2012 resulted in me recording 186 species in the County, possibly my highest annual tally ever; anyway, herewith my Species List of 2013 -:

173) MERLIN, Ivinghoe, 11 October; 172) WOODLARK, Ivinghoe, 11 October; 171) MARSH HARRIER, Ivinghoe Beacon, 11 October; 170) SANDWICH TERN, Spade Oak Pit, 9 September; 169) BLACK-NECKED GREBE, Calvert Sailing Lake, 5 September; 168) WRYNECK, Ivinghoe Hills Top Scrub, 30 August; 167) PIED FLYCATCHER (3 birds), Denham House, Quainton, 28 August; 166) RUFF, College Lake BBOWT, 13 August; 165) WHIMBREL (11 birds), Startop's End, 11 August; 164) COMMON REDSTART, Steps Hill (Inkombe Hole), 6 August; 163) COMMON SCOTER, Startop's End Reservoir, 4 August; 162) TREE PIPIT, Steps Hill, 10 July; 161) COMMON QUAIL, Pitstone Hill, 8 July; 160) WOODCOCK, Monkton Wood, 21 June; 159) PIED AVOCET, College Lake, 20 June; 158) Spotted Flycatcher, Shardeloes Lake, 4 June; 157) TEMMINCK'S STINT (2), Spade Oak Pit, 18 May; 156) SANDERLING, Manor Farm, 11 May; Monk Parakeet, Hartwell House, Aylesbury, 8 May; 155) LITTLE STINT, Manor Farm, 7 May; 154) WOOD SANDPIPER, Manor Farm, 7 May; 153) GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, Weston Turville Reservoir, 2 May; 152) GARGANEY (pair), Linford NR, 1 May; 151) Yellow Wagtail, Marsworth, 16 April; 150) Lesser Whitethroat, College Lake, 30 April; 149) Common Cuckoo, College Lake, 30 April; 148) Garden Warbler, Spade Oak Pit, 30 April; 147) Hobby, Marlow Low Grounds, 30 April; 146) WOOD WARBLER, Marlow Low Grounds, 30 April; 145) WHINCHAT, Pump Lane, Marlow, 30 April; Blue-headed Wagtail, Marsworth Horsefields, 29 April; 144) Sedge Warbler, Marsworth Reservoir, 25 April; 143) Western Reed Warbler, Marsworth Reservoir, 25 April; 142) Common Swift, Marsworth, 25 April; 141) BLACK TERN, Startop's End, 25 April; 140) Common Whitethroat, Startop's End, 16 April; 139) ARCTIC TERN (4+), Startop's End, 16 April; 138) Ringed Plover, Manor Farm, 16 April; 137) Common Sandpiper, Manor Farm, 16 April; 136) COMMON GREENSHANK, Manor Farm, 16 April; 135) Willow Warbler, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 15 April; 134) House Martin, Marsworth Grand Union Canal, 12 April; 133) Common Tern, Startop's End, 12 April; 132) OSPREY flew east over Marsworth, 12 April; 131) Dunlin (9 birds), Dorney Lakes, 26 March; 130) Barn Swallow, Marsworth, 11 April; 129) RING OUZEL, Wing, 7 April; 128) STONE CURLEW, Gallows Bridge BBOWT, 3 April; 127) ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (17), STOCKLAKE MEADOWS, 3 April; 126) WHITE WAGTAIL (6 birds noted in total), Spade Oak/Dorney Reach, 02 April; 125) Sand Martin, Weston Turville Reservoir, 31 March; 124) BLACK REDSTART, Jubilee River, 27 March; 123) EURASIAN CURLEW, Gallows Bridge, 27 March; 122) WATER PIPIT, Startop's End Reservoir, 27 March; 121) SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT (2 birds), Dorney Rowing Lakes, 26 March; 120) Little Ringed Plover, Dorney Rowing Lakes, 26 March; 119) Northern Wheatear, Marlow/Dorney, 26 March; BALTIC GULL, Hedgerley Landfill, 9 March: 118) Common Redshank, College Lake, 6 March; 117) COMMON STONECHAT, 2 males, Stoke Common, 3 March; 116) ICELAND GULL, Hedgerley Landfill, 18 February; 115) Oystercatcher, Gayhurst Pit, 3 March; 114) MEDITERRANEAN GULL, Spade Oak Pit, 21 February; 113) JACK SNIPE (two different birds), Broughton & Spade Oak Pit, 19 February; 112) BITTERN, Marsworth Reservoir (Bucks Reedbed), 18 February; 111) WHOOPER SWAN, College Lake, 18 February; 110) WILLOW TIT, Linford NR, 3 February; 109) SLAVONIAN GREBE, Tongwell Lake, 3 February; 108) Tawny Owl, Quianton, 31 January; 107) European Golden Plover, Gallows Bridge, 31 January; 106) EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (ad & fw), Dorney Common, 29 January; 105) NORTHERN PINTAIL, Spade Oak, 3 drakes, 23 January; 104) COMMON CROSSBILL (13), Black Park Country Park, 17 January; 103) Blackcap, Crabbe Crescent Chesham, 16 January; 102) SMEW, College Lake BBOWT, 11 January; 101) Common Kingfisher, Chess Valley, 9 January; 100) CASPIAN GULL (1w), Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, 8 January; 99) FIRECREST (4 individuals), Hogback Wood Beaconsfield, 8 January; 98) Siskin, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 8 January; 97) Green Woodpecker, Chess Valley, 8 January; 96) LITTLE OWL, Chess Valley, 8 January; 95) Common Treecreeper, Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield, 7 January; 94) Mistle Thrush, Penn, 5 January; 93) GREY PARTRIDGE, Little Linford Wood, 6 January; 92) Barnacle Goose, Emberton Lakes, 6 January; 91) Lesser Redpoll, Stoke Goldington, 6 January; 90) TREE SPARROW (29 birds), Stoke Goldington, 6 January; 89) DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE, Newport Pagnell GP, 6 January; 88) Marsh Tit, Gayhurst Quarry Wood, 6 January; 87) Yellowhammer, Lodge Hill Farm, 05 January; 86) CORN BUNTING (38 birds), Lodge Hill Farm, 05 January; 85) Red-legged Partridge, Lodge Hill, 05 January; 84) GREATER SCAUP, Marlow Roach Pit, 05 January; 83) Bullfinch, Westhorpe Sailing Lake, 05 January; 82) Common Shelduck, Spade Oak Pit, 05 January; 81) Green Sandpiper, Spade Oak Pit, 05 January; Bar-headed Goose, Spade Oak, 05 January; 80) Greylag Goose, Spade Oak Pit, 05 January; 79) SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, Eton Wick, 05 January; 78) Eurasian Skylark, Eton Wick, 05 January; 77) Coal Tit, Burnham Beeches NNR, 05 January; 76) Mandarin Duck, Burnham Beeches NNR, 05 January; 75) Great Black-backed Gull, Hedgerley Tip, 05 January; 74) Song Thrush, Hillmotts Wood, 05 January; 73) BRAMBLING (27 birds), Penn Street Farm, 05 January; 72) COMMON RAVEN, Chess Valley, 04 January; 71) BARN OWL, Chess Valley, 3 January; 70) YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, Foxcote Reservoir, 2 January; 69) GLAUCOUS GULL, Foxcote Reservoir, 2 January; 68) Teal, Foxcote Reservoir, 2 January; 67) Linnet, Gallows Bridge BBOWT, 2 January; 66) Common Goldeneye, Wotton Underwood, 2 January; 65) GOOSANDER, Wotton Underwood Lake, 2 January; 64) Redwing, Westcott, 2 January; 63) Peregrine, Aylesbury, 2 January; 62) BOHEMIAN WAXWING (6 birds), Hazlemere, 02 January; 61) Red-crested Pochard, College Lake, 2 January; 60) Common Snipe, College Lake, 02 January; 59) Common Gull, College Lake, 02 January; 58) Wigeon, College Lake BBOWT, 02 January; 57) Herring Gull, Chess Valley, 02 January; 56) Common Pheasant, Castleman's Farm, 01 January; 55) Egyptian Goose, Castleman's Farm, 01 January; 54) Meadow Pipit, Eton Wick, 01 January; 53) Jay, Eton Wick, 01 January; 52) Water Rail, Eton Wick, 01 January; 51) Lapwing, Eton Wick, 01 January; 50) Collared Dove, Eton Wick, 01 January; 49) Common Blackbird, Eton Wick, 01 January; 48) Cetti's Warbler, Eton Wick, 01 January; 47) Fieldfare, Eton Wick, 01 January; 46) Greenfinch, Eton Wick, 01 January; 45) Common Chiffchaff, Eton Wick, 01 January; 44) Grey Wagtail, Eton Wick, 01 January; 43) Pied Wagtail, Eton Wick, 01 January; 42) Cormorant, Jubilee River, 01 January; 41) Great Crested Grebe, Eton Wick, 01 January; 40) Lesser Black-backed Gull, Eton Wick, 01 January; 39) Reed Bunting, Eton Wick, 01 January; 38) Ring-necked Parakeet, Jubilee River, 01 January; 37) Sparrowhawk, Jubilee River, 01 January; 36) Grey Heron, Shardeloes Lake, 01 January; 35) Northern Shoveler, Shardeloes Lake, 01 January; 34) Carrion Crow, Shardeloes Lake, 01 January; 33) Great Spotted Woodpecker, Latimer, 01 January; 32) GREAT WHITE EGRET, Latimer Great Water, 01 January; 31) Nuthatch, Latimer House, 01 January; 30) Gadwall, Chesham SW, 01 January; 29) Rook, Chesham, 01 January; 28) Little Grebe, Pow Wow Lake, 01 January; 27) Great Tit, Chesham, 01 January; 26) Moorhen, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 01 January; 25) Mallard, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 01 January; 24) Northern Pochard, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 01 January; 23) Tufted Duck, Chesham Fishing Lakes, 01 January; 22) Atlantic Canada Goose, Chesham Fishing lakes, 01 January; 21) Dunnock, Chesham, 01 January; 20) Chaffinch, Chesham, 01 January; 19) Robin, Chesham, 01 January; 18) Wren, Chesham, 01 January; 17) Black-headed Gull, Chesham, 01 January; 16) Coot, Chesham Bois Mill, 01 January; 15) Mute Swan, Chesham, 01 January; 14) Stock Dove, Chess Valley, 01 January; 13) Common Kestrel, Mill Farm, 01 January; 12) Red Kite, Chess Valley, 01 January; 11) Common Buzzard, Chess Valley, 01 January; 10) Common Magpie, Mill Farm, 01 January; 9) Woodpigeon, Mill farm, 01 January; 8) Jackdaw, Mill Farm, 01 January; 7) Long-tailed Tit, Chenies Place, 01 January; 6) Blue Tit, Chenies, 1 January; 5) Goldcrest, Chenies, 1 January; 4) Little Egret, Chess Valley, 01 January; 3) Starling, Chaffinch House, 01 January; 2) House Sparrow, Chaffinch House, 01 January; 01) Goldfinch, Chaffinch House, 01 January


It's all over - 2012 has come to an end. I managed a total of 187 out of the 198 species recorded all told in Buckinghamshire - 94% of the total - probably my highest-ever annual tally.

The current record is 191 species achieved in 2006 and held jointly by both Rob Hill and Simon Nichols

My Buckinghamshire Year List in 2012

1) GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (Caldecott Lake); 2) Great Crested Grebe; 3) Little Grebe; 4) Cormorant; 5) BITTERN (Weston Turville Res); 6) Little Egret; 7) Grey Heron; 8) Mute Swan; 9) Greylag Goose; 10) Atlantic Canada Goose; 11) Egyptian Goose; 12) Mandarin Duck; 13) Mallard; 14) Gadwall; 15) NORTHERN PINTAIL (Foxcote Res); 16) Shoveler; 17) Eurasian Wigeon; 18) Common Teal; 19) Northern Pochard; 20) RED-CRESTED POCHARD (pair at College Lake); 21) Tufted Duck; 22) Common Goldeneye; 23) SMEW (drake at Caldecotte Lake South); 24) GOOSANDER; 25) Red Kite; 26) Common Buzzard; 27) Sparrowhawk; 28) Common Kestrel; 29) PEREGRINE (Aylesbury pair); 30) Red-legged Partridge; 31) Common Pheasant; 32) Water Rail; 33) Moorhen; 34) Coot; 35) European Golden Plover; 36) Lapwing; 37) Common Snipe; 38) Black-headed Gull; 39) Common Gull; 40) Herring Gull; 41) YELLOW-LEGGED GULL; 42) CASPIAN GULL (3 adults at Hedgerley Landfill); 43) Lesser Black-backed Gull; 44) Great Black-backed Gull; 45) GLAUCOUS GULL (juvenile at Hedgerley); 46) ICELAND GULL (2nd-winter at Hedgerley and 2nd-winter & juv at Calvert BBOWT); 47) LITTLE AUK (at College Lake BBOWT, my first-ever in the county); 48) Stock Dove; 49) Woodpigeon; 50) Collared Dove; 51) SHORT-EARED OWL (Gallows Bridge); 52) Ring-necked Parakeet; 53) Common Kingfisher; 54) Green Woodpecker; 55) Great Spotted Woodpecker; 56) Skylark; 57) Meadow Pipit; 58) Pied Wagtail; 59) Grey Wagtail; 60) Wren; 61) Dunnock; 62) Robin; 63) Song Thrush; 64) Redwing; 65) Mistle Thrush; 66) Fieldfare; 67) Common Blackbird; 68) CETTI'S WARBLER; 69) Goldcrest; 70) Great Tit; 71) Coal Tit; 72) Blue Tit; 73) Marsh Tit; 74) WILLOW TIT (Linford); 75) Long-tailed Tit; 76) Nuthatch; 77) Common Treecreeper; 78) Common Magpie; 79) Jay; 80) Jackdaw; 81) Rook; 82) Carrion Crow; 83) COMMON RAVEN; 84) Common Starling; 85) House Sparrow; 86) Chaffinch; 87) BRAMBLING; 88) Linnet; 89) LESSER REDPOLL; 90) Goldfinch; 91) Greenfinch; 92) Siskin; 93) Bullfinch; 94) COMMON CROSSBILL; 95) Reed Bunting; 96) Yellowhammer; 97) Common Shelduck, College Lake BBOWT, 4 February; 98) DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE, College Farm, 4 February; 99) SNOW BUNTING, Startop's End, 4 February; 100) Tawny Owl, Shardeloes, 6 February; 101) GREEN SANDPIPER, Chenies Bottom, 6 February; 102) GREY PARTRIDGE (6), Kimble Wick, 9 February; 103) Common Chiffchaff (6), Eton Wick, 9 February; 104) SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF (2), Eton Wick, 11 February; 105) JACK SNIPE, Eton Wick, 11 February; 106) Little Owl, Burnham Library, 11 February; 107) RED KNOT, Drayton Beauchamp, 12 February; 108) WATER PIPIT, Startop's, 15 February; 109) TREE SPARROW, Stoke Goldington, 15 February; 110) MERLIN, Weston Underwood, 15 February; 111) FIRECREST (3), Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield, 18 February; 112) LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER, Church Wood RSPB, 19 February; 113) CORN BUNTING (29 birds), Saunderton, 19 February; 114) MEDITERRANEAN GULL, Hedgerley Landfill, 20 February; 115) BEARDED TIT, Jubilee River, Dorney Wetlands, 24 February; 116) Blackcap, Chesham Fishing Lake, 27 February; 117) Oystercatcher, College Lake, 27 February; 118) Common Redshank, College Lake, 27 February; 119) EURASIAN CURLEW, Gallows Bridge, 27 February; 120) WHOOPER SWAN (adult), Briarfields, 3 March; 121) Barnacle Geese (23), Olney Water Meadows, 3 March; 122) HEN HARRIER, Gallows Bridge, 13 March; 123) WOODCOCK, Short Heath Wood, 13 March; 124) RED-THROATED DIVER, College Lake BBOWT, 14 March; 125) Ringed Plover, College Lake, 14 March; 126) SANDWICH TERN, Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, 16 March; 127) SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT, Spade Oak Pit, 16 March; 128) Northern Wheatear, Ivinghoe/Pitstone (12), 17 March; 129) Sand Martin, Springfield Quarry, 20 March; 130) Little Ringed Plover, College Lake BBOWT, 02 April; 131) Barn Swallow, Spade Oak GP, 02 April; 132) RING OUZEL, Ivinghoe Beacon, 03 April; 133) KITTIWAKE, flying high NNE over Southend Hill, 08 April; 134) Willow Warbler, College Lake BBOWT, 08 April; 135) Yellow Wagtail, Manor Farm, 09 April; 136) WHITE WAGTAIL (2), Manor Farm, 09 April; 137) Common Tern, Willen Lake, 09 April; 138) House Martin, Willen Lake/Chesham Fishing Lakes, 09 April; 139) GARGANEY (pair), Linford NR, 13 April; 140) COMMON REDSTART, Ivinghoe Hills, 13 April; 141) GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, Marsworth, 13 April; 142) Sedge Warbler, Marsworth, 13 April; 143) House Martin, Marsworth, 13 April; 144) BLACK REDSTART, Fulbrook Farm, Quainton, 16 April; 145) ARCTIC TERN, Spade Oak Pit, 17 April; 146) Common Sandpiper, College Lake, 24 April; 147) WHIMBREL, College Lake, 25 April; 148) LITTLE GULL (21), College Lake, 25 April; 149) Western Reed Warbler, College Lake, 24 April; 149) Common Swift, College Lake, 25 April; 150) BLACK TERN, Spade Oak Pit, 25 April; 151) GREY PLOVER, Dorney Rowing Lakes. 29 April; 152) (EUROPEAN) BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, Dorney Rowing Lakes, 29 April; 153) Garden Warbler, Ivinghoe Hills, 30 April; 154) Common Whitethroat, Ivinghoe Beacon, 30 April; 155) WOOD WARBLER, Aylesbury Park Golf Course, 30 April; 156) Lesser Whitethroat, Aylesbury Park Golf Course, 30 April; 157) COMMON NIGHTINGALE, Bledlow, 01 May; 158) BAR-TAILED GODWIT, Sherington Bridge Floods, 03 May; 159) Dunlin, Manor Farm, 02 May; 160) WHINCHAT (4), Broughton Trout Pool Meadows, 05 May; 161) Hobby, College Lake, 8 May; 162) Common Cuckoo, Leyhill, 8 May; 163) RED-FOOTED FALCON, Jubillee River, Marsh Lane Weir, 22 May; 164) GREATER SCAUP, Calvert BBOWT, 28 May; 165) Common Greenshank, Spade Oak, 28 May; 166) Spotted Flycatcher, Little Missenden Churchyard, 30 May ; 167) BLACK-NECKED GREBE, Calvert Sailing Lake, 07 June; 168) COMMON QUAIL, Down Farm Cereal Fields, 15 June; 169) SABINE'S GULL, Startop's End Reservoir, 02 July; 170) Barn Owl, Rockwell End, 06 July; 171) EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE, Pitstone Green, 16 July; 172) RUFF, Manor Farm, 23 July; 173) LITTLE STINT, College Lake, 12 August; 174) LITTLE TERN (unprecedented flock of 19), Spade Oak GP, 15 August; 175) TURNSTONE, Spade Oak GP, 19 August; 176) TREE PIPIT (2), Ivinghoe Beacon, 22 August; 177) WOOD SANDPIPER, Gallows Bridge BBOWT, 28 August; 178) COMMON STONECHAT, Hardmead, 18 September; 179) PECTORAL SANDPIPER, Dorney Common, 18 September; 180) GREAT WHITE EGRET, over Drayton Beauchamp, 23 September; 181) WOODLARKS (2), Springfield Farm Quarry, 26 September; 182) OSPREY, Ivinghoe Beacon, 26 September; 183) HAWFINCH, Penn Wood, 01 November; 184) RUDDY DUCK, 'Chess Valley', 7-9 November; 185) BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Aylesbury, 19 November; 186) LONG-TAILED DUCK (two juveniles), Foxcote Reservoir, 7 December;

A poor year in 2011

In 2011, a total of 452 species was recorded in Britain and Ireland of which I recorded just 69% (312); Bedfordshire recorded 204 species (of which I saw 94% at 191), Hertfordshire 192 (of which I saw 88.5% at 170) and Buckinghamshire 192 (of which I recorded just 86% at 165)


The Year ended with 188 species recorded - I managed just 167 of them

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Recent Exploits

Catch up with my latest Buckinghamshire exploits at my Web Diary -

and remember, if you find a good local bird, text me on 07881 906629

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

SPOT RED still present

The transitional plumaged SPOTTED REDSHANK is still present at Manor Farm this morning, one of the longest stayers ever in the county in spring (per Bob Fowles)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Click here for the fully illustrated version -
A return to much warmer weather as a ridge of high pressure intensifies over Southern Britain. In fact, this was the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures reaching 18 degrees C during the afternoon
Undoubted highlight of the day was a PIED AVOCET that graced TYTTENHANGER MAIN PIT from mid morning 'til dusk - the third individual in that area this year. It was favouring the sandy spit and shallows thereabouts and was discovered shortly after a flock of Pintails and 2 Mandarin Ducks had passed through. I connected with the bird at 1650 hours, along with a few Common Snipe, 2 Lapwing, 5 Common Teal and 9 SAND MARTINS.
An adult Little Gull that moved from Weston Turville Reservoir to WILSTONE RESERVOIR at 10am was still there when I left Tyttenhanger (per Steve Rodwell) but when Ian Williams, David Bilcock and I arrived 40 minutes later, it had disappeared.....
WILSTONE proffered 7 Little Grebe (all together in one tightly knit flock), 7 Mute Swan, 34 Greylag Geese, 8 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, drake Wigeon, 96 Tufted Duck, 52 Coot, 7 Pochard and a Stock Dove while a pair of Little Egrets was nesting again along the Drayton Bank.
STARTOP'S END yielded 28 Black-headed Gulls but no Little Gull, 3 Mute Swans (including a first-summer), 66 Tufted Duck, 16 Coot and 4 Great Crested Grebe, with Greenfinch, 4 Common Blackbird, 6 Common Starling, a Common Kestrel and 2 Pied Wagtails around the periphery.
A fair bit of activity over at TRINGFORD RESERVOIR with the Great Crested Grebe pair, Mute Swan pair and Red-crested Pochard pair, drake Teal, 28 Tufted Duck and 10 Coot, 3 singing male Common Chiffchaff and a party of 35 SAND MARTIN. The Rookery was at full speed with no less than 32 active nests this year, the woodland also supporting 3 Goldfinch, 6 Robin, 9 Wren, 3 male Dunnock, 2 Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and 70 Jackdaw.
I stopped off at WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR at dusk, just in case the Little Gull had flown back, but there was pretty much nothing - 2 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swan, 8 Coot and 2 Moorhen.
The last day of March was another very warm one with temperatures once again reaching 18 degrees C and Saharan dust even making the Chilterns. It proved to be an excellent day for rare passage waders.....
After counting 15 active nests in OLD WOLVERTON ROOKERY, my first visit of the day was to MANOR FARM WORKINGS in OLD WOLVERTON, where both the transitional plumaged SPOTTED REDSHANK and winter-plumaged GREY PLOVER were still present, albeit rather distantly (see pix below). This chain of gravel workings really are looking superb this spring and should yield some excellent results, today's wader haul including Oystercatcher (pair), Lapwing (22), Ringed Plover, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (4), GREEN SANDPIPER and Common Redshank (4). Also present were a splendid pair of GOOSANDER, 3 lingering Wigeon, 8 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 28 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swan and 2 Great Crested Grebe, as well as a first-summer Common Gull, Green Woodpecker and a Peacock butterfly.
More Rook counting followed with 5 active nests by the CHILDS WAY ROUNDABOUT, M1 JUNCTION 14 and 105 at SALFORD and a further 67 at MEADOW LANE (BEDS).
Once in CAMBRIDGESHIRE, Brimstone butterflies became apparent, with 3 along a short stretch of the A428 just east of ST NEOTS and active Rookeries including 8 nests at WINTRINGHAM HALL, 19 at ELTISLEY MANOR, 35 close to the ABBOTSLEY ROAD JUNCTION and 13 just east of CROXTON; a further 4 were by the A14 at FENSTANTON.
FENDRAYTON GP as I once knew them were barely recognisable from the changes undertaken in the last 3 years by the RSPB, the reserve being so extensive and large now that you need either a bicycle or a taxi to get round!! I parked up at the entrance and walked the muddy mile distance to the Couch Hide overlooking the westernmost MOORE LAKE where within seconds I had espied the breeding-plumaged drake BAIKAL TEAL that had been gracing the site since early in the month. It was very loosely associating with Wigeon and Teal but largely kept to itself, feeding at the west end of the lake. Not sure of its merits as a genuine vagrant from the Orient but certainly as good as the majority of recent drakes in Britain, including those in Essex and Oxon. This is now one superb reserve, full of potential and birds - highlights of my visit today including a dapper drake SMEW (displaying to some of the 28 Common Goldeneye present), 3 GARGANEY (2 drakes and a female), a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, single Black-tailed Godwit and a party of 9 LITTLE GULLS (including 2 first-years).
An impressive list of species included Great Crested Grebe (12), Little Grebe (3), Sinensis Cormorant (28 nests), Grey Heron, Mute Swan (4), both Greylag & Canada Geese, Common Shelduck (pair), Egyptian Goose (pair), Wigeon (28), Gadwall (42), Teal (70), Shoveler (20), Tufted Duck, Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Oystercatcher (pair), Lapwing, Common Snipe (25), Common Redshank (6), Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Jay, Reed Bunting, 8 Cetti's Warblers, 9 singing Common Chiffchaffs and 3 singing male Blackcaps. A Fox was also seen as well as a dead American Mink on the tramway.
Driving back down the A10 in Hertfordshire, Rookeries in HARSTON yielded 27 active nests and SHEPRETH POPLARS 43, while a Red Kite was seen over HAMELS PARK.
I finished my day off with a visit to AMWELL NATURE RESERVE where it was a full house at GREAT HARDMEAD LAKE to see the SPOTTED REDSHANK that had arrived mid-morning. All the hard hitters were there including Ron Cousins, Barry Reed, Graham White, Mike Ilett, Paul Hackett and Jason Ward and the bird put in an outstanding performance, commuting between the new cut up towards the hides and the shallow vegetation in front of the watchpoint.

In addition to the 'Spot-shank' were 22 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 12 Teal, 8 Shoveler, 10 Pochard, 3 Goldeneye (1 drake), 2 Redhank, Common Snipe and 2+ Little Egret, with a Marsh Tit scolding from the woodland on the opposite side of the canal

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

An early MARSH HARRIER, with GARGANEYS up to 3

Feeling like winter again with temperatures struggling to reach 7 degrees C and a biting NW wind blowing........
In the CHESS VALLEY at BOIS MILL POND, the immature Sinensis Cormorant was still present, perched on top of the island, while at CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, a lot of migrant activity with the return of at least 18 Black-headed Gulls and at least 3 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS singing (two on the South Lake and 1 on the North). Nuthatch and Coal Tit were in song, with Long-tailed Tits (pair), Robin (4), Wren (4),  Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Common Starling and GREY WAGTAIL all noted. The GREAT CRESTED GREBE pair were still on territory, with 8 Coot and 21 Tufted Duck also present. Across the road, LATIMER ROAD NUMBERS 1-49 held Common Starling (pair), Jackdaw (18), Common Blackbird, Chaffinch and House Sparrow (male chirping from guttering).
Another pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBE were at SHARDELOES LAKE, where also to be found were 10+ Little Grebe (several whinnying), the 3 Mute Swans (the male busily chasing last year's offspring around and the female incubating), 44 Atlantic Canada Geese, a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS, 12 Gadwall, 13 Tufted Duck and 54+ Coot. A noticeable passage of gulls with 7 Argenteus Herring present, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed and a single Black-headed, while a WATER RAIL was squealing from last year's nesting area. The 2 Grey Heron were still lingering, as were 34 Fieldfare and 26 Redwing, while new in were 3 singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS. Other species noted included Wren (4), Common Blackbird, Mistle Thrush (2 singing males), Robin (2), Great Tit (2), Stock Dove (4), Red Kite (5), Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Common Buzzard and Common Magpie (6).
Leaving the local patch, I then headed north to BEDFORDSHIRE - the Rookery on the A1 roundabout at BIGGLESWADE NORTH now containing 24 active nests. Nearby, at GYPSY LANE WEST PIT (BROOM GP), the undoubted highlight was a migrant first-winter drake RUDDY DUCK - one of only 71 now left in the UK. It was showing very well at the north end of the pit, diving continuously at first before resting with one of the 2 Great Crested Grebes present.
This pit also held 4 Greylag Geese, 12 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall and 10 Coot, with the scrape to the north yielding Ringed Plover, 4 Stock Dove and 45 Woodpigeon. Across the road on GYPSY LANE EAST, waders were well represented with 3 Ringed Plovers, a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (my first of the year), a pair of Common Redshank, a pair of Oystercatchers (one of them ringed) and a winter-plumaged migrant DUNLIN, while 12 COMMON SHELDUCK was a large gathering for inland.
In addition, a single Little Grebe, 26 Greylag Geese, 26 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 8 Coot, 84 Black-headed Gull, 20 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Wren and Goldfinch.
I then returned to SOUTH BUCKINGHAMSHIRE with an evening visit to SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) hoping for a sighting of Mediterranean Gull. Despite a large roost, I could not locate the adult of recent days, but there were at least 430 Common Gulls (predominantly adult), 15 Herring and at least 5 Lesser Black-backed. All 3 GARGANEY (2 drakes) were showing well, feeding along the closest vegetative edge of the spit (see pix below), along with a Little Grebe (scarce here), 4 Common Shelduck, 4 Egyptian Geese, 115 Common Teal, 44 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon and 34 Gadwall. A COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in song, as was a Mistle Thrush, while Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Red Kite (5), Stock Dove, 5 Pied Wagtail and 2 Song Thrush were all noted. A Red Fox was out on the spit.

The 3 Garganeys, present for some time now

Huge passage of predominantly adult Common Gulls

Egyptian Geese

As I walked back to my car, I picked up a raptor flying purposefully east at 1755 hours - pretty high in the sky. It turned out to be an immature male MARSH HARRIER - the first I have ever seen at Little Marlow.

Very poor record shot of the Marsh Harrier

Friday, 21 March 2014

One of two wintering EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES in North Bucks this year

This bird was in my garden late afternoon
on 6th March. When I first saw the bird, it was hunched up and not moving. After 15 minutes
it flew about 20yds up into the trees nearby and then went lower down; never seen again (Bob Fowles)

RED-NECKED GREBE over the border; WILLOW TIT performing

Although the temperatures reached a high of 13 degrees C, the near gale-force WNW wind made it feel much cooler - and difficult to bird at some localities. It remained dry though until a wet front arrived just before dark and continued for several hours in the evening.
With news of a RED-NECKED GREBE, I headed north to NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.....on route, logging the 78 active Rook nests besides the Northbound M1 near SALFORD (SP 7568)
Arriving at the dam at PITSFORD RESERVOIR, I could barely stand let alone birdwatch - the wind was so strong and blowing hard from the west. There was seemingly no shelter but as I approached the Valve Tower about 250 yards along the dam, the RED-NECKED GREBE was taking advantage of the structure and showing pretty well about 90 yards out. It was in transitional plumage but had quite a lot of bright yellow at the base of the bill and a fair amount of russet-brown on the neck and breast. Although a struggle, I did eventually manage to get a few decent shots (see below). It represented my first in the UK this year.

A pair of Common Goldeneye was also sheltering from the wind by the dam, while 4 Great Crested Grebes, 14 Coot, 6 Tufted Duck and a male Common Kestrel were also noted; a Wren was singing from scrub by the sailing club.

Just north of BOUGHTON (NORTHAMPTON), the estate there adjacent to the A508 held 27 active Rook nests.
I then revisited LINFORD NATURE RESERVE with the sole aim of photographing the WILLOW TIT at the Woodland Hide. I took along my own food but it took a long while before I finally managed to get any shots - the visits to the birdtable being so fleeting. At least 2 MARSH TITS were also coming to the feeders, along with the usual selection of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Robin and Dunnock. The WILLOW TIT was in full song on a couple of occasions, as were two freshly-arrived COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS.

Two different Marsh Tits above.....

...and the sole surviving Willow Tit

The wood held at least 6 Winter Wren territories, with 2 Song Thrushes belting out and a gang of 10 Common Magpies around the access road.

The heronry was in full flow with 14 active Grey Heron nests occupied and at least 3 of Little Egret.

Otherwise, not too much to see - 6 Great Crested Grebe, 23 Mute Swan, 30 Greylag Geese, 15 Common Teal, 22 Coot, 12 Sinensis Cormorant and a pair of Oystercatcher on the bund.
This pair of Carrion Crow were busy building and relining their nest.

Nearby, WILLEN LAKE NORTH BASIN held 7 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, Little Egret, 3 Greylag Geese, 18 Canada Geese, 27 Tufted Duck, 8 Great Crested Grebe, 28 Common Teal, 8 Gadwall, a drake Pochard, 7 Mute Swans, 6 Lapwing, Common Redshank, Greenfinch and a singing male Reed Bunting, while the SOUTH BASIN yielded a further 43 Mute Swan.

Following a text from Steve Blake, I diverted to TYTTENHANGER GP (HERTS) on my way home, connecting with my first 6 SAND MARTINS of the year; also 4 Lapwing, 5 Shoveler and a pair of Oystercatcher