Thursday, 31 August 2006

Borage field

This is the borage field that Neil Renwick had a covey of Grey Partridges in a few weeks back. Looks nice, but all it contained this evening was a small flock of c30 Greenfinches. A couple of Little Owls called nearby.

The field can be viewed via the Sandy Quarry entrance road. You can park down there at the gates after the quarrying has finished for the day and wander along a few unofficial footpaths.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Bird news

Tuesday, 29th August
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth in Memorial Garden (Lynn Giddings)
  • A swift from my window this morning, a pair of small coppers mating on the heath and a single brown argus there too (Mark Ward)
Monday, 28th August
  • A flock of Sand Martins feeding over the Lodge heath on Monday afternoon. About 40-50 birds. Volunteers counted 177 sand martin nest holes at Sandy Heath Quarry the other day. (Neil Renwick)

Friday, 25 August 2006

Bird news

Friday, 25th August
  • 11 red admirals at various places around the house today - a welcome sight after days of overcast conditions and little sign of butterflies. Also a peacock and a painted lady in the memorial garden and a comma. Male red-eyed and blue-tailed damsels still on the swimming pool. (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 24th August
  • Hornet feeding on insects on the trumpet vine outside my office. Appeared to be eating ants?? (Anne Harley)
  • 2 hummingbird hawk moths around the house at lunchtime today and single male red-eyed, blue-tailed and common blue damselflies on the swimming pool. (Mark Ward)
  • Young Grass Snake in gardens near pool by wrought-iron gate (Lynn Giddings)
Wednesday, 23rd August
  • 3 swifts flew south, viewed from my window in afternoon and another lingering. (Mark Ward)
  • One of the biggest single tit flocks I have ever seen moved north to south through the Avocet car park this afternoon - viewed from my window. 172 birds in total, included half a dozen long-tailed tits, with a roughly even split between blue tit and coal tits, followed percentage-wise by great tit and goldcrest. (Mark Ward)
  • Yellow Wagtail migrating south over the lawn late morning (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 22nd August
  • A kettle of 5 buzzards assembled over the canteen/osprey building early afternoon today during a Web Team meeting outside. They all appeared to be juveniles. The most buzzard activity I have seen here for several weeks. (Mark Ward)
  • A young grass snake making its way across the lawn just outside the east entrance to the Avocet building at lunchtime today. One was spotted by one of the cleaners inside the Avocet building yesterday evening, so presumably the same individual having made a successful break for freedom! (Mark Ward & Lucinda King)
  • Hummingbird hawk-moths in the memorial garden and outside the west entrance to Avocet and a buzzard high west from my window this morning. (Mark Ward)
  • A Hummingbird Hawk-moth on valerian in the Memorial Garden at lunchtime. Fiona Hunter reidentified what I originally thought were Parent Bugs as Sloe Bugs. Pics here: (Katie Fuller)
Friday, 18th August
  • 2 lesser whitethroats seen in morning in Sandy Heath Quarry (Michael Lawrence, volunteer)
  • Adult hobby disturbed from the plateau, a small southerly movement of lesser black-backed gulls in am and a single swift from my window mid pm. (Mark Ward)
Thursday 17th August
  • Oak bush cricket sheltering under the window shades of an upstairs window in Osprey building (Keith Blomerley)
  • Hummingbird hawk moth at buddleia at back of house and 3 swifts from my window (Mark Ward).
Wednesday 16th August
  • Two brown argus on Gatehouse lavender. (Duncan McNiven)

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Honorary bird

Insects are the future! Hummingbird Hawk-moth is as close as it gets to a good bird at the moment. That said, the five buzzards soaring overhead this afternoon were pretty good. We were in a meeting at the time...

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Bird news

Thursday 17th August
  • Tanner or Sawyer Beetle (Prionus coriarius) – possibly the same as on Tuesday (though not there Weds) – on window frame on east side of Avocet towards south end. (IKD, DFD)
  • Four swifts south over The Quarry at 1045hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • An adult hobby flushed from a pine on The Plateau at 1245hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Katie Fuller)
Wednesday 16th August
  • Pair of Small Red-eyes in cop at east end of fish pond. (Nigel Willits)
  • 3 swifts over Snipe Building at 17:30 (Phil Burfield)
  • Six Painted Ladies on Buddleia by Stable Block at lunchtime (IKD, DFD)
  • A superb flock of 77 greenfinches feeding in the borage field near Sandy Quarry. It will be interesting to see how this flock develops over the Autumn and what other species are attracted there. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Katie Fuller)
Tuesday, 15th August
  • Two Hummingbird Hawk-moths on Buddleia by Stable Block in evening (IKD, DFD)
  • Hummingbird Hawk-moth on Verbena in Memorial Garden at lunchtime. (Lynn Giddings)
  • Tanner or Sawyer Beetle (Prionus coriarius) – one of our largest UK beetles – on window ledge on Avocet. (Andrew Hay et al.)
Monday, 14th August
  • Ten swifts east over the south of the reserve at 1340hrs, followed by my first (Lodge) lesser black-backed gull of the Autumn north over The Heath. Still seven or eight swifts lingering over the Ivel Valley this afternoon at 1530hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Hummingbird hawkmoth "perched" on wall of Central Services - not seen one sitting before. (Paul Donald)
Sunday, 13th August
  • Painted lady butterfly on lavender at the Gatehouse. (Neil Renwick)
Saturday, 12th August
  • Covey of 11 grey partridge on the borage field at Sandy Heath Quarry, and 2 red-legged partridges on The Lodge heath. Juvenile grey heron at one of the natterjack ponds by the hide on Saturday evening (Neil Renwick)
Friday 11th August
  • A single common crossbill 'gipped' across the Osprey Building carpark at 1715hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Tuesday, 8th August
  • Wood mouse in woods n.e. of garden; Southern Hawker seems to have taken over the Emperor territory on the fish pool, plus 1 male Small Red-eyed Damselfly still at the east end; Small Copper in garden. (Nigel Willits)
7th/8th August:
  • Butterflies much reduced on buddleias - only a couple of Painted Ladies, mostly Red Admirals & Peacocks, also Hummingbird Hawkmoths. Other moths include Black Arches, Lesser Swallow Prominents, Pine Hawk, Marbled Beauty, Straw Dot, Yellow-tails. Still lots of Silver Ys everywhere. (Nigel Willits)

Monday, 14 August 2006


Went for a pre-work stroll down to the paddocks along Stratford Road this morning (this is a track that forms the southernmost perimeter of the reserve). I live in hope of a whinchat at this time of year, parking itself nicely atop a bramble, so I can then clamber over the reserve wall and claim it as a Lodge tick.

A similar thing happened last September with a stonechat in exactly this spot. The sight of Katie and I leaning back within the reserve whilst viewing the bird must have seemed comical to anyone who was watching.

But then, no-one goes birding at The Lodge, do they?

This morning, I had only a rain shower and a blackberry-faced blackcap and common whitethroat for company as they gorged themselves in preparation for the journey south.

I went out again at lunchtime, a few swifts; my first (Lodge) lesser black-backed gull of the autumn but precious little else.

At least it didn't rain.

Why do I do it? Because I love The Lodge- it may be birdless for large parts of the year, but it is a relaxing and therapeutic place to stroll around.

One day, the biggy will drop.......

Just hope I have credit on my mobile.......

Sunday, 6 August 2006

In the olden days...

Where this sign once said 'The Lake', it now says 'The Hide'. Sigh.

I am a Lodge newcomer: I only set foot on the reserve last May. So, I am pretty ignorant of how it used to be in the olden days, when wild boar and wolves roamed the slopes of the Greensand Ridge.

Well, maybe not quite that far back.

However, I've been reading up on some old reserve annual reports, and it's been a revelation.
  • There used to be a pool where the pond in front of the hide is now, called The Lake!
  • Little grebes and reed buntings used to breed there! It attracted passage waders, including greenshank and common sandpiper!
These days, to get your wader fix at The Lodge, you have to go to little hill on the plateau and squint through the oak leaves at Warren Villas NR from about 1 km away (zoom eyepiece essential).

This is something that Darren is very fond of, as it's one of the easier ways to get a Lodge tick. If you want barnacle goose on your list, he's your man...

I have to say that, for me, at this time of year, Lodge insects are more interesting than the birds.

Friday, 4 August 2006

Bird news

Friday, 4th August
  • Adult Yellow-legged Gull passed over the portocabin early-afternoon. A Mink was in the stream with the footbridge over it bordering Biggleswade Common at lunchtime too. The Buddleia at the end of the stable block had at least 30 Red Admirals early afternoon as well as a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, but there’s been a distinct drop-off of Painted Ladies over the last few days. However there has also been a surge in butterfly-watchers pausing at this bush after last weeks Silver-washed Fritillary! (Steve Blain
  • Several Brown Argus, plus Long-winged Conehead and Roesel’s Bush-cricket singing along track to north of Gatehouse. (IKD, DFD, Mark Ward)
  • Hummingbird Hawkmoth around the Buddleia outside of the stable block @ 13:05. (Kat Balaam, Jamie Wells)
  • Hummingbird hawkmoth & mother-of-pearl on lavender at the Gatehouse, Friday morning (4th) (Neil Renwick)
Thursday, 3rd August
  • 6 Swifts from my window this afternoon, moving through. Daily sightings now sadly over. (Mark Ward)
Monday, 31st July
  • Raven south over Plateau, also two hobby and a kestrel hunting over the Quarry. (12:45-13:30) (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 2 Hobbies together from my window at 12.28. Quite high so hard to ascertain plumage details for ageing purpose, but the neatness of the wings suggested they might be juveniles. (Mark Ward)
  • One fieldfare was found on Sandy Ridge, the land to the east of The Lodge Gatehouse on Monday morning during the final survey of the season. Has this bird been around all summer, or is winter around the corner? Also, 2 nightingales in the scrubby patch where a male was singing in May (Neil Renwick)
Saturday, 29th July
  • Silver-washed fritillary still on buddleia on Saturday, along with small copper, but no sign on Sunday. (Paul Donald)
Friday, 28th July
  • 4 hummingbird hawk moths on the buddleias west of the main house after work on Friday - one of which was stung by a hornet just before I arrived (witnessed by Darren Oakley-Martin) and eventually died. (Mark Ward)
Wednesday, 26th July
  • Brown Argus, Small Copper & Essex Skipper (perched on finger) on the heath; Ruddy Darters, 4-spot Chaser & Blue-tailed Damselfly at Plantation Pond; Southern Hawkers at Jack's Pond. (Nigel Willits)

Very gripped.......

Very gripped by Mr Blain's y-l gull at work today but I was looking for something far more interesting- a firecrest I had heard calling on The Plateau.

What was quite worrying was getting a rather garbled call from Steve mid-afternoon about a heron that had just flown over his office building.

Steve: ''Heron, just gone over, it must be in the swimming pool!''
Me: ''Eh, you what? What colour heron? Who is this? Are you some kind of stalker?''
Steve: ''It's Steve! No! grey heron just gone over. Window tick!''
Me: ''Oh......cheers Steve, you tw*t.''

The conversation didn't really proceed like that and I don't really think that Steve's a tw*t, but best be safe than sorry with this listing game........