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, 29 April 2011


Just to flesh the record a bit – paltry in comparison to College Lake though!

Following a large passage of Barwits along the south coast yesterday, I felt optimistic of finding some locally today so was at LMGP at the ridiculous time of 5:40am. There was obviously nothing new in here, except for 2 Green Sandpipers feeding on the back of the spit. At 5:55am, I noted 4 high flying waders flying NE over the middle of the pit – the Barwits I had been hoping for! Luckily, they whiffled down to the sand spit by the island revealing 2 females, a full summer plumaged male and a transitional male. One of the females flew off immediately, but the other three remained. They never looked very settled, but were still there at 7am when I had to leave. Having seen the College lake passage, I wonder what I missed by leaving then!

Adam Bassett

A trawl of North Bucks sites this afternoon - Simon Nichols

A few visits to a number of North Bucks sites this afternoon -:

Stony Stratford: 1 Little Egret , 2 Oystercatchers (first attempt at nesting seems to have failed as the pair were prospecting a new nest site) 1 Lapwing, 1 Blackcap, 2 Common Terns.

Linford Reserve: 3 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 4 Little Egrets, 1 LRP, 1 House Martin, 2 HOBBY's , hunting over the paddocks, 1 GRASSHOPPER WARBLER reeling very close to the road along the approach road , 6 Blackcaps, 1 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Garden Warblers, 7 Gadwall, 16 Tufted Ducks

Newport Pagnell gravel extraction pits: At least 10 Lapwing pairs with quite a few fledged young , 4 LRP , 5 Linnets , 1 Blackcap

Willen Lake North: 3 Common Terns , 2 Lapwings

Wilen Lake South: 70+ Common Terns , 4 Black Headed Gulls

A big BAR-WIT day

A flock of 4 BAR-TAILED GODWITS flew into Little Marlow Gravel Pits at 5:55am, with 3 remaining until 7am at least when I left. Also 2 Green Sandpipers were new in. A Common Cuckoo calling in the wood flew off west (Adam Bassett)

Meanwhile, a major passage of BAR-TAILED GODWITS was felt at Tring Reservoirs, with College Lake attracting 7 of these, a cracking male stopping and feeding on the main marsh throughout the rest of the day (Dave Bilcock et al). Dave counted a total of 80 birds move east in total.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Waders on the move

With a notable passage of Barwits this morning from London and various Beds sites, I made a quick check of LMGP and Dorney Lake from 9:30am to 11am (probably too late!).

LMGP – just the regular 2 LRPs, but 6 Shelduck, with 4 flying in from the SE at 9:45am to join the regular pair.

Dorney Lake – a single COMMON GREENSHANK on the Reserve Pool and 1-2 LRPs at the start of the return lake. At 11am a familiar tew tew tew call near the Seasonal Pool made me think the earlier Greenshank was flying, but a flock of 4 descended from quite a height and had obviously just arrived. They flew into the Seasonal Pool. I could not see the single bird on the RP on my return, so this may have joined the arriving flock. Also 2 Shelduck, 2 Common Terns, 2 Swifts over and c40 House Martins with a few Swallows and sand Martins.

Adam Bassett


A singing COMMON NIGHTINGALE still present last night 500m north of Stowe Castle-giving occasional short bursts of song (Phil Tizzard)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


1 at Willen south this evening with c30 Common Tern.

Also 1 RP, 1 LRP & 2 Common Sand on north (Rob Hill)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

GROPPER still present at Weston Turville Reservoir

After a very brief and cold look at Wilstone with nothing of note seen I decided to head for Weston Turville and a nice warm hide!

The magic of reedbeds at this time of the year was in full flow with warblers in full song all over the place. The Gropper was still present but the cold weather was probably keeping the reeling to short bursts. In contrast Sedge Warblers were going mad trying to out-sing eachother and plenty of Reed Warblers were further into the main reedbed.

A Common Sandpiper flew across the water and landed on one of the fishing platforms and c70 Swallows were over the water (Rob Andrews)

First CUCKOO today


A major change in weather conditions. After record-breaking temperatures in the past two weeks and an extensive ridge of high pressure centred over the UK, a NNE wind changed all that today pegging the temperatures back by at least 15 degrees C and bringing grey skies and considerably colder weather.

Such weather is always productive for hirundines (and normally Arctic Terns) and today was no exception, with the first arrival of COMMON SWIFTS to our area and an upsurge in HOUSE MARTINS......


This reserve goes from strength to strength and really has benefited from BBOWT's investment and plans to hallmark it as their premier location. Despite the cold wind, there was plenty to see, especially on the main marsh.

A pair of Great Crested Grebe is now present on the deep pit, with a pair of Mute Swans on the marsh, a pair of Gadwall, 4 Shoveler (3 drakes), 19 Tufted Duck and the continuing pair of COMMON SHELDUCK.

Three families of Lapwing were apparent (adults with 3, 2 & 2 young), the babies being sheltered from the blasting wind, with 6 Common Redshank and a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS. Two COMMON SANDPIPERS were migrants.

Two Common Terns were investigating the raft, whilst a COMMON CUCKOO was calling from the adjacent Fen, a Common Chiffchaff singing and hirundines again well represented, with 46+ House Martins, 70+ Sand Martins and 15 Barn Swallows.

Pitstone Quarry harboured just 1 lonely Mute Swan.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Singing WOOD WARBLER in Ashridge Forest

Bird of the Bank Holiday Weekend was a singing male WOOD WARBLER in Birch and Oak just east of Clinkmere Pond on the Monument Drive from Saturday to early today (many observers)

Otherwise, a female RING OUZEL remains at Ivinghoe Hills NR (in Incombe Hole)

North Bucks - SATURDAY morning

6am - 9am (Saturday 23 April) - Simon Nichols observations

Willen north

1 CETTIS WARBLER, 10 Common Terns, 2 Little Egrets, 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 2 LRP, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Sedge Warbler

Willen South

1 Sedge Warbler

New Workings near Newport - as viewed from the bridge over the M1

4 LRP , 3/4 Ringed Plovers and 2 Lapwing broods successfully fledged , 2 Blackcaps

Linford (HESC)
2 CUCKOOS, 2 GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS ( 1 reeling in field by Visitor Centre and the 2nd in the paddock by path to Hides), 3 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps, 1 GARDEN WARBLER, 2 Willow Warblers , 2 CETTIS WARBLERS (Inc. one showing well between the near hide path turn off and the tree hide), 2 Bullfinches , 1 Green Woodpecker and 4 Common Terns on Blackhorse lake.

Manor Farm

2 LRP's , 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Swallows , 4 Sand Martins, 2 Common Terns


2 Oystercatchers, 3 Lapwings sitting , 2 Common Terns , 2 Blackcaps, 1 WHITETHROAT, singing and nest building in front of the hide


Tim Watts had a single BLACK TERN and then 2 SANDWICH TERNS at Calvert Sailing Lake briefly late afternoon

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

GREENLAND WHEATEARS at Ivinghoe Beacon and BLACK TERN at Startop's


Another day of high pressure and exceptional temperatures - almost 20 degrees higher than average for this time of year at an incredible 79 degrees fahrenheit. The wind remained in the Southeast too - still bringing in large numbers of common migrants and the odd rare.........


This evening (1818 hours at least), the adult summer BLACK TERN was still traversing both the Bucks and Herts sections of Startop's End Reservoir, often resting on the algae bunds for long periods. A procession of birders came and went including John Gooders and his partner, Chaz Jackson, DB, JON and SR. The gleaming white undertail-coverts heavily contrasted with the black plumage - the bird constituting a year tick for me on both counts.

The drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD was out feeding, the pair of Great Crested Grebes was still there, 32 Tufted Ducks and 3 Coots attempting to build nests on the bunds.; also 20 Common Terns


Very quiet when I popped in - just 28 Common Terns. Steve had located 1 of Roy's 6 Northern Wheatears in the Dry Canal field.


I failed to hear the reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER during my visit but Dave B did hear it much later in the evening at the back of the reedbed. The CETTI'S WARBLER sang frequently and there were at least 8 singing WESTERN REED WARBLERS and 4 SEDGE WARBLERS.

Both GREY WAGTAIL and Mistle Thrush were nesting in the vicinity (carrying food back to nests), a male Goldcrest was in song in the 'wood' and Charlie and I counted 1 male YELLOW WAGTAIL in with 12 Pied Wagtails in the horse fields across the canal.

Most pleasing was the presence of a displaying pair of LAPWING south of Marsworth Reservoir.


There was no sign of any Ring Ouzels in the Sheep Field this evening (Ben and Steve had seen two males early this morning) but there were a pair of GREENLAND WHEATEARS - my earliest ever at this location.

Top Scrub and environs held 9 singing WILLOW WARBLERS, 15+ Blackcaps and 2 male Common Whitethroats, as well as 4 singing male Song Thrushes but neither of today's Lesser Whitethroats were rattling this evening.

Lee Evans

RING OUZEL on Quainton Hills

Quainton Hills;

With Warren Claydon, over widely separated areas we got Wheatear count up to a definite 28. Also a female RING OUZEL at base of West slopes in roughly same area as I had a possible recently. 2 Lesser Whitethroats seen and Warren heard then spotted 3 Yellow Wagtails over the period, each a single flying over tops high and North.

On later visit with Colleen we saw 5 Raven together sat on old wall, 3 of these were juveniles.

Tim Watts

RING OUZEL in North Bucks

Male RING OUZELseen from footpath that runs from Astwood to Hardmead Church at 8 o'clock this morning. map ref SP 943474

It was working its way down a hedgerow towards the A422 Bedford Road so may be visible from there (Robert Norris)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Negative on the Hoopoe but BLACK TERN on Willen

There was no sign of the Hardmead Hoopoe this morning but at Willen Lake North Basin, a single BLACK TERN was present (Nik Maynard); also 6 WHEATEARS in Central MK (Simon Nichols) and several small flocks of migrating WAXWINGS too


Richard Woodcock discovered a female PIED FLYCATCHER at the edge of Top Scrub at around 0900 hours this morning as it flitted along the hedgerow leading away from the gate at the top of Incombe Hole. Almost as soon as he found it, he lost it, and despite being joined by Steve Rodwell, Ben Miller and others within a short period, nobody could relocate it.

Many many hours later this evening, Chaz Jackson relocated it in the very same area and managed to get Jack O'Neill on to it. Once again, it instantly disappeared, and despite subsequent searching by 20 or more observers, it could not be relocated before dusk. At least two GARDEN WARBLERS were new in on Top Scrub.

Three RING OUZELS (an adult male and two female-types) were present in the sheep field, feeding along the fenceline just SE of the Beacon (the usual hedgerow and corner). The male is present for its fourth day (SR, LGRE).

Monday, 18 April 2011

Paul Nye finds a HOOPOE late on - in his back garden.........


Most likely the last day of high pressure for a little while with the beautiful calm sunny conditions giving way to fresher SE winds as the day went on. As a result, some very early BLACK TERNS arrived in the Home Counties, including 5 at Calvert Sailing Lake and 2 at Rookery........


A party of 4 RED KITES drifting slowly east at 1140 hours about a mile SE of the village

MJP joined Keith Owen and I at Rookery at about 1730 hours and within minutes I heard of a HOOPOE in Hardmead hamlet, just across the border into North Buckinghamshire. The bird had just flown into and out of Paul Nye's back garden and as I attempted to get hold of him, had flown on to a neighbours shed and then dropped down onto the grass playing area adjacent. All three of us decided to make a dash for it but despite taking just 12 minutes to get on site, the bird had flown from behind Paul's house and disappeared towards the Rectory garden 200 yards to the north. We all spread out, including Roy (Paul's father) and a birding neighbour living closeby (and later Dick Bodily) but despite an exhaustive search of the Rectory garden, the churchyard, adjoining gardens and fields, there was no further sign of the bird up until dusk.

A very attractive hamlet however and brightened up by sightings of a male GREY PARTRIDGE, a solitary late FIELDFARE, a RED KITE and two singing male Yellowhammers.


Most pleasing for me as it was a belated county yeartick was a hunting BARN OWL at 1945 hours, south of the village and in the vicinity of the Green Valley Farmhouse. Before it alighted on a post, it hunted the roadside verge briefly

Sunday roundup from North Bucks

A few things from today, Sunday 17 April -:
1m Wheatear at CMK.

2m Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wag & 2 Whitethroat at Ravenstone STW.

1 Raven over Little Linford village.

1 Green Sand, 1 LRP, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Whitethroat and the 3 Red-crested Pochard at Linford.

2 Ringed Plover, 4 LRP, 2 Oycs, 5 Common Tern at Willen.

After the initial rush of the last 10 days or so, seems like a few of our summer migrants are rather slow to return in good numbers, e.g. Swallow, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, House Martin.

Rob Hill

Saturday, 16 April 2011

WAXWINGS still in Stoke Hammond early morning

6.30am Saturday 16th April 2011

The flock of 59 Waxwings are still in Stoke Hammond. Same place as yesterday, junction of A4146 and Phoebes Orchard. Also flying across to large tree on opposite side of the road adjacent to the Key Motor Company garage. If using statnav, use MK17 9LW postcode. The noise they are making is amazing ! (Martin Shadow)

15 April: new BLACKWIT at Manor Farm

A new BLACK-TAILED GODWIT on site today (Friday 15 April), much more uniformly grey than the three together earlier this week. Still on site in the inlet an hour or so ago.


At least 6 LRP, one probablr Ringed Plover, two Common Sandpiper, two Green Sandpiper, three Little Egret an Oystercatcher 20+ Yellow Wagtails (Chris Gleadell)

15 April: WAXWING flock in Stoke Hammond

Timed at 7.40am this morning, a flock of between 50 and sixty BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Stoke Hammond at Junction of A4146 and Phoebes Orchard.

In trees and dropping down into the brook to drink. Very flighty with passing traffic, but managed to get 2 or 3 longish range record photographs.

Watched them for 10 mins or so before carrying on to work (Martin)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

No Gropper or Spot Shanks


Well, following a number of April days breaking all previous records to 1892, cooler NW winds set in overnight bringing a much fresher feel to the weather. In fact, temperatures returned to near normal at this time of year, ranging between 8 and 11 degrees C. It did remain fine and dry however.

After an abortive attempt at the Arundel WWT Little Crake all day yesterday, I decided to concentrate closer to home today and birded the Three Counties. It was a very productive day.......

LINFORD LAKES (or HESC as it is now officially known) (NORTH BUCKS)

No luck with the reeling Grasshopper Warbler here too (wrong time of day) but numerous singing warblers present including 7 Blackcaps, 3 Common Chiffchaff and 2 WILLOW WARBLERS along with a Common Treecreeper, Jay and several butterflies including Large White, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and my first two Commas of the year.

A drake and two female RED-CRESTED POCHARD were on the main lake to the right of the bund, with 8 Common Teal, 6 Gadwall, 5 Shoveler (4 drakes), 1 Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Barn Swallow and a pair of Coots nesting. The heronry was in full swing with two juvenile Grey Herons already fledged and 10 chicks being fed and two Little Egrets still sitting.


Some 5 Little Egrets were present, with the spit and environs yielding several Lapwings, a pair of OYSTERCATCHER, a GREEN SANDPIPER and 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, and 6 Common Terns roosting. Lingering wildfowl included 4 Common Teal and a drake Shoveler, whilst the reedbed in the SW corner harboured an early singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER.


Joined Warren Claydon and Tim Watts on a late afternoon visit but did not locate the two transitional-plumaged SPOTTED REDSHANKS that had been present earlier in the day (Mick A'Court) and yesterday evening. There was a very impressive 7 EURASIAN CURLEWS still present (much aerial display being undertaken), a single EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER on the main reserve field, 1 Barn Swallow and a beautiful male YELLOW WAGTAIL briefly on the scrape. Some 40 Linnets were in the area, a male Yellowhammer and a COMMON RAVEN flew over with a full crop, incidentally being joined by two more as it flew high towards Brill.


Three BLACK-TAILED GODWITS discovered 'curled' up dozing in the shallows just off one of the opposing spits. Got a bit flighty on wakening but then settled down and were still feeding on the north shore when I left around seven pm so hopefully still there in the morning. Two in winter plumage the other just moving into its breeding attire.

Also on site around a dozen Yellow Wagtails, at least five, probably more, Little Ringed Plovers and singles of Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and Common Redshank. Little Egret numbers up to five.

Chris Gleadell

What a stunner - Sunday's COMMON REDSTART in South Bucks

Kevin Duncan obtained this superb image of Sunday's very confiding male COMMON REDSTART......

Monday, 11 April 2011


The two Calvert SPOTTED REDS were apparently at Gallows Bridge Upper Rat Meadows this evening.........

Sunday: Calvert Landfill poduces two SPOTTED REDSHANKS

Tim Watts located two transitional-plumaged SPOTTED REDSHANKS on the Landfill Pools this afternoon

Sunday Morning: Male COMMON REDSTART in South Bucks

Male COMMON REDSTART at George Green Sunday morning (Kevin Duncan) whilst 2 RING OUZELS were seen on the Ivinghoe Hills, including the male in Incombe Hollow for its second day.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


In a repetition of last year, Yellow Wagtail numbers continue to build at Manor Farm with circa 20 on site by mi-afternoon.

Also 3 LRP, Green Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, two Common Redshank three Little Egret and a drake Common Shelduck.

Chris Gleadell

more here

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Major push of WHEATEARS

There were 9 NORTHERN WHEATERS (2 Females) on the rough ground opposite Argos at 08:40 this morning and this had increased to 11 by 10:45 ( per Chris Bird ); however a brief look at 13:30 revealed exactly NONE ! Not a single Wheatear in evidence

Whilst looking (unsuccessfully) for Roy’s Common Redstart (Incidentally species 123 for the Furzton List!) I found 3 BLACKCAPS (1 Female) and 2 Long Tailed Tits nest building.

Common Chiffchaffs are officially everywhere !

12 Great Crested Grebes were the highlight of Furzton Lake! (There was a Barnacle Goose present briefly last Saturday)

Simon Nichols

Female COMMON REDSTART in Milton Keynes

 A female COMMON REDSTART at Challacombe on Furzton this morning -. last seen at 10.55 (per Roy of NBBR)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

WAXWINGS at Rammamere Heath this evening

An evening walk around Rammamere Heath was livened up by 12 Waxwings which circled the heath and headed off north. Rather incongruous in the spring sunshine.

Nothing else of note really, just 1 Redpoll over, and a few warblers singing (Rob Hill)

Ivinghoe Hills this morning

I started at the Beacon with Rob Andrews, spent the next 90 minutes in the sheep field/ slope, Rob had to go to work but even by the time Rob went there were 8 Wheatears. No sign of the long staying male Rouzel ( presumably left Monday night ) .By the time I left this area the minimum count of Wheatears was 16. A ( new ) male RING OUZEL then appeared from the East and alighted at the top of the slope ( just enough time to get another birder on it ) before jumping the fence into the scrub above the footpath. It didn't last long there due to two dog walkers, it then flew and was settled on the North side of the Beacon in an area they have favoured in many Springs, near to the footpath that runs down that slope.

I then bashed around Steps Hill where Willow Warblers were very much in evidence, and then located a male COMMON REDSTART in Income Hole. This bird was so skulky that in over an hour with it, I saw it five times, and not at all for the middle half hour. I managed a millisecond of it in the bins all four other views were naked eyes only as it shot out to grab food before retreating into bushes.

Whilst sitting for this a EURASIAN CURLEW flew along the West side of Steps, calling ocasionally.

A Good Morning in beautiful sunshine.

Mike Wallen

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

COMMON CRANE relocates to Otmoor in Oxfordshire

The adult COMMON CRANE that several of us saw last night at Gallows Bridge (and Tim Watts photographed - see above) was present overnight and remained on the main meadow visble from the hides until 1300 hours, when it drifted off NW. By 1430 hours, it had relocated to Otmoor.

Monday, 4 April 2011

A truly eventful day - LGRE Diary Notes - COMMON CRANE !


Although the day started off bright and sunny, strong and blustery winds soon set in from the west bringing in heavy cloud, pegging temperatures back and affecting searching of small passerines.

Being heavily curtailed in my birding activities all weekend (bar a twitch for my 4th Pied Fly at Blows Downs but my first for 22 years), I concentrated once again on the Three Counties, making every effort to catch up with the many migrants that arrived over the weekend.......


Once again, no sign of Chris Pontin's Willow Warbler in the tall Poplars beside the larger lake but three different singing male Common Chiffchaffs (one by the causeway between the two lakes, one in the Willows at the lake edge and another in the tall trees bordering the Pow Wow Lake).

The two baby Great Crested Grebes were still doing well on the small lake, riding on mum's back, with two pairs of Atlantic Canada Geese now nesting on the islands; also 11 Tufted Ducks still in residence with songbirds represented by 6 Wrens, 2 Great Tits and a Chaffinch.

Just as I was about to leave the site, David Bilcock contacted me to say that Paul Reed had just watched a White-fronted Goose arrive at College, so off I went.....


On my arrival at around 0900 hours, Paul's EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (incidentally an adult) was showing very well feeding up along the bund, occasionally interacting with a single Greylag Goose that it had arrived with at 0810 hours. The bird was unringed and was very vocal, repeatedly calling during the half-hour or so of my visit.

Several pairs of Atlantic Canada Geese are now nesting on the islands at the reserve, as well as 8 pairs of Lapwing, whilst other species noted included a pair of Mute Swans, a single Great Crested Grebe (on the deep lake), a pair of Wigeon, 2 drake Shoveler, 36 Tufted Duck, the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (not showing any signs of nesting yet) and 6 Common Redshanks; a Mistle Thrush was in full song.


A film set was once more being constructed in the pit so disturbance was a problem - all that was in there was 1 adult Mute Swan, a drake Shoveler and 12 Coot, with the surrounding trees harbouring 4 singing male Common Chiffchaffs and 2 Blackcaps.


I walked from the car park along the Ridgeway to Aldbury Nowers. NORTHERN WHEATEARS were very much in evidence today, with as many as 10 in the area, mainly on the eastern slope.

There were 3 jangling male CORN BUNTINGS in the small pieces of vegetation adjoining the fenceline, a pair of Yellowhammer, 6 Linnets, at least 8 Meadow Pipits and a minimum of 15 singing male Eurasian Skylarks.


The long-staying adult male RING OUZEL was still showing very well at midday, still pulling earthworms from the chalky soil just out from the wire fence in the sheepfield immediately SE of the Beacon and trig point. Thanks to Francis Buckle, I was also able to locate an additional female in the same area, the male frequently 'chacking' to her, whilst a male NORTHERN WHEATEAR was nearby in the rabbit warren area of the slope.

In the scrub between the car park and the S-bend were singing male Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff, along with my first WILLOW WARBLER of the year. The Top Scrub yielded a further male Blackcap and 5 more Common Chiffchaffs.


Hawking above the four pans were my first three EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS of the year in Beds - my 137th species of 2011.


I was driving along the old A421 towards Kempston at 1320 hours when I picked up a large bird flying just above tree height in a straight line from Marston Moretaine towards Brogborough. I screeched to a halt and got my 'bins on it and quickly confirmed my initial suspicions - it was a COMMON CRANE !

I scrambled back in the car and did a quick U-turn and raced back towards the old layby of Shanks & Ewans and waited for it. The bird was flying in a direct line and was slowly flying SSW - actually flying parallel with the new bypass perhaps believing it to be a river. It flew the entire length of Brogborough Lake and then gradually gained height as it approached the much higher ground of Brogborough Hill. It then glided around for a few minutes gradually gaining height before taking up a new line - flying parallel with the M1 and heading WNW. I lost it to view in the 'scope at 1328 whilst keeping RBA updated, as well as informing Simon Nichols, SCB, MJP and other interested parties of its progress. The bird was an adult with bright crimson-red on the crown and rich grey upperparts; it also had a few misplaced or missing feathers on its outer primaries of the right wing. The long trailing straight legs beyond the tail were diagnostic.

Simon informed the Bucks Birders and although the bird was not picked up by those in Milton Keynes or the surrounding area, Laurie Bryant managed to relocate it 32 miles to the west at Gallows Bridge later in the afternoon (more to follow).


At 1342 hours, Pete Smith's corking male YELLOW WAGTAIL was showing well with 3 Pied Wagtails on the grass in front of the sailing club - my first of the year in Beds (139). Virtually nothing else of note there though, particularly now with the wind blowing strong.

At neighbouring Quest Pit, just 9 Gadwalls was mustered up


The pair of GREY PARTRIDGE were still present in the field to the east of the village, feeding very close to the north side of the A603.


Despite Mark Ward and Nigel Willitts walking away informing me of their success, I was to spend the next two hours searching in vain for the male Common Redstart that had been present all morning and early afternoon in the Birch scrub 200 yards along the footpath from the entrance gate adjacent to the New Heath. It did call a few times but not persistently enough to allow Pip and I to locate it.


A nice selection of waders present including Lapwing, a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS, a pair of Ringed Plovers, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS (including a pair displaying), 6 Common Redshank and a single DUNLIN. A single COMMON TERN was new for the year (140), with 8 Sand Martins overflying the water.


Very quiet in the blustery conditions - 30+ Sand Martins being the only species of note


At about TL156 397 less than a mile east of Shefford, a flock of 84 European Golden Plovers was resting in a crop field south of the B658; several birds were acquiring partial breeding plumage.


Late afternoon saw me yomping up Deacon Hill which was well worth it as 'scoping from the sheltered fenceline at the top of the sheep field towards the trig point, I located a stonking adult male RING OUZEL feeding on the western slopes - a different bird to Steve Blain's female-type of Sunday. The bird was feeding unperturbed on the chalk slope but was alone - with no sign of the usual lingering flocks of post-migrating Fieldfares. I checked the remaining valleys and the slopes either side of the summit but there were no more ouzels to be found or surprisingly any Northern Wheatears.

As I was making my descent, news came through that my Common Crane had been relocated - some 32 miles to the west in central Bucks - so I was off in hot pursuit !


Just south of Rowsham and in Bierton, several roadside ROOKERIES totalling an impressive 85 active nests


Whilst waiting at red traffic lights, I had ample time to check out the resident pair of PEREGRINES and was absolutely stunned to find the male mounting the female actually on the nest platform - the first time I had ever seen either bird on the platform and raising high hopes of a nesting attempt this year.


Arrived on site late evening to find Simon Nichols and new partner, Matt Slaymaker, Tim Watts, Warren Claydon, Mike and Rose Collard and BBOWT warden Mick A'Court all watching the COMMON CRANE at Gallows Bridge. The bird was standing (and feeding) on the remaining floodwater at the far western end of the main field and could be observed distantly from the two hides. The bird was a full adult as I had initially suspected, with very pale grey upperparts, the odd brown summer feather on its mantle and upperwings, a bright crimson-red patch on its crown, black forehead, face and foreneck and shaggy, voluminous black-tipped grey tertials at its rear end. Most of the underparts were grey, with its long legs also grey.

There was no evidence of rings at the distance the bird was observed, but knowing many of Norfolk's Common Cranes from previous acquaintances, I feel fairly confident that this is an adult from that population and perhaps one of the initial four birds that did its annual spring flyaround along the North and east Norfolk coast early this morning. Every spring we see a similar movement take place as the Broadland population eeks out new areas and displaces far and wide.

Whilst putting the World to rights with Mike, Rose and Mick in the hide, we were serenaded by the eerie but beautiful sounds of a male EURASIAN CURLEW out on the field behind. Two Brown Hares were also busy boxing. The COMMON CRANE remained until dusk on the pool, 'dancing' in display or posturing for a fight with several Atlantic Canada Geese that marched up too closely as the light faded

A truly eventful day


Called in at Manor Farm for 15 minutes this morning. Plenty going on.

Best of all 2 YELLOW WAGTAIL dropped in around 11.30 - my first for the year. Also seen: 4 LRP, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Oyc, 2 Redshank, 1 Little Egret. Plus 20+ Swallows and 1 Sand Martin over. Little Owl calling (Martin Kincraig)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

North Bucks today

At Manor Farm this evening, 1 male WHITE WAGTAIL amongst c40 Pieds. Also 4 LRP, 2 Green Sand, 1 each of Oyc & Redshank, 4 Wigeon, 1 Little Owl, c70 Sand Martin (mostly over Cosgrove lake), and Lucy had 1 House Martin fly by east.

Earlier at Willen, pretty much as per Matt Slaymaker's visit - the 3 Common Terns still present, plus 3 LRP and 1 Green Sand.

Plus Wheatears at CMK (4) and Magna Park (1 male).

Rob Hill

BLACK REDSTART on Quainton Hills

Next to the transmitter field on summit of Quainton Hills there was a fem type BLACK REDSTART this morning; it's in an area of old farm machinery,off public footpath but spotted from main path over the top.It is super wary and I spent near on 2hrs, including a later re-visit trying and failing to get pic of it. Although sat down in camo-type clothing it knew I was about and would just pop up for 4 secs in different spot each time and completely disappear for 15 mins!!

This is 3rd one had in this general area,all about same time of year and only ever managed one chronic record shot!

Also 10 NORTHERN WHEATEARS, 5 spread over North slopes from top to paddocks at bottom, 4 together base of East slopes and 1 on top of Denham hill. Small but noticable increase in Blackbirds on tops and large flock of c400 Fieldfare on Denham Hill (Tim Watts)

Friday, 1 April 2011



Although the forecasted temperatures of 20 degrees C did not materialise, the winds did veer more to the Southwest and were unusually strong for this time of year. It was fairly mild - and dry - but the blustery conditions that prevailed over much of the day did somewhat restrict searching for small passerines.

I had originally planned to have a comprehensive search for migrants, especially in Bedfordshire, where I was hoping to connect with Swallow, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Common Tern and other early arrivals but that all went pear-shaped when I received a call to say that a medium-sized petrel was on view in Berkshire and its identification was not certain.....


The day began early, searching for a male RING OUZEL that Roy Hargreaves had seen in the field immediately south of the Dry Canal, west of the footpath to Miswell Farm.

Despite a lapse of just half an hour, I failed in my quest to relocate either the male Ring Ouzel or a Northern Wheatear that Roy had seen whilst walking back towards his home

The new section of canal either side of the Drayton Bridge held a pair of Mute Swans and 5 Coots, whilst the farmland either side yielded Red-legged Partridge, Eurasian Skylark (singing male), Yellowhammer (4 birds), Greenfinch (male), Goldfinch (6 birds), Dunnock, Wren, Common Blackbird (4), Common Magpie (4), Carrion Crow, Pied Wagtail and a singing male Common Chiffchaff.


Having only seen the drake GARGANEY of suspect origin at Blunham Pit this year in Bedfordshire, I was keen to see Peter's pair that he discovered at Cainhoe West Pit this morning. Despite arriving on site late morning, the two birds were nowhere to be found, neither on the west pit or the more suitable reed-fringed pit to the southeast.

I did see a single drake COMMON SHELDUCK, 4 Common Teal and 27 Tufted Duck, along with a pair of Great Crested Grebes and 1-2 OYSTERCATCHERS and newly arrived migrants in the form of 15 SAND MARTINS and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs. A small group of 5 FIELDFARE flew east.


(This premier site is accessed from the Millbrook to Mill End road at TL 023 403, with observation best performed from the pit edge close to the Jackdaw Railway Bridge in the SE corner at TL 020 403)

Not quite as productive as of late with just 3 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS remaining, 11 Common Redshank and a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS (actively displaying) present. On the ever-diminishing water of the main pit were 6 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 10 Mute Swans (including 7 first-summers), 4 Common Teal and 76 Coots, with 5 Common Gulls resting and the hedgerow just north of the bridge harbouring a male Common Chiffchaff and singing male Blackcap.


Very quiet with none of the hoped for hirundines and just the single OYSTERCATCHER on the sailing club green

Just as I was about to move on to check the pits on the Ouse Valley, I was made aware of a petrel species that was being watched on Theale Gravel Pits in West Berkshire. Initially I believed it may be an April Fool's Joke, as inland petrel records in late March/early April are virtually unprecedented in Britain, but after discussing the bird with several Berkshire birders that had been told about the bird and had already arrived on site, the fact that it looked like a LEACH'S PETREL made it even more remarkable. In any case, this was a bird far too rare to miss, and knowing that previous Band-rumped Petrel occurrences have been in early April, I made a hasty retreat from central Beds and made my way back to the M1....


(1500-1700 hours)
By the time I had driven the 77 miles from Stewartby Lake to Theale Fox & Hounds Pit, Chris Heard and other Berkshire birders had arrived on site and managed reasonable views of the unseasonably windblown seabird; it was undoubtedly a LEACH'S PETREL - one of the earliest ever occurrences in Britain in spring. Walking about 400 yards along the eastern shore, I was soon able to see the bird for myself - the bird being chased back and forth low over the water surface by a number of Black-headed Gulls and even at one point, by an island-nesting pair of Oystercatchers ! Its large size was soon apparent (compared to Eurasian Storm Petrel) as well as its longer and more arched wings, with the upperparts characterised by the paler carpal bar. The forked tail, although present, was hard to see in flight. The bird was 'chased' and 'harried' for about five minutes before the gulls lost interest and it then sat on to the water. It then remained on the water for the next hour or more gradually drifting towards the west shore. In fact, throughout the observation period, it generally kept to the far NW part of the main pit.

In addition to the Leach's, the pit held the two Oystercatchers, a pair of Mandarin Ducks, Egyptian Goose, 5 singing Common Chiffchaffs, 2 male Blackcaps.and a Nuthatch.


Newly arrived were 4 highly mobile LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS on the spit, whilst 14 SAND MARTINS were also new for my Bucks Year.

Other species encountered included Sinensis Cormorant (at least 18 active nests on the island), 3 Egyptian Geese, 6 Common Teal (3 pairs), 9 Gadwall, 43 immature Herring Gulls, Common Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker (pair displaying) and Ring-necked Parakeet (pair).


An evening visit revealed the staggering evidence that the pair of Great Crested Grebes on the smaller lake had successfully nested, with the female carrying two very tiny stripy young on her back. This was remarkable news and the earliest brood of Great Crested Grebes I had ever seen in Britain. The same pair nested early in spring 2011 but sadly lost the eggs after they were predated.

The lakes also held 18 Tufted Ducks (12 drakes) and 10 Coot, with a pair of COMMON KINGFISHERS in noisy courtship display and warblers represented by a singing male BLACKCAP, a 'new' male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF and a Goldcrest.

Good Birding Always
Lee G R Evans