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, 30 January 2010


A male BLACK REDSTART was discovered this morning in Aylesbury, favouring the gardens and parking area of 49-47 Buckingham Road (accessed from Lucky Lane) - the first of this species in Buckinghamshire this year.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Walton Balancing Lakes BITTERN

Since the discovery of a BITTERN at Walton Balancing Lake, I've been meaning to head down after work as it's only about 2 minutes away. However, since then I've had to work overtime for every daylight hour - it's a busy time!

Finally today I got off work at 4 and was in two minds whether to go or not. I decided I still had 45 minutes of daylight or so (Spring is finally on the way) so I headed down. I stood for about 10 minutes watching the Magpies come in to roost - about 45 or more - and small brown birds drop into the reedbed. Just then a noise made me look out over the reeds and there was the a large brown bird rather clumsily rising from the reeds. My bins on quickdraw around my neck I got a view for about 2 or 3 seconds - unmistakably a BITTERN!

So my first [brief] encounter with a bittern and what a fantastic feeling! (Mac)


A pair of COMMON CROSSBILLS were showing well,feeding in the Larch trees by Woburn Golf Club this lunchtime. They obviously like these trees because this is where I saw them in November.

There was no sign of the Walton Balancing Lakes Bittern between 4 and 5 tonight but at least 50 Magpies in the roost (Rob Norris)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

LITTLE OWL surprise record at Willen

Most unexpected bird this morning was a Little Owl, present at the North End of the North Lake near the inlet. Only found because it was being mobbed by every small bird for miles.

A Cettis Warbler showed very well in the reeds right out in front of the Hide, a Common Redshank was on the scrape and there were 3 Goosander by the island.

In Alders along the top of the South Lake were 7 Lesser Redpoll. 2 female Red-crested Pochard were just off the Bandstand. There were at least 18 Common Goldeneye on the South Lake and there were a flock of around 60 Siskin in Alders in the grounds of Unisys in the South East corner (Rob Norris)

43 county MANDARIN DUCKS accounted for.....and a bounty full of COMMON CROSSBILLS


Up until early afternoon, it was freezing, with a raw wind keeping temperatures below 3 degrees C. Then, as the afternoon progressed, a 'warm front' crossed the region bringing overcast conditions and light rain, and a rise of four degrees.

I spent the day local, primarily with the aim of censusing the Mandarin Duck population in South Bucks.


The woodland held Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tits, Jay and Long-tailed Tits, with the Upper Lake harbouring an excellent count of 30 MANDARIN DUCKS (exactly 15 pairs), now that the ice has melted.


The main lake held a total of 13 MANDARIN DUCKS (7 drakes), along with 2 adult Mute Swans, 66 Mallard, 9 Northern Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck and 36 Coots.

Just NW of the car park, in the Larches and Conifers, Geoff Young, his brother and I enjoyed fabulous views of a marvellous flock of finches, including 29 COMMON CROSSBILLS (including 16 males), 37 SISKIN, 12 LESSER REDPOLL and 3 Goldfinch. A Eurasian Sparrowhawk shot through the canopy and panicked the birds in all directions.

Two GOLDCREST were also encountered, as well as 2 Jays, 2 Fieldfares and Great Spotted Woodpecker.


An excellent crop of wildfowl on the main lake just SW of Low Farm, including 14 Atlantic Canada Geese, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), 30 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Shoveler, 1 Common Teal and 4 Tufted Ducks, along with 1 Moorhen and 2 Coot, whilst the gull roost held a single adult Great Black-backed Gull, a single adult argenteus Herring Gull and 57 Common Gulls. There was also a flock of 30 Redwing present.


Again, no sign of the Great White Egret in a very extensive search but 7 LITTLE EGRETS seen, with 1 in the stream by Bois Mill Lake, 2 around Latimer Bridge, 2 by Chenies Bottom Bridge with one fishing on the river inside Mill Farm House garden and a 7th at the Crestyl Watercress Beds.

A GREEN SANDPIPER was also showing well for a second day at the Watercress Beds, the first COMMON SNIPE of the year also being seen by JT yesterday.

Mute Swans (6 adults on the river at Chenies Bottom, with another adult at Latimer Bridge, a territorial pair on Bois Mill Lake and a further adult close to the cressbed)
Grey Heron (2)
COMMON TEAL (2 at Church Covert LNR - the only reliable site for this species in the valley)
Mallard (4 at Church Covert LNR)
Red Kite (1)
Common Kestrel (1 hunting over Mill Farm Meadow)
Moorhen (8 at the Watercress Bed)
WATER RAIL (1 in Church Covert)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (2 at the orchid reserve)
Green Woodpecker (1 at Church Covert)
Wren (2)
Common Blackbird (6 in the hedgerow bordering the cressbed)
Redwing (just 1 noted - in Church Covert)
Common Magpie (9 together at Church Covert)
Long-tailed Tit (7)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Today's News

In North Bucks, the drake RING-NECKED DUCK was seen at Foxcote, the juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL pre-roosted on the BBOWT Lake at Calvert and the two adult WHOOPERS were again at Blackthorn Meadows, just 100 yards over the border in Oxfordshire.

A flock of 29 COMMON CROSSBILLS remain in Black Park.

Blackthorn Whooper images by kind courtesy of Adam Hartley

Monday, 25 January 2010

Birding in the Brickhills

This lunchtime there were 2 BRAMBLINGS, both female on the side of the road near to Bow Brickhill Church.

A notable flock of 36 Lesser Redpolls were feeding in a Silver Birch near to the Giant Redwoods on the track down to the pond, with another 3 near to the Golf Clubhouse.Lots of Coal Tits around with several Goldcrest a couple of Treecreepers and Nuthatch seen (Rob Norris)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Emberton Park today

A total of 16 GOOSANDER present on the Sailing Lake - 7 males, 9 females.

Also a drake MANDARIN DUCK in the vicinity of the hide. Viewed from the opposite bank. Very wary as it disappeared into the overhanging undergrowth when someone started feeding the Mallards (Robert Norris)


Full details on the Calvert blog -

Friday, 22 January 2010

A round up of North Bucks - Rob Norris

I visited a few sites this morning:

Manor Farm: 3 LITTLE EGRETS were in the field on the other side of the river from the Haversham end before I even got out of the car. The first pit you reach from this end held 7 Pochard and a GREEN SANDPIPER. I also saw the same or another GS further up the river on the way back. The main pit held nothing more exciting than a few Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. Up towards the west end after the metal gate I followed the line of pollarded Willows and accidently flushed a LITTLE OWL and then 50 yards further on a BARN OWL - the latter gave excellent views as it flew right around the main lake persued by a few Black headed Gulls.

Gayhurst Fishing Lakes (near the Church). The numerous alder trees around the lakes contained about 8 SISKINS, including some some smart black capped males, feeding with Goldfinches.

Olney Meadows: I was pleased to see the pair of COMMON STONECHAT that had been present since before Christmas had survived the cold snap and were feeding around the pond area.

Olney Mill: Two flocks of Canada Geese were the only things of note. However the flock of around 20 about 400 yards from the Mill contained the regular SMALL CANADA GOOSE, and the other flock of 73 near the Mill contained a very interesting Goose. Smaller than a Barnacle Goose. Cute face like a Barnacle with a smallish beak, the white on it's head starts just under the chin and goes to just above the beak, i.e. more than a Canada and less than a Barnacle. The body was brownish like the Canadas it was with. The main thing that stood out about it though was it's size -it's tiny! I wonder if it is a hybrid between a Barnacle and the Small Race Canada.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Firstr LESSER SPOT of year

Dave Cleal enjoyed great views of a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER along Green Lane at Cliveden this afternoon, the first to be recorded in the county this year.

A party of 5 Mandarin Ducks at Shardeloes Lake were also the first since the freeze.


A walk around Stowe today produced 10 GOOSANDER on the (still mainly frozen) lake and a mixed flock of Siskins and Goldfinch feeding in alders. However I didn't see or hear a single Wren, so suspect they have been badly hit by the recent cold weather (Phil Tizzard)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Wotton Lakes

Wotton Lakes is a superb location and today 2 adult WHOOPER SWANS were present and 7 GOOSANDER - well worth visiting whenever you get the opportunity.

Report of rare thrush in the county

A member of the public reported a Black-throated Thrush in Beaconsfield on 12 January, according to an unreliable source.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Again no sign of Bittern at Walton Balancing Lakes

At Caldecotte Lake this afternoon, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 1f Goosander, 5 Dabchick, and 108 Greenfinch in the roost by the sailing club.

At Walton BL no sign of the Bittern by dusk, although there were 4 Water Rail, and a minimum 73 Magpies roosted there (Rob Hill)


5 PINTAIL on the ice at Linford Reserve was the highlight of a difficult and incomplete WeBs count today. I diverted (because of floods) past Newport and the goose flock there consisted of 238 Greylag and 170 Canadas (per Andy Harding)

'Wellies' required at Gayhurst

If anyone's thinking of going to Gayhurst Quarry, be sure to take your wellies or preferably waders. It is as flooded as I've ever seen it, with the bottom end of Spinney Pit impassable. The Geese were all feeding in the field below Fishing Pit and numbered about 300. After texting Paul Moon I found another PINTAIL - so 1 drake and 2 females - the only Pintails in Buckinghamshire at present. Again there are masses of waterfowl on Motorway Pit including 166 Mute Swans. I also had 1 Little Egret and 7 Bullfinches (Rob Norris)

Pagnell WHITE-FRONT now at Gayhurst

The adult EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE is with Greylag Geese at Gayhurst Quarry today (per Rob Norris), whilst the 2 adult WHOOPER SWANS are in fields near Hillesden Church and 5 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remain on Calvert BBOWT (per Tim Watts). An adult CASPIAN GULL also roosted.

In South Bucks today, the adult drake SMEW remains at Thorney Park, Iver.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

No North Bucks Bittern

I met up briefly with Rob Norris this afternoon to check the reedbeds along the west side of the north lake at Willen. By 1620 we had not seen any Bitterns but did notch up – 3 Little Grebe, 3 drake Goosander roosting on the ice, 2 Greater Black Backed Gulls, 1 female Goldeneye amongst good numbers of wildfowl. A Common Redshank flew in and landed on the ice and walked amongst the geese and ducks standing on the ice. Rob earlier had at least 2 Water Rails near the sluice (in the North West corner) and 1 male Reed Bunting. Finally we had amazing views of a Water Rail walking on the ice near the duck feeding/fishing platform eating crumbs of bread put down by a family, obviously the bird was very hungry and not bothered by us stood nearby. Lastly, travelling East along the H6 at 16:40 I again spotted the Loughton Starling flock displaying over the Equestrian Centre, estimate 1 to 2000? birds at least (Paul Moon)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Drake SMEW

At Thorney Park today, the adult drake SMEW is still present, as well as a pair of GOOSANDER.

Two BITTERNS and 3 Water Rails remain at Weston Turville Reservoir, and both PEREGRINES can be seen on Aylesbury County Hall building.

At Calvert, the 16 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL and 2nd-winter CASPIAN GULL are all still present.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Story So Far - 108 species

With 13 days down, Buckinghamshire has played host to a total of 108 species thus far in 2010. I have managed to see 88 of these.

1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Little Grebe
3) Atlantic Great Cormorant
4) EURASIAN BITTERN (4 birds, including 2 at WTR and singles at Linford NR and Marsworth Reservoir)
6) Grey Heron
7) Mute Swan
8) WHOOPER SWAN (2 adults at Calvert Sailing Lake)
9) BEWICK'S SWAN (1 adult at Calvert BBOWT)
10) EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (adult at Newport Pagnell)
11) Greylag Goose (Category C)
12) Atlantic Canada Goose (Category C)
13) Egyptian Goose (Category C)
14) Mallard
15) Gadwall
17) Shoveler
18) Eurasian Wigeon
19) Common Teal
20) Pochard
21) RED-CRESTED POCHARD (16 at Calvert BBOWT and at least three in MK)
22) Tufted Duck
23) RING-NECKED DUCK (adult drake at Foxcote Reservoir)
24) Common Goldeneye
25) SMEW (4 recorded, with single drakes at Willen North and Thorney CP, Iver, and 2 redheads at Caldecott Lake)
26) GOOSANDER (25+ mainly in North Bucks)
27) RUDDY DUCK (1 at Calvert Sailing Lake)
28) Red Kite
29) Common Buzzard
30) Eurasian Sparrowhawk
31) Common Kestrel
32) PEREGRINE (4+)
33) Red-legged Partridge (Category C)
34) Grey Partridge
35) Common Pheasant (Category C)
36) Water Rail
37) Moorhen
38) Coot
39) European Golden Plover
40) Lapwing
41) Green Sandpiper (1)
42) Common Redshank (College Lake)
43) EURASIAN CURLEW (1 flyover)
44) Woodcock
45) Common Snipe
46) Black-headed Gull
47) Common Gull
48) MEDITERRANEAN GULL (adult at Marlow GP)
49) Herring Gull
50) CASPIAN GULL (4 records mostly at Calvert)
51) YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (Calvert Lakes)
52) Lesser Black-backed Gull
53) Great Black-backed Gull
54) GLAUCOUS GULL (single juvenile at Calvert)
55) Stock Dove
56) Woodpigeon
57) Eurasian Collared Dove
58) Tawny Owl
59) Barn Owl
60) Little Owl (Category C)
61) Common Kingfisher
62) Ring-necked Parakeet (Category C)
63) Green Woodpecker
64) Great Spotted Woodpecker
65) Eurasian Skylark
66) Meadow Pipit
67) Pied Wagtail
68) Grey Wagtail
69) Wren
70) Dunnock
71) European Robin
72) Common Stonechat
73) Song Thrush
74) Redwing
75) Mistle Thrush
76) Fieldfare
77) Common Blackbird
78) Blackcap (10+)
80) Goldcrest
81) FIRECREST (2 in Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield)
82) Great Tit
83) Blue Tit
84) Coal Tit
85) Marsh Tit
86) Long-tailed Tit
87) Nuthatch
88) Common Treecreeper
89) Common Magpie
90) Jay
91) Jackdaw
92) Rook
93) Carrion Crow
94) COMMON RAVEN (16+)
95) Common Starling
96) House Sparrow
97) Chaffinch
98) BRAMBLING (peak of 83 in Penn Wood)
99) Linnet
101) Goldfinch
102) Greenfinch
103) Siskin
104) Bullfinch
105) COMMON CROSSBILL (5 in Penn Wood)
106) Reed Bunting
107) Yellowhammer
108) CORN BUNTING (48+)

Also recorded

109) FERRUGINOUS DUCK (escaped drake on Jubilee River at Dorney)

Another wave of heavy snow in the Chilterns

Present now for a fourth day, the Thorney drake SMEW is the fourth individual in the county already this year. Andrew Moon took this excellent photograph above.


Another bout of heavy snow fell overnight, once again leaving roads in this area extremely treacherous. Snow continued falling until early afternoon but then petered out, with temperatures remaining stable at 2 degrees C. Both Bell Lane and Stoney Lane hills were particularly bad. I managed to get out and check a few sites.


A SONG THRUSH feeding on the apples was a first in the garden for this year.


There was no sign of the two male Firecrests in their usual area. In fact, small birds were very hard to come by in the snow-covered woodland. A Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker seemed to be feeding in tandem, whilst 15 Redwing and a Song Thrush were feeding in the thawing leaf litter beneath the larger bushes. A couple of Jays were also noted.


Where have all the Mandarin Ducks gone? None to be found whatsoever but hardly surprising considering the conditions. The biggest surprise was a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE flying over - my first of the year (125), whilst 9 Mallard were on the lower pond. A LESSER REDPOLL was noted, as well as 2 Coal Tits.

The number of dogs being lost of late in the snow is alarming, two desperate owners returning for a second day in hope of reuniting. Perhaps the snow cover affects the senses.


The adult drake SMEW was showing very well at the north end of the lake (present for its 4th day), the ice-free location also harbouring 22 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Gadwall, 34 Tufted Ducks and 56 Coot. A Sparrowhawk flew over, with a COMMON KINGFISHER fishing on the river.


Very bizarrely, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding at the side of the busy A413 opposite the Water Hall, seemingly attracted to the slush and salt. I have never seen such behaviour before in this species.


The wintering GREEN SANDPIPER was showing very well from Latimer Bridge, feeding on the floating vegetation, along with the single LITTLE EGRET and 2 Little Grebes.

The river on the west side of the bridge supported the continuing first-winter Mute Swans and 9 Tufted Ducks, whilst 6 adult COMMON GULLS were among Black-headed Gulls standing on the ice.

A total of 3 Common Buzzards were overseeing the valley, perched in tall trees, with a single Sparrowhawk also seen. Latimer Hall grounds held Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and displaying Stock Dove, with the ice-free part of Great Water holding 8 adult Mute Swans and 39 diving duck (12 Tufted Duck and 27 Northern Pochard).

There was paw evidence of Badger activity at the large sett.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Foxcote in the freeze

Foxcote Reservoir was still largely covered with ice this afternoon, except for two patches of open water; one in front of the hide and one close to the east shore, which was where the majority of the action was. Here there were 108 Wigeon, 52 Mallard and single figure counts of Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal and Goldeneye, plus 211 Coots. The patch in front of the hide held 8 Common Goldeneye plus two drake GOOSANDERS which came in and left again after 15 mins. An odd sight was a Great Crested Grebe, which repeatedly got up "on its hind legs" to walk across the ice! (Phil Tizzard)

Drake SMEW for second day near Iver

A drake SMEW is present for its second day at Thorney Country Park at TQ 047 790 (per Sue Giddens)

Thorney CP is just inside Bucks, along Thorney Mill Rd near Richings Park. It is part of the wider Colne Valley regional Park. TQ047790.

There is the brook and a small pond, and some dispersed bushes making it a good spot for a variety of commoner species. Due to problems with travellers, I find the car park is often unavailable but there are usually small pull-in areas near the gate you can use, and pedestrians can walk in at that point. It is run by Bucks CC and is about 20acres in size, created by extraction of minerals for M25 construction (contributed by Brian Clews)

Monday, 11 January 2010


For the third day running, up to 16 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS have remained on Calvert BBOWT Lake, along with this very dark and british juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL (images by Adam Hartley)

Sunday, 10 January 2010


10/01 15:00 : 2 BITTERNS still : Weston Turville Reservoir. Certainly 2 birds present. 4/5 sightings over a period of about two and a half hours (in flight and on the ground) but all relatively brief. Just before dusk there were six of us gathered in the hide, including Mike and Rose Collard. (Jim Rose)

....and GOOSANDERS in North Bucks

Ben very kindly emailed me these images of GOOSANDER obtained today on the River Ouse at Newport Pagnell where up to 9 of these splendid birds is fishing.

More SMEW in North Bucks

Yes, 2 smart redhead SMEW at Caldecotte south this afternoon, in front of the sailing club. Also 1m Goosander, 2ad Yellow-legged Gull, and 1 Lesser Redpoll flew over.

At Willen south late afternoon, 1f Red-crested Pochard and 9 Goosander (5m 4f). (Rob Hill)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Ice-free Calvert BBOWT attracts 14 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS

At Calvert BBOWT today, Warren Claydon recorded 14 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, the juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL and the adult CASPIAN GULL.

BITTERN still surviving at WTR

I paid a visit to the hide at Weston Turville Reservoir for an hour from 1130-1230. Before even getting to the hide a Woodcock flew down the path and off into the woodland. A BITTERN flew in near to the hide and showed well for about a minute before disappearing into the reeds. Five Common Snipe were in the 'pool', Water Rail was heard and Common Teal flew in and out. Nice to see a flock of 10-15 Long-tailed Tit surviving the cold weather (Mike Wallen)

Friday, 8 January 2010


I couldn’t get to LMGP today so I had to make do with a walk by the river Wye at Kingsmead. I was rewarded with:-

At least 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS (this a very good place for getting photographs of this species), several Dunnock, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Robins, Wren, 20+ Moorhen (including 2 up a large berry bearing bush), Little Egret ( a first for me here), Grey Wagtail (resident here), a pair of Mute Swan with 3 juveniles (presumably what’s left of the brood of 5), Black-headed Gull, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe (another first for me here), Mallard, Redwing, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit and lastly but not least, 1 GREEN SANDPIPER.

The Green Sandpiper was located on the river about 100 yards east of the entrance to Kingsmead off the A40 next to the George the fifth pub (park in B& Q and cross the road). Unfortunately it moved in the few minutes it took me to run the 200 yards to my place and return with my telescope (Malcolm Parrish)

A GREEN SANDPIPER also visited Chesham Fishing Lakes today (Chris Pontin)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Caldecotte Lake

A pleasant walk around Caldecotte this afternoon produced:

1adultPeregrine over north
1 Water Rail
1 Snipe
5 Dabchick
c45 Goldfinch,

and the following selected wildfowl counts

54 Gadwall
356 Coot
114 Tuftie
26 Moorhen.

Rob Hill

HIRECREST in Great Kinghill

07/01 : Firecrest : Great Kingshill. Decided to walk to the shop to get some apples; amazingly on the way back heard crests and located a Firecrest with a couple of Goldcrests; hung around but was unable to find it again. Mike Collard

The remaining ice-free patch on Willen

On the sole, tiny ice-free patch of Willen south this morning, 1f Red-crested Pochard, 9 (6m 3f) Goosander, 8 Goldeneye, 65 Mute Swan, and small numbers of other wildfowl (Rob Hill).

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


The adult EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was still present in the usual field at Newport Pagnell at 12:10 today, within an ever increasing Greylag and Canada flock (Rob Norris)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

GLAUCOUS GULL still at Calvert

Calvert lakes & tip - Warren Claydon had the juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL again this morning, whilst the BBOWT lake also held a minimum of 7 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, plus 1 Dabchick. A loafing flock of gulls just south of the tip held 1 adult CASPIAN GULL, and there were an impressive 39 Red Kites there too, mostly perched in trees looking cold.

Foxcote Reservoir - the drake RING-NECKED DUCK still, plus 7 Goldeneye & 541 Wigeon.

Hyde Lane - an immature Peregrine over the field just west of HL, in hot pursuit of a Snipe (Rob Hill and others)

Monday, 4 January 2010


The cold winter snap which began on 18 December 2009 continued with a vengeance today with overnight temperatures of minus 7 degrees freezing more and more open water and forcing many birds to move on, particularly wildfowl. In fact, birds are having an extremely hard time at the moment and really starting to struggle, with many being killed on the roads and waterfowl dying having starved on the ice. It was clear and bright all day, with the temperature peaking at freezing point.


Following calls from both Simon Nichols and Paul Moon, I returned once more to the far north of the county, where the much roving single EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (it had been in Bedfordshire at both Marston Vale and Willington GP on 2-3 January respectively after leaving NP) had returned with Greylag Geese to the frozen water meadows west of the B526 just north of the town.

It was present until at least 1252 hours when I left (and until at least an hour later - per Paul Moon) and was consorting with a now much swollen flock off 299 Greylag Geese and 52 Atlantic Canada Geese. The flock were surprisingly approachable, the White-fronted being an adult (with obvious but partially restricted white blaze and dark clusters of blotches on the underparts) and with a pale pink bill clearly albifrons (Eurasian). It represented my 92nd species of the year.

Many Fieldfare had also moved into the water meadows and Rob Norris had noted 9 GOOSANDER on the adjacent River Ouse (in the same confluence where I had seen two drakes on 2nd).


I then received calls from both Tim Watts and Simon informing me of both species of wild swan at Calvert - an opportunity not to be missed. Despite a demanding drive in black ice from Buckingham, eventually arrived unscathed at around 1345 hours.

Fortunately, both the two adult WHOOPER SWANS and the single adult BEWICK'S SWAN were still present. The two WHOOPERS (presumably the pair from Blackthorn Meadows) were resting on the far west bank of the main Sailing Lake whilst the single BEWICK'S (bearing a yellow plastic ring suggesting it may have been caught at Slimbridge WWT and clearly NOT one of the Blackthorn Meadows birds of yesterday) was showing best from the second hide on the BBOWT reserve lake and after arguing with a lone Greylag Goose nodded off for some well deserved rest (Tim had watched it being chased on eight occasions by the resident pair of Mute Swans before I arrived and had obtained excellent photographs of it from the hide).

There were large numbers of gulls loafing, including Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed. Later, Tim located a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL in the gull roost, but I was far too far away to return by then.

(with Bob Bullock)

Viewing from the causeway at 1500 hours, both wintering GREAT WHITE EGRETS were on show and both feeding in the Walgrave Bay (93). I was struck by how black the tarsi were (appearing to continue to the thigh area), this feature being once stipulated as being a feature of Nearctic birds (and now appearing to suggest full winter plumage). I had noticed this too on a recent bird elsewhere.

Pitsford Reservoir was nearly completely iced over and consequently many wildfowl had moved out. An impressive 680 Common Teal was standing on the ice, along with a few Shoveler, Gadwall and 330 Wigeon. The feeding station harboured 35 Fieldfares.

Bob visited the dam end and saw 4 Smew and 3 drake Red-crested Pochards.


Both Mark Thomas and Andy Plumb were at the Watchpoint. In a relatively short time of observation up to 1554 hours, I was thrilled to see three EURASIAN BITTERNS, two of which were clumsily 'plodding' and occasionally sliding about on the thick ice (all directly opposite the gull watchpoint, at the edge of the thin reedbed edges) - the largest number together I had ever seen in the county (MT & AP saw an incredible fourth individual after I left, suggesting Brogborough harbours a regular wintering population of this skulking reed-dweller),

At least 1 female RED-CRESTED POCHARD was still present, the Little Grebe, 22 Common Goldeneye and an assortment of other wildfowl huddled into the one remaining patch of open water.


Whilst observing the Bitterns, Simon phoned to say that Rob Hill had discovered an adult drake SMEW on Willen North. As we get on average 1 Smew per winter in Bucks, I thought it was best I made the effort.

The bird was still present 15 minutes later (1615) and was showing very well in the only remaining open water on the North Basin, viewable from the footpath in front of the Pagoda.

The ice-free patch also held a staggering 62 Mute Swans, 15 Greylag Geese, 4 Great Crested Grebes, 26 Gadwall, 135 Eurasian Wigeon, 62 Common Teal, 73 Tufted Duck, 18 Pochard and 117 Coot, with a single Reed Bunting in the reedbed.


I decided to visit Linford NR at dusk and was pleased to find a single BARN OWL hunting over the long grass between the reserve fence and the Grand Union Canal. Sadly, the ground was completely frozen, so finding food for this species must be difficult at present. It was my 94th species of 2010.

Willen Lake this morning

It was actually 11 Goosander present, 3 drakes and 8 redheads, also a Water Rail showed in the reeds on the road side of the weir.

At Willen North there were 4 plus Water Rail running around the inlet stream, showing down to a few feet. Also a Cettis Warbler calling (Rob Norris)

Rare CURLEW sighting in winter

On 2 January, Jez Elkin saw a single EURASIAN CURLEW fly west over Stewkley village

Wild Swans just inside Oxfordshire on Bicester road

Yet another heavy frost overnight, taking some time to clear from the roads, followed by another glorious clear, crisp, sunny day.
AYLESBURY (BUCKS)(1100 hours)
An adult male PEREGRINE was sat in the sun on the flat roof on the SW side of the County Hall buildings glancing around, my first of the new year (species 83). Both birds have been present for several weeks now and vary their roosting positions depending on the wind direction. The site is at SP 819 135 but parking is restrictive.
(midday, with Tim Watts, Ewan Urquhart and others)
Situated just 200 yards across the county border into Oxfordshire, the remaining (frozen) floodmeadows of the River Ray south of the A41 between the railway and the minor road to Piddington (at SP 633 197) were still harbouring the two separate pairs of wild swan - 2 WHOOPER and 2 BEWICK'S - all four birds feeding on the grass and drinking the melting iced water. All four birds were adult and unringed - Tim Watts obtaining these excellent images of the Whoopers as they fed just 75 yards in from the minor road.
The same fields also held 2 adult RUFF and 65 Lapwing, whilst roosting gulls included 2 Herring, 95 Lesser Black-backed and 3 Great Black-backed. A small party of Redwing and Fieldfare were also apparent, as well as Pied Wagtail and Long-tailed Tit (Lee Evans)

Sunday, 3 January 2010


03/01 12:00 : 6 COMMON CROSSBILL : Black Park TQ010837. At least 6 birds (inc 2 males) in larches 500 metres NE of car park at approx TQ 010 837. Andrew Moon

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Wild Swans

The two WHOOPER and 2 BEWICK'S SWANS are still present on Piddington Floods today, along with large numbers of wildfowl, just 100 yards south of the busy A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester. Up to 14 TREE SPARROWS are nearby, along with a group of 9 COMMON RAVENS. This location is only just over the border into Oxfordshire.

Beaconsfield FIRECRESTS

At least two male FIRECRESTS remain in Hogback Wood, to the west of Beaconsfield, showing well today (per Graham Smith)

Excerpts from my day's birding in the county - LGRE


Another very hard frost, leaving atrocious conditions on the side and back roads and very slow to clear. Another clear, sunny day, but temperatures struggled to get above freezing all day.

I spent another day local, targeting a few species but with mixed results. After starting the day on 56 species, I ended on 84.


With daily reports of Jack Snipe, thought I would give it a go, but despite searching hard, along the minor stream, along the main river, at the outflow and at the reserve, could only frustratingly locate 3 COMMON SNIPES.

Of course, 1 wintering GREEN SANDPIPER was on constant view (favouring the main stream; an unringed adult) and other species noted included 5 Little Grebes, 1 Grey Heron, 15 Atlantic Canada Geese, 6 Common Teal, 26 Gadwall, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 126 Woodpigeons, COMMON KINGFISHER, Wren and female GREY WAGTAIL.


Along with Steve Blain, Neil Wright and others, viewed from the Watchpoint at the west end from midday to 1240 hours. The site was ice-free and held a staggering flock of wintering Aythya ducks, including one of my largest-ever single flocks of Tufted Duck in Bedfordshire.

*GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS (the two birds still present but both very difficult and extremely mobile. One is a typical juvenile but the other bird - the original bird - is obviously very much darker overall)

Great Crested Grebes (18)
Little Grebe (2)
Continental Cormorant (6)
Mute Swan (3, including a first-winter)
Mallard (15)
Tufted Duck* (an incredible 1,056 birds click-counted, one of my largest flocks ever in the county)
GREATER SCAUP (two female-types in with the massive Aythya melee)
Northern Pochard (278)
Coot (374 in total)
Black-headed Gull (35)
Common Gull (17)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult)
Common Buzzard (flew north)
Common Magpie
Common Blackbird (3)


Lapwings (120)
Common Buzzard


During the last three days, an adult EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE has been consorting with Greylag Geese west of the main B526 just north of the main bridge (at SP 876 445). I spent over an hour searching the flock today and there was no sign of it despite it being reported on RBA - just 112 Greylag Geese, 52 Atlantic Canada Geese and a hybrid Canada-type. The iced-over meadows also attracted a Grey Heron, a Common Kestrel, numerous Jackdaws and 5 Pied Wagtails, but the best birds were the two gorgeous adult drake GOOSANDERS consorting with Mallard on the River Ouse just 100 yards west of the bridge.


Again, impressive numbers of wildfowl on the pits at SP 885 445 but nothing rare - 29 Mute Swans, an injured Greylag Goose, 313 Tufted Ducks, 108 Northern Pochards, 162 Eurasian Wigeon, 53 Gadwall and 39 Mallard.

Just NE of neighbouring Lathbury, 38 Mute Swans were feeding east of the B526


Widening my search for more geese flocks, I located a large group feeding on beet north of Gayhurst Pit but alas no White-front feeding with them.

Little Linford Wood and environs was ridiculously quiet, with just 8 Yellowhammers feeding in the Kale game strip, just 1 Fieldfare, a dark morph Common Buzzard and Common Treecreeper, Goldcrest and 2 MARSH TITS in the car park turn-around at the nature reserve. There were no Hawfinches to be found in the Hornbeam trees around Gayhurst House either.


Giving up on Milton Keynes, I made my way SW to Buckingham and Foxcote Reservoir. My arrival coincided with that of an organised shoot - and shotgun blasts were firing off every few minutes (the main target seemed to be Muntjac and Woodpigeon).

As a result of the disturbance, all of the birds had been forced to flee to the SE side of the reservoir and were close to the hide. The adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK was showing very well, consorting with the only 8 Pochards on the lake - and wide awake! Eurasian Wigeon numbered 332, with 4 Mute Swans, 87 Common Teal, 8 Shoveler, 15 Gadwall, 73 Tufted Duck and 8 COMMON GOLDENEYE (including 4 adult drakes)

Just north of Maids Moreton, a field held 25 feeding Fieldfares.


Late afternoon at Wilstone was disappointingly quiet - there was no sign of the 3 Little Egrets present earlier. The bird of the day there was an adult drake PINTAIL

Counts at Wilstone included 18 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 22 'Cormorant', Grey Heron, just 6 Mute Swan, Mallard, 15 Gadwall, 430 Eurasian Wigeon, 320 Common Teal, 55 Shoveler, 93 Tufted Duck and 27 Northern Pochard, as well as 2 adult drake COMMON GOLDENEYES.

The gull roost was poor but did include 500 Black-headed, 83 Common, a juvenile British Herring and two adult Lesser Black-backed, whilst waders were represented by 43 Lapwing and the continuing COMMON REDSHANK.


No sign of the presumed escape female Red-crested Pochard but 5 Great Crested Grebes, 6 adult Mute Swans, 109 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 73 Tufted Duck and 12 Pochard.


The 45 minutes or so of daylight was spent over-viewing the reedbed at Marsworth. The reservoir itself held just 2 Great Crested Grebe and 29 Shoveler, whilst the resident CETTI'S WARBLER burst into song at 1538 and Wren, Reed Bunting (just 2) and WATER RAIL (2 squealing) were added.

Most depressing was the dramatic decline in wintering numbers of the highly endangered CORN BUNTING - with just 47 flighting in between 1530 and 1620 to roost - a pathetic number and incredibly worryingly down on last winter's peak of 164 on 14 December (LGRE, see page 127 of 'The Birds of Tring Reservoirs and Environs 2008').

After three flocks of EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flew north at 1610 presumably to roost (105 birds in total), the undoubted highlight was when Roy Hargreaves located the wintering EURASIAN BITTERN high in the reeds on the far side of the reservoir in line with the heavily ivy-clad tree at 1615. The bird showed reasonably well for a period, clambering awkwardly about the reed stems, but eventually got bored and flew off to roost in its usual area in the smaller reedbed at the east (Bucks) end at 1627 hours. It was enjoyed by a hefty gathering of some 20 hardly souls, including Dave Bilcock, Steve Rodwell, Martin Platt and others.

MED GULL at Spade Oak

I decided to look at the Little Marlow Gravel Pit gull roost this afternoon and almost the first bird I looked at was an adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL. First seen on the far side of spit right of island looking from the bench on the west side, it later washed and then flew to spit on right of island when I lost it at about 4pm.

Immature PEREGRINE spooked everything shortly afterwards and took a couple of half-hearted passes and then flew off east.

5 Little Egrets were roosting on the same branch right of the island at 4:30pm, although I didn't see any of them fly in (Adam Bassett)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Two WHOOPER SWANS just over border in Oxfordshire

A pair of WHOOPER SWANS, most likely the regular wintering birds that return to Calvert and Hillesden, were in flooded fields today as you drive towards Piddington off the A43 Bicester to Aylesbury road (per Oxon birders)

New Year starts with two rare wildfowl

In Milton Keynes, the single EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE is showing well with Greylag Geese opposite the old Shell garage (per Graham Smith) and the drake RING-NECKE£D DUCK is still at Foxcote Reservoir