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Dogging in Bedfordshire

Today Jo and I have been to see the Prairie Dogs which roam wild and free in Bedfordshire. Although they would only peep nervously from their holes at first, they soon emerged to feed and gave really good views in the sunshine. There seem to be just three animals here on a sandy abandoned arable field off Gypsy Lane, Broom, near Biggleswade. I don’t know where they’ve come from but there used to be at least 6 Prairie Dogs at this wildlife attraction near Bedford which closed in 2010.

Pretty sure they are Black-tailed Prairie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus.

It could be a scene from the prairies ... but for the oilseed rape field.

Nearby, a few miles up the A1, we dropped in to look for Firebugs Pyrrhocoris apterus at some dilapidated glasshouses in Beeston: a site which I heard about from this blog. We only saw two, both adults and both walking on the tarmac track where it passes between glasshouses on either side. Jo saw them at the Surrey colony soon after they were discovered in 1996 so it was high time I caught up!

Firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus


  1. Bird-O says:

    Amazing. If this was in Australia, they’d gas the bastards straight away … you’ve got to wonder whether they’ll be plaguing the UK in 20 years. A bit irresponsible of the prior owners to allow them to get out (that I assume is what has happened).

  2. Andrew Duff says:

    Are you going to tick them Mark? 🙂

  3. markgtelfer says:

    Andrew, I was hoping noone would ask! I think I will but I’d like to have more evidence that they’ve established. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there are pups within a few more weeks … and who knows in 20 years time?

  4. Seth Gibson says:

    I work within 100metres of the Surrey Firebug population. Didn’t see any last year, but a large industrial unit has recently gone up. And no you can’t count the dogs…yet! lol

  5. Debbie says:

    Just spotted a prairie dog in that area myself. I thought the other half was losing the plot when he first told me but where this one is residing you can get within 10 ft. Quite mad to see them in the wild.

  6. markgtelfer says:

    Debbie, 10 ft viewing is pretty impressive. I know they’ve drawn a steady stream of admirers over the year so maybe they’re getting tamer. Still not heard of anyone seeing pups.

  7. markgtelfer says:

    One was seen on the verge at the roundabout at GM Growers on 6th August which is nearly 2km NW of the trio off Gypsy Lane. How many more are there?

  8. markgtelfer says:

    News of the Prairie Dogs from the weekend of 15/16 Sept 2012: “Went to look for the prairie dogs at w/e. May have left it too late. The quarry has been extended right up to the faint ditch line on the W side of the area where you indicated that the dog-hills were. In the process, they have driven some large vehicles over the doggy patch. Added to that, doggy patch is covered in shoulder-high Canadian fleabane and ragwort and it’s full of rabbits, so if the P-dogs are still there, it ain’t easy to tell.”

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