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

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.