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

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Hillesden SHRIKE

See Tim Watts' superb images here -

Once the rain finally pushed away and the NW winds brought clearer conditions with some bright sunny spells, the adult NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE seen yesterday by Richard Broughton and I SW of Hillesden (Buckinghamshire) reappeared mid afternoon. It was again in the same area of farmland, favouring the cut hedgerows and old isolated Oak stumps east of Manor Farm, easily accessed from the muddy footpath leading 500 yards SW of Hillesden church

Park in the new car park adjacent to the church in Church End and take the track across the middle of the crop field down to the wooden bridge over the brook. Cross the next field and then view from just beyond the stile in the next field. The bird is typically wide-ranging but just check the hedgerows and trees, particularly to your left

Lee Evans

The Hillesden NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE - today's images

Tim Watts did spectacularly well today obtaining these brilliant shots of the Hillesden NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE as it skulked in the hedgerows to the east of Manor Farm


Upper Ray Meadows: Eurasian Curlew and both Peregrines seen

Calvert Sailing Lake: long-staying BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present

Hillesden: NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE performing well intermittently, still in cut hedgerows and dead Oak trees just east of Manor Farm

Ted Reed, Tim Watts, et al

Friday, 25 February 2011

Marlow GULLS

The 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL and an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL were again at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, this afternoon

NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE - a real bonus bird


After the warmest day of the year so far on Thursday, today followed in a very similar vein, although light drizzle moved in from mid afternoon. The winds were still very light and from a SW direction, the temperatures holding steady at 14 degrees C.

I had put aside today to search for Common Raven in Hertfordshire and was very pleased with my results. Whilst watching them though, I received a call to say that Richard Broughton had discovered a Northern Grey Shrike in North Buckinghamshire, so that was my afternoon sorted.........


Three active Rook nests in the tall tree in the garden of 68 Wendover Road, Wendover, with 3 more in the grounds of Aylesbury Thames Valley Police Station just 85 yards away.


Thanks to Richard Broughton and his call to BirdGuides, I was able to enjoy views of my first NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE in Buckinghamshire for a few years this afternoon. I relocated the bird at 1540 hours, where it was showing exceptionally well on the short hedgerow leading east from Manor Farm and bordering a track that led back to Church Hill Farm at SP 678 284. It was an adult bird and was hunting from the hedgerow, every now and again dropping down on the ground to feed.


Park in the new car park by Hillesden Church End at SP 686 287 and then follow the Cross Bucks Way footpath SW across the first field. The track is incredibly muddy so wellingtons are essential. After 300 yards, the track crosses a small wooden bridge over the brook and then continues through another field. At the start of the next field, there is a stile, and it was from here that I was able to savour some superb views of the bird, looking left towards the low hedgerow.

At neighbouring Hillesden Pools, I noted 3 different OYSTERCATCHERS (one a distinct pair), 6 Lapwing, 5 Northern Pochard, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans, 4 Greylag Geese and 2 Common Teal; a Siskin flew over calling and in Church End hamlet, had two different singing male Goldcrests - one in the Old School Garden and another in the fir by the postbox. A Robin was in full song in The Old Vicarage garden.


Very, very poor this evening in the dank conditions - just 53 Eurasian Wigeon (no drake American with them yet) and 44 Common Teal.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Three BLACK-TAILED GODWITS remain for a second day at Spade Oak Pit (Adam Bassett), whilst two summer-plumaged adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS also visited there. The 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL remains at Springfield Farm (permit access only)


A very wet morning but considerably milder than of late, with temperatures recovering to 14 degrees C by mid-afternoon - spring is on the way! The drizzle did eventually clear at about 1300 hours but grey cloud prevailed throughout.

I managed to clean up on Dunlin and Water Pipit today and evidenced hints of migration......


Many LESSER REDPOLL now visiting the feeders including some bright adult males, with a pair of Greenfinches present for at least an hour this morning.

HALL FARM, DAGNALL (BUCKS) (SP 995 158) - a male Skylark in full song


Most interesting was an apparent migrant flock of female COMMON GOLDENEYES - 8 birds together in one close-knit flock on the main pit.

Otherwise, typically quiet with just the 1 OYSTERCATCHER still (on the island on the main pit), 8 Common Snipe and 12 Lapwing on the marsh, 3 Mute Swans, 2 Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and 9 Pochard. A flock of winter thrushes was feeding on one of the islands including 3 Mistle Thrush, 15 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing.


A Song Thrush was an unusual sighting here whilst 8 Pied Wagtails were clearly freshly arrived immigrant birds.


Still 3 LITTLE EGRETS in evidence, with 2 feeding with the horse in Mill Farm Water Meadows; also 3 Stock Doves.


All 5 adult Mute Swans still present

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

First OYSTERCATCHER in North Bucks for the year

First Oystercatcher back today on Motorway Pit at Gayhurst, also 90 Lapwings and 5 Little Egrets. The Whooper Swan is still present, but was down on the grass fields just below Quarryhall Farm with around 40 Mutes. At Quarryhall itself 2 to 3 Tree Sparrows in the Chaffinch flock.

Yesterday, a Curlew was back at the traditional site in the far north of the county (Robert Norris).

At the Upper Ray Meadows today, all 5 CURLEW remained present, both Peregrines, 2 Pintail and at least 8 DUNLINS (Tim Watts) whilst the BLACK-NECKED GREBE was still at Calvert Sailing Lake (Warren Claydon)

Monday, 21 February 2011

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and ICELAND GULL both still at Spade Oak, with CURLEW and DUNLIN at Upper Ray


Another very dull and dreary day with continuing SE winds and light drizzle. Temperatures remained low too.

I spent the day locally again today, still working on increasing my Buckinghamshire Year List. It was a productive day for waders.....


Kevin Duncan and I had a good look through the birds present at Spade Oak this morning, the highlights being the continuing ICELAND GULL and the BLACK-TAILED GODWIT left over from yesterday. The full list was as follows -:

Great Crested Grebe (6)
Grey Heron (15 birds on the island including at least 6 pairs actively nesting, with a further 4 active nests on the two smaller islands where they were forced to nest initially last year)
Sinensis Cormorant (an incredible 24 active nests on the main island)
COMMON SHELDUCK (pair still present)
Common Teal (12 but no sign of yesterday's 3 Pintails)
Eurasian Wigeon (24 remaining)
Gadwall (10)
Shoveler (5)
Tufted Duck (32)
Northern Pochard (81, mostly all asleep around the islands)
Lapwing (494 on the spit)
**ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (single winter-plumaged bird feeding voraciously on the spit and showing well - my first in the county this year and 101st species.
Black-headed Gull (350)
Common Gull (29)
Argenteus Herring Gull (15)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (22)
Great Black-backed Gull (3)
**ICELAND GULL (the 2nd-winter showing extremely well from midday until at least 1300 hours, preening and bathing. The bird retains a completely dark eye and a pale pinkish-grey base to the blob-tipped bill but is now quite extensively pale grey on the mantle and in the scapulars. Otherwise, it is very bleached white, especially on the primaries)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)


Was banking with the weather as it was to be in with a chance of the Water Pipit but a work party was trimming the hedgerow on the East Bank and creating too much noise; likewise no sign of the female Goosander.

Great Crested Grebes had well increased, with 19 birds present, with two adult drake Common Goldeneyes in place, along with 3 Mute Swans, and 2 Goldcrests and 4 Long-tailed Tits in the Poplar plantation


Further evidence of Great Crested Grebe movement was my first ever record on the Trout Lakes - an adult in breeding plumage gracing the smaller lake with the islands. There were also 16 Wigeon present, along with a drake Gadwall and 10 Common Teal, a pair of Canada Geese and a Grey Heron but still no Jack Snipe.


The flooded meadows at the extreme west end of the reserve were highly productive with no less than 740 Lapwings present, several European Golden Plover, a flock of 5 EURASIAN CURLEWS (including 3 males) and a single DUNLIN; also 74 Common Teal and 56 Eurasian Wigeon on the floods and in the hedgerow by the farm, 130 Fieldfares, 25 Redwing, 15 Chaffinches and a Reed Bunting.

At the east end, 2 Brown Hares were in the 'Peregrine Field', with a male Sparrowhawk roosting on one of the surrounding hedgerows and 3 Red-legged Partridges and 3 Linnets in an adjoining crop field.

Yet another dead Badger was seen nearby, on the verge of the eastbound A41 at SP 667 197

A total of 117 species has now been recorded in Buckinghamshire this year, compared to 119 in Hertfordshire and an exceptional 132 in Bedfordshire

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

MEALY REDPOLLS still in Back Wood

An enjoyable walk around Backwood this afternoon, mainly because I managed to [probably] relocate 2 of the flammeas seen earlier in the year by Simon & Andy.

Both were classic, well-marked birds from the pale end of the spectrum, and could be easily picked out from the accompanying cabaret. Both birds looked pretty much the same, although one of them, which I watched for about 30mins, had slightly less prominent flank streaking and a plainer rump than the other. It also had one single, fairly prominent black utc, which made me think of exilipes. But I've done a bit of research at home, and exilipes would have a needle-thin utc streak, more buff-toned face contrasting with the white breast and flanks, a smaller red "poll" on the forehead, even less flank streaking (often plain flanks), and that "pushed-in" bill look (this bird had a larger bill than that).

These two birds were with a very large finch flock, about 140+ Siskin and 40+ Lesser Redpoll. For those who know Backwood, they were in the large stand of alders at the east end corner of the large field at the back of the pond - SP 912331. For those with an hour or two to spare, an excellent chance to study Redpolls, and maybe dig out an Arctic!

Also 1m Mandarin on the pond, a couple of Buzzard, and a few more Siskin (bringing the total in the wood to a min. of 157).

At Linford at dusk, 2 Barn Owls, a pair of Goldeneye, 1 singing Cettis, and 350+ Fieldfare in the pre-roost there (Rob Hill)

Sunday, 13 February 2011



The wind veered to the SE today but temperatures still held up. Although the rain held off until late morning, it then moved in and continued into darkness, somewhat hampering viewing.

The milder weather experienced over the weekend certainly spurned on some of the earlier migrants, with a marked arrival of OYSTERCATCHERS in our region, some more RINGED PLOVERS, COMMON SHELDUCKS, many FIELDFARES and numerous gulls reorienting northwards........


Still 3 LESSER REDPOLLS on my garden Nyger seed feeders.


Three GREAT CRESTED GREBES now in residence, with a displaying pair on the smaller lake and the more winter plumaged bird on the larger lake; also 9 Tufted Duck and 3 Northern Pochards


All 4 Chesham adult Mute Swans now on the one small lake.


A single RINGED PLOVER was back on the scrapes and showing well.


A single OYSTERCATCHER was roosting on the island in the deep pit, the first to be recorded in the county this year. The adult female GOOSANDER from Tring Reservoirs was showing very well on the main marsh and viewable from the information centre.

Also 2 Mute Swans, 15 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 35 Tufted Duck and 20 Lapwings.


I spent an hour or more exploring the fields either side of Grove Farm (SP 945 180) mainly with the idea of finding Grey Partridge but that failed in its quest. A lot of farmland birds were seen though......

4 Common Pheasants and a flock of 433 Woodpigeons feeding in the sheltered fields to the left of the driveway, an astounding 730 FIELDFARES in one flock on the opposite side of the road, plus 440 Common Starlings and just 8 Redwings and Great Tit, Wren, Carrion Crow, Robin, Common Buzzard, 8 Goldfinch, 140 Jackdaw, 1 Greenfinch and 1 Goldcrest.

WHITE-FRONTS still in South Bucks

The family group of 4 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE that have been present all winter were still in fields SW of Marsh Lane Weir at Jubilee River this morning

Saturday, 12 February 2011

GREY PARTRIDGES at Grove Farm, Ivinghoe Aston

Highlights of a couple of Atlas surveys around Ivinghoe and Ivinghoe Aston this morning included a Peregrine chasing pigeons, Little Egret, 14 Corn Buntings and 3 Grey Partridge at Grove Farm (Rob Andrews)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

GLAUC roosts again at Calvert



Two LESSER REDPOLLS joined the 10 or so Goldfinches feeding on the Nyger feeders this morning - the first in the garden this year. One was a nice male.


I joined Warren Claydon and Steve Rodwell at Calvert to have a thorough check of the roosting gulls. Arriving at 1600 hours, we watched until 1745 hours when it got dark, the 13,000 or so roosting gulls at that time still being joined by line after line of birds flighting in from the landfill.

Highlight (certainly for me) was the juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL roosting for its third consecutive night, arriving at 1722 hours this evening. The regular first-winter CASPIAN GULL also roosted (seen by Steve only) as did one of the adults (WC) and as did a single adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL (LGRE). Other than that, 7 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were identified in the BBOWT pre-roost (6 adults and a first-winter) whilst estimated totals of other species included 5,000+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls (including numerous intermedius now) and 6,000 Black-headed Gulls with 115+ Common Gulls, 235 Herring Gulls (far fewer Argentatus now) and 151 Great Black-backed Gulls.

One adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was dyed dark green on the throat and upper breast whilst a Scandinavian Herring Gull with almost all white primaries was again present.

The BLACK-NECKED GREBE was still present, with a redhead GOOSANDER on the BBOWT Lake, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Gadwall, 1 Pochard, a drake Wigeon and 25 Lapwings all noted.

ICELAND GULL still roosting/resting at Marlow

Usual 2w ICELAND GULL present with c3000 gulls when I arrived at 12:45pm, but it flew off just after 2pm - lunch break from Springfield! - Adam Bassett

Monday, 7 February 2011

KITTIWAKE in Calvert Roost Sunday evening

There was a 2w KITTIWAKE and a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL in the Calvert Sailing Lake Roost this evening (Steve Rodwell and Warren Claydon)

KITTIWAKE at Calvert Sunday roost

There was a 2w KITTIWAKE and a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL in the Calvert Sailing Lake Roost this evening (Steve Rodwell and Warren Claydon)

Friday, 4 February 2011



Following on from yesterday, the gale force SW winds associated with a deep Atlantic low pressure system continued throughout the day making birding quite difficult. It was fairly mild though with some light drizzle in the air. Mainly grey and overcast.


A well-stocked number of feeders in the garden opposite Orchard Barn at the end of Orchard Way and Dag Lane yielded 8 TREE SPARROWS - as well as at least 15 Great Tits, 4 Blue Tits, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Dunnock, 1 male Greenfinch, 11 Chaffinch, 10 Goldfinches and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers

Just SE of the village and in crop fields east of the B526 (at SP 845 478), a flock of 270 Fieldfare was feeding and 10 Chaffinches.


The adult WHOOPER SWAN was still present, along with 63 Mute Swans

Lee Evans

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

ICELAND and MEDITERRANEAN GULL highlight a grey day - LGRE


Back to grey and overcast skies again but a lot milder than of late with a switch to westerly winds.

I wanted to track down the Iceland Gull today so I spent a lot of time grilling the local landfill flocks; as I suspected, it was at Springfield Farm.........


First off I visited Hedgerley where to my amazement, not a single gull was in attendance. No shortage of Red Kites though with 27 counted, along with 294 Jackdaws and 57 Common Starlings. Lorries were dumping rubbish but it was having no affect on the gulls. The reason was - was that they were all at Springfield Farm.....

(Permit Access only)

Just under 8,000 gulls were present on Springfield, with many of the larger white-headed gulls roosting on the steep banks overlooking the deep rubbish-strewn pans. I spent over an hour working my way through the throng (1200-1300 hours), the 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL that I had seen yesterday at Spade Oak showing well throughout.

An incredible 4,500 Black-headed Gulls were present but I just could not find a single Mediterranean Gull with them nor incredibly a single Common Gull (Common Gulls just so not like landfill sites). Just under 2,700 birds were Herring (2,696), with the greater percentage now European birds (Argenteus) with perhaps only 35% now Scandinavian Argentatus (although many adults now have clean white heads too). Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not in the sort of numbers present at Calvert Landfill last week with just 650 estimated, whilst Great Black-backed Gulls weighed in at 131 birds, mainly full adults. I was very pleased to see over 50% of the Herring Gulls being juveniles, suggesting an excellent winter survival rate.

Red Kites were everywhere as usual, with 54 the peak count at any one given time, whilst a mixed flock of 400 corvids was made up largely of Jackdaw, with just a few Rook and Carrion Crow.

A Eurasian Skylark was in full song whilst 3 Linnets overflew the area.


The tiny pond on Green Common Lane opposite the farm (SU 923 877) harboured 20 Mallards and 4 Moorhens whilst the animal paddocks to the south of the road yielded 7 Goldfinch, 15 Chaffinch, 12 House Sparrows and 230 Common Starlings.

In the small section of wood at the bottom of Ship Hill (at its junction with Green Common Lane), a Nuthatch was seen.


The fields to the north of Slade Farm (SU 969 873) had recently been tilled and consequently had attracted quite a few birds including 121 Lapwings, 25 Common Pheasants and 14 Red-legged Partridges - the latter my first in the county this year.

Neighbouring Hillmott's Farm Wood was very quiet and nigh on birdless with Robin, Great Tit, Redwing, Common Blackbird and Great Spotted Woodpecker all that was recorded.


This site still remains the most reliable site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Buckinghamshire with a pair breeding and fledging young in both 2009 and 2010. None was to be found today however although a circuituous walk right round did produce 3 Jays, 3 Nuthatches, 5 COMMON TREECREEPERS (affording some very excellent views), 5 Goldcrests, 15 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush (including a male in full song), Great Tit, Coal Tit, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 2 SISKIN and 1 LESSER REDPOLL.

Just down from the RSPB shed, volunteers have created some excellent drinking pools for birds and a new marshy area at the bottom of the valley.


Waterbirds present included 1 Sinensis Cormorant, 1 Mute Swan, 27 Atlantic Canada Geese, 30 Mallard, 10 Gadwall, 6 Common Teal, 18 Tufted Duck, 7 Northern Pochard, 32 Coot and 7 Moorhen, with the woodland strip harbouring Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Song Thrush (singing male), Common Blackbird, Robin and Great Tit. A Red Kite was drifting overhead.

(with David Gantzel and friend)

Much as yesterday afternoon, with both COMMON SHELDUCK, 3 EGYPTIAN GEESE, 157 Wigeon, 23 Teal, 16 Pochard and 21 Great Crested Grebes all again present; Lapwing numbers had increased to 302 but it was the roosting gulls I had come to sift through.

I watched the roost from 1530-1615 hours during which time the Iceland Gull did not come in; most pleasing however was the presence of a single adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL that was sat with the Black-headed Gulls on the water at the east end. It was still in full winter plumage with no black yet developing on the head other than just around the eye and ear-coverts but did have a well-developed bright red bill. Common Gulls were far more numerous than on last night with 400 counted.


Hoping to see a reliable Barn Owl, I set off for the Low Grounds. I waited until dark (1717 hours) but no sign - not really sure exactly where to look. The pools held 3 Mute Swans, 8 Egyptian Geese and 6 Common Teal.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

ICELAND GULL appears at Marlow third evening on the trot


An odd day weatherwise; initially an overnight frost followed by damp, drizzly conditions but then clearing to give way to a cold, clear evening.

Today, I concentrated on South Buckinghamshire - eventually tracking down three local Year-ticks - LESSER REDPOLL, BRAMBLING and ICELAND GULL..........


Thanks to a tip-off from Paul Keene, I was quickly able to locate LESSER REDPOLL. At least three birds, including a brightly-marked adult male, was visiting Paul's nyger feeders and when spooked, sat up in full view in the trees bordering Brays Green Lane.

More exciting was a very impressive wintering flock of YELLOWHAMMER - 53 in all - in the stubble field immediately north of Bray's Wood and bordering Keeper's Lane at SU 933 997 - the highest recorded flock in my Recording Area this winter. Associating with them were 41 Chaffinches, whilst 8 Greenfinch were also noted.

Paul's garden also yielded Nuthatch, 3 Siskins and Blue Tits, whilst 80 Woodpigeons were roosting in Bray's Wood.


Comprehensively surveyed the entire reserve and no sign whatsoever of the 3 Hawfinches Chris Hazell and I saw at the end of last year. I did manage to locate the LESSER REDPOLL flock though - enjoying great views of a feeding flock of 16 in Birches and then 3 brief flyovers (no sign of the huge flock though).

At least 70 Redwings were in the wood, as well as 15 Fieldfares, with 3 Coal Tits, Blue Tit, Great Tit, 4 Long-tailed Tits, Wren and 10 Goldcrests recorded. I also saw a single Common Buzzard, 6 Jays, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Carrion Crow.

From about 1500 hours, the Greenfinch roost in the Holly started gathering pace and I was highly delighted to count 84 birds over the next half hour, clearly indicating that this Penn Wood population is holding up well despite the serious disease which is affecting this species in Britain and causing alarming declines. A total of 8 BRAMBLINGS roosted with them.


Two Brown Hares were gracing the field just west of Pugh's Wood (Tylers Green) whilst the Village Pond held 2 Moorhens and 43 Mallard (27 drakes and 16 females).


John Gaites and an Ealing birder whose name escapes me had seen the immature ICELAND GULL on at least three occasions before I pitched up (from 1515 hours) but it had been flushed along with all of the other large gulls just before Chris Heard and I arrived and had flown east. Anyway, I kept eagerly 'scoping as large gulls began returning from the direction of Springfield Quarry and eventually picked it up at very long range at around 1645 hours. It was soon lost in the melee as large numbers of birds began to return but John Edwards latched on to it and we were then able to watch it on the deck as it roosted in the roost on the ice. It remained there until at least 1725 hours (CDRH).

From what we could ascertain on plumage, it was a 2nd-winter bird and was an easy bird to pick out. It retained a primarily dark eye and the extensive dark tip to the pale 'greenish' bill but was quite extensively grey on the mantle. The flight feathers were still largely immature, with creamy-biscuit primaries and darker biscuit-brown chequered tertials and coverts. It was a small individual, identical in size to the numerous argenteus Herring Gulls standing alongside it, and had a rounded head, a short tail, long wings and relatively short pink legs emphasising the deep-breasted profile and tapered appearance.

A quick survey of the gull roost revealed the presence of 15 Great Black-backed Gulls, just 19 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 149 Herring Gulls (including at least 25 Scandinavian argentatus), 213 Common Gulls and 437 Black-headed Gulls.

And the rest..........

Great Crested Grebe (21)
Continental Sinensis Cormorant (84 present on island with a minimum 18 nests now occupied)
Grey Heron (4 nests occupied on island)
Mute Swan (2)
Egyptian Goose (3)
Mallard (24)
Common Teal (23)
Eurasian Wigeon (157)
Shoveler (7)
Gadwall (10)
Tufted Duck (76)
Northern Pochard (14)
Coot (32)
Moorhen (14)
Red Kite (2)
Lapwing (37 on spit)
Ring-necked Parakeet (3)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Siskin (1)