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, 20 August 2009

Major Fall on Hills as muggy weather gives way to fresh westerly winds


An Atlantic front hit the west coast of Britain today and in turn bought fresh WSW winds to our region, much cloudier skies and a few drops of rain. As a result, a number of drift migrants were grounded on Ivinghoe, including a COMMON NIGHTINGALE, at least two COMMON REDSTARTS, a WHINCHAT and numerous NORTHERN WHEATEARS.

(0900-1400 hours; in part with Steve Rodwell and Mike Collard)

Arriving in the car park just after 0900 hours, my first port of call was the row of 7 Hawthorns traversing the fenceline, just SSE of the gate at SP 962 163 (the area NW of the main car park, at the bottom of the valley). Herein was a first-winter female COMMON REDSTART, flitting back and forth between the bushes and calling quite frequently. Both SR and MCo were there, both having seen the bird well, but in general it was very elusive and only showing intermittently.

A SPOTTED FLYCATCHER landed in a Hawthorn nearby (found by MCo) and then moved a short way along the hedgerow, from where it stabilised in a dead tree by the main gate adjacent to the S-bend at SP 961 164 and began feeding for a while.

Steve had also found a large group of 'chats' which were initially close to the sheep pens but after being disturbed moved to the much more sheltered area of field just SE of the tumulus at SP 963 167. The flock included 8 NORTHERN WHEATEARS and a juvenile WHINCHAT. All 9 birds were still present at 1400 hours, often disappearing into the numerous rabbit burrows on the slope here.

Also indicative of a strong migration was the presence of 80 BARN SWALLOWS over the east end of Gallows Hill.

As I broadened my horizons and branched out to check new areas, I heard what I thought was another Redstart by the 5-bar metal gate at the start of the tree-line at SP 967 160. The bird was feeding on the ground and had a rufous tail and rump. It darted back in but reappeared slightly further along and again returned to the ground. Its underparts were white and it was lightly washed on the breast, with unmarked upperparts. It also had an obvious white eye-ring. It appeared to be a COMMON NIGHTINGALE.

I followed it along the tree-line, twice the bird repeating a sharp 'churrr', and sitting quietly on the ground managed several more views as it repeatedly returned to the ground. It was far too rich rufous in colour for Thrush Nightingale, both on the crown and ear-coverts and especially in the wing-coverts and rump and did not appear to have any dark spotting on the undertail-coverts. Of the brief views obtained of its underparts, the breast band was warm-coloured and certainly lacked the heavy mottling and greyness of luscinia. I could not get any detail on the wing formulae but the legs and feet were a distinct pink.

I walked back to where the Common Redstart was, so that my phone reception would work once more, and phoned Stuart Piner (RBA) and Steve and texted DB. Steve had departed the site sadly so I then decided to do Top Scrub as I had walked back up. Top Scrub was windblown and devoid of migrants so within a short time I returned to the 'East Slopes'.

'Scoping from near the gate at SP 964 157, I relocated the COMMON NIGHTINGALE in a Box hedgerow, 40 yards either side of an obvious dead tall Elm. It repeatedly came out to the edge of the hedgerow, often feeding on rabbit mounds and was still present at around midday when rain set in. However, like all small turdidae, it was generally elusive and difficult to keep track of.

What I thought was the same COMMON REDSTART was calling from bushes close to the car park but later returning to the main gate, at least two birds were present together, feeding on the brightly coloured berries of the Hawthorn. There were almost certainly three individuals present.

The only other migrants present were 8 Common Chiffchaffs. Two COAL TITS were also noted.