Wednesday 28 December 2016

"Armchair" SFYL tick

It's not over yet folks - nearly spat my coffee over the kitchen window this morning when I looked out and saw these. I'm glad I did a mad dash for the camera, as they were seen off soon after by a Fieldfare guarding a stash of fallen apples.


Saturday 24 December 2016

Last orders?

No podium position for me again but a nice quality addition to my SFYL with a Smew found while visiting Cuckoo Bridge Lake for WeBS.  Worth pointing out virtually no one else goes birding here and WeBS is the excuse I need to visit.  Over the years I've had Great Northern Diver, Pintail twice, Scaup three times and Great White Egret.  Not bad for a quiet site.

Saturday 3 December 2016


After a good view of the phalarope I thought it best to check out GLE in case everybody else had overlooked it. Good job I did, picked up this bird on the deck first right at the back of the pit, then chased by Kestrel, then back on the deck again at almost the same spot before the Kestrel chased it away again. Was very small compared with the female Kestrel so consider most likely a young male.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Smooth as Velvet

Two or three times a month, with the odd extra during migration season I take the short lunchtime trip from my Letchworth office to stroll across the field and scan over the Blue Lagoon at Arlesey just in case. Having seen Velvet at Broom on Tuesday, I thought immediately that I ought to pop into the lagoon the next day as I had not been yet in November. So there I was on Wednesday, more in hope than expectation with my bins. Not much on there as usual but Boom !
(Photo taken Thursday as did not have camera on Wed)

Monday 7 November 2016


In as many weeks, another quality self-o with two Bewick's Swans at Broom.

Duck tick

Long time coming but these Common Scoters were a bit of welcome selfing quality.

Friday 28 October 2016


That's how I feel going "out of area", away from my usual haunts. After spending all morning trying to kick off a heavy cold by (not) finding a Shrike, I decided to give Stewartby and Brogborough a look, more out of curiosity than anything else. I believe the technical term for birds of interest on Stewartby is "bugger all", so didn't know what to expect at Brogborough, however even from the car on the way in it was evident that the place was covered in ducks.

There were probably about 500 Tufted and a couple of hundred Pochard resting fairly close together and the prospect of going through them all didn't exactly fill me with joy, so I went for my standard (lazy) approach in situations like this - anything good will be on the edges. Luckily, a fairly quick search found 2 female Goldeneye on the edge of the main raft, that then started chasing each other about, so job done. I reckon it would be a safe bet for one of you dedicated types to find something better amongst the main bunch but I really couldn't be bothered with the way I was feeling.


Friday 7 October 2016

2 tick day

Like Andy, I also needed Stonechat for the SFYL and had a wander around Sandy Smith and Chicksands yesterday with no result. However, today was noticeably different with various birds on the move, such as dribs and drabs of Redwing, Swallows and Golden Plover.

Not a bird I needed for the list, but I was pretty surprised to see a Redstart on the path at Old Warden tunnel, so things were looking up. Moving on to Sandy Smith and there was a smart male Stonechat up by the silos, and then another 2 on the grassland where the public path cuts across the Chicksands MOD site.

I got a 2nd tick whilst watching and listening to a fairly large mixed flock of tits, Goldcrest and a few Blackcap at a site not very far away from the Stonechats (it's a private area, hence the vagueness). I was convinced I could hear a Firecrest in amongst them all but it took quite a while to be able to pick it up visually, due to the foliage and poor light. I didn't even manage to get a SFYL standard photo but did have the bird in the bins a couple of times for a good enough view to confirm the ID. This is only the 2nd Firecrest I've seen in Beds (I'm not a birder remember :-) ), so I may have to indulge in a small shandy this evening.

Monday 3 October 2016

Chatting together

Needed Stonechat for my SFYL so with an hour to spare Sunday afternoon thought I would try Warden Hill as nearest bit of likely habitat, Seen more Stonechats on this hill over the years than Whinchats, Luck was in as within minutes caught up with a pair of birds; one of each.

Ahhh the joys of autofocus...

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Streaky Med

Usually manage to pull one out somewhere from the brick pits on one of the shorter days of the year but, with a nice streak of luck, a late afternoon walk on Sunday added Med Gull to my Sharpenhoe Clappers list as well as my SFYL. (Always said that place was good for rares...). The field at the bottom of the east facing slope often has gulls and there was a nice wet patch in one corner Sunday from which up flew the adult winter bird which moved off south following the A6 and gaining height presumably off to roost somewhere. My second in the area after one on a ploughed field at Streatley (which currently also holds a few gulls) in August a few years back. Still in the game but looks like the action is for the silver medal this year.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Slow times

With just some Yellow-legged Gulls to add over the summer, my next SFYT was this morning.  Catching up with a first winter period miss - 2 Pintails at Radwell during my WeBS count.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Super Saturday Seabird Surprise

Mooching around Peacock's hoping for a Pintail when a Hobby shot over my head in hunting mode after some House Martins. It failed on this pass and drifted up over the wood to the south of the lake, by the "Village Pit", where it started spiralling upwards, presumably to gain height for another attempt. As I was watching it I noticed a fairly large bird drifting fairly lazily behind it and almost dismissed it as a Cormorant but then it jinked slightly and the wing shape made me reach for the camera. Going by the meta data from the 18 or so pictures I managed to fire off before it drifted off south out of sight the bird was on view for about 10 seconds and I would never have seen it but for the Hobby. How many other birds like this do we blissfully miss over our heads?

Blown it

For the first year since about 1863, I have failed to find a Redstart. I am utterly useless.

I set myself a target of 150 self-found this year, and that is a target I will now struggle with. [As I will also struggle with my other resolution to never end a sentence with a stranded preposition.]

Despite it being a notable autumn for Curlew Sandpiper, I have failed to find one. Also, no stint spp., Spotted Redshank, Mediterranean or Caspian Gull, or Ring Ouzel (time yet though).

My best find of the year was uncountable - a White Stork of Polish origin was not considered genuinely wild despite being genuinely wild. Bizarrely, the Goshawk I found (and was accepted) was probably less wild than the former. Oh, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...

An odd year: a good spring, a poor autumn. I predict a winning score this year of 148, although winning in 2016 (as with 2015) would be a bit like Macclesfield Town winning the Champions League as a result of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid refusing to take part. Or, in the case of Steve Blain not competing in the recent SFYLs, because he thought there was a chance that he may not win. His excuse of ''concentrating on other projects'' being a euphemism for ''I think I might not win.'' ;-)

I hope you all have a splendid and productive autumn.


Saturday 20 August 2016


I must admit to not having much hope of seeing anything good these days on Peacock's Lake at Broom but I thought I'd give it a go, as I was in the area anyway. However, almost straight away a grebe out in the very middle with a distinctly long neck and its body size between that of Little and GC Grebe caught my eye. After pretty much walking around the whole lake to try and get a decent vantage point and also looking at all the other variations of Great-crested and Little Grebes on offer to discount a duff ID, I decided to stop dithering and put them (another one had joined the original) out as BN Grebes.


Sunday 24 July 2016

Autumn ahoy!

Chewing the fat with Andy Jackson at GLE, Broom GPs, when these suddenly appeared in the far corner from nowhere. After a bit of deliberation, and a lot of self doubt between us (due to being a bit early etc), we were pretty happy to start putting these out as Wood Sands but it was still good to quickly get a fresh set of eyes and agreement from Stu W to confirm.

The water levels at GLE have dropped considerably, which means birds can be tucked away in various nooks and crannies without showing, unless disturbed, or moving about to feed like these did.

Juvenile Cuckoo also floating about on the GLW side but no sign of the Whinchat by Peacock's Lake from yesterday.


Tuesday 17 May 2016

Black n' Red...

...same as the brand of my notebooks:

Images courtesy of Peter Nash and Steve Blain, hence the superior quality.

Two Turtle Doves...

Great to see a couple of TDs as I cycled back from work across Tempsford airfield. Too fast for a photo but here's where they went!

Sunday 15 May 2016

Stewartby fly through fun

33 Arctic Terns and a Kittiwake Saturday morning were a real bonus, but got to get one or two of those "seashore" waders to stay with the leaders...

Friday 13 May 2016

Sweeping 'em up!

Despite the human traffic and lack of time on weekends at my favoured patch, I seem to be getting lucky. Latest conquests of Greenshank, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Turnstone and today Sanderling and Garganey have really bolstered the list. All to play for over the next week or so. Good luck all.............just need some Terns.

Thursday 12 May 2016

TT incoming at Black Cat GPs

I've done some sky watching at this site hoping for the flocks of waders which descend on Paxton just up the river. Tonight it paid off with a flock of Tundra Ringos and a Turnstone.  I was a bit gutted that the one at Broom arrived after my hour and a half wait there yesterday.  But all ok now.

A little satisfaction

Unfortunately work and home commitments have prevented any birding opportunity while recent wader migration has been underway. One small window opened up for 50 minutes on Wednesday lunchtime but I chose in the end not to drive 20 minutes each way to have a few minutes grabbed look at GLE when there were probably other birders already there anyway. Not really me preferred style of birding and cost me 100% on adding Whimbrel to my list but can live with that. So not got Whimbrel, Sanderling, Turnstone or Grey Plover but did get Wood Sandpiper down to less than 20m range on Sunday. So the question is which on this list is best and am I happy with the one I got ? You bet, Wood Sandpiper is the best of those five any day !

Thursday 5 May 2016

Allbike on the Night

Nice guilt free selfer today with a singing Nightingale heard as I cycled to work this morning.  

Monday 2 May 2016

Tawny Owl...honest

Managed to jam in on this hole in a tree this morning.  It did have a Tawny in it which you can just about discern if you squint.

Monday 25 April 2016

White Stork at Fenlake Meadows

It might as well have been a white elephant, which, metaphorically, it was.

Nul points. (Image courtesy of MJP)

Sunday 24 April 2016


With Raven, Swift and Whinchat added this week, still keeping the SF dream alive...

Monday 18 April 2016

One day, it will be an Osprey...

And that was today. A carbon free Osprey too as I cycled home from work.  Jim, take note.  This is how you photograph Ospreys...

Monday 11 April 2016

Friday 8 April 2016

More jam than Hartley's

Wandering along at Peacock's lake, looked up at the "big funny looking bird".......

Monday 4 April 2016

'ere 'ere it's an Eared Grebe...

...or Black-necked if you prefer.
That little corner of Brogborough really is gloomy and always in shadow but always worth a look. First pic as found but it did pop out a little better though not close after.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Weekend bits and bobs

I do like going up Pegsdon, but I'm kind of relieved that a Ring Ouzel turned up at Broom today, so that I can give the knees a bit of a rest from going up and down that bloody hill for no reward.

The Terns genuinely turned up as I got my sandwiches out, so perhaps we should start thinking up what other bird themed items we can use to draw things out.


Thursday 31 March 2016

Tristis triumph and it does not add 1 to the list...

...but pleased to find none the less as I had not self-found one before.
Did not see (though it was seen later) so no photo but the recording of song is of more interest than a poor quality photo. A few other species in the background as well as a train...

tristis song MVCP Pillinge 26-3-16
tristis song 2 MVCP Pillinge 26-3-16

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Summer duck

Busy day at work with no lunchtime.  So pleased with a bit of afterwork ticking at Roxton.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Flyover false alarms

Always great to see Ravens but the real reason for this post is to protest my innocence over what would have been a great SFYL tick of the "Stone Curlew" that appeared on Birdguides today. I have no idea how my Beds Birds post of a Curlew over Sandy Smith NR ended up on that site as a Stone Curlew - any ideas?

As this was my 3rd Beds Curlew of the year I didn't even bother taking a picture of it, so maybe I should in future in case of any further shenanigans.


Saturday 19 March 2016