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

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Access Restrictions at Foxcote Reservoir

This post is just to advise that the entrance gate to Foxcote Reservoir is currently chained and padlocked, so if you wish to visit the hide you will need to climb over the gates. It is not clear whether this has been done by BBOWT or someone else (Phil Tizzard has emailed BBOWT), but for the time being it might make access difficult for some people.

Belated news from Foxcote on Sunday - 3LRPs, a flock of 24 lapwing and a relatively large group (for the site) of 31 Mute Swan.

Water levels have fallen dramatically in the last weeks and there is an extensive exposed shoreline and spit. Water levels are not yet down to 2007 levels, but it's already looking an attractive site for migrant waders - fingers crossed! (Bill Haines)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

COMMON SANDPIPERS return - autumn passage commences

My first Common Sandpiper of the 'autumn' today - at GAYHURST PITS.

Otherwise, lots of young birds around including noisy Kingfishers on the bottom end of Motorway Pit and even noisier Green Woodpeckers spread around the wood area. Lapwing with two small young seen, also Great crested Grebe.

The nesting Common Terns on the big island seem to have disappeared, but at least 8 pairs on the flat island have young of all sizes.

The breeding Mute Swans are intriguing. The pair on Motorway Pit have four young, 3 being the normal grey and one almost pure white. The pair on the Reedy Pit have 5 young, 4 of which are grey and the other one being also pure white.

Up at Quarryhall 4 male Yellow Wagtails with several young birds, also juvenile Grey Wagtail by the weir. Also good view of a Signal Crayfish walking along bottom of the river (Rob Norris)

Friday, 18 June 2010


Chaz Jackson discovered three BLACK-TAILED GODWITS mid-morning on the main marsh at College Lake BBOWT and these were still present at midday (Mick A' Court). Being the first twitchable in the county this year, I raced straight over and enjoyed excellent views of them feeding and resting at the north end of the main island from the new hide from 1300-1445 hours.

As it was an early date for three returning adult birds from Icelandic breeding grounds, I had a close look at them and noted that all three had striking orange (not pink) long bills and were very orange (rather than reddish-purple) on the underparts. The orange underparts also abruptly ceased and were replaced by white, with black barring on the belly and flanks. There was some light orange on the flanks and one individual was slightly better marked than the other two birds. Frustratingly, the exact patterning on the tertials could not be noted and no photographs were taken before they flew off at 1600 hours. Everything pointed towards the three being adult male EUROPEAN BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (limosa), perhaps displaced by the NE winds England has been experiencing over the past three or four days.

There was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper today but the LITTLE RINGED PLOVER family, several juvenile Common Redshanks, the OYSTERCATCHERS and numerous Lapwings were on show, and a male GARDEN WARBLER was in song

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Another roding WOODCOCK

Steve Rodwell discovered a roding male WOODCOCK in Kingsfield Wood this evening, near Great Hampden. This is only the second roding bird I know of this summer - the other being at Ringshall Coppice in Ashridge Forest.

An abundance of FIRECRESTS

Survey work this summer has revealed the presence of at least 55 FIRECRESTS in the county. I have personally recorded 38 different singing males, including 9 at one site, whilst Steve Rodwell has located a further 17-19 individuals in woodland that I have still yet to visit. Clearly, Firecrest is a very common bird within the county.

WOOD SAND present for third day

The adult WOOD SANDPIPER is still showing well on the main marsh at College Lake BBOWT today - from the new hide.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

WOOD SAND still present

The WOOD SANDPIPER is still present at College Lake BBOWT reserve this morning, showing well from the new hide and feeding on the same expanse of mud as last night (per Francis Buckle)



Mick A'Court discovered an adult WOOD SANDPIPER on the main marsh at College Lake BBOWT today and the bird was still present and showing well this evening when Dave Bilcock, JT and myself visited. Dave obtained these images above. The bird was feeding on the mud very close to the new hide and was typically worn for a mid-summer individual. It remained until dusk.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS now have three small young, at least one well-grown juvenile OYSTERCATCHER was still being fed and several juvenile Common Redshanks were on view, as well as Lapwing.

At least 1 singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER was in reeds alongside the footpath, and a male WILLOW WARBLER was also still in song

Monday, 14 June 2010

13 June breeding GREY and YELLOW WAGTAILS, a migrant DUNLIN and TREE SPARROW

A very enjoyable walk around Gayhurst Quarry and Quarryhall this morning (13 June). First off, by the side of the wood a very agitated Marsh Tit, so suspect nesting nearby.

On the Fishing Pit 15 Lapwing, a Little Ringed Plover and a summer plumaged DUNLIN, also a lingering drake Wigeon.

Spinney Pit had a Little Egret and a pair of Little Grebe. On Motorway Pit 2 Oystercatchers and 20 plus Common Tern.

The weir on the second river had a pair of Grey Wagtail with beakfulls of insects, so obviously a nest of youngsters nearby.

Walking across to Quarryhall, no less than 3 pairs of Yellow Wagtails harassed me as I walked through the cornfield, each with beakfulls of insects, so more young around. Skylarks were everywhere and 3 Stock Doves flew out of the corn. At the Quarry itself 2 or 3 Yellowhammers and a Tree Sparrow were present (Rob Norris)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Another day of comprehensive site surveying yielding yet more MANDARIN DUCK breeding success and more SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and FIRECREST pairs


A reasonably warm day with occasional showers with virtually no wind. I concentrated again on survey work, covering the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal and Weston Turville Reservoir. Highlights were the finding of a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and another two broods of MANDARIN DUCK.........


A pair of Goldfinch was present on the Nyger feeders for a second day, whilst families of Blue Tits are now visiting the garden on a frequent basis.


Today, I undertook my annual survey of the breeding birds of the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, walking from Bridge 7 (Wellonhead Bridge) at Green Park (SP 888 115) SW to Halton village (SP 873 101) and then into central Wendover. A total of 37 species was recorded, with two dramatic changes from last year - Little Grebe numbers were decimated to just one nesting pair and there were no Common Kingfishers - confirming the detrimental affect last winter's severe freeze had on these two water dependent species. Lengthy sections of the canal were quite overgrown with reeds.


1) LITTLE GREBE (one sat on a nest west of The Wides, with presumably the other adult of the pair further north and another adult NE of Harelane Bridge)
2) Mute Swan (pair with 3 cygnets around Halton village bridge)
3) MANDARIN DUCK (1 female accompanying 12 ducklings just NE of Harelane Bridge)
4) Mallard (two drakes and a female by blue bridge 8, with a female with 8 well grown chicks nearby; further females with 5 ducklings and 5 again east to Wellonhead Bridge, along with an adult pair and 4 separate drakes; west from Chestnut Avenue bridge noted female with 6 young, an adult pair, a female with an astonishing 14 young and a female with 4 young beyond The Wides)
5) Tufted Duck (1 pair acting sheepishly up against the bank 200 yards east of The Wides)
6) Red Kite (1 heavily worn individual drifted overhead)
7) Common Pheasant (two males heard from adjoining fields)
8) Moorhen (not one nest nor young seen - 6 individuals between Halton and Green Park and another 6 west to Wendover - perhaps nests flooded out)
9) Eurasian Coot (excellent numbers and good breeding success: between Halton and Green Park, just 2 pairs and no breeding but to the west, pair feeding three young just west of Halton bridge, a pair incubating on a nest, another active nest containing 3 small young, a pair constructing a new nest and in the vicinity of The Wides, pairs with 4 young apiece and another feeding a single small chick; lastly, a pair feeding 2 chicks by Bridge 11 - 17 young in all)

10) Woodpigeon (breeding, perhaps 7 pairs)
11) Green Woodpecker (yaffling male in the vicinity of the rugby fields)
12) Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 in Halton village)
13) Eurasian Skylark (a single singing male in cereal crops NW of The Wides)
14) European Barn Swallow (1 hawking over the canal near Green Park)
15) House Martin (16 over Halton village and bridge)
16) Wren (at least 9 territories with a family party of 6 juveniles by Green Park)
17) Dunnock (just 1 singing male noted)
18) European Robin (7 pairs noted, two of which were feeding young)
19) Song Thrush (just 1 bird noted - presumably feeding young)
20) Mistle Thrush (1 worn individual on the rugby field)
21) Common Blackbird (at least 12 pairs along the survey section)
22) Blackcap (6 males still in song, with one family party)
23) Common Chiffchaff (a total of 5 singing males along the section of canal with one family party noted)
24) Great Tit (2 noted)
25) Blue Tit (5 family parties noted)
26) Long-tailed Tit (3 family groups encountered, with 10, 6 and 5 young respectively)
27) Eurasian Nuthatch (1 in tall trees near Green Park)
28) Common Treecreeper (family party in Green Park)
29) Common Magpie (single pair in the rugby field area)
30) Jay (single bird noted near The Wides)
31) Western Jackdaw (pair feeding young in natural nest-hole by Green Park and large numbers of feeding birds in sheepfields near The Wides)
32) Carrion Crow (5+)
33) Common Starling (pair breeding in chimney of house near Halton Bridge)
34) Chaffinch (5 territories)
35) Goldfinch (pair nesting in garden by Halton Bridge)
36) Greenfinch (pair in Halton village)

SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS: I was absolutely delighted to discover a pair in Halton village, just north of the Halton bridge in the garden of no. 19 Chestnut Avenue (Talisman Cottage). The male was repeatedly flying between the two arched roof tops and the wires and tree at 21 Lower Farm and was showing extremely well.


A remarkable paucity of bird species encountered with a complete circuit of the site yielding just 3 Mute Swans, 15 Mallard, 3 pairs of Coot (accompanied by 4, 4 and a single chick), a Great Spotted Woodpecker active nest, 3 European Barn Swallows, 6 House Martins, just 5 pairs of Western Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcap territories and a single singing male Common Chiffchaff of note. Very disappointing.


I have had an excellent season for breeding MANDARIN DUCK, with several broods at Littleworth Common, a female with 4 chicks at Shardeloes and the female above with 12 ducklings on the Grand Union Canal. Hampden Pond provided further proof of breeding with a female accompanying 6 small chicks on the lake. Coots had also bred, with two independent juveniles and a pair feeding three smaller young, with a pair of Moorhen also present.

There was no sign of any Spotted Flycatchers.


Dunsmore village is another traditional site for Spotted Flycatcher but none could be found today. What was interesting though was a pair of FIRECRESTS breeding in one of the gardens close to the church. On the outskirts of the village, a singing Common Whitethroat and 3 Linnets were noted.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

MONTAGU'S failure

The returning pair of MONTAGU'S HARRIERS in west Bucks/Oxon has sadly deserted its cereal crop nest for unknown reasons, with no sign of either bird in six hours of searching today. Otherwise, very quiet, but 5 'purring' male EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES at one site was highly noteworthy. RED KITE censusing revealed the presence of well over 70 pairs on the west Chilterns escarpment but no Eurasian Honey Buzzards have returned yet, and few Common Quails. LONG-EARED OWLS are again feeding young at one regular site, with two pairs of EURASIAN CURLEW now breeding and PEREGRINES feeding three well-grown chicks at one protected site (LGRE)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010



After yesterday's rain and cool temperatures, today was a glorious day, with warm sunshine, light northerly winds and clear skies. In fact, afternoon temperatures reached 70 degrees fahrenheit. With such good weather, I decided to eek out local SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and COMMON QUAILS.........


I was delighted to find TWO pairs of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in residence at the regular site for this species, with one pair again nesting in the same nest. The second pair were in trees between the church and the river, where a male GREY WAGTAIL was carrying food. The Spotted Flycatchers were my first in Bucks this year.