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

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.