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, 30 August 2010

Foxcote GARGANEY still present

The juvenile GARGANEY still at Foxcote early afternoon. Also 3 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpipers, 1 Ringed Plover & 7 Green Sandpipers (Rob Hill)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

North Bucks COMMON REDSTART present for second day

Still a single female COMMON REDSTART along the 'ridge' into this afternoon. Two Green Sandpipers, an Oystercatcher and briefly a European Golden Plover the only other birds of note. Picture of the Redstart can be found via the following link -

GARGANEY at Foxcote Reservoir - Saturday

At 08:34 from the hide - 1 juvenile GARGANEY, 1 juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 4 Common Greenshank, 6 Green Sandpipers and 5 Common Sandpipers (Paul Moon & Rob Norris).

Friday, 27 August 2010

Little Marlow this evening

A quick post work visit to LMGP this evening found the following birds of note:

1 Pintail - on NE side near picnic bench - too far off to age or sex
2 YL Gulls - juv and adult
1 Common Sandpiper

Adam Bassett

Thursday, 26 August 2010

PIED FLYCATCHER in Marlow Bottom garden

I sat down at lunchtime and looked at the back garden - there was a slight break in the weather and a bit of blue sky actually appeared fleetingly. A large flock of tits was moving through the silver birches and oak at the bottom of the garden and into the beech wood that lies adjacent to the property. It comprised Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits in quite large numbers, but little else could be picked out other than 2 Willow Warblers and a Nuthatch. At 12:30pm, a female/immature type PIED FLYCATCHER landed in my field of view in a silver birch and promptly disappeared. Slightly disbelieving, I watched the spot and luckily it reappeared and I was able to watch it for a couple of minutes before it moved off with the flock through the wood. This emulates a similar occurrence from 2004 when a fem/imm type Pied Fly was seen in the same silver birch before moving off through the wood in a similar manner (Adam Bassett)

Migrant WOOD WARBLER on Lodge Hill

Warren Claydon discovered a vocal WOOD WARBLER at Lodge Hill this morning.

Take the usual path up from the farm by the road, then turn by the stile near the top heading towards the ridge, and the bird was in the bushes along here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

North Bucks today

The three juvenile BLACK TERNS remain on Willen Lake South Basin whilst a RUFF was present on the North Basin briefly this afternoon.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010



It was a very windy day, with warm SSW winds increasing in gusts to force 6 at times. It did remain dry though, with some long bright periods. Following yesterday's bonanza of sightings, today was rather lean in comparison, with little of new arrivals in the strong winds.

(permit access only)

Peter Stevens had been recording WHINCHATS at the site since Saturday morning but despite a lot of hard grafting, I just could not locate them. Today however, I eventually located all SIX juveniles, all feeding together on the raised weed-covered bund just beyond the Lillyfee Studios. They were extremely mobile though and as I walked along towards them, they continuously moved ahead and flew perhaps 35 yards or more each time. This is a site first for me.

The only other migrants recorded were a single COMMON WHITETHROAT and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL, whilst other species noted included 3 Jays, Sparrowhawk, GREEN SANDPIPER, Blue Tit and Skylark.

(1500-1600 hours)

Little evidence of yesterday's excitement although wildfowl are increasing daily. The first EURASIAN WIGEON of the autumn arrived today, with Common Teal up to 39, Shoveler up to 16 and yet two more RED-CRESTED POCHARDS - two juveniles this time. The eclipse drake GARGANEY remained present but there was no sign of the juvenile Black-necked Grebe.

Lapwing had decreased to 97 but Tufted Duck were well up at 84, with 44 Mute Swans, 5 Grey Herons, a female Common Kestrel and up to 4 HOBBIES making up the numbers. A single DUNLIN remained on the bund from yesterday.

Most significant was a massive rise in passage HOUSE MARTIN numbers - at least 175 wheeling around.


All 7 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained in situ, the juvenile, resident female and the immigrant drakes; 14 Mute Swans were also present along with a single lingering COMMON SWIFT and 60+ SAND MARTINS.


The two juvenile BLACK TERNS were still present at 1700 hours.


The first LITTLE EGRET of the 'autumn' has arrived in the valley, feeding in the shallow tributary just east of Bois Mill. One bird lingered this year in to May and one of the London colonies from where perhaps some of my birds originate really burgeoned in numbers this summer.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

OSPREY drifts over Marlow Bottom garden

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get out into the field at all over the weekend to check local sites, so my birding was restricted to the back garden when time allowed. Highlights were:

Saturday 21st:
Hobby south at 11:15am
Raven low west, cronking at 2:30pm
Hobby (adult) south at 7pm

Sunday 22nd:
Willow Warbler, 5+ through in the morning
Blackcap, juv through am
Marsh Tit, 2 in the morning
Hobby (adult) north 3:40pm.

Best bird, and a hoped for garden tick, came at 3:20pm. A high flying raptor moving in a steady SSW direction is always worth a look, as it suggests a migrating bird rather than a local Common Buzzard or Red Kite. The bins revealed an obvious OSPREY in steady glide. The long wings, long hand and spread fingers together with a shortish square cut tail were diagnostic. The white body and throat were also obvious. Lack of obvious black greater coverts below suggest a juvenile, but the bird was fairly high, so I cannot be certain. The bird only gave an occasional shallow flap, but otherwise was in constant glide. It actually flew directly overhead and at this stage the wings could be seen to be held forward at the carpals in typical gliding posture. All this happened in about 30 seconds, so I always wonder what I am missing when not looking up!

Adam Bassett

Friday, 20 August 2010


Rob Hill recorded 3 juvenile BLACK TERNS at Willen Lake South Basin this afternoon

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Whilst having a morning cup of tea at 8:35 looking out of the lounge window, I noticed a line of large brown waders flying fairly low north up the Marlow Bottom valley - there were 8 birds in a broken V - like an inverted tick. Through bins I could easily make out fairly long evenly down curved bills, but not much on plumage. They had a languid flight style with slowish wing beats, all of which points to Curlew rather than Whimbrel. 10 minutes later a Hobby circled south down the valley.

Optimistic that some passage was going on I wanted to check local Little Marlow GP, but could not get there until gone 10:30. Nothing obvious greeted me other than a spit covered in Greylag, Egyptian and Canada Geese. I only had a few minutes to spare and was about to leave when a sandpiper was put up briefly from the back of the spit, which landed out of view in the same place. I walked towards the railway bank to get a better view and once again the sandpiper was put to flight by the geese moving about - luckily it flew only a short distance, circled back and landed on the spit. It was immediately obvious as a juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER - a brownish bird, with a heavily spangled mantle, a prominent pale supercilium and long yellowish legs. In flight the dark blackish primaries contrasted with the paler brownish mantle and the tail was tipped with narrow black bars, although slightly irregular. At rest the dark primaries also contrasted with the paler mantle. Happy with the find and ID, I left at 10:55 and put the news out (Adam Bassett)

The bird was seen again briefly this evening, commuting between the spit and the sewage farm (Alan Stevens)

More CHATS in North Bucks

Female WHINCHAT and juvenile COMMON STONECHAT tonight, from the side of the Gayhurst to Ravenstone Road at approx SP 847 480.

From Gayhurst, turn off towards Ravenstone and after about half a mile on the left there is a gateway to a Wheatfield, with a strand of wire and a plastic bag across the entrance. A low hedge runs at 90 degrees to the road and the birds were about 100 yards along, the Stonechat feeding from the hedge and the Whinchat from the top of the wheat (Rob Norris)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sunday Sightings

A juvenile MARSH HARRIER over the electricity sub station near East Claydon, heading east towards Winslow, c5.45pm. It flushed a large flock of corvids & c160 LBBG's which were in a stubble field (per Rob Hill).

Meanwhile, the two juveniles remain at the Upper Ray Meadows (Jan & Mic Wells), with 2 WHINCHATS there and another in Stowe Park

Sunday 15 August - RUFF at Gayhurst

Only 2 waders on Fishing Pit, juvenile RUFF keeping close company with Common Sandpiper.They started off in SW corner close to metal kiss-gate, but by the time I left they had walked half the length of the southern shore.

Drake Wigeon still around and Little Grebes with 2 young. On Motorway Pit 100 plus Lapwings, still around a dozen Common Tern, Gadwall and 6 Teal and 2 Shoveler were new in.

Our shooting friends have released lots of juvenile Mallards on to the site and unless these get street-wise very soon they won't be around too long,- I'm not sure they can even fly yet.

At Quarryhall 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Buzzards and a Hobby (Robert Norris)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

MARSH HARRIERS are the order of the day


Another day of heavy downpours, very frequent in nature. Also, the wind veered Northeast, with a hefty fall of Scandinavian drift migrants on the NE and East coast, including Barred and Icterine Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes, Wrynecks and an Ortolan Bunting

The weather also induced MARSH HARRIER migration with four being recorded in the county today. I was also pleased to finally catch up with Ruff........


There was much garden activity in the rain with a pair of Long-tailed Tits on the peanut feeders and at least 15 Blue Tits, mainly juveniles.


Following a call from Warren Claydon, I made my way down to Lodge Hill mid-morning, where a juvenile MARSH HARRIER was showing well over oil-seed rape fields east of the Icknield Way (at SU 805 993). The bird flew back and forth over the fields for half an hour but then disappeared to the north.

The rain barely stopped during the couple of hours that I wandered about the area but when the sun came out for a short period, the COMMON QUAIL present for the past week started to call from the barley field east of Lodge Hill Farm at SU 801 993.

A pair of COMMON RAVENS appeared from the south and flew north 'honking' to each other as they went. They finally landed on the pylons.

Also noted were 220 Rooks, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, 3 Red Kites, Woodpigeon, 4 Stock Doves, Yellowhammer, European Barn Swallow, Magpie, Common Buzzard, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat.


I arrived in the new hides at 1630 hours and almost immediately located 2 MARSH HARRIERS quartering the hedgeline running west from the car park. Both birds were juveniles and were showing well, floating low over the maize field north of the car park and another field to the west. Every now and again, Carrion Crows would come and altercate with the birds, with some mid-air combat taking place.

YELLOW WAGTAILS were very much in evidence too, with 5 or more juveniles feeding with the cattle just behind the pool. Quite a few European Barn Swallows were in the air and further raptors included Common Kestrel and Red Kite.

Two COMMON RAVENS were feeding in the newly mown grass meadow in this large field


My good friend Colin Oram was in the hide when I arrived and for the next 20 minutes, we sifted through the birds present, the water level still being very low.

As I was scanning, I picked up yet another MARSH HARRIER flying in from the north at 1730 hours. This time it was an adult female and after disappearing behind the Willows of the NW arm, it reappeared much further away and gradually circled away to the west at 1750.

The main reason for visiting was for my first Buckinghamshire RUFF of the year - a fresh juvenile feeding along the mud just NW of the dam - a bird taht had arrived about an hour previously.

Other waders included a juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (flushed from the NW arm by the harrier and then sat down with the Lapwings and roosted), 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Ringed Plovers and 253 Lapwings.

Also present were 14 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 30 Mute Swans, 4 Shoveler, 6 Common Teal, 4 Gadwall, 38 Tufted Duck, 2 Northern Pochard, 2 Common Terns, a Red-legged Partridge, Green Woodpecker, 30 House Martins and several Swallows.


Stopped off at Wilstone on my way home but very quiet - the eclipse drake GARGANEY was on the mud between the outfall and the hide, Pochards had increased to 18, a Common Sandpiper and 6 Common Terns.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Still a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at Foxcote

Foxcote Reservoir; after an hour of watching in heavy showers, 2 COMMON GREENSHANK and a single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT flew into West bay to feed. There was a farmer on the East bank at the far end so quite likely he disturbed the bird from the far end of the NW bay where it has been feeding in recent days.

Also 5 Common Sandpiper/3 Green Sandpiper/ 1 Ringed Plover/1 L.R.P/50 Lapwing.

The trees/bushes on East bank were alive with a good selection of warblers and a lone Spotted Flycatcher.

Hillesden Pools; 1 Little Egret

Tim Watts

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

After the rain - LGRE


After the Rain........

I managed to get in a few hours birding this evening as the heavy rain experienced all day started to gradually move away. It did not appear to have dropped any additional waders in.....


The two GREEN SANDPIPERS were still present, feeding on the muddy pools at the west end of the lake.

Otherwise, 1 adult Mute Swan, a female Tufted Duck, 27 Coot, Grey Heron, 2 Lapwing, 6 Moorhen, male Pied Wagtail, 2 Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, 8 European Barn Swallows, 2= BULLFINCHES and a pair of REED BUNTINGS.


The Seasonal Pool is now completely dry whilst much of the Reserve Pool is overgrown. Three Common Greenshanks were present this morning (Dave Cleal) but were not present this evening, just 126 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Egyptian Geese, 8 Great Crested Grebes and 1 Common Tern.

A total of 50 Ring-necked Parakeets flew east to roost whilst 15 Sand Martins went through in the opposite direction. Some 28 Pied Wagtails were gathered at the extreme north end

Gayhurst Quarry

This afternoon at Gayhurst Quarry:

2 Green Sandpipers,
2 Common Sandpipers,
1 juvenile Little ringed Plover,
4 Little Egret,
3 Little Grebe (adult and 2 youngsters),
1 drake Wigeon
1 Marsh Tit.
1 Kingfisher

At Quarryhall,

2 Tree Sparrows.

Robert Norris


Two Black-tailed Godwits at Foxcote today. When I arrived there were two godwits hunched up asleep on the spit amongst a horde of Lapwings, and I took them to be the Bar-tailed reported earlier--and I texted Si Nicholls. However just as I had finished counting the Lapwings something spooked them. I didn't see the godwits fly, but they reappeared on the mud at the west end left of the hide when they could be seen to be Black-tailed (Phil Tizzard)

Monday - COMMON GREENSHANK at Willen

Martin from the Parks Trust discovered a COMMON GREENSHANK on one of the rafts at Willen Lake North Basin at 13:14 hours, viewed from the hide.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Having returned from holidaying in France last night, I just sat down to have a spot of lunch and was skywatching as normal this morning. The second raptor I put the bins on, I had to do a double take but amazingly it was a juvenile MARSH HARRIER. It spent a good five minutes thermalling over the garden (in Rowsham ) being joined by a Common Buzzard. It gained more and more height and drifted off very slowly to the South-West.I did manage a couple of record pics, but these were at about 1+ mile range !! (Mike Wallen) (possibly the bird seen earlier at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring)

Meanwhile, the juvenile COMMON GREENSHANK that was present at College Lake BBOWT on Friday relocated to Pitstone Quarry until mid morning today (per LGRE)



A much cooler day than of late with frequent heavy rain showers. Disappointed at missing the Wilstone Wood Sandpiper, returned there again but no joy, although a drake GARGANEY was a pleasant surprise....


The Common Greenshank that Francis Buckle had found in the morning and had still remained early afternoon (Jeff Bailey) was nowhere to be seen on my visit. In fact, it was deathly quiet - just 34 Atlantic Canada Geese on the marsh and 2 COMMON SWIFTS and 9 House Martins overhead.


Well, no sign of the Greenshank here either, but there was a single juvenile RINGED PLOVER roosting at the end of the spit. The water level here is now dropping dramatically and looks brilliant.

A total of 73 Black-headed Gulls was roosting, including 16 juveniles; also 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

(afternoon visit)

Sadly, there was no sign of yesterday's Wood Sandpiper - it had moved on. Ian Williams 'phoned to say that he and Jeff Bailey were watching an odd eclipse duck which they were both certain was a GARGANEY. I walked around to the hide to join them and there sat sleeping to the right of the hide was an excellent eclipse drake GARGANEY - the first of the year at the reservoirs. After a while it woke up and began feeding and after being hassled by a Shoveler, flapped its wings revealing a clear pale bluish-grey forewing, characteristic of drakes. It was also very dark on the underparts, heavily scalloped on the flanks and dark legged but was very fresh and pristine. Both Dave Bilcock and Francis Buckle obtained excellent images of the bird and these are depicted above.

An adult LITTLE EGRET was feeding to the right of the hide, with 65 Mute Swans counted (including the single grey cygnet), 52 Tufted Ducks (including 50 in one mass), 7 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 714 Coot (favouring the emergent vegetation and feeding in massive close-knit flocks), 18 Common Terns (massive increase on yesterday) and 25 passage House Martins.

An adult argenteus HERRING GULL flew west whilst two HOBBIES (an adult and a juvenile) were showing very well to the north of the main car park, the adult appearing to be training the juvenile to hunt.


Another day of showery rain, particularly in the early morning. Quite windy too, and switching from SE to due south. Temperatures remained quite warm but there was little sign of sunshine until late afternoon.

Much of today was spent either botanising or butterflying but I was delighted at finally adding COMMON GREENSHANK to my 2010 Herts List and GREY PARTRIDGE to my 2010 Bucks List..........


Acting upon DB's posting, I caught up with the Pitstone COMMON GREENSHANK mid-morning (presumably yesterday's College bird). It was feeding in the shallows where the pool was rapidly drying out and appeared to be a fresh juvenile and represented my first in Herts this year. A GREEN SANDPIPER was also feeding in the quarry.

Joining the 7 resident Little Grebes and up to 30 Mallard were now 3 COMMON TEAL whilst the gull flock numbered 68 Black-headed and 3 Lesser Black-backed. Green Woodpecker and Linnet were also noted.


Meeting up with Francis and CJ, we viewed the 3 spike VIOLET HELLEBORINES at the roadside and the 2 FROG ORCHIDS (see images), along with over 140 CHALKHILL BLUE butterflies on the SW slope.

Both BULLFINCH and Meadow Pipit were noted close to the car park whilst a walk across the SE slope between the Beacon summit and the Sheep Fields revealed the presence of 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS and a flock of 106 post-breeding LINNETS.


A flock of 5 House Sparrows noted.


Acting upon some information Paul Moon kindly relayed from John Gearing, I visited Dinton village in the hope of finding 1 of the 56 Grey Partridges sighted recently. Lying less than a mile from Reed village, where once huge numbers of this species were artificially released, presumably accounted for this surprise occurrence.

Anyhow, I pitched up in the village and checked out a couple of ponds first. At the Victorian Angling Club Pond, Moorhens had bred (2 young) (with another two on the pond by Pasture Farm), with 22 Mallard present. In trees surrounding, a large tit flock contained 3 Coal, a Common Treecreeper and 3 Goldcrests.

I then explored the newly harvested fields to the SE of the village and after a fair bit of hiking, eventually flushed an invisible family covey of 8 GREY PARTRIDGES up from the edge of one of the cut fields at SP 775 105. At long, long last - never before have I had so much difficulty in finding this species in Bucks in a calendar year.

BULLFINCHES were also a highlight, with 2 birds in an overgrown orchard area and another by the lane, whilst Linnet (3), Rook (150), Jackdaw (120), Goldfinch (7), Stock Dove (2), Common Whitethroat (3), Yellowhammer, Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Red Kite and European Barn Swallow were noted. The field edges also harboured 20+ Common Blue butterflies and a lovely Small Copper.


I then moved on to another nearby site where 3 NARROW-LIPPED HELLEBORINE spikes were seen (two of which had been munched by a Muntjac) and a MARSH TIT.

CHINNOR (BUCKS) - 8 Red Kites overhead


This National Nature Reserve lies on the NW scarp of the Chiltern Hills, within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) overlooking the Vale of Oxford. It is characteristic of the Chilterns landscape and is essentially chalk grassland, with areas of mixed scrub, Juniper and ancient Beech woodland interspersed. I make an annual August visit to this site as it is reknown as one of the premier sites for the rare SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPER butterfly and CHILTERN GENTIAN.

Despite the overcast conditions, there was no shortage of the skippers, and I saw at least 18 of them as I criss-crossed the steep slope. There were also 86+ Chalkhill Blues, 5 Small Heath and 3 Ringlet butterflies.

Birdlife was typically scarce but did include 2 MARSH TITS, numerous Red Kites and yet another BULLFINCH.


Spent some time looking for Woodlarks but none were to be seen - just 8 Red Kites, Linnet, Common Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer (with food) and 9 House Martins.

BEACONSFIELD (BUCKS) - A HOBBY flew across the M40 roundabout.

(1700-1800 hours)

Large numbers of gulls were loafing and feeding on the exposed rubbish in the quarry totalling nearly 200 in number. Most interesting were the 23 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (with 16 adults, 5 fourth-years and two juveniles) feeding, along with 125 argenteus Herring and 32 Lesser Black-backed.

I could only find 1 juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER with the adult today on the pool, along with a single GREEN SANDPIPER, whilst 2 COMMON RAVENS (an adult and juvenile) were feeding and a juvenile HOBBY was seen extremely well.

Also encountered were Common Starling (46), Red Kite (28+), Common Chiffchaff, Linnet, Sand martin (just 1), Stock Dove (7), Grey Heron (2 scavenging with the gulls on the rubbish - certainly an odd sight), Pied Wagtail (7), Dunnock, Song Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker.


At dusk, a party of 24 HOUSE MARTINS migrated west overhead.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Another QUAIL

Warren Claydon located another calling male COMMON QUAIL today - this one at Lodge Hill. Meanwhile, Tin Watts reports the continuation of the WOOD SANDPIPER at Calvert Landfill (no general access)