Priory Park Country Bedford

About a dozen of us travelled to Bedford to visit Priory Country Park. The main feature is a
large flooded former gravel pit, but there’s also areas of scrub, wet woodland and open
grassland and the site is encompassed by two arms of the River Great Ouse. So there’s
good prospects of a variety of birds. You’d think.
For culinary reasons, we split into two groups, which was probably better than going round
as a single large crowd.
On the main lake, there were a large number of Black-headed Gulls and plenty of Mute
Swans. We saw Mallards, and smaller numbers of Gadwall and “Tufties”. Great Crested
Grebes were also present, mostly asleep. The surrounding woodland had a scattering of
songbirds, but surprisingly few were seen.
After lunch, accompanied by a Wren, we investigated the wet woodlands around the
Finger Lakes. The two groups followed differing routes, with differing results. Some song
birds were seen but one group observed Siskins and a group of Grey Herons building
nests. My group found a river bank, down wind of the local sewage works, and watched a
flock of Great Tits chasing each other through waterside willows. There wasn’t much else,
apart from a cheery Little Grebe and a beautiful low flying Red Kite, and we strolled back
to the cafe for a coffee and natter with the other group.
As a finale, we saw seventeen Pied Wagtails on some grass near the cafe, and a Green
Woodpecker foraged at the edges of scrub.
Although the numbers of birds seen had, in my view, been disappointing, what was seen
was appreciated and we enjoyed the outing and chat. The nesting herons gave good
photographic opportunities. A large part of the country park remained to be investigated,
but the day and our energy was nearing its end.

Report by Axel Kirby

Photographs by Derek Griffin