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, 11 June 2011

COMMON RAVENS breed in North Bucks - a rare trip to the extreme north


Well the forecasted rain failed to materialise. In fact, it remained dry all day, only clouding up late in the afternoon. Temperatures held up too, with the light westerly breeze continuing

With news of Richard's Quail coming up so early, my plans for the day were quickly made up..........


Grange Farm is at the extreme north of the county, almost on the Northamptonshire border, and falls within Richard Bashford's remit for BTO Atlas surveying. At 0620 hours this morning, he heard a COMMON QUAIL calling. As I had missed the only previous Quail in the county this year, at Broom West, I made my way up there as soon as I could.

I was eventually in position early afternoon and after a little tempting, the bird was heard calling from the spring rape field immediately north of the Grange Farm outbuildings at TL 075 664. It called on about eight occasions between midday and 1300 hours, uttering only its ''wet-my-lips'' call-note and never the ''wow-wow'' note of imminent breeding.

A winter rape field on the opposite side of the track at TL 076 667 held a singing male REED BUNTING whilst Linnets were particularly numerous in the area (45) with a number of family parties seen. A single RED KITE was also drifting over the fields.

Grange Farm itself held 8 Chaffinches, Dunnock, male Greenfinch and Common Blackbird and whilst chatting to the farm owner and informing him of the Quail, he told me that both Little Owl and barn Owl bred in the vicinity.


I then moved south to Little Staughton, where I was somewhat surprised (and pleased) by the number of House Sparrows - 22 in total. A male Yellowhammer was singing from the wires by South Hoo Cottage.

At a regular site at the extreme south end of Staughton Airfield, and opposite Berry Woods Farm at Bushmead, the thin coppice and associated scrub produced a 'purring' male EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE - only my second in the county this year. The coppice also yielded a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Greenfinch, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat. In fact, Common Whitethroats were frequently encountered this far north in the county.


I continued driving south down Chequers Hill, passing through Colmworth to Wilden. Again, House Sparrows were very prevalent on this road, virtually every farmhold having them, with 6 pairs in Colmworth, 4 pairs at 'The Cornfields' and a further 15 birds to the road junction. Colmworth also produced breeding Song Thrush and another singing male Common Chiffchaff.

At Northfield Farm nearby (TL 110 635), confirmed breeding by both Linnet and Barn Swallow was made.


In Great Barford, more House Sparrows were recorded, as well as a colony of 4 nesting pairs of House Martin.

BEDFORDSHIRE: checking one of our PEREGRINE nests, I was amazed to find no less than four well-grown chicks on site - suggesting plenty of food availability.


Following up a visit by Tony P on Thursday, I did a wide circuit of the wood trying to track down the Crossbill flock but failed; however the habitat looks superb, particularly the open heath to the south of the house for sale. Not too much in the way of birdlife but did manage both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Jay, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff, Wren, Goldcrest (2 singing males) and Jackdaw, Muntjac and Common Blue and Meadow Brown butterflies. There was a lot of Common Buzzard activity over the wood.


Met up with Martin Green briefly in an attempt to see either of the two pairs of European Turtle Dove on site but neither materialised - Martin had seen them earlier though, including one of them on wires above his garden. The CETTI'S WARBLER was repeatedly singing from the overgrown ditch between his garden and the lake and in Green Lane, RED KITE, a male Bullfinch and 2 singing Willow Warblers were noted.


Literally on the Bucks county border is Salcey Forest where this year, record numbers of WOOD WHITE butterflies have emerged (over 90 being transected between Piddington Lodge and the Milking Oak plantation this May). With 22 still on the wing prior to this week's deluge, I tried my luck this afternoon but the weather was against me - and increasing winds and cloudy skies meant that I drew a blank (park in the designated car park at SP 812 509 and follow the cycleway north).

Despite the lack of butterflies, the woodlands were a hive of activity, with many families of birds on the move - Blue Tits, Great Tts, Wrens, Long-tailed Tits, Common Treecreepers, Nuthatches, Common Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. More noteworthy were Common Buzzard, 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks, 3 Goldcrest and a singing male Garden Warbler.


In Dag Lane, 3 TREE SPARROW chambers were occupied in the main colony, the adults busily carrying in insect food for the 'cheeping' young. Nearby, I located 11 active House Martin nests under the eaves of 43 Chimney Cottage, as well as a nesting pair of Common Swifts.


Although I failed in my quest to locate any Little Owls at 5 sites kindly provided to me by Rob Hill, I did stumble upon an adult COMMON RAVEN accompanying a single begging youngster close to the hall. I was alerted to them both by the adult's unmistakable deep croaking calls - seemingly calling the youngster over or perhaps keeping contact with the partnering adult.