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, 28 January 2011

WAXWINGS still at Wyevale, Marlow

I thought I’d check out the Marlow Waxwings this lunchtime, as the presumed pre-roost flock I saw yesterday seemed a little depleted, maybe 50-60 birds. There was no sign of them on the poplars near the Wyevale, so I tried the industrial estate just over the A404. A small flock was immediately obvious feeding on cotoneaster berries adjacent to the A404 near Forth Avenue, I counted 42 birds, but these were joined by another 30+ briefly, before they all took off towards the adjacent housing estate. A quick drive round and I found a largish flock feeding on what looked like old crab apples in Peacock Road. Shortly afterwards, they were flushed and flew off back towards the A404. I then found a further 10 nearby, which also flew off towards the A404. A quick drive again and birds were found on the slip road next to the fire station before they flew off back to the poplars opposite Wyevale. Here it was easy to count 84 birds, so I guess this is the total flock, but there could be break-off flocks feeding nearby. The birds are not feeding in these poplars, except on a few rose-hips beneath occasionally, but seem to come here to rest up, certainly for pre-roost and maybe post-roost judging by early morning records. They have also been coming down from the poplars to drink in puddles at the entrance to the Wyevale, but these are now drying up.

Adam Bassett


Quite a large flock of WAXWINGS flying between Kingston and Monkston this morning at 1020. They flew around constantly and never settled so unfortunately i couldn't get an exact count but i'd estimate about 70-80 birds - Dave James

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Over 7,000 large gulls roost at Calvert as I enjoy my first full-day's birding in Bucks this year - LGRE


The dreary weather continued with light drizzle on and off all day. The wind veered to the NNE, knocking a few centigrade off the temperature. Everywhere, the ground is completely sodden.

Today, I decided to birdwatch in my home county, doing some more survey work and then concentrating on remaining target birds in North Bucks. Never made it to Milton Keynes, so still missing that elusive Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl..........


Sadly, a dead Badger was a roadside casualty just east of Little Chalfont by the A404 at TQ 006 978.

At Chenies Bottom bridge, the lagoon to the west held a Little Grebe and two drake COMMON TEAL, whilst the Chenies Place garden was still supporting the resident family of Mute Swans (pair and their three offspring from 2010), the adult female of which is 'T2L' - ringed on 13 March 2009 at the same site and first noticed by me on 27 August 2010. A Robin was in full song by the gardens whilst the resident Jackdaw flock numbered 46.

Walking east alongside Frogmore Meadow, a male Mistle Thrush was in full song, whilst Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jays, Common Blackbird and Blue Tit were all seen. As I approached the Cressbeds along the boardwalk, a party of 7 Long-tailed Tits moved noisily past and a Green Woodpecker 'yaffled'.

Crestyl Cressbeds at Sarratt Bottom held 3 LITTLE EGRETS and 11 Moorhens but no Green Sandpiper; Valley Farm produced the first Ring-necked Parakeet of the year and 8 Redwings flew west.

My first local MARSH TIT of the year was a typically vocal bird in the hedgerow bordering Wallace's Wood and by the time I had walked back to the bridge where I had first parked my car, 4 LITTLE EGRETS were now feeding together in the River Chess (with the 5th wintering individual down at Latimer Bridge).

So it was off to Great Water to count the wildfowl. I was greeted by a male Song Thrush in full song on my arrival and 12 Redwing flew over. The lake held 1 Little Grebe, 15 Mute Swans (1 first-winter), 126 Atlantic Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 12 Tufted Duck and 61 Coot; 1 near-adult Sinensis Cormorant flew downriver and a Common Buzzard was sat on a post.


Three GREAT CRESTED GREBES have now returned to the Recording Area, after an absence of just two months. Singles are now present on both the smaller and the larger of the two lakes. Otherwise though, very sparse, with just 13 Coot and a single drake Northern Pochard. Undoubted highlight was 83 SISKINS in the Alder trees - in two groups - 60 and 23.


Not visited for a while, I was delighted to add a new species to the Site List today. A flock of 28 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was feeding in the Mistletoe in the tall trees just left of the gate at the far west end of the lake. They were very high up in the tree and had first been discovered yesterday.

Also present was the first returning GREAT CRESTED GREBE on the lake (2nd day), the two adult Mute Swans (no sign of last year's three surviving offspring), 28 Mallard, 4 Tufted Duck (1 female), 7 drake Northern Pochards, 40 Coots and a Grey Heron.

A COMMON KINGFISHER was showing very well perched, whilst a WATER RAIL squealed, and loafing gulls including a 4th-winter Argenteus Herring Gull, 14 Common Gulls and 62 Black-headed Gulls.

A few Red Kites were drifting around, with another Mistle Thrush advertising its presence, a Yellowhammer and a party of 6 SISKINS that flew over.


The sedge bed was too wet this time rather than too dry but once again no Jack Snipe - just 1 single COMMON SNIPE noted. A pair of Eurasian Wigeon was on the pools.


And yet another dip on Jack Snipe - are there any in the county this year? I have now run out of sites for this ever decreasing species.

A Brown Hare and 2 Roe Deers were recorded, along with Common Buzzard, Green Woodpecker, 170 Woodpigeons (in one tight flock), 6 Chaffinch and a male Reed Bunting.

Following up the distinctive call of a COMMON RAVEN, I found it 'shouting' from a fencepost close to the farm north of the site - a second bird was nearby in a neighbouring ploughed field.


As usual, the premier site in the county for Eurasian Wigeon with a massive 738 click-counted. In amongst them was my first drake NORTHERN PINTAIL of the year. There were also at least 86 Common Teal present, along with 23 Pochards and 9 Common Goldeneyes. A total of 9 Sinensis Cormorants was standing on the tern raft, with 1,328 Black-headed Gulls counted and 93 Common Gulls. Most welcome were the 6 BULLFINCHES by the road - another 2011 first for me.


Calvert Lakes and Calvert Landfill are now amongst the Top 10 sites in Britain for large white-headed gulls, ranking alongside Pitsea Landfill in Essex and the Appleford Landfill near Didcot in Oxfordshire. For some species, the totals are of international importance and significance.

For the first time this winter, I had a proper 'grilling' of the birds, observing the roost from 1530 to 1700 hours. I did not find Warren's near-adult Iceland Gull but I did click-count an outstanding 7,327 large gulls, and that's without the 2,000 or so roosting Black-headed Gulls and small number of Common Gulls. The majority of the birds were on the Sailing Lake but a consistent flock of over 1,000 birds remained on the BBOWT Lake until late.

The 7,327 figure was made up of 522 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, an incredible 4,611 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2,172 HERRING GULLS (including many Argentatus and a surprising number of full breeding adult Argenteus), 17 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS and 5 CASPIAN GULLS. The latter consisted of three adult birds, a 2nd-winter and a first-winter.

The BLACK-NECKED GREBE was still present along the east shore of the Sailing lake, whilst a single EURASIAN BITTERN flew and landed in front of the first hide at 1640 hours. It afforded some exceptional views out in the open before it flew to the reedbed to the right.

A BULLFINCH was also present by the hide.

WAXWINGS still in South Bucks

Decided to visit LMGP this pm. En route I had a quick look at the trees by the Wyevale garden centre on the A4155 and the poplars opposite, by the entrance to Westhorpe Farm, as RBA had reported Waxwings here yesterday (presumably via Birdguides?) - no luck. I then spent too long at LMGP not seeing very much. There were now 4 Shelduck, 3 roosting on the spit and a further flyover and the best gull was a rather diminutive, smart looking adult Yellow-legged Gull, presumably a female. Most of the Herring Gulls that began to appear later on were large adult argentatus, many of which were acquiring summer plumage, with very little head streaking remaining. Then back for the school run – I again checked out the ‘Waxwing’ trees and this time hit the jackpot, with a large flock in the trees by the entrance to the Wyevale. They were coming down to drink at a roadside puddle. Shortly afterwards, they flew to the poplars on the opposite side of the road, where my best count revealed 88 birds, but this is probably plus or minus a few. Unfortunately due to the school pick-up I couldn’t watch for long, but I returned briefly with the kids to find the flock more or less in the same place – again, there were at least 80 birds. At c3:55pm, they flew off over the A404 roundabout roughly in the direction of Marlow Bottom – closer to home maybe!

Adam Bassett

Sunday, 23 January 2011

PINTAILS at Linford

A total of 6 NORTHERN PINTAILS at Linford NR. Also 3 Little Egret, 1 Buzzard and c35 Siskin.

At Kingston earlier, 21 Waxwing behind Starbucks (Rob Hill)

GOOSANDERS at Emberton Lake

20 Goosanders (6 adult males) on Emberton Park sailing lake this morning (before the boats); also Kingfisher (per Keith of NBBR)

WHOOPER SWAN still present

The adult WHOOPER SWAN was still present this morning on Motorway Pit in amongst 111 Mutes. Also 1 Little Egret.

At Quarryhall a pair of Ravens flew North. A flock of around 30 Yellowhammers were present and a few TREE SPARROWS were heard, but not seen in the Maize strip (Robert Norris)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

WAXWINGS still in Milton Keynes

After drawing a blank at the first couple of sites checked early morning The Jaipur Indian restaurant ( not far from the railway station ) turned up trumps, with 141 WAXWINGS there. However after only five minutes with them the vast majority flew off South-West and over the railway into the depths of MK.

Onto Kingston retail park where they were gradually building up, when we left there were 74 there. Frustratingly one of the 'Jaipur' birds was ringed, but I could not get enough detail on it, but there appeared to be white and yellow on left leg (Mike + Ted Wallen)

Friday, 21 January 2011

Today's Roundup

An adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was seen briefly at Spade Oak GP, Little Marlow (Dave Horton), with a Little Egret at Weston Turville (Steve Richards) and 119 Common Magpies at roost at Holtspur Bottom (Wally Smith).

There is still no shortage of WAXWINGS with 60 today in Central Milton Keynes, 18 at Old Park Farm, 12 in Lacey Green and 3 still in Walter's Ash.

Wintering FIRECRESTS and both BARNACLE and WHITE-FRONTED GEESE still present in South Bucks - LGRE Diary Notes


After a sharp frost, another cold day with clear blue skies and sunshine. Beautiful birding conditions.


Five 'fat' Woodpigeons now resident in the garden, 1 SONG THRUSH still (since early December), 3 Goldfinch, 4 Coal Tits and 2 Robins (incidentally sharing the same birdtable together - a rare sight)


Hogback Wood lies on the extreme western fringe of Beaconsfield and is a relatively small area of mixed deciduous and conifer woodland. What is has got is an enormous amount of Holly and it is this habitat which I feel is attracting the increasing number of FIRECRESTS - a species which is now resident in the Chiltern woodlands. This same habitat proves extremely productive for Firecrests in the New Forest in Hampshire.

Thanks to local birder Wally Smith, I eventually (after over two hours of searching) tracked down 3 wintering FIRECRESTS and a single Goldcrest. They were favouring an area of dense Holly scrub about 85 yards in from the gardens, accessed by walking down the main ride at the end of Woodside Road for 100 yards (parallel with the railway line) and then turning right by the crater and climbing up the slope for a further 35-50 yards where it meets the Holly. In fact, it is almost like a 'tunnel of Holly' here and extends for about 60 yards and this was by far the favoured area. Although they were largely silent today, they could be located by their distinctive calls.

I also recorded 8 Redwings, 10 Common Blackbirds, Nuthatch, 5 Coal Tits, 15 Blue Tits, 11 Great Tits, 4 Wrens, 2 Common Magpies, 2 Jays, 2 Robins, 8 Long-tailed Tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the wood.


The small lake to the east of the lakes yielded 2 Little Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, a single Northern Pochard and 46 Tufted Duck whilst the Seasonal Pool a pair of COMMON SHELDUCK (my first of the year in Bucks). The fields to the west continued to harbour the large flock of grazing geese including the 15 BARNACLE GEESE of unknown origin. All 15 birds were seen to be unringed and are certainly not of local origin.


The 250 or so Greylag Geese were still present and in amongst them were still 5 remaining EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE - a family party including 3 juveniles.

The 20 Mute Swans were still present in the adjacent crop field and the Amerden Scrapes area held 5 Great Crested Grebe and 8 Pochards.

Neighbouring Taplow Lake held 7 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Pochard, 17 Tufted Duck and 4 Coot.

(permit access only)

There was no sign of yesterday's GREAT NORTHERN DIVER but the long-staying immature VELVET SCOTER was still present but distant (favouring the west shore)


A total of 5 collybita CHIFFCHAFFS were showing well in the afternoon sunshine in the overhanging vegetation bordering the River Colne at the extreme south end of Troy Mill GP (immediately behind the Broadwater Pit Sailing Club) but there was no sign of last year's overwintering Siberian Chiffchaff nor of any Scandinavian Chiffchaffs.

The area held a very impressive count of Coot - 512 in all - but surprisingly few Gadwall - and just 9 Great Crested Grebe, 18 Mute Swan and 96 Tufted Duck.


This used to be a brilliant site for wintering Smew but few people ever look here now. I did today bit it was very quiet - just Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 12 Tufted Duck and 58 Coot present.


Two EGYPTIAN GEESE-types were with the 52 Atlantic Canada Geese grazing and 16 Gadwall on the pool. Ten Common Magpies were also in attendance.

Calvert area today

Did the gull roost with Warren Claydon and amongst the biggest roost of the Winter.

Warren spotted a 3rd W ICELAND GULL on the BBOWT Lake. It has white primaries, very light grey mantle, small amount retained immature plumage and dull yellow bill; viewed at very long range. At least one adult CASPIAN GULL still present.We

We looked for the Iceland on main sailing roost but couldn't spot it amongst the huge roost in bad light.

Also redhead GOOSANDER, 1-2 BITTERNS seen in flight and BLACK-NECKED GREBE still on sailing lake by reedbed on East bank (per Tim Watts)

WAXWINGS in the North

I've just counted (at 1015) 37 Waxwings in the trees on the Denbigh roundabout (the large one between Ikea and B&Q), i returned 10 minutes later at 1025 to find they had relocated to the trees alongside B&Q.

There was 35 Waxwings yesterday in Halfords car park but i didn't put the report out because no sooner had i counted them they all cleared off.

I also had a drive through Kingston this morning and couldn't see any, but as this flock seems to be very mobile hopefully they'll turn up later - Dave James

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SMEWS at College Lake


Another pleasant day after the frost and early morning fog dissipated. Did not have much opportunity for birding today and apart from a large flock of post-roost Ring-necked Parakeets near Staines Reservoirs and a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE near New Denham, the highlight was 3 SMEW at College Lake......


Dave Bilcock tipped me off about 3 SMEW at College early afternoon when I was in Bexhill-on-Sea. Fortunately, I was able to get back before dark and see them - a cracking adult drake and two females. All three were sleeping by the time I got there - at the back of the Main Marsh - but DB had photographed the drake earlier (see above).

There were a lot of duck on the marsh including 58 Wigeon, 21 Pochard and 55 Tufted Duck

The Stony Stratford Reserve

A brief visit to the Queen Eleanor Street hide at Stony Stratford earlier (12pm) brought the following. 2 GREEN SANDPIPER showing well on the shingle island, which is partially flooded. 24 TEAL, 1 KINGFISHER and a male SPARROWHAWK mobbed by crows (Martin Kincaid)


c70 WAXWINGS in a tree behind the BMW garage in Kingston this morning at 9.45 before flying south towards Monkston (Dave James,

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Milton Keynes WAXWINGS

At 0842 at least 200+ WAXWINGS still feeding on the berries in Lloyds Court. Amazing sight and sound (Paul Moon)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Under-counting of WAXWING flocks

This morning I reported 200+ Waxwings around Lloyds Court, CMK, just after 09.00. They were in four separate trees and I quickly took photos of them all so there would be no duplication. Having just had the chance to count them, and allowing for one or two I may have missed or double-counted, there were 319 - a very impressive total. A pity the light was so poor for better photography (Geoff Dawes)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Saturday Highlights

Today's Summary

An adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL roosted at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, today, with the BLACK-NECKED GREBE still at Calvert Sailing Lake and BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Central Milton Keynes (220+), and in Aylesbury (30 on Wixon Walk at Fairford Leys)

The two FIRECRESTS remain in Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield


Calvert BBOWT; 8 PINTAILS, 5 drakes, presumably from Otmoor. At least 2 BITTERNS still present.

Calvert sailing lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE still feeding off point of reedbed on East bank.

Hillesden; 147 Greylag Geese / 26 Mute Swans

Gallows bridge farm; Adult female PEREGRINE sat in field and young MERLIN still

Lloyds Court is now the place

Dave and I had amazing views of the 220ish WAXWINGS at Lloyds Court down to a distance of 5ft this afternoon ! Fantastic views and amazing sounds ! (Simon Nichols)

33 GOOSANDER at Emberton Lakes

The WFC at Emberton Park this morning produced an impressive 33 GOOSANDER (including 6 adult males) on the sailing lake. This by far my largest count at the site. I don't know how long they will stay, as there was gathering activity in the sailing club car park (per Keith on NBBR).

Friday, 14 January 2011

Milton Keynes WAXWINGS

At 14.45 there were about 170 (counted from mobile phone photo) in a tree on the shopping centre side of Silbury Boulevard opposite Lloyds Court (Peter Barnes)

BEARDED TIT still at Walton Lakes

A cracking day of sightings just in my normal Parks Trust rounds.

Firstly, at about 9.30 this morning, I clocked a group of about 20 WAXWINGS as I truned left out of Burners Lane, Kiln Farm. Interesting that all the waxwings now seem to be feeding on cotoneaster - perhaps they've exhauseted the supply of rowan berries.

Working in the woodland area of Campbell Park this afternoon, we had a party of 16 SISKIN accompanied by 2 LESSER REDPOLL in the silver birch trees there. Anyone else noticed how many siskins there are about lately, or is it just me? In the past week I have seen them at Linford, Willen, Walton Lake and now Campbell Park.

Finally, a routine visit to Walton BL was rewarded with a sighting of a single male BEARDED TIT, so there is at least one still there. Showing on the right hand side of the boardwalk at 16:10. We have installed a bird table in front of the screen now and will intermittently supply grit to see if the beardies will take it (Martin Kincaid)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

WAXWINGS finally make it to Central Milton Keynes

Martin K's phoned with circa 50+ Waxwings at 1402 near Lloyds Court, Central Milton Keynes and flying over the road near to the shopping centre, by Curry's (per Paul Moon)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Vagrant GEESE all still present

15 BARNACLE GEESE still at Dorney Lake with Canada flock near reserve pool at lunchtime.

EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE still at Marsh Lane in fields to west of car park. (presumably 18, but didn’t count them)

No sign of any Brent Geese with Canada flock on Cockmarsh (Adam Bassett)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Manor Farm today - Rob Norris

Highlights of a walk around this afternoon were:

2 Green Sandpipers on the landscaped pit,
3 Little Egrets, - river, settling pit and landscaped pit,
6 Goosander - 2 male, 4 female,
around 100 Wigeon on the landscaped pit
and a Common Buzzard.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The sighting history of the 15 vagrant BARNACLE GEESE currently wintering at Dorney Lakes

Kevin Duncan very kindly put this summary together. I am of the opinion that these birds are of Continental origin and arrived during the cold spell with up to 1,600 other Barnacle Geese forced out by the freeze. Many of these Dutch birds of course are naturalised.

The following is list of the sightings of the 16 now 15 Barnacle Geese.

06/12: 16 first seen at Island Barn Reservoir, Surrey
14/12: Dorney Lake, Bucks
17/12: Dorney Lake, Bucks

Not seen when the snow was on the ground

30/12 Dorney Lake/Dorney Wetlands now reduced to 15 birds
01/01 Dorney Wetlands
02/01 Jubilee River, Marsh Lane, Bucks
08/01 Dorney Lake, Bucks
09/01 Dorney Lake, Bucks
10/01 Dorney Lake, Bucks

Blustery conditions make it a real struggle


As the day wore on, a warm front approached from the west bringing heavy cloud and strong southerly winds, eventually pushing the temperature to over 10 degrees C. The wind was quite hindering and affected any small bird sightings. I spent the day in Buckinghamshire and after a lot of effort added 7 new birds for the Bucks year - Common Snipe, PEREGRINE, Linnet, BLACK-NECKED GREBE, Bullfinch, Common Goldeneye and BITTERN.


The adult drake SHOVELER of last week has been replaced by a first-year drake - a very rare species indeed in the Chess Valley. A drake Pochard was also present, along with 4 Tufted Duck, with both Robin and Great Tit in full song. A male Common Kestrel was seen, with 2 Pied Wagtails wintering in gardens across the road.

A Red Kite was by the Aylesbury Bypass, with two more over Waddesdon, but there was no sign of the 29 Waxwings opposite the Shanks car recycling yard on Griffin Lane when I drove by.


Up to 140 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare were in fields east of Waddesdon but an extensive search of Woodham Industry produced just 5 COMMON SNIPES. I once recorded 17 Jack Snipes at this site in its hey-day.


The two resident PEREGRINES were sitting in the large grass meadow visible from the hides - perhaps the resident pair from Aylesbury (which I still have not seen this year despite scanning every time I pass). Every now and again they got up and had a fly around, 'playing' and spooking the large wildfowl flock.

A single LINNET flew over the hide whilst at the far west end of the reserve, the flooded fields held 668 Lapwing, 261 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 550+ Common Starlings, 538 Eurasian Wigeon, 230 Common Teal and 2 Gadwall. At least two Common Kestrels were resident but there was no sign of the wintering Merlin.


The winter-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE was showing very well in the vicinity of the pink buoy, close to the reedbed fringe on the eastern shore (present for its 3rd day), with 3 Little Grebes, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck and an adult drake Common Goldeneye also present. A flyover male Bullfinch was a bonus bird and my first of the year.


Very windy with all of the birds at the far south end of the lake - comprising just 66 Tufted Ducks and 58 Coots. Nothing of interest in the pre-roosting gulls.


A flock of 13 Lapwing was in fields south of the A 421 east of its junction with the B 4033 at The Common, along with 40 Fieldfares and a Common Kestrel.

Milton Keynes and its environs was a complete wash-out and almost a birdless zone. I could find no sight nor sound of the 200 or so Waxwings around the shopping complex at Bletchley, Willen Lake was very blowy, again a complete blank with the Tree Sparrows and Marsh Tits at Dairy Barn/Little Linford Wood and no Common Stonechats west of Olney.


I drove back to Calvert for dusk - just 1 EURASIAN BITTERN coming in to roost in front of the first hide (at 1640 hours). Interestingly, this bird flew in high from the west and had presumably been feeding on the Sailing Lake. It roosted in the reedbed in the vicinity of the lone tree.

Some 65 Redwings also roosted

Again, nothing of interest could be found in the gull roost. However, an alarming number of Argenteus Herring Gulls are now in full breeding plumage.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Gayhurst WHOOPER SWAN still

Yes the adult WHOOPER SWAN is still present this morning (LGRE saw it yesterday afternoon). Also Barnacle Goose in the Greylag/Canada flock.; 2 redhead GOOSANDERS on fishing Pit and 3 Little Egrets on Motorway Pit; 120 European Golden Plovers flew up the valley towards Linford and 2 Marsh Tits and Nuthatch in the Wood (Rob Norris)

Simon's Sunday round-up from the North

The Bletchley WAXWINGS are still showing very well around Tescos in Bletchley - Geoff Dawes called to say over 100 were still showing at 09:00 and when I did a quick drive past at 11:00 there were still a sizeable number just across the road in Halfords Car Park , a very quick visit to Walton ( 5 mins as i was late for a Squash match ! ) didnt produce any Bearded Tits and a few other birders had also spent time there unsuccessfully

No sign of the Bittern along Bond Avenue either , but it was on view from 14:30 til 15:30 yesterday , so maybe afternoons are better , look in the scrub and along the stream halfway between Bletcham Way and the Mount Farm Car Park (Simon Nichols)


09/1 15:45 : DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE : Little Marlow GP. Flew in with small flock of Canada Geese, trailing slightly behind them. Presumably was on Cockmarsh area previoulsy. Unable to relocate it even though clear water areas remain restricted. May have gone onto island or flew back to Thames area. (Kevin Holt)

Raptor Delight at the River Ray Meadows

Aylesbury; fantastic views of the WAXWINGS coming and going outside Shanks, most I counted was 57.

Gallows Bridge Farm: 1st visit late morning; 4 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE still present but in fairly long observation period only c 200 Lapwing seen and not much else. Suspected still lots of birds at far end but a no show from Peregrines meant they stayed put.

Calvert Sailing Lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present and Neil, an angler, keeps reporting seeing BITTERNS on the sailing lake.

Gallows Bridge Farm: 2nd visit 3:30- 4:50 with Warren Claydon, this was much, much better. Two PEREGRINES on show most of visit, on size presumed male and female, hunting, resting on pylons, on ground and in tree. At one stage both on ground quite close together. These birds terrorised the bottom end putting up what we estimate c 1,000 Lapwing, c600 mixed Wigeon/Teal flock, c1,000 Starling, 2-300 Fieldfare. Warren spotted a fem/imm MERLIN; it flashed across main meadow then preened for a long while on cut hedge. The duck flocks only went up twice and after the 2 Peregines on ground took flight,we suspect they were hunting as a pair and this was enough to put the ducks up. No Owls seen but looks a good bet (Tim Watts Birding)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

BARNACLES and WHITE-FRONTS still present

The 18 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE are still present at Marsh Lane Weir, Jubilee River, and the 15 BARNACLE GEESE at Dorney Lake. Also two FIRECRESTS still in Hogback Wood, Beaconsfield.

FERRUGINOUS DUCK of unknown origin

The drake Ferruginous Duck of presumably captive origin was on the Jubilee River today (8th Jan) - feeding in its normal area either side of the Lake End Road briidge (Kevin Duncan)


Calvert; 22 Red Kites seen low together at 7:25 on approach road/ BLACK-NECKED GREBE still by large reedbed on sailing lake/ 1 Bittern seen in flight on BBOWT.

Hillesden; 17 Mute Swans but Whooper not been seen for a while now/ smattering of Pochard, Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler.

Gallows Bridge Farm; 4 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, (family party of two adults and two young) present on main meadow and present for second day (per Mick A'Court)

Also 2 RUFF on narrow flood at very far end. c 600 Lapwing, c20 European Golden Plover, a few Common Snipe and 'many' Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, 1 Mute Swan and c 100 Fieldfare.

All of these birds were in, over or around the flooded area and rough grass field at extreme distance from hides so difficult to view/count accurately. They were all disturbed 3 times by a large female PEREGRINE (Tim Watts)


Three BITTERNS arrived in the reedbed to the right of the top hide, one after the other, between 4:15 and 4:45. All three showed well as they posed up on the reeds in a neat line by the water's edge (John O'Dwyer).

On the opposite side of the road, the BLACK-NECKED GREBE was present for its second day (Tim Watts)


Walton Lake - 2 BEARDED TITS at about 2.30pm, a female seen well in cut reed stems on left immediately before the viewing platform, then another not seen so well flew across the path that was probably a male as I thought I caught blue grey on its head. There was much calling as they crept deeper into the reeds. Previously Chris Coppock and myself had spent about an hour waiting for a sighting. Also there several WATER RAIL; I saw one in front of the screen, about 30 rather mobile SISKINS and an American Mink.

Fenny Stratford - 200+ waxwings around Wickes and Tescos

Dick Bodily

Bletchley WAXWINGS

I've just got in from a good few hours spent in Bletchley Tesco car park!

There are 150+ waxwing constantly moving around the car park, they prefer to sit in the tall trees over the road in the TK Maxx area and then all swarm down onto the berries in Tesco car park. They don't feed for long though as they are soon chased off by a Mistle Thrush, and I think the Saturday shoppers are spooking them a bit, so they fly back into the tall trees after 30 seconds or so. This made it quite hard to count them; also the fact they seem to split up into 3 separate flocks doesn't help, I wouldn't be surprised if there are 200+ in total. The berry stock is starting to look quite low, they may well polish them all off by tomorrow.

Also, I was at Caldecotte for an hour or so in between car park watching and another 30 or so flew over towards Tesco (Paul Gibbs)

TREE SPARROWS in Leckhamstead

I recorded my first TREE SPARROW in the garden over the pre christmas snows and I've been here for 6 years. This morning I have a party of 8! I'd forgotten how noisy they could be!(Richard Goodlad)

170+ WAXWINGS still in Bletchley

170+ Waxwings still in the Tescos / Asda area of Bletchley (per NBBR)

Friday, 7 January 2011

BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Calvert Sailing Lake

Calvert sailing lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE feeding mostly just off tip of the golden reedbed on clubhut bank. I had scanned lake four times with bins, then scope and didn't spot it; only on my final scan did I find it. For brief period it swam closer into bay by jetty. Technically sailing club area is for members only but they are very welcoming to birders and if they are sailing/working someone will always let you in to have a look at any interesting bird on site.

Spent two hours in 1st hide on BBOWT and no Bittern sightings, I'm sure they're still there but maybe spending lot of time feeding up in the recently thawed reedbeds (Tim Watts).

BEARDED TITS still present

At least three BEARDED TITS at Walton BL this lunchtime, in the reeds to the right of the platform. One female came out into the open no more than a couple of metres from where I stood, very low down. Lots of `pinging' behind her and I could make out at least another two individuals.

Also twelve Siskins in one of the Alders, which surprisingly didn't flee when a Sparrowhawk flew in, circled a few times and then flew away.

And two Water Rails - excellent views of one walking and foraging in front of the reeds directly opposite the screens, and one squealing behind me. (per Geraldine of NBBR)

Bletchley WAXWINGS

I have just counted 94 WAXWINGS feeding on the Rowans next to B&Q on Saxon Street in Bletchley. They are feeding on the floor too, which is something I hadn't witnessed before. The best place I found to view them is from the top corner of the TKMAXX car park then look across to B&Q, the trees were full of them at 10.30 (Dave James)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT briefly at Caldecotte Lake

About half of the north lake is still frozen, but quite a few birds about. A male Goldeneye, Female Goosander and a real treat, BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. This bird stayed for about 15 minutes, long enough for a few pictures, and then headed off north. Most of the south lake is now free of ice, and the birds spread out, but I did manage to find another female Goosander (per Keith of NBBR)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

MEALY REDPOLLS at Bow Brickhill - Woburn Golf Course

Towards the end of a long, pleasant, but largely birdless walk in the Brickhills this long lunchtime, I came across a flock of c 35 Redpolls ( c 15 Siskins were also around, but the 2 species largely kept to themselves) of which at least 3 were good candidates for Mealies. They were about 200m down the central track running through Woburn GC from the car park above Bow Brickhill church. They were high in the birches and regularly spooked...not by me or apparently passing with the many comings and goings assessing which were the same birds was not possible. Viewing was not great. A 'scope from slightly further away would have been an improvement. One bird was so obviously larger than any of the others that it could be picked out with the naked eye. A second bird, not so obvious on size was extensively white below,with no obvious streaking and an extensive pink flush on the breast. Presumably the birds reported a couple of days ago from London End Lane. Worth a look (Andy Harding)

More WAXWINGS in Milton Keynes - at Downhead Park

BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY: Firstly a Happy New Year to everybody that reads this. And secondly, Yes Yes Yes, WAXWINGS in my garden...well, almost! Flock of 30+ in trees along redway behind Coberley Close and Colesbourne Drive. They seemed to be interested in something the other side of the redway which I could not see. Present from approx 2.45 - 3.15. I have a cotoneaster in my garden full of red berries and was willing them to spot it but no luck. Will watch again tomorrow but have to go to work. Never thought I'd see waxwings without even having to go out! My wife said I actually got excited...

Also briefly in my garden today a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk whizzed through (Chris James)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sunday 2 January - LGRE Diary Notes


A much brighter day than of late but several degrees cooler. In fact, there was a slight frost overnight. It remained bright all day, with very light winds - in fact very pleasant all round.

I spent today 'mopping up' on a few local Year-ticks and checking out some late December 2010 rarities......Undoubted highlight was a flock of BARNACLE GEESE....

JUBILEE RIVER (Bucks section between Amerden Lane and Marsh Lane) (park at SU 915 803)

I first checked the grass field SSW of Amerden Lane, where grazing in the field were 25 Mute Swans, 2 Greylag Geese and 120 Atlantic Canada Geese; the 8 Egyptian Geese had all moved on.

The field also held 372 Woodpigeons.

The Amerden Scrapes and river held 6 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Grey Heron, several Sinensis Cormorants, 2 Gadwall, 9 Eurasian Wigeon, 130 Tufted Ducks and numerous Coot, with Ring-necked Parakeet recorded, as well as Jay, Great Tit and 2 Eurasian Skylarks that flew over.

Driving around to Marsh Lane Weir, I soon found the geese. As luck would have it, 15 of the EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE had flown from the field to drink on the river and were affording some exceptional views. This 15 held 5 adults and 10 juveniles.

The other three birds (a pair with a single juvenile) were still feeding amongst the 186-strong Greylag Geese flock SW of the car park in the field. A single adult Bar-headed Goose was also with them.

Checking the Jubilee River from here added 8 Mute Swans (including 5 first-winters), 6 Gadwall, 2 Northern Pochards and a few Moorhens, along with a Grey Wagtail at the weir, 5 more flyover Skylarks, several Fieldfare and 9 Lapwings.

At 1135 hours, a flock of 15 BARNACLE GEESE appeared from the east and attempted to land with the Greylags. They circled the field twice but then headed off SSE towards Dorney Rowing Lakes before veering east and following the Jubilee River course along. They circled Dorney Wetlands briefly before eventually flying off SW over Dorney Common. I am assuming that they are part of the huge displacement of Continental Barnacle Geese currently being undertaken in Southern England, with flocks of over 100 birds appearing at various localities along the South Coast, from East Sussex to Dorset and South Devon. They were calling constantly as they were flying around. The only non-naturalised birds in the area is the flock at Eversley GP.


A further 460 Tufted Ducks were click-counted on the section of Jubilee River between Marsh Lane and the weir to the west of Moores Lane, along with 6 Shoveler, 50+ Eurasian Wigeon, a single Common Teal, 25 Mute Swans and an island filled with 104 Lapwing. Meadow Pipit and Redwing were both new for the year.

East and west of Moores Lane, i recorded 3 female SMEWS but no drake.


Although largely frozen, I was most surprised to find all of the resident MANDARIN DUCKS present on the Upper Pond - a total of 25 birds (15 adult drakes).

The adjacent woodland yielded Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Jay, Wren, Robin, Great Tit and Blue Tit.

BURTLEY WOOD (BUCKS) (A355) (SU 950 884)

A Red Kite was repeatedly swooping down to feed on a dead cock Common Pheasant on the southbound verge of the A355.

(permit access only)

All of the water was frozen and much of the rubbish largely covered. Not one gull was to be seen so I made to by click-counting the corvids - a staggering 334 Carrion Crows present, either feeding on the rubbish or roosting in the trees surrounding the pits. A total of 13 Red Kites were seen, along with Skylark, Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush.


I was surprised to see tipping being carried out on a Sunday and from the entrance to the site, careful scrutiny could be made of the large number of birds taking advantage.

Again, corvid numbers were impressive, with a further 424 Carrion Crows click-counted, along with 44 Red Kites scavenging and 100 Common Starlings.

The gull flock comprised at least 2,400 individuals - the bulk of them Black-headed. Not a single Common Gull to be seen but 430 Herring Gulls (including a surprising number of Argenteus - perhaps 50%), 73 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 53 Great Black-backed Gulls (including a few first-winters).


Well what a difference a few days make. Penn Wood today was very unproductive - no Woodcock, Bullfinch, redpolls or Hawfinch - in fact very little and hardly worth the effort - 7 Jays, Nuthatch, 4 Goldcrests and a Muntjac.

Nearby, where the Penn Bottom lane joins the main A413 east of Hazlemere, 2 Redwings were feeding on the verge - the first I have seen locally this year (since the snow, numbers of this species have diminished in the Amersham District).


More Corvid counting - this time Jackdaws - 302 of them feeding in a field 300 yards east of Mop End Farm.


Still virtually frozen over apart from a small section at the west end. Remarkably though, worth the visit, as two adult drake MANDARIN DUCKS were present - a scarce species in the locale. Just 8 Coots remained, with the gull roost on the ice harbouring 76 Black-headed Gulls and 8 adult Common Gulls. An adult Mute Swan was standing isolated in one of the neighbouring fields with 2 Red Kites roosting in a dead tree by the access roundabout.

FULLER'S HILL, CHESHAM (BUCKS) - 3 Long-tailed Tits in a roadside hedgerow


A group of 4 Moorhens were feeding on the grass by the stream.

(with David Bilcock & Roy Hargreaves)

A late afternoon visit. Not much change from yesterday although wildfowl click-counting revealed the presence of 317 Common Teal, 239 Wigeon and 134 Northern Pochard; 12 Mute Swans remain as do a single Little Grebe, just 4 Great Crested Grebes and 8 NORTHERN PINTAILS (4 adult drakes).

A redhead GOOSANDER was on the ice-free section by the hide (Ian Williams had seen two earlier in the day) and the gull roost produced over 1,600 Black-headed, 96+ Common and 4 Lesser Black-backs. David did superb in picking out a standing roosting adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL - presumably the same bird last seen in early December.

(with David & Roy, as well as Mike Campbell and Stuart Wilson; at least 12 others were also present)

For the second night running, one of the wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS chose to roost halfway up the hedgerow at the back of the reedbed - almost directly opposite the hide -allowing everybody present an opportunity to see it It remained there into darkness. We also saw the second bird - flying from left to right at the back of the reedbed at 1630 hours.

The resident BARN OWL also put in an appearance - hunting over the rank vegetation east of the sewage farm - and as dusk approached, TAWNY OWLS became very active in the tall trees bordering the compound - two birds at least calling.

Only a single WATER RAIL squealed and there was no sound of any Cetti's Warblers (although Ian had earlier seen the Wilstone individual as well as 54 roosting Corn Buntings).

82 WAXWINGS in Aylesbury

The flock returned to Griffin Lane in Aylesbury. Birds were typically moving around and coming and going. Maximum size was 82. They do fly over the railway line into the Fairford leys estate, where some were seen in Arncott Way late afternoon. Still present to 3pm at least.
Perhaps the strangest sight was seeing c40-50 go down inside a skip, presumably to drink from melt water there.

The whole afternoon was brilliant, getting people onto their first ever Waxwings and delighting children and adults alike who stopped to look. Fantastic stuff (Mike Wallen)

Saturday, 1 January 2011

RED KNOT at Calvert

A RED KNOT was present at Calvert BBOWT Lake at dusk standing on the ice (Tim Watts, Warren Claydon & Steve Rodwell)

WHOOPER SWAN still present

The adult WHOOPER SWAN was still present this morning in amongst the huge mixed Greylag/ Canada/ Mute Swan flock.Other than part of Motorway Pit all of the Lakes are frozen, but still 300 plus Wigeon and smaller numbers of Mallard, Tufteds,Pochard, Gadwall and Teal. Also Little Egret and 5 Siskins.

Up at Quarryhall, 40 plus Skylarks and a mixed flock contained 30 Yellowhammers, several Goldfinch, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and a single Tree Sparrow (Robert Norris)


Quick drive through Oldbrook and found 6 WAXWINGS at 09:56 still in the tall tree as yesterday. I then spotted another 15 plus along Oldbrook Boulevard/Fisherman border. Then more flying over the grid road towards CMK (Paul Moon)