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

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Huge gathering of TREE SPARROWS as Chilterns Region has first snowfall of winter


With the wind veering to the east and Northeast, the first snow of the winter arrived overnight depositing a light covering over South Buckinghamshire and up to four centimetres in North Bucks and Bedfordshire. It was bitterly cold as the wind freshened and as darkness fell, temperatures plunged below freezing again.

The highlight of my day was an exceptional wintering flock of TREE SPARROWS in North Bucks - my largest flock in many years


Almost completely frozen over with 3 Little Grebes, 5 Mute Swans and 69 Coots remaining and 7 adult Common Gulls and a 4th-winter Argenteus Herring Gull resting on the ice and a single Fieldfare in the bushes.


Barry Nightingale had seen 105 WAXWINGS at 0800 hours but when I visited around midday, just 29 were feeding on the Pink Rowans along Leighton Street.


The female SMEW discovered on Sunday was still present, diving with Tufted Ducks on the east shore of the North Lake. On the opposite side of the dual carriageway, on the South Lake, a pair of COMMON SHELDUCK were noted, along with 33 Great Crested Grebes and good numbers of dabbling duck.

(Access road very snowy - utmost care required)

Following up some information kindly supplied by Rob Hill, a strip of maize crop and its adjoining clump of conifers and thick hawthorn scrub yielded an incredible 130 TREE SPARROWS - my largest local gathering of this species for at least ten years. They were all chipping away together and making a loud racket and keeping to one core mass. There were also a lot of Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch with them, whilst 2 MARSH TITS were in the hedgerow.


I had to park in Maids Moreton village as the roads around Foxcote were treacherous and incredibly icy - cars were strewn everywhere having collided with one another or slithered off of the road.

When I finally reached the hide, there was one wide sweep of open water that had escaped the ice. Sat on the ice at the entrance to the NW arm were the 4 BEWICK'S SWANS (three adults and a single juvenile) that Paul had found about an hour earlier and Francis had seen. The adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK was also present - showing very well for a change - and wide awake - and diving in front of the hide.

The cold weather had also seen a massive influx of wildfowl on the reservoir with 44 Mute Swans, 516 Eurasian Wigeon, 43 Common Teal, 15 Gadwall, a drake PINTAIL, 32 Tufted Duck, 17 Northern Pochard and 8 Common Goldeneye (4 drakes) present, as well as 8 Great Crested Grebes and an adult pair of GOOSANDER. A single DUNLIN was standing on the ice by the tern raft.

The hedgerows bordering the road between the village and the access gate held 25 Redwings and a party of 6 nominate BULLFINCHES.


My last port of call was an ice-free Brogborough Lake where the GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still present, as well as the 7 adult RED-CRESTED POCHARDS that MJP counted earlier (5 drakes and two females). There were also 16 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swans, a single Little Grebe, 22 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon and 34 Common Goldeneyes.

BITTERNS at Weston Turville Reservoir

There were 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS at Weston Turville this evening, seen from the Susan Cowdy hide. Both birds flew up from towards the far side, straight out from the hide and made short flights presumably to roost. It was getting pretty dark when they appeared. Also 2 Sparrowhawks spooking the Wood Pigeons as they hunted together (Rob Andrews)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Redhead SMEW present for second day

The redhead SMEW was at Caldecotte North Lake again this lunchtime. Near the bridge (Ted Reed)


I have just been watching (1335) a flock of 25 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in a tree outside no. 30, Wedgwood Avenue, Blakelands, Milton Keynes. They were just resting there and making their ringing call. There were no berries in that tree, so may not stay around long (Tony Garner)

Friday, 26 November 2010


A pair of BEARDED TITS was showing well high up in a tree near to the boardwalk at Walton Lakes at 10:45 this morning and the drake RING-NECKED DUCK was back at Foxcote. Seen straight out from the hide sleeping amongst a party of Wigeon at 12:00 (per Ken Earnshaw).

Meanwhile, an adult male RING OUZEL is present for its second day just SE of the Beacon - a very late individual indeed (per Mike Wallen). Yesterday, 3 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS flew west over Ivinghoe Hills and were later seen in Aldbury village

Thursday, 25 November 2010

BITTERN at Calvert

Calvert BBOWT - late afternoon; Huge gull pre-roost contained 9 Y.L.Gulls and 1 ad Caspian Gull. Waders are scarce here in Spring let alone Winter but flock of 4 Common Redshank flew low over water couple of times then flew towards sailing lake. Later a pair of Goosanders flew in, again headed to other lake. Big increase in Herrings and G.B.B gulls late on from tip.

Icing on cake was a BITTERN climbing to roost at 16:08 in right hand reedbed from the 1st hide - think this is earliest ever had one here. Jolting reeds put me onto it but then wasn't hard to see. It wasn't on their usual favoured area of reed edge against deepwater but in middle of bed, made lot of commotion climbing then spent rest of time stretching neck up and looking all around (Tim Watts).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Dorney and WAXWINGS galore in Milton Keynes


The North-easterly wind continues to blow, with temperatures dropping by a degree or two each day. Very much overcast and grey and a real winter feel to proceedings.

No birding today but a spot of twitching. Dave Cleal found a BRENT GOOSE early afternoon which I was able to see half an hour later and Darrel Bryant a flock of WAXWINGS - which were affording great views mid afternoon......


Dave Cleal sent me a text early afternoon informing me of a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Dorney Rowing Lakes. I jumped in the car, raced down there and enjoyed views of it half an hour later. It was an ADULT and was consorting with the 250 or so Atlantic Canada Geese on the grass and in the reserve pool and represented my first in the county this year. Dave, Kevin Duncan and I watched it until 1245 hours...................Thanks Dave


Whilst on route to the DBBG, my good friend Darrel Bryant rang to say that he had just found 4 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS whilst walking his dog close to his home in Stevenage. As each flock so far had been in and out, I did not expect them to linger, but when Darrel said that there were ample Rowans on the estate, my hopes were raised. As soon as I had seen the goose, I phoned Darrel back and he said that there were now 5 birds and that they had moved a few roads. He very kindly agreed to keep on them for me.

It was 55 miles between sites and as predicted, it took me just over an hour to arrive. Darrel was still watching them fortunately and within seconds of my arrival, I had connected. They were commuting between a tall roosting tree and a flowering Rowan adjacent to No 30 Wetherby Close, about half a mile from the usual Waxwing areas in the town.

The five birds consisted of three adults and two first-winters and the views were typically first-rate. All five were still present when I left at 1420 hours.

North Buckinghamshire had also seen an influx of WAXWINGS today, with 43 recorded by Paul Gibbs. Just one of these remained this afternoon but nevertheless Paul Keene was able to get this cracking shot published above.

BEWICK'S SWAN at Foxcote

An adult BEWICK'S SWAN plus 2 male and a female Goosander were at Foxcote this afternoon. The Bewicks was initially on the spit then moved over to the east shore down towards the dam (Ken Earnshaw)

Meanwhile, a flock of 43 WAXWINGS were seen at Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes

Monday, 22 November 2010

BEARDED TITS still present

One pair of BEARDED TITS showing well in the reeds beside the boardwalk today at 1430. I watched them for 15 minutes feeding both low down and on the tops of the reeds before they disappeared deeper into the reeds (Tony Garner)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just back from surveying 2 tetrads for the Birds of Bucks / BTO Atlas around Gawcott, Preston Bissett and Hillesden.

Undoubted highlight was a SHORT-EARED OWL between Hillesden and Preston Bissett (approximately SP 671 289); it was in a hedge by the public footpath. I'm not sure who was more startled it or me when I came face to face with it only about 15m away. Needless to say it flew off and headed South, being mobbed by crows. That area seems quiet, so may have been around a while and worth keeping an eye out if you are in the area. Despite being fairly ordinary farmland at first glance there were plenty of other birds today around including; good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing, flock of about 60 Linnet, Little Owl, lots of Yellowhammers and a Reed Bunting. In total 43 species in one tetrad and 36 in the other.

If you have not signed up to do a survey, there are still some good tetrads left and this is the last year of the survey so your last chance. You never know what might turn up! (Go to the BTO Atlas site here: or contact John Gearing ) - Neil Fletcher

Sunday, 14 November 2010

There was a huge gull roost at Foxcote this evening, the biggest that I have ever seen at this site in 15+ years. Having delayed the WEBS count until late in the day, unfortunately I didn't have the time to go through the gulls but I counted 860 LBB gulls and estimated 3500 black-headed gull, 150 common gull and 50 herring gull. Another birder leaving the site as I arrived at 15:15 said there were a couple of yellow-legged gulls and a glaucous-type (his words) gull, but I didn't see either.There were still gulls flying into the reservoir as I left at 16:30, so I suspect that they were all going to stay and roost overninght.

In addition 43 mute swan, 435 wigeon, 25 tufted duck, 213 coot, 42 gadwall, 23 shoveler, 7 great-crested grebe, 2 little grebe, 6 pochard, 7 goldeneye (2m), 15 mallard, 14 teal, 33 cormorant, 1 lapwing and a male mandarin duck roosting with the wigeon on the north shore.

If you haven't visited Foxcote recently, the water level is still really low leaving large areas of exposed muddy shoreline. I suspect that this may explain the relatively high numbers of dabbling duck (e.g. gadwall and shoveler) and the low numbers (compared to previous years) of tufted duck and pochard. It might also explain why the ring-necked duck has deserted the site as it wasn't seen again today and I think hasn't been seen for some weeks now (Bill Parker)

Walton Balancing Lake Reedbed

All 4 Bearded Tits showed well eventually from the boardwalk at about 9 o'clock this morning.Also a flock of 22 Siskins frequenting the Alder trees (Rob Norris)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

BEARDIES still present at Walton

The 4 BEARDED TITS still present at Walton BL late afternoon. Initially elusive, feeding at the bottom of the reeds, all four eventually showed well by the boardwalk - Rob Hill

Seen from Buckinghamshire but not in it - VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater


Did not bother to go out this morning after receiving so much abuse from certain quarters relating to my recent TV appearance and from the continuing fallout still being aired on the BirdGuides website. Had tried to address the subject in a candid interview with One-Show regular and wildlife enthusiast David Lindo but still the sniping continues unabated.

Anyway, JT eventually shook me out of the doldrums by informing me of a local mega just down the road - in the form of a VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater Sailing Pit in Middlesex..........

(Dry but cold and overcast)

Simon Buckingham had located the bird early afternoon and from 1330-1410 hours, I enjoyed some good views of it, as it dived and preened towards the north end, in amongst the vast hordes of Tufted Duck.

It was clearly a much larger bird than the accompanying Aythyas and was obviously an immature VELVET SCOTER. By the fact that it has some light yellow on the bill suggested it was a drake. Much of the belly was pale, indicating first-year, and apart from the overall dark brown plumage, it had a weak off-white ear covert patch behind the eye. The broad pure white secondary panel was seen well each time the bird preened.

Tufted Ducks were in abundance, with 602 logged, whilst other wildfowl present included 15 Gadwall, 6 Common Goldeneyes and a single Egyptian Goose.

Around the car parking area, Mick Frosdick and I enjoyed views of 8 LESSER REDPOLLS as they fed at the tops of the trees.

The bird is literally just 200 yards from both the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire borders, frustratingly from the latter from my point of view as I still have not seen a Bucks Velvet Scoter. It is situated at TQ 043 896 and best viewed from the Colne riverbank footpath on the west side of the pit. Parking is limited but available at the end of the lane at TQ 048 890 from where one can walk across the muddy causeway west to the Colne footpath.


Four Egyptian Geese grazing near the barns.


All 3 wintering LITTLE EGRETS on site, two just east of Bois Mill and one near Chenies Bottom. A young Grey Heron was feeding on the grass verge of Latimer Road.

At the Fishing Lakes, no sign of the recent Great Crested Grebe, but COMMON KINGFISHER, 4 drake Northern Pochards, 5 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.


Highlight this morning in the garden was a male SISKIN - my first of the autumn. Still up to 12 Goldfinches present on the Nyger seed.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Both ROCK and WATER PIPITS at Wilstone, and 7 DUNLIN, but no Scaup at Foxcote


A pretty dismal day weatherwise with strong NE winds and intermittent showers. Much colder than of late.

After arriving very late for my date with One Show chat host David Lindo, I eventually got myself out of Central London early afternoon. I then got delayed further after there was a very serious accident on the A41 near Watford but eventually got to Tring just before 1300 hours. I undertook a full inventory of wildfowl etc but the poor weather was useless for passerines.....


A first-year Mute Swan, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Coot and 38 Shoveler were all of note.


A further 17 Great Crested Grebes noted, along with 4 adult Mute Swans, 14 Common Teal, 28 Tufted Duck, 4 Northern Pochard, an adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 5 Moorhen and 158 Coots.


Very quiet and barren with just 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Duck and 23 Coot present.

(1400-1445 hours)

Not that much different to the weekend with 5 Little Grebes, the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, a LITTLE EGRET, 25 roosting Cormorants, 24 Mute Swans, the two adult Whooper Swans, 79 Greylag Geese, much less wildfowl but 5 NORTHERN PINTAIL and 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYE and 312 Lapwing.

However, as I set up my 'scope and worked my way across the expanse of mud between the new overflow and the hide, I located SEVEN DUNLIN in amongst the 204 roosting EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and then two pipits working their way along the edge.

One was the clean-looking WATER PIPIT of the last few days whilst the other was a dingy and heavily streaked SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT - a belated first in the county this year for me. Both birds worked their way around to the white 'froth' built up by the strong wind and afforded excellent views down to just 40 yards.

The ROCK PIPIT was typically very Meadow Pipit-like but was very heavily streaked and saturated on the underparts on a warm background. The streaks were long and extended right down the flanks. The upperparts were dark with little evidence of bracing with a pale whitish eye-ring on one side of the head and an eye-ring and a weak pale line behind the eye on the left side. The loral line was clearly dark and the stout bill quite pale orangey at the base of the mandibles. The upperwings were generally uniform olive-grey or olive-brown but had obvious pale whitish fringes to the greater and median coverts forming obvious bars. The chin and throat were unmarked and quite buffish or pale cream in colour and on the tail, the outer feathers were off-white or greyish-buff. The legs were predominantly dark but with an obvious hint of dark orange-brown. For about five minutes, it bathed in shallow water and preened, and on one occasion when it had an altercation with one of two Pied Wagtails, it uttered a sharp, explosive, metallic ''peeest' note as it flew.

Side-by-side, the WATER PIPIT was much cleaner-looking, with much whiter underparts/basal colour and much more strident, shorter and less extensive streaking. It was also a much paler brown bird on the upperparts, with more striking white-fringed wing-bars, white tail-sides and a white throat. The lower mandible was more yellow-toned in colour and the head pattern was typified by an obvious white eye-stripe. Once again, the lores were dark, the bill very slightly longer and the legs and feet very dark almost black. It was by far the more elegant pipit of the two.


In crops east of the A413 about a mile north of Whitchurch contained a flock of 130 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 90 Lapwings.

(1500 hours until dusk)

Another attempt at the recent Greater Scaup but despite an extensive search, yet another blank. Definitely not in the NW arm.

The complete logcall went 6 Great Crested Grebes, 45 Mute Swans, 196 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 Greylag Goose, 11 Mallard, 116 Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Common Teal, 18 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 1 drake NORTHERN PINTAIL, 18 Tufted Duck, 11 Northern Pochard, 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE (4 females), 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS and a Grey Wagtail.

There was a large pre-roost gathering of gulls which included 1 adult YELLOW-LEGGED, 139 Lesser Black-backed (of both graellsii and intermedius), an adult argenteus Herring Gull, 25 Common and 500+ Black-headed.

The reedbed in the NW arm was utilised by just over 300 Common Starlings before dusk.

BEARDIES still on site

All 4 BEARDED TITS still present at Walton Lake. I saw them drop into the reed bed to roost up at 16:25, looking from the boardwalk. Three birds lost to sight straight away but one male showed quite well, feeding on seed head and foraging in lower reeds (Martin Kincaid)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Walton Lake BEARDIES still in situ

The BEARDED TITS remain at Walton BL this morning.Having been away since Thursday night, this morning was the first chance I've had to look for Paul's 4 Bearded Tits. Unfortunately the weather was less than helpful; I was on site from dawn, confronted with persistent and frequently very heavy rain and regular strong gusts of wind.

Hardly good Bearded Tit weather...

At 08:05 3+ Bearded Tits put in a brief performance; I was looking right from the boardwalk where the hide used to be. Despite staying until 09:30, there was no further sight nor sound; the birds keeping their head down feeding I guess.

3-4 WATER RAILS called at various times, and the surprise of the morning was a WOODCOCK which flew over giving great views just before 09:00! (Ben Miller)

Weekend Highlights - LGRE Diary Notes

Today's weather has given me an ideal opportunity to try and catch up reading and writing emails......

Firstly, SUNDAY 7 NOVEMBER Diary Notes

A fairly pleasant day in terms of weather, with fairly fresh easterly winds, some light showers but mainly bright conditions.


In the Chess Valley, 3 LITTLE EGRETS had returned by late afternoon, feeding together in the usual stream east of Bois Mill. There has been one bird present in the valley for nearly two months now.


Roy Hargreaves and David Bilcock had discovered a GREATER SCAUP from the Drayton Hide early morning. I got down there at about 1600 hours and after scanning the 90 or so Aythyas swimming and diving for food between the central bank and the tern rafts, soon located the bird. As usual, it was a first-winter female-type, with warm to dark brown brown overall body colouration, a darker head with a pale crescent below the lower ear covert and some restricted white at the base of the bill. There was a hint of some subtle grey tones coming through on the upperparts and alongside Tufted Ducks, the bird could be seen to be larger, with a much flatter head and thicker neck and a larger bill. The bill was grey with a slight black nail at the tip. When diving, it characteristically lifted its whole body out of the water and dived in, noticeably different to the diving action of the Tufted Ducks. David, as always, obtained images of the bird, two of which are displayed above. It represents the first in the county this year.

I then left the hide after carrying out an inventory of the birds in that quarter and walked back towards the car park, where I scrutinised the gull roost as well as counted the rest of the birds present.

Great Crested Grebe (18)
Little Grebe (3 tightly-knit together)
*BLACK-NECKED GREBE (the long-staying bird still present, favouring the section visible from the jetty)
Cormorant (35)
Mute Swan (25 including the 5 first-winters)
Whooper Swan (the two tame adults, now resorting to being fed on bread)
Greylag Goose (67)
Gadwall (21)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (only 3 drakes this evening)
Shoveler (114)
Eurasian Wigeon (103 - very small number for this time of year)
Common Teal (347+)
Northern Pochard (189)
Tufted Duck (263)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (1 female in front of the hide - DB had seen two)
Coot (433)
Lapwing (130)
European Golden Plover (228)
Black-headed Gull (1,672 roosted - perhaps the first time they have actually done so this autumn)
Common Gull (just 13 with the above)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (14 adults)
Common Kingfisher


A beautiful day and surprisingly warm at times, despite the wind coming from the NW in the morning. Dry and sunny.

(1030-1130 hours)

Joined Charlie, Francis and Ian on the jetty from where I eventually tracked down the WATER PIPIT present for its second day. I heard it uttering its metallic, sharp, short 'vieeet' flight note as it circled around the jetty but despite attempting to, it refused to land and disappeared strongly away towards Startop's End.

Also noted were the BLACK-NECKED GREBE (showing very well, close inshore to the bank), 1 LITTLE EGRET, 14 NORTHERN PINTAILS (mainly drakes), a female GOOSANDER (my first at the reservoirs this year), a single DUNLIN on the spit, 2 Common Snipe, 3 adult Common Gulls and a flyover LESSER REDPOLL.


My first visit to this small reedbed reserve - super site. Paul Moon had discovered four BEARDED TITS at this site yesterday whilst I was away in the Republic of Ireland and this was my first opportunity to visit. Mike Wallen had glimpsed a female in the last hour or so and after walking the boardwalk and perimeter path and hearing just 3 WATER RAILS, I concentrated my efforts in the area around the bench on the south side which soon reaped rewards. The BEARDED TITS were calling but not showing so I cheated. The distinctive contact calls were played from the mobile and out they all come - a single male particularly showing well as he sat aloft one of the swaying reeds. All four birds were very close - perhaps 25 yards away - but despite that, once down in the reeds, very hard to locate. The flock comprised of two adult males and two female-types - and in the warm sunshine, looked exquisite. A charming species indeed.

The Bearded Tit was not admitted to the County List until 1959, when one was seen at Claydon Brook, near Winslow. This was followed by a party of 4 which wintered at Marsworth Reservoir, Tring, from 2 November 1959, occasionally straying into the Bucks section of reedbed by the Grand Union Canal.

There then followed another migrating party of 4 at Old Slade Gravel Pits on 1 January 1966 and it was this very same site that hosted a wintering bird in February and March 1967. Again, this was the favoured haunt of a wintering flock of up to 8 birds from 17 November 1971 to 14 March 1972, a male of which had been colour-ringed at Minsmere RSPB reserve on the Suffolk coast.

The Autumn of 1972 really did see an invasion of this species and was the first time that I had seen Bearded Tits in the area, with a huge flock of up to 33 birds in the Newport Pagnell Gravel Pits locale from 29 October onwards and a party of 4 at Weston Turville Reservoir reedbed from 15 November until at least 8 December. Four remained at Newport Pagnell until 4 February 1973.

Later in 1973, one was seen at Padbury on 28 October and a pair were again at Weston Turville on 31 October, and in 1974, one was at Thornborough throughout January and a pair were at a suitable breeding locality throughout April but were never proved breeding. That autumn saw more again at Weston Turville reedbed, with 2 on 19 October, increasing to 6 by 30 and to as many as 10 from 2 November when I visited. They remained until the year end, with 6 more (including 4 males) at Little Marlow Gravel Pits on 9-10 November.

Over that 1974/75 winter, a total of 12 Bearded Tits was ringed at Weston Turville reedbed, with 5 birds still being seen as late as 4 March and in 1976, birds returned again, with at least 5 present on 18 October, remaining until 6 November.

Henry Mayer-Gross heard one flying over near his home in Worlds End, Wendover, on 18 October 1977 and again, a female inhabited the Turville reedbed on 25-26 November. A party of 4 arrived at Old Slade NR on 29 November 1977, all staying until 1 December and then a lone female until Boxing Day. She was seen again on 1 & 10 January 1978. On 14 October 1978, Bob Tunnicliffe observed a pair near Bletchley.

The next party involved 5 at Weston Turville Reservoir on 15 October 1980 followed by another invasion of up to 24 at Old Slade from 16-22 February 1981. A pair was seen at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, on 30 October and 13 November 1983 and a female on 8 January and 11 February 1984., with a further cluster of sightings in 1986 - when four females were at Willen Lake on 19 October (with subsequent sightings of a male there on 3 November and a female next day) and two pairs were at Weston Turville from 30 October until at least Christmas Eve.

Bearded Tit occurrences then started to wane in the county and it was a species difficult-to-catch-up-with. 1988 saw 3 males at Willen lake on 23 October and a male at Calvert on 6 November, with two pairs at Weston Turville on 31 October to 1 November. This same site also hosted an adult male from 22 January to 20 February 1989 and a further 3 from 10-31 December 1992. On 30 October 1992, three flew high west over Linford NR.

The Turville three remained in the reedbed on and off until 6 March 1993, with a further pair being discovered by Rob Andrews at Hedgerley Tip on 4 December 1993. There then followed a male at Turville reedbed on 1 & 15 January 1994 and a very confiding male at Walton Balancing Lakes from 19-26 February 1994.

From then on, the status of this species in the county went pear-shaped, and in the New Millenium, the only sighting was of a female photographed at Wotton on 18 October 2002.


The three adult WHOOPER SWANS were asleep on the bund mid-afternoon, whilst otherwise just 28 Mute Swans, 11 Pochard, 16 Gadwall and a few Eurasian Wigeon were noted; plus a juvenile Great Crested Grebe still beinga ttended by the parent.


Andy Harding and I coincided our visit with an unfortunate afternoon shoot and consequently wildfowl were scattered everywhere. In a rush to beat them, I lost my beloved 30x wide angle lens, but miraculously relocated it after a lengthy search. The reason for my visit - Adam Bassett's SCAUP - did not realise, and after an exhaustive search of all wildfowl present, noted were 45 Mute Swans, 2 Common Teal, 228+ Eurasian Wigeon (nearer 300 in reality), 24 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 33 Tufted Duck, 13 Pochard, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYE (1 adult drake), 1 Dabchick, 6 Great Crested Grebes and 4 GREEN SANDPIPERS.


One of the adult PEREGRINES chased and killed a Feral Pigeon and proceeded to pluck and eat it on one of the window ledges.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

BEARDED TITS still at Walton Lake

Four birds showing well from 08.30-08.50. Good views to the right from the end of the boardwalk. At 08.50 all four took off and gained height before heading off to the NW, just as they had done at the same time on Saturday - but higher - Peter Barnes

SCAUP still present

Tim Watts photographed the GREATER SCAUP at Foxcote Reservoir again this morning, despite the fact that Andy Harding and I could not locate it there yesterday afternoon. A drake Pintail was also there today, following a female yesterday. Also 4 Green Sandpipers.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

WHOOPERS arrive at Linford

A splendid north Bucks morning, starting with the 4 BEARDED TITS at Walton, showing well as they moved through the reeds right next to the boardwalk, calling repeatedly. Myself and Simon think there may - may - be a fifth bird in there, but as far as I'm aware the total thus far is still 4. Also 8 Siskin over, a few Redwing, and 3 Water Rail.

Moving to Linford, there was a Marsh Tit in the car park, 16 Snipe circled the lake several times before heading off towards Haversham Mill, and a flock of c12 Siskin also contained 2 Lesser Redpoll. Then scanning through the Mutes, I found 3 WHOOPER SWANS. They initially looked nervous, trumpeting away before flying off low west. Luckily they were only circuiting the lake, and they landed again in front of near hide, eventually looking a lot more settled. If we're lucky they'll spend a prolonged period of time in the Ouse valley.

Also at Linford, c160 migrating Woodpigeons, flying high south-west in 3 flocks, something I haven't paid too much attention to before. Excellent morning! Rob Hill

BEARDED TITS in Milton Keynes

Female Bearded Tit at Walton Balancing Lake 05/11/2010 13:31 - Car Park SP879369
Speaking with Nik Maynard about the news he said "What did you go there for!?!!?" - Well, Linford was dead yesterday, Walton's closer to work and I still needed Bittern for my Bucks year list - came my reply. As I started down the boardwalk from the small car park I flushed something small from the boardwalk edge which moved off into the reeds,but I could still hear it moving around? Don't think it was a bird as it didn't give any contact call as it was flushed? So had my hopes up it could have been a mammal....a Water Vole? or perhaps a Mink :-( ? Anyway I couldn't relocate it so started off further along the board walk and on to the viewing platform). From here, I could again sense something moving to my left through the reeds (but this animal/bird was the same as the previous - it would have had to have crossed the footpath leading off to the 2nd hide). I now started to track the twitching reeds as the creature moved around my left and closer to me. I then realised it was a bird as it started giving 'CHA - ing' calls, and with heart beat raised I started to think it didn't sound quite right for Bearded Tit - a shorter "ping"from memory? The reeds kept moving and I could track this as it moved across my position and away from me. Panicking that the bird was not going to show itself and the movement now going away from me I started 'pishing' the bird. Again it still kept moving away to about 10 metre. I noticed the reed stems getting shaken more and more, I could still hearsome "Cha-hing" calls as it went. So I finally used my bins as I'd been keeping them covered out of the rain, and started to track up the shaking reeds to finally see a female BEARDED TIT pop out on top of the Reed Mace between some greener leaved shrubs. This then moved off away from me, but at this point I'm sure I heard a 'second' contact call coming to the right of where that bird was (about 4 metres away). Then gone. No more views. (I then thought I heard 2 calls off to the right by the time Martin K and Rob N had arrived but they didn't).
UPDATE 14:39 Rob Norris is still on site and called to say he's heard two Bearded Tits calling and briefly seen one at distance moving amongst the reeds. The platform seems the best location - But please be very quiet once on site.
Boardwalk SP880370 (Paul Moon)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

WHOOPER SWAN still present

Foxcote; Adam' Bassetts probable fem Greater Scaup is still there. Viewed at long range in poor light but looked pretty good for true Scaup fem/imm to me. Aythya duck with rounded head, bigger than Coots, mantle dark brown, flanks rusty brown, cream patches at base of bill and cream ear patch. Bill looked wide with think smallish nail? Splash preened very vigorously on it's own, gave impression of powerful duck. Certainly not one of the female Tufty Scaup lookalikes that we get at Calvert and here but guess closer views needed to say for sure.We need an expert to have a look!!

Hillesden; adult WHOOPER SWAN still with Greylag Goose flock feeding in crop field to right of pools / 18 Wigeon/3 Little Grebe

Calvert; quick look at early part of gull pre-roost- 1 ad Y.L.Gull and 3rd W presumed Y.L.G, say presumed cos it's head shape and eye, jizz look strange to me!!

Gallows bridge farm; quiet start but livened up when 2 Sparrowhawks hunted stubble field next to cark park and then spotted a Peregrine sat in main meadow! Peregrine powered off and put everything up, seen again in high speed chase low over meadow; didn't see it make a kill but landed to rest/roost on Pylon by A41. Also seen, c 400 Lapwing but not a single Golden Plover/ c400 Starling/c 60 Linnet/c80 ducks put up, mostly Mallard but c 20 Teal and 3 other slimline ducks (Tim Watts)

OSPREY again

Bob and Trish Tunnicliffe had the OSPREY again yesterday, at Willen Lake At around 1330 hours, it just flew over - came in from a generally easterly direction and headed off south west - flying pretty low.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Late GARGANEY still at Foxcote

The GARGANEY was still present this morning, 1st Nov. along the far side to the right of the hide below the feeder. It was not seen in flight. Although a distant view I think it is a female due to its pale face, distinct pale supercillium and pale buff breast.

The scaup type thingy was also present but it looks to me like a hybrid. It had dirty-white under-tail coverts mottled with dark grey, fairly uniform light brown flanks with a warmer brown area to the rear. The back was dark greyish brown with at some angles paler grey feathers on the upper back. The breast was warm brown as was the head but with a paler forehead. The white areas either side of the bill base were a creamy-white. The eye was dark with no hint of yellow iris. The head shape was good for Greater Scaup in being rounded and slightly flattish on the crown and with no hint of a crest. The bill was broad and pale-blueish grey with an indistinct smudgy nail.It did little but sleep and popped its head up once and was on the water below the gate on the far bank to the right of the hide.

No sign of the Northern Pintail nor of the RND. Two male and one female Goldeneye present along with two Green Sandpipers, several hundred Wigeon and a gathering of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, etc. (Ken Earnshaw)

30 October - CASPIAN GULL at Calvert

Decided to check out the gull roost at Calvert this evening and so a stopoff at Gallows Bridge is an added excuse these days. I pulled up at the entrance and as soon as I got out the car there were birds everywhere, all along the entrance track hedge and flying up from theadjacent stubble field. They were mostly Chaffinches but, to my delight, also a few TREE SPARROWS. I managed to perch up on top of the gatepost and scan the flock as they dropped back into the stubble and soon realised there were more sparrows than I first thought. At least 18 were on the ground or in the roadside hedge but there were probably more hidden. It's many years since I've sen this number in Bucks. This field looks superb at the moment with a large flock of Linnets, Starlings and Skylarks. It would be nice if they attracted Tim's Merlin back again for the winter. The pools and main field were quiet with just a few Fieldfare and 100 LesserBB Gulls. A flock of c300 Golden Plover and 400 Lapwing were in flight over Grendon Underwood.

I moved on to Calvert where the gull roost was starting to build up in front of the 2nd hide and included at least 5 Yellow-legged Gulls. I was joined by Warren Claydon who soon found a CASPIAN GULL in the flock. It was quite adult like but the bill markings and dark in the primary coverts showed some immaturity so was probably a fourth winter (Rob Andrews)

WHOOPER SWAN at Hillesden

30 October - Calvert; noticable influx of Blackbirds in scrub/ 2 Goldcrests/3 Jays

Hillesden; adult WHOOPER SWAN on main pool veiwable from the track, it looked settled, feeding with Mutes.

Gallows bridge farm; c400 Golden Plover/c 500 Lapwing in flight over adjacent crop fields. 5 TREE SPARROWS on cut hedge by car park briefly also Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers, House Sparrows on same hedge; 2 flocks of Linnets combined occasionally c 200 (Tim Watts)