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.