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

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Two birds, one clear cut female, the other poss but may be juvenile. Along the Ridge path from farm buildings to canal, same location that Redstarts have been found in previous three years, still there at dusk (Chris Gleadell)

RAVENS in north of the county

There were 4 COMMON RAVENS at Wootton most of the morning, today, mainly in the vicinity of the churchyard. Mostly sitting in the local Pine Trees, but every now and then soaring around the area, at one time accompanying a passing Buzzard.Very vocal and upsetting just about every other corvid in the vicinity. It looked like they were two pairs but could well have been the breeding pair and their two young (Rob Norris)

BLACK KITE in the north of the county

Trish and I have just had excellent views of a BLACK KITE (seen from ca 4.40 - 4.45). It was over the road leading out of Whaddon north (to Calverton). First appeared from the West, circled over us for some time, then drifted off to the West again (general direction of Nash) (Bob Tunnicliffe)

Friday, 26 August 2011

BLACK TERN arrival


From early on this morning, the entire Chilterns region was embraced by heavy cloud, bringing rain (often heavy) throughout the day until mid afternoon. The wind was very light and variable, although underlying was a south-eastern element to it. I was expecting quite a lot to turn up today but in the end, it was mainly RUFF and scarcer terns that were located. My best find of the day was a SANDERLING.....


Despite the heavy rain, I joined the Amersham Ornithological Society and both Francis Buckle and Mic Wells at Wilstone mid morning. At first glance, it appeared that nothing new had arrived with the weather - and in fact, yesterday's star bird, the Black-necked Grebe, had disappeared after just one day (see Dave Bilcock's belated images above).

All 4 juvenile RUFFS were still present, the 9 COMMON GREENSHANK, 9 RINGED PLOVERS, the 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, the 2 juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, 4 Common Sandpipers and the GREEN SANDPIPER. Just 8 Common Terns remained, and wildfowl numbers remained constant. The only noticeable increase was in the hirundine numbers (with Sand Martins at 85, House Martin at 130 and Barn Swallow at 65), whilst Steve Rodwell located 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the meadow behind the hide.


The first hint of passage came when I located 3 freshly-arrived juvenile RUFFS at 1140 hours on the increasing patch of mud in the SW corner of Startop's - they involved two smaller female Reeves and a larger male (see Dave Bilcock's superb images above). Most surprisingly, and probably as a result of the inclement weather, they remained all afternoon and evening. A Common Sandpiper there was also new in, whilst both juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS dropped in for a while, as well as 8 of the Wilstone Little Egrets. Both adult pair of WHOOPER SWANS were still present too.

I then decided to check the hills for migrants but was very disappointed with my results - virtually nothing. I failed to find any Whinchats, even at Blows Downs or Luton Airport. BLOWS DOWNS PADDOCKS supported just single NORTHERN WHEATEAR, LESSER WHITETHROAT, juvenile Willow Warbler and male Blackcap as migrants and a roving party of 18 Blue Tits.


By 1430 hours, the rain was still falling, with Stewartby Lake yielding 48 Mute Swans and an arrival of 6 BLACK TERNS (a moulting adult and 5 juveniles).


Again, fairly lacklustre, with no new waders (the 3 RUFF and a single Common Greenshank) and the lingering juvenile MARSH HARRIER. A Chinese Water Deer was seen but more interesting was a Weasel encounter on the main track not far from Jackdaw Bridge. I had been looking at a Dunnock feeding beneath a bush when it was suddenly 'grabbed' by a Weasel around the neck. The Weasel quickly suffocated it and it fell silent and still. It was then dropped on to the ground before a very peculiar ritual took place. The Weasel repeatedly bounded backwards and forwards seemingly 'dancing' around the corpse before eventually, after about 5 minutes, picking it up and carrying it off into the undergrowth.


At around 1530 hours, I picked up a winter-plumaged SANDERLING feeding on the Washout Pit with a Green Sandpiper. which was still present when I departed the site at 1610 hours (and later when SCB and others arrived on site). Although gleaming white on the underparts and peppered dark grey/black above, it was surprisingly difficult to locate in its 'orange' surroundings and kept 'hiding/crouching' when other birds flew over the site.

Thanks to Jim Gurney and Steve Blain, I was eventually able to locate the juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER that was present for its third day in the vicinity viewing from the western track. The bird was feeding on flotsam along the NE shoreline, immediately north of Peacock's Island on the main Peacock's Lake. It had however been commuting between here and the Washout Pit today.

Other species of note included a Common Sandpiper and 16 Yellow Wagtails.


With reports of both White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns entering the Thames at Rainham Marshes RSPB and realising that this week's Little Terns eventually made it to Marlow, I decided to take a chance and see if either turned up there. After about an hour of negotiating the Friday afternoon traffic, I eventually arrived late afternoon, coinciding with that of other Little Marlow regulars and Dave Cleal. Neither vagrant marsh tern was there but there was a flock of 13 BLACK TERNS, including 3 moulting adults and 10 juveniles.

Northern Pochards had increased to 7, 3 Argenteus Herring Gulls were in the Lesser Black-back roost and Common Kingfisher was seen.


By evening, the rain had moved through, giving rise to clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Joining Ian Williams by the car parks steps, I was very pleased to see 3 very freshly-plumaged juvenile ARCTIC TERNS that DB and SR had discovered at 1600 hours. All 3 birds were showing very well and were patrolling the east shore back and forth.

There was also an additional REEVE feeding on the main spit - a fifth juvenile present on the reservoir - and making 8 in total with the 3 Startop's birds.

Little Egrets again numbered 18, whilst 15 Pied Wagtails were noted and a Common Kingfisher.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Marlow today

The four juvenile LITTLE TERNS remained at Spade Oak GP until 0730 hours before flying off east............

Later, Dave Cleal witnessed a major arrival of waders late afternoon, including a TURNSTONE, RUFF, 4 COMMON GREENSHANK and a DUNLIN. All but the Turnstone quickly moved on...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


A WOOD SANDPIPER was on the bund at Linford NR this evening (Rob Hill)


Warren Claydon had 3 COMMON REDSTARTS at Calvert BBOWT today whilst a male remained at Stowe Castle for a second day. The latter site also held 2 WHINCHATS and another was seen in Prestwood.

LITTLE TERNS forced upriver by heavy rain and increasing easterly winds


Well, according to leading weatherman Michael Fish, the Chilterns Reigion was supposed to have received thunderstorms and flash flooding from about 2am this morning but it never materialised. Instead, we got a switch in the wind from Northeast to East, overcast conditions and just a little bit of light drizzle......

Expecting a real feast of rarities locally, I was out nice and early but it was all largely to no avail - the reservoirs seemingly not picking up a single new migrant other than a Wheatear. The saviour however was Master Adam Bassett - and his unprecedented arrival of LITTLE TERNS in the South of the county (Buckinghamshire). These birds remained all day to the delight of many........

(Several visits during the day, both morning and afternoon)


Surprisingly nothing new in the way of migrants arrived overnight other than a single NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the North Bank.......

Remaining waders included the 3 juvenile RUFFS and 1 REEVE, the 2 juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (now located on the SE shore), 3 adult RINGED PLOVERS (perhaps tundriae), Green Sandpiper, 13 COMMON GREENSHANKS and 330 Lapwing, as well as 14 Little Egrets.

The Black Tern had departed and there was little change in wildfowl numbers - 5 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall and a marked increase to 78 Teal.

In the Cemetery Corner field, there were a gathering of 22 Chaffinch and a single Linnet and a migrant juvenile Willow Warbler was working its way along a hedgerow (see image above).


Almost birdless - 2 Mute Swans and 2 Great Crested Grebes


The 2 adult WHOOPER SWANS remained, as did 4 Mute Swans, whilst 6 Great Crested Grebes were also counted and 3 Little Egrets were feeding on the mud. RED-CRESTED POCHARDS now numbered 4, comprising of 2 eclipse drakes, a female and a single juvenile. The main Coot flock numbered 194 whilst a pair in the NW corner (one parent being one of the piebald individuals) was feeding two very young chicks.


Tringford hosted 9 roosting Grey Herons, just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 22 Tufted Ducks and a further 70 Coot


Just what has happened to College Lake? The water levels are very high and both the marsh and main lake are birdless - just 2 Mute Swans noted.

(Accessed from Church Lane)

After receiving an initial call from Adam Bassett informing me of the presence of no less than 4 LITTLE TERNS at Spade Oak, I waited for his second call before making the move. Little Terns have a knack of staying just short spells of time before moving on but today we were lucky. Although John Edwards got a good headstart on me from Wilstone, I somehow arrived in Church Lane before him and was watching the four birds by midday. They were feeding over the extreme east end of the pit, along with 23 Common Terns, and by walking around the southern perimeter footpath was able to enjoy excellent views of them with local birder Malcolm Parrish. All four individuals were JUVENILE, unusual in itself and the group perhaps representing the highest single flock ever recorded in the county. Their small size was very evident, especially compared with the Common Terns, and their flight action was very evident - very fast with rapid wingbeats. They were also keen on plunge-diving - frequently successful in catching tiny silver fish. Unlike adult birds, all four of these were wholly dark-billed, with a distinct black leading edge to the upperwings and contrasting light grey covert bar and whiter secondaries and primary bases (forming a distinct wedge in flight). All had a very short, heavily forked tail and a gleaming white rump and upper tail. The amount of black on the crown was variable between individuals and some even still had the buffish wash to the forecrown of very young plumage.

Interestingly, Howard Vaughan and others had watched a party of 5 Little Terns fly upriver on the Thames at Rainham Marsh RSPB in Essex early morning and speculating, it is quite feasible that these were the same birds.

Although I left the site at 1306 hours, all four birds were still present at 1600 hours - all in all an exceptional occurrence.....

Other species noted included 14 Great Crested Grebes (including a pair tending two small chicks and a further adult with a single youngster), a single Little Egret, 39 Egyptian Geese, 61 Tufted Ducks, a pair of Northern Pochard, 12 Common Teal, 1 Shoveler, 378 Lapwings, a single COMMON SNIPE and a female Pied Wagtail.


Just the adult pair of Egyptian Geese left now and a pair of Moorhen feeding two tiny young.


Whilst at Wilstone this afternoon, I had an altercation with an East European who was illegally 'spinning' with a fishing rod and was attempting to capture a Mute Swan. I asked him what he was up to and he claimed to not understand but after informing him ''no, no, no'', he quickly made off in a white van registration ''T 420 CRV''

I must also inform you all to be extra vigilant when parking - a car was broken into at Marsworth today and Steve Rodwell also had his car window smashed relatively locally on Friday afternoon

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Red Letter Day in the Local Area - LGRE Diary Notes


With a steady SSE breeze blowing and part-cloudy skies, I knew today was going to be special - it had that feel to it. Being bereft of any avian enjoyment since Friday, I was ready for action and committed a day to slogging the local patches - and furthermore Steve Rodwell was back and work and out of play.........

(0940-1320 hours)

Despite feeling very warm, there was enough dark clouds in the sky to thwart migrating birds over the Chilterns and as usual in such conditions, today the reservoirs acted as a magnet.....

Looking to the skies throughout the morning, it soon became apparent that many raptors were migrating, mostly in a west or SSW direction. Pride of place went to an adult OSPREY that came through late morning, being slowly harassed by corvids as it flew at great height slowly west and then SSW across the reservoir. I picked it up initially over Wilstone village (from the Drayton Bank Hide) and managed to get all other 8 occupants in the hide on to it before it drifted away towards Drayton Beauchamp. Two different juvenile MARSH HARRIERS also came through, neither even pausing to check out the mud or reedbeds, and simply flying from NE to SW and making a beeline for the Wendover escarpment. A steady stream of Red Kite and Common Buzzard was apparent (at least 16 of the former and 11 of the latter, the Common Buzzards of which all were juvenile) with 2 Sparrowhawks (probably of local origin) also seen.

Steve Rodwell's BLACK TERN was also still present and was a pristine juvenile (second day). It frequently settled and joined the ever-growing daytime gull roost on the mud left of the hide, which this morning hosted two different very fresh juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULLS, 216 Black-headed Gulls and 16 Lesser Black-backed Gulls; 25 Common Terns remained too.

Waders were also exciting with the arrival of 4 RUFFS at 0945 (all juvenile, with three males and one female) - joining a throng of 13 COMMON GREENSHANKS (mostly juvenile), two juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, a single juvenile DUNLIN, 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers and 330 Lapwing.

Since my visit last week, there was also a marked increase in wildfowl numbers with Common Teal up to 43, Shoveler to 17, Gadwall to 18, Wigeon to 8 and Northern Pochard to an impressive 30, whilst 14 LITTLE EGRETS were tricking the last few remaining fish in the shallow SE quarter into submission by their continual foot-paddling.

There was a constant procession of hirundines migrating, with over 190 Barn Swallows south during the morning and 85 House Martins, whilst a Common Chiffchaff was in song in the NW corner and a juvenile COAL TIT was in the Poplars just west of the car park.

A Grey Wagtail and 27 Mute Swans were also noted, as were both Chinese Water Deer......


Having great expectations, I walked from the south end of Aldbury Nowers north and east along the Icknield Way to the east end of Gallows Hill - a distance of over 10 miles in total. Was it worth it - yes - as the highlight was a very vocal and stonking fresh male COMMON REDSTART showing very well in the isolated five Hawthorn bushes on the slope above Brook Statnall's Wood at Pitstone Hill, about 350 yards SW along the Icknield Way from the main car park. It was a gorgeous bird - and so showy.

The only other migrants noted, apart from one flock of 24 Barn Swallows, were 2 juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEARS - one on the fenceline just SE of the trig point at the Beacon and another on the fence by the Sheep Pen.

Two Brown Hares were sighted at Gallows Hill, whilst butterflies included a good number of Meadow Brown and Small Heath, 20 Chalkhill Blues and single Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.


As the evening progressed, a thick band of darker cloud cover encroached from the south - a precursor of some seriously wet weather expected overnight. Despite an extensive search, there was no sign of the female Common Redstart - the only migrants apparent being 2 juvenile WILLOW WARBLERS, 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a juvenile Blackcap and a Common Chiffchaff.

Of the residents, the female MANDARIN DUCK was still present - this evening venturing out on the grass to graze.....

Also 7 Little Grebes (4 juveniles) (but again no sign of any GCG's), the Mute Swan family (6 surviving cygnets), now 4 NORTHERN POCHARDS (female and 3 drakes), 3 Tufted Duck, Common Kestrel, pair of Stock Dove, 2 Common Magpies, Nuthatch, 3 Great Tits, 12 Long-tailed Tits, 15 Blue Tits, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, 13 Goldfinch and COMMON KINGFISHER

If all goes to plan, tomorrow should be very exciting.........WATCH THIS SPACE

Weekend Summary

COMMON REDSTARTS continue to be the talking point with at least 3 still at Rowsham, up to 5 on the Ivinghoe Hills Nature Reserve, up to 8 on Quainton Hills and single females at Dorney Lake and Shardeloes Lake.

Warren Claydon had 2 WHINCHATS at Lodge Hill Farm, whilst a HAWFINCH flew over Middle Claydon

Large fall of NORTHERN WHEATEARS in Milton Keynes

No less than 11 NORTHERN WHEATEARS in car park/parents parking bays of Priory Rise School, Snelshall West, M/Keynes Saturday morning (per Graham Irving)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Major fall on Quainton Hills

Quainton Hills today produced no less than 9 COMMON REDSTARTS and 17 Northern Wheatears, along with WHINCHAT, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and an excellent selection of warblers (per Warren Claydon)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Having had a couple of unsuccesful days out, it was nice to see some birds today. First up was a family party of FIRECRESTS just inside the main entrance opposite the Feathers pub. 7 or 8 were calling in holly just to the left of the entrance.All were typically elusive and impossible to see, bar one, a scruffyadult that fltted about in twigs just above my head. so close I had good views without bins. Further into the estate I connected with another family party of similar number, counted on calls. With 4 more picked up on call around the estate 20 was a minimum. My largest total on the estate. Goldcrest were noticeable by their absence with only 4 possibles. No Firecrests encountered by the Orangry Restuarant but a lively family of Coal tits, entertained.

I was going to give Mike's redstarts another go but heavy traffic into Amersham changed my plans and I stopped off at Shardeloes Lake. Initially I had 2 Spot flys at the end of the lake with several Willow/Chiff around. After a walk further along I returned and found 3 Spot flys just to the west of the lake end where the Willows pull back and there is a sedge patch in front. But on viewing the lakeend again I could only find 1. So 4 or 5 in total (Dave Cleal)

Monday, 8 August 2011



A very autumnly feel to the weather today, with quite strong and cool NW winds and grey, overcast skies for much of the time.........

Another freshly killed Badger I am afraid - this time on the A404 at Hazlemere, by the plantation there at SU 897 958


Both male and female COMMON REDSTARTS were still present in a very blustery Incombe Hole whilst on the recently cut fields, two different YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were located with the Lesser Black-backs - an adult with 60 birds in the main field east of the Beacon car park and a 2nd-winter with just a dozen birds in the field below Steps Hill - both presumably birds found at the weekend by David Bilcock. There was also at least one of the colour-ringed Norwegian Lesser Black-backed Gulls still in the area.


Returned once again to Rowsham mid-afternoon where remarkably no less than 6 COMMON REDSTARTS remain in the area - just what is it that is keeping birds here?

Three adult males remained in the main hedgerow leading SE from the derelict buildings of Ridgway (as far as the chalk mounds), with another NE of there in the corner of the field with the new pile of fence wire and two female/immatures in the vicinity of the dried-up pond literally by the buildings. All of the adult males were still in very good plumage condition and birds continue to be very vocal.

Apart from the redstarts, little other migrant activity, but 22 Swallows still around the farm buildings at the end of Bennett's Lane, a juvenile Pied Wagtail and 8 Red Kites and 19 Linnets attracted to the setaside field now being ploughed up by the farmer.


The female PEREGRINE was in residence on the Council building at 1600 hours.


Bank's Pond, to the south of Great Missendon, was completely dry whilst neighbouring Deep Mill Pond held just 8 Coot, 8 Moorhen and a female Tufted Duck.


In very blustery conditions, migrants included 44 House Martins and the first local SAND MARTIN of the autumn. There was no sign of the recent Common Redstart nor Spotted Flycatchers.

The 4 Great Crested Grebes were still present (juvenile now independently feeding), the 4 Dabchicks, 1 Grey Heron, 62 Coot (including 7 'new' babies fledged in recent days) and an adult Song Thrush still feeding young in a nest.

Monday, 1 August 2011


At least 4 COMMON REDSTARTS remain at Rowsham, the two in Incombe Hole, Steps Hill and up to 7 on the Quainton Hills......also 1 in the Amersham Recording Area.......


A light easterly breeze blowing with some cloud but very warm temperatures - feeling very 'muggy' indeed at 81 degrees F

With over 15 COMMON REDSTARTS recorded in the county this year, it was perhaps inevitable that the Amersham Recording Area would see its first for many years this autumn. As such, Richard Birch discovered one at Shardeloes on Saturday......


The female/immature COMMON REDSTART was still present this morning, calling loudly from the small plantation that lies just to the left of the lake 80 yards beyond the first gate. The bird was very elusive and eventually flew up the slope and disappeared into the wood below Shardeloes House.

Also mid-morning, a juvenile PIED FLYCATCHER arrived in this same tiny stand of lakeside trees and showed well for about 15 minutes before too moving further up the slope and into the wood beneath Shardeloes House. It was present up to 1020 hours at least.

Further migrants came in the form of a bright juvenile WILLOW WARBLER and a party of 8 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, the latter all feeding from the tall Oak trees by the gate. A party of 3 Common Swifts flew through, as well as 8 Barn Swallows.

Little Grebes have bred locally, with two juveniles now accompanying two adults on the lake, with the 4 Great Crested Grebes on site and the continuing female MANDARIN DUCK

Also Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, juvenile Common Buzzard, Common Treecreeper and Bullfinch