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

Monday, 25 July 2011

My first WHINCHAT of the autumn and in Bucks this year

Unbeknown to me, Peter Stevens had discovered a WHINCHAT at Springfield Quarry, Beaconsfield, last week - on 19 July. Dave Cleal also saw the bird and saw another one today - in exactly the same area.

As soon as I heard of it, I rushed over and after parking at Lillyfee Farm, quickly relocated it just 100 yards along the track consorting with a family party of 6 Common Whitethroats. It was favouring an area of rough weeds and nettles just left of the track, in the same area where all of the migrant Whinchats were found last autumn. It represented my first in the county this year.

Elsewhere in the quarry it was very quiet, with nothing present on the two scrapes. A flock of 31 ppost-breeding Lapwings were in the first field beyond the farm buildings.

A bumper crop of 'summering' COMMON REDSTARTS


A warm day but with increasing cloud cover gathering throughout the afternoon; a light NW breeze blowing.....

I had no luck again with a local Quail but did enjoy a feats of COMMON REDSTART sightings........


On three separate attempts, I failed to hear the male Common Quail that Steve Rodwell had heard at 0630 hours calling from the harvested cornfields between Steps Hill and the Ivinghoe road. In fact, few birds were noted, apart from several Yellowhammer family parties and those of Common Whitethroat and Common Chiffchaff. The two COMMON REDSTARTS were both present in Incombe Hole, skulking in deep cover between the orange-rolling hill and the bottom end of the gully.

A lot of butterflies were on the wing, including excellent numbers of CHALK HILL BLUES (over 100 being noted - see Francis Buckle's images above) as well as both Common and Small Blue, Peacock, Large White, Green-veined White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, both Small and Large Skippers, a Small Copper and several rather worn Dark Green Fritillaries.


Very little of interest, despite continuing dropping water levels - the 2 Little Ringed Plovers still (presumably local Pitstone Quarry birds), 87 Lapwings and 11 Little Egrets. The latter have bred for the first time at the reservoirs, with the two youngsters still being fed in the Willows along the Drayton Bank bund by their parents.

A lot of Red Kite were in the vicinity, their arrival coinciding with the harvesting of the local crop fields.

A dead Badger was beside the B489 north of Wilstone Reservoir at SP 901 133.


No fewer than 4 COMMON REDSTARTS were seen in the vicinity of Ridgway, east of Rowsham village late morning - a moulting male in the main hedgerow that runs east and an adult male still in good plumage and two female/immatures in the hedgerow that leads south from the derelict building remains. A somewhat remarkable flurry of records, considering one of the adult males has been present in this area for the best part of a month. The birds were typically elusive but particularly vocal, especially the male with the other two birds.

In the vicinity of Manor Farm at the end of Bennetts Lane, large numbers of Barn Swallows were present (25 birds, including a large proportion of juveniles). A single Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 3 Willow Warblers were also seen in the area


Park courteously on Bennetts Lane in Rowsham village (SP 851 179) and then take the public footpath east from Manor Farm. Walk through the kissing gate and then follow the rough track for some 500 yards to the ruined farm building, passing through two sheepfields on route. One adult male Common Redstart was frequenting the main hedgerow to your right 30-50 yards before you reach the ruins whilst the other three birds can be 'scoped from the track by the ruins - the hedgerow that leads away to the south. They were keeping mainly to the hedge in the vicinity of the chalk mounds, about 100 yards down

Friday, 15 July 2011



In the sunshine, temperatures were high and as the day wore on, fresher conditions and increasing winds spread from the southwest. It became increasingly overcast during the day.......


With six COMMON REDSTARTS already recorded in the county this autumn, I finally struck lucky today and found a moulting, rather scruffy male in Inkombe Hole this morning. The bird was frequenting the scrub either side of the 'orange-rolling' slope and was initially located on call; it barely moved more than 20 yards and kept commuting between two patches of vegetation. It was typically elusive.

There was also a migrant adult WILLOW WARBLER in the Hole, a Lesser Whitethroat and a family party of 5 Common Whitethroats, as well as a flyover HOBBY, 2 Common Kestrels, 18 Linnets, Red Admiral, 3 Commas and on wires by the Pitstone Hill car park, a 'jangling' male CORN BUNTING.

At nearby Gallows Hill, good numbers of CHALKHILL BLUE butterflies were on the wing (35+), along with several Small Heath, Ringlet and a Red Admiral.


A 1230 hours visit produced a Gatekeeper butterfly in the car park, an astounding 13 LITTLE EGRETS, 38 Mute Swans, 28 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Eurasian Wigeon and 169 Lapwings


There was no sight nor sound of the Quail along the lane, just 3 singing CORN BUNTINGS, but in Church Green cul-de-sac, a House Martin colony held 6 active nests.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Wader passage well underway in the North of the county

Five species of wader on site at Gayhurst this morning,

Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover - a whopping 8, all adults - by far a site record (previous best 2 ), Oystercatcher 4, - 2 adults and 2 small young, Lapwing, several including juveniles.

At least 26 juvenile Common Terns on Motorway Pit.

At Quarryhall a good dozen Tree Sparrows including juveniles, Yellow Wagtail and a Roe Deer foraging in the Oat field (Rob Norris)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

TURTLE DOVES at Calvert - Saturday 2 July

Just back from a long holiday in Canada and have been out of birding communication. Just to let you know I had two EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES while doing my TTV at Calvert Jubilee on Saturday morning about 8.30 am. They flew into the thick bushes in the north east corner on the old railway line from a northerly direction. I spent some time in the area after the TTV but had no purring or further sign of them. I suggest approaching from the old railway bridge about a third of the way down the reserve and walking north along the track bed as that way you have a better chance of seeing birds break cover (Richard Birch)




Another glorious day weatherwise, with long sunny periods, warm temperatures and no wind. Having been busy all weekend, I took advantage of the sunshine to do some butterflying - and in particular, for searching for PURPLE EMPERORS, my favourite British butterfly. I was not disappointed...........Avian highlights included a few returning waders, including a WOOD SANDPIPER....


In Wingrave Road, I came across a breeding colony of Common Swifts - some 8 adults entering a hole in the guttering at number 8, alomost opposite The Pheasant public house.


There was no sign of yesterday's adult Wood Sandpiper, seen by both Paul Reed and David Bilcock. In fact, there were much fewer waders present than of late, with no sign of the family party of 4 Oystercatchers.

A quick inventory check revealed the presence of 3 Mute Swans (the pair with just one surviving cygnet still), 1 Greylag Goose, 113 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 female Common Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, two family groups of Moorhen (1 with 5 chicks and another with 3 chicks), 4 Common Redshank, 15 Lapwing (including 9 young of varying ages), 4 Little Ringed Plovers (2 pairs), 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Terns and several Western Reed Warblers.


Once again, absolutely no sign of either adult Peregrine in the nest chamber or anywhere else on the building.


In an extensive search of the area and nearby sites, no sign of Richard Birch's pair of European Turtle Doves from last Friday. Warren Claydon also failed during a search over the weekend. If my bad luck continues throughout July, 2011 could go down as my first year with a complete blank on this species within the county - a sad show indeed and representative of the stark decline and situation this once common farmland species is really in.


By mid morning, the sun was radiating heat and the temperature had risen to nearly 70 degrees F - it was time to visit Finemere. I met up with local butterfly expert Steve Croxford and nature photographer Martin Parr and enjoyed an excellent hour or so of butterfly entertainment along the main drove up to 140 yards beyond the private parking area. The stars of course were the PURPLE EMPERORS - up to 7 on the wing today. Martin cheated a little bit - by relocating a major food source on to the track inside the wood - and within a short time indeed attracting two somewhat worn-winged males down (perhaps individuals attacked by birds). The views were spectacular - down to a few feet - allowing Martin to take over 250 photographs. They remained at the food source for at least an hour, with different more mobile individuals (including a single female) being seen flitting high in the Oak canopies and along the ride.

A WHITE ADMIRAL was also seen, as well as 5 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, along with 2 PURPLE HAIRSTREAKS, 7 MARBLED WHITES, large numbers of Ringlets, Large White, Green-veined White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper (40+), Small Skipper, Comma (3), Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell.

Avian highlights included no less than 8 BULLFINCHES (two single pairs and then two pairs together - all 'budding'), 2+ MARSH TITS, Common Buzzard carrying prey, Common Chiffchaffs, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, male Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Nuthatch and a large mixed flock of Long-tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tit.

(Note: Finemere Wood is a premier site for Purple Emperor in Buckinghamshire but this year has been eclipsed by Rushbeds Wood BBOWT, Brill, where up to 15 have been showing daily)


Sadly, another dead Badger - this time on the A418 north of Wingrave Cross Roads at cSP 860 203.


Another prime butterfly wood and again very productive today. Along one of the side rides was one mobile male pristine-conditioned and presumably newly-emerged PURPLE EMPEROR, no less than 9 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES and 3 WHITE ADMIRALS, along with good numbers of many of the commoner butterflies.


I arrived at Chicksands Wood shortly after 1400 hours, at the same time as Letchworth butterfly fan Dave Blofield. It was more Crossbills than butterflies that I had driven all the way over for, but despite walking all round, drew yet another blank on the former - my 8th dip now. Dave and I walked the main drove SW from the parking space (at TL 106 411) and soon came upon a stunningly confiding female PURPLE EMPEROR on the main track, just 30 yards along from the Obelisk (at TL 104 406). She was in immaculate condition and sat on the track just yards from us for 12 minutes before flying off and into the wood. Dave got some nice photographs. A second individual, this time a male, was seen 400 yards further on, along a track off to the left after a further 75 yards. This was in flight and highly mobile.

Just 1 WHITE ADMIRAL was seen along the main drove, and 3 different SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, along with 9 Commas, 2 Red Admiral, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, 15 Marbled Whites, large numbers of Ringlets, Meadow Brown, 40+ Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Small Skipper and in the usual bramble scrub adjacent to the Henry John Robert Osborn monument at TL 097 395, 4 well-showing WHITE-LETTER HAIRSTREAKS - my first of the year.

In the heat of the mid-afternoon, birdlife was scant, frustratingly Common Crossbills. No sign of any Spotted Flycatchers either, but Common Buzzard with food and Jay - as well as Southern Hawker and Ruddy Darter.

As MJP proclaimed only yesterday, the two vast Poppy fields at TL 104 441 are resplendent and well worth photographinge (just west of the parking spot on the Haynes Church End road).

(1600-1645 hours)

Two WOOD SANDPIPERS in our region in the first few days of July is very unusual and early so despite missing yesterday's College Lake bird, I was more than pleased to make up for it by seeing the Rookery adult, now present for its third day. It was feeding along the edge of the closest island on the right hand side of the complex viewing from the Jackdaw Bridge side. Newly arrived were two spanking adult summer-plumaged ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS.

Otherwise 52 Lapwings (flock of post-breeding adults and at least 9 juveniles wandering about), an adult Oystercatcher, several Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, 4 Common Redshank and a Little Egret. Also female Northern Pochard with single young, female Red-crested Pochard with single young and both Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe with young; one pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets and at least 17 juvenile Black-headed Gulls within the colony. Grisly was watching an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (one of the nesting pair) attack and kill a baby Moorhen and later devour it.

Both Western Reed Warblers and Common Whitethroats were feeding fledged young.


Although late in the day and fairly overcast, it was still very warm and in the wild flower-rich meadow immediately north and adjacent to the car park was highly productive for butterflies. No less than 10 DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES were seen (mainly nectaring on the purple flowering heads), 20 or more Marbled Whites, several Commas, both Small and Large Skippers and my first PAINTED LADY of the year. One further DARK GREEN FRITILLARY was seen in the usual meadow with the wooden bench 250 yards down along the footpath.


Thanks to Peter Stevens, I was able to locate the rest of the COMMON SHELDUCK family this evening - all 13 birds (including 11 surviving juveniles) on the largest of the three pools to the NE of the quarry buildings and offices just beyond the tall pines (see map). This is a record family gathering in my Recording Area and replicates an identikit family group that Chris Heard observed at Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire this evening. Interestingly, both family parties were accompanied by the fathers - at one time all of the males flying off to moult in Holland post-breeding.

Also tonight, the wader pools held 3 adult GREEN SANDPIPERS and an adult LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, whilst the female Lapwing with her two chicks was joined by 32 post-breeding adults of the species.

Further breeding success came from the isolated Oak-nesting Common Kestrel family - 3 juveniles fledging today - with Pied Wagtails feeding young at the cement complex and 11 Skylarks being seen on the meadow. The 63 Common Starlings roosted again in the row of tall pines.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

WOOD SANDPIPER at College Lake - 4th this year

Image taken of today's adult WOOD SANDPIPER, found by Paul Reed early afternoon. The 4th Wood Sand at College Lake this year! (David Bilcock)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Second nesting pair of HOBBIES in a week - also COMMON SHELDUCK success


Another glorious day with temperatures climbing back up into the high 70's fahrenheit; long clear periods with long spells of sunshine.


Some nice local breeding successes, sadly just outside the Amersham Recording Area. Very pleased to confirm local breeding of COMMON SHELDUCKS - with a pair accompanying two well-grown juveniles on the largest of the pools.. Generally locally, all of the young are quickly taken by predators, so this was great to see.

Next off, another pair of HOBBIES nesting, the second pair I have located in the past week. A juvenile Sand Martin was taken into the nest, as well as a juvenile Common Starling

And LAPWINGS - two pairs breeding, with one adult now accompanying two tiny babies on the small reed-fringed pool

SAND MARTINS have had a great year, with at least 60 juveniles on the wing this evening and many still being fed in the burrows - about 460 birds counted in total.

Otherwise, 17+ Stock Doves, Common Kestrel, 14 Common Swifts (scarce at this site), a singing Skylarks and 63 Common Starlings at pre-roost