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, 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


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.

MEGA - WRYNECK at Bacomb Hill, Wendover

Just got back from the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK which is showing extremely well feeding on the tumulus mounds just south and above the Ridgeway Trail (1030-1145 hours). It is a dark-eyed juvenile.


Park on the Ellesborough Road just SW of Wendover and follow the upper Ridgeway Trail SW along towards the Coombe Hill monument. To your left after 250 yards is the raised tumuli (at SP 862 072, where the WRYNECK is favouring and can be seen by looking back east from the minor trail that leads south. The bird is showing extremely well and returned even though being inadvertently flushed. A superb find.

There was much Vismig at the site involving Meadow Pipits, a few Bullfinch and Jays, whilst the Low Scrubs woodland held Marsh and Coal Tits and Goldcrests.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Lodge Hill WRYNECK

Warren Claydon discovered a WRYNECK at Lodge Hill late evening which was favouring the isolated Juniper tree near the farm.

Meanwhile, 3 WHINCHATS were at Penn Street Farm (Andy Radford, LGRE)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

And yet another MARSH HARRIER

WEDNESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER: I found a presumed female MARSH HARRIER at 5:50pm circling the east side of the valley heading generally north, but in no particular hurry - it had a reddish tail and plain brown upper wing with no obvious sign of pale tipped greater coverts. Over the next 40 minutes it remained on view on and off in the area around the lower part of Ragman's Lane, where a newly cut corn field is partially viewable from my house. There are obviously some small animal corpses available and the Harrier was seen twice on the deck in the company of 2 Common Buzzards (to which it deferred) whilst a corpse was picked at. Otherwise it was quartering the field in late afternoon sunshine - I tried a record shot at great distance which was truly awful! I last saw it at 6:30pm, but it might well have stayed longer, as my view is quite restricted.

Earlier in the afternoon a Peregrine flew over high east - 4 Red Kites interacted with it ( one of the few birds they seem to take an interest in) seemingly trying to see it off. The size and upper wing colour would suggest adult female, but it was always fairly distant.

Early pm at LMGP found only a juv Yellow-legged Gull moulting to 1W and a Common Sandpiper of note (Adam Bassett)

REDSTART at Linford

A male COMMON REDSTART at Linford Wednesday morning, along the main track between the visitor centre and the hide. Also 2 Marsh Tit and a Green Sand flew over.The fog made looking at the lake somewhat pointless (Rob Hill)


Mike Wallen recorded a MARSH HARRIER, 2 miles south of wing , alongside the A418 mid-afternoon and later saw several WHINCHATS and 2 COMMON REDSTARTS in the Rowsham area

Monday, 6 September 2010

HAWFINCH at Manor Farm - Saturday 4th

Scanning the water for waders something 'not quite right' came into my view on my left flying along Back Brook at Willow height. Flying quite direct and fast it finally came into the open for the last fifty yards or so before hitting the bank of older taller trees above Godwit Corner. Stocky, and large for a finch, burnt orange in colour and with a gleaming platinum beak it could only be one thing even though i'd never seen one before in my life. Luckily I refound it seconds later up high in the canopy for another few glimpses at rest to confirm ID of HAWFINCH. It may still be there but I spent a fruitless three quarters of an hour trying to relocate.

All in all a good couple of days at Manor Farm. A flock of 6 ARCTIC TERNS last night as were three Northern Wheatear and the COMMON REDSTART still on the Ridge for its 8th day today (Chris Gleadell)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Another migrant MARSH HARRIER

Little Marlow GP - as I arrived at 13:15, I could hear a Greenshank calling. This was then then joined by a second bird and I watched them both fly off westwards towards the STW. A third bird was then found on the spit, which was a juvenile. Other birds of note were a Little Egret, 8 Shoveler and 6 Teal.

Marlow Bottom garden - post school pick-up and kids teas, I sat down and looked out of the lounge window. Almost immediately I picked up a distant raptor circling over the valley to the east. It had elevated wings, but looked very dark with a pale head through bins. Suspecting a Marsh Harrier, I dashed for my scope but predictably, the bird disappeared and I thought I had blown my chance. However, about 10 minutes later at 16:40, what was presumably the same bird appeared again distantly to the east above 2 Red Kites. Through the scope it was obviously a female/immature type MARSH HARRIER. I watched it glide WNW over the north end of the valley, circling a couple of times before disappearing from view. It was a very dark brown looking bird, although the long squarish ended tail appeared reddish in good light, pointing to adult female. However, the pale gold colouring appeared to be restricted to the head and the hand also looked quite narrow, coupled with the overall darkness of the bird means that it was probably a juvenile - the upper wing was never visible. The yellow legs also stood out at long range contrasting with the dark brown under body. This is my 4th consecutive year to have Marsh Harrier over the valley, so far all between August 26th and September 21st and also all mid-afternoon birds.

Adam Bassett

Manor Farm this evening

COMMON REDSTART again along the Ridge at Manor Farm this evening, again a female for a time in exactly the same bush as last weekends bird but this looked a much smarter clean cut individual but could be Paul M and Rob N's 'second' bird. If so now on site for the sixth day. Also as I was leaving as darkness fell a rather scruffy female WHINCHAT on the barbed wire fence running south to north down the hill from the farm building. Apart from that a lone Green Sandpiper and a pair of Common Terns getting what for from a pack of Jackdaws were the only other real birds of interest (Chris Gleadell)

Major fall of chats and flycatchers

In recent days, there has been a widespread arrival of WHINCHATS and COMMON REDSTARTS in to Buckinghamshire, with at least 15 of the former (including 2 in Rowsham, 2 at Penn Street, 3 at Lodge Hill, 6 at Springfield Farm Quarry, 2 at Ivinghoe, 4 at Quainton Hills) and 7 of the latter (3 at Lodge Hill, 3 on Steps Hill and 1 at Quainton Hills)