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

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Beacon RING OUZEL present for 6th day

Very, very windy afternoon at Ivinghoe looking for the Ring Ouzel. Found it very quickly (partly due to the advice of others on this blog - many thanks). It was on the sheep field side of the fence as you take the path down from the car park and just as the path ends and the muddy ruts start.

There is a stile/gate on the right hand side and it was about 60 metres up on the grass on the right hand side of the fence, very close to the fence line and sheltered from the rutted path by scrub. This was probably the most sheltered spot today. Not much else was showing other than a buzzard riding the updraft about 20 metres above the ridge line (Michael Nott)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011



It rained overnight for the first time in over two weeks, with the cloudy conditions prevailing for much of the day. A westerly wind picked up strength during the afternoon, pegging back temperatures to around 10 degrees C.

Although there was not as many migrants grounded as I was expecting, the local area was blessed with a small passage of LITTLE GULLS and the first real thrust of hirundines - the Ivinghoe RING OUZEL continued to show well......

An adult Common Gull was feeding on St Clement Danes School Playing Fields at Chorleywood early morning


 Hargreaves and Mike Campbell had seen 6 LITTLE GULLS at Wilstone Reservoir late afternoon but as a boat went out on to the water, all 6 flew off east after just half an hour of feeding. Local biking birder Paul had seen the first of this species for the year over Wilstone yesterday afternoon but that bird too flew off after only a brief stay - at 1600 hours.

Anyway, Mike Campbell managed to intercept one of today's winter-plumaged adults over Startop's, allowing Francis Buckle, Jeff Bailey and myself an opportunity to connect five minutes later. The bird was showing extremely well, flighting back and forth over the reservoir, crossing frequently the controversial water-borne county border


(1640 hours) The rain and cloud which had produced the wave of Little Gulls had also produced a healthy arrival of hirundines over Wilstone, including a single HOUSE MARTIN (my first of the year), at least 17 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS and 53 SAND MARTINS


At around 1700 hours, the stunning adult male RING OUZEL present for its 5th day was performing admirably in the far corner of the sheep field immediately SSE of the beacon and trig point, feeding alongside a male Common Blackbird. It was extracting numerous earthworms from the chalky soil and represented my first of the year. It was best observed from the ridge just beyond the gate to the sheep field, 45 yards down from the S-bend.


The small coppice at SP 941 193 held 22 active Rook nests, whilst just NW of here, 3 Mute Swans were feeding in a field. Most pleasing and in some way thanks to Rob Andrews was a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE at SP 935 200 just east of Slapton - another first for me this year in Bucks.


I was half expecting the Tring Little Gulls to have moved here but they were nowhere to be found - just 56 Lesser Black-backed and 29 Common Gulls roosting on the pontoons. In fact, Grovebury was largely devoid of migrants and only 8 Great Crested Grebes (4 pairs), 2 Common Shelduck (pair) and 6 Tufted Duck were seen. Whilst searching for the Curlew, I stumbled on yet another male GREY PARTRIDGE being somewhat alarmed and pestered by 4 Carrion Crows.

Near Cheddington Station in the stand of trees lining the entrance to Glebe House and The Old Rectory (SP 922 183), 37 active Rook nests were counted (including the 8 nests in the trees on the Horton Road), with 12 further nests at Gubblecote (SP 905 152)

I returned to Wilstone late evening, joining Steve Rodwell on the east bank....
Great Crested Grebes had now increased to 32 birds, the long-staying LITTLE EGRET was roosting on its usual branch, Gadwall numbered 14, Shoveler 22, with Tufted Ducks at an outstanding 282 - a typical peak at this time of year. Just 1 single Black-headed Gull was lingering, a Green Woodpecker was yaffling and a Common Chiffchaff was singing from the Poplar wood on the east bank.

Lee Evans

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

WATER PIPIT at Linford

Nik and Steve found a summer plumaged WATER PIPIT on the bund around 2pm this afternoon (per Paul Moon) with the bird still present early evening

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Calvert and areas today

Gallows bridge; 4 Curlew/ 7 Barnacle Geese on reserve; in adjacent low crop fields there were c 200 Linnet/ 12 Lapwing and minimum of 246 Golden Plover roosting. Calvert; Cetti's Warbler singing and seen a few times in reeds below 1st hide/Water Rail/ Quainton Hills; Viewed from roadside spots, my first male Wheatear of year in horse paddock at base of Nrth slopes/ 2nd prob Wheatear at extreme distance on post Denham hill/ imm Peregrine perched on post Denham Hill not full adult but not as young/brown as one seen at G.B.F recently/ 3 Mipits displaying. Tim Watts

Thursday, 24 March 2011


There was also a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER on the spit at Willen this afternoon at about 4.00-4.15 (when it flew off southwards). Plus two Common Redshank (Peter Barnes)


LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS return! Three found this afternoon. Firstly a very flighty single bird that did several circuits of the site before settling on one of the new islands. When I moved to the central field (the one directly north of the farmhouse) to get a better look two more dropped into the area of exposed mud and small bay right at bottom of this field. First bird remained flighty but other two looked settled by the time I left around six.

Other waders on site, two Oystercatcher, three Green Sandpiper and a lone Lapwing. Two Little Egrets also in the vicinity.

Just one of the Shelducks on site today and seven Goosander

Migrants evident in the skies too with two distant Swallows heading north.

Chris Gleadell

More here

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

AVOCETS and continuing RUFF at College Lake BBOWT

The AVOCET pair (Mike Nott)

The female RUFF (David Bilcock)

Another glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine, light winds and temperatures reaching 16 degrees C - the warmest day of the year thus far.

As a consequence, migrants are starting to arrive in good numbers, with several Hoopoes, numerous Garganey, many more Wheatears, Black Redstarts and White Wagtails and the first Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails and Ospreys.

Frustrated at dipping last night's Ruff at College after being called away on emergency when an 88-year old driver collided with a parked Mini close to Tring Station and blocked the entire road for over two hours during the rush-hour, I returned there first after being updated early morning by DB.........


Surprised to find 215 COMMON GULLS (mostly adults in breeding plumage) feeding in fields to the west of the A413 - presumably migrants on their way north


An active Rookery opposite the entrance to the park, harbouring 10 nests


Acting upon Dave Bilcock's early morning update, I arrived at College Lake shortly after 0940 hours. Within minutes of setting up my 'scope overlooking the main marsh, my attention was directed to two waders approaching from the west (from the Grand Union Canal direction) and I was astonished to find that they were two PIED AVOCETS ! The two black-and-white birds continued towards me and landed on the main marsh in front of the information centre and showed superbly for about ten minutes before they were rudely interrupted by territorial Lapwings and were spooked up. They had been interacting closely during the brief spell of time they were on the ground and were obviously a pair, perhaps on route to breeding grounds in East Anglia or further north in the UK or in the Netherlands. I immediately contacted DB, SN and Ben Miller to inform them of my find, and RBA.

Both birds circled up above the marsh and called to each other and then flew north towards the deep lake. They found the 'Oystercatcher Island' to their liking and dropped down in height, eventually landing on the shore (and where, incidentally, they remained until dusk - DB, SR & WC). They fed in the shallow water and appeared relatively content (although flew a few times in the hour or so I was present). As Wednesday is volunteer day at College, I spent some time pointing out and showing the two birds to many of the staff and helpers, as well as to an impressive number of visitors (this reserve really is now the flagship of BBOWT). All were delighted in seeing such a rare local bird. Mike Campbell was the only local birder that arrived before I departed, but I was pleased to see that both Dave B and Mike Nott managed a few record shots of the birds (see above).

After all of the excitement relating to the Avocets, I concentrated my efforts on finding the RUFF - the main purpose of my visit. It was consorting with a Common Redshank and was showing well - walking back and forth along the bund - my first of the year in the county and a very rare bird at College. I initially believed the bird to be a female on size and plumage but the fact that it's bill was distinctly orange at the base perhaps indicates that it is actually a male just beginning to acquire breeding plumage.

Other waders present included 7 Common Redshanks and 4 pairs of nesting Lapwing, along with 7 COMMON SNIPE, whilst wildfowl included 3 Mute Swans, 8 lingering Eurasian Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck and a drake Northern Pochard; 6 Pied Wagtails on the marsh islands were presumably migrants.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER at Gallows Bridge Farm

Calvert; Cetti's on BBOWT/ The BLACK-NECKED GREBE still on the Sailings lake and attaining Summer pumage (it has black neck and golden ear tufts)/ 6 Shoveler

Hillesden; 2 Redshank/2 Oystercatcher/2 Little Egret/8 Shoveler/7 Lapwing/3 fem Goosander on main pool.

Gallows bridge farm; 1400 hours: Ringed and Little ringed Plover on hide pool / 6 Curlew,all on flood pool at one stage together,they also visited entrance field and hide pool where had superb views of 2 of them bathing/ c80 linnet/ c 80 Stock Dove/ c10 Lapwing/30 + Toads mating below 1st hide

Tim Watts

Saturday, 19 March 2011

BLACK-NECKED GREBE still at Calvert

Gallows Bridge; 2 Curlew/ c200 Golden plover in adjacent crop field/2 Sand Martin over flood pool briefly.

Calvert; the long-staying BLACK-NECKED GREBE still on the sailing lake.

Hillesden; 3 Redshank/ 4 Snipe/ 2 Little Egret/ 8 lapwing/ 2 Oystercatcher/2 Meadow Pipit/ 5 Shoveler/8 Teal/ Skylarks singing (per Tim Watts)

Last night, 2 adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and an immature ICELAND GULL roosted

Friday, 18 March 2011

Rare wader delight - both PIED AVOCET and GREY PLOVER added to 2011 Year List

A superb shot of the Willen Avocet obtained by Malcolm Stewart

Following a few days of SE winds and rather cold conditions, today followed in the a similar vein but with rain. In fact the rain eventually fizzled out late morning and was replaced by clear, bright conditions as the day came to a close.

I spent the day locally, connecting with yesterday's PIED AVOCET in North Bucks as well as a newly arrived GREY PLOVER and found one migrant SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT and then later saw another. Spring really is well and truly under way now..........


(1100 hours) I was keen to get to Willen as Simon Nichols had texted to say that yesterday's PIED AVOCET was still present - a species Bucks often only gets once a year. Mike Campbell was just leaving as I arrived but was positive with a thumbs-up.

The bird was still present and feeding in the bay just beyond the spit opposite the hide. Two GREEN SANDPIPERS were also present (another Bucks Year-tick for me), along with a Common Snipe and two Common Redshanks. Up to 4 LITTLE EGRETS were in the island heronry, the latter containing 6 active nests.

Waterbirds also included 4 Little Grebe, 12 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Common Teal, 18 Shoveler, 34 Pochard, whilst on the neighbouring South Basin, 85 Mute Swans were counted, 12 Gadwall, 8 Common Goldeneye and 102 Coot. A female RED-CRESTED POCHARD was showing well and dredging up weed in the channel where the two basins meet under the flyover.

A very vocal CETTI'S WARBLER was showing well in the reeds in front of the hide, whilst a singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was my first in the county this year.


The colony consisted of 18 active Grey Heron and 3 LITTLE EGRET nests, with 46 Mute Swans in fields nearby and ligering wildfowl including 10 Gadwall, 19 Teal, 8 Wigeon and 15 Shoveler; a pair of Oystercatchers was roosting on the bund.


No sign of yesterday's Dunlin flock nor Green Sandpipers but a pair of Oystercatchers, pair of Common Shelducks and 7 migrant Pied Wagtails; 28 Redwings flew NE.


Surprise sighting was of a WOODCOCK that suddenly flushed up from near the surgery at Stantonbury Fields and flew across the road.


I then made the long journey south to meet up with Kevin Duncan, who had found the first GREY PLOVER of the year in Bucks earlier in the day. I was on site by 1700 hours, where fortunately, despite a huge rowing event taking place adjacent, the bird was still present on the small pool next to the Reserve Pool. It was clearly associating with a single Ringed Plover (presumably had migrated north with it from wintering grounds perhaps in North Africa), both birds keeping close together when feeding. The Grey Plover was very grey, with a highly distinct and flaring behind the eye white eye-stripe, unmarked white lores and dusky-grey breast-band and shoulders. The mantle and upperwings were lightly scalloped, with white fringing to many of the coverts and scapulars, and long grey legs and diagnostic black axillaries in flight. It fed happily on the pool until some bright spark of a dogwalker decided to ignore the nature reserve signs and walk right through the vegetation, flushing both birds and forcing them to fly east at about 1645 hours. The Grey Plover flew right over Kevin and I's heads.

Also encountered were a Common Redshank, 7 Argenteus Herring Gulls (5 adults), a GREEN SANDPIPER, 4 Wigeon, a Common Snipe, several Lapwing, Teal and Gadwall, whilst clearly migrants were 18 spanking male Pied Wagtails.

All in all an excellent early spring day

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Manor Farm hots up

A mini waderfest at the Farm tonight with a small tightly packed flock of six Dunlin. All still in winter plumage they moved around as a unit picking about in the shallows. Quite a sight and a record number for the species at MF. Also present pairs of both Green Sandpiper and Oystercatcher.

The Shelduck pair remain as do eleven Goosander including two drakes, only other birds of note a late Little Egret and the very pale Common Buzzard doing the rounds.

Chris Gleadell at

And more waders on the move

The AVOCET is still at Willen, now in front of the hide , also LITTLE RINGED PLOVER on spit. Rob Hill also had 2 CURLEW through north (Simon Nichols).

6 DUNLIN at Manor Farm this evening per Chris Gleadell

ICELAND GULL still at Little Marlow

A quick visit pre school pick up found the regular 2w ICELAND GULL asleep on the spit. Very few LWHG present, probably only 20-30. At c2:45pm 2 Red Kites flushed the lot and for the first time I was able to watch the Iceland Gull depart the site. It circled with a SE drift, thermalling up pretty high. The line it was on would have taken it over the Thames and over the northern part of Cock Marsh – I thought it was probably heading for QMR, but when it reached its desired altitude, it suddenly turned at right angles and headed NE with a steady flap, so I assume it was heading back towards Springfield Quarry (Adam Bassett)

And now a PIED AVOCET in North Bucks

After a PIED AVOCET spent most of the day at Willington GP (Beds) yesterday, Martin Kincaid discovered one (or the same) at Willen Lake North Basin this afternoon - showing well on the spit

Monday, 14 March 2011

North Bucks today

A reasonably interesting day in north Bucks.

At Manor Farm this morning (which btw is looking very suitable for waders, a ray of hope amongst the degredation of the traditional, once reliable sites), 1 Dunlin, 2 Green Sand, 2 Shelduck, 12 Wigeon and best of all a vocal Tree Sparrow in the dead trees on the south shore. Maybe it was looking for prospective nest sites.

In the Ravenstone Valley, little of note other than 32 Golden Plover and 9 Barnacle Geese.

At Backwood, just 1 Lesser Redpoll, the finch flock presumably either elsewhere or moved on.

At Willen in the evening, 18 Goldeneye and 1 Redshank on the north lake, plus a rather elusive but interesting Chiffchaff. Calling frequently as it flitted about amongst lakeside brambles near the weir, not once did it utter the standard "hweet" call of a collybita, but rather a piercing, slightly slurred call with a downward inflection. Nothing like the rather plaintive piping of a tristis, but abietinus did cross my mind.

After a bit of research at home, I did find an exact match -

Apparently though collybita sometimes calls like this (I've never heard abietinus in the field). Plumage wise, the brief glimpses I did get were also enough to rule out tristis - not buff/brown/white enough in the relevant places, too olive-green on the wing, mantle and in the supercilium. Whether this rules out abietinus I don't know though (Rob Hill).

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My first NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the year


An invariably wet morning but pleasantly mild, with temperatures hovering at around 13 degrees C. A fresh westerly wind eventually cleared the rain and the afternoon was bright and mainly clear.


Still 1 Little Egret present and 45 Redwings in flight


My first NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the year - a nice male - feeding on the slope just SE of the Beacon and presumably one of the two birds found by Dave Bilcock yesterday; also my first Bucks Meadow Pipits of the year (5+) and several Eurasian Skylarks in full song - 5 Linnets also but no Common Stonechats

At least 11 Common Gulls were wandering amongst the lambs and sheep on the slope


I could not find the Northern Wheatear that DB saw earlier on the fenceline but 13 male Skylarks were in song and one jangling CORN BUNTING on the wires


A herd of 32 Fallow Deer just north of the village and 19 active Rook nests opposite the Walled Garden (in Walk Wood) at SP 963 135

12/3 NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE still present

The NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE still at Hillesden , showing well on wires and hedge along valley bottom as viewed from church car park and footpaths. Also 5 COMMON RAVENS over (Simon Nichols).

Friday, 11 March 2011

NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE still in Hillesden Area

Gallows bridge; 4 Curlew with 2 of these giving splendid close range views inthe pool in front of hides/ male MERLIN bombed over main meadow, chased Skylarks and perched on North side of main meadow/ male Stonechat/ 65 Teal visible/1 Meadow Pipit. Earlier in week, 181 Golden Plover bathing on main flood, a few of these starting to show breeding pumage.

Calvert; Black necked Grebe still on sailing lake.

Hillesden; NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE still, at 11;45 it was feeding from the overhead wires, near valley bottom on path from church car park.Visible from car park.

On the pools there were 2 Oystercatcher/ 1 Common Redshank/ 1 Green Sandpiper/ 1 Little Egret/selection of duck species/ 11 Lapwing/ 3 Snipe (Tim Watts)

Manor Farm 10/3

An early Sand Martin flew in from the south late this evening 17:30ish and quartered the north side of the reserve till dusk.

Also on site two Oystercatchers, three Green Sandpipers and eleven Goosander including the one lucky drake. Over at dusk a single Little Egret and a Little Owl flushed along the Ridge.

Chris Gleadell

First SAND MARTIN of 2011

Chris Gleadell recorded the first SAND MARTIN of the year in Bucks yesterday evening at Manor Farm, Old Wolverton

Thursday, 10 March 2011

DUNLIN at Linford - 4 March

This lunchtime there was a single Dunlin amongst the Gulls and Lapwings seen from the Near Hide at Linford (Geraldine Carpenter)