Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day at the Mill

With the prolonged cold weather many ducks are dispersing to the river so are getting a few different species showing up on the Kempston Mill Stretch with Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and Goosander all present in the last few days, along with the usual Mallards and Mandarins. Little Grebe are also pretty easy to spot along the river although their number were reduced by one today when a Grey Heron took one just downstream from the Mill bridge.

Grey Heron eating Little Grebe

Not much Christmas cheer for that Little Grebe, but a nice Christmas lunch for the Heron. In fact it seemed to be a day for the hunters. Another Little Grebe had eyes bigger than it's stomach a little further downstream but the "eyes bigger than stomach" prize goes to a Cormorant which had caught a Chub that was as big as itself. After several attempts to get a better grip on the fish the prize was eventually lost, and I think the Chub survived!

Cormorant battling with Chub

Earlier in the week I spotted a Black-headed Gull which had died on the ice on the river at Biddenham Loop. This morning a pair of wings was all that remained.

Later in the afternoon I spotted a Sparrowhawk in the Garden plucking a Starling. After it flew off I nipped out to find a pile of feathers and a beak.

Nature is truly "red in tooth and claw" this Christmas.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 19/12/2010

After all the snow yesterday I was pretty pessimistic about the survey at Box End Park this morning, but to my surprise the long walk through the snow was worth while. The lakes were 100% frozen but the river was still flowing freely so most of the wildfowl were on there. The Lapwings and Gulls were all sat out in the middle of the ice on the north lake:

Black-headed Gull 24
Common Gull 1
Cormorant 1
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 43
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 57
Meadow Pipit Present
Moorhen 5
Mute Swan 1
Pied/White Wagtail 1

Also, on arrival at the park 7 Redwing flew over and settled in the hedgerow opposite the entrance.

On the way to the park I stopped at Kempston Mill where the 2 regular male Mandarins had been joined by a female, the first I have seen there for over a year. There were also 2 Little Grebe on the river, one at the Mill and the other a little way downstream. A pair of Mute Swans and a Juvenile and the usual melee of Mallards were also present at the Mill.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 14/11/2010

Black-headed Gull 36
Common Gull 1
Cormorant 8
Green Sandpiper 1
Grey Heron 2
Grey Wagtail 1
Kingfisher 1 (Several brief sightings probably the same individual).
Lapwing 14
Little Grebe 2
Mallard 63
Meadow Pipit Present
Moorhen 2
Mute Swan 10 (7 adults and 3 first year birds. 2 adults with orange darvic rings, left leg 292 and right leg 553).

Histories of both birds below courtesy of Mike Reed (Ivel Ringing Group):

ON(292) W01889 Mute Swan adult female
originally ringed Bedford Embankment 17/09/2010

ON(553) W01891 Mute Swan adult female
originally ringed Bedford Embankment 29/07/2004
resighted Bedford Embankment 31/05/2008
resighted Kempston Mill 13/06/2010
resighted Bedford Embankment 17/09/2010

Pied/White Wagtail 4
Skylark Present
Snipe 2
Tufted Duck 1
Total number of species: 17 Individuals: 148

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 09/10/2010

Black-headed Gull 29
Canada Goose 2
Cormorant 1 (Plus 4 & 2 over south.)
Green Sandpiper 1
Grey Heron 1
Kingfisher 1 (4 sightings of a single bird so possibly more than one but can't be certain.)
Lapwing 1
Mallard 47
Mandarin Duck 2 (2 males.)
Meadow Pipit Present
Moorhen 1
Mute Swan 11 (8 adults and 3 first year birds.)
Pied/White Wagtail 4
Snipe 2
Total number of species: 14 Individuals: 103

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 26/09/2010

Black-headed Gull 5
Canada Goose 28
Cormorant 5
Great Crested Grebe 1
Green Sandpiper 1
Grey Heron 1
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 1
Mallard 45
Meadow Pipit Present
Moorhen 2
Mute Swan 8
Pied/White Wagtail 3
Sparrowhawk 1

Total number of species: 14 Individuals: 102

Also noted: Little Owl calling when I arrived and 27 Swallows on the tow lines when I left.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 15/08/2010

Canada Goose 16 (30 more over north)
Common Tern 1
Coot 1
Grey Heron 1
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 2
Mallard 28 (1 female had a single small duckling)
Mandarin Duck 1 (Eclipse male)
Moorhen 2
Mute Swan 1
Pied/White Wagtail 5

Total number of species: 11 Individuals: 59

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sunday 1st August 2010

A fairly quiet morning around Kempston Mill and Biddenham Loop CP. A juvenile Sparrowhawk was hanging around behind the ILEX building. Last week it sounded like there were 2 youngsters but only the one this week.

Kingfisher for the third week running along the river at the south east corner of Box End Park, seems to be a good spot to see them at the moment.

A Common Buzzard was in the trees at the north end of Box End Park.

At the new Biddenham Vale housing development it was good to see that House Martins have already moved in with birds visiting nesting sites on at least one of the houses and one of the garages. There was also an occupied nest on the Village Medical Centre. I had counted at least 50 House Martins over Gt. Denham earlier in the walk.

The footpath along the back of the Village Medical Centre was alive with Common Blue butterflies, I counted 18 in the short stretch between the golf course and the contractors entry to the housing development. Also spotted a Painted Lady in the same area.

Crossing the fields back towards Kempston Mill a Kestrel was on the spoil heap.

Stock Doves were heard in the woods downstream from the Mill and just north of All Saints Church.

Those were the highlights the morning.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 18/07/2010

Black-headed Gull 1
Buzzard Present (Calling from woods at north end of site.)
Common Sandpiper 3
Common Tern 26 (At least 13 juveniles present mostly ready to fly if not flying, 1 downy youngster seen.)
Grey Heron 1
Greylag Goose 2
Kestrel 2
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 18
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 (Juvenile seen off by the Terns.)
Mallard 24
Moorhen 1
Mute Swan 1
Pied/White Wagtail 4 (2 adults and 2 juveniles, adults feeding young.)

Total number of species: 14 Individuals: 85

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Goose round up

I joined the IRG at Roxton to help in the ringing of the Barnacle Goose flock there. At this time of year the Barnies are going through the moult and are unable to fly well if at all. With the help of some local canoeists all the geese were rounded up into a pen on the shore. Then it was down to the ringing with a large number receiving a white on red darvic colour ring along with the traditional metal ring.

There were 139 retraps and about 150 new birds plus 3 Greylags and 7 Canadas (numbers courtesy of EN). 26 Barnies flew to evade capture.

We also had 10 Crosbills over north and a fine pale Common Buzzard drifted over East. On site a minimum of 4 Lapwings and 3 Oystercatchers were also present along with good numbers of Coot and a handful of Mute Swans. On the other lake there were a couple of well grown juvenile Great Crested Grebes, more Coot and about 15 more Greylag Geese.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Box End Park WeBS: 20/06/2010

Common Tern 21 (At least 3 small chicks and 2 well developed youngsters seen.)
Coot 1
Great Crested Grebe 1
Kestrel 1
Lapwing 1 Plus 7 over east and 2 over west.
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 Seen off by the Terns.
Mallard 52 Plus 16 ducklings in 6 broods (6,2,3,3,1,1).
Mute Swan 7 Includes 1 on nest. One dead bird found.
Pied/White Wagtail 4
Skylark Present

Total number of species: 10 Individuals: 89

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sunday 13th June 2010

Back from my holiday so it's been a couple of weeks since I last did the Kempston Mill walk, so what's new?

Well first up the Mill Mute Swans have a single cygnet, finally got the ring number of the female this morning (553) and history as follows courtesy of EN:

Ringed as f.g bird (2 yrs old?) Bedford Embankment 29 July 2004.
Re-sighted same 31 May 2008

EN also suggested that 1 cygnet suggests the male is of low fertility unless other cygnets were taken by a predator. As far as I am aware only 1 cygnet left the nest but let me know if you know any different.

Further up stream at Biddenham Loop the Mute Swans there are onto their 3rd nest so a while to go before we see any cygnets. Hopefully we won't have any flooding otherwise it might be 3rd time unlucky.

A Lesser Whitethroat was singing along the hedge by the road, even got a view of this elusive bird as it came out onto a dead branch. Amazingly a second one was headr and seen by the golf course at the back of the houses. Are these the same 2 heard on the 26th April? Very possibly having completed their first broods and about to start their second.

Crossing the golf course I noted 2 Coot families, one with 4 young and the other with at least 3. In the drainage pond, currently dry there were 2 male Manadarin ducks rooting about and 2 pairs of Lapwing with 4 youngters, 2 each. The Lapwings were maintaining a no fly zone around the area and a Stock Dove and several Crows were seen off. A cracking male Linnet also put in an appearance on the surrounding fence.

Little else of note this morning.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Box End Park: Webs Count 16/05/2010

Canada Goose 2
Cormorant 5
Great Crested Grebe 2
Grey Heron 1
Little Ringed Plover 3
Mallard 28
Moorhen 1
Mute Swan 7
Black-headed Gull 1
Common Tern 12
Buzzard 1
Meadow Pipit Present
Pied/White Wagtail 1
Skylark Present

Number of species 14

A bright start this morning but quickly clouding over with a cold sw breeze getting up. The 3 Little Ringed Plovers were on the sand/gravel area next to the car park, some display was noted.

Shortly after arrival all the Common Terns got up giving a good opportunity to count them. There was a lot of coming and going throughout the morning but 4 looked to be sitting fairly tight on the spit so possibly on eggs.

The number of Mallard broods was amazing, 8 in total with broods numbering 6,2,5,8,1,3,3 and 4, I have never seen so many in one place at the same time. Many seemed to be in their first few days after hatching but the 6 were obviously quite a bit older.

There were Meadow Pipits and Skylarks present but not as obvious as in previous months. Plenty of Hirundines present with Sand Martins, House Martins and Swallows all present. A party of Swifts arrived later.

Starlings were regularly seen carrying food off towards the Gt. Denham houses.

The pair of Mute Swans on the river had abandoned their nest, assuming this is the same pair that had already abandoned the island nest, just down stream at the south end of the park. They were spotted nest building in a reed bed a little later about half way between the first 2 nest sites. There was a track through the long grass down to the second nest site which may have been the Fox which was seen on site this morning.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Monday 3rd May 2010

It was the usual Kemspton-Biddenham Loop-Great Denham walk this morning and despite a slightly damp start and end the middle section proved to be quite sunny although the temperature was much reduced on recent days in the stiff breeze.

A Garden Warbler was singing near the steps as I walked down to the river. Sedge Warbler and Blackcap were also heard before I met up with JA. No sign of the Sparrowhawks at the ILEX building this week.

A couple of Reed Warblers were heard along the Back Channel, along with several more Sedge Warblers.

At Box End Park there were at least 9 Common Terns and a large mixed flock of Martins and Swallows with a couple of Swifts for good measure. Both Sand Martins and House Martins were seen.

Neither of the Lesser Whitethroats heard last week were singing this week and Chiffchaffs were noticeably fewer. No surprises on the golf course this week although a Coot had 5 youngsters on one of the lakes. As we watched the Coots 3 Linnets flew in and settled behind one of the bunkers.

A few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits as we crossed the fields back to Kempston Mill and the Lapwings were busy seeing off the local Crows.

On the whole it was much quieter this week than last, the strong wind probably having something to do with that.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Monday 26th April 2010

After an aborted walk yesterday when it chucked it down half way round I had another day off so first thing I was out again to check for last weeks Black Redstart. Weather was fine, sunny to begin with, but cloud building from the west. I thought I was in for a repeat of yesterday morning but thankfully the rain held off.

Behind the ILEX building the Sparrowhawks were present in the Willow as usual, the pair had been spotted mating yesterday.

At Kempston Mill, a Sedge Warbler was singing in the reed bed, but no sign of the Reed Warbler that was there yesterday. I took the route along the back channel between the 2 hedge lines looking for newly arrived warblers but there was little of note other than the regularly spaced Sedge Warblers along the back channel. I'd heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling along there yesterday but no sign today. Up ahead at the spinney I noticed a raptor interacting with some Crows, this turned out to be a Common Buzzard, probably one of the Box End Park pair.

The island Swan nest was empty again and no sign of either adult, looks like it has been abandoned, especially as both adults were seen away from the nest yesterday during the heavy rain.

There were at least 4 Common Terns over Box End Park, difficult to tell exactly as they were very mobile, chasing noisily around the park and up and down the river. No Hirundines over the lake, unlike yesterday, in the heavy rain when there were many Martins and Swallows over the north lake.

A Lesser Whitethroat was singing at the south entrance to Biddenham Loop CP, several more Sedge Warblers along the river and Common Whitethroats along the roadside hedgeline in BLCP. Along the back of the houses by the golf course a couple of Willow Warblers were singing and a pair of Common Whitethroats were nest building in a patch of brambles.

Plenty of Skylarks along the edge of the golf course and in the fields between Great Denham and Kempston Mill, along with a few Meadow Pipits. As I came to the end of the track across the fields the alrma call of a pair of Long Tailed Tits in the hedge drew my attention. I stood quite close watching them and trying to see what they were getting upset about. Then as I photograped them a brown streak shot across the view finder. I lifted my head to see a Stoat disappear into the hedge. I followed the direction and spotted it again as it stood looking back at me for a split second before it continued on its way.

Little else of note although a fine morning anyway. Looks like last weeks Black Redstart was passing through as there was no sign yesterday or today.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Monday 19th April 2010

A day off so I decided to check out my regular Kempston route. Weather was fine but quite cold with a ground frost early on, warming up quickly though. I decided to reverse my normal route so I could check out the displaying Lapwings seen the previous week. This proved to be a good decision.

First up, at Kempston Mill, a Sedge Warbler was singing in the reed bed. Next up the Lapwings were displaying again, to the east of the new western bypass. At least four individuals were seen. Then it was on towards the golf course where I picked up a call I didn't know. A bit of tracking down turned up a male Black Redstart. The picture below shows the bird although not very well. This bird was extremely flighty and other than a glimpse of a rear quarter and that fantastic rusty orange tail I was unable to get very close at all. The bird was moving to a suitable song post, giving a burst of song, then moving on again.

OK I know it's a lousy picture but I just couldn't get close so I fired off a couple of shots at distance and blew the spec up to get this, better than nothing.

After losing the Redstart I continued along the side of the golf course and came across this Meadow Pipit posing on a fence post.

Next up was a Wheatear on the 15th fairway. As I watched it moved to the 15th tee which was next to the public footpath so I moved in the hope of getting closer views and possibly a photo. Sadly by the time I got round there it had gone and I was unable to relocate it.

I crossed the golf course a little further along than normal still hoping to spot the Wheatear again, instead I came across a beautiful singing Yellowhammer, absolutely stunning:

In Biddenham Loop CP another Sedge Warbler was singing at the south end entrance. The Mute Swan was still on her nest on the island. There was a lot of work going on at the new bypass bridge so I had to take the path away from the rivers edge until I got past the bridge. Just upstream from the weir a pair of Swans had a third trapped on the bank, obviously a bit of a territorial dispute going on.

Just downstream from the weir I came across a Great Crested Grebe which had fishing line wrapped around it's head. I am reliably informed that it is still able to catch and eat fish.

Back at the Mill and the Sedge Warbler was still in full song and showing well but it was time to get back home and get some breakfast after a great morning.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Box End Park: Webs Count 18/04/2010

Black-headed Gull 1
Buzzard 1
Canada Goose 2 (6 more passed over the site.)
Common Tern 2
Cormorant 1
Great Crested Grebe 3
Grey Heron 1
Little Ringed Plover 5
Mallard 27 (1 of the females had 10 ducklings.)
Meadow Pipit Present
Mute Swan 2 (1 Juvenile and a female on nest.)
Oystercatcher 1
Pied/White Wagtail 2
Skylark Present

Total number of species: 14 Individuals: 48

Another glorious morning but cold with a ground frost. Parked up as usual and walked the park. At Vicarage Farm an unhappy Great Tit drew my attention to a Little Owl in a tree by the entrance to Vicarage Farm. At the park entrance a Chiffchaff was singing, 3 others were heard/seen around the park along with 1 Willow Warbler and 2 Blackcaps. 2 Common Terns were seen around the park. A couple of Sand Martins were spotted feeding over the north lake and 2 Stock Doves were feeding on the west side of the south lake. A Swallow was on the telephone wire by Vicarage Farm on the way back to the car.

A great start but no time to hang around as it was off to Priory CP for the guided walk at 9am.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Some recent photo's

Some recent photographs:
Record shot of a Willow Warbler - 10/04/2010
The Bedford Golf Course

Record shot of Swallows checking the wind speed - 10/04/2010

The Bedford Golf Course

Singing Reed Bunting - 21/03/2010

Biddenham Loop CP

Record shot of Mink - 21/03/2010

Great Ouse between Kempston Mill and Biddenham Loop CP.

Grey Heron and Pike do battle, only one winner here though.

Great Ouse between Kempston Mill and Biddenham Loop CP.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

10th April 2010

What a difference a few days make. On Monday Chiffchaffs were way out in front with Blackcaps making up the numbers and Willow Warblers no where to be seen. Today Blackcaps shot into the lead and we had great views of a singing Willow Warbler.

Monday counts were Blackcap 3, Chiffchaff 10, Willow Warbler 0.
Todays counts were Blackcap 10, Chiffchaff 9, Willow Warbler 3.

Met up with JA for my usual loop up along the river at Kempston Mill to Biddenham Loop and around the golf course and back to the Mill. It was a beautiful morning with wall to wall bird song. Hadn't even met up with JA and already had a Blackcap behind the Youth Centre and a Willow Warbler singing nearby. A pair of Sparrowhawks were in the Willow behind the ILEX building, enjoying breakfast. The Rookery was quiet, no sign of any chicks yet.

JA arrived and we set off upstream, the usual Stock Dove and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker were a nice start in the wooded section before we reached the Mill. Chiffies and Blackcaps were regularly heard, and a Kingfisher was seen, but our next stop was for a singing Treecreeper in the woods at the Backchannel. A little further and the distinctive sound of displaying Lapwings stopped us in our tracks. A quick scan and they were located on the east side of the western bypass.

A Mute Swan was on its nest on the island upstream of the Back Channel. Another Sparrowhawk was spotted in the woods here.

Around the Golf course we had more Chiffs and Blackcaps and a singing Yellowhammer. As we turned for home we came across another singing Willow Warbler that gave us great views. As we cut across the golf course the Skylarks came to the fore giving great views as they flew up from the cover singing strongly. The Little Grebe was still on one of the ponds on the golf course, a handful of Coots and family of Mute Swans were nearby. I doubt it will be long before that young Mute Swan gets his marching orders.

We altered our route slightly in the hope of getting better views of the Lapwings. We had great views of several Meadow Pipits, as we cut across the fields from Great Denham. A small party of Linnets (c15) was spotted and then a Lapwing went up over towards the bypass. There was no sign of any others to start with but then another 2 joined in.

As we reached the hedge line Skylark song gave way to Great Tit song and soon we were back at the Mill.

We also had report of a Red Kite down by the river at Biddenham Loop CP. There are Buzzards in the area so possibly mistaken identity but hopefully not.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sunday 28th March 2010

A bit overcast, cool and breezy this morning but well worth the early start when I spotted an Osprey, low over the Kempston western bypass, heading for Box End Park. I suspect it was following the course of the river and just cutting out the Kempston loop. I followed it in the bins and it went into a hover, over the Box End Park lakes, I think, although it may have been over the river. I was quite a way downstream at this point with no way of catching up so I just continued watching in the bins. It drifted a little further north and hovered again before drifting off towards Bromham, following the course of the river upstream.

I had already had a Sparrowhawk behind the youth centre on Hillgrounds and had a Common Buzzard at Box End Park a little later.

A pair of Mute Swans were nest building on the usual island just up stream from the back channel.

Also of note were 11 singing Chiffchaffs on my regular route. Star of the show was undoubtedly the Osprey though.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Bird Survey 21/03/2010

Following are counts of species seen on my regular walk taking in Kempston Mill, Biddenham Loop CP and The Bedford Golf Course:

Song Thrush 9
Collared Dove 4
Starling 11
Carrion Crow 22
Blackbird 23
WoodPigeon 59
Mallard 41
Pheasant 1
Blue Tit 15
Wren 17
Robin 9
Blackcap 1
Green Woodpecker 6
Magpie 8
Rook 12
Cormorant 2
Great Tit 16
Stock Dove 1
Skylark 16
GS Woodpecker 1
Dunnock 12
Goldfinch 11
Grey Heron 2
Chiffchaff 4
Moorhen 3
Kingfisher 1
Chaffinch 14
BH Gull 13
Reed Bunting 3
Meadow Pipit 2
GC Grebe 1
Canada Goose 8
Buzzard 2
Greenfinch 6
Long-tailed Tit 3
Jackdaw 1
House Sparrow 3
Pied Wagtail 1
Coot 4
Little Grebe 1
Sparrowhawk 2

Also spotted a mink along the river at All Saints church.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Box End Park: Webs Count 14/03/2010

Black-headed Gull 14
Buzzard 2
Canada Goose 2
Cormorant 1
Great Crested Grebe 1
Grey Heron 2
Kestrel 1
Kingfisher 1
Mallard 38
Meadow Pipit 3
Moorhen 5
Oystercatcher 2
Pied/White Wagtail 1
Skylark Present<
Snipe 1
Sparrowhawk 1

Total number of species: 16, Individuals: 75

Great to be out on such a beautiful morning and first up was a lovely Kestrel just as I entered the park. It was a good day for raptors with 2 Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk also noted. A second Oystercatcher has turned up. Cormorant numbers were surprisingly low. A single Kingfisher was seen on 2 occasions so may have been 2 but couldn't be certain. Biggest surprise of the morning was zero Mute Swans, the first time I haven't had a Mute Swan since I started doing the WeBS counts here.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bird Survey 06/03/2010

Following are counts of species seen on my regular walk taking in Kempston Mill, Biddenham Loop CP and The Bedford Golf Course:

Blackbird 22
Carrion Crow 38
Song Thrush 8
Collared Dove 3
WoodPigeon 55
Magpie 16
House Sparrow 9
Green Woodpecker 3
Chaffinch 20
Starling 6
Wren 18
Great Tit 24
Rook 16
Blue Tit 14
Robin 10
Mallard 59
Moorhen 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker 3
Stock Dove 2
Redwing 14
Goldfinch 38
Cormorant 9
Fieldfare 2
SkyLark 7
Long-tailed Tit 8
Reed Bunting 10
Dunnock 18
Pheasant 2
Mistle Thrush 8
Yellowhammer 4
Black-headed Gull 12
Mute Swan 9
Grey Heron 1
Canada Goose 2
Pied Wagtail 13
Greenfinch 9
Little Grebe 1
Coot 2
Meadow Pipit 6
Kingfisher 2
Sparrowhawk 1

Thursday, 4 March 2010

This Week

The female Blackbird in the garden has been collecting nest material again this week and the Collared Doves keep disappearing into the hedge at the bottom of the garden. House Sparrow numbers have been steadily increasing up to around the 20 mark now. A pair of Blue Tits are regulars at the feeders and have been seen around the nest box. The chiming song of a Great Tit has been heard daily and a Song Thrush is a regular early morning songster nearby. Long-tailed Tits are still passing through the garden regularly and last week both male and female Sparrowhawks tried their luck without success.

A walk along the embankment in Bedford produced the Black Swan that has been at Priory CP in recent weeks. DK confirmed it had been at PCP that morning and that it was still at the embankment that evening.

Was unable to carryout my planned bird survey on Sunday morning due to heavy rain so will hopefully get that done on Saturday morning, assuming the flooding along the river has receded.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Box End Park: Webs Count 21/02/2010

It was WEBS count day today and a very wet one with heavy sleet/snow at times and much of the lakes surface covered in ice. Water levels were high on the lake and river with very little of the spit on the south lake actually showing above water. On the Spit there were 7 Lapwing, 8 Canada Geese, 24 Mallard, 2 Mute Swans and surprise Oystercatcher. Hopefully the Oyc is back to breed again this year. As I was checking out the spit a female Sparrowhawk flew past, braving the conditions.

On my way around the lake I flushed a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Snipe from the long grass between the lake and the river. A couple of Grey Herons were also on site as were around 13 Black-headed Gulls. Quite a few larger Gulls were seen passing over the site (SW) but visibility was too poor for any ID's. A third Mute Swan was seen on the north lake and 12 Fieldfare flushed from a river side bush at the north end of the site.

2 more Mute Swans were seen on the river along with a single Moorhen but, with the river in flood, conditions were unfavourable for much else. Some of the Mallard had moved from the lakes to the river and 11 Cormorants were seen to leave the river in a single group.

Another 2 Mute Swans passed over following the river north, but did not drop in. Then 19 Cormorants flew over following the river south, these almost certainly included the 14 seen earlier on the lake/river.

As the snow increased it was time to leave and get back home to the warm!

BTO Wetland Bird Survey Homepage

Box End Park

Saturday, 13 February 2010

More from Shetland (June 2009)

Some more pictures from our Shetland trip last June:

The final couple of nights at Sumburgh produced superb sunsets.

The Jarlshof ruin provided foreground interest for this sunset shot.

This Otter made an appearance while we waited for the ferry at Yell. Nearly missed the ferry while trying to get this shot!

A very pleasing shot of an Arctic Tern in flight.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Saturday 6th February 2010

It's a step back in time today, Shetland June 2009 to be exact. Got around to processing a few more photo's this morning so here goes:

Red-necked Phalarope (f)

Red-necked Phalarope (m)

At the Loch of Funzie on Fetlar we had great encounters with the Red-necked Phalarope. At times the female was so close it was too close for my lens to focus! The female at the top was working her way around the edge of the loch while a hoard of photographers followed. Finally she and a male took a break, preening and snoozing, at the edge of the loch like a couple of celebs with the paparazzi surrounding them. This was a truly unforgettable experience.


This Redshank had young close to the road and tried to persuade us to move along, not before a few snaps though.

Great Skua

Also on Fetlar this Great Skua was one of many bathing in a small loch before we put them up.

Subalpine Warbler

My first twitch! The Subalpine Warbler at Skaw on Unst. The photographers staked out the Spearmint clump, where this bird had been seen in recent days, while the rest of the group walked down to the shore. After a bit of a wait the bird finally appeared just long enough for a quick shot.

Arctic Skua

I had trouble getting a decent shot of an Arctic Skua, this one just a about passes muster.

All taken on the 9th June 2009 (Fetlar and Unst, Sheland Islands)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Thursday 4th February 2010

After the disappointing garden bird watch at the weekend had an interesting 5 minutes this morning when 3 House Sparrows, 7 Long-tailed Tits, Wren and Blue Tit were all seen while looking out of the kitchen window! Of those the House Sparrows were most welcome having been absent from the garden for the last few weeks.

Yesterday a Dunnock was seen on the seed feeders. Only problem was it just couldn't work out where the seed ports were and just kept pecking at the perspex tube, what a bird brain.

The cold winter doesn't seem to have slowed the birds down much. Many of the small birds are singing strongly now (Chaffinch, Great Tit, Robin and Dunnock). Starlings are investigating some of the regular nest sites and a pair of Collared Doves were seen getting very friendly in the garden. They might be in for a nasty surprise if the forecast cold returns next week.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday 31st January 2010

Very cold this morning allowing me to take my normal Kempston/Biddenham Loop walk along the river with the ground frozen. The first drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard in the woods downstream from Kempston Mill, no Stock Dove this morning though.

The usual 3 Mandarins were at the Mill, taking advantage of the free grain but also taking a battering from the local mallards.

At Box End Park Cormorants were the order of the day with at least 16 seen but possibly 20+.

A group of 20 Skylarks went up over the new building site as I made my way back towards Kempston Mill and groups of 8 and 2 Cormorants were seen heading towards BEP where they dropped in.

Back at the steps up to Hillgrounds ~30 Redwing flushed into the trees as I ascended.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Big Garden Birdwatch 2010

It was a fairly uninspiring hour brightened by a couple of Long-tailed Tits passing through in the last five minutes. 5 Starlings dropped in along with single Robin, Dunnock, Woodpigeon and Collared Dove.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Bird Survey 24/01/2010

Following are counts of species seen on my regular walk taking in Kempston Mill, Biddenham Loop CP and The Bedford Golf Course:

Carrion Crow 57
Blackbird 14
Magpie 7
Robin 10
Dunnock 5
WoodPigeon 59
Song Thrush 6
Great Tit 31
Collared Dove 5
Canada Goose 8
Blue Tit 29
Redwing 2
Green Woodpecker 4
Mute Swan 9
Mallard 72
Chaffinch 15
Stock Dove 2
Long-tailed Tit 6
Goldfinch 36
Mandarin Duck 3
Moorhen 7
Bullfinch 5
Fieldfare 12
Pheasant 1
Reed Bunting 3
Wren 7
Grey Heron 2
Pied Wagtail 3
Black-headed Gull 59
Cormorant 7
Little Grebe 1
Starling 11
Meadow Pipit 2
SkyLark 3
Kingfisher 1
Greenfinch 3
House Sparrow 3

Monday, 18 January 2010

17/01/2010 - Great Duck Hunt 2010

The Bedfordshire Bird Club organised a wildfowl count again this year. The aim is to get someone out to every lake and river in the county to obtain a snapshot of the wildfowl in the county. This year it was on Sunday 17th January which tied in with the BTO Wetland Bird Survey for January. Along with my WeBS site (Box End Park [BEP]) I volunteered to count at Biddenham Loop Country Park [BLCP].

The count followed on from a prolonged cold spell but the thaw had set in and recent heavy rain had increased the levels of the lake at BEP and the river at both sites. Having said that the lake was still about 5% ice covered.

I arrived at BEP around first light to find the spit on the south lake almost under water and the expected Lapwing roost nowhere to be seen. Counts were disappointing with no waders at all, highlight was a Little Grebe on the river:

Coot 2
Cormorant 13
Grey Heron 1
Little Grebe 1
Mallard 43
Moorhen 2
Mute Swan 4
Black-headed Gull 34
Common Gull 1

Other species of interest:

Meadow Pipit 5
Sparrowhawk 1

I moved on to BLCP, starting at Bromham bridge and following the river (Great Ouse) down stream. The extra water from the melted snow and recent rain had forced the river level up to the top of the banks and again counts were disappointing, highlights were a single Little Grebe and a Kingfisher.

Moorhen 4
Grey Heron 2
Kingfisher 1
Mallard 20
Little Grebe 1

The Mallards were on the Pond in the cow field that runs along the length of the park.

Highlight of the morning was this Kestrel at BLCP which hung about long enough for a photo op: