Sunday, 28 February 2010

Willen, Saturday

A trip out to Willen yesterday - other than the regular Redshank,5 Goosander and 13 Goldeneye, nothing out of the ordinary was seen. Mallard


Carrion Crow

Cygnus arsendupicus

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Wonderful Waxwings

These 2 beauties were found in Broadway Avenue, Giffard Park by Alan Nelson and were showing exceptionally well when I got there.
They were feeding on Mistletoe berries

Tonight Paul and I had a drive around the country roads of North Bucks in the hope of finding some Owls.
Although we only managed to see one Tawny Owl, we did hear at least nine Tawnies and 2 Little owls on our trek around Tyringham, Filgrave, Olney, Weston Underwood, Stoke Goldington and Gayhurst.

Friday, 26 February 2010

It's very Quiet

I took a stroll around Manor Farm today and it was as quiet bird-wise as I've ever known it.
There were 2 Little Egrets in the car-park, - these are perhaps becoming the most human-tolerant of this species I know as they stand just across the river waiting for you to pass before flying back over and standing on the path again - another bird was on the Quicksand Pit alongside a Grey Heron.
Up on the main Pit a fairly large Gull flock was split half and half Black-headed and Common, 7 Cormorants, 2 Mute Swans, a few Mallard and a pair of Goosander were about all that was on show.
A flock of around 100 Fieldfare were on the meadow. These birds seem to have appeared everywhere today, so maybe they're on their way back up North.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Odd Garden Visitor

This Starling caught my eye as it visited the bird-table today. It's beak is twice as big as it should be. This didn't seem to cause it any problems though as it gobbled up lots of the food on offer. ( click on the picture for a better look ) Also visiting was the Pied Wagtail that has spent the winter with us.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Snow, Sleet and Rainham

Today was our first Bedford R.S.P.B. outing of the year, to the Rainham Marshes reserve in Essex.
We left Sandy in thick snow, which turned to sleet and then rain by the time we arrived.
A check on the feeders by the visitor centre didn't produce anything out the ordinary, with lots of Greenfinches, Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Collared Doves.
Our first plan was to walk down alongside the river to 'the mound', where over the previous couple of months a couple of Serins have been seen.
Looking out over Purfleet scrape, lots of Duck were found: Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and Shelduck were seen. Also waders in the form of 2 Curlew, 5 Ruff a few Redshank and lots of Lapwing. A Little Egret and a Fox showed in the distance.
At the mound there was no sign of the Serins and in fact hardly any small birds at all. Lots of Crows, several Canada Geese, 3 Herons and a small flock of Stock Doves.
I walked back along the old sea wall where there seemed to be more small birds around: a flock of Linnets, at least 3 Corn Buntings, a single Stonechat, lots of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Reed Buntings, and at one particular spot at least 5 Rock Pipits and 2 Water Pipits.

male Reed Bunting

Back at the visitor centre, someone had a scope trained on a very distant Peregrine that was sitting on one of the Electricity Pylons.

We then opted to walk right around the reseve. At the hide a few more birds were added to the day list in the form of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Greylag and Snipe, and further round more views of the Peregrine.

Not quite as productive a day as I had hoped, probably a lot of this down to the weather, but an enjoyable time all the same.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Goose on offer at the Supermarket

As I always say I'm never not birding.
A trip to Sainsburies in Clapham became interesting, when on loading the car I heard the distant 'barking' of Barnacle Geese. On looking up I noticed a flock of 80 or so birds aproaching from the South-West. They flew right overhead and carried on North-East.
I suspect these were part of the large naturalised flock from Willington, but It is slightly possible they were wild birds judging on the direction they were travelling.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Signs of Spring

A wet miserable morning, so I decided a visit to Gayhurst Quarry was in order.
Lots of Geese were in the field just beyond the housing estate, but other than 2 Canadas they were all Greylags.
Down at the pits , again Wigeon were the dominant species with probably 500 present. Smaller numbers of Mallard, Pochard, Tufteds, Gadwall and Teal.
Five Little Egrets were on Motorway Pit, it looked like 2 pairs and an odd one.
I continued up to Quarryhall, where a flock of 120 Yellowhammers were feeding in the game strip, along with around 50 Chaffinch, 8 Stock Doves and 10 Red-legged Partridges.
86 Mute Swans were feeding in a distant field, about 100 Lapwings flew around and several Skylarks were overhead.
Walking back to the car it was good to hear the bleating of several new-born lambs.

I moved on to Little Linford Wood in the hope of finding some Tree Sparrows. Unfortunately they don't seem to have returned to this normally reliable site.
I walked through to the other side of the wood to the old falling down barn, where a pair of Little Owls flew out of a tree.
For the next ten minutes I was then entertained by a group of 9 'Boxing Hares - something I never tire of watching.
A pair of Great spotted Woodpeckerswere in a courtship display near the car park as I left.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Ravenstone Revisited

I met up with Paul M. at Ravenstone North End first thing this morning in the hope of finding some Fallow Deer. This is because Paul is having a crack at trying to see as many British Mammals as he can in a year.
We had barely left the cars when Paul said he was sure he had seen a white bird flying fairly low someway off in the distance, but it had disappeared.
Carrying on up the track we disturbed a Buzzard out of the hedgerow, and then a bit further on we were both very pleased to see Pauls bird was in fact a hunting Barn Owl, which came quite close before flying to the wood and landed in a tree.
Other than 3 or 4 more Buzzards and a few Stock Doves we didn't see too much on our way up to the Great Wood.
There were Deer tracks everywhere but we had failed to see any. That was until we reached the old railway line at the top, when peering around the corner we found a group of 5 Fallows all in their winter coat just ambling across the track We were able to watch them for about a minute before they became aware of us and galloped off into the wood.
Some Bullfinches were calling from the wood and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming away, but birds were few and far between. A couple more Buzzards and a Kestrel were probably the only things noteworthy.

Friday, 12 February 2010


Coal Tit

Blue Tit

Marsh Tit

Great Tit
As I was off to Northampton to do some work for my Mum, I decided to stop off at Salcey Forest this morning.
I parked in the Green Woodpecker car park and headed down towards the South-east corner, a place where in the past few years I have seen Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers.
This year I didn't even have to walk that far as before I got 50 yards from the car, I noticed a small bird fly across the ride and settle in the top of a tree. This turned out to be a female Lesser-spot and this showed very well for a couple of minutes until I was distracted by a nearby Nuthatch and when I looked back it had disappeared.
I carried on down the track to a place I knew that someone put out seed for the birds and had really close views of Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tits as well as Nuthatch,Chaffinch, Robin and Dunnock.
While standing there taking photos I became aware of a scratching noise just behind me
and on looking round I was surprised to see a Squirrel about a foot from my head obviously looking to help itself to the free food on offer.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Magic Merlin

A walk around Olney Meadows this morning showed the pair of Stonechat were still around the pond area. At the west end in the sheep field, I was surprised to hear the cronking call of a Raven and indeed more so when two took off and headed down river.
A quick look over at Emberton Park revealed 12 Goosander on the sailing lake only 2 of which were drakes.

At lunchtime I stopped off at Ravenstone North End and walked the mile or so down to the Great Wood.
Star of the show was a superb Merlin that I saw almost as soon as I got as I got out of the car. Luckily it circled right round overhead giving me a chance to get a good view.
Within the next couple of hundred yards I had seen 2 Kestrels and 6 Buzzards so quite a raptor hotspot.
10 Bullfinches, 5 Grey Partridges, a Jay, and a Marsh Tit were seen on the way down.
Also I watched a Fox ambling down the side of the Wood, stopping every so often to scent mark the odd clump of grass. Then a Fallow Deer galloped down the side of the field

Monday, 8 February 2010

White-out at Grafham

I was working in Bedford this morning, and when the weather started to deteriorate around lunchtime I thought a trip to Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire was in order as there were a few birds I wanted to see present there.
I parked the car as far west as you can on the north shore and walked along Sanctuary Bay towards Savages Creek.
Looking out onto the reservoir there was very little to see apart from a few Great crested Grebes, Goldeneye and Cormorants. However some way along the track I noticed a Pied Wagtail and a much stockier small bird on the shoreline. On close inspection it turned out to be a Rock Pipit.
Nearer to Savages Creek I then picked out 2 ducks out on the water, these were one of my target birds, 2 first winter male Velvet Scoters. Much easier to see here than the usual views of birds far out to sea in the middle of a flock of 5000 Common Scoters. While looking at these fine pair, I noticed another of my targets nearby, a winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe.
Having found these two species reasonably easily, and the bonus Rock Pipit, I decided to push my luck and go around to the other side near to the sailing club where a Black-necked Grebe has been seen recently. However by the time I arrived the sleet showers had turned into a full scale Blizzard and I gave up looking very quickly and decided to head home.

Cutting accross country rather than going the direct way home, I stopped off just outside Keysoe in Beds and was rewarded with good views of several Red-legged Partridges and a couple of Corn Buntings.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


A leisurely walk around Gayhurst Quarry this morning.
From my vantage point over the fishing pit the main species seen was Wigeon, easily 300 both on the lake and grazing on the field in front. A few Tufties, Greylags and Mute Swans and also a single Little Grebe.
It was here that I noticed what looked like Badger latrines - small holes with fresh droppings inside - there was also grey coloured hair caught on the barbed wire fence. I had never realised there were Badgers here.
Walking around to the Motorway Pit there were 4 Little Egrets, a male Goldeneye (first one here this winter)lots of Mallard, more Wigeon, a few Tufties, Pochard, Gadwall, a couple of Teal and a single Great crested Grebe.
Over the river and up to Quarryhall, where there were a couple of dozen each of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings, a Buzzard, a Kestrel and a pair of Stock Doves.
From this point I scanned the mixed Swan and Goose flock in the nearby field and was surprised to see a Black Swan happily grazing in amongst the Mutes, Greylags and Canadas.
A flock of around 50 Lapwings was disturbed once by a hare that ran straight through the middle of them, and then again by another a couple of minutes later.

On the way home I stopped at Sherington Bridge to see if the Swan flock had pulled in any of their yellow billed relations. It hadn't but there were an impressive 81 birds.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Caldecotte, Another Trip Another Dip


This afternoon I thought it was time I went to try and see the drake Smew that has been present at Caldecotte south lake for the past 2 days.
Unfortunately as with the past 3 Smew in Bucks this year I missed it by going a day late. In fact the whole lake was a bit disappointing with a handful of Gadwall and 2 Wigeon being the best on offer.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


As I had a long lunch-break today, I decided to visit Foxcote Reservoir.
Dick Bodily and Jack O'Neil were already in the hide and told me that there had been no sign of the Ring-necked Duck today and between us we couldn't find it.
There were lots of other duck present, with good numbers of Wigeon, Pochard, Teal, Mallard, and Tufted,3 or 4 Shoveler, a pair of Goldeneye and a few Great crested Grebes

Monday, 1 February 2010

Pinky lives on !

Spent an hour down at the local patch this morning.
On scanning through the large Greylag flock I saw a familiar face. It was Pinky. He's the local resident Pink-footed Goose who has been living with the local Greylags for at least the last ten years. I hadn't seen him/her for a year or so since a visit to Manor Farm.
He is well known by birders around Milton Keynes as he travels around quite a bit.
It was quite a quiet visit as a lot of the ducks seem to have moved on, but I did see 3 Little Egret and a Black Swan. There was a Buzzard on a fence post eyeing up the feeding ducks and a Little Owl was in it's normal tree between the two rivers.