Peter Smith located a LEACH'S PETREL on Stewartby Lake on Saturday morning, 26 September 2009 ,constituting the first county record of this highly pelagic species since October 1989. Despite an extremely noisy Power-boating event, the bird remained on site until early evening, allowing over 85 visitors to connect during its stay. Local birder Mark Thomas was very kindly taken out on the lake by boat where he was able to obtain these outstanding images reproduced above.
PREVIOUS COUNTY RECORDS
The first county record of Leach's Petrel involved a bird picked up exhausted at Wilstead Park on 16 November 1877, quickly followed the following year by a male found alive near The Grove, Bedford, during the last week of December 1878. Steele-Elliott in 1904 then goes on to state that a flock of 7 birds was observed along the Goldington River on 2 November 1880.
In more modern times, a 'wreck' of 5 individuals occurred in late autumn 1952, with singles at Turvey on 29 October, Bromham on 30 October, Stewartby Lake and Thurleigh on 8 November and in Leighton Buzzard on about 8 November; all dead or dying birds.
This was followed by a further four records between 1970 and 1987, with singles at Stewartby Lake on 4 October 1970, 1 October 1978 and 4 September 1983 and another at Kempston on 18 October 1983 (Paul Trodd & David Kramer 1987, The Birds of Bedfordshire).
On 12 September 1988, a first-winter was picked up alive on Thurleigh Airfield and taken next day to the Norfolk coast and released, followed by the first real twitchable bird at Brogborough Lake on 29 October 1989