YEARLISTING IN 2016

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

YEARLISTING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE

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



Friday, 31 December 2010

Large WAXWING flock still present in Milton Keynes

Made a quick detour on my way to MK shopping centre with wife and daughter - there were 152+ waxwings roosting in the large tree at intersection of Illingworth Place and Century Avenue at 15:30-1545 this afternoon, making a fantastic noise!

I'm not sure what they have been feeding on, but as we drove through the estate towards the shopping centre, there still appeared to be many berry laden bushes (Bill Parker)

Flyover COMMON CRANE

A first-winter COMMON CRANE present recently in Oxfordshire flew over Bishopstone and Stoke Mandeville today (Clive Woodward) and was then seen circling Wilstone Reservoir a couple of circuits before heading off towards Mentmore.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Penn Wood produces the goods as WAXWINGS regroup in Chesham







THURSDAY 30 DECEMBER

The dense fog lingered throughout the morning but then cleared somewhat throughout the afternoon. Temperatures remained relatively mild (9 degrees C) and it was generally dry apart from a little drizzle.

I had an extremely enjoyable day, recording my largest local flock of BEWICK'S SWANS in many years, keeping tabs on the local WAXWINGS and having an exceptionally productive visit to Penn Wood........

HARMONDSWORTH (MIDDLESEX)

Not being able to respond immediately to Dave Morris's call late yesterday afternoon, I drove out today as the thick fog started to clear to Harmondsworth Lane, where fortunately the herd of 18 BEWICK'S SWANS were still present in the field to the south of the road at SU 063 774. The flock contained three juveniles and were almost certainly the flock recorded at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent on Tuesday.

They had presumably become disoriented by the dense fog and had been attracted down by the 75 Atlantic Canada Geese already in the field. There were also 90 European Golden Plovers in the field, as well as 18 Fieldfares and at least 160 Eurasian Skylarks.

AMERSHAM AND CHESHAM TOWN CENTRES (BUCKS)

The local BOHEMIAN WAXWING feeding flock regrouped today with the greater chunk (115 birds) spending virtually all day commuting between the tall tree by Chesham Town Hall (in the main car park) and the four Rowan trees in the main town centre (along by the taxi rank). A much tinier breakaway group of 16 birds remained on the Pink Rowans in Stanley Hill Avenue (LGRE, Chris Pontin, Chris Hazell, et al). Further flocks in the general area included up to 84 in Morrison's Car Park in High Wycombe and 40 in Berkhamsted.

PENN WOOD SSSI RESERVE (BUCKS) (SU 915 960)

Following up on a report of a HAWFINCH on my pager, I was astounded to track down not 1 but 3 of these delightful birds in Penn Wood this afternoon - quite possibly at a site where they have been present for some time. They were feeding on the ground and perching in the tall trees surrounding Keepers Cottage at SU 908 957 and were typically vocal and fairly easy to locate. They were commuting between here and a number of scattered tall trees in the horse paddocks on the opposite side of the lane just east of Gravelly Way Stables.

Just as impressive were the large number of REDPOLLS in Penn Wood - difficult to accurately count but certainly in the region of over 240 birds. In amongst a flock of 75 LESSER REDPOLLS at the far east end by the church were at least 5 well-marked and frosty MEALY REDPOLLS, whilst several more were seen amongst a huge gathering of at least 170 birds along the main Rhododendron drive, 200 yards SW of The Penna.

Both species were new to the Amersham Recording District tally for 2010 and have clearly been present in Penn Wood for some period of time. I haven't personally checked the site since June.

Another species in numbers was WOODCOCK - I flushed five in all, including a roost of 3 in bracken not far from one of the main rides. Also, confirming the trend that FIRECRESTS are now resident in our woodlands, two were seen within yards of a summer breeding territory.

Also recorded during the two hours or so that I spent in the wood were the following -:

Red Kites (2 overhead)
Woodpigeon (22 feeding on Beechmast)
Meadow Pipit (1 flew over)
Eurasian Skylark (2 flew over)
Robin (2) (but no Wrens)
Common Blackbird (1) (but no Redwing roost)
GOLDCRESTS (excellent counts - at least 15 present in the Rhododendron thickets)
Blue, Coal (5), Great and Long-tailed Tits (17)
Common Treecreeper (5)
Nuthatch (2)
BULLFINCH (3)
Greenfinch (62 at roost)
Chaffinch (very small numbers)
BRAMBLING (just 2 noted)
Jay (3) and Carrion Crow

Footnote: Hawfinch were once a regular winter visitor to the woodlands in the Recording Area, particularly in Little Chalfont and in Seer Green. With so many isolated pockets of woodland in the area, it is heartening to think that a small but stable population of this nomadic species is still surviving. I shall make further efforts to try and locate them next spring.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Bletchley WAXWINGS

There are currently (at 1400 hours) 72 WAXWINGS in the tall trees along Bletcham Way, just west of Bond Avenue. They are best viewed from Holdom Avenue as you can walk between the industrial units to get a closer look. They do seem very mobile so I am presuming they must be the ones being seen in Oldbrook and they're commuting between sites (Dave James).

Thick fog hampers viewing

At the Jubilee River at Taplow (Amerden Lane/Marsh Lane) (South Bucks), the flock of EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE has risen to 20 birds........The two adult drake SMEW are also still present there

In Amersham, the 45 WAXWINGS remain

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The thaw sets in - WHITE-FRONT flock present for third day

TUESDAY 28 DECEMBER

The big thaw arrived overnight. A band of heavy rain moved in from the west late yesterday evening, washing away much of the lying snow. As the front encroached ever eastwards, temperatures reached a balmy 8 degrees C - the warmest in over two weeks. As a consequence, dense fog replaced the rain and drizzle.

AMERSHAM AREA

The WAXWING flock diminished in numbers with the weather change, with just 45 being seen today - mainly in the tall trees by Amersham railway station. Elsewhere, up to 140 were in High Wycombe and Hazlemere - perhaps part of the Amersham flock.

THE JUBILEE RIVER NATURE RESERVE

I walked the section from Amerden Lane to Dorney Reach, where the highlight was the continuing flock of 15 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and the two EURASIAN BITTERNS.....

Otherwise the Thames section held 7 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Grebes, Grey Heron, 14 Mute Swans, 9 Egyptian Geese, 117 Greylag Geese, 128 Atlantic Canada Geese, 43 Mallard, 36 Eurasian Wigeon, 27 Gadwall, 228 Tufted Duck, 37 Northern Pochard, 1 drake Common Goldeneye and a WATER RAIL.

The hedgerows and surrounding farmland held 28+ Fieldfares, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 9 Common Magpies, Jay and 2 Reed Buntings.

Lee G R Evans

The thaw sets in - WHITE-FRONT flock present for third day

TUESDAY 28 DECEMBER

The big thaw arrived overnight. A band of heavy rain moved in from the west late yesterday evening, washing away much of the lying snow. As the front encroached ever eastwards, temperatures reached a balmy 8 degrees C - the warmest in over two weeks. As a consequence, dense fog replaced the rain and drizzle.

AMERSHAM AREA

The WAXWING flock diminished in numbers with the weather change, with just 45 being seen today - mainly in the tall trees by Amersham railway station. Elsewhere, up to 140 were in High Wycombe and Hazlemere - perhaps part of the Amersham flock.

THE JUBILEE RIVER NATURE RESERVE

I walked the section from Amerden Lane to Dorney Reach, where the highlight was the continuing flock of 15 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE and the two EURASIAN BITTERNS.....

Otherwise the Thames section held 7 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Grebes, Grey Heron, 14 Mute Swans, 9 Egyptian Geese, 117 Greylag Geese, 128 Atlantic Canada Geese, 43 Mallard, 36 Eurasian Wigeon, 27 Gadwall, 228 Tufted Duck, 37 Northern Pochard, 1 drake Common Goldeneye and a WATER RAIL.

The hedgerows and surrounding farmland held 28+ Fieldfares, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 9 Common Magpies, Jay and 2 Reed Buntings.

Lee G R Evans

Friday, 24 December 2010

WAXWINGS galore




CHRISTMAS EVE 2010

The lying snow in the Chiltern district is now a week old and apart from the main roads, little has thawed in the interim seven days. The easterly wind dropped today though but it still remained cold and grey.

WAXWINGS continue to be the main theme ornithologically wise, with our region now almost on the northerly limit of the influx.

After 200 birds were reported from Western Road, Tring, earlier in the day, Ian Williams, Dave Bilcock and myself tried to relocate them this afternoon but failed to find the big flock - but 24 were eventually tracked down, with 3 by the Cemetery and a further 21 in Christchurch Road.

Meanwhile, over in neighbouring Wendover town, a flock of 38 were affording crippling views, commuting between the tall Birch in 62A Lionel Way and the remaining Pink Rowan berries in the front garden of number 62 (Lionel Way is a turning off the main Aylesbury road about 600 yards from the roundabout).

At very long last (and after dipping on the previous flock in the village), the berry-laden shrub in Old Amersham Tesco's supermarket car park has finally yielded the expected flock of WAXWINGS - an exceptional 168 commuting between the perimeter trees and the Fieldfare and Common Blackbird full shrub despite the presence of even larger numbers of last-minute Christmas shoppers. They remained present until at least 1520 hours, indicating that they will roost in the vicinity.

The supply of berry-laden bushes is now very quickly being depleted (LGR Evans)
More Waxwings on Oldbrook this lunchtime - about 25 seen perched in trees along Underwood Place as I was driving past, then half hour later, as I was driving back, 100+ flew over north. They are probably still on the estate somewhere.

Earlier, the adult Whooper Swan was still at Gayhurst Quarry, and at the Little Linford Wood maize strip, still 68 Tree Sparrow and about 50 Reed Buntings.

A Little Egret was on the ice at Tongwell, but ducks numbers at Willen are well down on last week, with 8 Goosanders being the pick of them.

Merry Christmas to all (Rob Hill)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

North Bucks today

Great Linford - Marsh Road - at the junction with Lufford Park 1 MEALY REDPOLL with 10 Lesser Redpoll in a Silver Birch. Also 25ish WAXWINGS flew over mid morning.

Tongwell Lake - 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS stood on the frozen ice about 10 feet from the shoreline at 11:45 then flew off low towards Blakelands.

Giffard Park - Hinault Avenue - another 50 Lesser Redpoll.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

WAXWINGS

11 Waxwing flew south over Oldbrook this lunchtime - about 12.55pm - heading towards MK College. There's a large collection of berry bushes on the estate opposite the Christian centre, which often attracts plenty of Redwing & Fieldfare, so it's possible the Waxwings will be equally attracted. (Rob Hill)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

WAXWINGS in Milton Keynes

There was a flock of 17 WAXWINGS resting in a tree, and making their ringing call, next to the Shenley roundabout, junction of H6 and V3, at 14:10 today. I watched them for about 5 minutes before they flew off south. There were no berries on the tree - Tony Garner

Walton Balancing Lakes

A female BEARDED TIT this lunchtime, feeding on its own for 4 or 5 minutes next to the screen, then flew across the pond, calling...and not followed by any others. Do they split up during the day?........Also certainly 5 Water Railscalling simultaneously - Andy Harding

SHORT-EARED OWL at Linford

Paul Moon discovered a SHORT EARED OWL today, quartering the usual fields at Linford NR

Monday, 13 December 2010

WAXWING in Walter's Ash

A single WAXWING seen yesterday in trees behind Allen Drive, Walter's Ash at midday. Only there briefly then flew off W giving its wonderful trilling call. Same or another bird seen about an hour later flying over garden in same direction. Perhaps a fragment of the flock seen in Lacey Green yesterday? Bird was on top of a large oak, at first glance assumed it was a starling, but suspicion was raised by its erect stance so ran for bins and scored second waxwing tick from garden. Worth keeping an eye out! - Neil Fletcher

Sunday, 12 December 2010

SCAUP on Willen lake

At Willen Lake late afternoon, a female GREATER SCAUP in front of the Wayfarer. Looked like the Caldecotte bird.

Also 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost, 16 Goosander, and c150 Greenfinch in a roost by the industrial buildings on the east shore (Rob Hill)

Caldecotte Lake SCAUP still present

The female GREATER SCAUP remains on the north lake by the pub this morning, but couldn't be found later; 6 Goosander also on the north lake and a pair of Common Goldeneye, on the south lake - and a Kingfisher hunting under the road bridge. Much of the south lake is still frozen, to the dismay of the boating fraternity (per Keith at NBBR)

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Three BITTERNS at Calvert and male MERLIN at Gallows Bridge

Calvert BBOWT LAKE; Tonight 5 of us located a definite 3 BITTERNS in roost spots - 1 in far end reedbed opposite 2nd hide, 2nd in right hand inside bed and a 3rd in left hand inside bed. The 3rd one climbed reeds at late time of 4:20 but gave by far the best views, sitting right on top of reeds. During the week regulars report daylight flight views to various reedbeds over whole lake and croaking calls heard, all big pointers to there being multiple birds on site.

GALLOWS BRIDGE FARM, earlier; male MERLIN on cut hedge then overflew car park, then after finches on adjacent fields, used undulating flight briefly just before tailgating a finch/ 5 Golden Plover in main meadow, 100 mts from hides (Tim Watts)

WAXWINGS in Wendover

SATURDAY 11 DECEMBER - LGRE DIARY NOTES

The warmest day in over three weeks with temperatures reaching 7 degrees C. Ice on many of the gravel pits and reservoirs was beginning to melt with many wildfowl on the move between sites. There was a little bit of brightness but generally it remained grey and overcast. The winds were light.

As has been the case for several weeks now, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were the talking point and today they were just everywhere. My tally for the day was 252 birds - but there were many more, especially in Hertfordshire.

WENDOVER (BUCKS)

My first port of call was Wendover, where a highly mobile flock of 14 WAXWINGS was commuting between Lionel Avenue (just off of the main road) and the Haglis Drive cul-de-sac.

HATFIELD (HERTS)

Next off, at around midday, I relocated Anthony Dorman's flock in Hatfield, where a total of 124 WAXWINGS was flying in to five heavily laden Pink Rowans within the flat complex at the entrance to Hillfield. They were commuting between here and the tall Poplar trees on the adjacent Langmead. Not one appeared to be ringed.

LINSLADE (BEDFORDSHIRE)
(1300-1345)

I then moved north in to Bedfordshire, where I joined a large gathering enjoying the views in the supermarket car parks in the town. A total of 86 WAXWINGS was commuting between the Rowan trees by the Homebase store and the trees opposite the Waitrose store just 400 yards away. Again, no ringed individuals could be located. At times, the flock flew to within yards of observers and photographers and were constantly calling.

WOBURN TOWN CENTRE (BEDFORDSHIRE)

A quick stop in Leighton Street yielded a further 28 WAXWINGS, one of which was ringed - but only with a single metal ring.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

I spent the last hour of daylight at Marsworth - overlooking the reedbed. A total of 88 CORN BUNTINGS eventually came in to roost (best count this winter so far) and at least 1 CETTI'S WARBLER has survived the freeze.

The wintering EURASIAN BITTERN flew from 75 yards from the causeway at 1614 hours and quickly out of view and the resident BARN OWL at 1630. At least 3 WATER RAILS were squealing (with two walking across the ice) and at dusk, a TAWNY OWL started hooting from trees at Tringford.

BEARDED TITS still there

The 4 BEARDED TITS were still at Walton BL late afternoon, showing very well in the cut reeds in front of the viewing screen (Rob Hill)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Caldecotte Lake today

A walk round the lake this morning produced a lot of ducks crammed into the unfrozen water, by the Cormorant island. Amongst them, 11 GOOSANDERS, and by the wooden footbridge at the car park in Monellan Grove, a FIRECREST in the brambles (per NBBR)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Huge TREE SPARROW flock still at Daisy Farm




The large TREE SPARROW flock was still present this morning in the game strip and hedge alongside the track near the entrance to Little Linford Wood (photographs by kind courtesy of Mike Lawrence), and making plenty of noise. There was also a large number of Reed Bunting, with several Yellowhammer and Chaffinch, and a single female Brambling. They all dived for cover at one stage when a female Sparrowhawk flew over.There was a small flock of about 20 fieldfare around the entrance to the wood (Tony Garner)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Tongwell WAXWINGS

When I first saw them, they were feeding on the white berries on a row of sorbus trees in the part of Bessemer Court nearest to John Lewis depot. Later they were resting and preening in a nearby tree. This is close to where I saw some last week, so they must be staying around here for a while. There were at least 19 birds today.

A quick look at Willen later found amongst the usual ducks, 3 male goosander and 2 goldeneye (Tony Garner)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

BEWICK'S SWAN herd has been present since Thursday

These 5 BEWICK'S SWANS were in the field between LMGP and the River Thames late on Thursday afternoon(2nd December). per John Bowman

Marlow Area today

The day started well when a single WAXWING alighted at the top of a neighbour’s line of cherry trees – a favoured spot for resting birds – at 9am. Unfortunately it only stayed for a couple of minutes before flying off low north. I watched the general area for a further 30 minutes, but no further sign. Slightly unexpected due to the absence of many berry bearing trees, but very welcome. A flock of 34 Redwings landed in the same trees before flying off into nearby woodland.

A text from Alan Stevens informed me that the party of 5 wild swans was still at Cockmarsh, Berks. I was keen to see these birds again, as the previous evening, I had only seen them at distance in almost darkness at 16:15 on LMGP when the 2 adult birds gave the impression of having restricted yellow at the base of their bills. Arriving at Cockmarsh at 11am, the herd of 5 swans (2 adults and 3 juveniles) was immediately obvious two fields west of the Bourne End foot bridge. I walked across the first field for a closer look and it was apparent that they were all BEWICK'S SWANS.

A further text from Alan informed me of a flock of 10 GOOSANDERS on LMGP. I made my way there and was walking from the car park not much after midday, but unfortunately the birds had flown. I now see that I must have missed them by a whisker (Adam Bassett)

WAXWINGS today

The Tongwell (Milton Keynes) flock of WAXWINGS has increased to 14 today (per Nik Maynard) - feeding on berries at the back of Unit 26. Maryland Avenue (which is off Delaware Drive). Meanwhile, 24 were in Prestwood and a single was again at Holtspur, by the Beacon Sports Centre.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

BEWICK'S SWAN herd at Little Marlow

This afternoon on Spade Oak Pit, a family party of 5 BEWICK'S SWANS visited - an adult pair and their three juveniles.

Elsewhere in the county, and apart from Waxwings, BITTERNS remained at Weston Turville (2) and Calvert Lake BBOWT and TREE SPARROWS included 130 at Dairy Farm, Little Linford and 23 at the River Ray Meadows.

Beaconsfield WAXWING flock increasing







SATURDAY 4 DECEMBER

A temporary weekend thaw in proceedings is taking place with temperatures rising to a heady 4 degrees C and melting much of the lying snow. The warmer weather did bring very misty conditions though and later light rain.

WAXWINGS continue to be the main theme, even though the first-winter SANDERLING remains at Dorney Return Lakes, with the flock at Holtspur seemingly increasing.........

This morning, Beaconsfield birders Peter Stevens and Wally Smith have counted up to 30 birds, intermingling with the Common Starlings and commuting between the five Rowan trees in Beacon Close and the Hawthorn hedgerow berries adjacent to the field of the Beacon Sports Centre in Holtspur Way. The same berries are also attracting up to 20 Redwings, a Fieldfare, a Mistle Thrush and numerous Common Blackbirds. The Waxwings though are highly mobile and very erratic in their appearances here.

For example, Chris Hazell and I and at least 20 others searched from early afternoon through to 1500 hours and there was NO SIGN of them whatsoever - not here or in neighbouring parts of Beaconsfield. The berry crop is ample though and is sufficient to keep them there for several days.

North Bucks WAXWINGS

I have just found 2 WAXWINGS at Tongwell , initially in the Tall trees by the car park , they then flew and I relocated them at the end of Yeomens Drive , at the back of the John Lewis Depot , they then flew into Blakelands. Also 3 RED CRESTED POCHARDS (1 Male) 1 Male Goosander , 46 Shoveler and 87 Tufted Duck on the 80% Frozen Lake ! - Simon Nichols

Friday, 3 December 2010

GREATER SCAUP and another SANDERLING

An adult female GREATER SCAUP was discovered at Caldecott North Lake and was showing very well there this afternoon (many observers), whilst at the opposite end of the county, a first-winter SANDERLING was on the west shore of the Return lake at Dorney Lakes, along with 3 Dunlin, a Common Redshank and 33 Dunlin (Kevin Duncan, LGRE).

Meanwhile, 20 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are in Beaconsfield for their second day, and 3 more at Wycombe Marsh.

SANDERLING in North Bucks


This first-winter SANDERLING was photographed standing on the ice at Walton Balancing Lakes yesterday - a remarkable early December record

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Huge gathering of TREE SPARROWS as Chilterns Region has first snowfall of winter

TUESDAY 30 NOVEMBER

With the wind veering to the east and Northeast, the first snow of the winter arrived overnight depositing a light covering over South Buckinghamshire and up to four centimetres in North Bucks and Bedfordshire. It was bitterly cold as the wind freshened and as darkness fell, temperatures plunged below freezing again.

The highlight of my day was an exceptional wintering flock of TREE SPARROWS in North Bucks - my largest flock in many years

SHARDELOES LAKE (SOUTH BUCKS)

Almost completely frozen over with 3 Little Grebes, 5 Mute Swans and 69 Coots remaining and 7 adult Common Gulls and a 4th-winter Argenteus Herring Gull resting on the ice and a single Fieldfare in the bushes.

WOBURN (BEDFORDSHIRE)

Barry Nightingale had seen 105 WAXWINGS at 0800 hours but when I visited around midday, just 29 were feeding on the Pink Rowans along Leighton Street.

CALDECOTTE LAKES (NORTH BUCKS)

The female SMEW discovered on Sunday was still present, diving with Tufted Ducks on the east shore of the North Lake. On the opposite side of the dual carriageway, on the South Lake, a pair of COMMON SHELDUCK were noted, along with 33 Great Crested Grebes and good numbers of dabbling duck.

DAIRY FARM, LITTLE LINFORD (NORTH BUCKS) (SP 837 457)
(Access road very snowy - utmost care required)

Following up some information kindly supplied by Rob Hill, a strip of maize crop and its adjoining clump of conifers and thick hawthorn scrub yielded an incredible 130 TREE SPARROWS - my largest local gathering of this species for at least ten years. They were all chipping away together and making a loud racket and keeping to one core mass. There were also a lot of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch with them, whilst 2 MARSH TITS were in the hedgerow.

FOXCOTE RESERVOIR (NORTH BUCKINGHAMSHIRE)

I had to park in Maids Moreton village as the roads around Foxcote were treacherous and incredibly icy - cars were strewn everywhere having collided with one another or slithered off of the road.

When I finally reached the hide, there was one wide sweep of open water that had escaped the ice. Sat on the ice at the entrance to the NW arm were the 4 BEWICK'S SWANS (three adults and a single juvenile) that Paul had found about an hour earlier and Francis had seen. The adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK was also present - showing very well for a change - and wide awake - and diving in front of the hide.

The cold weather had also seen a massive influx of wildfowl on the reservoir with 44 Mute Swans, 516 Eurasian Wigeon, 43 Common Teal, 15 Gadwall, a drake PINTAIL, 32 Tufted Duck, 17 Northern Pochard and 8 Common Goldeneye (4 drakes) present, as well as 8 Great Crested Grebes and an adult pair of GOOSANDER. A single DUNLIN was standing on the ice by the tern raft.

The hedgerows bordering the road between the village and the access gate held 25 Redwings and a party of 6 nominate BULLFINCHES.

BROGBOROUGH LAKE (BEDFORDSHIRE)

My last port of call was an ice-free Brogborough Lake where the GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still present, as well as the 7 adult RED-CRESTED POCHARDS that MJP counted earlier (5 drakes and two females). There were also 16 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swans, a single Little Grebe, 22 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon and 34 Common Goldeneyes.

BITTERNS at Weston Turville Reservoir

There were 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS at Weston Turville this evening, seen from the Susan Cowdy hide. Both birds flew up from towards the far side, straight out from the hide and made short flights presumably to roost. It was getting pretty dark when they appeared. Also 2 Sparrowhawks spooking the Wood Pigeons as they hunted together (Rob Andrews)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Redhead SMEW present for second day

The redhead SMEW was at Caldecotte North Lake again this lunchtime. Near the bridge (Ted Reed)

More WAXWINGS

I have just been watching (1335) a flock of 25 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in a tree outside no. 30, Wedgwood Avenue, Blakelands, Milton Keynes. They were just resting there and making their ringing call. There were no berries in that tree, so may not stay around long (Tony Garner)

Friday, 26 November 2010

The RING-NECKED DUCK is back

A pair of BEARDED TITS was showing well high up in a tree near to the boardwalk at Walton Lakes at 10:45 this morning and the drake RING-NECKED DUCK was back at Foxcote. Seen straight out from the hide sleeping amongst a party of Wigeon at 12:00 (per Ken Earnshaw).

Meanwhile, an adult male RING OUZEL is present for its second day just SE of the Beacon - a very late individual indeed (per Mike Wallen). Yesterday, 3 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS flew west over Ivinghoe Hills and were later seen in Aldbury village

Thursday, 25 November 2010

BITTERN at Calvert

Calvert BBOWT - late afternoon; Huge gull pre-roost contained 9 Y.L.Gulls and 1 ad Caspian Gull. Waders are scarce here in Spring let alone Winter but flock of 4 Common Redshank flew low over water couple of times then flew towards sailing lake. Later a pair of Goosanders flew in, again headed to other lake. Big increase in Herrings and G.B.B gulls late on from tip.

Icing on cake was a BITTERN climbing to roost at 16:08 in right hand reedbed from the 1st hide - think this is earliest ever had one here. Jolting reeds put me onto it but then wasn't hard to see. It wasn't on their usual favoured area of reed edge against deepwater but in middle of bed, made lot of commotion climbing then spent rest of time stretching neck up and looking all around (Tim Watts).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Dorney and WAXWINGS galore in Milton Keynes


TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER

The North-easterly wind continues to blow, with temperatures dropping by a degree or two each day. Very much overcast and grey and a real winter feel to proceedings.

No birding today but a spot of twitching. Dave Cleal found a BRENT GOOSE early afternoon which I was able to see half an hour later and Darrel Bryant a flock of WAXWINGS - which were affording great views mid afternoon......

DORNEY RESERVE POOL (SOUTH BUCKS)

Dave Cleal sent me a text early afternoon informing me of a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Dorney Rowing Lakes. I jumped in the car, raced down there and enjoyed views of it half an hour later. It was an ADULT and was consorting with the 250 or so Atlantic Canada Geese on the grass and in the reserve pool and represented my first in the county this year. Dave, Kevin Duncan and I watched it until 1245 hours...................Thanks Dave

STEVENAGE (HERTFORDSHIRE)

Whilst on route to the DBBG, my good friend Darrel Bryant rang to say that he had just found 4 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS whilst walking his dog close to his home in Stevenage. As each flock so far had been in and out, I did not expect them to linger, but when Darrel said that there were ample Rowans on the estate, my hopes were raised. As soon as I had seen the goose, I phoned Darrel back and he said that there were now 5 birds and that they had moved a few roads. He very kindly agreed to keep on them for me.

It was 55 miles between sites and as predicted, it took me just over an hour to arrive. Darrel was still watching them fortunately and within seconds of my arrival, I had connected. They were commuting between a tall roosting tree and a flowering Rowan adjacent to No 30 Wetherby Close, about half a mile from the usual Waxwing areas in the town.

The five birds consisted of three adults and two first-winters and the views were typically first-rate. All five were still present when I left at 1420 hours.

North Buckinghamshire had also seen an influx of WAXWINGS today, with 43 recorded by Paul Gibbs. Just one of these remained this afternoon but nevertheless Paul Keene was able to get this cracking shot published above.

BEWICK'S SWAN at Foxcote

An adult BEWICK'S SWAN plus 2 male and a female Goosander were at Foxcote this afternoon. The Bewicks was initially on the spit then moved over to the east shore down towards the dam (Ken Earnshaw)

Meanwhile, a flock of 43 WAXWINGS were seen at Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes

Monday, 22 November 2010

BEARDED TITS still present

One pair of BEARDED TITS showing well in the reeds beside the boardwalk today at 1430. I watched them for 15 minutes feeding both low down and on the tops of the reeds before they disappeared deeper into the reeds (Tony Garner)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just back from surveying 2 tetrads for the Birds of Bucks / BTO Atlas around Gawcott, Preston Bissett and Hillesden.

Undoubted highlight was a SHORT-EARED OWL between Hillesden and Preston Bissett (approximately SP 671 289); it was in a hedge by the public footpath. I'm not sure who was more startled it or me when I came face to face with it only about 15m away. Needless to say it flew off and headed South, being mobbed by crows. That area seems quiet, so may have been around a while and worth keeping an eye out if you are in the area. Despite being fairly ordinary farmland at first glance there were plenty of other birds today around including; good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing, flock of about 60 Linnet, Little Owl, lots of Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting. In total 43 species in one tetrad and 36 in the other.

If you have not signed up to do a survey, there are still some good tetrads left and this is the last year of the survey so your last chance. You never know what might turn up! (Go to the BTO Atlas site here: http://www.bto.org/birdatlas/ or contact John Gearing john_gearing@hotmail.com ) - Neil Fletcher

Sunday, 14 November 2010

There was a huge gull roost at Foxcote this evening, the biggest that I have ever seen at this site in 15+ years. Having delayed the WEBS count until late in the day, unfortunately I didn't have the time to go through the gulls but I counted 860 LBB gulls and estimated 3500 black-headed gull, 150 common gull and 50 herring gull. Another birder leaving the site as I arrived at 15:15 said there were a couple of yellow-legged gulls and a glaucous-type (his words) gull, but I didn't see either.There were still gulls flying into the reservoir as I left at 16:30, so I suspect that they were all going to stay and roost overninght.

In addition 43 mute swan, 435 wigeon, 25 tufted duck, 213 coot, 42 gadwall, 23 shoveler, 7 great-crested grebe, 2 little grebe, 6 pochard, 7 goldeneye (2m), 15 mallard, 14 teal, 33 cormorant, 1 lapwing and a male mandarin duck roosting with the wigeon on the north shore.

If you haven't visited Foxcote recently, the water level is still really low leaving large areas of exposed muddy shoreline. I suspect that this may explain the relatively high numbers of dabbling duck (e.g. gadwall and shoveler) and the low numbers (compared to previous years) of tufted duck and pochard. It might also explain why the ring-necked duck has deserted the site as it wasn't seen again today and I think hasn't been seen for some weeks now (Bill Parker)

Walton Balancing Lake Reedbed

All 4 Bearded Tits showed well eventually from the boardwalk at about 9 o'clock this morning.Also a flock of 22 Siskins frequenting the Alder trees (Rob Norris)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

BEARDIES still present at Walton

The 4 BEARDED TITS still present at Walton BL late afternoon. Initially elusive, feeding at the bottom of the reeds, all four eventually showed well by the boardwalk - Rob Hill

Seen from Buckinghamshire but not in it - VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater

SATURDAY 13 NOVEMBER

Did not bother to go out this morning after receiving so much abuse from certain quarters relating to my recent TV appearance and from the continuing fallout still being aired on the BirdGuides website. Had tried to address the subject in a candid interview with One-Show regular and wildlife enthusiast David Lindo but still the sniping continues unabated.

Anyway, JT eventually shook me out of the doldrums by informing me of a local mega just down the road - in the form of a VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater Sailing Pit in Middlesex..........

BROADWATER SAILING PIT (MIDDLESEX)
(Dry but cold and overcast)

Simon Buckingham had located the bird early afternoon and from 1330-1410 hours, I enjoyed some good views of it, as it dived and preened towards the north end, in amongst the vast hordes of Tufted Duck.

It was clearly a much larger bird than the accompanying Aythyas and was obviously an immature VELVET SCOTER. By the fact that it has some light yellow on the bill suggested it was a drake. Much of the belly was pale, indicating first-year, and apart from the overall dark brown plumage, it had a weak off-white ear covert patch behind the eye. The broad pure white secondary panel was seen well each time the bird preened.

Tufted Ducks were in abundance, with 602 logged, whilst other wildfowl present included 15 Gadwall, 6 Common Goldeneyes and a single Egyptian Goose.

Around the car parking area, Mick Frosdick and I enjoyed views of 8 LESSER REDPOLLS as they fed at the tops of the trees.

The bird is literally just 200 yards from both the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire borders, frustratingly from the latter from my point of view as I still have not seen a Bucks Velvet Scoter. It is situated at TQ 043 896 and best viewed from the Colne riverbank footpath on the west side of the pit. Parking is limited but available at the end of the lane at TQ 048 890 from where one can walk across the muddy causeway west to the Colne footpath.

LYNSTER'S FARM, MAPLE CROSS (HERTS)

Four Egyptian Geese grazing near the barns.

THE CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS)

All 3 wintering LITTLE EGRETS on site, two just east of Bois Mill and one near Chenies Bottom. A young Grey Heron was feeding on the grass verge of Latimer Road.

At the Fishing Lakes, no sign of the recent Great Crested Grebe, but COMMON KINGFISHER, 4 drake Northern Pochards, 5 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.

CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)

Highlight this morning in the garden was a male SISKIN - my first of the autumn. Still up to 12 Goldfinches present on the Nyger seed.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Both ROCK and WATER PIPITS at Wilstone, and 7 DUNLIN, but no Scaup at Foxcote

TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER

A pretty dismal day weatherwise with strong NE winds and intermittent showers. Much colder than of late.

After arriving very late for my date with One Show chat host David Lindo, I eventually got myself out of Central London early afternoon. I then got delayed further after there was a very serious accident on the A41 near Watford but eventually got to Tring just before 1300 hours. I undertook a full inventory of wildfowl etc but the poor weather was useless for passerines.....

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

A first-year Mute Swan, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Coot and 38 Shoveler were all of note.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)

A further 17 Great Crested Grebes noted, along with 4 adult Mute Swans, 14 Common Teal, 28 Tufted Duck, 4 Northern Pochard, an adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 5 Moorhen and 158 Coots.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (HERTS)

Very quiet and barren with just 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Duck and 23 Coot present.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)
(1400-1445 hours)

Not that much different to the weekend with 5 Little Grebes, the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, a LITTLE EGRET, 25 roosting Cormorants, 24 Mute Swans, the two adult Whooper Swans, 79 Greylag Geese, much less wildfowl but 5 NORTHERN PINTAIL and 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYE and 312 Lapwing.

However, as I set up my 'scope and worked my way across the expanse of mud between the new overflow and the hide, I located SEVEN DUNLIN in amongst the 204 roosting EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and then two pipits working their way along the edge.

One was the clean-looking WATER PIPIT of the last few days whilst the other was a dingy and heavily streaked SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT - a belated first in the county this year for me. Both birds worked their way around to the white 'froth' built up by the strong wind and afforded excellent views down to just 40 yards.

The ROCK PIPIT was typically very Meadow Pipit-like but was very heavily streaked and saturated on the underparts on a warm background. The streaks were long and extended right down the flanks. The upperparts were dark with little evidence of bracing with a pale whitish eye-ring on one side of the head and an eye-ring and a weak pale line behind the eye on the left side. The loral line was clearly dark and the stout bill quite pale orangey at the base of the mandibles. The upperwings were generally uniform olive-grey or olive-brown but had obvious pale whitish fringes to the greater and median coverts forming obvious bars. The chin and throat were unmarked and quite buffish or pale cream in colour and on the tail, the outer feathers were off-white or greyish-buff. The legs were predominantly dark but with an obvious hint of dark orange-brown. For about five minutes, it bathed in shallow water and preened, and on one occasion when it had an altercation with one of two Pied Wagtails, it uttered a sharp, explosive, metallic ''peeest' note as it flew.

Side-by-side, the WATER PIPIT was much cleaner-looking, with much whiter underparts/basal colour and much more strident, shorter and less extensive streaking. It was also a much paler brown bird on the upperparts, with more striking white-fringed wing-bars, white tail-sides and a white throat. The lower mandible was more yellow-toned in colour and the head pattern was typified by an obvious white eye-stripe. Once again, the lores were dark, the bill very slightly longer and the legs and feet very dark almost black. It was by far the more elegant pipit of the two.

HURDLESGROVE (BUCKS) (SP 805 230)

In crops east of the A413 about a mile north of Whitchurch contained a flock of 130 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 90 Lapwings.

FOXCOTE RESERVOIR (NORTH BUCKS)
(1500 hours until dusk)

Another attempt at the recent Greater Scaup but despite an extensive search, yet another blank. Definitely not in the NW arm.

The complete logcall went 6 Great Crested Grebes, 45 Mute Swans, 196 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 Greylag Goose, 11 Mallard, 116 Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Common Teal, 18 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 1 drake NORTHERN PINTAIL, 18 Tufted Duck, 11 Northern Pochard, 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE (4 females), 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS and a Grey Wagtail.

There was a large pre-roost gathering of gulls which included 1 adult YELLOW-LEGGED, 139 Lesser Black-backed (of both graellsii and intermedius), an adult argenteus Herring Gull, 25 Common and 500+ Black-headed.

The reedbed in the NW arm was utilised by just over 300 Common Starlings before dusk.

BEARDIES still on site

All 4 BEARDED TITS still present at Walton Lake. I saw them drop into the reed bed to roost up at 16:25, looking from the boardwalk. Three birds lost to sight straight away but one male showed quite well, feeding on seed head and foraging in lower reeds (Martin Kincaid)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Walton Lake BEARDIES still in situ

The BEARDED TITS remain at Walton BL this morning.Having been away since Thursday night, this morning was the first chance I've had to look for Paul's 4 Bearded Tits. Unfortunately the weather was less than helpful; I was on site from dawn, confronted with persistent and frequently very heavy rain and regular strong gusts of wind.

Hardly good Bearded Tit weather...

At 08:05 3+ Bearded Tits put in a brief performance; I was looking right from the boardwalk where the hide used to be. Despite staying until 09:30, there was no further sight nor sound; the birds keeping their head down feeding I guess.

3-4 WATER RAILS called at various times, and the surprise of the morning was a WOODCOCK which flew over giving great views just before 09:00! (Ben Miller)

Weekend Highlights - LGRE Diary Notes

Today's weather has given me an ideal opportunity to try and catch up reading and writing emails......

Firstly, SUNDAY 7 NOVEMBER Diary Notes

A fairly pleasant day in terms of weather, with fairly fresh easterly winds, some light showers but mainly bright conditions.

CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS)

In the Chess Valley, 3 LITTLE EGRETS had returned by late afternoon, feeding together in the usual stream east of Bois Mill. There has been one bird present in the valley for nearly two months now.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)

Roy Hargreaves and David Bilcock had discovered a GREATER SCAUP from the Drayton Hide early morning. I got down there at about 1600 hours and after scanning the 90 or so Aythyas swimming and diving for food between the central bank and the tern rafts, soon located the bird. As usual, it was a first-winter female-type, with warm to dark brown brown overall body colouration, a darker head with a pale crescent below the lower ear covert and some restricted white at the base of the bill. There was a hint of some subtle grey tones coming through on the upperparts and alongside Tufted Ducks, the bird could be seen to be larger, with a much flatter head and thicker neck and a larger bill. The bill was grey with a slight black nail at the tip. When diving, it characteristically lifted its whole body out of the water and dived in, noticeably different to the diving action of the Tufted Ducks. David, as always, obtained images of the bird, two of which are displayed above. It represents the first in the county this year.

I then left the hide after carrying out an inventory of the birds in that quarter and walked back towards the car park, where I scrutinised the gull roost as well as counted the rest of the birds present.

Great Crested Grebe (18)
Little Grebe (3 tightly-knit together)
*BLACK-NECKED GREBE (the long-staying bird still present, favouring the section visible from the jetty)
Cormorant (35)
Mute Swan (25 including the 5 first-winters)
Whooper Swan (the two tame adults, now resorting to being fed on bread)
Greylag Goose (67)
Gadwall (21)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (only 3 drakes this evening)
Shoveler (114)
Eurasian Wigeon (103 - very small number for this time of year)
Common Teal (347+)
Northern Pochard (189)
Tufted Duck (263)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (1 female in front of the hide - DB had seen two)
Coot (433)
Lapwing (130)
European Golden Plover (228)
Black-headed Gull (1,672 roosted - perhaps the first time they have actually done so this autumn)
Common Gull (just 13 with the above)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (14 adults)
Common Kingfisher

SATURDAY 6 NOVEMBER

A beautiful day and surprisingly warm at times, despite the wind coming from the NW in the morning. Dry and sunny.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)
(1030-1130 hours)

Joined Charlie, Francis and Ian on the jetty from where I eventually tracked down the WATER PIPIT present for its second day. I heard it uttering its metallic, sharp, short 'vieeet' flight note as it circled around the jetty but despite attempting to, it refused to land and disappeared strongly away towards Startop's End.

Also noted were the BLACK-NECKED GREBE (showing very well, close inshore to the bank), 1 LITTLE EGRET, 14 NORTHERN PINTAILS (mainly drakes), a female GOOSANDER (my first at the reservoirs this year), a single DUNLIN on the spit, 2 Common Snipe, 3 adult Common Gulls and a flyover LESSER REDPOLL.

WALTON LAKE, OUZEL VALLEY PARK (NORTH BUCKS)

My first visit to this small reedbed reserve - super site. Paul Moon had discovered four BEARDED TITS at this site yesterday whilst I was away in the Republic of Ireland and this was my first opportunity to visit. Mike Wallen had glimpsed a female in the last hour or so and after walking the boardwalk and perimeter path and hearing just 3 WATER RAILS, I concentrated my efforts in the area around the bench on the south side which soon reaped rewards. The BEARDED TITS were calling but not showing so I cheated. The distinctive contact calls were played from the mobile and out they all come - a single male particularly showing well as he sat aloft one of the swaying reeds. All four birds were very close - perhaps 25 yards away - but despite that, once down in the reeds, very hard to locate. The flock comprised of two adult males and two female-types - and in the warm sunshine, looked exquisite. A charming species indeed.

The Bearded Tit was not admitted to the County List until 1959, when one was seen at Claydon Brook, near Winslow. This was followed by a party of 4 which wintered at Marsworth Reservoir, Tring, from 2 November 1959, occasionally straying into the Bucks section of reedbed by the Grand Union Canal.

There then followed another migrating party of 4 at Old Slade Gravel Pits on 1 January 1966 and it was this very same site that hosted a wintering bird in February and March 1967. Again, this was the favoured haunt of a wintering flock of up to 8 birds from 17 November 1971 to 14 March 1972, a male of which had been colour-ringed at Minsmere RSPB reserve on the Suffolk coast.

The Autumn of 1972 really did see an invasion of this species and was the first time that I had seen Bearded Tits in the area, with a huge flock of up to 33 birds in the Newport Pagnell Gravel Pits locale from 29 October onwards and a party of 4 at Weston Turville Reservoir reedbed from 15 November until at least 8 December. Four remained at Newport Pagnell until 4 February 1973.

Later in 1973, one was seen at Padbury on 28 October and a pair were again at Weston Turville on 31 October, and in 1974, one was at Thornborough throughout January and a pair were at a suitable breeding locality throughout April but were never proved breeding. That autumn saw more again at Weston Turville reedbed, with 2 on 19 October, increasing to 6 by 30 and to as many as 10 from 2 November when I visited. They remained until the year end, with 6 more (including 4 males) at Little Marlow Gravel Pits on 9-10 November.

Over that 1974/75 winter, a total of 12 Bearded Tits was ringed at Weston Turville reedbed, with 5 birds still being seen as late as 4 March and in 1976, birds returned again, with at least 5 present on 18 October, remaining until 6 November.

Henry Mayer-Gross heard one flying over near his home in Worlds End, Wendover, on 18 October 1977 and again, a female inhabited the Turville reedbed on 25-26 November. A party of 4 arrived at Old Slade NR on 29 November 1977, all staying until 1 December and then a lone female until Boxing Day. She was seen again on 1 & 10 January 1978. On 14 October 1978, Bob Tunnicliffe observed a pair near Bletchley.

The next party involved 5 at Weston Turville Reservoir on 15 October 1980 followed by another invasion of up to 24 at Old Slade from 16-22 February 1981. A pair was seen at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, on 30 October and 13 November 1983 and a female on 8 January and 11 February 1984., with a further cluster of sightings in 1986 - when four females were at Willen Lake on 19 October (with subsequent sightings of a male there on 3 November and a female next day) and two pairs were at Weston Turville from 30 October until at least Christmas Eve.

Bearded Tit occurrences then started to wane in the county and it was a species difficult-to-catch-up-with. 1988 saw 3 males at Willen lake on 23 October and a male at Calvert on 6 November, with two pairs at Weston Turville on 31 October to 1 November. This same site also hosted an adult male from 22 January to 20 February 1989 and a further 3 from 10-31 December 1992. On 30 October 1992, three flew high west over Linford NR.

The Turville three remained in the reedbed on and off until 6 March 1993, with a further pair being discovered by Rob Andrews at Hedgerley Tip on 4 December 1993. There then followed a male at Turville reedbed on 1 & 15 January 1994 and a very confiding male at Walton Balancing Lakes from 19-26 February 1994.

From then on, the status of this species in the county went pear-shaped, and in the New Millenium, the only sighting was of a female photographed at Wotton on 18 October 2002.

LINFORD NATURE RESERVE (NORTH BUCKS)

The three adult WHOOPER SWANS were asleep on the bund mid-afternoon, whilst otherwise just 28 Mute Swans, 11 Pochard, 16 Gadwall and a few Eurasian Wigeon were noted; plus a juvenile Great Crested Grebe still beinga ttended by the parent.

FOXCOTE RESERVOIR (NORTH BUCKS)

Andy Harding and I coincided our visit with an unfortunate afternoon shoot and consequently wildfowl were scattered everywhere. In a rush to beat them, I lost my beloved 30x wide angle lens, but miraculously relocated it after a lengthy search. The reason for my visit - Adam Bassett's SCAUP - did not realise, and after an exhaustive search of all wildfowl present, noted were 45 Mute Swans, 2 Common Teal, 228+ Eurasian Wigeon (nearer 300 in reality), 24 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 33 Tufted Duck, 13 Pochard, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYE (1 adult drake), 1 Dabchick, 6 Great Crested Grebes and 4 GREEN SANDPIPERS.

AYLESBURY COUNTY HALL (BUCKS)

One of the adult PEREGRINES chased and killed a Feral Pigeon and proceeded to pluck and eat it on one of the window ledges.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

BEARDED TITS still at Walton Lake

Four birds showing well from 08.30-08.50. Good views to the right from the end of the boardwalk. At 08.50 all four took off and gained height before heading off to the NW, just as they had done at the same time on Saturday - but higher - Peter Barnes

SCAUP still present


Tim Watts photographed the GREATER SCAUP at Foxcote Reservoir again this morning, despite the fact that Andy Harding and I could not locate it there yesterday afternoon. A drake Pintail was also there today, following a female yesterday. Also 4 Green Sandpipers.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

WHOOPERS arrive at Linford

A splendid north Bucks morning, starting with the 4 BEARDED TITS at Walton, showing well as they moved through the reeds right next to the boardwalk, calling repeatedly. Myself and Simon think there may - may - be a fifth bird in there, but as far as I'm aware the total thus far is still 4. Also 8 Siskin over, a few Redwing, and 3 Water Rail.

Moving to Linford, there was a Marsh Tit in the car park, 16 Snipe circled the lake several times before heading off towards Haversham Mill, and a flock of c12 Siskin also contained 2 Lesser Redpoll. Then scanning through the Mutes, I found 3 WHOOPER SWANS. They initially looked nervous, trumpeting away before flying off low west. Luckily they were only circuiting the lake, and they landed again in front of near hide, eventually looking a lot more settled. If we're lucky they'll spend a prolonged period of time in the Ouse valley.

Also at Linford, c160 migrating Woodpigeons, flying high south-west in 3 flocks, something I haven't paid too much attention to before. Excellent morning! Rob Hill

BEARDED TITS in Milton Keynes


Female Bearded Tit at Walton Balancing Lake 05/11/2010 13:31 - Car Park SP879369
Speaking with Nik Maynard about the news he said "What did you go there for!?!!?" - Well, Linford was dead yesterday, Walton's closer to work and I still needed Bittern for my Bucks year list - came my reply. As I started down the boardwalk from the small car park I flushed something small from the boardwalk edge which moved off into the reeds,but I could still hear it moving around? Don't think it was a bird as it didn't give any contact call as it was flushed? So had my hopes up it could have been a mammal....a Water Vole? or perhaps a Mink :-( ? Anyway I couldn't relocate it so started off further along the board walk and on to the viewing platform). From here, I could again sense something moving to my left through the reeds (but this animal/bird was the same as the previous - it would have had to have crossed the footpath leading off to the 2nd hide). I now started to track the twitching reeds as the creature moved around my left and closer to me. I then realised it was a bird as it started giving 'CHA - ing' calls, and with heart beat raised I started to think it didn't sound quite right for Bearded Tit - a shorter "ping"from memory? The reeds kept moving and I could track this as it moved across my position and away from me. Panicking that the bird was not going to show itself and the movement now going away from me I started 'pishing' the bird. Again it still kept moving away to about 10 metre. I noticed the reed stems getting shaken more and more, I could still hearsome "Cha-hing" calls as it went. So I finally used my bins as I'd been keeping them covered out of the rain, and started to track up the shaking reeds to finally see a female BEARDED TIT pop out on top of the Reed Mace between some greener leaved shrubs. This then moved off away from me, but at this point I'm sure I heard a 'second' contact call coming to the right of where that bird was (about 4 metres away). Then gone. No more views. (I then thought I heard 2 calls off to the right by the time Martin K and Rob N had arrived but they didn't).
UPDATE 14:39 Rob Norris is still on site and called to say he's heard two Bearded Tits calling and briefly seen one at distance moving amongst the reeds. The platform seems the best location - But please be very quiet once on site.
Boardwalk SP880370 (Paul Moon)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

WHOOPER SWAN still present

Foxcote; Adam' Bassetts probable fem Greater Scaup is still there. Viewed at long range in poor light but looked pretty good for true Scaup fem/imm to me. Aythya duck with rounded head, bigger than Coots, mantle dark brown, flanks rusty brown, cream patches at base of bill and cream ear patch. Bill looked wide with think smallish nail? Splash preened very vigorously on it's own, gave impression of powerful duck. Certainly not one of the female Tufty Scaup lookalikes that we get at Calvert and here but guess closer views needed to say for sure.We need an expert to have a look!!

Hillesden; adult WHOOPER SWAN still with Greylag Goose flock feeding in crop field to right of pools / 18 Wigeon/3 Little Grebe

Calvert; quick look at early part of gull pre-roost- 1 ad Y.L.Gull and 3rd W presumed Y.L.G, say presumed cos it's head shape and eye, jizz look strange to me!!

Gallows bridge farm; quiet start but livened up when 2 Sparrowhawks hunted stubble field next to cark park and then spotted a Peregrine sat in main meadow! Peregrine powered off and put everything up, seen again in high speed chase low over meadow; didn't see it make a kill but landed to rest/roost on Pylon by A41. Also seen, c 400 Lapwing but not a single Golden Plover/ c400 Starling/c 60 Linnet/c80 ducks put up, mostly Mallard but c 20 Teal and 3 other slimline ducks (Tim Watts)

OSPREY again

Bob and Trish Tunnicliffe had the OSPREY again yesterday, at Willen Lake At around 1330 hours, it just flew over - came in from a generally easterly direction and headed off south west - flying pretty low.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Late GARGANEY still at Foxcote

The GARGANEY was still present this morning, 1st Nov. along the far side to the right of the hide below the feeder. It was not seen in flight. Although a distant view I think it is a female due to its pale face, distinct pale supercillium and pale buff breast.

The scaup type thingy was also present but it looks to me like a hybrid. It had dirty-white under-tail coverts mottled with dark grey, fairly uniform light brown flanks with a warmer brown area to the rear. The back was dark greyish brown with at some angles paler grey feathers on the upper back. The breast was warm brown as was the head but with a paler forehead. The white areas either side of the bill base were a creamy-white. The eye was dark with no hint of yellow iris. The head shape was good for Greater Scaup in being rounded and slightly flattish on the crown and with no hint of a crest. The bill was broad and pale-blueish grey with an indistinct smudgy nail.It did little but sleep and popped its head up once and was on the water below the gate on the far bank to the right of the hide.

No sign of the Northern Pintail nor of the RND. Two male and one female Goldeneye present along with two Green Sandpipers, several hundred Wigeon and a gathering of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, etc. (Ken Earnshaw)

30 October - CASPIAN GULL at Calvert

Decided to check out the gull roost at Calvert this evening and so a stopoff at Gallows Bridge is an added excuse these days. I pulled up at the entrance and as soon as I got out the car there were birds everywhere, all along the entrance track hedge and flying up from theadjacent stubble field. They were mostly Chaffinches but, to my delight, also a few TREE SPARROWS. I managed to perch up on top of the gatepost and scan the flock as they dropped back into the stubble and soon realised there were more sparrows than I first thought. At least 18 were on the ground or in the roadside hedge but there were probably more hidden. It's many years since I've sen this number in Bucks. This field looks superb at the moment with a large flock of Linnets, Starlings and Skylarks. It would be nice if they attracted Tim's Merlin back again for the winter. The pools and main field were quiet with just a few Fieldfare and 100 LesserBB Gulls. A flock of c300 Golden Plover and 400 Lapwing were in flight over Grendon Underwood.

I moved on to Calvert where the gull roost was starting to build up in front of the 2nd hide and included at least 5 Yellow-legged Gulls. I was joined by Warren Claydon who soon found a CASPIAN GULL in the flock. It was quite adult like but the bill markings and dark in the primary coverts showed some immaturity so was probably a fourth winter (Rob Andrews)

WHOOPER SWAN at Hillesden

30 October - Calvert; noticable influx of Blackbirds in scrub/ 2 Goldcrests/3 Jays

Hillesden; adult WHOOPER SWAN on main pool veiwable from the track, it looked settled, feeding with Mutes.

Gallows bridge farm; c400 Golden Plover/c 500 Lapwing in flight over adjacent crop fields. 5 TREE SPARROWS on cut hedge by car park briefly also Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, House Sparrows on same hedge; 2 flocks of Linnets combined occasionally c 200 (Tim Watts)

Monday, 25 October 2010

First BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS of the autumn

Bob Tunnicliffe has had 3 WAXWINGS briefly along the River Ouse by the Iron Trunk bridge , Near Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes. However there are no berries there , so presumed to have moved on (per Simon Nichols).

There was also a LAPLAND BUNTING present at Ivinghoe Hills briefly yesterday morning (David Bilcock) and another at Dorney Return Rowing Lakes yesterday afternoon and this morning (Russell Ness)

Friday, 22 October 2010

BLACK REDSTARTS in Aylesbury

Two BLACK REDSTARTS remain for at least their seventh day today on rough ground behind the Chiltern View Garden Centre just off of the A413 between Aylesbury and Wendover. They are actually spending most of their time flitting between the two parked lorries and outbuilding on private land adjacent to the Triangle Business Park and are extremely elusive. The site is strictly private property and should only be entered if access has been allowed by James Bone or his associates at the Fireworks kiosk at the entrance.

The LAPLAND BUNTING - a superb selection of images taken by Ashley Stowe
















Thursday, 21 October 2010

LAPLAND BUNTING still present today

I got to the site about 16:30 and met up with Joel Lund who had dipped with me on Tuesday. After hearing that Dave Cleal had seen the bird around midday, I gave him a call and he said the bird had been about 5-6 yards past the kissing gate. He stressed just how difficult the bird was to see and that you had to scan the stubble with binoculars to locate it. Even then it was difficult.
This was exactly what Mike Collard had said the day before.

So Joel and I started scanning the close stubble either side of the kissing gate and about 10 minutes later Joel spotted a movement which turned out to be the LAPLAND BUNTING. Hooray!! In the middle of this Peter Stanford also turned up, so three of us watched the bird until just before 17:45. It was incredibly hard to see and if you looked away it was difficult to relocate.

It was almost directly opposite the kissing gate at the end of the shorthedgerow. The bird was about 20 feet from the path and in amongst somegrass shoots which made it more difficult. So the bird had moved just 5-6yards since lunchtime. Just as I was leaving with Peter Stanford a Sparrowhawk crossed the field close to the spot where the bird was, but fortunately flew past. Also a Common Raven heard and seen briefly (Jim Rose).

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

BLACK REDSTARTS in Stoke Mandeville

A male and female BLACK REDSTART is still feeding from the spoil heaps, sheds and blue container behind garden centre in Stoke Mandeville, present since at least last Friday

RING-NECKED DUCK back at Foxcote

The drake RING-NECKED DUCK is back at Foxcote--asleep on the far side opposite the hide at 17:30. Also 2 Green Sandpipers, a drake Goldeneye and a good gathering of gulls:-LBBG 660; BHG 350; Common Gull c25; Herring Gull 3. (Phil Tizzard)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

LAPLAND BUNTING near Saunderton - 17-18 October

At 5.30pm tonight (17 October), Warren Claydon found a LAPLAND BUNTING at Lodge Hill Farm in an adjoining stubble field. I was watching one of the goals of the season, so trying to listen to directions as I was jumping up and down was not that easy. Eventually Rose and I managed to get there to see Warren kneeling down on a footpath at the edge of the field; we scanned at a distance and could not locate the bird, until we realised it was feeding in the stubble about 10 feet from us! Stunning views and no camera.

We crept along just about on our hands and knees until we met up with Warren to listen to his story. We watched it for about 10 minutes until it slowly walked further away and the light faded. He had flushed a bird earlier in the afternoon as he had walked the footpath which he thought was a Lapper but when he went back later, it was flushed again a couple of feet from the footpath; Warren did not hear it call; he had watched it for about 45 minutes and it had remained in the same area.

Directions; park at SU 803 983 on Haw Lane ( room for 3 cars ) and walk NW along the footpath/ private road until you get to the farm; turn left and after you have gone through metal kissing gates and past three very noisy dogs, turn left and up the footpath by the edge of the stubble (Mike Collard)

The bird was still present on Monday morning, showing down to just a few feet. It was a first-winter female and had a mite infestation giving it some discomfort around the eyes. It remained until late morning but was then lost (Lee Evans)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

RED KNOT present for a fourth day

The RED KNOT was still at Manor Farm, Milton Keynes, mid-morning today for its fourth day. It has now also been joined by a DUNLIN this morning, plus one of the regular Green Sandpipers was also on the small pool with it (Ben Miller)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Saturday 25 September: A displacement of NORTHERN GANNETS

A wave of juvenile NORTHERN GANNETS was recorded in North Buckinghamshire on Saturday afternoon, involving at least 13 individuals.

Tim Watts saw one circle Gallows Bridge Water Meadows at 1111 hours, followed by 4 west over Steeple Claydon allotments at 1515 (John O'Dwyer). Nik Maynard then had 7 together north of Milton Keynes and then another appeared at roost time at Calvert BBOWT Lake at 1810 (Tim Watts, Warren Claydon and Colin Oram)

These birds were all part of a widespread displacement of Gannets throughout the country following force 10 NNW gales.

MANX SHEARWATER in Aylesbury Town Centre


Last Thursday, this exhausted MANX SHEARWATER was picked up in Aylesbury Town Centre (per Simon Nichols)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

WRYNECK braves the rain







Quite unexpectedly, the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK refused to take advantage of last night's calm weather and relatively clear skies and was still present this morning when Mick McQuaid paid homage to this very welcome visitor. It had to brave some very torrential rain and electric storms though but was still present at dusk this evening and once more roosted in its favoured Beech tree. This is its fourth day of residence. Martin Parr obtained another selection of great images today, which are uploaded above.

DIRECTIONS: Leave Wendover town centre westwards on the Ellesborough Road and just after passing the last few cottages on the right, park sensibly and courteously at the first bend in the road (at SP 864 074) (please note that there is only room for five cars to park here, so if full, there is a further parking area 70 yards further east). Take the chalk track towards the Bacombe Hill Nature Reserve and opt for the steeper left hand track which takes you to the tumulus after a hefty 250 yard uphill climb. The Wryneck is favouring the tumuli, where generally it affords viewing at less than 15 yards range (SP 862 072)

WRYNECK - a big thankyou from Ben

I just wanted to send an email of thanks to all involved in sharing the Wonderful Wendover WRYNECK. It’s a cracking little bird that has brought enjoyment and pleasure to many, and it is great to see so many cracking photos on the website so we can all remember it – when it finally does go!

So, thanks to Dave Parmenter and Mike Collard for the find and getting the news out initially, then Lee for helping clarify the directions, and then all the people who have sent updates and texts, and helped people get onto the bird, particularly Simon, Mike and Lee who have co-ordinated and broadcast many of the updates.For some people this bird has been their first ever Wryneck, for others a much-awaited Bucks tick, whilst for others their best ever views of an often secretive species. For everyone, though, a wonderful local bird - so, thanks again to all those involved in sharing this bird. Cheers & Good Birding, Ben Miller

A deluge of rain and BLACK TERNS

At least 13 BLACK TERNS arrived at Little Marlow Spade Oak Pit this evening (Adam Bassett) whilst Simon Nichols got word of a moribund MANX SHEARWATER picked up on Thursday in Aylesbury Town Centre (more news to follow later on this incredible record)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

....And another batch from TONY HOWELL











And now more wonderful images of the WRYNECK from Tony Howell







GRAEME LECKIE'S WRYNECK shots




































Hertfordshire-based birder Graeme Leckie provided this portfolio of Bacomb Hill WRYNECK images.

Should I Stay or Should I Go ?




That was the dilemma facing the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK this evening. After leaving the Ivinghoe Hills late afternoon, I returned once more to Bacomb, where from 1700 hours until dusk the bird was still showing exceptionally well, often down to just a few feet. It was once against commuting between the numerous active anthills on the tumulus and spent over two hours moving just 25 yards ! It was feeding voraciously and endlessly, probing its bill and then extending its tongue into the anthills and eating ant after ant, as well as the occasional Cranefly snatched from the ground. Well camouflaged, it fed without regard for its safety and was again enjoyed by large numbers of admirers - perhaps a further 80 observers before the sun faded (including several pin-stripe suited birders from Central London taking advantage of the Metropolitan line). Even birding royalty paid it homage today - a certain CDRH snooping by to take a look.

This really has been one of the birding events of all-time in Buckinghamshire - such a well-loved, well-enjoyed and cripplingly-showing rarity. Once again, I ensured its safety until dark, making sure it roosted safely in its chosen Beech tree for a fourth night (a bird such as this could be a sitting target for a local Sparrowhawk). It flew to roost at 1915 hours and kept on feeding until just seconds before. It must be really heavy by now after consuming so many ants. As darkness fell, it was another calm evening, although quite cloudy, with a light SSW wind - pretty ideal leaping conditions - but not as ideal as the last two moonlit nights.

Interestingly, viz-mig was still underway late this evening, with 11 Meadow Pipits south, and a total of 89 European Barn Swallows.

Prior to my visit to Wendover, I had tried to emulate Mike Wallen, who well-deservedly found the county's first migrant EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD of the year - a fine adult that must have roosted overnight at Ivinghoe - which flew off south shortly after dawn.

I put in a long spell of sky-watching over Ivinghoe Beacon but it was dire - virtually nothing moving apart from local breeding raptors and large numbers of Meadow Pipits and hirundines. I was certainly expecting an Osprey at the very least, especially considering the wind veering from light SSE during the late morning. Another bird I was keen to see was Mike's COMMON STONECHAT - but again no joy and believe it or not, I have still to see one in Bucks this year after they were hit for six during last winter's freeze-up.

Tony Howell obtained some awesome images of the Wryneck whilst with me on Tuesday and over the next few days I shall upload many of them on to my local blogs. If anyone else would like to showcase their images of this beauty, please do not hesitate to email me them - this really is a bird to be proud of photographing. A real treasure.

HONEY BUZZARD is early riser

A brilliant morning, and at last a really good bird for the hills this Autumn. Highlight was without doubt an adult EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD which appeared soaring very low ( maybe 60- 80ft ) on the East side of Steps hill at 0645am, several minutes before the sun came up. I suspect that it had just left its roost, as it thermalled up, but only enough to clear the hill, and then flew SSW over Steps Hill. If I'd been in the car park at the time it would have been straight overhead. Seems really early to get raptors but both Common Buzzard and Red Kite were hunting within minutes of this bird.Passage of other stuff was not heavy this morning, a Reed Bunting ( not the Lapland yet !! ) passed over calling, mipits were low in number. 5 'alba' wagtails went over, but three of these together were seen really well and were Whites; several decent Skylark and Hirundine flocks.

A COMMON STONECHAT was on the fenceline on the Beacon.

At Startops Reservoir ( Herts ), no waders, but an obvious influx of 'aythia' duck with 29 Pochard and another increase in the Tufteds; still 2 Red-crested Pochard (Mike Wallen)

Nearby, Rob Andrews recorded a NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Pitstone Hill and the COMMON GREENSHANK was still present in the Quarry.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Wryneck at Bacomb Hill, Wendover

I should just like to thank the many of you that have either phoned or written to commend me on the help and advice given over the Wryneck - it is very much appreciated - and I am more than willing to help out at any time. It is therefore quite distressing to hear of the nonsensical tirade directed at me by a number of members of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club email group. I think I have a little more experience of migrant Wrynecks than most people and certainly know how best to consider the welfare of any bird. What I did find most distasteful was when I was originally trying to locate the bird from appalling directions on its first day, two BBC members let me walk back and forth past them without notifying me of the bird's presence - that's selfishness for you. Talking about me on an email group of which I have no direct access is also cowardly.

A Day in the life of a migrant WRYNECK

Disappointed with a no-show of a Bobolink in South Wales this morning, I decided to spend the day watching the Bacombe Hill Wryneck and viz-migging. It was a glorious day, with wall-to-wall sunshine, mainly clear skies and light southerly winds. I arrived on site at about 10.30am and remained until dusk, during which time the Wryneck was admired by a total of 86 people, including visitors from as far afield as Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey. Numerous individuals phoned me during the day, keen to see such a showy and charismatic bird and I agreed to stay on to keep tabs on it, with Rob Hill, Nik Maynard, Paul Moon and Darin Stanley all arriving late in the day.

The bird fed voraciously throughout the entire period of my stay, mainly feeding on the infestation of ants around the tumulus. Like many migrant Wrynecks, it was almost totally oblivious to visitors, wandering around the grass in the manner of a Lapland Bunting or Tree Pipit, and often at just feet range. Occasionally it would wander into more dense vegetation and to avoid losing it, I kept with it so that I could direct all further visitors (one ignorant bystander interpreted this as flushing the bird). It did flush on two brief occasions when it settled for a while in its roost Beech tree but throughout the afternoon, it moved slowly around its chosen circuit, barely moving more than 15 yards, and delighted observers with its comical antics. What a truly charasmatic bird and a wonder to watch. It finally went to roost in its favoured shrub at 1910 hours.

DIRECTIONS: Literally on the western outskirts of Wendover town, park on the first sharp right hand bend on the Ellesborough Road (room for just 5 vehicles) and continue along the footpath to the first gate and take the left hand of three tracks running parallel with the Ridgeway Trail. After 300 yards, this upper track brings you out at the tumuli.

It was an excellent day for migration and I was mightily impressed with the diurnal passage, with birds migrating south direct in a line from the Quainton Hills. The largest numbers were of the hirundines, with some 116 European Barn Swallows recorded, and 15 House Martins. Next off were the raptors, with a total of 22 Common Buzzards south (including a single kettle of 15 juveniles) and a single HOBBY. Five Red Kites also drifted over but they were more than likely local birds.

The best was a party of 6 SISKINS - my first of the autumn - with a final tally of 16 Chaffinches (mostly singletons but moving south throughout the day) and 3 Eurasian Skylarks. A single YELLOW WAGTAIL also went south.

In the scrub were 3+ MARSH TITS, several Coal Tits and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

WRYNECK still present at Baombe Hill




The Bacombe Hill WRYNECK remains today, showing well on the tumulus (photographs by kind courtesy of Ben Miller and Ian Williams)

Monday, 20 September 2010

WRYNECK present until dusk











The WRYNECK remained on view at Bacombe Hill, Wendover, until dusk, allowing 35 birders to connect before dark, including both photographers Ashley Stowe and Ian Williams.