was in the first weekend of May - and these were summer migrants like Hobby, Reed Warbler.  I'm amazed I've not bumped into anything new for the year since then.  I'm on my bike so lunchtime trips are rather dry.  But even so, no Quails, no Crossbills over.  I did hear a Greenshank this morning which would have been new had it not been in Cambs.  Right, I'd better get on my bike then...


Sunday 9 August 2015

Double Bubble

It's all kicking off - or so it seems.

A wander around a bit of river I've been watching on and off for 15 years now wondering why I've never seen a Mandarin there finally paid off with a couple making a brief appearance from under the willows. I'm sure they must have been there at some point previously but it's a fairly inaccessible spot, so we'll see what happens in the future.

With it being so hot during the day I decided to leave walking the dogs at Broom until the evening, with a bit of a hope that a "funny" gull would turn up. None did, but it was still good to watch the 2 Greenshank, which after a bit of a display flight seemed to head off purposefully south.

I hung about for a bit longer before calling it a night and was just going back over the fence when I heard a Greenshank calling at the south end of GLE. It appeared to come in from the south and was flying low over the water but as I watched realised that it had a VERY small wader for company, that landed on one of the exposed "islands" where all the Lapwing sit. The size alone made me immediately think of a Stint but I didn't want to set off a false alarm if it turned out to be "just" a Sanderling. It was also almost dark, so whatever the case by the time anyone else arrived it wouldn't be possible to see it. All I could do was move along a bit further and try to get as many pictures as possible in the hope that something would turn out from shots with a handheld 400mm lens at 1/60 sec shutter speed. Checking the books back home made me pretty sure it was a Little Stint but I was relieved (and very grateful) for confirmation from Steve after sending him the pic. I should probably have had a bit more courage in my conviction from the start that it was a Stint of some flavour and got the word out but, given the time of day, don't think it made that much difference. A smart little bird to see and amazing to think how far it's probably travelled so far on its journey south.


Saturday 8 August 2015

Broom Garganey

Not actually found a Garganey since the start of this blog so a good tick for me this morning in the SW corner of Peacocks Lake. Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Little Egret on the nearby banks behind it made for a pleasant outlook. Back at GLE, shortly after bumping into Roger, a pair of Ruff came through with a few circles of the lake and a brief few seconds on the deck before heading off high to the south-west. Not a bad early morning out...

Sunday 2 August 2015

Waders in the dark

I just wanted to make sure I was going in the right direction for the standard of record shots expected on this blog and after much coaching by Matt think I've got it cracked.

A couple (same one returning an hour later?) of Greenshank at GLE last night, with this one coming in as it was almost dark.


2 Greenshank at GLE - 7 Aug 15

Saturday 11 July 2015

An unexpected treat

Got to the end of a fairly long wander along a river to the north of Bedford last night as it was getting dark and had stopped to look and listen to a hunting Barn Owl in one field and a family of calling Tawny Owls in a nearby wood. I thought that was all pretty cool in itself when I suddenly became aware of sound that could only be one thing - Nightjar!

Now, I did have serious doubts at first, given the distinctly untypical terrain in the immediate area but when one actually appeared almost directly overhead showing the Cuckoo like shape and slow and exaggerated wingbeats and then did a bit of a loop before heading back into a wood on the other side of the river all doubts went away. I then hung around for ages to see if there were any more, or if it would come back overhead but I only got a fleeting glimpse of one (it) passing by a gap in the trees on the other side of the river.

I have also been doing a fair bit of searching on Google Earth etc since and there does appear to be some possible decent habitat for them in the area it appeared to come from.


(Full details with grids etc have been submitted to Birdtrack under the "sensitive" tab).

Monday 22 June 2015

'Glip, Glip'

I was lucky enough to have a single Crossbill fly over my garden yesterday, but that's about it. Is anyone else still regularly looking for stuff? Or is it the holiday before the SFYL Autumn season?

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Something big and white - try again

Still not an Egret or Spoonbill etc but the big and white summer continues
Can't SFYL tick this one though  maybe same bird seen being watched by a Pintail at Grovebury in January ?

Sunday 24 May 2015

Something big and white - Yes please !

Looking for Great White Egret, Spoonbill etc and all I get is this pheasant, completely white except for the red wattles (in Rookery South ClP ), even more white than that daft Cormorant I found, better luck next time perhaps

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Blue is the colour

I'd just got out of the car at GLE when I casually noticed a "funny looking pale Buzzard" hovering over the water. It's amazing the level of complacency that sets in (for me anyway) after a load of fruitless visits. After realising what it really was I managed to get off a couple of shots but the bird was gone within a minute and I didn't have time to tweak the settings, so only ended up with a bit of a murky record shot.

It does have a blue colour ring on the left leg but as much as I've tried fiddling with the pictures can't make out any letters or numbers. Great to see in the evening sunshine all the same.


Saturday 9 May 2015

Mr Sanders

An early morning recce round Broom hoping for a Temminck's produced a nice surprise, fresh in with a flock of 'tundra' Ringed Plover.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Garden Surprise

Wheatears have been in short supply on my local patch this spring with only three sightings of four birds so far. So it was a big surprise to find a stunning male on our drive when I returned from a walk this morning. It played hide and seek behind our car for a few minutes before flying up onto our garage roof and then away. Not a SFYL tick but a great addition to the garden list.


A good start

It is not often that Henlow Grange can match Blows Downs and Pegsdon, but on 21 April a female Redstart flew across the orchard, perched briefly on the fence with tail shivering before being chased off by a Robin. And here is a picture just before it disappeared.

Monday 4 May 2015

Falling down

Busy at work and then some ill timed tours to France and Spain means that my spring is somewhat disrupted in terms of self-finds.  Even with around 10 species added this weekend (the regular summer migrants), I'm a good ten species behind normal.  Need some rares...


Wednesday 29 April 2015

LBJs no more?

I'm assuming that a Garden Warbler isn't the most exciting bird around but it's proven to be a bit of a milestone for me. Matt's info about them being back at Broom the other day led me to realise that I wouldn't know one if it landed on me. This resulted in a fair bit of reading up, a look at the excellent BTO bird ID videos and then a walk around my local area to see if I'd been missing out all these years - and I was. I did think I was listening to a Blackcap today but when a LBJ appeared I (for once) knew what it was straight away.

I still don't think I'm a birder but I do know that by the end of this year my limited knowledge of birds will have been enhanced significantly and it will be down to this SFYL caper :-)

Once again, apologies for the quality of the picture and I really must take Matt up on that offer of a photo workshop.


Monday 27 April 2015

Little Tern

Not only a county tick, but a self-found county tick - the best kind. Glad Steve got there in time, but somewhat gutted that Jim Gurney - surely one of the most pleasant and charming birders in our fair county - arrived just too late. Can't recall the last bird I found that Jim saw, but he took it with remarkable good grace...again. I'm sure he must secretly think that I'm a big stringy tw@t. ;-) So many of my finds are either 'ephemeral' or located at the arse-end of nowhere.

For those that are interested, why not submit your county self-found life lists on this website. Choose Bedfordshire from the county list and select the self-found option:

Above photograph courtesy of SCB.


Back to back

This is 2nd year on the bounce I've selfied this species after a brace last year. Reassuringly, this bird has no rings too. First found at 0630 on Peacock's Lake. Relocated to GLE before flying east at 0705. A nice one to get...........

Sunday 26 April 2015

Sneaking in a wit

The first man there and the regular visitors seem to get all the Broom finds at this time of year but a chance visit on a good passage day in between times could be a good tactic. Not a Hudsonian but still good to grab a Barwit on the deck in full summer plumage with a phone-less Jim Gurney during a quick pop in before work after the early shift had already gone on Thursday. Nothing much over the weekend as I was not around save for an hour early morning on the way up north Saturday, but two singing Nightingales and a Cuckoo in Coronation went on the SFYL just to keep the count ticking along.

Thursday 23 April 2015


I said at the very beginning that I was rubbish at this birding caper and that most of the things I see are by accident. This was proven by my initial oversight of the 2 Little Terns at Peacock's Lake, about 10 minutes before they were seen at GLE. Most terns look "funny" to me, so I pretty much take pictures of every one I see, then quickly check the pictures on the back of the camera for ID but for some reason I didn't check these until I got home, when the white forehead could be faintly seen and the yellowish bill colour stuck out - oh and they were little.

I think the only saving grace in this instance is that the birds were definitely only at Peacock's for no longer than about 1 minute, so the ID delay didn't stop anyone else seeing them there.

I've already said to Matt that I think it would be unsporting to claim them as a true SFYL, hence I've stuck them down as a 0.5 - if that is OK with the other members?

Promise to pay more attention next time to terns that suddenly appear and disappear.......


Sunday 19 April 2015

WeBS debut

Its difficult to add new birds to my Broom WeBS list.  But 4 Arctic Terns did the trick on Peacock's Lake this evening. BTW, one of the terns is clearly visable at 10.00 o'clock from the small white blob which is clearly a Mute Swan.