Priory Country Park is a former gravel pits located on the South East edge of Bedford, adjacent to the River Great Ouse. Find us at Barkers Lane off A428, or in Priory Business Park off A421 Bedford bypass. Admission is Free with access to the Visitor centre and 2 hides, one overlooking the main lake and one on the Finger lakes. You will find Winter wildfowl, passage terns and waders, and Water Rail all year.
Things have been bumbling along nicely at Priory over recent weeks with definite signs that migration is picking up in the last couple of weeks.
On Tuesday the 9th of September I accepted an invitation to join the bat group at Priory for a trapping session and was fortunate to be there when a Nathusius Pipistrelle was captured. More details here: http://www.bedsbatgroup.org.uk/wordpress/?p=8949
I spent a little time photographing dragonflies before the bat group arrived and managed a couple of nice shots of Migrant Hawkers.
In the last couple of weeks there have been more signs that migration is under way with the arrival of good numbers of Lapwings on 100 Acre, Golden Plovers in small numbers and the first autumn Wheatear.
Wheatear (100 Acre)
Snipe numbers have also increased and the last of the Yellow Wagtails seem to have moved on along with the House Martins and Sand Martins. A few Swallows can usually be seen, either feeding around the park or passing through. Also listen out for Meadow Pipits and Skylarks which are trickling through in small numbers at present.
On the duck front Teals and the occasional Shovelers are beginning to show up fairly regularly and Little Grebes are moving back into the park after their "summer break". Gadwall numbers are variable but usually around the 30 mark. A Pintail has also been recorded on the main lake this week per DK.
Continue to look out for the roving Tit flocks and associated Warblers, Goldcrests and Treecreepers. We picked up a couple of Willow Warblers in one of these flocks at the weekend which is getting quite late for this species.
There have also been a couple of Otter sightings in recent weeks. These have both been from the STW bridge looking up stream on the back river in the morning between about 8 and 9am.
At the neighbouring Willington Gravel Pits the annual Starling roost has kicked with reasonable numbers of birds present but expected to increase as continental birds come into the country for the winter. Let's hope our continental neighbours have a hard winter so we get really big numbers of Starlings into roost this winter.
The next guided bird walk is this Sunday (28th) meet at 9am outside the visitor centre. Please note we are back to a 9am start now we are into the Autumn/Winter period, ideal for those of you who like a lay in!