An early Bird News this week as I am on leave this afternoon. Please find something good in my absence (although not too good).
Andy Schofield's Swift on 07 April was not only the earliest in the county this year, it is the earliest since records began in 1946. (per Bedfordshire Bird Report)
BTO v RSPB BirdTrack Challenge 2011
Both teams ticked Firecrest this week, although Team BTO adding it first was something of a surprise. With the wind turning north-westerly, the migrants slowed somewhat. The current score is BTO 114 – RSPB 112 but we have some relatively easy birds to grip back. I bet they won’t score Black-tailed Godwit as we did – some would call our tactics sneaky, I prefer to consider them innovative.
Bird records to Darren Oakley-Martin, non-avian taxa to Mark Gurney.
Friday 15 April
- The first House Martins of the year at The Lodge, with two north over the quarry at 10:40. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
- Firecrest again by entrance to main house at 6pm. (Johannes Kamp)
- Moorhen skulking about by the pond in front of the restaurant. (Charlie Butt)
- At last – Firecrest gripped back from the clutches of the BTO (or Gannet-deniers, as described by a friend and colleague). Male singing briefly in the Cedrus atlantica between the gatehouse and toilet block at 13:05, before flying towards Woodcock Covert. This bird is highly mobile and has proved extremely elusive to Lodge birders, although considerably easier to visitors it seems. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
- There is currently a fully fledged Robin in juvenile plumage feeding on oats at the feeder in front of the canteen (the one at the Moorhen pond). (Johannes Kamp)
- Firecrest singing by The Lodge entrance [this evening] (per Steve Rooke)
- Having found a Black-tailed Godwit at Derek White’s Eggs Pits earlier this lunchtime, we just about managed tickable ‘scope views from the plateau. A new bird for/ from The Lodge, and the 111th for the year. (Steve Blain/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
- Tuesday Walk Group, (09.30-11.30h). Lovely bright sunny day with cool wind. Took to the Sandy Ridge Trail, first sighting was of the Mistle Thrush beautiful colours in the sun, a group 10 of the Loghtan Manx sheep passed in front of us, a new sight for some of our visitors in the group. Great Spotted Woodpecker sighted in the trees to the right of the trail. Turning left at the gate, on the curve of the trail, by the heath we stopped to the sound of the chiffchaff and then spotted it high in the branches. Continuing up on the path towards the steps to the Gardens a Treecreeper and Nuthatch but sadly nothing exciting was seen in the garden area except the blue tits and chaffinch so headed towards the hide. Again very quiet. Pair of Jays flew across , a nuthatch and Gt & Blue tits visited the feeders. (Jan Murphy)
- Chiffchaff singing and feeding in birches near Jack’s Pond and Treecreeper singing and feeding, also on birches near Jack’s Pond. (Dave Mansfield)
- Male large red damselfly at Jack's Pond [second earliest county record - Ed), plus orange tip and speckled woods in two places. A surprise flock of 14 bramblings at Galley Hill Fort, plus a single siskin and a flyover crossbill near the overflow car park by the Data Unit. (Mark Ward)
- Pair of Shelduck on the new heath at 06:30. Silver-Y in porch of Osprey building was apparently the earliest ever county record. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
- Male Wheatear on the new heath, but no sign of the Ring Ouzel (per Ben Andrew) or singing Firecrest (per Don Otter) seen earlier in the day. (Mark Gurney/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
- Male brambling at lunchtime on the Lodge nature trail, near the pond hide. A welcome surprise! (Gwyn Williams)