First port of call was the Little Bunting at Great Barford. Since we were last there, the field has been ploughed up, but the local birders have been seeding the spot and the bunting has stuck around.
Two birders were there when we arrived-got closer and recognised the two usual suspects on a day out from Tyttenhanger. They had been there for a bit without luck, but shortly after we arrived the Little Bunting appeared and spent most of the time feeding, flitting up into a bush now and again when disturbed by Great Tits and Robins. Just for a change, I decided to stick with the 500mm lens and the GX8, usually with the 2x converter but occasionally also with the 1.4x. Took a video sequence, which will be on Youtube later, but heres a pretty good image (effectively 2800mm on a full frame 35mm camera).
The wind was a bit of a problem and I had to up the iso quite a bit to get an adequate shutter speed.
Next stop wasn't too far away at Colmworth/Little Staughton where a Great Grey Shrike had been around the church for a few days. Unfortunately there was no sign in the appropriate fields but eventually a guy turned up and told us it was on some wires a few fields to the north. Just a speck in the scopes, so some of us moved a bit closer, and found it hunting a field using the wires as a perch. Managed to get pretty close at times but as before, the wind played havoc with my camera.
Looked really nice in the occasional sunshine, but just wish it wasn't so shaky. We attracted interest from one or two passers by on the rather busy road, so had to explain what it was, where it was from and so on.
We then called in at Diddington Pits north of Paxton. We had wanted to go there last time we were in the area but the mist and fog meant it was pointless. Talking to some who had been here recently, I had expected to have a lot of difficulty picking up the female Ring Necked Duck, but it proved easy at first-I saw a small group of Tufties, scanned through and it was the third bird I looked at. Unfortunately they all spent most of the time asleep and it was then very tricky to locate, not helped by having to look into the sun so they were backlit in the glare. It woke up for a bit but I never managed to get any worthwhile images. Three Red Crested Pochards were a bit of a bonus.
Rather than call it a day we headed home via the Lodge, Sandy. A Twite has been wintering nearby but hasn't been seen recently but it was worth trying.
Bumped into Richard Pople who gave us directions, and we walked down through the reserve to Biggleswade Common, picking up Nuthatch, Coal Tits and Great and Green Woodpeckers. The damp patch of wood was just outside the reserve boundary, and while the Twite wasn't seen, we had several Lesser Redpolls-rather scarce this winter and a somewhat larger paler Mealy Redpoll. They seemed to spend most of the time down in a ditch, and seemed to be feeding predominantly close to the water, rather than up in the trees where I usually expect to see them.
On the way back through the heath which being on the east side was sheltered from the fierce wind, I picked up my first Peacock and Comma butterflies. We had a brief stop at one of the ponds but there were no visible amphibians and then spent a while hoping that a Brambling would come down to one of the feeding stations but it never appeared.