Sunday, 31 January 2010

Willen North Lake

Having limited time this morning, I decided a lap of the North Lake at Willen was probably likely to be most productive.
The place is still packed with waterfowl with large numbers of all the commoner species.
Also present in amongst the masses were 3 Little Grebe, a female Red crested Pochard, male Goosander and a single Shelduck -my first of the year and my 100th species in Britain this year.
From the hide there were a couple of hundred Lapwing, a Redshank and a Snipe. on the East side a smart Grey Wagtail trotted around on the ice.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Small Race Canada Goose

We took Megan and Milly to Emberton Park today. The regular small Canada Goose was present in the Canada flock so I took a few photos.

Big Garden Birdwatch

I took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch again today.
My results were quite impressive:
6 Blackbirds 11 House Sparrows, 3 Dunnocks,2 Robins, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Blue Tits, and one each of Jackdaw,Starling, Pied Wagtail, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.

Friday, 29 January 2010


A pair of Crossbills showed very well in Larch trees by Woburn Golf Clubhouse today. Again there were lots of Coal Tits around with a few Goldcrests a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch.

I spent an hour before Dusk at Walton Balancing Lakes to see if the Bittern came in to roost. I didn't see it, but there were a couple of Water Rail in the reeds and at least 50 Magpies were roosting around the lake.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Willen this morning

An unexpected surprise at the North End was a Little Owl that was being mobbed by seemingly every small bird in the area.
From the hide a Cetti's Warbler showed very well as it flicked through the reeds, a Redshank was on the spit and there were 3 Goosander out near the island.
In Alder trees along the top of the South Lake 7 Lesser Redpoll were feeding. Just off of the Bandstand 2 female Red crested Pochards quickly swam out to the middle of the lake, where there were a minimum of 18 Goldeneye, some of the males in full display mode.
Down in the South East corner, just over the river in the grounds of Unisys a noisy flock of around 60 Siskin were feeding and flying around.
female Red crested Pochards (click on the picture for a better look)
Greylag Goose

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Brickhills

A look at Brickhill Woods this lunchtime found 2 female Bramblings near to Bow Brickhill Church. Also lots of Coal Tits and a couple of Nuthatch.
A walk to the pond and back produced 39 Lesser Redpolls including one flock of 36, several Godcrests, 2 Treecreepers, 5 Bullfinches and many more Coal Tits.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Some Tongwell regulars

Black headed Gull
Canada Goose

Mute Swan

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Emberton Park

Mute Swan


A look around Emberton Park this afternoon to try out my new camera.

There were an incredible 16 Goosanders on the sailing lake and a showy male Mandarin near to the hide.Unfortunately not close enough to photograph.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Out and About

A wet day so I took the opportunity to visit a few sites.
First of all Manor Farm, where three Little Egrets were on show before I even got out of the car. On the Quicksand Pit were 7 Pochard and a Green Sandpiper. Further on I flushed a Little Owl from one of the pollarded Willows and then just 50 yards further on a Barn Owl flew out of another tree.
The main pit held a few Mallard, Wigeon and Teal.
At Gayhurst Fishing Lakes about 8 Siskin were feeding in the Alders with a few Goldfinch.

Then on to Olney Meadows where a pair of Stonechat were feeding around the pond. These birds have been present since at least 15th November, but seemed to go missing during the cold snap.
I then went over to the Mill where amongst the Canada Geese were the regular Small Race Canada Goose and a small Goose that appears to be a Barnacle Goose/small Canada Hybrid.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Little Linford Wood and Ravenstone STW

A spare couple of hours this morning so I took a stroll around Little Linford Wood. Not a lot of birds around but I did see, 4 Bullfinches, 2 Marsh Tits, a Goldcrest, a Nuthatch that was bashing the living daylights out of a nut or acorn that it had jammed in the bark of an oak tree and a Buzzard that was feeding on worms in the field just outside the wood.
I then moved on to Ravenstone STW where there was considerably more activity. A flock of around 70 Linnets were wheeling around the field to the left of the track, there were 7 Grey Partridges near to the works. A grey Wagtail was in the works and a couple of Yellowhammers and a few Skylarks were seen on the way back.

Monday, 18 January 2010


Back to work today, so the only birding was a brief stop off at Oakgrove at lunchtime.
I was treated though to a courtship display between 2 Green Woodpeckers. Very interesting as they sat in the same tree and swished their heads back and forth and made a strange squeaking noise at each other.
I bumped into a photographer who showed me a Kingfisher sitting on the side of the river seemingly totally oblivious to people walking past, so intent was he on catching his dinner.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Thaw brings the floods

A lot warmer today and nearly all the snow has gone.
I decided to visit Gayhurst Quarry to check on the wildfowl.
As I parked the car a flock of 5 Bullfinches were in the hedge - there seem to be a lot of these around lately.
When I got down to the lakes it seemed there was water everywhere. It was impossible to walk along the bottom of Spinney Pit as the water was so deep, but I did wade through some of it to scan through the large Goose flock. They were mainly Greylags, with some Canadas but also 1 Whitefront, presumably the one recently seen at Newport.
I made my way around to Motorway Pit which being the only unfrozen lake was absolutely heaving with birds. A scan through found a magnificent drake Pintail along with 2 females. There were 166 Mute Swans, but the large numbers of Mallard, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted, Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler in such a small area made them impossible to count.
A Little Egret, Jay and Buzzard were also seen.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Willen, late afternoon.

A trip to Willen North Lake this afternoon with Paul Moon to see if we could find any roosting Bitterns.
No luck, but we did see 4 Water Rails, 3 drake Goosander, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and a Redshank that was stood on the ice, amongst the numerous Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufteds, Greylags and Coot.

New Garden Bird

Today, while watching the garden feeders from the dining room, 11 Long-tailed Tits were perched on the peanut feeder all at the same time. In tow with flock was a single Marsh Tit, my first in the garden in the 14 years I've lived here.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Thursday and Friday

Thursday: As it was very foggy I took a walk around Newton Wood in the hope of seeing a few woodland species. It turned out not to be too productive, as other than a flock of 7 Bullfinches not much else was seen. There were however an awful lot of tracks in the snow including Badger and Fox.
Down by the river at Newton Blossomville I watched a Heron stuggle to eat an enormous Roach and a Snipe flew up the river.

Friday: A brief look at Tongwell revealed the drake Red-crested Pochard was still present along with many Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard and Shoveler.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Brogborough Bonanza

I visited Brogborough Lake this morning - close to home but in neighbouring Bedfordshire.
It was about 60% frozen over with a large area of water still open.
It was on here amongst the many Coots, Tufted Ducks and Pochard plus several Goldeneye, Little and Great crested Grebes that I located 5 Red-crested Pochards including 2 males.
Then scanning around the reed beds 2 Bitterns were seen walking out on the ice, obviously struggling for food. These dissappeared and then another 2 came out - not sure if these were the same ones or another 2 ( up to 5 have been reported recently.)
Back out on the open water the juvenile Great Northern Diver that has been present for a few weeks was seen several times, as was a female Scaup.

I decided to come home via Kempston Wood End to check to see if a regular Tawny Owl was in in it's usual tree in Kempston Wood. It was, and it watched me while I spied it for a minute or so before leaving it to carry on dozing.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Another Smew Dip

A brief visit to Caldecotte South Lake this morning to see if the 2 redhead smew reported yesterday were still there was unsuccessful.
However the open ice-hole was very close in, and all the birds on it offered very good views. This included 3 Goosander, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, lots of Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Ducks and Pochard.
There were signs that the cold weather is starting to take it's toll though with 4 dead Black-headed Gulls on the edge of the ice, including one that was in a sitting position and looking as though it were still alive.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Cloud of Woodpigeons

An amazing spectacle of probably more than 10,000 Woodpigeons were seen on the way into Newport this morning. They were feeding on a field of Oilseed Rape just south of Chicheley.

Onto Gayhurst Quarry where only Motorway Pit had any areas of unfrozen water. I counted 121 Mute Swans, there were also approx 500 Greylags, 500 Wigeon, 200 Mallard, 100 Shoveler, 50 Gadwall, 50 Teal, 150 Pochard and 50 Tufted Duck.
Over the river on the marshy area near the spring were 11 Snipe, and a Woodcock got up from under a nearby hedge.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Tongwell and Olney

This morning a brief visit to Tongwell was disrupted by a major Fire Brigade operation. It looked as though someone had fallen through the ice.
Still lots of ducks on an adjacent ice hole though. 2 Goosander that flew off, but several Mallard, Gadwall, Tufteds, Pochard a Shoveler and a smart male Red-crested Pochard remained.

At Olney meadows it was very quiet with 4 Little Grebes and 3 Pochards the best birds seen.

Over the road at Olney Mill 6 Goosander and 3 Wigeon were on the river.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Local again

Still very snowy, so I decided I would walk the lane towards Newton Blossomville as far as Wood Farm.
Birds seen included a covey of 10 Red-legged Partridges, a flock of well over a thousand Woodpigeons feeding on Oilseed Rape, 2 Buzzards, 3 Kestrels, 20 Linnets, Bullfinch, Green Woodpecker and 7 or 8 Yellowhammers.
Also 9 Chinese Water Deer and 9 Hares that stood out very well on the snowy fields.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Peregrine surprise

While looking out of the dining room window at the bird table this morning a Peregrine cruised over the back gardens.
I took a walk around the fields round the village this afternoon. Best birds seen were: 3 Buzzards, 3 Kestrels, Skylark, Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, 2 Bullfinches and 18 Yellowhammers.
Mammals seen were 19 Hares, 12 Chinese Water Deer, 3 Rabbits and a Grey Squirrel.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Whitefront still

4 inches of snow overnight so no work today.
I did manage to get into Newport today for some shopping so I checked the ever increasing goose flock on the flood meadows to find the adult Whitefronted Goose was still present.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Red crested Pochard

A brief look on Willen North Lake this lunchtime failed to find the drake Smew that had been seen there late yesterday, but a female Red-crested Pochard was swimming in the same ice-hole.There was one Water Rail near the inlet.
Earlier 8 Golden Plover landed in the field opposite our house in Hardmead.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Bits and Bobs

A quick look on the meadows outside Newport Pagnell only produced a few Greylags with no sign of the Whitefront (it was however seen later that day) The river itself held an impressive 11 Goosander (3 drakes and 8 redheads) and a Water Rail was in the reeds.
A lap of the North Lake at Willen revealed at least 4 Water Rails running around the inlet stream and a Cettis Warbler was calling.
The Lake itself was entirely frozen,save for a couple of holes which were cram packed with Ducks (Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufteds and Pochard) and Coot .
From the hide 300 Lapwing 5 Snipeand 20 Teal were stood on the ice and 29 Cormorants were sat in a tree on the island.
Late afternoon I checked out the Chaffinch roost at Backwood. About 100 chaffinches came down to land in the Rhododendrons but no Bramblings were seen. A couple of Treecreepers chased each other around a tree trunk and a Muntjac barked continuously while I waited.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Great Whites

Today I decided to go out of county, to twitch 2 Great White Egrets that had been at Pitsford Reservoir in neighbouring Northants.
Many layers were needed as it was absolutely freezing.
I arrived at first light and parked on the side of the causeway. The first bird I was aware of was a Redshank, that I disturbed as I got out of the car -this was one of six seen today.
Scanning across the water there were masses of waterfowl including Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Tufteds, Coots, Cormorants, Great crested and Little Grebes, several Goldeneye and a presumed escape 'blue phase' Snow Goose that was swimming with the Canadas.
Looking across to the other side of the water both Great Egrets were easily picked up fishing in the shallows amongst the tree roots. They were about 400 yards apart but they did fly around quite a bit and at one point they were almost together.
Also over the far side I managed to pick out 3 smart male Red-crested Pochards.
Walking down the causeway I located what I consider to be the best birds of the day 5 Smew - 3 redhead females and 2 cracking males.
Over on the south side of the reservoir where I decided to go for a walk part way around, best birds seen were several Meadow Pipits, 11 Dunlin and a Stonechat.
On the way back home 2 Buzzards were seen and a flock of around 30 Golden Plover flew over the road near Warrington, to land in a field with 50 others that were already there.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Tongwell Lake

I spent an hour at Tongwell this afternoon. the usual array of Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Shoveler and Gadwall were present. Also half a dozen Great-crested and a single Little Grebe. A lone Snipe was on the island and a Sparrowhawk flew around the lake. In the Pine trees on the far side around 30 Long-tailed Tits flitted through the foliage.
As it got darker at least 3 Water Rails squealed to each other in the reed-bed, while several Reed Buntings arrived to roost for the night.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Years Day

In order to get my new years list off to a good start, I decided to walk a circular route around the fields north of Newport Pagnell.
Starting off across Bury Field very few birds were seen other than a Snipe and a couple of Meadow Pipits.
I then headed down to my 'local patch' Gayhurst Quarry where there were 5 Little Egrets a couple of hundred Wigeon and Mallard, a few Teal and Shoveler, 64 Mute Swans and an Egyptian Goose.
Accross the river at Quarryhall several Chaffinch and Yellowhammers were in the hedge by the Pheasant feeders and 42 Lapwings were in the nearby field.
Back towards Newport in the field opposite the old Shell Garage which was mainly flooded there were around 130 Greylag Geese, 50 Canadas and a single Whitefront which I had discovered a few days earlier. The edge of the flood had also attracted a flock of 26 Meadow Pipits.
Back at home the hedge over the road held three very smart Bullfinches.