02 November, 2009

Swiss Gardens

The sun was out though it was quite breezy, so I decided to check on some woodland adjacent to Swiss Gardens, near Old Warden (TL147447). The hoped-for Yellow-browed Warbler or Firecrest never materialized, and the wood was generally quiet. On the small lake were single Wigeon and Mandarin, whilst overhead a Raven was heard 'cronking' and I was lucky enough to see it through a small break in the tree canopy above. Two Tawny Owls hooted, but I failed to locate them among the Ivy-clad trees.





18 October, 2009

Brown Shrike: Staines Moor, Middlesex

Another pleasant 'twitch' with a not-too-large gathering. Now in to its eighth day, the first-winter Brown Shrike was showing well, although sometimes distant. Initially it was thought to be a Red-backed Shrike. However, questions were asked, and the ID nailed.
I did manage to find a couple of fuzzy images among all the sharp ones (:-) and those of you with really good imaginations may even be able to make out some salient features which distinguish this bird from other shrikes !!

Brown Shrike

Brown Shrike

Images details:
c.100m @400mm; f5.6; tripod; sized 135%

[1] iso.100 @1/200th sec.
[2] iso.400 @1/800th sec.

08 October, 2009

Wryneck: Bucks

Still in 'twitch' mode today, so I headed over to Lathbury, near Newport Pagnell, where a Wryneck had been found yesterday on some allotments. The light was reasonable, but the bird was elusive. After some time it showed well, but a little distant for the camera. It spent a few minutes in a hedge-line, eventually returning to the allotment where it became elusive once more.


1/100th sec, f/6.3, iso400, sraw, with tripod.

04 October, 2009

Glossy Ibis: Cambridgeshire

Plenty of images around at the moment of the recent Glossy Ibis bonanza. However, starved as we are of them in Bedfordshire, combined with the pull of Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the same pit, it was a late afternoon hop over the border to Diddlington pit, near Little Paxton, Cambs, to see one. The sandpiper was too far for the 400mm, but the ibis was down to c.20m albeit in low light. Images were 1/80th - 1/100th sec hand held !!

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

28 September, 2009

Consolation Prize

After a twenty year wait, a Leach's Petrel graced Stewartby lake in Bedfordshire last Saturday. Needless to say, I was working.... Well, today a Leach's Petrel was discovered at Wilstone reservoir, Tring. A few record shots were acheived, and it came within 100m at one point. Undoubtedly the same bird and some consolation, but still...

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

Leach's Petrel

23 September, 2009

Local Patch - 23/09/09: Little Gull

Spent four hours today in the vain hope of finding a mega passerine, but it didn't happen. I did, however, find a 'mega' gull - mega in the context of little 'ole Dunstable STW - a juv/1st w Little Gull ! This patch 'tick' only spent two minutes after discovery, in distant view, before heading off south.

Little Gull

A Water Rail on the scrape was another good discovery - this one actually flew towards the camera !

Water Rail

The pair of Ruddy Shelduck are still on site, despite spending the odd day at other venues such as Tring and Luton Hoo.

Ruddy Shelduck

22 September, 2009

Local Patch - 22/09/09: Pintail

A moulting male Pintail was discovered by JL on the lagoons yesterday.



04 August, 2009

Ruddy Shelduck

A pair of Ruddy Shelduck appeared on the lagoons at Dunstable STW. The light, however, was atrocoius ! These birds were seen at Wilstone reservoir, Tring, on sunday, and prior to that, the same pair (probably) were seen at Uttoxeter Quarry, Staffordshire.
The female has a whiter face, and the male has all but lost its black neck collar.

The origin of Ruddy Shelduck in the UK is always controversial, and perhaps we'll never know where this pair came from.

Ruddy Shelduck

Ruddy Shelduck

Ruddy Shelduck

12 July, 2009


Avian-wise it's fairly quiet, so a Bullfinch in Houghton Regis chalk pit will have to do. I find it difficult to get the camera close to these shy birds. This male came a bit closer as it fed on hawthorn whilst waiting for a Hummingbird Hawkmoth to reappear on a nearby buddleia.


In the meantime,while it's quiet, you may like to checkout other wildlife images here:

29 June, 2009

'Channel' Wagtail

Whilst exploring an under-recorded area for butterflies near Eggington, I discovered a Blue-headed x Yellow Wagtail hybrid (flava x flavissima) or 'Channel' Wagtail. The bird was quite some distance in to a bean field, so the images have been enlarged for viewing.

'Channel' Wagtail

'Channel' Wagtail

In the same area, a pair of Yellow Wagtail were carrying food, and at least one fledged juvenile bird was seen.

Yellow Wagtail

12 June, 2009

Lesser Whitethroat

Back in Bedfordshire, this Lesser Whitethroat was singing from a Blackthorn hedge and eventually showed well - albeit briefly.

Lesser Whitethroat

10 June, 2009

France - Day trip 10/06/09

We started birding near Bologne at 07:40 - just 3 1/2 hours after leaving Bedfordshire. First stop was a forest near the coast at Mont Saint Frieux. Our target bird was Black Woodpecker, which we heard calling during a downpour, but did not see. Brief views were had of Crested Tit, and Short-toed Treecreeper was heard.

We then moved inland to Romelaere, an area of marsh and lake near St. Omer. En-route, a flyover Honey Buzzard and Hen Harrier caused some excitement as did Serin in St Omer. At the marshes on the Romelaere reserve we found Great White Egret, Little Bittern and Golden Oriole. Good birds can be found in car parks. On this occasion a pair of Lesser Peckers were flitting around - our fourth specie of woodpecker on the trip.

04 June, 2009

Nightjar @ the Lodge

A Nightjar this close does not happen very often. A male was found snoozing on a log within feet of the path on the restored heathland.



Earlier a Wood Sandpiper was discovered on the scrape at Dunstable STW

Wood Sandpiper

26 May, 2009

King's Wood, Heath & Reach

The begging call of this Tawny Owl gave away its location - a confirmed breeding record for the atlas project !

23 May, 2009

A family of Long-tailed Tit were sat together in a secluded dell 'chilling'.

Long-tailed Tit

17 May, 2009

Local Patch - 17/05/09

A narrow band of heavy rain failed to drop any scarce terns on to the site. After the rain, a Reed Warbler finally sat still to dry out.

Reed Warbler

A Little Ringed Plover feeding on the 'scrape'.

Little Ringed Plover

16 May, 2009


The story, as told in the June edition of 'Birdwatch' magazine, is of Essex birder of Nigel Pepper who 'fessed up' to making a false claim of Hermit Thrush at Chipping Ongar in October 1994. His reason ? - a protest against supression of rarities in Essex. I have had occasion to give medical aid to someone who shot themselves in the foot. I do suspect, however, that Mr Pepper is beyond my help...

09 May, 2009

Temminck's Stint @ Castle Mill GP

Plenty of waders reflecting how good these gravel workings are at the moment. Amongst the usual suspects a Temminck's Stint was the pick of the bunch - courtesy of 'Bird Finder Blain' !.

Temminck's Stint

29 April, 2009

Rye Harbour NR -29/04/09

After leaving 'Dunge' a short journey to Rye Harbour NR and the chance of Little Tern. There were at least five birds, but they were high in the sky. Two other tern species breed here on this well managed nature reserve - Common Tern and Sandwich Tern.

Little Tern

This pair were much easier to photograph :-)

Little Tern Decoy

Common Tern

Sandwich Tern

The smart Mediterranean Gull thrive on the reserve.

Mediterranean Gull

Unexpectedly, a Kittiwake flew low overhead in to the sun.


Migrant waders were thin on the ground, this Bar-tailed Godwit tried to find a spot to land.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Northern Wheatear breed here too.

Northern Wheatear

Dungeness - 29/04/09

A warm and sunny day with little wind and calm seas meant sea-watching was unproductive, the exception was a single Pomarine Skua.

The only frustrating part of the day came much later. On reaching home, news broke of a Crested Lark to the observatory ! This bird had possibly been present for three days, and you would have thought ... well,never mind, these things happen !

On the land, Linnet and Meadow Pipit and Black Redstart were found around the power station.


Meadow Pipit

Black Redstart

Dungeness Power Station

A few Whimbrel were noted around the old gravel pits.


A Cormorant citadel.

19 April, 2009

Grovebury Quarry

A few migrants included Common Sandpiper, a pair of Little Ringed Plover, two Yellow Wagtail and a female White Wagtail. A sizeable Sand Martin colony is taking shape in this working sand pit. Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap sang from the thickets.

Yellow Wagtail

Sand Martin Colony