Thursday, 12 July 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 12th July
  • 4, maybe 5 moorhen chicks around the pond and lawn and an armful of goldcrests bathing in the long pond and fountain behind personnel. (Ian Hayward)
  • Small Red-eyed Damsel again at east end of swimming pool (IKD, DFD)
Tuesday, 10th July
  • Two grass snakes devouring a frog by the path leading down to Biggleswade Common from the drive - lunchtime, reported by two of my colleagues in Membership. (per Muriel Flack)
  • At least four Small Red-eyed Damselflies are out today in the gardens at the Lodge. They are favouring the lily pads at the eastern end of the swimming pool. (Steve Blain)
  • 2 Small Red-eyes at the fish pool & a Gatekeeper across the lawn. Plenty of Meadow Brown & Speckled Wood along the Plateau path. (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 9th July
  • I have just seen a bat, no idea what species but it looked bigger than a pipistrelle, flying around the stable block by the drive, it kept going up to an open window on the first floor then wheeled round and headed towards the main house. This was at 3.50pm, it was sunny and a storm was approaching (Ian Hayward)
  • Baby vole just off the path on the meadow not far from the hide - approx.1.40pm. (Kirstie Norton, Muriel Flack)
  • Southern Hawker at the Deli bar (after the Italian Tuna Special perhaps); Azure & Large Red damsels on the bog-bean pool; very aggressive male Emperor patrolling the fish pond, having a go at 4-spot Chaser, Brown Hawker & a female Emperor; also Azure, Common Blue, Blue-tail & Red-eye damsels on the fish pond but no sign of Small Red-eye yet (Nigel Willits)
  • 2 Brown Hawkers on bracken above Jack's Pond at 12.30 today (Martin Fowlie)
  • 5 moorhen chicks on the swimming pool at 0915 (Debra Dawson)
Friday, 6th July
  • 4 moorhen chicks on the pond in front of the House, late afternoon (Claire Farrar)

Friday, 6 July 2007

Bird news

Friday, 6th July
  • 4 Common Darter, 6+ Red Admiral, 1 Southern Hawker - east of garden & along bridleway. (Nigel Willits)
  • Small numbers of sand martins outside my window for the last couple of days - post-breeding dispersal time already it would seem! (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 5th July
  • Female Emperor ovipositing on fish pond plus 2 pairs of Red-eyed Damsels in cop. Muntjac hind east of garden. (Nigel Willits)
Wednesday, 4th July
  • Southern Hawker emergence at Jack's Pond - 2 tenerals still drying plus another empty exuvia; also 4 Banded Demoiselles (2m/2f) & a Green-veined White. Several Meadow Browns east of the garden. (Nigel Willits)
  • Moorhen chick scuttling into vegetation on the eastern island of the swimming pool at lunch, adult Spotted Flycatcher again showing well in birches west of the hide, 2 red admirals enjoying a break in the gloom and nectaring on brambles and a male emperor on the swimming pool.(Mark Ward, Lucinda King, Katie Fuller and Elizabeth Allen)
Tuesday, 3rd July
  • Baby muntjac just outside our window (Mark Ward)
  • Hummingbird hawk moth still on the valerian outside the canteen today (Mark Ward)
  • A stoat ran across the drive in front of me between the two felled areas just north of the cattle grid (second one I've seen on the drive in about three weeks). (Gareth Fisher)
Wednesday, 27th June
  • 2 Southern Hawkers & a female Banded Demoiselle at Jack's Pond before the rain set in (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 25th June
  • 8.30 am: A large flock of mistle thrushes in the Sandy Ridge field, probably numbering about 30 birds (they were always on the move so a bit tricky to count). (Katie Fuller)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Insect news

There aren't many birds to be had at The Lodge at the moment, so here's a male Banded Demoiselle, photographed on Jack's Pond at lunchtime.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Bird news

Friday, 15th June
  • One spotted flycatcher still singing in the big pine at the south end of avocet today and another showing nicely (and also singing) in birches south-west of the hide at lunch today, with three emperors still around the pond (Mark Ward and Lucinda King)
  • Two spotted flycatchers still very vocal around the lawn this morning (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 14th June
  • 4 emperor dragonflies (2 males, 2 females) still showing nicely at the swimming pool at lunchtime. Also spotted flycatcher calling in trees by the memorial garden. (Mark Ward)
  • Spotted flycatcher audible through my open window this morning. Followed up with a sighting of the bird in a pine at the south end of avocet with another calling further east down the garden.
  • I've now seen and/or heard spotted flycatchers on territory at four different locations at The Lodge this year - so 4 potential pairs (minimum), as each involved singing birds.
  • Also juvenile great tit on the webcam feeder today - our first of the year - and red admiral outside. (Mark Ward)
Wednesday, 13th June
  • Spotted Flycatcher in woods east of garden; large red & azure damsels on bog-bean pool (Nigel Willits)
  • Buzzard in playful, lighthearted display outside my window. (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 12th June
  • Meadow Brown behind yew-tree car-park; male & ovipositing female Emperor Dragon on fish pond, plus 4-spot Chasers, Red-eyed & Common Blue damsels (Nigel Willits)
  • 4 emperor dragonflies at the swimming pool and a brood of very recently fledged blackcaps (they could barely fly) on the edge of Biggleswade Common during an unsuccessful clearwing luring session. (Mark Ward)
Monday, 11th June
  • Spotted flycatcher south of the hide at lunchtime today. (Mark Ward)
  • Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow & Garden Warblers between reserve & Biggleswade Common. (Nigel Willits)
  • Freshly-emerged black-tailed skimmer outside the canteen and 2 male large red damsels (plus single painted lady and red admiral nearby) on the small ponds at the back of and west of the house.
  • A pair of starlings are regulars on the web team feeder again at present. (Mark Ward)
Friday, 8th June
  • 1 or 2 Painted Ladies on the slope above Jack's Pond mid-afternoon; single male Emperors patrolling both fish pond & plantation pond, also several 4-spot Chasers, Common Blue & Red-eyed Damsels. Green Tiger beetles actively hunting on the heath. (Nigel Willits)

Friday, 8 June 2007

Bird news

Friday, 8th June
  • Just had a turtle dove purring first and then seen on the ground on the heath side of the boundary wall, west of Jacks pond (Ian Hayward)
  • White-legged Damselfly in main border at lunchtime, posing very co-operatively for his photo (IKD, DFD)
  • Grey wagtail around the swimming pool - slightly unexpected date? (Rob Hume)
Thursday, 7th June
  • Buzzard from my window (they're keeping a very low profile at present so first sighting for a while) and a pair of starlings on the web team feeder occasionally this week. (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 5th June
  • A painted lady by the old railway line at lunchtime today was my first in the UK this year. A garden warbler singing, tail-wagging and wing-shivering in full view nearby (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Some smooth newts have returned to the hide pond - no doubt feasting on Natterjack tadpoles. Also at least 3 male Black-tailed Skimmers, one in aerial copulation with a female. In the gardens, a male Emperor dragonfly & several 4-spots, plus Large Red, Red-eyed, Azure & Common Blue Damsels. (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 4th June
  • Barn owl hunting along the eastern edge of Biggleswade Common at 13:00 today was the highlight of my lunchtime stroll (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Crossbill(s) heard over back lawn @1250 (Chris Bowden)
  • A cuckoo was babbling over the heath in the morning while I counted the sheep, with a great spotted woodpecker drumming nearby (Katie Fuller)
Friday, 1st June
  • Hobby over avocet carpark at 5:15 this evening (Darren Oakley-Martin/ Katie Fuller/ Andy Hay)
Thursday, 31st May
  • Hobby and buzzard twice over House garden 31st May, and more belatedly a pair of mandarin ducks on the fishpond one evening last week (Mike Clarke)

Friday, 1 June 2007

Bird news

Friday, 1st June
  • Male emperor patrolling the swimming pool at lunchtime today. Also 3 four-spotted chasers, 3 large red damsels (one pair in tandem) and several red-eyed damsels (Mark Ward and Lucinda King)
  • A family of four stoats set off across the meadow at the bottom of the reserve on a hunting party. They ran along the fence line and three green woodpeckers sitting on consecutive fenceposts watched their progress. Curiosity got the better of one bird and it landed on the ground to get a better look. One of the stoats ran up to it, whereupon it lifted off. A couple of minutes later, after chasing a rabbit in vain, one of the stoats ran back towards us, through the brambles and raced past only fifteen feet away from us into the reserve. (Sarah & Derek Niemann, joined by runners Martin Harper and Sacha Cleminson)
  • Spotted flycatcher singing strongly from traditional spot in the big limes behind Transport Thursday and Friday. (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 31st May
  • Red Admiral & a couple of Common Blue Damsels on the wing in the garden between showers (Nigel Willits)
Wednesday, 30th May
  • Noisy brood of great spotted woodpeckers calling from nest hole by path below the garden Wednesday lunchtime with a family of treecreepers in the same area. (Mark Ward, Ellen Collier, Katie Fuller, Lucinda King)
  • c.60 swifts east over the plateau between 13:00-13:20. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Single shelduck over the quarry at 10:50. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Spotted Flycatcher in ornamental crab apple outside library @0945 (IKD)

Friday, 25 May 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 24th May
  • Plateau-watching today produced a pair of sparrowhawks at 0855hrs, three common buzzards over the Ivel Valley at 1030-1045hrs, another (or two of the same) buzzards at 1300hrs, a hobby attempting to snatch a swallow at 1315hrs and a kestrel shortly after, but not the recently reported osprey... or the escaped Ruppell's vulture! (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Buzzards from my window yesterday and over the clearfell opposite the gatehouse at lunch. Also a fine spotted flycatcher in full song (and showing nicely) in oaks on the drive side of the shop car park lunchtime today. (Mark Ward)
  • Male Red-eyed Damselfly on lilypad at west end of swimming pool (IKD, DFD)
Wednesday, 23rd May
  • Several Tiger Beetles on the heath at lunchtime. Male Broad-bodied Chaser and 2 Four-spotted Chasers at lower heath pond. Hairy Dragonfly hawking over bracken slopes above Jack’s Pond (IKD, DFD)
  • Summer is here; Spotted Flycatcher singing in limes around the portokabin this morning (Steve Blain)
Tuesday, 22nd May
  • Hobby hawking over the avocet car park and plateau at lunchtime today (Mark Ward)
  • Two Four-spotted Chasers at pond by wrought-iron gate, one ovipositing. Lots of Azure damselflies incl. several in tandem (IKD)
  • On a lunchtime heath walk we saw a common lizard, a grass snake in Jack's pond and another snake further up the path by the steps. (Lucinda King and Ellen Collier)
  • A pair of hobbies from my window this morning, enjoying the summery weather (Mark Ward)
  • 0930 Pair of sparrowhawks circling together over gardens, female headed east over the reserve, pursued by male (Ian Dickie)
Friday, 18th May
  • lunchtime: Kingfisher on the brook on north edge of Biggleswade Common ; a foot-long grass snake lounging in the path just outside the gate to the reserve. (Olly Watts)
  • Pair of shelducks flying around Sandy Warren (area that was clear-felled earlier this year), before flying low through trees in the direction of the hide.
  • Spotted flycatcher next to the visitors car park at the Gatehouse, sand martin hawking around the tree tops at the Gatehouse
  • Garden chafers emerging from short-grass areas of Sandy Ridge (Neil Renwick)

Friday, 18 May 2007

Bird news

Friday, 18th May
  • Spotted flycatcher near to Jack's Pond at lunchtime today. Also a female broad-bodied chaser in the area.
  • Pairs of large red damselflies in tandem on the swimming pool and Jack's Pond with another single on Jack's Pond. (Mark Ward and Lucinda King)
  • Mass emergence today of Garden Chafers Phyllopertha horticola on meadow (brown beetles the size of a finger nail, with metallic green thorax) (IKD, DFD)
  • Red kite heading northwest away from house @1235 (Lynn Giddings)
  • Red kite low over International/Avocet, 12.30 today, followed by two hobbies shooting the breeze (Conor Jameson)
Thursday, 17th May
  • Cuckoo seen and heard flying over the meadow this afternoon (Ian Hayward)
  • Pair of swifts in cop. over the quarry this afternoon. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Tatty buzzard high over garden @1315 (IKD, DFD)
  • 11:45 - Two very tatty looking buzzards circling on thermals out the front of the house. (Planning and Regional Policy Team)
  • 2 buzzards from my window this am.
  • Unusual behaviour (well, I thought so!) from a male great spotted woodpecker at lunch. It flew past the hide in pursuit of its mate and then landed on a molehill, where it stayed for almost a minute. It then flew directly onto the ground nearby and hopped around on the grass in the manner of a green woodpecker for quite some time. (Mark Ward and Lucinda King)
Wednesday, 16th May
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker on our bird feeder @ 5.15 (Margaret Walton)
  • Shelduck pair back again on Wednesday, observed flying from the back of the meadow towards the Ivel. (Ian Hayward)
  • Some good mammal watching from my window at present with a very cute baby grey squirrel often perching on the webcam (alright, I know I shouldn't really be saying that about a grey squirrel - but it is!), a shrew sp scurrying around from time to time which I'm pretty confident is a pygmy based on its domed head shape, very long snout and general proportions/tiny size and a field vole also appearing periodically under the yew hedge. (Mark Ward and the web team)
  • Buzzard circling over House @1245 (IKD, DFD)
  • Two starlings on our feeder this morning very briefly and a great spotted woodpecker.
  • Hobby and buzzard simultaneously early pm from the window (Mark Ward (and the web team))
  • Spotted flycatcher between the hide, the steps to Jacks Pond and the biggest speed bump on the drive, Wednesday morning (Neil Renwick)
  • A shelduck west over the avocet car park/plateau at 5 to 9 this morning (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 15th May
  • As the sun finally made an appearance mid-afternoon, two hobby occupying airspace over The Lodge, one hawking over the gardens, the other over the Ivel. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Monday, 14th May
  • A yellow wagtail calling over Osprey carpark at 08:50 this morning. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Friday, 11 May 2007

Bird news

Friday, 11th May
  • Muntjac on the lawn outside Avocet, 12.35 pm. Swifts and house martins flying in front of the approaching storm (Simon Marsh)
Wednesday, 9th May
  • 3 Hobbies hawking in unison over the Ivel Valley viewed west from the avocet car park at lunch today (Mark Ward)
  • 2 Hobby diving in spectacular style (display I presume) above the Avocet car park at lunchtime today (Chris Bowden)
Tuesday, 8th May
  • Hairy dragonfly patrolling just south-west of the hide at lunchtime (Mark Ward)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Bird news

Wednesday, 9th May
  • Baby Tawny Owl sitting out in full view at the top of a dead birch just north of the hide, between the path and the drive @1315. Very drowsy and likely to be on view for a while! (IKD, Kim Gutteridge, John Day et al.)
  • Water vole by the stream feeding into Potton Brook, just before the bridge leading out onto Biggleswade Common this lunchtime (Olly Watts)
  • Spotted flycatcher heard on the edge of the gatehouse car park this morning. (Gareth Fisher)
Monday, 7th May
  • Monday - 2 reports of (2) fallow deer in woodland near the HQ gardens (per Neil Renwick)
Sunday, 6th May
  • 34 wild bird species recorded on Dawn Chorus (before breakfast) at The Lodge, including nightingale at 04.20 while the group was at the Gatehouse - the bird wasn't, but the sound carried on the wind. Also heard nightingale on the old railway line & found long-tailed tit fledglings between there & Biggleswade Common
  • Later in the morning, a four-spotted chaser was observed for about 3 hours by two visitors as it emerged from its exuvia, dried out and flew (Plantation Pond). A small grass snake was swimming there in the afternoon. A red kite was reported flying over, in company with a buzzard, in the afternoon (Neil Renwick)

Friday, 4 May 2007

Bird news

Friday, 4th May
  • During our lunch-time walk today at approx. 1:15, we saw swallows and skylarks over Biggleswade common. We also saw a jay when walking back through the reserve. (Sue Lawson, Lynn Giddings, Kathy Berkery)
  • 2 Garden Warblers in full song east of the gardens (1 clearly seen); also a large grass snake crossing the path there & a couple of Speckled Woods. Another Hairy Dragonfly at Jack's Pond - this one freshly emerged & flying weakly to rest on an overhanging birch in the sun. (Nigel Willits)
  • I saw a tadpole this morning in the small pond near the path to the Avocet building. (Sue Lawson)
Wednesday, 2nd May
  • A hobby flew north over the quarry car park at 1.50 pm (Katie Fuller)
  • A Hairy Dragonfly briefly at Jack's Pond lunchtime plus a couple of Large Red Damsels. Also 6+ LR Damsels at the long pond, including 2 pairs in tandem. (Nigel Willits)
  • Two-foot long Grass Snake swimming in lower heath pond at lunchtime (IKD, DFD)
Tuesday, 1st May
  • Tuesday pm had a large red damselfly come in through my window in Avocet. Whilst trying to escort it from the building it landed on my hand allowing the ideal opportunity for close scrutiny! (Kim Gutteridge)
  • Several pairs of large red damselflies ovipositing in the swimming pool (Katie Fuller, Ellen Collier, Lucinda King)
  • Male Broad-bodied Chaser at pond in Memorial Garden, and a female-type B-b C at Jack’s Pond which was also being patrolled by a Hairy Dragonfly. Also quite a few Large Red Damsels. A couple of Holly Blues in the gardens. (IKD, DFD)
Monday, 30th April
  • At lunchtime: Heard nightingale singing by path just outside reserve on path towards Biggleswade common. Saw lizard scurrying across the path down by the heath. On bluebell path just outside the garden I saw a grass snake partially out of its hole with a struggling toad locked in its jaws - amazing! (Christine Fitch)
  • Grass Snake attempting to swallow a live Common Toad at the Lodge. It seems to have been lurking beneath the leaf litter, under which most of its body was still concealed, and grabbed the toad's right hindleg as it lumbered by. When the remarkable sight was pointed out to me by another member of staff, the hindleg was already well down the snake's gullet & it was gradually swallowing the other hindleg. The hapless toad made occasional attempts to escape but each time it was sucked in further & seemed to be weakening fast. After 20 mins, I had to return to my desk, by which time the snake's jaws were halfway up the toad's body. (Nigel Willits)
  • A pair of mistle thrushes on the meadow this morning by the HaHa. (Julia Mackay)
  • Female [Greenland-looking] wheatear still on Sandy Ridge, under the power lines. Juvenile mistle thrush begging loudly and still being attended to by parents on meadow. (Katie Fuller)
Saturday, 28th April

  • Came to The Lodge to try to find woodlark for the Beds bird-racers. No sign, but quite a lot of other stuff: fieldfare on the meadow; bullfinch calling from the old railway line, where two nightingales still singing on-and-off; two newly-fledged blackbirds being fed near Stratford Road; and a buzzard was being mobbed over Biggleswade Common. Lots of small, long-antennaed moths, Adela reaumurella, around in the trees.
  • There were two hairy dragonflies in action along Stratford Road by the bridleway gate and at Jack's Pond respectively; quite a few large red damselflies emerging from the pond on the heath, where a small grass-snake was hunting (newts?). Butterflies on the wing included holly blue, speckled wood, orange-tip, small copper and green-veined white. Predictably, photos are here: (Katie Fuller)

Friday, 27 April 2007

Bird news

Friday, 27th April
  • Blackcap and Garden Warbler both singing at lunchtime from bramble/sycamore at edge of meadow, while a silent Common Whitethroat made a surprise appearance in the same sycamore – presumably passing through (IKD, DFD)
  • Cuckoos heard from Sandy Heath tree nursery & Sandy Warren (RSPB clear-fell area) this morning (Neil Renwick)
Thursday, 26th April
  • A hatching of Four-Spot Chasers at the pond outside The Lodge canteen today. At least 3 adults on the wing & at least 4 more in various stages of emergence plus another couple of exuviae. (Nigel Willits)
  • 12.30 pm - Cuckoo calling from top of tall willow beyond S boundary of reserve. 12.45 pm - Grass snake in the woods near the path between the garden steps and the heath. It was about 70 cm long with a prominent yellow collar (Simon Marsh)
  • A cuckoo from my window just before 12 - flying low north over the avocet car park - a window/desk first for me! (Mark Ward)
  • Had a cuckoo flying over the reprographics portacabin and on over Transport calling at it went this morning at around 9.15 (Sally Webber)
  • Pair of mistle thrushes with at least 2 fledged youngsters on the Meadow late morning (Neil Renwick)
Wednesday, 25th April
  • Emperor moth on the wall at the rear of the Gatehouse all day (Guy Anderson, Abi Bunker, Gareth Fisher).
  • 1 Hobby over the old quarry at 11:00.
  • 2 Nightingales singing on the old railway line south of the reserve at lunchtime (Guy Anderson)
Tuesday, 24th April
  • Swallow along Stratford Road at lunch-time (Chris Magin)

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Bird news

Wednesday, 25th April
  • Cuckoo calling at bottom of heath (Lynn Giddings)
  • Nightingale, Cuckoo, garden & willow warblers, blackcaps & chiffies - a lunchtime symphony along the path to Biggleswade Common; also stoat, muntjac & speckled wood. (Nigel Willits)
  • Lunchtime - Nightingale singing intermittently in the bushes between the reserve and Biggleswade Common. Cuckoo calling nearby at the same time. (Carl Simms)
  • Quite a productive lunchtime walk today - big grass snake in the Azalea Walk, male muntjac, singing nightingale and several blackcaps near the brook, green woodpecker feeding in grass by the railway line, cuckoo in full view by the long pond near the railway line, large stoat running up the paddock with the brown sheep in it, and buzzard soaring at the east end of the heath (Peter Newbery)
  • Heron spotted flying quite low over the house in the direction of the swimming pool (don't know if it landed) at 0845 (Julie Sutton)
Tuesday, 24th April
  • Pair of Swallows over quarry; Pale Oak Beauty & Brimstone moth on Osprey walls. (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 23rd April
  • Cuckoo flying over the fuel depot on Potton Road towards the Lodge, 17:25. (Phil Burfield)
  • Cockchafer & 2 Lesser Swallow Prominents in Osprey porch. (Nigel Willits)
Sunday, 22nd April
  • Biked up to the Lodge very early Sunday morning. The Nightingale between the Common and the Lodge gate was singing and showing very well close to the path. Thought I heard another respond further along the wood (Steve Rooke)
Saturday, 21st April
  • During the morning we saw 2 common buzzards over the main building, and then at lunch I saw 2 flying north very high and a third hunting beyond the clearing, i.e. at least 3 including 2 migrants, and possibly 5.
  • Wheatear in the quarry, cuckoo along southern boundary of The Lodge heath (Neil Renwick)
Friday, 20th April
  • Morning survey in Sandy Heath Quarry - a common whitethroat, and a flock of 20 lesser redpolls heading north (Neil Renwick)
Thursday, 19th April
  • 9 House Martins over the Osprey Building at 5.30. (Martin Davies)8 House Martins over the new car park @ 17:20, but no sign of Pied Fly between the heath and Biggleswade Common from 17:30-18:05 (and more annoyingly, I didn't see the Ring Ouzel that Nigel Willits saw just after I'd left!). (Jamie Wells)
  • Ring Ouzel east of path to Biggleswade Common; Small Copper east of garden. (Nigel Willits)
Wednesday, 18th April
  • Teneral Large Red Damselfly & Speckled Wood on path to Biggleswade Common. (Nigel Willits)

Tuesday, 24 April 2007


In early this morning and a pair of Grey-lag Geese flew over the hosue - window tick number 46!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 19th April
  • Male Orange Tip outside library window in afternoon (IKD)
  • Woodlark again singing and feeding in cleared area opposite the Gatehouse, early afternoon (Tony Morris)
  • A hobby passed high going North over Biggleswade common at lunch time today and two cuckoos nearby (Dave Agombar)
  • I heard a cuckoo and had a male pied flycatcher just before the brook before the Common in oaks right next to the path (12.45). (Richard Winspear)
  • Pied Fly not seen subsequently despite being looked for.
  • Newly emerged Large Red Damselfly found dead by swimming pool in morning (Phil Burfield). And a couple flying in gardens at lunchtime. (IKD, DFD)
Wednesday, 18th April
  • I'm delighted to be able to tell you that the woodlark is still out there! I heard two snatches of song at 4.20pm today, northern end of Sandy Warren (same area as previously). (Peter Bradley)
Tuesday, 17th April
  • House Martin over the stable block, early afternoon (Jamie Wells)
  • Three common lizards in close proximity on the heath Tues lunchtime (Julie Sutton, Lisa Palframan, Carl Simms)
  • At lunchtime today, 4 Buzzards together, high over track just off the heath and another bird circling further to the east. Also a few Swallows passing over Biggleswade Common, heading north towards the reserve. No sight or sound of the Nightingale heard earlier in the day between Biggleswade Common and the heath though (Jamie Wells)
  • 6 Buzzards displaying, talon grappling and stooping over the Lodge at 12.45, drifting gradually south (Martin Fowlie; Simon Marsh; Lynn Giddings)
  • Highlights of my wander around The Lodge this morning:
  • Nightingale, 1 singing intermittently from the west of the footpath between the reserve and Biggleswade Common
  • Cuckoo, 1 singing from the birches east of that path
  • Also many Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers singing in various parts of the reserve and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. (Katie Fuller)
Monday, 16th April
  • An early Swift low over main house at 1715 (DFD)
  • Common Lizard sunning itself on the heath. Speckled Wood and a huge queen Hornet in the bluebell wood east of gardens (IKD, DFD)
  • Garden Warbler calling & seen briefly in rhododendron scrub behind hide. Chiffchaff & Blackcap singing in same area & also behind gardens. (Nigel Willits)
Sunday, 15th April
  • Male wheatear among molehills on the Meadow, at the front of The Lodge Sunday morning (Neil Renwick)
  • Peregrine seen by Steve Rooke on Sunday morning, as the mist was clearing (per Neil Renwick)
Friday, 13th April
  • Pair of mandarins took flight from under the footbridge onto Biggleswade Common, 19:00, and headed in the direction of Potton. (Phil Burfield)
  • Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler & Blackcap singing in woods by old railway. (Nigel Willits)

Friday, 13 April 2007

Bird news

Friday, 13th April
  • 3 sand martins migrating north from my window early am - just 3 days later than last spring's window first.
  • Also the occasional buzzard this week, but as expected activity/appearances now much reduced.
  • A pair of goldfinches visited the webcam feeder briefly this morning (a pair appeared at the same time last year) - some compensation for the complete absence of siskins this winter. (Mark Ward)
  • Great spotted woodpecker also on the webcam feeder today (not a regular visitor at present) with its mate calling nearby at the same time. (Ellen Collier and Katie Fuller)
  • A cuckoo called twice at 10:37 from somewhere around the north western part of the reserve. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • The Woodlark was seen about 10:45 flying and calling over the existing heath. It then flew over the wood towards the Lodge. Also, cuckoo calling all morning off the reserve towards Biggleswade common (Graeme Lyons)
  • I had the woodlark this morning, singing at the northern end of Sandy Warren at about 9.45am, where it was originally discovered (Peter Bradley)
Thursday, 12th April
  • 2 Speckled Woods on Cherry Laurel in wood to east of gardens at lunchtime (Lynn Giddings)
  • Orange-tip at the gatehouse at lunchtime, Willow Warbler singing close to the pylon ride along the southern edge of the reserve at 7:30 am (Guy Anderson)
Wednesday, 11th April
  • Marvellous views of the woodlark in song - perched and from ground - and feeding between 1830-1845hrs this evening. A much sought after, searched for (and overdue!) Lodge tick. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Nigel Willits)
  • 5 buzzards catching thermals over the meadow and over towards sandy warren, at least 2 blackcaps singing just outside the garden gate, joined by a chiffchaff, speckled wood basking in the sun amidst the bluebells and a pair of goldfinch in the largest fir tree outside personnel. (Ian Hayward)
Tuesday, 10th April
  • Blackcap in song in his usual / perennial rhododendron behind the hide (Andrew Hay)
  • Woodlark at lunchtime in the middle of the wide open area in front of the house - not that far from the path that runs along there. It flew up into a big pine tree. (Phil Young)
  • Sand martin repeatedly investigating the face of the quarry (Rob Hume)
  • A large number of feathers scattered under the cedar by HR dept. More feathers discovered nearby on Thursday - now thought to be juvenile mistle thrush, although some of those found may be from different species. Could be raptor plucking site (Conor Jameson)
  • My first Lodge swallow of the year through north over the Plateau at 0845hrs this morning. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 5th April
  • First grass snake of the year, a tiddler on the bracken slopes near Jacks pond. Lots of newt activity in the pond and a common lizard further up the path. 4 brimstones and 2 peacocks passing over the heath and woodland and first thing this morning and yesterday a chiffchaff was singing from the sweet chestnut tree just outside the gardens (Ian Hayward)
  • White Wagtail (probably a male) consorting with a Pied Wagtail on the grassy area immediately in front of the house at around 1.45pm (by the gravel drive) - I briefly saw what was almost certainly the same bird yesterday (Ben Stafford)
  • Great spotted woodpecker excavating a hole just off the path leading down from the quarry. Two others in close attendance leading to one almighty and quite violent bust up (Carl Simms)
Tuesday, 3rd April
  • Male Wheatear in the borage field near Sandy Heath Quarry this morning (Mark Gurney)
  • Shamelessly twitched Mr Gurney's wheatear in the borage field at lunchtime today - and deservedly dipped - but still quite a lot of birds around: 47 skylark, 20 or so chaffinch, still 20 fieldfare, 30 redwing and a pair of linnets feeding under the ridge. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Jamie Wells)
Monday, 2nd April
  • A pair of shelduck on the meadow was something of a surprise this morning. (Darren Oakley-Martin, Steve Blain, Katie Fuller, Mark Ward et al).
  • A chiffchaff in song at the southern end of the garden was presumably new in over the weekend (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • No sign of the shelduck during my morning break, but a pair of sparrowhawks (1m, 1f) and two common buzzards soared over the meadow. A demented sand martin headed purposefully over north west, and a pied wagtail was intermittently flycatching and singing on the meadow. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 20 fieldfare on Sandy Ridge at lunchtime today, and meadow pipit passage continued with a trickle of birds over north. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Katie Fuller)
  • Mistle thrush carrying food to the nest by Osprey building this afternoon with another in song nearby. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Sadly, we found a dead queen red-tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius in Sandy Quarry this evening. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Katie Fuller)
  • Chiffchaff singing just beyond the garden at 11am, red admiral and comma in gardens (Ian Hayward)
Sunday, 1st April
  • Pair of Shelducks displaying on meadow at 0800. (Maggie Lamberton)

Monday, 2 April 2007


Darren was alerted to these two shelducks on the meadow in front of the house on Monday morning- looking for a nice rabbit burrow, perhaps? First seen by Maggie Lamberton on Sunday morning, they represent only the fourth site record, and the first since 1983!

Friday, 30 March 2007

Bird news

Friday, 30th March
  • Muntjac on lawn behind Avocet bldg; Bank Vole in bramble patch by hide; 14+ S.Newts in Jack's Pond including a spectacular tail-waving male with an admiring audience of 3 females.
  • Red Admiral, Brimstones & Commas earlier in the week. (Nigel Willits)Four Redpolls flying over the stable block singing at 9am (Steve Blain)
Thursday, 29th March
  • We counted 185+ winter thrushes working their way noisily eastwards among the trees between the bottom of The Lodge and Biggleswade Common on Thursday lunchtime (Sarah & Derek Niemann, Louise Cavender)
Wednesday, 28th March
  • A single brambling with a flock of c.20 Chaffinch was the highlight of a lunchtime walk across Sandy Heath. Around 20 singing skylark, seven meadows pipits low north and still around 40 fieldfare feeding with starlings by Potton Road. Rather more surprising was a redshank calling somewhere overhead in the fog. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 1 Chiffchaff singing in the fog, in birches east of the drive at 7am. 2 Buzzard calling in same area at same time. (Guy Anderson)
Tuesday, 27th March
  • Again in the borage field and quarry area: a pair of grey partridges and 12 skylark, including 8 singing. Discernable passage at last with 5 meadow pipits north and 3 sand martins north east. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 1 Chiffchaff singing on the old railway line from the Biggleswade Common bridleway at lunchtime. (Guy Anderson)
  • A Red Kite drifted fairly low across the road as we headed down to Sandy from the Lodge at lunch at c.1:15 on Tuesday. It was heading in the direction of Everton. (Kat Balaam/Jamie Wells)
  • Saw my first common lizard of the year on the plateau, taking advantage of the sun. (Ian Hayward)
Monday, 26th March
  • 7 Comma and 1 Red Admiral on a flowering Pieris bush in the gardens near the 'gazebo clearing' at lunchtime.
  • 1 Brimstone near the hide (Guy Anderson)Male Blackbird tackling a Smooth Newt (?) in front of the hide at lunchtime, which it eventually flew off with. (Kat Balaam/Jamie Wells)
  • A pair of male Goldcrests were displaying furiously to each outside of the portokabin this morning. Both crowns raised to a peak showing the vivid orange underneath. Very impressive. (Steve Blain)
Sunday, 25th March
  • Walking across the borage field by Sandy Quarry at about 7.30 pm on Sunday I put to flight a wheatear, my first of the year (Gareth Fisher)Female brambling at feeding stations on Sunday - at the Gatehouse in the middle of the day, at the hide at the end of the afternoon. (Neil Renwick)
  • Saturday, 24th March In the borage field for a couple of hours this morning, no sign of any woodlarks, but still plenty of activity: 50 chaffinch, 35 skylark, 9 linnet, 6 greenfinch, 4 meadow pipit, one fieldfare, 4 redwing and 2 common buzzards. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A team from Milton Keynes RSPB Phoenix worked at The Lodge on Saturday. One of their tasks was to clean the deciduous leaves out of the natterjack ponds in front of the hide. A bucket-full of common toad spawn and over 50 smooth newts (we lost count) were relocated to Jack's Pond, and dragonfly nymphs ( libellula sp ) were moved to the deep (western) pond in front of the hide. (Neil Renwick)

Friday, 23 March 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 22nd March
  • Bank Vole by the hide. (Nigel Willits)

Wednesday, 21st March

  • This evening on walking home via the gardens I was surprised to see 3 adult muntjacs on the garden side of the perimeter fence. Not too far away on the left hand side of the steps leading to the heath were another 3 calmly watching as I walked by. (Ian Hayward)
  • Moorhen in Memorial Garden lunchtime (heard, not seen - presumably at the pond)Buzzards seem to be slightly less obvious this weekJackdaws still busy shoving twigs down the chimneys at the house (a few pics here: Fuller)
  • A small flock of siskins and at least 1 redpoll in Scots pines along the southern boundary wall, close to Plantation Pond, Wednesday afternoon.
  • A slender groundhopper was found on this morning's bug hunt, among rotten wood on the heath (Neil Renwick)

Monday, 19th March

  • Sparrowhawk flying a foot off the ground along drive and past stable block, presumably hoping to surprise prey (Chris Magin)
  • Friday, 16th MarchChiffchaff singing by the bridleway paddocks (Nigel Willits)

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 15th March
  • Comma and peacock in the garden at 1100. (Ian Hayward)
Tuesday, 13th March
  • 11 Crossbills in BBS square, Galley Hill area. (Ian Hayward)
  • 4 Commas, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock and 5 species of bumblebee (Martin Davies)
Monday, 12th March
  • A single Little Egret on Warren Villas this morning during my break from 10:35-10:45 at least. No sign of yesterday's second bird from my viewing position at The Lodge.
  • A pair of Sparrowhawks were putting on a fine aerial display over the Quarry, with much flashing of undertail coverts by the female before the pair locked talons and tumbled earthwards. Quite a spectacle (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Sunday, 11th March
  • 3 buzzards displaying over the clearfell area alongside Potton Road in the morning, 4 birds present. 6 siskins in silver birches along the wall on southern edge of the heath (Neil Renwick)

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Bird news

Thursday, 8th March
  • A little egret was again on Warren Villas this lunchtime as I scanned from the Plateau. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 10+ S.Newts active in Jack's Pond, several White-tailed Bumblebees prospecting nest sites around the heath (Nigel Willits).
  • Lunchtime - The now regular group of three buzzards were the circling the thermals above the heath again. They have been about virtually everyday for the last couple of weeks. (Carl Simms)
  • A few insects starting to enjoy the spring sunshine: Red Admirals in the Lodge gardens -1 on 5th, 3 on 6th and 5 on 8th March, mostly around the Pieris bushes in flower. Joined by 1 Comma on 6th and 8th and 2 Peacocks on 8th (Martin Davies)
Wednesday, 7th March
  • Watching from the Plateau at lunchtime today produced ten common buzzards over the woods west of the Ivel Valley, with a further, quite vocal pair displaying over the Quarry. Also a pair of sparrowhawks and a kestrel for good measure. On Warren Villas, a pair of oystercatcher were new in, and the lone, feral barnacle goose was amongst the sizeable flock of Canada and greylag geese in the field to the east of the A1. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Oak Beauty, melanic Pale Brindled Beauty, Common Quaker, March moth & 5+ Yellow Horneds on Snipe & Osprey walls (Nigel Willits)
  • Grey Heron seen from the office window at 12:30. It flew over the stable block and then across the gardens. (Jamie Wells)
  • Spring is here! Male Chaffinch started attacking the library window this morning. This has been an annual occurrence throughout my time at RSPB, so quite a few different individuals must have been involved over the years. Intriguing to know why the same window triggers the behaviour. Does a new territory holder learn from watching the previous occupant? (IKD)
Tuesday, 6th March
  • Male Brimstone in woods to east of house @1250, together with Red Admiral; then 4 Red Admirals together on Pieris in gardens (IKD, DFD)
  • 5+ Smooth Newts active in Jack's pond plus a couple in hide pond (Nigel Willits)
Sunday, 4th March
  • Woodcock beside the bridleway, near the bottom gate (Neil Renwick)
Saturday, 3rd March
  • 3 buzzards displaying over HQ (Neil Renwick)
Friday, 2nd March
  • Flock of about 15 redwings in the trees above the reprographics portacabin at 4.30pm today (Grahame Madge)
  • Male crossbill over Compartment 19 (the bracken slope overlooking the path from Jack's Pond to the Heath) (Neil Renwick)

Friday, 2 March 2007

Bird news

Friday, 2nd March
  • We've had a regular pair of buzzards displaying outside the windows every day this week, joined by an intruder this morning for a time. (Mark Ward)
  • Sparrowhawk soaring high over the Stable Block at 2pm. (Grahame Madge)
  • Two buzzards over the Lodge at lunchtime. (Grahame Madge)
  • 1 Red Admiral in woods at lunchtime (IKD, DFD)
  • 2 red admirals on the blossom at the corner of the garden behind the house and a doe and fawn muntjac grazing just outside the gardens (Ian Hayward)
  • Tawny Owl on a fence post by the side of the drive at 8.45 this morning. (Frank James)
Thursday, 1st March
  • A muntjac crossed the drive in front of my car at 5:55pm - looked like a female (Adam Bassett)
  • Flocks of fieldfares on Sandy Heath, redwings and chaffinches in the tree nursery. There were a few bramblings with the chaffinches, but birds were frequently disturbed by vehicles moving through the nursery. (Neil Renwick)
Wednesday, 28th February
  • Buzzard flying over pylons at 2pm, also red admiral flying by Jacks pond, lots of newt and water boatman activity and a seven spot ladybird on the rhododendron in the gardens (Ian Hayward)
  • Two Red Admirals by the entrance to the Memorial Garden (Trish Clegg)
  • Red Admiral by Pieris in gardens at lunchtime – at same time as the two above, so at least three (maybe four or five) on the wing today (IKD, DFD)
  • Red Admiral butterfly in the courtyard by the 'doll's house'. My third butterfly species for the year before the end of February. (Grahame Madge)
  • It's worth looking up to the chimneys over the House, where jackdaws are holding territorial disputes. As we watched, one bird adopted the 'elaborate full forward' display, leaning steeply forwards with head bowed, its feathers ruffled and its tail fanned out. According to corvid expert Lorenz, this type of display is only seen in arguments over nest sites or females. Jackdaws are vulnerable to nest predation by bigger corvids, so every narrow chimney pot is worth fighting over. (Derek & Sarah Niemann)
Monday, 26th February
  • Stoat across the drive this morning (Mike Clarke)
  • 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebees on the Pieris bushes and a Red Admiral (a rather tatty one) sunning on the Mahonia by the Memorial Garden. (Martin Davies)
Friday, 23rd February
  • Early moth at Osprey porch; 2 Smooth Newt swimming in hide pond (Nigel Willits)
  • Red Admiral at Lodge (by path near memorial garden) (Euan Dunn)
Wednesday, 21st February
  • Buff-tailed and White-tailed Bumblebees nectaring on the flower borders in the gardens. At least 3 Smooth Newts in Jack's Pond (and again on Monday 26th) (Martin Davies)

Friday, 23 February 2007

Bird news

Friday, 23rd February
  • A large number of (unseen) siskins heard calling in the pines north-west of the osprey building at lunch today - a bird conspicuous by its scarcity thus far this winter (Mark Ward)
  • 10:45. Nice views of a buzzard low over the front of the house before flying away over the Yew Tree Car Park (Planning and Regional Policy Team)
  • Morning: 2 buzzards flying about over the edge of the quarry (Katie Fuller, Ellen Collier, Mark Ward)
Thursday, 22nd February
  • 13:20pm. Red Kite low over the tall tree and pines across from transport. Only glimpsed briefly before it drifted away over the quarry and out of site but forked tail quite unmistakeable. (Carl Simms)
  • A Red Kite from the front of the House at 1.15 added some interest to an interviewing session (Graham White)
  • 1 red kite from my window, which drifted over the stable block and then down over the quarry (Sally Webber, Steven Roddy and Mairi Dupar)
  • Emmelina monodactyla (plume moth) at Osprey porch (Nigel Willits)
Wednesday, 21st February
  • A peregrine flashed across the quarry this morning at 10:40, scattering five stock doves - which I thought was notable in itself! A little egret came into Warren Villas at lunchtime today as I watched from the Plateau. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Morning: Sparrowhawk displaying and buzzard flying over the quarry edge (Katie Fuller, Mark Ward)
  • Morning: Three buzzards and two kestrels thermalling over the Avocet/quarry car-park (Mark Ward, Katie Fuller, Lucinda King)
Monday, 19th February
  • Muntjac ran across the drive just after 6pm (Nigel Willits)
  • 2 Buzzards over the swimming pool/garden late afternoon, being mobbed (IKD, DFD)
  • Pair of stonechats still in the setaside field opposite the Gatehouse at lunchtime today. Male kestrel hunting overhead, 68 lapwing over south west but best of all, a close encounter with a hare! (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 3 buzzards circling over the Lodge on Monday lunchtime (Sally Webber, Sue AB)
  • Three buzzards along the southern edge of the Lodge, between the quarry and Stratford Road, at lunchtime (Grahame Madge and Graeme Lyons)
  • Unidentified raptor, almost certainly a peregrine, seen extremely briefly close to the group of three buzzards at lunchtime (Grahame Madge)

Friday, 16 February 2007

Bird news

Friday, 16th February
  • We saw a pair of stonechats on the field across the road from the Gatehouse, and west of the bridleway, during a guided walk this morning. About 50 fieldfares on Sandy Heath, uncountable flock of redwings in the tree nursery, and one buzzard over Sandy Ridge field. (Neil Renwick)
  • This morning at 8:50, c.500 golden plover were over the Ivel Valley before heading back south, presumably to their traditional haunt in the fields to the west of the A1. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Thursday, 15th February
  • Buzzard gliding along the back of the reserve viewable from the top end of Stratford Road. 12.30pm. (Grahame Madge)
  • Red Admiral flying around outside the canteen at lunchtime. (Paul Donald; Lynn Giddings)
  • Grey Shoulder-knot at Osprey porch; Red Admiral & fairly large bumblebee (Bombus lucorum perhaps?) outside canteen at lunchtime. (Nigel Willits)
  • Female sparrowhawk patrolling the quarry area this morning (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday, 14th February
  • The presence of a muntjac doe and a well-grown fawn just outside the window in the afternoon prompted much cooing from the occupants of the Avocet building. (Lesley Norman, Katie Fuller, Lucinda King, Jo Treverton et al.)
  • 25-30 Redwing in weedy field below heath plus pair of Mistle Thrush. (Nigel Willits)
Tuesday, 13th February
  • Two brambling (1m, 1f) in mixed flock of c.55 skylark and c.60 chaffinch at the Borage Field this lunchtime. The number of chaffinch increased to c.120 on Thursday. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Monday, 12th February
  • Pale Brindled Beauty on north Snipe wall. (Nigel Willits)
  • Red Admiral by house (Lynn Giddings)

Friday, 9 February 2007

Bird news

Tuesday 30 January
  • Little grebe in the ditch below the Heath today. (Grahame Madge) Saturday 3 February Two brambling with the mixed skylark and chaffinch flock in the borage field were my only reward for the two hours I spent grilling every lark I came across this morning, but again, no sign of Chris's woodlark. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • c. 50 skylark and 60+ chaffinch in the borage field at 3pm on Sat. In different places though - the skylarks were sticking to the open top of the field, within 100m of the quarry track, and flying around low between feeding bouts (at perfect single shelf height..). Couldn't pick out the woodlark among them, but not 100% certain it wasn't there. The chaffinches were further back, almost at the far field edge, where the weeds are taller - and moved from here to the hedge by the Potton road (Guy Anderson)
Sunday 4 February
  • During my wander around The Lodge this morning, I encountered two male blackcaps. One was in sub-song from an ivy-covered tree along Stratford Road; the other was in the Memorial Garden near the house (Katie Fuller)
Tuesday 6 February
  • Again, two brambling were in the tree belt that runs between the Borage Field and the quarry this lunchtime. When I arrived, the skylark flock got up, circled the field twice and headed high off to the west, making counting them much easier - 53 of them in total (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday 7 February
  • There were similar numbers of skylark (c.50) again in the Borage Field at Sandy Heath yesterday lunchtime, feeding happily in a sheltered corner of the field with a similarly sized chaffinch flock. At least one brambling amongst them. No sign of the woodlark, but we were very reluctant to get too close to them as they fed so happily, especially in light of the predicted conditions (Guy Anderson & Darren Oakley-Martin)
Thursday 8 February
  • A brambling by Avocet Carpark in the lunchtime snow today (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Friday 9 February
  • A pied wagtail on the roof of the Avocet Building this morning was the only bird of note (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Nuthatches have been frequent visitors to the webcam bird feeder this week, especially during the snowy weather. (Katie Fuller)

Friday, 2 February 2007

Bird news

Friday 26 January
  • One redpoll spp. heard flying overhead at the south end of the reserve by the view point to Warren Villas. (Graeme Lyons)
  • At dusk, two woodcock, north to south over the quarry. (Grahame Madge/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
Monday 29 January
  • A single lesser redpoll with 31 chaffinch and nine goldfinch in the paddocks on Stratford Road this lunchtime with a second great spotted woodpecker drumming nearby at the southern end of the reserve. Four gadwall in the ditch at the bottom of the heath were my first here. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • At dusk, another woodcock over the quarry carpark, this one came from the general direction of the gardens and headed west over the quarry. (Steve Blain, Stuart Geeves, Ian Hayward, Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A woodcock in flight across the Sandy-Potton road before dropping into the field on the east of the road just before I turned into the entrance to The Lodge on the way in to work this morning - presumably disturbed from the newly-cleared heath on the reserve. (Mark Ward)
Tuesday 30 January
  • A male blackcap gorging on ivy berries on Stratford Road this lunchtime. As I watched it gave a brief, half-hearted burst of song. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A little egret preening and roosting at Warren Villas this afternoon was visible from the Plateau carpark. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday 31 January
  • The first morning of woodpecker drumming I have noticed - 4 or 5 greater spots heard this morning - 2 drumming and chasing each other near the gate at the bottom of the heath, 1 distantly from beyond pond on the heath, and 1 or 2 from the west along Stratford Road. Several green woodpeckers active along Stratford Road, but not yaffling. (Ian Dickie)
  • Goldcrest bathing in the pool right in front of the hide and two great spotted woodpeckers flitting about. A sparrowhawk landed in brambles to right of hide, dropped down in front of second pool before flying off to back of field. (Helen Brandes)
  • On a reconnaissance visit for Guy's Thursday ringing session at the Borage Field, around 150 fieldfare, 30 redwing, 40 starling, 50 chaffinch and a record count of 55 skylark. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Large (50+) flock of chaffinches in weedy field at bottom of heath at about 1 o'clock- too distant without scope to pick out brambling or anything, but could be worth checking. Also c.40 fieldfare. Spring usher on the western wall of Osprey Building (Nigel Willits)
Thursday 01 February
  • This morning during a ringing session on Sandy Heath, Chris Bowden found a woodlark with the sizeable wintering skylark flock. This is particularly appropriate, given that Chris spent five years studying their breeding ecology on forestry plantations in the Brecks during the 1980s and '90s. Originally picked up on call by Chris, the bird was also seen by Guy Anderson, Dave Buckingham and others towards the eastern side of the heath. The Skylark flock appears to have splintered into smaller groups than the sizeable flock that was present yesterday. (pers. comm. DOM)
  • A single brambling with chaffinch flock at the Borage field this lunchtime (Nigel Willits)
  • Female merlin chasing a skylark was the highlight of a lunchtime walk around the Borage Field. (Darren Oakley-Martin & Mark Ward)
  • Song thrush singing quite loudly at 1.35 pm in the trees above the snowdrop garden below the wall. (Judith Emmerson)
  • 5 Canada geese (first spotted by Ellen) heading low north over the avocet car park this morning from our window. (Mark Ward)
Friday 02 February
  • A much paler spring usher at Osprey porch this morning and a sparrowhawk seen patrolling woodland edge west of Osprey building late morning for 2nd time this week - a regular route perhaps? (Nigel Willits)
  • Four of us spent an hour before work this morning looking for the woodlark on Sandy Heath. Unfortunately we failed to find the Woodlark but there were plenty of birds in the area. Five grey partridges, two bramblings, c.50 Fieldfares, c.15 Skylarks and a handful of Meadow Pipits being the highlights. (Steve Blain/ Katie Fuller/ Mark Gurney/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • 70 redwings flew low north across the avocet car park outside my window this morning. (Mark Ward)
  • Red kite over gardens, fairly low. (Derek Niemann, Lindsey Smith, Kate Smith et al.)
  • For anyone wishing to look for the woodlark, around lunchtime would appear to be the best time. Again today, the large flock of skylark was feeding in a tight flock in the middle of the borage field, just below the ridge. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in the short time I was on site, but two bramblings were in amongst the chaffinch flock. Early morning seems to have the flock widely dispersed across Sandy Heath. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Friday, 26 January 2007

Bird news

Friday, 26th January
  • At least one brambling (female) among the chaffinch flock in the Borage Field today (lunchtime). (Grahame Madge)
  • Two Ravens in trees to south of garden in morning (Mike Clarke)
Thursday, 25th January
  • A woodcock over the quarry - same place, same time as the one on Weds evening! (Darren Oakley-Martin)Red Admiral sunning itself on library wall at lunchtime (IKD, DFD)
  • Decidedly scarce birds at The Lodge nowadays, a male bullfinch was a pleasant surprise as I was enjoying the mid-morning sunshine during my break. Only my third record of the species here in the last two years. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday, 24th January
  • I don't know, I see one here, then they come along like proverbial buses.....As I was admiring the sunset at 5:15, a woodcock weaved its way north to south across the Quarry, perfectly framed by the warm tones of the setting sun. Wish I had had a camera and knew how to use it! (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Whilst 'scoping Warren Villas from the Plateau at 10:30, two little egrets came in from the north, circled three times and appeared to settle at the southern end of the pits - my first of the winter here. During the winter of 2005/2006 they were much more frequently seen. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A pair of stonechats on the bridleway opposite the Lodge entrance at lunchtime. (Grahame Madge)
Tuesday, 23rd January
  • Muntjac between gardens & bridleway. (Nigel Willits)
Saturday, 20th January
  • Again, drew a blank with sprites this morning. Female stonechat still present and a great spotted woodpecker drumming by the gatehouse the only highlights. (Steve Blain/ Mark Gurney/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
Friday, 19th January
  • Peacock by the Gatehouse while waiting for the eagerly-sought phylloscopus warbler. (Grahame Madge and Andre Farrar)
  • Whilst searching extensively for the putative Pallas' this afternoon (without success!) I did manage to find a warbler- a male blackcap in the yew at the gatehouse. Also a female stonechat in the field to the west of the bridleway opposite the reserve entrance. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Monday, 22 January 2007

Putative Pallas' Warbler

We may have added a new bird to The Lodge avifauna on Friday. One of the girls in the shop reported this:

"a very small (goldcrest sized) bird disappear into the yew hedge by the path to the gatehouse shop at about 9.00 this morning with a very square-cut yellowish-white rump as it flared its tail before landing, just like the Pallas' warbler I saw at Lowestoft last year."

I spent five hours searching on Friday and again on Saturday to no avail, but she is going to submit the record! Extraordinary!

I did manage to find a female stonechat in the field opposite the entrance to the reserve and also a male blackcap, so new recent additions to the 2007 Lodge yearlist:

59 Stonechat 19-Jan
58 Blackcap 19-Jan
57 Grey Wagtail 17-Jan
56 Common Gull 16-Jan
55 Tufted Duck 16-Jan
54 Lesser Black-backed Gull 15-Jan

Friday, 19 January 2007

Bird news

Friday, 19th January
  • 2 Red Admirals on Mahonia by Memorial Garden at lunchtime (IKD, DFD, Trish Clegg)
  • This lunchtime - 2 red admirals chasing each other outside the library window, fresh female brimstone by the bridleway near the Heath (Peter Newbery)
  • 4 buzzards putting on a show outside my window this morning. (Mark Ward)
Thursday, 18th January
  • An incredible lack of birds in the usually busy airspace outside my window during the gales today. A single crow was the only bird brave enough to enter my line of vision all day and it looked distinctly uncomfortable battling against the crosswind whipping up over the plateau! (Mark Ward)
Wednesday, 17th January
  • Flock of c30 redwings moving between trees east of Avocet late am. (Mark Ward)
Tuesday, 16th January
  • Pale Brindled Beauty, Winter & Northern Winter moths at Osprey porch (Nigel Willits)
Monday, 15th January
  • Cormorant flew south-east outside my window. (Mark Ward)
  • 2.45pm. A woodcock flying over the garden, in front of the Avocet building and over the Snipe building. (Barrie Cooper)
  • Kestrel wheeling over the quarry from the newly felled areas, 2 Common buzzards, both heading out towards Biggleswade Common. A mature holly off the plateau, Stratford Road side, is laden with berries and attracting good numbers of redwing and fieldfare. (Ian Hayward)

Monday, 15 January 2007


I always get a buzz of anticipation when sifting through finch flocks, in much the same way as many of you do with gulls, no doubt. I don't find much - at least not in Bedfordshire - save for the odd lesser redpoll or brambling, but the buzz persists nevertheless.

Today in the paddocks on Stratford Road, the marvellous sight of 53 goldfinches feeding under the birches. In amongst them, six lesser redpolls. I don't usually take the 'scope out on the reserve, but I'm glad I did today so I could satisfy myself that they were all just cabaret.

New birds today:

51: Feral Pigeon
52: Kestrel
53: Goldfinch

I wonder if Mr Sharrock's Goldeneye at Warren Villas is viewable from the Plateau?

Friday, 12 January 2007

Peregrines and Little Egrets

From: Bashford, Richard
Sent: 12 January 2007 16:06
Cc: _Bird News
Subject: Peregrine

One from the office (at the Lodge) 16.00. Seemed to be chasing something. Out there again now 16.04...

From: Blain, Stephen
Sent: 12 January 2007 16:24
To: ''
Cc: _Bird News
Subject: RE: Peregrine

...and while looking for the Peregrine around the quarry I saw a Little Egret come in to roost at Warren Villas!


From: Oakley-Martin, Darren
Sent: 12 January 2007 16:29
To: Blain, Stephen; ''
Cc: _Bird News
Subject: RE: Peregrine

And the funny thing is, seconds before Steve saw the egret, he said ''there should really be a Little Egret roosting down there.''

I shan't say what he said next but I missed it. I did see the Peregrine as it zoomed across the quarry though. You can't win them all, mate.

Nice work chaps.


50 up for The Lodge 2007!

50 Peregrine 12-Jan
49 Great Crested Grebe 11-Jan
48 Coot 11-Jan
47 Sparrowhawk 10-Jan
46 Woodcock 10-Jan
45 Tawny Owl 08-Jan
44 Great black-backed Gull 08-Jan
43 Canada Goose 08-Jan
42 Golden Plover 08-Jan
41 Common Buzzard 08-Jan
40 Pheasant 08-Jan
39 Brambling 05-Jan
38 Meadow Pipit 05-Jan
37 Red-legged Partridge 05-Jan

A nice way to bring up the half century

Bird news

Thursday, 11th January
  • Muntjac on the back lawn by the swimming pool (17:10) (Phil Burfield)
  • A male sparrowhawk was perched up in the tree outside the stableblock this afternoon - presumably escaping the high winds and waiting for an easy meal to arrive at the feeders! (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Wednesday, 10th January

  • Siskins calling to the east of the gardens at 1530hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A woodcock flushed from rhododendron bushes to the east of the swimming pool at 1045hrs today was my first ever at The Lodge! (Darren Oakley-Martin/ Richard James/ Ian Peters)
  • Insects active at lunchtime included 2 Buff-tailed Bumble-bees with full pollen-baskets on Mahonia, several Drone Flies Eristalis sp., and a Minotaur Beetle and Green Shield-bug Palomena prasina both on Avocet. Where has winter gone? (IKD, DFD)
  • c20 fieldfares north from my window. (Mark Ward)

Tuesday, 9th January

  • The chaffinch flock at the Borage Field is now approaching 200 birds. Strong winds made accurate counting impossible, but at least one brambling was within the very flighty flock. 40 skylark also present. (Graeme Lyons/ Grahame Madge/ Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • A common buzzard again over Osprey Carpark at 0900hrs. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Monday, 8th January

  • Whilst returning some books to the library just before 5 o'clock, I heard a tawny owl calling at the back of the garden. Standing behind a shrub and doing my best vole impression, two tawny owls came down to investigate! (Darren Oakley-Martin)
  • Nice close views of a Treecreeper from my office window, late morning on Monday. Not really that noteworthy but always nice to see this species close up. (Jamie Wells)
  • An exciting start to the week as I got out of my car and was startled by the sound of something running at rapid speed across the muddy Avocet car park - a very small muntjac racing directly towards me. I stood completely still and just as it looked as if it would run between my legs and under my car it veered off to the perimeter fence. Its problems weren't over though. Its struggle to get through the wire was certainly intensified by the appearance of a buzzard circling just overhead!
  • The same muntjac (a youngster) was foraging under the yew hedge outside the Web Team windows later in the day. (Mark Ward)
  • Two common buzzards being harassed by carrion crows drifted slowly west over the carpark at 0900 hrs this morning. Around 100 golden plover high over the Ivel Valley (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Friday, 5 January 2007

Bird news

Friday, 5th January

My second consecutive lunchtime visit to the excellent Borage Field by Sandy Quarry, full of weeds and cover:
Skylark, 52 - my highest ever site count and the average of three counts, up from 42 yesterday
Chaffinch, 110 - another high site count, average of three counts, up from 80 yesterday
Brambling, 2 females, not present (or unseen) yesterday
Lesser redpoll, 2 again (as yesterday)
Fieldfare, 20
Redwing, 12
Greenfinch, 10 (well below my highest count here of 77)
Meadow pipit, 1
Red-legged partridge, 8
With so many small passerines around, I half expected a merlin to put in an appearance.
(Darren Oakley-Martin)

Thursday, 4th January
  • Lunchtime at the Borage Field by Sandy Quarry produced a very nice mixed feeding flock consisting of: c.80 chaffinch, c.20 greenfinch, 42 skylark, 12 redwing, at least 2 lesser redpoll and a single fieldfare. (Darren Oakley-Martin)
Wednesday, 3rd January
  • A few siskins in pines on the Plateau. (Darren Oakley-Martin)

Pesky squirrels

It's still a bit quiet at our feeder over here. To enable easy feeder topping-up over the festive period, we put the seed outside, safely contained in a black plastic bin. Unfortunately, when I got back to work, squirrels had broken in through the lid, by chewing a large hole in it. So the birds have gone a bit hungry.

2007 Lodge List

As this blog is called 'Birding at the Lodge' not 'Squirreling at the Lodge' or 'Beeing at the Lodge'! I thought I'd post something bird-related.

I'm doing another Lodge year list. I'll probably end up on about 105 again but you never know. Here's the list to date, so I'm 1/3 of the way there and won't see anything new now until a Sand Martin on March 17th:

36. Fieldfare 04-Jan
35. Lesser Redpoll 04-Jan
34. Skylark 04-Jan
33. Rook 04-Jan
32. Cormorant 03-Jan
31. Magpie 03-Jan
30. Redwing 03-Jan
29. Greylag Goose 03-Jan
28. Black-headed Gull 03-Jan
27. Siskin 03-Jan
26. Great Spotted Woodpecker 03-Jan
25. Jay 03-Jan
24. Herring Gull 02-Jan
23. Song Thrush 02-Jan
22. Greenfinch 02-Jan
21. Wood Pigeon 02-Jan
20. Stock Dove 02-Jan
19. Mistle Thrush 02-Jan
18. Carrion Crow 02-Jan
17. Jackdaw 02-Jan
16. Mallard 02-Jan
15. Moorhen 02-Jan
14. Mute Swan 02-Jan
13. Chaffinch 02-Jan
12. Nuthatch 02-Jan
11. Treecreeper 02-Jan
10. Green Woodpecker 02-Jan
9. Goldcrest 02-Jan
8. Great Tit 02-Jan
7. Coal Tit 02-Jan
6. Long-tailed Tit 02-Jan
5. Blue Tit 02-Jan
4. Blackbird 02-Jan
3. Wren 02-Jan
2. Dunnock 02-Jan
1. Robin 02-Jan