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

Friday, 30 December 2011

Wintering BITTERNS are back

There were two EURASIAN BITTERNS at Weston Turville Res' this evening, best viewed from the Susan Cowdy hide. One was already being watched by Richard Billyard when I arrived, then at c3.50 another one flew across the water from near the sailing club and landed on the far side opposite the hide,only about 6 metres from the other one. After a while both birds climbed about 5 feet up and were showing quite well in the gloom. Always magic birds to see (Rob Andrews)

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER and SMEW still at Caldecotte

Enjoyable morning round the lake.Highlights were;

Great Northern Diver still on the north lake.
Smew still on south lake.
Three Goosander now, south lake. 1 male, two female.
Big flock of Siskin, south lake.

Keith O'Hague

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wilstone Bewick's Swans relocate to Weston Turville this afternoon


A touch or so colder today with the temperature reaching just 9 degrees C. Very overcast but dry and with an increasing westerly wind

With a visit to Tring in the offing, I took the opportunity to survey the waterbodies of the Aylesbury Area..........


Three LITTLE EGRETS today just east of Bois Mill - and 1 Cormorant on the fishing lake there.


There was no sign of Roy's colour-ringed BLACK-TAILED GODWIT when I arrived at the Drayton Hide late morning - it had presumably moved on

The water level was increasing further with the inlet pipe by the car park in full pump mode. As a consequence, wildfowl numbers were much recovered, although Great Crested Grebe and Mute Swan numbers were very low

The sole remaining Little Grebe was noted, 8 Great Crested Grebes, just 5 Mute Swans, 256 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 375 Teal, 44 Shoveler, 107 Pochard, 73 Tufted Duck, 7 COMMON GOLDENEYES (including 2 adult drakes), 760 Coot, 45 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 32 Lapwings.

The Linnet flock by the hide now numbers 52 birds and Pied Wagtails remain at a high 17.

The Cemetery Corner geese flock has increased to 83 birds, including 71 Greylag, 10 Atlantic Canada and the ever-present first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE


The first-winter male SNOW BUNTING was still performing well along the north shore, Chris Holtby obtaining a large number of images.

Otherwise, 12 Mute Swans (including 3 unringed first-years), 7 Atlantic Canada Geese, 46 Gadwall, 4 Great Crested Grebes and a single Little Grebe were present.

Very little on TRINGFORD RESERVOIR other than 2 Mute Swans, 5 Grey Heron, 22 Teal and 2 drake Shoveler and even less on MARSWORTH with 4 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Teal and 21 Shovelers.


Popped in at 1300 hours and was very surprised to find the Wilstone family party of 4 BEWICK'S SWANS being chased around by the resident pair of Mute Swans along the reedbed western side of the reservoir. The cob Mute repeatedly harried the two juvenile Bewick's, causing them to fly and circle.

Very quiet otherwise with just 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Moorhens, 2 drake Tufted Ducks and 1 drake Shoveler (up to 32 of the latter species had been present recently). Not one Coot.


A single Little Grebe, 20 Mallard, 10 Coot and 11 Moorhens for my troubles - and a male Siskin.


On the West Pool, a pair of Mute Swans, pair of Teal, 4 Moorhen and 1 Grey Heron, whilst on the Trout Pools, 14 Mallard, 5 Shoveler (2 drakes), 70 Canada Geese, 2 Moorhens and another Grey Heron. The neighbouring field held 14 Common Magpies.


A full inventory recorded 10 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Mute Swans (including 1 first-year), 1 Canada Goose, 124 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, just 6 Coot and 4 Moorhens.


A small party of 13 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS was in the field opposite Green Park in Copperkins Lane.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Waterbirds Survey Part 2 - LGRE


The mild theme to the weather continued today with temperatures hovering around 11 degrees C. It remained dry throughout but was very overcast

Visited South Bucks today in an attempt to further census water bodies in the region.......


Single Grey Heron and Mute Swan, 12 Atlantic Canada Geese and 13 Eurasian Wigeon, with the woodland tract supporting Coal Tit, 2 Goldcrests and 14 Fieldfares.


Pair of Egyptian Geese in roadside field


By far the most productive site in the county for MANDARIN DUCK with a total of 37 birds present at the north end (including 19 drakes); also 4 Mute Swans (2 first-winters), 4 Atlantic Canada Geese, 24 Mallard, 36 Coot and 8 Moorhens

ROWLEY LAKE (TQ 003 826)

This Harrow Angling Society water held just 2 Coot and a female Common Teal, the surrounding woodland yielding 55 Redwing and 8 Long-tailed Tits.


No fewer than 26 House Sparrows present in the thick hedgerow adjoining George Green Road at TQ 003 812


The lake held a pair of Egyptian Geese, 46 Mallard, 7 Coot and 4 Moorhens, whilst the parkland 14 Ring-necked Parakeets, Green Woodpecker and displaying Stock Doves.


A reasonable number of diving duck for a change with 70 Tufted Duck and 42 Northern Pochard present, along with 5 Mute Swans (3 first-winters), 7 Gadwall, 10 Coot and 2 Great Crested Grebes. A single Little Egret was feeding in the brook


A large gravel pit holding wintering waterbirds including 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 6 Mute Swans (all first-winter), 4 Gadwall, 9 Pochard, 17 Tufted Duck and 12 Coot


A large gravel pit complex devoted to angling with 2 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Grey Heron, 3 Canada Geese, 6 Mallard, 11 Tufted Ducks, 20 Coot, 8 Moorhen and 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS noted; also 2 SISKINS in Alders.


The North Pond remains dry whilst the South harboured just the resident pair of Moorhens.


A total of 58 Mallard and 2 Moorhens


A total of 28 RED KITES roosted this evening


The Holly tree roost at SU 917 954 held an incredible 370 GREENFINCHES this afternoon, the highest number in many years, whilst the bracken held 7 roosting WOODCOCKS
An excellent morning going round the lake.

Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still on the north lake, diving around by the buoy marked number 4
Female GOOSANDER on the north lake, with drake on the south lake, in front of houses, near the rowing club.
Male SMEW, south lake, at the far end.
And a few Siskin on the south lake.

Just a few of the highlights from 40 different birds seen this morning (Keith O'Hague)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter Waterbird Surveying


Well what topsy turvy weather ! The first official day of winter sees temperatures hit a balmy 13 degrees C, with a tropical airflow bringing damp, drizzly conditions before it finally cleared from the west.

As it was 21 December today and the Winter Solstice, I reserved the day for waterbird surveying, covering the Thames Basin waterbodies in the south of the county. Diving duck numbers were disappointingly low.


Deadly - just a pair of Mallard for my efforts


Very flooded but just 2 Moorhens and 4 Mallard present


At the Middle Pond (SU 950 847), just 7 MANDARIN DUCKS present (4 drakes), 25 Mallards and 2 Moorhens. The Upper Pond was devoid of any birds and the Swilly Pond was totally dried up.

East Burnham Common held at least 270 Redwings, a cacophony of loud repertoire coming from the trees as they assembled in the canopy. Nuthatch, 3 Common Treecreepers, Jay and Coal Tit also noted, and 35 Fieldfares.


An inventory logged 22 Mute Swans (including 1 first-winter), 58 Coot, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Gadwall and 9 Tufted Ducks.


1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebes, 7 Mute Swans, 12 Atlantic Canada Geese, 13 Mallard, 14 Tufted Duck, 9 Pochard, 12 Coot and 6 Moorhens


Still no sign of the drake Ferruginous Duck, present for at least the past 7 winters but 1 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebes, 38 Atlantic Canada Geese, 25 Mallard, 37 Tufted Duck and 18 Coot.


Just 9 Tufted Ducks were counted on the isolated lake to the east of Dorney Rowing Lakes with just 1 further bird on the West Lake. Other species counted included 118 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 36 Mute Swans (plus an additional family party of 6 on the neighbouring river), 8 Cormorants and a single female Pochard.


Highlight was the presence of 206 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 731 Lapwings on the spit.....

Otherwise, just 5 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Grey Heron (already repairing nests), 78 Cormorants, 1 Canada Goose, 2 Greylag Geese, 7 Egyptian Geese, 22 Mallard, 37 Teal, 72 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 96 Tufted Duck, 29 Pochard and just 6 Coot


A massive gull roost, including good numbers of large white-headed gulls. Waterbirds included 5 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 6 Moorhen and 26 Coot.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday Highlights - 18 December

Only news is from the north of the county where the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains present at Caldecotte Lakes and 10 GOOSANDER (7 drakes) are in Emberton Park

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Recent News

In addition to the SNOW BUNTING at Startop's End Reservoir, Tring, mentioned above, the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains at Caldecotte Lake (see Ben Andrew's superb offerings above) and at least two ringtail HEN HARRIERS at Gallows Bridge.

At Calvert Sailing Lake, a juvenile ICELAND GULL roosted last night, with at least 3 CASPIAN GULLS in the roost.

SNOW BUNTING walks over border

The first-winter male SNOW BUNTING that has been present at Startop's End Reservoir since Monday walked over the border into the NE corner of the reservoir and on to the beach literally in front of the main car park. John Foster was able to get these smashing images.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

DIVER still present

Sunny start, cold, poured with rain, then the sun came out again.

A good morning, the highlights being,

Great Northern Diver still on the north lake.
Kingfisher, north lake.
Big flock of Lapwing flying overhead.
Jay, north lake.
Female Goosander, north lake.
Sparrowhawk flying overhead.
Five Little Grebe, south lake.
Eight Siskin around Monellan Grove car park.
Pair of Bullfinch, around Monellan Grove car park.
Nine Reed Buntings, by the footbridge, at the car park.

Per Keith

Friday, 9 December 2011

After the storms, nothing new is found.........

At Gallows Bridge Farm, still 3 HEN HARRIERS in attendance and at Caldecotte Lakes, the long-staying juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still surviving.........

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Gallows Bridge Farm

The light was superb today, which made up for the bitterly cold, strong NW winds! As I stepped out of the car in the car park, one of the juvenile HEN HARRIERS was quartering the field overlooked by the hides. It came up fairly close and then flew over the path leading to the hides, and into the opposite field. I think it then circled back round and proceeded to sit in what I presume was a sheltered, sunny position, in the furthest north corner of the hide field, for the next hour (see images above)

Next up was a male Peregrine, which sat in the middle of the hide field for a good 15 minutes doing nothing very much. It then flew to the fence running along the southwest edge of the hide field. The second HEN HARRIER was active along the opposite hedge line, giving great views from the 2nd hide along. It would fly very slowly and gently before going up, over the hedge and dropping down out of sight into the field beyond. Just the one showing of a Red Kite in the 2 hours I was there, although I'd seen 5 along the A41 between there and Aylesbury.

A flock of at least 12 Fieldfare came through. A Common Kestrel sat in a tree as I walked to the hide. There were also Skylarks and Goldfinches, and obviously 100s of Golden Plover and Lapwings. The latter two species would frequently be spooked up into large swirling flocks seen beyond the hedge line (Lucy Flower Birding & Photography).

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

December lingering rarities

In North Bucks, both the Linford Lake GREAT WHITE EGRET and the Caldecotte Lakes juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER are still present, and at Gallows Bridge Farm, up to 3 HEN HARRIERS still present.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Local News for Saturday

At Gallows Bridge Reserve, still at least 3 HEN HARRIERS in attendance and 13 COMMON RAVENS whilst at nearby Calvert Lakes, two CASPIAN GULLS (1st winter and adult) roosted (Warren Claydon/Tim Watts).

In North Bucks, the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains at Caldecotte Lakes

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DIVER still present

The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains at Caldecotte South Lake


A SWALLOW was reported from Gallows Bridge Reserve today, along with the two HEN HARRIERS - adult female and juvenile

Monday, 28 November 2011

DIVER still present

The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER is still present at Caldecotte Lakes today (see Ken Earnshaw's outstanding shots above)

Gallows Bridge continues to reap rewards.....


The day dawned with a ground frost, only the second so far this autumn. This was followed by a beautiful day, although the wind soon freshened up from the west and cloud rolled in. By dusk, temperatures had recovered to an unseasonal 13 degrees C.......


The reservoirs are at the lowest end of November levels that I can ever remember, with even all three smaller reservoirs incredibly low (Startop's End in particular). I took the opportunity of undertaking a full wildfowl census with the calm conditions, with most noticeable the massive increase in Northern Pochard numbers. The full inventory is listed below - 55 species -:

Great Crested Grebe (31 including 11 on Wilstone, 5 on Tringford, 12 on Startop's and 3 on Marsworth)
Little Grebe (3 still on Wilstone and 1 on Startop's)
Cormorant (20 roosting on Wilstone, with 8 on Tringford and 11 on Startop's; ringed 'CAU' Carbo was roosting on Tringford)
Grey Heron (just 2 on Wilstone, 2 on Tringford and 2 on Marsworth)
Mute Swan (just 38 birds - all adult type - including 34 on Wilstone, 2 on Tringford and 2 on Startop's; additionally, an adult was freshly dead on the spit, perhaps killed by Fox)
Whooper Swan (both adults present but one bird appeared to be in distress and reluctant to move - both sitting on the mud by the jetty)
**BEWICK'S SWAN (the Wilstone family party of 4 birds still present but particularly mobile today - flying east from the Drayton Lagoon at 1003 only to return shortly later and then landed near to the hide)
Greylag Goose (67 in the fields to the east of Wilstone Reservoir)
Atlantic Canada Goose (7)
**DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE (the long-staying juvenile was on the bund mid-morning and drinking from the edge of Wilstone Reservoir)
*COMMON SHELDUCK (a drake was by the hide on Wilstone) *Interestingly, David Kramer had one at Priory Country Park, Bedford, this morning.
Mallard (162 including 57 on Wilstone, 93 on Startop's and 12 on Marsworth)
GADWALL (major increase with 66 birds counted, including 24 on Wilstone, 6 on Tringford and 36 on Startop's)
*NORTHERN PINTAIL (just 1 drake on Wilstone)
Northern Shoveler (total of 118 counted, including 86 on Wilstone, 10 on Startop's and 22 on Wilstone)
Eurasian Wigeon (nothing like the numbers that once wintered at the reservoirs but 233 on Wilstone and 22 on Startop's)
Common Teal (327 counted: 216 on Wilstone, with 34 on Tringford, 73 on Startop's and 4 on Marsworth)
Northern Pochard (249 birds, mostly drakes: major increase with 137 on Wilstone and 112 on Startop's)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (the female remains on Wilstone and 4 birds - a female, a first-winter and 2 adult drakes - on Startop's)
Tufted Duck (very poor numbers noted at 104 comprising just 36 on Wilstone, with 16 on Tringford and 52 on Startop's)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (two female-types on Wilstone)
Smew (no sign of yesterday's redhead on Wilstone)
Red Kite (1 west of Wilstone)
Common Kestrel (1 by Tringford Reservoir)
Common Pheasant (6 males walking out on the vegetation at Wilstone)
Moorhen (full census undertaken with 66 birds recorded: 32 on Wilstone, 14 on Tringford, 14 on Startop's and 6 on Tringford)
Common Coot (all click-counted revealing a total of 950 including a decrease to 622 on Wilstone, 52 on Tringford and 276 on Startop's)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (just 6 present on Wilstone)
Lapwing (17 on Wilstone and 3 on Startop's)
*DUNLIN (a full winter-plumaged bird on the mud at Startop's)
*GREEN SANDPIPER (the wintering singleton still present on the mud at Tringford)
Black-headed Gull (114 on Wilstone, 76 on Startop's and 51 on Marsworth)
Common Gull (7 on Wilstone)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult on Tringford)

Woodpigeon (massive decrease in numbers with a flock of 200 in cereal crops near Marsworth village)
Collared Dove (2 in Wilstone village and 16 in Marsworth)
**WATER PIPIT (the wintering bird on Wilstone showing very well today in the small bay north of the jetty)
Meadow Pipit (8 on the vegetated fringes of Wilstone)
Pied Wagtail (good numbers around including 21 on Wilstone, 2 on Tringford and 4 on Startop's)
Grey Wagtail (singles on Wilstone and Marsworth)
Wren (Marsworth Wood and Wilstone)
Dunnock (3 birds noted along Watery Lane)
Robin (5 noted - on Wilstone and Marsworth)
Song Thrush (a number of singing males including singles by the hide and in the East Poplars on Wilstone and 2 at Startop's/Marsworth)
Fieldfare (about 40 on the eastern flank of Wilstone)
Common Blackbird (5 present in the former orchard adjacent to the Black Poplars on Wilstone's East Bank)
Blue Tit (3 in Marsworth Reedbed)
Long-tailed Tit (party of 11 birds on Wilstone)
Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw all noted
Common Starling (34 in fields around Wilstone)
House Sparrow (as usual, only birds a flock of 16 by Startop Farm)
Chaffinch (1 in Marsworth Wood)
LINNET (a flock of 17 feeding on the Wilstone mud with the Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails by the jetty)
BULLFINCH (1 in Watery Lane, Marsworth)
Reed Bunting (1 in Marsworth Reedbed)


The female PEREGRINE was sat on the platform at midday


Present from 1230-1300 hours, joined Ken & Sally Earnshaw, Mike Habberfield and his wife and Dave Parmenter in the main car park at Gallows Bridge and enjoyed some real quality birding.....

The two regular HEN HARRIERS - the initial adult female and the small bright juvenile - were both present and showing well - the juvenile on view virtually all of the time. The latter was patrolling the rough field to the west of the main reserve field, as well as the right hand hedgerow, and approached to within 75 yards at one stage whilst the adult kept to the cereal field on the north side of the hedgerow. The second-winter male showed up briefly just after I left (per KE)

Other raptors present included Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and 5 Common Kestrels whilst up to 12 COMMON RAVEN present in the main field was bizarre. They all eventually flew off towards Waddesdon. The increase in this species in our region is nothing short of remarkable.

A flock of 35 Linnets and 7 Skylarks was also to be seen and a male Bullfinch on teasels by the entrance track

Nearby, 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS were showing well near Westcott

Talking of the latter, I returned early afternoon to a site in central Bedfordshire where I and another local observer were treated once more to an incredible display by up to 10 hunting SHORT-EARED OWLS. These birds have been present for just over a week now but are wintering on land earmarked for an astonishing 5,000 new homes ! A further 4 individuals are also present in the Brogborough area - by far the most I have ever seen in the county at one time and testament to the numbers currently wintering in Britain following the exceptional breeding season. The two female-type MERLINS were also still around.

A single Little Egret was south of the Kempston Bypass on the larger pit.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Roundup

In North Bucks today, Paul Saynor watched the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Caldecotte Lakes fly from North Lake over road bridge to South Lake with a fish in its beak at about 11-30am and later saw 3 Little Egrest at reserve end of South Lake.

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was again at Linford whilst at Gallows Bridge Farm Upper Ray Meadows Reserve, an adult male HEN HARRIER joined the adult female and juvenile wintering there.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Today's News - GWE, GND and two HEN HARRIERS

The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still present at Caldecotte Lake today until at least 10.30, covering huge areas of both the North and South lakes; it can literally disappear in front of your eyes; 6 Siskin over and 2 Little Egrets also (per Mike Wallen) (see Malcolm Stewart's superb images above)

Nearby, the wintering GREAT WHITE EGRET is still present at Linford NR and in the west of the county, Warren Claydon has confirmed the presence of two HEN HARRIERS at Gallows Bridge Farm, the original adult female that Warren and I both saw and the juvenile that has been present for a couple of weeks now

Thursday, 24 November 2011

DIVER still present

The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER is still present at Caldecotte Lake North, but ranging quite widely


Not a great deal of interest today except for a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the spit along with a Bar-headed Goose, 5 Egyptian Geese and some 100 or so Golden Plover (Ken Earnshaw)

Monday, 21 November 2011

First-winter WILLOW TIT at Linford NR Woodland Hide Feeding Station

As I reported last week, I spent 45 minutes on site at The Woodland Hide and enjoyed excellent views of at least 3 black-capped tits - two very obvious and vocal Marsh Tits and another bird showing many characteristics of a WILLOW TIT. The nasal calls it was giving were very typical of Willow Tit and identical to those given by Willow Tits I have most recently looked at in the Thet Valley, Norfolk Breckland. I did have reservations over the paucity of the pale wing panels but as Richard Broughton has published, this feature is variable and the fact that this bird is most likely a first-winter, perhaps has a bearing on it.

Although Richard clearly has opposing views on this, and I certainly have no concrete evidence to back up my claims, I do have reservations over the appearance of these 'non-classic' individuals and I do worry that as the species becomes more and more outnumbered by Marsh Tits that peripheral birds are not hybridising. In Top Scrub at Ivinghoe Beacon for years we had breeding Willow and Marsh Tits side-by-side and they were very easy to differentiate. In April and May, the loud repetitive song of the Willow Tit was truly diagnostic and enlivened the scrub. At one time, Willow Tit was the commoner species, with as many as 8 territories along the ridge. Towards the end though, when numbers suddenly declined dramatically and Marsh Tits became to dominate, the vocalisations and appearance of the last remaining Willow Tits was not so clear-cut and they seemed to show mixed characters and much overlapping of features.

If we are to take vocalisations as the positive feature, then there is no doubt that the current bird wintering at the feeding station at HESC (Linford Lakes) is a WILLOW TIT. Although I have not recorded Willow Tits in Little Linford Wood since the last breeding pair in the 1990's, the species does still occur not far away across the border in Northamptonshire, in surprisingly good numbers. In 2010, there were 48 reports from 20 separate localities, with 6 individuals being trapped and ringed at Stanford Reservoir (on the Leicestershire border) between January and October. These 20 locations being Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Boddington Reservoir, Pitsford Reservoir, Stanwick GP, Storton's GP Northampton, Daventry CP, Burgh Hill, East Carlton CP, Weedon, Nobottle Wood, Fineshade Wood, Salcey Forest, Badby Wood, Glyn Davies Wood, Blueberry Farm Maidwell, Draughton, Maidwell Dale and Creston Capes (per Bob Bullock, Northamptonshire County Records).From this list, Salcey Forest is of the most relevant, virtually straddling the county border, and easily where this latest first-winter may have straggled from (Lee G R Evans)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ageing of HEN HARRIERS respective to Gallows Bridge Farm

Discussing Hen Harrier ageing with Warren Claydon this afternoon, I decided to write this short piece. Warren and I had seen a Hen Harrier at Gallows Bridge Farm on 6 and 7 November 2011 which we both considered to be an adult female on field views. Subsequently, there has been much discussion as to the ageing of this bird, and it remains a real possibility that more than one bird is involved in the sightings. Over the past few days, some reasonable images have appeared of the bird present this weekend, allowing some comparable discussions to take place

The above image by Rod Scarfe is taken of a HEN HARRIER recently at Gallows Bridge Farm; it clearly shows a JUVENILE FEMALE.......

Critical features to consider when ageing Hen Harriers are the eye colour, saturation and colour of the underparts and the wing patterning.

The image here taken by Tim Watts, shows a bird with FIVE obvious fingered primaries, ruling out Pallid Harrier

The eye colour appears to be uniform dark brown, both adult male and females having a pale yellow iris, whilst the facial disc pattern is clearly of a juvenile, with the dark brown circumnavigating the paler eye crescents and being bordered behind by a thin pale collar.

Juvenile Hen Harriers possess an orange-brown ground colour to the underparts whereas second-winters and adult females are invariably whitish in terms of basal colour. Juveniles generally show a contrast between the darker breast and the paler belly and the streaks on the underparts gradually become narrower from the breast towards the belly, with the undertail-coverts uniformly paler.

The adult females have the underparts boldly striped dark brown and essentially (and critically) have BARRED greater coverts and secondaries in the upperwing. Juveniles have a more uniformly patterned upperwing pattern.

Friday, 18 November 2011



A much cooler day than of late with SSE winds pegging temperatures back. A dry day though, and fairly bright......


The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was still showing very well today, frequenting the extreme NE corner of Caldecotte North Lake. It was diving almost continuously and also ventured out on to the main lake. As both Simon and Ben have already expressed, the bird is particularly photogenic, and swims within 30 feet of the boardwalk.

DIRECTIONS: From the A5, take the H10 Bletcham Way eastwards. Just after the Brewer's Fayre pub, take first right on to Monellan Grove. Within a few yards, turn left on to Caldecotte Lane and then left again on to Wadesmill Lane. This road takes you under the Walton Park underpass and after about 150 yards turn left in to Chase Avenue. Continue on until Redcote Manor cul-de-sac appears on your left and park sensibly as you come across the bay.

This was the first time I had ever visited this particular part of the lake and I was impressed by the number of waterbirds present - 6 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Mute Swans (2 first-winters), 38 Mallard, 5 Gadwall, 13 Tufted Duck, 28 Coot, 1 Grey Heron and a COMMON KINGFISHER.....

Allan Stewart and I then checked Caldecotte South Lake where a further 8 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Mute Swans (including family party of 6) and 83 Coot were noted.


Following up on a report, Allan and I visited the Woodland Hide at Linford Reserve. In the 45 minutes that we were present, a procession of Great and Blue Tits visited the two feeders consistently. There were also 3 black-capped tits visiting throughout, including two pale cutting-edged MARSH TITS and what appeared to be a WILLOW TIT. All three birds were typically vocal, the apparent Willow Tit making the nasal call most frequently associated with that species. It was also very bull-necked in appearance, with the black extending slightly further back on to the hindneck, the white cheeks contrasting with the warmth of the head and the sides and flanks very richly coloured. The black bib was more extensive and patchy and the crown colour more drab and plain. The wing panel however was very ill-defined and difficult to see.

The Woodland Hide also yielded 4 Bullfinches, 30 Fieldfares, 28 Redwings and 2 Song Thrushes, whilst Black Horse Lake held 9 Great Crested Grebes and Linford Lake 14 Little Grebe (all in one flock), 54 Mute Swans and 62 Common Teal on the pool by the Swans Way.


We had a good look round for Tree Sparrows but failed to locate any and likewise failed in our quest to locate the Great White Egret......

However, driving down the track towards Gayhurst Manor, we were surprised to find a COMMON RAVEN 'guarding' the road and gathering horse hair in its beak. Surely it was not nesting already. Anyway, as we approached, it cronked a couple of times and then flew off in the direction of this spring's nest. The same pony fields yielded 40 Meadow Pipits and 15 Pied Wagtails.

Little Linford Wood was devoid of any maize crop and consequently any Tree Sparrows or farmland birds but 5 Fieldfare were noted.

At SP 850 440, the large lake to the west of the M1 held 42 Mute Swans.


Nothing new had arrived - in fact the adult Eurasian White-front had departed.

The juvenile DARK-BELLIED BRENT was still in the usual field adjacent to Rushy Meadow, the family party of 4 BEWICK'S SWANS in the isolated pool in the NW corner by the Black Poplars and 3 Little Grebes, 65 Greylag Geese, 2 drake PINTAIL, the female RED-CRESTED POCHARD and 5 COMMON GOLDENEYE on the main reservoir.


A splendid performance by up to 4 SHORT-EARED OWLS at dusk, including 3 typically pale individuals and a single darker bird. Also no less than 6,500 Jackdaws flew noisily in to roost - this being one of the largest roosts of this species in Britain

HEN HARRIER still at Gallows Bridge

Gallows Bridge NR - Fri 18 Nov 11.30-14.30

My first visit to this NR. Target birds were Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl. Good views of the long-staying adult female HEN HARRIER, white rump prominent as it hunted over the hedgerows harrassed constantly by Carrion Crows. No sign of the Short-eared Owl.

Good sized flocks of Golden Plover (150), Lapwing (100+) and Starlings (200+) which could only be seen from the hide when spooked from their feeding fields by the numerous Red Kites, Kestrels and Hen Harrier. Also flocks of Linnets (50) and Fieldfares (30), 2 Herons over and occasional Skylarks. 4 Red-legged Partridges and 3 Cock Pheasants (Sally Douglas).

Thursday, 17 November 2011

North Bucks GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still present

Juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still present between 08.30 and 09.00. In the basin on the eastern edge of the north lake of Caldecott (access from Redcote Manor, Walton Park). It did a lap of the fringe of the basin before settling in the southern section. Surfaces for about 5 seconds, then disappears and reappears some distance away (Peter Barnes)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


After a tip off from Dick at 14.47 that Cliff Dell had a Diver species on the north lake , I dashed over from Tilbrook and at 15:00 was stood next to Cliff watching a fantastic GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at c 30 yds range - Ben Miller and Dick joining us shortly afterwards (the former fortuitously driving along the M1 on his way home); it is in the North Eastern Arm ranging from that bay to the other side (south) of the island , it is diving frequently, often spending a minute under the water only to surface a distance away , stay up for 10 seconds and dive again , it appears to be a juvenile. Ben Miller is onsite and obtaining images.

The best place to view is from the boardwalk along the edge of Redcote Manor ( Road ) which is actually in the Walton Park area of Caldecotte,Caldecotte,+Milton+Keynes&gl=uk&ei=ItnDTpzxMMPJswbCkrz2Cw&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=2&ved=0CCcQ8gEwAQand

zoom in under the area of Walton Park It is the 17th record for Bucks following birds in 2006 and 2009 at Calvert. Great find by Cliff in a woefully under watched area of Caldecotte lake hopefully it will still be there in the morning ! (Simon Nichols)


GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Caldecotte North , viewable from the Bandstand at 15.05 found by Cliff Dell and confirmed by Simon Nichols, Ben Miller and Dick Bodily

Sunday, 13 November 2011

HEN HARRIER at Gallows Bridge Farm

John Foster photographed this HEN HARRIER - an apparent adult female - at Gallows Bridge Upper Ray Meadows Reserve today

Roosting LITTLE EGRETS continue to break records in North Bucks - 43 this evening

Rob Hill and I did a coordinated roost count @ Linford this evening 15.30 -16.40

One of the SHORT EARED OWLS was hunting the Paddocks as we drove past , along Swans Way

We set up counting position opp Tern Island , 2 LITTLE EGRETS (LE) were already in residence and a further 5 were roosting in the trees at the east edge along with the GREAT WHITE EGRET , within minutes another 4 had flown in (1 + 2 + 1 ) then at 15:50 an incredible flock of 30 birds headed in from the same direction as last night , along the river from Haversham and Bradwell ! ! Most of the flock dropped into the main lake and began washing and preening , then at 16.00 a single bird flew in making 42 birds onsite , at about 16.10 the GWE and 1 LE left towards Bradwell !? There was another 1 at 16.15 (previous bird returning) and then the GWE flew in at 16.20 , this time straight into the roost trees , almost immediately most of the onsite LE started to make their flight to the roost trees , there was another LE in at 16.21 to make an incredible 43 Little Egrets into roost ...... There were no more new arrivals in the next 20 minutes (Simon Nichols)

Bumper number of SHORT-EARED OWLS

Tim Watts had 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS towards dusk at Gallows Bridge and another at nearby Westcott

Today's Highlights

In North Bucks, the GREAT WHITE EGRET remains at Linford NR, whilst 2 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE were seen at Gayhurst Pits briefly early morning (Rob Hill).

The adult female HEN HARRIER is still at Gallows Bridge and in South Bucks, the SLAVONIAN GREBE remains at Spade Oak NR, Little Marlow

A herd of 10 BEWICK'S SWANS flew west over College Lake BBOWT at 0945 hours

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Today's Highlights

In addition to the aforementioned Spade Oak SLAVONIAN GREBE and the 4 WAXWINGS at Ivinghoe Beacon, Wally Smith noted 2-3 FIRECRESTS in Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield, and the adult female HEN HARRIER remains at Upper Ray Meadows, Gallows Bridge.

WAXWINGS on the Hills

I was very pleasantly surprised by the arrival of 4 WAXWINGS whilst out birding this morning. They arrived from the East and alighted on the tall trees close to the car park. They moved from tree to tree for about 5 minutes before flying off West. However, as I walked down towards the S-bend, I saw them circle back round and onto Steps Hill. They were in the area for at least 20 minutes. I managed the record shots above.

It was also nice to see a couple of Nuthatches in the area (Lucy Flowers)

SLAV GREBE still present

Got back home late last night after a (mistimed) long weekend 'Up North' with the parents, so first light found me at LMGP praying the SLAVONIAN GREBE was still in residence. News of a bird at Queen Mother Resr this morning had me worried it had moved on, but eventually it appeared in the North East section of the pit, and then showed very well, including a period of preening among the Tufted Duck flock. I moved into the area and started my Bucks list in early 2003 - I really didn't think it would take eight years to see a Slav Grebe in the county!!

Interestingly, there is another new Slav Grebe nearby at Brogborough this morning, with Purple Sand at Draycote, Velvet Scoter at Gratham Water, RB Meg in Beds, and a bit of a movement of Brent Geese thrown in as well... A good day to be out looking, there is more to be found (Ben Miller).

Monday, 7 November 2011

No Snow Bunting but HEN HARRIERS compensate


Well I felt pretty depressed last night. After showing well for about four hours yesterday, the Ivinghoe Beacon Snow Bunting decided to go awol just as I rolled up on site yesterday afternoon, and despite searching for the next 90 minutes with the two young Perfect brothers, the bird was nowhere to be found - it had presumably moved on due to the pressure of dogwalkers and Sunday strollers. Two drab first-winter RING OUZELS in neighbouring scrub were scant compensation.......

Well today dawned grey and drizzly and with the wind still in the east (it had veered from NE to SSE) I returned first thing to the Hills.....


I was faced with thick fog early morning but despite that, there was enough visibility at the Beacon trig point to see that the Snow Bunting was not there. In fact it was dead, just 1 Song Thrush and 3 Goldcrests


Very little change since my last visit of about a week ago, although the water level had risen slightly...

The EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flock had risen dramatically - from around 180 to 411 - but otherwise it was standard fare.......

The 4 Little Grebes, 7 Great Crested Grebes, 36 Mute Swans, the 2 adult Whooper Swans, 62 Greylag Geese, just 78 Wigeon, 113 Common Teal, 42 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, 1 drake PINTAIL, 44 Pochard, just 27 Tufted Duck and 10 Meadow Pipits


Following up on Warren's message, I arrived at Gallows Bridge reserve at 1000 hours and departed at just after 1100 hours. In that hour, Warren's HEN HARRIER was intermittently in view, occasionally sitting on top of the hedgerow but generally hunting up and down over the large weedy fields that border the northern perimeter of the reserve. It was constantly harassed by Carrion Crows and to escape their attacks, repeatedly had to resort to sitting on the ground or hedgerow. In flight, it showed five splayed primary 'fingers' and not four and hence quickly eliminated Pallid Harrier, of which there is an unprecedented influx at present. It was also very pale on the underparts, with the saturated breast streaking on a whitish background, and exhibited clear pale covert patches on each upperwing. It appeared to be an adult female. The broad white rump was clearly seen and the strongly barred uppertail. It was also a heavy bird in flight, with broad-based wings.

A single COMMON RAVEN was also in the vicinity, as well as Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard, whilst a flock of 125 European Golden Plover wheeled overhead and spooked farmland birds included 36 Skylarks and 260 Common Starlings.

The Hen Harrier could be seen from either the first hide or the main car park


The long-staying juvenile COMMON SCOTER was still present, closely hugging the NW bank of reeds


Thanks to Steve Blain, I drove as far north as I could go in Bedfordshire and spent the entire afternoon in a damp and bleak landscape of Knotting Green. Light conditions were very poor as mizzle drifted in and out of the valley, whilst underfoot was wet and muddy. I stood at the derelict barn about half a mile south of the road from 1300 hours but it was not until three hours later that I succeeded in my goal - the ringtail HEN HARRIER finally appearing at 1605 hours. The bird appeared high from the south and dropped down into the valley and began hunting over the densely scattered small bushes behind the line of taller trees. At one point, it flushed a female Common Pheasant, and chased it briefly, before dropping down presumably to roost after about ten minutes of flight. It was a very dark chocolate-brown individual on the upperparts and was boldly and very heavily streaked on the underparts. There was little contrast in the wing coverts, with the white rump patch broad and conspicuous and the ringtail characteristically rimmed buff. These features all suggested a juvenile.........I was delighted, after dipping Neil Wright's bird on three occasions, I had at last connected and the long trip and stakeout had been well worthwhile

In all of the time that I was present at the site, there was little else to keep one occupied - no Great Grey Shrike, Short-eared or Barn Owls just 4 Bullfinch, 18 Greenfinch, 3 Reed Buntings, male Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, 5 Song Thrush, 30 Redwing and about 100 Fieldfare

OTTERS at Linford

At Linford Sunday morning 2 Marsh Tits woodland hide, 21 Little Grebe in various groups on main lake. Best of all met Rob Hill when walking to Far hide, he told me he had just seen 2 OTTERS. After 10 minutes i saw a large wake under the water near the far bank, an OTTER surfaced with a fish then vanished into the reeds (Mal McGar)

Sunday SNOW BUNTING on Beacon

Iain Malin and Dave Hutchinson discovered this very confiding SNOW BUNTING at the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon at 0930 hours on Sunday morning. It remained on view until early afternoon before becoming more and more mobile as more and more Sunday strollers appeared - some great images from Dave Hutchinson

Saturday, 5 November 2011

SLAV still present - and GREENSHANK finally secured on Year List


A switch overnight in the wind direction. Although slack at first light, a Northeasterly set in during the day, eventually clearing away the thick fog encountered in much of Hertfordshire.........


I returned in much better light conditions to Spade Oak, where the SLAVONIAN GREBE was still present fishing close to the main island. It was fairly elusive, and diving frequently, but on one occasion swam away from the island and headed once more to the Willows in the SE corner of the pit. On closer views, the redness of the eye was apparent, although the lack of a clear demarcation line on the crown and a pale tip to the bill suggested a young bird. Although obviously a small grebe when compared to the Great Crested Grebes, the stark contrast between the gleaming white underparts and the black upperparts ruled out Black-necked Grebe, as well as the flatter crown (no central peak) and the heavier and straighter bill. It was also longer and thicker-necked, and much whiter in the neck.

The water level was particularly high on the pit, with the perimeter trail quite muddy with the recent heavy rains. Also recorded were the following species -:

Great Crested Grebe (21)
Cormorant (54 on the island)
Grey Heron (7)
Greylag Geese (132 including a leucistic bird)
Egyptian Geese (pair)
Mallard (31)
Common Teal (76)
Wigeon (19)
Gadwall (3)
Shoveler (17)
Tufted Duck (168)
Northern Pochard (23)
Coot (26)
Lapwing (217)
Common Gull (4)
Common Kingfisher (2)
Grey Wagtail (3)
Mistle Thrush (4)


Joined Ray Hooper, Mike Ilett, Brendan Glynn and Chris Stone at the former Quail site and spent two hours searching for Alan Reynold's Merlin. Once again, we drew a blank and once again, the Sparrowhawk was sat in the fields, and 2 Common Buzzards. The covey of 14 GREY PARTRIDGE were still present, along with 32 Red-legged Partridge, as well as 2 European Golden Plovers, 38 Skylark and a flock of 400 Common Starlings. The aforementioned observers all saw the Kelshall GREAT GREY SHRIKE at Coombe Road later too.


After failing to find Stuart Warren's female Black Redstart in East Road, Langford, I headed up to North Bucks where at long last, thanks to Rob Norris, I finally connected with a COMMON GREENSHANK in the county this year. Pretty pathetic I know, but despite Wilstone getting bumper numbers this autumn, Buckinghamshire in general has had relatively few. Anyhow, this bird which has been present for at least a month was still feeding along the muddy edge at the extreme east end of the pit to the right (east) of the footpath. The long-staying adult GREAT WHITE EGRET was also still present on the shallow pit just east of Motorway Pit.


A mid-afternoon visit to Swan's Way yielded just 12 Little Egrets in the roosting Willows and 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS flying high over the rough ground by the ruins. Both birds were being constantly disturbed by a myriad of dogwalkers, joggers and walkers - dogs running all over the site and flushing them up out of the grass.


Late afternoon saw me arrive at Calvert and after a 20 minute search, I eventually located the COMMON SCOTER that has been present for several days. The presence of dusky white underparts (belly) confirmed my suspicions that it was a JUVENILE, although I was surprised by the amount of contrast in the cheek patches. The bill was all dark. Warren had warned me how elusive it was and I eventually found it hugging the NW bank close to the reeds.

The Sailing Lake also held 11 Great Crested Grebes (including a very young, still begging juvenile), 5 Mute Swans (3 young), a pair of Wigeon, 3 Gadwall and 12 Tufted Duck, with a CETTI'S WARBLER vocal in the scrub.

The neighbouring BBOWT Reserve held 3 more Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Mute Swans, Grey Wagtail, 2 Bullfinch and 8 Goldcrests with the reedbed harbouring 13 roosting Reed Buntings and eventually 370 Common Starlings.

It was a sizeable gull roost on the Sailing lake and by 1633 hours, I had click-counted a total of 3,148 large white-headed gulls. These comprised of no less than 2,760 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (predominantly adults), just 44 Great Black-backed Gulls (just 6 first-years), 326 Herring Gulls (including at least 25% Argentatus), 14 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (12 adults, 1 2nd-winter and 1 first-winter) and 4 different CASPIAN GULLS (a lovely adult in full winter plumage, a sub-adult (4th/5th winter-type), a 2nd-winter and a first-winter). In addition were two adult-type 'hooded' Lesser Black-backed Gulls closely resembling Azorean Atlantic Gulls.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Calvert this evening

Warren Claydon had two immature CASPIAN GULLS in the roost this evening, as well as the long-staying juvenile COMMON SCOTER on the Sailing Lake

Local Mega - SLAVONIAN GREBE at Marlow


Some long-needed rain at last - buckets of it. Throughout the morning and overnight, southerly winds bought heavy showers leading to some localised flooding. Still very mild though.........


After a plea for help from David Ferguson, I and others went down to Spade Oak to check out the small grebe that DF had discovered. Alan Stephens, Mike Wallen and others arrived there first however and confirmed the birds identity as a winter-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE. I watched the bird until dusk, favouring the east end of the pit.

Two GREEN SANDPIPERS were also present, a Common Snipe, 8 roosting Little Egrets and 21 Great Crested Grebes...

SLAVONIAN GREBE is a rare visitor to Buckinghamshire with just 62 previous records, the most recent being in November 2002 -:

There were just 8 records (of 9 birds) prior to 1973 -

1) One shot at Great Marlow in the 1860's;
2) Two shot at Weston Turville Reservoirs between 1874 and 1880;
4) One present at WTR from 29 January to 10 February 1924;
5) One present at WTR from 6 February to 6 March 1937;
6) One at Bletchley Station Pond on 14 February 1937;
7) One at Foxcote Reservoir on 29 November 1964;
8) Another at Foxcote Reservoir from 31 August to 1 September 1969;
9) An adult in full breeding plumage at WTR from 18-21 May 1972.

10) One was seen at Linford GP on 16 & 26 December 1973;
11) One was on floodwater near Great Linford GP on 24 November 1974;
12) One remained at Willen Lake from 21-30 January 1977;
13) One remained at Hyde Lane GP from 5-9 March 1978;
14) Two were at Calvert on 27 January 1979;
16) One remained at Tongwell Lake from 18 February until 5 April 1979;
17) One was on the River Ouse at Tyringham Bridge on 25 February 1979;
18) One was noted at Willen Lake on 14 February 1979;
19) One appeared at Willen Lake on 8 November 1980;
20) One was at Calvert on 4 January 1981;
21) One was at Hyde Lane on 7 November 1982 and was possibly that present at Haversham from 27 November to 4 December 1982;
22) One remained at Willen lake from 5-28 November 1983;
23) No less than a flock of 4 appeared at Caldecott Lake on 13 November 1984;
27) One was at Linford GP on 13 December 1986;
28) A wide ranging bird of Milton Keynes Waters from 28 February to 8 April 1987, being seen mainly at New Bradwell but also at Haversham and Linford NR on at least one date and at Willen lake on 18-21 March;
29) Another bird at Willen from 19 November until 8 December 1987;
30) One in breeding plumage at Willen on 16 April 1988;
31) Two birds at Willen on 9 November 1988;
33) One remained at Caldecott Lake from 15 December 1988 until 3 March 1989 and was presumably the same bird that reappeared on 29 November 1989 and was last seen on 29 March 1990;


34) An early individual at Foxcote Reservoir on 19 September 1990;
35) One was at Emberton Lakes on 17-19 February 1991;
36) One was at Willen on 26 February 1991;
37) One appeared at Willen on 26 October 1991;
38) One was at Foxcote from 30 September to 2 October 1992;
39) One visited Caldecotte Lakes on 14 October 1992;
40) One was seen in the Bucks section of Startop's End Reservoir on 29 October 1992;
41) One remained at Caldecotte Lakes from 11-14 January 1993;
42) One remained on the Blue Lagoon at Bletchley from 14 January until 4 February 1994;
43) One visited Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, on 6 January 1995;
44) One remained intermittently on Tongwell Lake from 3 February until 12 March 1995, visiting Linford Lakes from 4-10 March;
45) One was at Foxcote on 12 November 1995;
46) One visited Emberton Lakes on 17-18 March 1996;
47) One remained at Spade Oak from 1-23 December 1996;
48) One was at Thorney CP from 15-31 December 1996;
49) A first-winter visited Willen on 23 December 1996;
50) One was observed on the River Thames at Boveney Lock on 11 January 1997;
51) One was present at Willen from 17-20 December 1997;
52) One visited Thorney CP on 20 December 1997;
53) One remained on Dorney Lake from 11 January until 1 February 1998;
54) One was seen at Linford on 19 November and 5-6 December 1998;
55) One was at WTR on 14 November 1998;
56) A party of 3 birds was discovered at Linford on 31 January 1999, with one remaining until 13 February.

2000 and beyond

59) An adult in transitional plumage at Willen on 31 March 2001;
60) One at the Jubilee River near Slough on 21 November 2001;
61) One at Caldecotte Lake on 2 February 2002;
62) One at Newport Pagnell on 11 November 2002;

North Bucks today - GREENSHANK and SHORT-EARED OWL

The COMMON GREENSHANK remains at Gayhurst Quarry today, ranging between Fishing and Spinney Pits - now present 3 weeks. At Linford tonight there were 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS again. One in the fields around Swans Way and the other mainly in the rough area between the Canal and the new housing estate.

The canal bridge is an excellent place to stand as you can look in both directions. Access from the end of Weavers Way in the new estate, reached from the traffic lights by where Wolverton Road meets the V7 Saxon Street (Rob Norris).

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Exceptionally late COMMON QUAIL at Rowsham

No, I kid you not, I haven't gone totally crazy !
Unbelievably one was accidentally flushed from under a bush/ hedge in Rowsham at about 10.20 this morning.
I was out walking the dog, who is a bit of a 'retriever' when she clearly smelt something under the edge of a hedge, she went around the back of this bit of hedge as I tried to pull her back thinking she was going for a Rabbit. A bird then flushed and broke out of the bush/ longish grass. My initial thought was a Redwing, seeing a brown bird with a strongly marked face pattern. It then came out within perhaps 4 ft of me and immediately turned away from me before rising and going over the 25ft hedge. As it did this it called, not its usual clear call but perhaps a quieter version, but definately 'bubbly'. The view of it was simply breathtaking, albeit for probably only 5 seconds. There is no doubt of the identification.

What on earth is one doing here in November ? I suppose its most likely a 'reverse' migrant and has arrived here on these strong Southerly winds.

Whichever way it was a stunning sight and an amazing record.

I have searched the adjacent field without success but it really is a needle in a haystack now.
Also 300 Fieldfare present (Mike Wallen)

Sunday, 30 October 2011


A juvenile COMMON SCOTER was present at Calvert BBOWT Lake this evening (Tim Watts)


The GREAT WHITE EGRET was back on Motorway Pit this lunchtime amongst the Greylags on the Tern Island.

Also a Greenshank on Fishing Pit - the bird seen by Mr Coppock a fortnight ago ? Otherwise little of note other than a Lesser Redpoll in the Goldfinch flock on the feeders of the last house (Robert)

A phenomenal morning on the hills - WOODPIGEON passage in full swing


When Carmel and I walked home last night after a night out, the seeping sound of REDWINGS flying overhead clearly indicated that migration was in full swing. As such, I was out early on the Hills in anticipation..........

There was a bank of very clear weather to the north of the Chiltern Hills but south of there, it was thick cloud with a fairly strong SW wind. It had been very calm but cloudy overnight - following on from a gloriously fine day - ideal conditions for grounding migrants.


I positioned myself on the lower knoll shortly after 0745 hours and remained on the escarpment until 1045 hours. Passage was occurring from the outset. WOODPIGEONS were the order of the day and they were absolutely pouring through. Initially, flocks were coming in low over Gallows Hill but after a while, the main migration concentrated further to the east, with the passage continuing into the Gade Valley. A grand total of 2,747 birds was counted, with the biggest single flock of 490 birds (18 + 174 + 3 + 115 + 41 + 8 + 19 + 41 + 95 + 159 + 130 + 255 + 8 + 28 + 75 + 7 + 67 + 490 + 35 + 302 + 117 + 33 + 215 + 168 + 144). The passage continued throughout. A total of 42 STOCK DOVES was identified amongst the flocks.

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS passed over high to the west at 0815, both being mobbed by Jackdaws for a while, whilst two different WOODLARKS flew south calling - low to the contour. At 0937 hours, an immature/female MERLIN appeared over Gallows Hill and followed the line of the hills, departing west from the higher knoll just SE of the Beacon trig point.

At 0935 hours, a massive flock of 440 FIELDFARES made landfall in the Beeches from the east; they paused very briefly before continuing on, disappearing to the west over Top Scrub and Steps Hill - a further 23 (in two flocks of 5 and 18) were later seen

REDWINGS were far scarcer with just 13 noted, with just 1 dark-billed Continental Blackbird and three separate first-year RING OUZELS - all continuing westward (the latter located by their characteristic chacking call-note).

Weirdly, 2 Cormorants (an adult and juvenile) flew south over the trig, whilst the remaining species identified included -:

Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Jay (1)
Skylark (57)
Dunnock, presumably continental (arrived from the east)
Chaffinch (strong southerly passage - 159 birds in total)
Bullfinch (6)
REDPOLL species, indeterminate (7)
Yellowhammer (24 west)
CORN BUNTING (3) - presumably local birds
Common Starling (224 in total, the largest flock being of 45 birds - all migrating directly west)


Following a conversation with Neil Wright, I decided to travel north to Bedfordshire, just on the offchance that the recent Hen Harrier might still be around. Neil had found a FIRECREST so I decided to follow his directions and have a look. As it was, the flock of birds contained two FIRECRESTS - both birds showing very well in the ivy scrub fairly low down in the canopy. They were amongst a group of 8 Goldcrests, a Common Treecreeper, a Nuthatch and 10 Blue Tits - the flock being fairly mobile. The area also produced quite a few Fieldfares.

DIRECTIONS: From Ampthill town centre, drive north on the Bedford road and as you leave the town at the top of the hill, turn right on to the concrete drive to Houghton House. Drive to the end of the road and park by the houses and then continue past the pumping station and aerials to the last house and pond. Continue to the entrance to the wood and take the right hand footpath leading north and parallel to the edge of the wood. Continue for a further 300 yards and just 70 yards before the metal gate - the flock is in this area

Friday, 28 October 2011

Still no Rock Pipit but CROSSBILL and SHORT-EARED OWL; also new record count of LITTLE EGRETS in North Bucks


What a fabulous day. From start to finish, winds were light and variable, with clear blue skies and bright, warm sunshine. Difficult to believe it was the end of October

I put in a full day today trying to catch up with some Buckinghamshire Yearticks. Frustratingly, didn't bother with Calvert, where the Red-necked Grebe remains present......


Despite an exhaustive search, no sign of yesterday's Scandinavian Rock Pipit between the 500 and 750 metre markers, just 18 Meadow Pipits, 15 Skylarks and a first-winter COMMON KINGFISHER. Dave Cleal had also photographed a littoralis at the same site on 11 October.


I met up with Dave Cleal in Branch Lane, at the north end of Woolman's Wood. We then spent the next 40 minutes in the wood, made up of deciduous and coniferous trees, as well as much Holly and other shrub understorey. This was the first time I had ever birded this wood and I was very impressed with the results.

The highlight was COMMON CROSSBILL - four birds, two males and two females, showing well at the top of the Douglas Firs, extracting pine seeds from the cones. Two birds also flew overhead but may have been the same birds.

BULLFINCHES were also very much in evidence in the wood with at least 6 seen/heard and as expected FIRECREST - at least two birds being heard. A SISKIN flew over.

Other species noted included Red Kite, Jay, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush (1), Coal Tit (4), Nuthatch (3) and Goldcrest (12+). A Red Admiral and a late Speckled Wood were also noted.


Wilstone Reservoir did not yield either Water Pipit or the 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipits - just 4 Meadow Pipits. New in was a single DUNLIN on the main bund, whilst EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS numbered 206, a COMMON SNIPE was roosting, NORTHERN PINTAIL had increased to 9 (5 drakes) and both Jay and BLACKCAP were noted in the East Hedgerow. Counts included 4 Little Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 39 Mute Swans (including the colour-ringed family from the Grand Union Canal).

At Startop's End Reservoir, just 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained (2 drakes), with 16 Great Crested Grebes, 56 Eurasian Wigeon and 2 Common Gulls (adult and first-winter) also sighted.

Tringford Reservoir was the lowest I had seen it since the early 1980's and consequently it harboured 4 Little Egrets, a GREEN SANDPIPER, 2 Mute Swans, 62 Common Teal and 25 Shoveler.


No sign of the Ring Ouzel seen earlier by the Beacon summit and no sign of a juvenile Hen Harrier seen quartering the fields below Gallows Hill for 45 minutes before I arrived; it had drifted off east


Late afternoon saw me observing what must be a new county record of roosting LITTLE EGRETS - no less than 29 of them crammed into the Willows of the two islands at the north end. Certainly well exceeds my previous highest total of 17. The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET was also with them and showing very well - initially on the main bund before moving to a Willow housing two Little Egrets. The three birds had an altercation, with the Great White stabbing out at the two Little Egrets.

There were also 95 Cormorants roosting on the bund, with 6 Little Grebes, 21 Mute Swans, 252 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 27 Teal and 42 Shoveler being counted.

At 1616 hours, a cracking SHORT-EARED OWL rose up from the rough fields adjacent to Swans Way and affording outstanding views for over 20 minutes as it hunted back and forth - my first of the year.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Recent News

Dave Cleal had a ROCK PIPIT at Dorney Lakes today, whilst a SHORT-EARED OWL remains for its third day at Linford NR

Sunday, 23 October 2011

An excellent day

The long-staying GREAT WHITE EGRET remains at Linford NR today whilst nearby a drake COMMON SCOTER was on Haversham Pit (Andy Harding).

A RING OUZEL was briefly on Ivinghoe Beacon (Mike Campbell), with the drake COMMON SCOTER still on College Lake BBOWT and a RED-NECKED GREBE on Calvert Sailing Lake

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Foxcote WeBS

The water levels at Foxcote Reservoir are as low as I've seen them for at least a couple of years, but despite this the number of wildfowl is impressive. Doing my monthly WEBS count this afternoon there were 473 wigeon, 461 coot, 427 lapwing, 55 gadwall, 51 mallard, 32 teal, 20 tufted duck, 15 shoveler, 11 mute swan, 8 moorhen, 2 great crested grebe, 2 goldeneye (fem) and 1 greylag goose.

I'm assuming the low numbers of tufted duck, great crested grebe and absence of pochard are due to lower water levels. Despite the abundance of exposed mud, the only wader I could find (except for the roosting lapwing) was a single green sandpiper.

As I left at 17:15, gull numbers were building but I counted 635 black-headed gull, 35 LBB gull and 7 common gull.

Bill Parker


Not a bad day at College Lake today - the adult drake COMMON SCOTER from Wilstone ended up spending most of the day on the main lake, obviously feeding well, and was still there at 5pm. Also, 7 Pintails and good numbers of wigeon, pochard, tufted duck and shoveler. Highlight of the day though was a SHORT-EARED OWL which was actually spotted thermaling at around 250 ft with five buzzards. Personally I have never seen anything like this and for a time doubted my ID skills! Good numbers of fieldfare going through all day, and redwings around the hedgerows around the reserve (Paul Reed)

The COMMON SCOTER was still present at dusk, showing very well in the bay adjacent to the Ogtagonal Hide, whilst the gull roost held 880 birds, including 550 Black-headed, a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN, 5 Common, 17 Herring, 226 Lesser Black-backed and 3 YELLOW-LEGGED (Lee Evans)


At Gayhurst Pits today in North Bucks, a party of 6 wild adult WHOOPER SWANS was present, as well as the long-staying adult GREAT WHITE EGRET

First COMMON GOLDENEYS of the autumn

Highlight of a walk around Willen this morning were 4 Common Goldeneye. 2 on South Lake and 2 North Lake. Duck numbers starting to build with good numbers of Wigeon, Tufted, Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler. 6 Little Grebe on North, but not much else.(Rob Norris)

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Adam Bassett saw the juvenile ARCTIC TERN at Spade Oak Pit, Marlow, this morning whilst Rod Scalfe discovered a 'BRENT GOOSE' at Calvert BBOWT this afternoon......

Large numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing are also on the move

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Adam Bassett had a late COMMON GREENSHANK drop in briefly at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, this morning, whilst at least 1 first-year Yellow-legged Gull remained in the roost

A single WHINCHAT remained with Common Stonechats just SE of Ivinghoe Beacon

Thursday, 29 September 2011

STONECHAT at last, whilst temperatures break new record


What a sweltering day ! With temperatures hitting a high of 28 degrees C mid-afternoon, this was the highest late September temperature recorded since records began. A light SSE breeze was blowing, with wall-to-wall sunshine throughout............


I did an extensive trawl of the hills, mainly in the hope of seeing the Common Stonechat of the last two days or a late passing Honey Buzzard. As it was, I managed neither, and birding was particularly slow in the steamy conditions.

The highlight was a single FIRECREST in Top Scrub, with 3 British Coal Tits, 4 Goldcrests, 12 Chaffinches, 4 Bullfinch and 30 Meadow Pipits recorded in over three hours

Many late butterflies were on the wing including a newly emerged Brimstone, numerous Peacocks and large numbers of Speckled Woods


Scorching hot in the early afternoon with most birds sitting out in the shade. All 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS were still present, including one drake starting to look dapper, along with 9 Little Egrets and 2 newly-arrived juvenile Little Grebes.

All 3 HOBBIES were still on site, whilst a migrant juvenile Common Buzzard drifted over being chased by 7 marauding Jackdaws.

The CETTI'S WARBLER was in song from the southern reedbed, and a male Common Chiffchaff in the East Hedge


Thanks to Warren Claydon, I eventually tracked down a migrant COMMON STONECHAT - a nice male in the top hedgerow along the Ridgeway - my first in the county this year. There were also 6 migrant NORTHERN WHEATEARS present in the recently tilled fields, as well as 2 Yellowhammers and 16 Linnets.


Not much of note other than 10 Common Teal, a female Tufted Duck and 18 Lapwings.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

BLACK TERN at Foxcote

A juvenile BLACK TERN around all afternoon, 250 Lapwing, 1 Green sandpiper, 1 female Red-crested pochard, about 10 Shoveler and a guesstimated 50 Wigeon which seems early (per Chris Coppock)

GREAT WHITE EGRET still around.........

Did my usual walk around Gayhurst Quarry this morning. While up at Quarryhall I noticed a large white bird drop down onto the river alongside Fishing Pit. Thought it was too big for Little Egret so I took a walk along the river. After flushing 2 Little Egrets and a Heron I presumed I had been mistaken, but a little further on another bird got up, this time no mistake, a bigger bird with a big yellow bill. GREAT WHITE EGRET - finally a patch tick!

It flew off down river, so guess it is lurking somewhere between Gayhurst Quarry and Lathbury. Unfortunately there is no public access to this area - I have permission as this is where I did my BTO Breeding Bird Survey - but interesting that it is still around.

Elsewhere on site of note, a dozen Teal, 4 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Grey Wagtail, 2 Blackcap and overhead movement of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Swallow. Also of interest I found a dead Black-headed Gull bearing a Danish ring. Will send off the details and see what comes back (Rob Norris)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Brief SANDWICH TERN - a nice bonus


A pleasant SW breeze blew throughout the day accompanied by long bright periods and warm temperatures. Bird of the day for me was an adult SANDWICH TERN discovered by Adam Bassett.......


Marlow Bottom birder Adam Bassett 'phoned me at 1035 hours to inform me that he was watching a SANDWICH TERN at Little Marlow. Being the first in the county this year, I jumped into the car and sped down, arriving just before 1100 hours........

Fortunately, Adam was still keeping tabs on the bird and as I walked up to him, I watched it disappear behind the main island. It soon reappeared to the left and over the next ten minutes, flew in and out of view at the far eastern end of the lake. It was a moulting adult and still had a bright yellow tip to its all-dark bill as well as some black on the shaggy crown behind the extensive white forehead. Otherwise, it was very pale and unmarked on the upperparts and gleaming white below, with a very shallow forked white tail. At 1113 hours, the bird appeared right over Adam and I's heads at the west end and flew strongly west over the sewage works compound. It was not seen again.

Also of interest was a juvenile YELLOW-LEGGED GULL roosting amongst the Argenteus Herring Gulls - a very informative individual. Side-by-side with Herring, it was a tad smaller and slightly more elongated but with a steep sloping forehead. It had a much cleaner white head with bold dark brown streaking on the hindcrown. Although the uppertail was still retaining the buff-tipped feathers, the greater part of the tail was extensively dark chocolate-brown, heavily peppered with spotting at the base. The dark bill was heavy and thick but most diagnostic was the patterning of the tertials - plain dark brown with pale buff tip and without the prominent dark notching of the Herring Gulls. It also had more prominent barring on the chest-sides.

Otherwise, a single Bar-headed Goose was with 18 Egyptian Geese, 14 Teal and 238 Lapwings.....


This evening, Mike Hirst and Dave Bilcock had a first-winter LITTLE GULL off the car park steps but less than 20 minutes later when Steve and I arrived, it had moved through. It was not to be found on the other reservoirs either.

Another new bird was a juvenile RUFF - showing very well on the mud just left of the jetty. The single juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was also present on Drayton Lagoon, as well as 17 Little Egrets.

Feeding amongst the weed in the rapidly diminishing SE quarter were the 6 recently-arrived eclipse-plumaged NORTHERN PINTAILS, as well as just under 300 Teal, 150 Shoveler and 22 Wigeon; 31 Mute Swans were also still present in the shallows.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

GWE still there - and Foxcote

There was a single moulting summer-plumaged DUNLIN at Foxcote Reservoir this afternoon along the west shore close to where the spit would be if water levels were low enough; also 3 Red-crested Pochars still remain. Not much else of note although wildfowl numbers significantly up on August WEBS count, with 421 Coot, 190 Lapwing, 76 Wigeon, 61 Mallard, 40 Gadwall, 29 Tufted Duck, 18 Mute Swan, 11 Cormorant, 5 Shoveler, 5 Teal and 2 Pochard (Bill Parker)

Meanwhile, the GREAT WHITE EGRET continues its sojourn at Linford Lakes - where also 2 BLACK TERNS were seen this morning

The escaped YELLOW-BREASTED (AXURE) TIT in Naphill

I thought I would take this opportunity to showcase Francis Buckle's superb images of the bird. Sadly, I was contacted by the owner of the bird - it had escaped from an aviary on 10 August. At that time, it was bearing a coloured plastic ring, but obviously somehow it managed to get rid of it (although you can clearly see where it was on the left leg). I would just like to thank the owners of the cottage where it ha staken up residence for their kind hospitality.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

GREAT WHITE EGRET still at Linford

The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET still remains at Linford Nature Reserve, frequenting the bund

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Escaped Azure Tit in Buckinghamshire

An Azure Tit of presumably captive origin has been visiting a garden peanut feeder in Naphill hamlet, north of High Wycombe (Bucks) for three weeks now. The bird with its prominent yellow underparts, dusky cap and thick dark lores is sadly of the eastern form (flavipectus), often known as Yellow-breasted Tit, and considered by some authorities to be a separate species to Azure Tit. This form is very restricted in range, breeding in the Western Tien Shan and in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is surprisingly common in captivity, even breeding successfully, especially on the near Continent.

I have attached a few of Adrian Kettle's images above on the website - taken today as it visited the feeder about once every 40 minutes.

Monday, 12 September 2011


The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET remained in North Bucks at the weekend, being seen at Gayhurst Motorway Pit on Saturday and back on Linford Nature Reserve bund on Sunday.

Elsewhere, there was little of note - an OSPREY, juvenile BLACK TERN and 2 WHINCHATS at College Lake (per Paul Reed). Reports of Arctic Tern at Little Marlow related to 3 juvenile Common Terns - late-brooded on site (per Alan Stevens)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

GREY PHALAROPE briefly at Calvert

Warren Claydon had a GREY PHALAROPE at Calvert Sailing Lake this afternoon but it quickly disappeared from view.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


A EURASIAN CURLEW over Stony Stratford Nature Reserve was an unexpected sight today, during a volunteer work party. Also 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper and numerous Sand and House Martins migrating through all morning (per Martin Kincaid)

At Linford NR today, Simon Nichols alerted me to the presence of a juvenile BLACK TERN on Black Horse Lake

Sunday, 4 September 2011

GREAT WHITE EGRET still present at Linford


For the first part of the morning it was dry with leaden skies but just as midday approached, the heavens opened, giving way to just under three hours of torrential rain. As a result, there was localised flooding. Once the front had moved through, it was replaced by much fresher weather from the Northwest and largely clear skies........


The migrant flock of wagtails on the side pitch held 25 Pieds and 2 juvenile YELLOWS - the latter my first in the Recording Area this year (2 had been seen by Ed Griffiths yesterday); also 44 migrant House Martins present in the rain.


A total of 12 Pied Wagtails present


After the heavy rain had gone through, I decided to revisit Linford to try and get better views of the GREAT WHITE EGRET. Alan had refound it again this afternoon after it had flown off east at 0800 hours this morning. I arrived there at about 1730 hours in bright sunshine and excellent light conditions. The bird was showing very well - just roosting with 2 Grey Herons on the main bund. This time I could see the legs clearly - definitely no signs of any colour rings. In fact, at the upper part of the tibia, the legs were still quite pale. I could also see that the bird possessed long aigrettes, suggesting that it was an adult bird. The bill was bright orange-yellow, with lime green bare skin at the base and around the eye. It was still sat there preening at 1810 hours when I left.

Also present were a pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets, 8 Eurasian Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 133 Lapwing whilst others had seen 2 GARGANEY and a Common Sandpiper.

Just as I was about to leave the perimeter Swans Way, I received a call from Dave Bilcock - there were 20 RED KNOTS at Wilstone Reservoir........


In virtually the time it took me to drive from Linford to Wilstone, the RED KNOT flock were present - feeding voraciously on the mud to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide (see Dave's two images above). However, at 1844 hours, Steve Rodwell, Roy Hargreaves and about 7 other local observers watched all 20 birds (all apparent juveniles) suddenly take flight and fly strongly NW into Buckinghamshire. Mike and Ted Wallen who arrived literally just minutes before me only just narrowly missed out whilst I was 9 minutes out of synch - blow it, yet another batch of good local birds missed. You really need to be there every hour of daylight in such conditions !

The Knot flock had been the highlight of a surprisingly quiet weekend at the reservoirs. The juvenile LITTLE STINT was still present whilst the RINGED PLOVER flock had now increased to 15 birds, including several of which showed characters of tundrae - the northern TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER (smaller and darker and much browner in appearance). A single juvenile RUFF and COMMON GREENSHANK were still present, as well as 3 Common Sandpipers, whilst Little Egret were back up to 22 and Mike W picked up a late COMMON SWIFT with the 40 or so Sand Martins and 120 House Martins over the central bank.

A further 6 COMMON SWIFTS were hawking over the causeway at Tringford Reservoir

The weather this week promises to be unsettled and quite changeable and should produce dividends at the reservoirs........