Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday 28th December

Cold again this morning but still no increase in the wildfowl numbers.

On the main lake:
24 Pochard (all males)
4 Tufted (3m1f)
16 Shoveler
19 Cormorant
6 Great Crested Grebe

5 Teal (3m2f)
at least 7 Little Grebe, possibly 8

Kingfishers active along the main path, around fingers and by the main lake hide. Still nothing seen on Fenlake.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Much colder this morning with frost on the ground in the more sheltered areas. Thought there might be more wildfowl in this morning, with the shooting heard all morning from the direction of Octagon, but sadly not.

On the main lake:
25 Pochard (1f)
1 Tufted (m)
12 Shoveler
19 Cormorant
4 Great Crested Grebe!

2 Shoveler (m)
5 Teal (3m2f)
at least 4 Little Grebe, possibly up to 6

7 Siskin over the Crescent. A Fox strolled past the Crescent while I chatted to TonyP.

Kingfisher around the Crescent and Water Rail in the Reeds on West Fingers, near the Steps.

Nothing spotted on Fenlake and little up at Fish Ponds, just a handful of Tits and Finches. Another Kingfisher along the Cut between Fish Ponds and the park entrance. Another or same Kingfisher crossed the cycle path and headed into the marina.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday 20th December

Another warm, overcast day but fairly quiet on the wildlife front. The main change over the last week was the arrival of some Pochard at last. After the early arrival of a few individuals a few weeks back they have been very intermittent but today we were up to 21 accompanied by 9 Tufted ducks. The rangers are now feeding the over wintering wild fowl so I would expect to see the numbers increasing over the next few weeks. Shoveler numbers were down this week with 9 on the main lake and up to 3 on Fingers. At least 4 Teal were tucked away around the back of Fingers, making plenty of noise. No sign of the Goosander this week, a shame as it was showing really well last week down by the Beach.

On Fingers there were 6 Little Grebe on the west lake. We had to watch and wait to get them all as they are the masters of hide and seek!

Back on the main lake Gull numbers were much higher than of late with in excess of 120 Common Gulls, even more Black Headed Gulls and a couple of Lesser Black Backs. Cormorant numbers were initially low but increased steadily through the morning reaching around 20 by mid morning.

Over on Kingsmead there were at least 17 Moorhen and a party of Canada Geese. A few more Cormorant were roosting in the trees over by the back river. It's not hard to spot which trees they are using, just look for the festive looking ones!

Kingfisher were less evident this week with the main sighting on the south side of the main lake. Goldcrest and Treecreeper were also seen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday 14th December

Overcast but dry and warmer than of late. Noticeably few Cormorants, but quite a few Mute Swans. There were a lot of Mute Swan Movements throughout the morning with groups of 10+ arriving and departing, maximum number seen was 32 which included the resident pair and their youngsters. Along the main path a Water Rail was seen swimming along the edge of the lake and a Kingfisher flew from a Willow out towards the island. A Green Woodpecker was hammering on the nest box in the trees opposite the Beach. I met up with DK and asked if he had seen a Wigeon as I thought I had heard one call a couple of times. Within a few moments a male Wigeon flew over, followed shortly after by 17 Teal which had probably come up off Fenlake. There were also 12 Shoveler and a male Tufted duck on the main lake.

Around Fingers just a couple of Little Grebe, another male Tufted, a pair of Gadwall and up to 8 more Shoveler.

Along the Navigation Channel I had another Little Grebe and Treecreeper and Goldcrest. On Kingsmead there were at least 22 Moorhen along with a party of Canada Geese and a number of Wood Pigeon.

I headed back along the Woodland Walk and followed the Long Hedge back into the Finger Lakes complex, spotting another Goldcrest in the Long Hedge as I went.

A loop around the main lake resulted in several more Kingfisher sightings along the east and south sides and a party of 10+ Long Tailed Tits on Press Mead. Back at the VC 6 Pied Wagtails flew over heading for the Beefeater.

Fri 12th

Had a ringing session during the "warmer" part of the day. Ground remained frozen. 'Lilypads' iced over.
Birds seen - 2 Gt.Spots, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin, 2 Fieldfare, several Mipits over, 1 Sky Lark & 1 Song Thrush.
Birds caught - Wren 2, Robin 3, Blackbird 3, LT Tit 3, Blue Tit 10, Gt. Tit 7.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sun 30th Nov

2 Black-necked Grebes on the main lake, showing well by the beach at 08:00 (per DK).
These may well be the two that were at Paxton GPs (North Pit) earlier in the week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tues 25th Nov

From Tony P.

Some nice sightings at Priory this morning including:
1 female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
1 fly-over Shelduck
2 'red-head' Goosander

cheers Tony

After filling up the feeders, from the 'dead seat':-
7 Teal
2 Kingfisher
1 L.Grebe
Around to the 'crescent':-
4 Gadwall
3 more L.Grebe
3 Siskin
On the main lake:-
1 2W Herring Gull
Elsewhere - Mipits!

ATB Errol

Friday, November 21, 2008

FW: PCP Thursday



From: errol newman

I had [mid morning walk round Fingers]  -

2 Gadwall (pr)

Ad male Sparr (sitting in tree)

>11 Teal

5+ Siskin


2 Pied Wag (males)

2 Green Wood


Lots of birds on/under/around the nuts

Otter - found by Magpie, not me! I found the Magpie, tho'!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wed 19th Nov

A few hours standing in the 'rough' this morning produced 25 birds, 11 of which were new. [5 Blue Tit, 2 Gt.Tit, 2 Blackbird, 1 each Goldfinch & Chaffinch].

Not in the nets we had - 5 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, a Chiff, 9 Goldfinch, 4 Bullfinch, ~9 Siskin, a Gt.Spot, several Sky Lark, a Kestrel and ...
a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!!

Second best bird of the day was a Blue Tit that was first ringed as a juvenile on 29th June 2002. That makes it 6 years 4 months and 21 days since we first handled it. [National record is over 9 years]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

15/16 November

I started out early on Saturday to catch the Corvid roost leaving but was a little late. The bulk of the roost left as I walked down to Fingers along the main path. However this was quite good as I had the spectacle of 100's of Crows and Jackdaws swirling above Fingers with the backdrop of an orange dawn sky, fantastic. As I reached Fingers other smaller groups of Jackdaws were still leaving and as I rounded the corner towards Kramer hide I noticed another group heading towards me, then I noticed that the first bird was significantly larger and was being mobbed by the others, I realised it was a Common Buzzard. It had timed it's park visit very badly as a group of 50+ Jackdaws lifted off and joined the mobbing and it was lost in the swirling mass! The rest of the morning was a bit damp with little of note. Kingfishers were active again and a couple of Little Grebes were on West Fingers. There were a number of Bullfinch around Kramer hide early on. Very little wildfowl, just the noisy Teal giving themselves away.

On Sunday we had a guided walk which turned out quite damp again. I arrived early to do a quick recce and enjoyed the best of the weather and the birds, with Water Rail, Chiffchaff, Several Goldcrest (at the car park, the Rough and the bottle bank), Pochard and Tufted Ducks. We had a reasonable assortment of birds on the walk including Redwing and Treecreeper but the drizzle put a bit of a dampener on things!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wed 12th November

A morning ringing session produced over 40 birds but only 19 new.
Gt. Spot 2, Wren 1, Dunnock 2, Robin 1, Goldcrest 1, Blue Tit 11, Gt. Tit 15, Greenfinch 9, Goldfinch 1, Bullfinch1. Finches were "wary" in the bright sunshine.

Sightings - male Sparr (08:15), Greenshank over (08:25) calling, 14 Blackbird >>SW + 2 locals, 9 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, "loads" of Siskin (back & forth and in tree-tops - could have been >12), 2 Chiff in hedge (emphatic 'hweep' call) , 2 Lesserpolls >>.
Also Gadwall, Tachybapt, 5 Herons left Fingers (lilypads), Fox.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This Weekend

A very disappointing morning on Saturday, the weather was grim and the birds were in hiding, not that I blame them. Highlights were a bit of a Thrush passage with a flock of 40 and another of 20, Redwing and Fieldfare, heading south. John also saw a couple of flocks and I heard Fieldfare calling while I was in Kramer hide but couldn't see them. We also had a Water Rail at Kramer, moving through the reed beds in front of the hide. The only ducks we had apart from Mallard were some Teal which we heard calling while we were in Kramer Hide. There were three Coot on the main lake by the hide. A Sparrowhawk was seen over the Car Park and then again as it drifted over Kramer hide.

Sunday was much better with the first Pochard of Winter arriving on the main lake (4m2f) along with 3 male Tufteds and a single red head Goldeneye. Great Crested Grebe numbered 22 and Cormorant numbered 33. A Water Rail was seen by the main path as it flew to the cover of the reed bed.

At Kramer hide 4 Teal put in an appearance and 3 Shoveller did a fly past. A Fox appeared in the right hand reed bed and was seen later in the Sheep Pen with another.

A Little Grebe was on West Fingers which, again, was virtually deserted, excepting the Mallard and the Mute Swans. The Swans embarked on another training flight to the main lake and were last seen up near the sailing club

Kingfisher were evident on both days, with particularly good views at Kramer hide on Saturday.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday 1st November

A bright cold start quickly deteriorated to drizzle then rain. Cormorants were already arriving in numbers when I arrived and Great Crested Grebes now number 20+. A Goldeneye was also on the main lake.

At Kramer hide it was fairly quiet with mainly Moorhens providing the entertainment. Some Teal calls from East or West Fingers betrayed their presence and later 3 Teal (1m2f) showed up on Kramer. Later in the morning we counted at least 6 Teal with several males in various phases of eclipse plumage.

Having left the hide I headed back towards the Beach and met up with John. There were a large number of Cormorant feeding close in at the Beach which were flushed by a dog giving a reasonable chance at counting them. We both came to counts in the mid 60's with John on 63 and me on 65. Pity the poor fish in the lake if there are any left!

Back on Fingers no Gadwall and just a pair of Shoveler but at least 3 Little Grebe on East Fingers. The Mute Swans were doing their flying training again on East Fingers and had made it onto the main lake later in the morning.

A couple of Grey Wagtails were on the Canoe Slalom. Kingfisher were prominent again this week with several sightings throughout the morning. Several small groups of Redwing and Fieldfare moved through during the morning with the largest flock being 22 Fieldfare.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ringing session 27th Oct

Fifty birds today - but not the Blackcap; that disappeared past the nets towards the steps.

The tally was as follows: Dunnock 2, Redwing 2 (both adults), Goldcrest 1, Blue Tit 14 (2 birds from the boxes and 6 new birds), Gt. Tit 2, LT Tit 2, Greenfinch 16 (14 were 1CY, and only 4 were females; as usual, no re-traps), Goldfinch 3, Bullfinch 3 and a new species for us here - a Siskin. 33 were new birds.

1st calendar year male Siskin, 27-10-08

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Decided to ring on the 'spit' but the wind was too much. Didn't catch a thing so went home and did a Blue Tit in the garden!
Birds of note - Quite a few Siskins; flock of 11 plus maybe 2 & 6 more (19 max). Blackcap 1 male. Goldcrests min of 3. Small groups of Redwings buzzing about; counted a min of 16 but maybe 30 around. 3 Fieldfare flew over S. Up to 10 Blackbirds around the western side of Fingers (Lilypads, Spit, Crescent). Water Rail heard once. White faced C.Buzzard over 'lilypads', a very pale bird and slightly on the small side for the species. 2 or more Gt.Spots. Lots of Cormorants - but didn't get an "all up" count. Ca.16 GCG's though.
Nearly forgot the Starlings; 3 groups made 18 in all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thrush Invasion

Arrived just after 7 this morning and started counting GC Grebes on the main lake when a rush of wings made me look up to a sky full of Redwings. I estimate between 3 and 4 hundred mostly Redwings but there may have been a few Fieldfare mixed in, no calls though and all fairly low heading south. After that is was a Thrushy morning with more parties of Redwings and Fieldfare passing over south throughout, plus one party of Redwings that dropped into the Rough while we watched. In the park we probably reached 550+ during the morning with another 100-150 over towards Willington. There also seemed to be a large number of Blackbirds especially over by the Navigation Channel.

Back on the Main Lake there were 47 Cormorant fishing, the earlier GC Grebe count returned 17. The Rough was very busy with finches, Tits and several Dunnock calling before the Redwing turned up.

On West Fingers there were 4 Shoveller and 3 Gadwall and around the back by the Sedgewick Seat we flushed a Teal, with another 3 tucked away around the corner. A Sparrowhawk put in an appearance over the Long Hedge, surveying the influx of breakfast!

Heading out towards Willington it was quiet, excepting the passage Thrushes. The water level has risen further in both the 100 Acre workings and Meadow Lane GP so just Gulls there today. The Tern Pool was devoid of life excepting the resident Mute Swan. A Kestrel was sat on a fence post by the bypass and a flock of 50+ Linnets moved across the ploughed field. Plenty of Geese moving throughout the Morning at Willington, mostly Greylags. The Bar-Headed Goose was with 50+ Greylags on the lake by the road into the gravel works and yet more Redwing and Fieldfare in the scrub nearby.

100+ Barnacle Geese in the field by Dovecote Lake and a good mix of Wigeon, Tufted and Teal on the main lake at Willington GP.

Quieting down on the way back to the park with intermittent Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. Also another large flock of LBJ's seen at distance from the bypass looking across the fields towards the river, possibly Linnets or Goldfinch but just guessing.

A great morning with the highlight being that sky full of Redwing!

Ringing - 16th Oct

A mammoth (all day) ringing session produced 76 birds plus another 14 the following morning (while the nets dried out). Not many thrushes about yet but still quite a few finches except Chaffinch. Four Siskin inspected the nets - but that's as far as they went!

Here's a list of the 17 species what we caught (new, retraps):-
Wren 1/3, Dunnock 2/6, Robin 1/4, Blackbird 3/2, Song Thrush 0/1, Redwing 1/0 (an adult, the majority that we catch are immatures), Blackcap 3/0 (all heavy and ready for "the off"; one remained next day), Chiffchaff 3/0, Goldcrest 3/1, LT Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 8/11, Great Tit 2/6, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Greenfinch 11/2, Goldfinch 7/0, Bullfinch 3/1.

A notable passage of Wood Pigeons south on the 17th, with flocks over 100. DK also had a long line of Starlings that numbered 1500. Some Sky Lark movement, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A rough haircut

BTCV have been in 'the park' of late. In the last few weeks, Princes Trust volunteers helped create & enhance glades along the woodland walk. Weekday Conservation Team volunteers constructed some willow spiling along the far side of the main lake (in the wintering wildfowl section) and the 'rough' has had a hair cut.

Above: Coppicing in the rough.

Above: John working hard (as usual).

Above: A bit of a pollard - well, we wouldn't want to get rid of all the scrub all at once would we?

Above: Jill tends the bonfire.

Bits & pieces

This week's obs made mainly around Fingers.
2-3 Siskins daily blogging round the site. An increase in Chaffinch and Greenfinch with small flocks of 5-6 present. Goldfinch numbers over 20 daily. Male Blackcap singing by the 'dead seat' on Monday and in the 'rough' on Tues. No hirundines seen. At least 3 Goldcrests. Green & Gt.Spots actively calling. Also Water Rail squealing on 'lilypads'. Female Kestrel over uncut parts of 'new meadow'.
Parts of the 'rough' and the 'crescent' have recently had a "haircut" [coppicing]; the 'spits' are ongoing as JB says they intend to do six, time permitting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This weekend at the park

On Saturday I spent the first part of the morning chasing around the main lake, trying to identify an interesting small grebe. I first saw it as it headed across from the west end of the island to the south west corner of the lake. It looked like a mini Great Crested Grebe from that distance which got my interest as I thought it might be a Slav. I hurried around to the fishing swim on the west side, in time to see the grebe take flight to the reed bed by the hide. I walked around to the first fishing swim beyond the hide but could not get a view of the reed bed so i went back to the hide and waited. Eventually there was some movement in the reeds and some tantalising glimpses but I still wasn't certain of the id before it disappeared again. I continued around the lake, meeting up with John on the way, but from one of the east side fishing swims we could see the grebe out in front of the hide so it was a hurried walk back to hide only to find it was a Little Grebe after all, confirmed by the whinnying call. Male Tufted duck also present.

On the way back around the south east corner of the lake a Migrant Hawker dragonfly posed on a branch and a Jay flew low over the trees at the back of the Leat. There seemed to be more GC Grebe this week but we could only count 10 although they were actively fishing so difficult to tell how many were underwater. Cormorant numbers grew through the morning to 32+, all actively fishing again for most of the morning.

At the Spit the highlight was a Water Rail at the north end, had heard another earlier in the south west corner of the main lake. There were 3 Gadwall on West Fingers. 28 Redwing over.

Errol and Ed were ringing in the Rough, see Errol's earlier blog. After a chat we headed to the Woodland Walk, a Common Darter dragonfly sat for his picture on the way. More 'peckered nest boxes were found along to the Woodland Walk (12 & 14) but little else. Back at Kramer hide we brief views of a Kingfisher but again little else.

On Sunday highlights were:

2 male Wigeon on West Fingers which departed when they saw me. 3 Gadwall again.

1 Goldcrest, with ring, by the Dead Seat.

EN was ringing, solo, in the Rough and reported a singing Blackcap. As we chatted a Chiffchaff burst into song.

At Meadow Lane GP there were 3 Teal and a couple of Common Sandpipers. 2 Kingfishers also put in an appearance.

Meadow Pipits and Sky Larks were common down towards the bypass.

Just a solitary Mute Swan on the Tern Pool. On the fields opposite 85 Greylag, 63 Canada and 32 Barnacle Geese.

Back in the park found nestbox 6, in the Sheep Pen, 'peckered. On my way back to the car park EN called to report a Water Rail on the main path.

Not much Redwing movement today.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ringing - 11th Oct

A short morning session in the 'rough' produced 30 birds of 13 species, of which only 7 were retraps.
Wren 1r/t, Dunnock 1, Robin 3(1 adult), Blackbird 1(poss continental male), Song Thrush 2r/ts, Redwing 1 (more flying about but too sunny), Goldcrest 1 - a lovely adult male (a scarce thing; most are 1CY birds or indeterminate age), Blue Tit 1r/t, Great Tit 2, Chaffinch 3, Greenfinch 8 (signs of some movement) & Goldfinch 4.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday 4th October

A bright start lured me out early only for it to cloud over fairly quickly. Only a handful of Canada Geese on the main lake when I arrived rising to c.14 by mid morning. Great Crested Grebe numbers were up to 11 this week but the big increase was the Cormorants. On arrival there were 16 on the main lake with 12 in a raft actively hunting. By mid morning this had risen to 34 with two thirds of those hunting. I haven't seen Cormorants hunting for so long before, normally you see them hunting for a few minutes before finding somewhere to dry out, this morning they appeared to be hunting all morning! A Redwing was on the main path as I walked down to Fingers.

It was very quiet down the Spit with just a single male Gadwall and a pair of Shoveler on West Fingers. Some of the Fingers have had a hair cut in the week.

Little action at Kramer hide, just a few Moorhen.

A walk out along the cycle path was also pretty fruitless. Goldcrest in the hedgeline by the STW and 4 Teal on the new workings on 100 Acre along with the usual Gulls and odd Cormorants. A Mute Swan and a few Mallard on Meadow Lane GP, a Kestrel hunting along Meadow Lane and a complete blank on the Tern Pool. Did find the Canada Geese though, with 102 feeding in the field opposite the Tern Pool. On the way back to the park at least 4 Siskin passed over along with 3 Meadow Pipits. Another Mipit over later, back in the park.

Between the Sedgewick Seat and the Rough, good views of Goldcrest in the coppiced area next to the Sheep Pen. Nest box 5 is sporting a second hole in the front courtesy of a Woodpecker. Quiet around the Rough but a Grey Wagtail at the Dead Seat was a nice surprise and Chiffchaff singing in the Willows nearby.

A loop of the main lake returned Grey Wagtail at the Beach, possibly the same one seen earlier, and a Kestrel hunting over the main lake island and mobbed by a Jackdaw, then four BH Gulls and finally seen off by a Crow.

Little else of note just those Cormorant which were still fishing when I left.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thurs 2nd Oct

A less windy day; DK & EN had a good day between them.

Little Egbert - 1 in the "corners", Redwing - 3+ blogging round the 'rough', Siskin - 2 over, ad.fem Sparr on a mission, Chiffs - "a few", Hobby - 1S over the 'beach', Sky Lark E calling loudly, Mipits 2+ over, Jay 1 'south-side' + 1 'long hedge', fem.Kestrel hunting over the 'rough', Blackcap 3 (2 in 'rough', 1 in VC car park; 2 male, 1 fem.), House Martins - 7 or more feeding up, Sand Martin 1S (late, on its tod) , Mistle Thrush 1N (E side of main lake). The BTCV2 [EDG & JA] also had a C. Buzzard over the 'crescent'.

Ringing totals (25 new/11 re-traps; 10 spp.): Wren 1/-, Song Thrush 1/-, Redwing 1/-, Blackcap 2/-, Goldcrest -/1, Blue Tit 4/5, Great Tit 6/4, LT Tit -/1, Greenfinch 7/-, Goldfinch 3/-.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Autumn bird walk - 28/09

A bright morning, cold but no fog! Six ardent bird-watchers gathered outside the VC at 9 am. This used to be a monthly affair but the "programme is under new management". Our walk today took us round the conservation area only (i.e. Fingers Lake) and was extremely enjoyable.

On the main lake, 154 Canadas (2 more on fingers lake), 3 Greylags and a Bar-headed Goose (probably an escape, originally from the high plateau of central Asia), a Cormorant and a Heron. Only 4 Gt. Crested Grebes found here (looks like the autumn peak has passed).
Walking down to the Fingers, 2 Sky Lark overhead & 2 Mipits & some unseen House Martins (2-3?). Also a couple of Siskin were heard calling up high.

There were 11 Gadwall on "lilypads", a brilliant Kingfisher entertained us for some while, 3 Cormorants digesting their 'breakfast' in the trees and in the gloom of "east/big fingers" a diving duck that turned out to be a male Tufted. A couple of Chiffs worked the willows of the spit and 'crescent'. Plenty of adult Moorhens in their new (moulted) finery. There was nothing of note at the Kramer hide - the bushes need a good "chop" as they are restricting the view badly. [The Otters should return in the very near future]

Other species included a Gt. Spot., 2 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 family parties of LTT (one of 10, the other maybe 12), 4 Song Thrush and ca. 15 Robins. Blackbirds were little in evidence: I expect it won't be long before the "continentals" arrive to swell the numbers.

At the 'long hedge cum rough' section, we found at least 4 Blackcaps (male & female) feeding in the Elderberry, another 3 Chiffs (top of the Hawthorns), maybe as many as 20 Goldfinches, many of them youngsters with "browny heads", all 'twinkling away, and at least 7 Swallows heading off SW at tree top height. No sign of the Lesser Whitethroat from yesterday.
Tony P had a Redwing over earlier.

Plenty of butterflies feeding/sunning themselves- including Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Comma.

Red Admiral


Next Walk - Sunday 16th November, 9am.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

25th to 27th Sept

Thursday - spent the morning down at Meadow Lane. Not much doing on the ringing front, however, with just 8 (common) birds. 26 Mipits passed over with some of them showing an interest in the "tape". Some even sat on the top line of the net. Other birds over - 4 Swallows SW, L.Egbert to Octagon, pair of Kestrels, 3 Lapwing, 4 Mute Swans on "the dragonfly pool" [that's what it's been landscaped for, by the way] & ~80 Starlings.

Friday - was spent in the 'rough'. Caught 36 birds of which the most interesting were a Reed Warbler, 4 male Blackcaps and 2 Chiffs. Also managed to tape "a pair" of young Goldcrests. Overhead - 2 different female Sparrs and a male, several Herons making their way to 'fingers' in the fog, ~ 6 Mipits S (heard) and a Sky Lark SW.

Saturday - the morning spent ringing in the fog in the 'rough'. 24 birds of which the best was a Lesser W/throat on the last net round. It even had the cheek to sing after we let it go! Also a female Blackcap and 7 more new Goldfinches (makes 11 over 2 days), also an adult male Bullfinch. Two of the Gt.Tits were first ringed in early 2005. Not much movement today but a second Blackcap heard, at least 1 Chiff present and a Jay.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wed 24th Sept

My first visit for 10 days or so; not much doing but the weather was naff (overcast, windy, drizzle in the wind). 9 Gadwall on Fingers of which 3 were adult males. Lots of beligerence amongst the Moorhens. I counted 5 Chiffs, one of which (at the Crescent) I presumed to be an abietinus bird from its plumage and call. A pair of Bullfinch north of the Kramer hide. Main lake had a "crowd" of Canadas, a couple of gulls and maybe half a dozen GCGs. The usual rabble of Magpies in the New Meadow now that it's been cut and baled.

Intentions this week are to try and catch some Mipits (at Meadow Lane/100 acre) and to set up a feeding station and estimate the winter tit population.

PLEASE NOTE: The "birdy walk" on Sunday next is at 9am as usual; a walk is "advertised" for 2pm - but it won't be a 100% "birdy walk". Similarly, on November 16th.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday 21st September

A large number of Canada Geese on the main lake (c.152) and several flocks of Greylags over (14, 32 and another in the teens) was the highlight of the morning. Meadow Pipits were on the move with the characteristic call heard overhead throughout the morning. There were seven Gadwall on West Fingers, no sign of Shoveler or last weeks Little Grebe. Kingfisher seen on East Fingers by the Crescent. Little else of note.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This week at Priory

An early morning visit to the park on Tuesday, in the hope of beating the rain, turned into a washout. However in the short time I was there had Reed Warbler feeding a youngster high in the trees along the Spit.

On Friday morning did the walk from the park to Danish Camp and back. Highlights were the 32 Lapwing flying into the new workings on 100 Acre, joining the 10 or so that were already there. Green and Common Sand on Meadow Lane GP, now filling with water again so less good for the variety of waders we have been having there. I took the new riverside path on the outbound leg and noted that it had flooded when the river level peaked during the week, disappointing that the construction didn't take this into consideration. Given the number of times the river has been in flood this year the path is likely to be unusable for significant periods. Back in the park 8 Common Terns over the main lake.

Saturday morning met up with John and did a loop around the park. Highlights were the first Little Grebe of the Autumn, on West Fingers, along with 4 Shoveler (2m2f) and 5 Gadwall (2m3f). The male Gadwall are looking particularly good now. A few Reed Warblers around the crescent. Quiet at Kramer hide until a couple of young Sparrowhawks flew over and engaged in a little talon grappling. A few birds in the Elderberries on the way to the Rough, including a male Blackcap. Little else of note around the park excepting the Robins which were, seemingly, singing from every available branch, and the Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers making themselves heard above the din of singing Robins!

Away Day

On Wednesday I had a day at the Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve in north Norfolk. This is quite a small reserve, if you don't include the miles of beach, but it's jam packed with birds. Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Avocet and Cettis Warbler were the highlights of a very enjoyable day. Even the sun put in an appearance!



Shoveler (f)


Baker's dozen - 14th Sept

Yesterday (13th) took a net to the VC feeding station for a short while: 14 Blue Tits, 5 Gt. Tits, 4 Dunnocks, 4 Spuggies & a male Goldcrest; no Chaffinches. Mipits & Siskins on the move in the fog.

Today tried for some birds along the Long Hedge. General birding in between realised - 4 Jays together, Peregrine high over New Meadow, 2 noisy Green Woods (poss 3), 2 Gt. Spots, steady trickle of Mipits until 10:30 (nearer 10 counted/calling) & at least 3-4 Siskins calling behind Fingers.
The catch [7 new & 6 'old'] was made up of 3 male Blackcaps, 3 young Chiffs, a Reed Warbler, a new young Song Thrush, a Wren, a Dunnock and 2 Robins. Last bird - a female Goldcrest.
One of the Blackcaps set a new group longevity record at 5y.2m.16d; it was ringed as a juvenile in the 'rough' in June 2003.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ringing session - 10th Sept

A short, early morning affair by the 'crescent'
31 birds of 12 species (12 retraps)
Wren 1, Dunnock 1, Robin 1, Sedge Warbler 1 (top bird?), Reed Warbler 3, Chiff 7, Willow Warbler 1, LT Tit 6, Blue Tit 5, Great Tit 1, Treecreeper 1 (somebody got a ringing tick), Bullfinch 3 (all juvs, from 2 broods).

The number of Phyllosc's was not expected (all bar 1 were juvs); their weights were OK but they must be suffering from a lack of inverts with all the rain we've had. The forecast is for better - we'll see. Hopefully, they will then gain weight and put on enough fat to cross the Channel.

c.40 Barnacle Geese over SW early (07:00) was a pleasant surprise; also a few terns and a flock of H. Martins.

A young Moorhen that came out of the reed-bed and was following its 'mum' along the crescent was, an hour later, picked off by a pike as its 'mum' was feeding it out in the middle of "Fingers". Ah well.

With all the rain we've been having ...

Above: High tide on the beach!!

Below: At least the willow is growing from the BTCV spiling!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday 6th September

As usual the weather forecast was wrong but the bright start lured me out only to get a good soaking later on! John was also tempted out by the bright start so we wandered around together.

Still a handful of Common Terns on the main lake, all roosting up by the sailing club on arrival but seen over the main lake later on. No sign of Reed Warblers in the main path reed bed or the crescent. Fairly quiet along the Spit with a few "Willow Chaff" calls. (Still working on those!). On West Fingers a lot less Mallards but a female Shoveller put in an appearance and a pair of Gadwall flew as we arrived at the end fishing swim.

Much quieter around the Rough this week, not surprising given the conditions. We headed out to Meadow Lane GP, stopping to count the Herons on 100 Acre. 9 in total which were spooked by a rogue dog walker crossing the field. She also put up many of the Gulls that were on the new workings.

At Meadow Lane the water level has increased dramatically, no surprise there! A couple of Green Sands and a lone Little Egret were the highlights. The rain came down for the second time and we sheltered under the old bridge over the cycle path. A soggy DK joined us and when the rain eased we all continued back toward the park. TP passed us going the other way and mentioned a Snipe on the shallow pool on 100 Acre.

Back in the park we had a Hobby along the navigation channel and that was confirmed at Kramer hide when DK saw it flying over the trees opposite. Another heavy shower passed through so John and myself sat tight in the hide. DK was obviously made of sterner stuff and continued around the park. When the rain eased a party of Tits and Warblers circulated in the far left corner. These included Blue Tit, Great Tit and Long Tailed Tit along with Willow Warbler and Chiff Chaff which were singing this time to make the ID easier. Also with these was a Treecreeper and a Kingfisher joined the party. It sat for a while before doing a strange flat dive, seemingly plucking something from on or close to the surface of the water. Unfortunately it went behind some think cover so we couldn't see what it caught.

Fairly quiet for the rest of the walk as we headed back to the main path and then back to the car park. The Canoe Slalom was in use so no point in checking that out for Grey Wags.

Another wet but enjoyable morning. Will we ever get any sun this summer!?

Bits & pieces

Mid-week foray with the nets - only 16 birds from the bushes to the hands!
They were - Robin 1, Blackbird 3, Song Thrush 2 more youngsters, Reed Warbler 4 juvs, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 3, Willow Warbler 1, L-T Tit 1. Here endeth a rubbish summer!

Sunday dog walk - 8 Gadwall on Fingers (lilypads); also 12 Moorhen & a single Shoveler, joined later by 4 more. 2 Reed Warblers mumbling away along the spit. Lots (ca.8) Willow-Chiffs by the overflow pipe into Fingers. Nice to see the terns still frequenting the main lake along with ~25 Smarties, 1 or 2 House Martins and a few (3 that I counted) Swallows.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fwd: Pec

--- In, "richardbashford"
<Richard.Bashford@...> wrote:

Jack O'Neill just phoned to say he Tony Donnelly and Darren Thomas are
watching a Pec Sand on a newish pit viewed from the old railway bridge
next to Bedford Sewage works.

--- End forwarded message ---

Saturday 30th August

Overcast to start with a promise of sun mid morning which ended up being late morning / lunchtime! There were good numbers of mixed Tit and Warbler flocks working the Willows along the main path, the Crescent and the Spit. Treecreepers were heard but not seen along the Spit. A couple of male Gadwall were the highlight on West Fingers with the Mute Swan family taking up one of the fingers for a snooze/wash and brush up.

Met up with John as I headed back to the Steps and we wandered along by the Rough which was much quieter than last weekend. Some Bullfinches showed briefly but various Warblers stayed tucked away in the dense foliage.

Little else around Fingers, and the Woodland path for that matter. We continued out along the cycle path to Meadow Lane GP where we found a couple of Green and a Common Sandpiper, four Gadwall (2 pairs) and 7 Teal. The other side of the hedge line, in the new workings on 100 acre, there were at least 18 Lapwing along with more Green and Common Sandpipers (2 and 1) and Gulls galore, mostly black headed.

Back to the park and all quiet as we headed back along the river to Kramer hide. A stop at the hide yielded Heron, Kingfisher and a few Mallards. A number of territorial Migrant Hawker dragonflies gave us an opportunity to try for some photographs.

Continuing around we had 3 Grey wagtails at the canoe slalom before another birder put us on the Black Terns that had shown up over the main lake. These had obviously come in during the morning as there had only been half a dozen Common Terns when I arrived. Now there were mostly Black Terns on the south and east side of the lake, 8 in all. The Commons had been pushed up to the west end of the lake as happened when the Black Terns visited in spring.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bank Holiday Monday catch

It should have been a better day than it was!
Overcast most of the time with a fair breeze - although sheltered in the 'rough'.
19 birds caught all told, but it dried up about 09:30.
Highlights were 2 more (very) young Song Thrushes, 8 young Goldfinches out of about twice that feeding on the thistles, 3 Robins, 1 each of the common Sylvias incl. a very fat (heavy) Garden W.
The Swifts did turn up eventually; we counted 19. The Sparr was up early and returned overhead when the martins collected; it had at least 2 unsuccessful attempts to bring one down. Both parties were at full tilt! Magnifico!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ringing Report

A report covering the last 20 years has just been published by the Ivel RG. A copy has been lodged at the Bedford Central Library and at Bedford Museum. These are available for public reference.
The report covers all the species that have been caught in the park, all recoveries and controls and the longest durations between trapping dates. Tables shew the numbers of new birds caught and the CES results year on year. The report includes photographs.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday 23rd August

Finally a gorgeous morning and great birding to go with it. Met up with DK and wandered around the park with him. Highlights were the Rough where we stood watching various Tits, Finches and Warblers gorging on the elderberries. These included some pristine Lesser Whitethroats, at least half a dozen, and a dozen or more Goldfinch, including several youngsters.

A stroll up to Meadow Lane GP was a bit disappointing with just a single Green Sandpiper, a Common Sand and a Kestrel. Also large numbers of Goldfinch, 50+, on the thistle heads. Saw John on the way out along the cycle path and he reported a Ringed Plover there but I didn't see it.

Back in the park we had a couple of Grey Wagtails on the Canoe Slalom although DK reported double figures earlier in the week. On the south side of the main lake we had yet more Chiffs and Willow Warblers and a superb female Sparrowhawk over the main lake.

However the best was yet to come. We met up with John again at the west side of the main lake and stood chatting when DK spotted a Common Buzzard, just above the tree line to the south. As we watched that I spotted another 3 high above us. This turned into 4 all thermaling high above us with occasional grappling between 2 of them. A few minutes later a fifth arrived lower down over the main lake. We continued to watch them for a while with DK grabbing a few shots before they headed off, at speed, to the west. A new park record for Buzzards.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birding bits

Sat - Willow Warbler in song nr Rough; 1 Swallow over, calling; plenty of birds on the VC feeders esp black sunflowers; 6 Cormorant over; 2x LT Tit flocks through (18? birds); 3+ Swifts; odd Sand Martin & usual House Martins
Sun - at least 7 Common Terns; 1 Cormorant; 4 Heron; c.50 House Martins early; 3 Swift; c35 Sand Martins later on; singing Willow Warbler by Rough & Crescent + at least 2 more on the south side; 2 Swallows; 4 Gadwall - drake seperately to duck with 2 imms, all on W.Fingers. Plenty of Chiffs still. DJB had Bullfinches in 2 different places around Fingers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sat 16 Aug - CES

A "no rain" day so had to get this session in quick.
The day's tally was 27 as follows:
Dunnock - 1 juv
Wren - 1 retrap from 07 juv
Blackbird - 1 male juv
Song Thrush - 2 new juvs
Redd Warbler - 2 wandering (local) juvs
Blackcap - 3 new & 3 old juvs
Whitethroat - a new male in mega moult (it could fly OK) & a juv
Chiff - 6 new & a retrap juv
Willow Warbler - 2 new post-juvs on the move
Goldcrest - a very fluffy (unmoulted) youngster
Blue Tit - another 2 unringed independent juvs.

PS Bumped into Martin Garner at the BirdFair (Fri)

Monday, August 11, 2008


On Sat 9th, we retrapped a Blackbird that was first ringed in September 2001. This happens to be the third "oldest" for the Group and at Priory. For the record, here are the "top ten" survivors of the last 20 years. They are all Priory birds!

RJ70020 - 7y.11m.14d; ringed as 3JM July 1992
RK32960 - 7y.01m.23d; ringed as 5M May 1999
RP77213 - 6y.10m.25d; ringed as 3JM Sept 2001
RK32964 - 6y,06m.10d; ringed as 6M July 1999
RK32957 - 6y.01m.10d; ringed as 6F in May 1999
RJ70090 - 6y.00m.16d; ringed as 3JM in July 1993
RK32596 - 5y.10m.08d; ringed as 3JF in Aug 1994
RH42479 - 5y.01m.11d; ringed as 6M in Mar 1991
RP77225 - 4y.11m.28d; ringed as 3JF in Aug 2002
RK32502 - 4y.10m.21d; ringed as 3JM in Aug 1993

Notes: 3=born that year, J= unmoulted juvenile,
5=born last calendar year, 6=born at least two
calendar years before. M/F = sex.

420 Blackbirds were ringed in the park between 1991 & 2003. Only 1 in 35 of ringed Blackbirds reaches its 5th birthday; that probably means about 1% of all fledglings! [The above shows 1 in 52 reaching its 5th year but doesn't allow for emigration, mostly young females]

Thursday, August 07, 2008

CES ringing - 7th Aug

Yesterday's recce promised a good day - and so it turned out.
38 birds made up as follows:
Wren - 4 young juvs, Dunnock 1 r/t,
Robin - 2 juvs turning red and a grown-up young-un,
Blackbird - 1 fresh (3rd brood?) youngster,
Song Thrush - 2 fledglings, the first of the year,
Reed Warbler - a new adult and 2 juvs (all 'fluffy' as they are moulting their body feathers)
Lesser White - our first juvenile to ring,
Whitethroat - marvellous! 1 adult and 5 juvs, all new,
Garden Warbler - 1 new adult, a new juv and a retrap. This bird was originally ringed last year as it fledged and it is now carrying a mass of fat for migration. It was a female bird.
Blackcap - 2 juvs, Chiff - 3 juvs, Willow Warbler - DK reckoned there were 5, and we managed to catch 3 of them.
Blue Tit & Great Tit - 1 unringed juv of each,
Goldfinch - our first youngster of the season.
Greenfinch - right on schedule - 2 juvs, 1 of each sex

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wed 6 Aug

Mid-morning walk: 6 Common Terns over main lake.
Young Green Woodpeckers. A few Reed Warblers still 'singing'. Family party of Bullfinch continue to be present around the spit. Little Egret sitting on fallen tree at far end of 'Lilypads' until pushed off by a Heron c.12 noon, when it flew towards the old channel.
At the centre, Jon's garden produced the following in a 5 minute period: Great & Blue Tit, quite a few House Sparrows (inc juvs), Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, juv Reed Warbler, juv Chiff, juv Garden Warbler in heavy body moult, a cracking juv Lesser Whitethroat and a Greenfinch. All viewed from the back door steps c.12:30.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Saturday 2nd August

Highlights were:

c.20 Whimbrel over. Came in from the north over Kingsmead and turned west before disappearing behind the trees around Fingers. Initially thought they were Godwits but once I got the bins on them the distinctive downward curving beak, curving more sharply at the tip, gave them away. Later we checked out Fenlake in case they had dropped in there but it was dry as a bone over there excepting the fact it was chucking it down, so we got a good soaking for no reward.

On the east side of Fingers we flushed 3 small waders from the north end of east Fingers. Still not convinced of their ID but suspect they were Common Sandpipers although the call was a bit odd. Any suggestions welcome. I flushed some Common Sands at Box End Park this morning and although the visual was similar the call was different with this mornings the usual Common Sand call.

At Meadow Lane GP we had at least 1 Little Grebe, 6 Common Sandpipers, 3 Ringed Plovers and a Lapwing. No sign of the Little Egret and Green Sandpiper of previous weeks. On the new workings on 100 Acre there were a large number of gulls, mostly BH but also Common, and more Lapwing and a Grey Heron. Difficult viewing from the cycle track, we need a window in the hedge!

Back in the park at the coppiced section of the Sheep Pen, opposite the Rough, we watched a male Bullfinch feeding 2 youngsters.

That was about it, the rain really started to set in as we got back to the visitor centre but, foolishly, we still decided to check out Fenlake. The rain eased a bit after waiting in the car for a while but it was only enough to lure us out of the car and get over to the main "lake" where we found a dry mud flat. That's when the rain really set in again. Oh well if you don't try you don't see! I think I still have water in one ear :-(

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fri 1st Aug

Did a bit of ringing in 'the rough' today.
[see ivel ringing group blog]
DK put us on to the Garganey on 'Lilypads'.
We viewed it from 'the spit' with the light behind us.
A perky little bird and a bit flighty, too.
The light-coloured bill suggests a juvenile.
Nice one DK!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday 26th July 2008

We came across this young Sparrowhawk this morning, having a late breakfast (and saving some for later by the looks of it), sat on the path. It flew up to some low branches but hung around long enough for a photo before disappearing into some thicker cover.

We found at least four dead birds, varying from a few bloodied bones to most of a body, in the surrounding area. One of the bodies looked like it may have been another young Sparrowhawk but was very old and, hence, very smelly! The more squeamish amongst you might want to look away now.

The late breakfast

Another of the carcasses that were spread around the area

Any ideas on the identities of the above victims greatfully received.

CES visit 9

Fri - a lovely day with not a lot of wind. Hopes were high that we would have a better catch than we've been getting.

Ended up with 7 adults and 20 juvs, with only 3 retraps. No Dunnocks!
Wren 3 - all new juvs
Robin 3 - 2 in PJ moult, the other had finished (looks like an adult)
Blackbird 2 - a 2CY male looked very scraggy with a broken tail
Reed Warbler 2
Lesser Whitethroat 1 juv - there was a pair of adults about, too.
Whitethroat 1 - a 'clean looking' juv
Garden Warbler - 2 juvs
Blackcap 9 - bird of the day; 3 adults & 6 juvs
Chiff 1 - a r/t adult from early April, about to moult
Blue Tit 1 - another unringed juv
Greenfinch 2 - incl. a juv

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reed Warblers

All seem to be "on eggs" again as I've only caught two new males and retrapped two females this week over two early morning sessions.
Other highlights - Green Sand (24th), 8 v.young Mallard (22nd),

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tues 22nd

6am. Went to the 'crescent'.
Not much doing.
Did catch a 3J Sedge.
Squeaking young Moorhens (?) in reeds
Green Wood and a young Jackdaw flew over.
Noticed that all 4 main lake cygnets have disappeared - Catfish??

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fwd: Seal and sundry other items!

--- In, "Stephen Plummer"
<stephen.r.plummer@...> wrote:

After a hospital visit I spent some time late this afternoon by the
Bedford Sewage Treatment Works bridge at the confluence with New Cut.
A fisherman joined me.

Just after 4pm the grey seal swam right under his rod, heading north -
I think it came as a bit of a shock!

A couple of crossbills flew over. I also had at least 2 common shrews
popping in and out of a hole by the steps, and a brown rat seen on a
couple of occasions.

Not a bad few hours!

Best wishes,

Steve Plummer.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

--- End forwarded message ---

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CES visit 8

A wet day with "no wind". 17 birds trapped bringing the total to 588 individuals caught this year (474 new).
Wren 4, Song Thrush 1 (new male), Reed Warbler 1 (a repeater from yesterday), Whitethroat 1 (male), Garden Warbler 1 (1st juv. of year), Blackcap 5 (9-12th juvs of year), Chiff 2 (incl male in heavy moult), Blue Tit 1 & Great Tit 1 (an un-ringed juv).
DK & I both agree that there aren't the birds in the Rough this year.
Will have to get the chain-saws out next winter!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reed Warbler brood patch (taken one-handed)

A couple of nets up at the crescent, on the north-east side this time. Target - more Reed Warblers. As it turned out, I caught 11, only one of which was a juv! 7 birds were retraps and today most of the adults were at least 4 years old; they had that lovely mahogany eye colour. The sexes were 50:50.

I also caught a young Chiff that was starting its PJ moult, a 3J Blue Tit that we had ringed in Box 19 and a juvvy Song Thrush. A decent three hours. An added bonus came when six Little Egrets flew from the P/L hide area and made off downstream, over my head. [DK says 1 remained in the SW corner, too].
I could hear the (13) Grey Wags at the Mill / Slalom from my base at the end of the spit!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saturday 12th

Pictures taken Saturday (12/07/08) at PCP by Ed (see Errol's earlier post)

Above: A new Bullfinch.

Above: Dave spies something beginning with a C. I'll give you a clue, it ends in a unit of imperial measurement.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday 14th July

The Atlantic Grey Seal, tagged by the RSPCA (east Winch), was in the Park's waters this morning, hopefully making its way back downstream with the help of considerate boat owners.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday 12th July 2008

Met up with John this morning and, after a quiet start, we had a very good morning. Still plenty of Canada Geese (c.87) on the main lake with the hybrid and a single Greylag. Tern numbers have increased, a regular occurrence at this time of year according to DK, with c.29 over the main lake and c.33 Black Headed Gulls mixed in to make counting more challenging! Also 3 Grey Herons and just a single Reed Warbler burbling quietly in the main path reed bed.

On west Fingers 40+ Mallards, a couple of Moorhens, the Mute Swan family, a cormorant and the 2 Great Crested Grebe youngsters with one of the adults. On east fingers a party of six Cormorants fishing together.

Just a couple of Grey Herons at Kramer hide. Up at the old railway bridge a couple of singing Sedge Warblers with one making a couple of song flights. Also a few burbling Reed Warblers. A couple of Grey Wagtails were up on the bridge and another Grey Heron by the river just downstream from the Cut.

We decided to head along the cycle path and check out the various pits. On 100 Acre a single Redshank was spotted with the aid of John's scope. The Grey Heron flew in from the river. Further along, at Meadow Lane GP, again the scope came to our aid picking out Ringed Plover, Redshank and Grey Wagtail to go with the 3 Little Egret (Same ones as seen by Errol?), single BH Gull and couple of Mute Swans. An Oystercatcher flew from the far side of the pit dropping out of sight below the scrub on the far side. In the field on the opposite side of the cycle track the hoped for Ringed Plovers were not to be found. Frankly you could hide an elephant in there now, the rate of growth of the crops in there the last couple of weeks has been amazing.

We decided to continue on and check out the Tern Pool on the other side of the bypass. It's looking very overgrown this year but is home to about 10 Tufted Ducks three of which have young, one having an incredible 12 small ducklings all diving for food, a great sight. Also on the pool were Mute Swan, Coot, Mallard and Great Crested Grebe (1 adult with well grown chick). The Pool was also magnet for hirundines with hundreds swooping low over the water. These were a mix of Sand and House Martins and were joined by a large number of Swifts. Continuing around the pool to the crop field on the far side a number of Skylarks were singing on high and the hoped for Yellow Wagtails showed up with at least 3 dropping into the same field one of which had a tall stick to use as a singing post. A couple of Kestrels were calling and were seen over towards Octagon lakes.

A fairly quiet walk back although we found 3 Redshank on 100 Acre with the single Grey Heron. Much noisier in the park but that was just the sound carrying from the river festival. Also a couple of dodgy looking characters with a net in the coppiced plantation by Fingers!

Ringing, etc 12/07

Set up behind the Long Hedge in 4 places. Caught 9 adults, 5 juveniles and 8 re-traps; that's 22 birds of 9 spp.
5 Wrens, 3 Dunnocks, 1 Robin, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Les. Whitethroat (F), Whitethroat (J), Blackcap (2 males), Chaffinch 1 (M) & 5 Bullfinch.
The Chaffinch was in moult, the Bullfinchs were 4 from last year and a juv., and the Blackcaps were both ringed as juvs in the Rough, one in June '06, the second in June '03, making it the longest "lived" in the group's records.
There were also 3 Little Egrets in the "Heron tree" left of the Kramer hide. 2 Stock Doves took off from the New Meadow at 05:30, going in different directions. Chiffies very vocal today.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Walkies - Fri 11th

Mid-morning. Main lake - 2 imm + 1 ad Heron, ca.19 Terns, 40 B/H Gulls of which 11 were juvs and c.6 were 2CYs. 2 Blackcaps singing at the bottom of the steps.
MANDARIN hiding in the typha off the dead seat. Also quite a few Ecclipse Mallard and large young. 2 Garden Warblers singing in the Rough. Blue Tits & Bullfinches feeding off the sow thistles in the latest coppice area. Treecreeper calling by Sedgewick seat.
WOODCOCK spooked from tree by the owl box; flew round and came back in to dense willow on island opposite. Sedge by the lifebelt but disappeared downstream. Female Blackcap feeding 1 young on edge of Kingsmead. Fingers at Kramer - 1 imm & 2 ad Herons. Kingfisher heard.
Also adult ecclipse GADWALL and 2 well grown young together (speculum seen) - the only ducks there. All the BHGs were down by the beach on the way back.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

CES - visit 7,

Juvenile Willow Warbler

8th July; weather - cloudy with a fair breeze, becoming sunny with lighter winds.

Not one of our best days; just 14 birds in the regular CES nets, plus 5 more in an extra net.
Wren -/4/3 (ad/juv/rt); Dunnock 1/1/-; Robin -/1/-; Garden Warbler 1/-/1; Chiff -/2/-; WILLOW WARBLER -/1/-; Blue Tit -/1/-; Gt.Tit -/1/1; Bullfinch 1/-/-.
Again, there were many young Wrens. One of the GT.Tits came from the local box, the other had not been ringed. The Chiffs were both very young females that hda probably just fledged.
The young Robin had a red breast but a spotty head. The Bullfinch was a 2CY male. The new Garden Warbler was also a 2CY bird and the retrap was a nesting female. The 'Willie' was the first here for the year.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Weir and more

Glad you liked the new weir at the Leat Pool Dave. It looks more aesthetically pleasing than the old one.

Since my last post about the weir we made some final touches & managed to take out some (if not all) of the old weir. Hopefully silt will build up behind it and the wood will expand to close up some of the gaps between the oak boards. Several Kingfishers seen in the area as well as being very vocal.

Finishing touches to the fishing swims on the spit also carried out last Thursday (03/07/08). The team also replaced approximately 70 metres of post and wire fencing at the back of the conservation area (opposite the long hedge).

Just before I left (earlier than the team at about 2.45pm) on Thursday 3 common buzzards were seen circling low between the woodland walk and the overflow carpark. Probably 3 of the 4 you sometimes see at Meadow Lane Dave?

I left early because I had to get to London for the Network Rail Environment Awards ceremony/dinner at the Natural History Museum. The BTCV Bedford Weekday Conservation Team were shortlisted for the Biodiversity Protection category. We saw somebody odd while we were there ... somebody called Bill. Bill Oddie that is! He gave a wonderfully amusing speach after which we won the award! For photographs please visit

Saturday 5th July

Blustery with showers this morning. At the sailing club there were 87 Canada Geese, 1 Greylag Goose and a couple of Cormorants. Over the main lake there were 19 Common Terns and at least 3 Grey Herons around the lake. On the south side of the lake a Chiffchaff was singing and the first singing Blackcap of the morning was by the Leat Pool. Good work on the pool Ed! An Oystercatcher was heard over Fenlake and then flying overhead and across the main lake, while trying to get a look at that another Heron was seen over Fenlake. Back at the main lake a couple of Lapwing passed overhead heading northeast. In the winter wildfowl zone a Blackcap was singing.
At the main lake hide a Terrapin swam past sticking it's head up to breath, a strange sight in a UK lake! The Moorhen nest by the hide was unoccupied and no sign of the adults nearby. Both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing behind the hide. On the small meadow on the southeast side of the lake a Carrion Crow was enjoying an egg for breakfast.

Carrion Crow

At the south east corner of the lake a Kingfisher flew across to Wolkholm and a second called from the lake side. From the Beach only four Mute Swans could be seen and the pair with the four cygnets were not among them, wonder where they are. Only four Great Crested Grebes this week.

The rain started again so I headed for Kramer hide. Another Kingfisher was heard around east Fingers. Green Woodpecker was heard over Kingsmead and Song Thrushes were singing at the end of the Canoe Slalom and on the south side of Fingers. At the hide just a couple of Grey Herons and 3 Mallards. A LBB Gull passed overhead. At least 2 Kingfishers present with one calling while a second flew past. On leaving the hide and heading along the Navigation Channel a couple of Blackcaps were competing, one near the hide and the other on the plantation along the NC.

Over on Kingsmead a young Carrion Crow was being fed by one of its parents. At the end of the NC a Sedge Warbler was singing. Crossed to the Long hedge and the Woodland Walk, a Green Woodpecker called and from the Woodland walk a Common Whitethroat was heard out on the New Meadow. Along the WW a Blackcap was singing. Out on the new Meadow by the gap through the Long Hedge, Bullfinch were heard and a Common Whitethroat was singing from the other side of the gap.

Heading into the Finger lakes at the Sedgewick Seat entrance a Chiffchaff was singing in the plantation. A Blackcap was singing in the Willows opposite. Another Common Whitethroat was singing in the Sheep Pen. The Rough was quiet with just a Song Thrush singing. A Chiffchaff was singing by the Dead Seat and another was further along the path down to the Steps. Reed Warblers were back and forth between the willows and the main path reed bed. On the corner of the main path and the Spit a Blackcap was singing with another along the Spit. Reed Warblers were singing in the Crescent.

On West Fingers there were 30 Mallards and the eclipse male Mandarin. The pair of Mute Swans were along one of the fingers but the cygnets were in cover so couldn't see how many. From the last fishing swim on the Spit a Cormorant and 4 Moorhen were seen and Reed Warblers were burbling in the fingers reed beds opposite. Back at the first fishing swim a Moorhen was feeding 2 chicks on the nest. On east Fingers there were 11 Mallards but no sign of the resident Great Crested Grebe family! Back at the car park another Blackcap was singing.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

A quick early morning tickle on my own (well, not that early!)

A few more Reed Warblers from the 'crescent'; another female from 2004 was at least 6 years old.

Several birds over the net including Moorhen, Green W/pecker and the local Blackcaps. Two young Kingfishers sat noisily in the willows alongside the nets, being fed by one parent bird.

A Willow Warbler shuffled through the coppiced willow along the main lakeside (haven't caught a single one yet this year). Great watching the terns fishing with the brilliant sun behind me. E.

Monday, June 30, 2008

BTCV in the Park!

BTCV were in the park today (30/o6/o8). We had two jobs to do - reconstructing 2 of the fishing swims along the spit (I hope the birders appreciate them too!) and reconstructing the weir at the leat pool.

The water begins to trickle over.

Slowly creeping over.

Over, just.

A nice even flow.

Some finishing touches to do on Thursday when BTCV will next be in the park. Couple of finishing touches to the fishing swims on Thursday too (before the eagle eyed among you comment about them).

Several Kingfishers around (2 seen flying past at the leat pool & 1 in the Willows on the finger lake).

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Around the park 28/06/2008

Another blustery day but bright and sunny with it. 81 Canada Geese up by the sailing club and at least 19 Common Tern over the main lake. A single Willow Warbler behind the Visitor Centre and a couple of burbling Reed Warblers along the main path reed bed. At the beach a pair of Mute Swans were shepherding their single youngster from Fingers to the main lake, seeing off all comers on the journey, would be nice if dog owners were a bit more considerate to the wildlife! I think the Swans had been ejected from Fingers by the resident male. I didn't give them much chance of staying long on the main lake, with a resident pair on there, but they were still there when I left the park.

On Fingers the usual singing Common Whitethroat on the south east corner with a singing Reed Bunting nearby. A couple of Reed Warblers in the crescent. On east Fingers a single adult Great Crested Grebe and one of the youngsters on east Fingers along with a couple of Mallard families of 3 and 5 ducklings and 4 other Mallards. The male Mute Swan was still throwing his weight around on east Fingers, throwing the other family off seemingly not enough for him although the Mallard family were at a bit of a disadvantage on the size front! On west Fingers there were 4 Moorhen, 45 Mallards, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan with 6 cygnets and a single male Mandarin in eclipse plumage.

At the Rough a Common Whitethroat was singing, on the south side of west Fingers Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Greenfinch were all singing. From the Dead Seat I heard the Mute Swan hissing and then watched as she hastily shepherded her youngsters across to the far side of west Fingers. There was probably a predator about but my wait for the hoped for Otter was in vain. Another Blackcap was singing in the Rough and another male Blackcap was seen by the dipping platform opposite the Rough gate. In the Sheep Pen a Common Whitethroat was singing along with a couple Blackcaps. Still plenty of noise from the Jackdaws around Fingers and yet another Blackcap in the Long Hedge just past the Sedgewick Seat.

At Kramer hide another Blackcap had me wondering. After several minutes of listening and trying to catch a glimpse I was about to mark it down as a Garden Warbler when it relented and burst into full song. Just a couple of Herons seen from the hide.

Down stream along the navigation channel another singing Blackcap in the plantation opposite Kingsmead and another at the Kissing Gate and a singing Sedge Warbler in between. A Cuckoo was heard over on the north side of the new Meadow or along the Cut. Over the river on the other side of the old railway bridge a couple more Sedge Warblers were singing.

On 100 Acre just a Heron and couple of Mallards. Several House Martins taking a drink on the wing. Along the cycle track three singing Common Whitethroats alongside the STW. At Meadow Lane GP very little other than BH Gulls due to the landscaping work going on. Strangely having removed the access road on the far side of the pit the contractors have reinstated it to move earth from the new workings on 100 Acre for use in landscaping around the pit.

In the field on the opposite side of cycle path there was a single Oystercatcher, 3 Lapwing and a Ringed Plover. The Lapwing seemed very territorial, seeing off Gulls and Crows and the Oystercatcher but I couldn't see any chicks despite watching for a while. Then my attention was drawn to a large bird taking off from the field further along Meadow Lane. It was a Common Buzzard but it disappeared behind the trees. I walked further along the path in time to see the Buzzard leave a larger tree pursued by a Crow but again they went behind cover. A brief glimpse through a gap in the hedge was just enough time to fire off a couple of photo's, one of which was half decent.

Common Buzzard

Still more Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats further along the cycle path (2 of each). Back at the park a Chiffchaff was singing on the north side of the New Meadow. A couple of Common Whitethroat and a Blackcap were singing in the Long Hedge and another CW was in the small plantation in the New Meadow. Back at the main lake at least 14 Great Crested Grebe 12 of which were together in a single group.

Caught up with EN and Ed in the Rough back on the CES trail after a couple of weeks break.

CES - visit 6, 28/06

Back to business!
Today's session started off badly with sunshine and wind. It did pick up as time went by and got quite busy towards the end, what with newly fledged birds.
The totals are (new adult, new juv, retrapped):
Whitethroat 2/-/- (males), Chiff -/3/-, Blackbird -/-/2, Wren 1/4/1 (a good day), Blackcap 2/4/1 (a very good day), Dunnock -/2/1, Gt.Tit -/1/- (wot! no ring!), Song Thrush 1/-/-, Robin -/1/-, and lastly, Kingfisher -/1/- ( the first in the 'rough' since 1995).
And some piccies by Ed:

Song Thrush (2CY male)

Wren (2CY male)

Main fascination today was Swifts overhead (early) and then a Collared Dove toing-and-froing with nest materials.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Better late than never!

It was a washout on Saturday and very quiet in the park on Sunday. Singing Blackcaps were still fairly numerous.

Canada Goose: 91
Reed Warbler: 3
Blackcap: 9
Chiffchaff: 4
Great Crested Grebe: Pair and 2 young on Fingers and 2 more adults on main lake
Mallards: 37 + 3 ducklings
Grey Heron: 4
Song Thrush: 2
Garden Warbler: 2
Common Whitethroat: 5
Mute Swan: 7 + 4 cygnets mainlake + 2 over
Cuckoo: 1
Moorhen: 1 + 3 young on east fingers and 1 on nest by main lake hide
Long-tailed Tit: 3 parties around the park mostly hidden in the canopy but one on the south side of the lake numbered at least 11.
Common Tern: 11
Great Spotted Woodpecker: 1

On Monday morning I rode out to Danish Camp and back, not seeing much at all although singing Common Whitethroat was by far the most numerous of the summer migrants heard.

Wednesday morning and I was out on the bike again with completely different results. Blackcap was the most numerous of the warblers this morning although numbers were down across the board. While passing the Bedford STW 16 Lapwing flew over and I spotted a Little Egret in Meadow Lane GP. At the Tern Pool a single Redshank was sat on one of the sign posts and a couple of Yellow Wagtails flew from the cycle path into the crops. On the way back I stopped off at Meadow lane GP and dragged the bins out of the pack. There were actually 3 Little Egrets and 9 Lapwing with a couple of Mute Swans a few BH Gulls and Mallards.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday 15th June

Very quiet in the park today so resorted to some macro photography!
Blue-tailed Damselfly (m)
Azure Damselfly (m)
Azure Damselfly (f)

Cuckoos were active around Fingers again. The main lake Mute Swans still have 4 cygnets. At Kramer hide a Blackcap family were in the willow on the left of the hide. The youngster was chasing dad around begging for food. Along the east side of Fingers a family of Common Whitethroats were in the trees by the lake. There were at least 2, possibly 3 youngsters being fed by the adults.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday 14th June

Highlight this morning was the four Common Buzzards circling overhead at Meadow Lane GP. Also on the GP were 14 Lapwing, 3 Redshank, a Kestrel and a Ringed Plover. In the field on the opposite side of the cycle track from the GP were 2 more Ringed Plovers and 4 more Lapwing.

2 of the 4 Common Buzzards

At the main lake hide a Common Tern was very obliging in posing for a photograph. It had a metal ring on it's right leg (SX__643 the first number might be a 2).

Common Tern

The pair of Cuckoos were around the Finger lakes again. There were only 6 cygnets with the pair of Mute Swans but both young Great Crested Grebes are still about with one of them looking very independent, they don't turn down a free meal from mum and dad though!

Along the cycle track up past Fishponds a Lesser Whitethroat sang briefly. Common Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were singing along the edge of the old allotments by the Aspects car park.

Friday, June 13, 2008

CES - visit 5

Fri 13th
[Yes, it was!]
A much better session today. 27 birds trapped of which 19 were new, most of them juvs.
Here goes. Wren 2/1, Dunnock 1/1, Robin 2/-, Blackbird -/1, Lesser w/throat 1 male/-, Whitethroat 1 male/-, Garden W. 1/1, Blackcap 3/1 (all juvs), Chiff 5/- (all juvs), LTT 2/2 (all juvs), Blue Tit 1/- (a juv. Must have come from a nearby bat box!), Gt.Tit -/1 (a juv from the box nearest the nets!).
36-40 Swifts circling overhead early on, a pair of C.Terns giving a LBB.Gull what for after it tried to nick a fish, a Sparr zipped through and ... a NUTHATCH calling from the Willows by the dead seat mid morning.
Signing off until the end of the month [haggis hunting!] - E


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Tuesday 10th
Set 2 long lines down behind the 'sheep pen' this morning with the help of 2 trainees.
A reasonable effort - Wren 1fem/- (3J in '06), STAR BIRD Dunnock 6/2 (5 males, 2 fem, 1 juv), Robin 1juv/-, Blackie 1 2CY male/-, W/throat -/1male (3J in '07), Garden W -/1fem (last years bird), Blackcap 2/1 (2 fem & r/t male, 3J in '07), Gt.Tit juv & its mum (already ringed), Chaffinch 1juv/-.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

This weekend at the park (getting Otter!)

After all the rain in the week I was pleased to wake to a blue (ish) shy on Saturday. All the usual stuff around the park highlight being the Otter on the Finger Lakes. I was down the end of the Spit scanning west Fingers from the end fishing swim when something slipped into the water just the other side of the fence. I watched for a few moments to see what if anything appeared and suddenly an Otter popped up out of the water, no more than 6 feet from me. I don't know who was more surprised! It dived straight back under and then away along the edge of the Spit. I headed back along the spit and down to the crescent, looking back across east Fingers the Otter appeared through the gap and the adult Great Crested Grebe hastily shepherded it's offspring away from the danger. A couple of dives later it disappeared, either around to Kramer hide or onto the island at the north end of east Fingers.

For a change I decided to head out along the cycle track. At 100 Acre, unsurprisingly the lake was looking very full and 4 Mallard and the Male Tufted were taking advantage. Also by the lakeside were a couple of Lapwing, no sign of the chicks this week. A pair of Common Whitethroat were in the old Reeds just in front of me as I scanned 100 Acre.

At Meadow Lane GP, recently drained, a single Little Egret was roosting. There were also a couple of Lapwing, 3 Gadwall (1f), 9 Black-headed Gulls and a Kestrel.

Further along at the landscaped field just before the bridge over the bypass there were 31 Carrion Crows, 4 Lapwing and a singing Sky Lark. On the opposite side of the cycle path there were 5 Crows and a Rook, 6 Lapwing, 2 Little Ringed Plover and an Oystercatcher.

Heading back along the cycle path a Green Woodpecker was feeding by the side of the track and at the mouth of the Cut a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming. It was female which surprised me but apparently both sexes do drum, another lesson learned!


Willow Warbler 2
Common Whitethroat 4
Lesser Whitethroat 1 (singing in the car park)
Canada Goose 56 (+4 large and 5 small goslings)
Graylag Goose 1
Garden Warbler 3
Cuckoo 2 (Male and female very active around the Finger lakes)
Chiffchaff 8
Reed Warbler 7
Great Crested Grebe 2+2youngsters
Kingfisher 2
Coot 3
Mute Swan Fingers Pair with 7 cygnets, 7 on the main lake including the pair with the 4 cygnets
Heron 2
Moorhen 6
Reed Bunting 1
Song Thrush 3
Blackcap 9
Common Tern 6

Sunday was much warmer after a cloudy start but surprisingly quiet early on. Numbers were much the same as yesterday exceptions being Lesser Whitethroat which was a no show.

Canada Goose 73 + 1 hybrid (both families were present)
Common Tern 18
Swift c.30 over the Rough

Jackdaws and Crows were noticeable around Fingers this morning, heard but seldom seen. The pair of Cuckoos were again very active around Fingers. There were several mobile parties of Long Tailed Tits, an 18 along the navigation channel with 6 Blue Tits. Another of 8 at the back of the Sailing Club and another of unknown number by the Dead Seat, by the Rough.

The highlight this morning was a Fox on Kingsmead. It's presence was given away by some Crows by the muck heap. They started mobbing it before it came into view and continued doing so until it was out of sight in the long grass.

A great weekend in the park as usual.

A couple of additions to last weekend were:
A Coot with 3 youngsters on west Fingers on Saturday.
The pair of Cuckoos very active around Fingers on Sunday.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Visit 4 - CES

Lovely and sunny with no wind - if that's what you like!
Standard nets produced 6 birds including 3 retraps in 6 hours. An extra 40' net produced 3 more birds, the best of the day! Did some "gardening" to overcome the boredom.
Wren 3/1, Dunnock 1/0 (a juv), Song Thrush 1/0 (a new adult male!), Lesser White 1/0 (the 2nd female), Whitethroat 0/1 (a tatty 2CY male) & Garden W 1/0 (a female).
Also seen/heard - Turtle Dove, pr Cuckoo, pr Shelduck, 2 pr Coll Dove, Green W/pecker.
DK saw the Otter on F/L.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mid-week ringing session

Wed 4th: Set up the other side of the 'crescent' as usual (spit side).
3 new Reed W inc 2 fem., 4 retrapped - this year, last year, year before & 2004. This last male was not seen by us in between times.
Also another juvvy Robin, both halves of the Dunnock pairing and, as a surprise, a new male Gt. Spot.
The swans were there with their 7 kiddies tucked away on a spit. A hell of a commotion was going on before a pair of swans emerged onto the main path with 4 tired cygnets. These then made their way back up the path to safer waters. Peace restored.
There were 16 Swifts patrolling early on.
Later in the morning, a superb Red Kite flew over the 'fingers' in brilliant sunshine! Wow!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sunday 1st June

A pleasant wander around the park with EN and a couple of the guided walk regulars. We managed to miss most of the rain somehow! Managed to bag most of the summer migrants with Blackcap and Common Whitethroat seemingly the most numerous. Garden Warbler was a bit tougher with just one in the Rough and then that was out gunned by Song Thrush and Chiffchaff making it difficult for our guests to get to grips with the song.

EN thought he had a Nightingale which flew from the small plantation to the north side of the New Meadow. I didn't see it so cannot comment. We had a quick look over 100 Acre where a single Lapwing flew from the newer workings. A dog walker reported 6 Little Egrets further on the re-landscaped workings further along the cycle path, near the bypass.

Sedge Warbler was hard to come by but at the south east corner of Fingers one was singing and doing display flights and a Common Whitethroat also got in on the act giving great views. The Great Crested Grebe family were still going strong as were the Swan family. A third adult Great Crested Grebe, on west Fingers, looked like it might also be carrying small chicks on its back but we never saw them despite watching for several minutes. Not sure where it came from either so if it does have chicks not sure how it got here! Probably just a rogue adult with the fidgets!

Back at the car park yet another Common Whitethroat showed well while Willow Warblers sang. Then it started raining again, so it was time to go!