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

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Excellent day for wildfowl

Pair of adult GREATER SCAUP discovered on Tongwell Lake just as it got dark. I phoned Paul Moon and he just about got there before the light totally went. They were associating with a group of 8 to 10 Pochards and fed totally away from all the Tufted Ducks that were on the lake. The female was actively feeding, but the male was mainly asleep. Hopefully the heavy rain we are forecast will keep them there overnight (Robert Norris)

To the SW of Milton Keynes, two RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, two pairs of RED-CRESTED POCHARD and a ROCK PIPIT appeared at Calvert BBOWT and Sailing Lake complex this morning (Tim Watts et al)


A significant increase in birds in general including ducks and gulls. A drake Red-crested Pochard and a female Common Goldeneye were apparently not present yesterday and were in amongst the flock of Tufted Duck and Pochard along the north bank. With four others turning up at Calvert (perhaps 25 miles away) there seems to have been a movement of this species today. No time to count the dabbling ducks today but perhaps not much change in numbers (Jim Rose).

Thursday, 29 October 2009

RING-NECKED DUCK still present

I started on Steps Hill (where else), where after an initial burst of activity just before sunrise, things quietened down quickly. Highlights were a few Redpoll and Brambling, as well as usual winter thrushes and finches. Just beyond the S bend in the thick area of bushes it was great to watch Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush and Blackbird all feeding side by side, probably all having arrived from Scandinavia. There was an obvious influx of Common Blackbirds on the hills and the first big movement of Woodpigeon.

I popped into Foxcote Reservoir later in the morning, but it was a brief visit only viewing from the gate.The male RING-NECKED DUCK was at the far end of the reservoir, there was also 2 NORTHERN PINTAIL in front of the hide, a Little Egret, an adult Yellow legged Gull and tons of wildfowl (Mike Wallen)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Beaconsfield FIRECRESTS

There are now 2 FIRECRESTS in Beaconsfield (per Steve Marshall; photographs by kind courtesy of Bill Baston) roving around with a tit flock early afternoon at cSU 928 913 in Holly bushes on the side of the pathway leading away from the gardens.
Park in Hogback Wood Road and take the footpath alongside house number 23. Turn left at the stile and keep to the upper track.
A single was discovered by Wally Smith on Tuesday 21 October.
There was no reports of the Chess Valley Osprey today


Another great morning, not for quantity but for quality, enjoyed with David Bilcock.

Highlight was only my third ever record there of COMMON CROSSBILL when a flock of 14-18 flew over us , 5 minutes before sunrise.

A first winter RING OUZEL flew across in front of us and up onto Ivinghoe Beacon where it landed in a clump of bushes at the East end but was not seen again.

Otherwise pretty typical late October fare with a few Thrushes and Finches over, and a COMMON STONECHAT near the 'S' bend (Mike Wallen)


24/10 : male Brambling : Wooburn Common. viewed from footpath from Green Common Lane to Dipple Wood SU 929 880 in Oak Tree with a small flock of Chaffinch in a pre roost gathering. Kevin Duncan

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Head staining in Wildfowl

Mike Wallen recently raised the issue of 'neck-staining' in wildfowl and I present here an example of a 'feral' Lesser Snow Goose in Lancashire that shows such a trait. Neck-staining is quite common in wildfowl in Britain and may not necessarily relate to natural staining in the Arctic. The debate arose after I made claims that a heavily stained pair of Whooper Swans that arrived at Latimer Lake and over my village in early October had just freshly arrived from Iceland. Although this was most likely the case with these birds, staining cannot be used in isolation as a reason for vagrancy (Lee Evans)


A flock of up to 15 COMMON CROSSBILLS still remains in the vicinity of the Golf Course clubhouse at Little Brickhill (per North Bucks birders) whilst meanwhile, the OSPREY is still present in the Chess River Valley at Little Chalfont (Per Lee Evans)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

OSPREY reappears


At 1123 hours, Stuart and Lesley Wilson kindly 'phoned me to say that the OSPREY was sitting in a dead tree just 50 yards east of Latimer Bridge (in fact on the same perch in which the two Little Egrets and Common Buzzard had been sat yesterday). I immediately rushed down and was just in time to see it still sitting there, showing fantastically well from the road bridge.

It was being mobbed by a procession of birds, including even a Grey Wagtail, and just as I went to 'scope it, a Common Buzzard had a go at it and it took flight. It took to the air and circled around over the River Chess before being intercepted by firstly one, then two and finally three RED KITES. All three Kites then chased it and continued following it eastwards towards Chenies Bottom. As it got to Chenies village, the three kites left it but their place was then taken by a persistent Carrion Crow, which then pursued it well into Hertfordshire and I finally lost it from view over the woodland belt (at 1138). It presumably carried on towards Stocker's Lake.

Poor Ashley Stow only just missed it and Mike Collard and the Frogmoor warden turned up a little later. The owner of Valley Farm said that it had been present at the cressbeds and old trout farm at Sarratt Bottom earlier in the morning.

I spent the next two and a half hours searching for it but it did not appear, I guess late mornings are best.

It was an excellent period birding in the Chess Valley today though with the following species encountered :-

Continental Cormorant (near adult flew east)
Grey Heron (2 but no sign of the four Little Egrets)
Red Kites (3+, almost constantly present over Frogmoor Reserve)
Common Buzzard (5 including an adult with much white in the uppertail)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1 male)
Common Kestrel (2)
COMMON GULL (1 first-winter flew south)
HERRING GULL (2 - adult and juvenile - flew south)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1 by Latimer Bridge)
Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker
EURASIAN SKYLARK (23 flew south over Mill Farm Meadow)
Meadow Pipit (1+)
Pied Wagtail (first-winter on Mill Farm Barn)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Wren (2)
COMMON STONECHAT (yesterday's pair had moved across the road into Mill Farm Meadow)
REDWING (37 over Mill Farm Meadow and landing in trees at Chenies House)
Mistle Thrush (1)
Jays (20+ very active)
LESSER REDPOLL (party of 11 birds around Mill Farm)
SISKIN (1 over)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

OSPREY surprise



A RED KITE had been showing an interest in one of my ponds for some time, circling back and forth with its head and beak pointing downwards and when it was joined by a second bird, I thought nothing of it. However, on closer inspection, I realised it had long wings and a flight silhouette that somewhat resembled a large gull. I quickly grabbed my 'bins and latched immediately on to it - it was white underneath with a darker chocolate-brown breast-band. Crikey - it was an OSPREY.

It drifted off north and I jumped quickly in the car, hoping to intercept it in the neighbouring Chess Valley. Less than nine minutes later I was at Latimer and as I ran along in front of the Conference Centre Hall, I picked the bird up again, being mobbed by four Jackdaws. It was flying with heavy flaps fairly low over Great Water and as it approached the much narrower section of river at the west end, started to circle around and then hover. It was staring down at the water and as I scrambled with my tripod and telescope to get better views, it started flapping again and started retracing its flight back towards the waterfall.

It was very white below on its body, undertail coverts and underwing coverts, the white only broken by a noticeable band of feathers across the chest, forming a dark chocolate-brown streaked band of feathers. The crown was also white, with a dark line through the eye and a beady yellowish eye. The upperwings and mantle were dark but appeared to be pale-fringed, suggesting it was most likely a first-winter. It seemed to be lingering so I contacted RBA, Mike Collard, Ben Miller, Simon Nichols and local birders Dave Cleal, Ashley Stow, Chris Pontin and Graham Smith. I kept it in view from 1327 until 1341 hours but then, for no apparent reason, it drifted off west up the Chess towards Chesham. I lost it from view when it reached Bois Mill and the Sewage Farm and despite searching for the next three hours, failed to relocate it.

I was then told by Stuart & Lesley Wilson that they had obtained fabulous views of the bird as it fished along the eastern section of river by Mill Farm at 1225 hours and talking to other local residents, it seems that it has been present for some time in the vicinity of Sarratt Trout Farm and may well be the individual recently present at Stocker's Farm.

Whilst searching for the Osprey and walking between Chesham and Chenies Bottom along the Chess River Valley, the following species were seen -:

(in part searching with Dave Cleal and Ashley Stow)

Little Grebe (7)
Grey Heron (5)
*LITTLE EGRETS (4 birds now back, all adults, two of which were showing very well by Latimer Bridge)
Mute Swan (18 adults on Great Water)
GREYLAG GOOSE (an adult was still present on Great Water) *see later note
Atlantic Canada Goose (15)
Tufted Duck (3)
Coot (43)
WATER RAIL (two squealing individuals in Church Covert Reserve)
Black-headed Gull (15)
HERRING GULL (3 noted, including two juveniles and an adult; all flying east)

Common Buzzard (4 individuals including a juvenile which landed close to Latimer Bridge)
Common Kestrel (1)
RING-NECKED PARAKEET (noisy pair in Chenies village)
Stock Dove (14)
Collared Dove (6 over)
Green Woodpecker (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Eurasian Skylark (2)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Meadow Pipit (4)
*COMMON STONECHATS (pair in weedy field just west of Mill Farm Barns representing the first record of the autumn)
Jays (16+ - much activity)
Common Magpie (6)
Common Starling (8)
Goldcrest (1) (extremely scarce of late)
Long-tailed Tit (8)
Coal Tit (1 by Hall)
NUTHATCH (3 in Latimer Hall grounds)
Chaffinch (7 together in Beech trees west of Latimer Hall and 6 further flyover singletons)
SISKINS (party of 3 overhead by Church Covert and a singleton heard by the Hall)
Goldfinch (charm of 23 by the Latimer Bridge)


I checked out Shardeloes Lake just in case the Osprey had relocated there. It was also an excuse to see whether the adult GREYLAG GOOSE was still present and it was - confirming my suspicions that there are two different adults in the area - remarkable considering these are the first records for at least 12 years.

A flock of 37 LAPWINGS also flew twice over the lake but otherwise it was similar to yesterday with 13 Mallard, the 4 Tufted Ducks, again no Gadwall, all 6 Mute Swans again (thankfully), 81 Black-headed Gulls, numerous Jays and just 1 REDWING

RED KITES at all-time high

Not only are we blessed with an exceptionally burgeoning population of RED KITES but the reintroduction in Scotland is now finally going from strength to strength - the most successful reintroduction species ever in the UK (images by Steve Botham)

See :

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

PEREGRINES once again regular on Aylesbury County Hall

The regular pair of PEREGRINES are once again roosting each evening on the Council Hall buildings in the centre of Aylesbury. Depending on wind direction, they sit on the upper flat level of roofing and favour the east side, with one bird on or near the platform and the other oin the north side of the building. They rarely appear before the last hour of daylight (Lee Evans).

Furzton Lake GOOSANDER still present

Roy has seen the female GOOSANDER at Furzton this morning.

I wanted to stress that this is the second modern record ( since 1996); there have been a few ( including flocks ) prior to this , I am collating a full Furzton list over the winter and will publish this in due course. I had the CETTIS WARBLER sing briefly yesterday afternoon (Simon Nichols)


A NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE was seen at 1700 hrs 16 October perched on tree adjacent to Northampton Way public footpath near East Claydon Grid Reference 738265.Bird flew across field in easterly direction towards road between EastClaydon and Sandhill.(Rupert Litherland)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Female GOOSANDER at Furzton

female GOOSANDER in the middle of the lake at 1734. Only the 2nd record for the site according to Mr Nichols (Paul Moon)


Lots of COMMON CROSSBILL activity around the Duke's golf course (Bucks) at Woburn again this morning including a feeding group of 11 birds. (Sonnie Wing)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

BLACK REDSTART still present

The first-winter BLACK REDSTART has been present all weekend at LUDE FARM (SU 914 918) flitting between the red-tiled roofs of the farm buildings and the machinery in the field opposite. There are also 27 HOUSE SPARROWS resident at the farm, whilst other species noted on Saturday morning included 9 YELLOWHAMMERS, 15 Chaffinch, 4 European Robins, Goldcrest, 3 SISKIN and LITTLE OWL (Lee Evans).

Friday, 16 October 2009


Black redstart seen at 15.00 on roof of farm buildings at Lude Farm, Penn, grid ref. SU 913919 (Bob Jackson)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Remarkable sight at Ivinghoe

During a vigmigging episode this morning, along with large numbers of REDWINGS (3,000+), Mike Wallen watched a flock of at least 15 COMMON SCOTERS fly SW over the escarpment - a most incredible sight and record. They were almost certainly the 19 COMMON SCOTERS that later dropped into Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire.

This is the first record of Common Scoter this year in the county.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


The drake RING-NECKED DUCK reappeared at Foxcote Reservoir on 11 October and is still present today. The GARGANEY was also still present that day as well as two RED-CRESTED POCHARDS.

Friday, 9 October 2009

WRYNECK gives itself up

I visited the Lathbury Allotments site yesterday lunchtime and along with 15 others, including Andy Harding, Martin Palmer, Adam Hartley, Jake Ward and Andy Whitney, enjoyed superb views of the WRYNECK as it sat in the sunshine in the Elder clumps and Plum trees at the back of the site. It remained on view for about ten minutes (1340-1350) before dropping back down into the cabbages from where it had been initially flushed.

The bird had not been seen since Simon Nichols enjoyed close views of it perched on garden implements and fencing early morning and is generally very elusive,


Leave Newport Pagnell north on the B526 and after 0.8 miles, turn right on to the gravel 'square' at SP 877 453 to park (at the bend just south of the houses). Walk through the back of the parking area and skirt along the edge of the field for 50 yards to view the allotments

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


I discovered a WRYNECK at Lathbury this afternoon, in the allotments "near the sharp left hander in the road as coming from Newport Pagnell"

Unfortunately the bird did not show again before dark, but I still feel it is probably still around.

I first saw the bird around 3:30 when I put my bins on a large finch flock that were feeding in the field behind the allotments-these turned out to be Linnets and I would estimate probably 150 birds. It was then that I noticed an odd shaped bird on the fence in the foreground. I was totally amazed when it turned out to be a WRYNECK! I had excellent views of it for about a minute before it hopped down into a patch of nettles. It was at this point it started to rain so I guess it decided to stay under cover. The area it was in is not massive, but there is quite a lot of scrub, therefore a lot of places to hide. I intend to have a look around before work tomorrow when the weather is meant to be a lot better (Robert Norris)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

PEREGRINE at Hedgerley Landfill

04/10 14:00 : male PEREGRINE : Beaconsfield. Watched for 5 minutes as it drifted high over the land fill area. It was persued for several minutes by a Red Kite but the Peregrine just veered away when the Kite got too close. At one point the Peregrine and Kite were heading directly at a Buzzard which ducked out of the way fairly promptly. I imagine this species could be regular here but you have to be lucky to pick one out with all of the Corvids and Gulls milling around. (Jim Rose)

Sunday 4/10

This morning (Sunday 4 October)

GAYHURST QUARRY: juvenile PINTAIL back on Spinney Pit. Also around the pits, about 150 Gadwall - must be a site record!, Wigeon up to about 50, same with Teal, 4 Little Grebe, Grey Wagtail.

At Quarryhall, the Game Strip and Pheasant feeders are starting to pull in the birds, with Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and a single TREE SPARROW all present. No 'winter Thrushes' as such, but a group of 5 Song Thrushes could well have been new arrivals; 3 Jays, c20 Skylarks, 47 Lapwings and c500 Woodpigeons were in the surrounding fields (Rob Norris)

Friday, 2 October 2009


Another mostly uneventful visit saw a pair of WHITE WAGTAILS in amongst the big influx of Pieds to the site. Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe and three Little Egrets the only other real birds of note (Chris Gleadell


Sitting in the garden at Prestwood after lunch, I was awoken from my power nap by a new sound emanating from the spruce trees bordering the garden, bins were to hand but still too far away to confirm my suspicion, so a dash to the van and scope was rewarded by great views of a stunning male COMMON CROSSBILL.

He seemed agitated and flew to the other side of Peterley wood, possibly to another clump of Norway Spruce and Scots Pine. Looking round many of the trees have a good crop of cones so hopefully Crossbills will be back (Richard Billyard)

WHOOPER SWANS over Little Chalfont garden then relocated on Latimer Great Water

As I type, wonderful views are to be had of a BADGER feeding on peanuts in my back garden - the first here in a while (0111-0117 hours at least). Despite an absolutely still and starry night with obvious moonlight, still no Redwings migrating over - I've not had a single one yet

Now for yesterday's news - THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER

Wind continued from the Northwest but was very calm and it was surprisingly warm in the afternoon sunshine. Another dry day.

I was just attending to one of my cats late morning and talking Northwestern Redpolls and Taiga Flycatcher images with Shetland contacts on the mobile when I heard the familiar bugling or trumpeting sound of WHOOPER SWANS. I looked up to find two birds flying at fairly low level slightly west of north over my house in Little Chalfont. I was absolutely staggered as only yesterday I had constructed an email urging local birders to watch out for this species as large numbers were migrating SSE through Speyside and elsewhere in Scotland on their way back to wintering areas in Norfolk, particularly Welney WWT - much earlier than normal. The birds were dropping in height and I suspected that they were heading for the Chess River Valley where a resident herd of Mute Swans is always present.

Retrieving my Tabby from a neighbours stairway, I jumped in the car and raced over to Latimer, where at 1222 hours I relocated both birds on the main 'Great Water' in front of the Conference Centre and hall (at SU 995 987). They were trumpeting with glee after presumably finishing a long journey and were not impressing the resident Mute Swans and were drinking, washing and bathing. Whooper Swan has never before been recorded in my area and is an excellent addition to the local avifauna and excited with my find I contacted Chris Batty (RBA), Ben Miller, Simon Nichols, Mike Collard and others to ensure that those that may wish to could perhaps come over and see them.

I was most excited about them mainly because one of the birds (they were both full adults by the way) was heavily stained rusty-brown on the head, neck and upperparts - a feature I have noted on numerous returning wild Whooper Swans before and a feature of birds spending the summer in Iceland (apparently the orange staining is caused by iron deposits in the upland pools in which Whoopers feed during the summer months). Both birds were obviously very tired and exhausted after their journey too as within a very short while, they both tucked their heads in and went to sleep. They kept to themselves and to the outer edge of the 18-strong Mute Swan herd. I watched them for about forty minutes before moving on but was pleased to hear from Ashley Stow that they were both still present when he visited later in the afternoon (he also managed to rattle off at least 100 images of them, a selection of which are presented above).

Their arrival coincided with that of many other Whooper Swans in the south, including 80 fresh-in at Welney Refuge and at least two flocks in Cambridgeshire (11 birds flew NW over Paxton Pits NR in the evening).

Great Water also held 22 Coots, whilst nearby parkland held both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, several singing Robins, Mistle Thrush, two fly-over Meadow Pipits and a Jay at Chilton's Wood.


I then joined Mike Collard on Ivinghoe Hills where on the slope to the SE of the Beacon we enjoyed excellent views of a migrant party of 5 COMMON STONECHATS (including tow males) and 3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS. One of the latter was a brightly marked GREENLAND WHEATEAR. A RED KITE also passed overhead.