Compared to most recent years, when for example I recorded 165 species in the county in 2011, 187 in 2012 and 173 in 2013, this has been a particularly poor one with just 157 species recorded by mid December - one of my worst years on record


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

Thursday, 23 July 2009

What A Good Year For The.......Butterflies

Although Elvis Costello sang about the Roses in October 1981, this year he could have re-released it about the butterflies. It has been a phenomenal year and today was no exception. Large Whites are absolutely everywhere and records of other species are going through the roof. The reason for this excess is the tremendously high temperatures experienced in the last week of June (temperatures in the 90's) which seems to have done wonders for the population.



Juvenile COMMON CUCKOOS are a rare sight nowadays, certainly in my Recording Area, so when Andy Radford found one this morning being fed by a Dunnock, I made every effort to get out and see it.

Sadly, even though I was only perhaps an hour behind Andy, I could not locate it anywhere.

What I did find though was an interesting farm reservoir hosting a single Moorhen.

Farmland species recorded included 2 Stock Doves, a Linnet, and confirmed breeding of Barn Swallow, Common Blackbird, Chaffinch and Blue Tit.

What was amazing was the incredible number of butterflies in the rough field behind (north of) the farm, including 400+ Large Whites, 15 Commas, 35 Peacocks, 40 Small Tortoiseshells, plenty of Small Heaths and many hundreds of Meadow Brown and Ringlets.


Following a call from Steve Rodwell, I followed Mike Campbell into Inkombe. Sitting patiently in the grass just to the left of the 'orange-rolling' slope and footpath (at SP 958 155), I enjoyed excellent views of the two juvenile COMMON REDSTARTS which were repeatedly visiting the three isolated hawthorn bushes to the left of the track through the centre of the Hole. Both birds were incredibly spotted on the underparts (very juvenile Robin-like) and were very young and certainly implying that they had fledged very locally. Certainly the early date suggests that and once again suggest that we have a very tiny breeding population still hanging on in the once breeding stronghold of Ashridge Forest. Even though both Steve and I have made a concerted effort to survey much of the forest this summer, once again we failed to locate a) either singing male Common Redstarts and b) any nesting birds. Just like Spotted Flycatchers, juvenile Common Redstarts quickly move away from the immediate nesting area and eek out suitable feeding localities, although this is often only a mile or two from the actual nest-site.

I also recorded my first Tring Area juvenile Yellowhammer of the year (just 1), whilst Meadow Pipits were actively song-flighting again. Large Whites, Meadow Browns and Ringlets were again in incredible high numbers.

(1130-1222 hours)

At 1130 hours, I overlooked the Quarry mud and in doing so immediately located a loafing adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL in with the 55 Black-headed Gulls present. I was delighted with my find as it represented my first in Buckinghamshire this year (I had missed Adam Bassett's by a whisker and dipped on all of Warren and Tim's birds at Calvert). It was an adult still in 'good nick' with much of its summer attire (black hood) still largely intact as well as its pure white 'eyelids' and its stunning red bill. Obviously the hood and face did have some white patching, but overall this was a highly distinct bird, with an excellent set of gleaming white primary feathers and tail feathers. It was having a good old preen and repeatedly bathing in the shallow water. I 'phoned Steve and after 25 minutes he eventually arrived. The bird was still present when we both departed at 1222.

Another highlight was the sight of a female and four well grown juvenile MANDARIN DUCKS - the second successive year that the species has bred successfully in the quarry.

Also, 20 LITTLE GREBES was a remarkable sight, with 7 fledged juveniles still doing well.

The oversummering single Mute Swan was still present, along with 22 Tufted Ducks, whilst a migrant LESSER WHITETHROAT was in the scrub.


Visiting the famous Buddleia bush prior to the rain gave me a further opportunity to survey the butterfly population in the forest. An absolute bare minimum of 22 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES was on the wing, along with several PURPLE EMPERORS (feeding high in the Oaks on the west side), 35+ COMMAS, many MARBLED WHITES and an absolute abundance of LARGE WHITES.

I failed to find any Common Crossbills at Pendley Manor nor in the Aston Hill area but then the heaven's opened and I returned home