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, 29 September 2011

STONECHAT at last, whilst temperatures break new record


What a sweltering day ! With temperatures hitting a high of 28 degrees C mid-afternoon, this was the highest late September temperature recorded since records began. A light SSE breeze was blowing, with wall-to-wall sunshine throughout............


I did an extensive trawl of the hills, mainly in the hope of seeing the Common Stonechat of the last two days or a late passing Honey Buzzard. As it was, I managed neither, and birding was particularly slow in the steamy conditions.

The highlight was a single FIRECREST in Top Scrub, with 3 British Coal Tits, 4 Goldcrests, 12 Chaffinches, 4 Bullfinch and 30 Meadow Pipits recorded in over three hours

Many late butterflies were on the wing including a newly emerged Brimstone, numerous Peacocks and large numbers of Speckled Woods


Scorching hot in the early afternoon with most birds sitting out in the shade. All 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS were still present, including one drake starting to look dapper, along with 9 Little Egrets and 2 newly-arrived juvenile Little Grebes.

All 3 HOBBIES were still on site, whilst a migrant juvenile Common Buzzard drifted over being chased by 7 marauding Jackdaws.

The CETTI'S WARBLER was in song from the southern reedbed, and a male Common Chiffchaff in the East Hedge


Thanks to Warren Claydon, I eventually tracked down a migrant COMMON STONECHAT - a nice male in the top hedgerow along the Ridgeway - my first in the county this year. There were also 6 migrant NORTHERN WHEATEARS present in the recently tilled fields, as well as 2 Yellowhammers and 16 Linnets.


Not much of note other than 10 Common Teal, a female Tufted Duck and 18 Lapwings.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

BLACK TERN at Foxcote

A juvenile BLACK TERN around all afternoon, 250 Lapwing, 1 Green sandpiper, 1 female Red-crested pochard, about 10 Shoveler and a guesstimated 50 Wigeon which seems early (per Chris Coppock)

GREAT WHITE EGRET still around.........

Did my usual walk around Gayhurst Quarry this morning. While up at Quarryhall I noticed a large white bird drop down onto the river alongside Fishing Pit. Thought it was too big for Little Egret so I took a walk along the river. After flushing 2 Little Egrets and a Heron I presumed I had been mistaken, but a little further on another bird got up, this time no mistake, a bigger bird with a big yellow bill. GREAT WHITE EGRET - finally a patch tick!

It flew off down river, so guess it is lurking somewhere between Gayhurst Quarry and Lathbury. Unfortunately there is no public access to this area - I have permission as this is where I did my BTO Breeding Bird Survey - but interesting that it is still around.

Elsewhere on site of note, a dozen Teal, 4 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Grey Wagtail, 2 Blackcap and overhead movement of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Swallow. Also of interest I found a dead Black-headed Gull bearing a Danish ring. Will send off the details and see what comes back (Rob Norris)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Brief SANDWICH TERN - a nice bonus


A pleasant SW breeze blew throughout the day accompanied by long bright periods and warm temperatures. Bird of the day for me was an adult SANDWICH TERN discovered by Adam Bassett.......


Marlow Bottom birder Adam Bassett 'phoned me at 1035 hours to inform me that he was watching a SANDWICH TERN at Little Marlow. Being the first in the county this year, I jumped into the car and sped down, arriving just before 1100 hours........

Fortunately, Adam was still keeping tabs on the bird and as I walked up to him, I watched it disappear behind the main island. It soon reappeared to the left and over the next ten minutes, flew in and out of view at the far eastern end of the lake. It was a moulting adult and still had a bright yellow tip to its all-dark bill as well as some black on the shaggy crown behind the extensive white forehead. Otherwise, it was very pale and unmarked on the upperparts and gleaming white below, with a very shallow forked white tail. At 1113 hours, the bird appeared right over Adam and I's heads at the west end and flew strongly west over the sewage works compound. It was not seen again.

Also of interest was a juvenile YELLOW-LEGGED GULL roosting amongst the Argenteus Herring Gulls - a very informative individual. Side-by-side with Herring, it was a tad smaller and slightly more elongated but with a steep sloping forehead. It had a much cleaner white head with bold dark brown streaking on the hindcrown. Although the uppertail was still retaining the buff-tipped feathers, the greater part of the tail was extensively dark chocolate-brown, heavily peppered with spotting at the base. The dark bill was heavy and thick but most diagnostic was the patterning of the tertials - plain dark brown with pale buff tip and without the prominent dark notching of the Herring Gulls. It also had more prominent barring on the chest-sides.

Otherwise, a single Bar-headed Goose was with 18 Egyptian Geese, 14 Teal and 238 Lapwings.....


This evening, Mike Hirst and Dave Bilcock had a first-winter LITTLE GULL off the car park steps but less than 20 minutes later when Steve and I arrived, it had moved through. It was not to be found on the other reservoirs either.

Another new bird was a juvenile RUFF - showing very well on the mud just left of the jetty. The single juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was also present on Drayton Lagoon, as well as 17 Little Egrets.

Feeding amongst the weed in the rapidly diminishing SE quarter were the 6 recently-arrived eclipse-plumaged NORTHERN PINTAILS, as well as just under 300 Teal, 150 Shoveler and 22 Wigeon; 31 Mute Swans were also still present in the shallows.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

GWE still there - and Foxcote

There was a single moulting summer-plumaged DUNLIN at Foxcote Reservoir this afternoon along the west shore close to where the spit would be if water levels were low enough; also 3 Red-crested Pochars still remain. Not much else of note although wildfowl numbers significantly up on August WEBS count, with 421 Coot, 190 Lapwing, 76 Wigeon, 61 Mallard, 40 Gadwall, 29 Tufted Duck, 18 Mute Swan, 11 Cormorant, 5 Shoveler, 5 Teal and 2 Pochard (Bill Parker)

Meanwhile, the GREAT WHITE EGRET continues its sojourn at Linford Lakes - where also 2 BLACK TERNS were seen this morning

The escaped YELLOW-BREASTED (AXURE) TIT in Naphill

I thought I would take this opportunity to showcase Francis Buckle's superb images of the bird. Sadly, I was contacted by the owner of the bird - it had escaped from an aviary on 10 August. At that time, it was bearing a coloured plastic ring, but obviously somehow it managed to get rid of it (although you can clearly see where it was on the left leg). I would just like to thank the owners of the cottage where it ha staken up residence for their kind hospitality.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

GREAT WHITE EGRET still at Linford

The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET still remains at Linford Nature Reserve, frequenting the bund

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Escaped Azure Tit in Buckinghamshire

An Azure Tit of presumably captive origin has been visiting a garden peanut feeder in Naphill hamlet, north of High Wycombe (Bucks) for three weeks now. The bird with its prominent yellow underparts, dusky cap and thick dark lores is sadly of the eastern form (flavipectus), often known as Yellow-breasted Tit, and considered by some authorities to be a separate species to Azure Tit. This form is very restricted in range, breeding in the Western Tien Shan and in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is surprisingly common in captivity, even breeding successfully, especially on the near Continent.

I have attached a few of Adrian Kettle's images above on the website - taken today as it visited the feeder about once every 40 minutes.

Monday, 12 September 2011


The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET remained in North Bucks at the weekend, being seen at Gayhurst Motorway Pit on Saturday and back on Linford Nature Reserve bund on Sunday.

Elsewhere, there was little of note - an OSPREY, juvenile BLACK TERN and 2 WHINCHATS at College Lake (per Paul Reed). Reports of Arctic Tern at Little Marlow related to 3 juvenile Common Terns - late-brooded on site (per Alan Stevens)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

GREY PHALAROPE briefly at Calvert

Warren Claydon had a GREY PHALAROPE at Calvert Sailing Lake this afternoon but it quickly disappeared from view.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


A EURASIAN CURLEW over Stony Stratford Nature Reserve was an unexpected sight today, during a volunteer work party. Also 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper and numerous Sand and House Martins migrating through all morning (per Martin Kincaid)

At Linford NR today, Simon Nichols alerted me to the presence of a juvenile BLACK TERN on Black Horse Lake

Sunday, 4 September 2011

GREAT WHITE EGRET still present at Linford


For the first part of the morning it was dry with leaden skies but just as midday approached, the heavens opened, giving way to just under three hours of torrential rain. As a result, there was localised flooding. Once the front had moved through, it was replaced by much fresher weather from the Northwest and largely clear skies........


The migrant flock of wagtails on the side pitch held 25 Pieds and 2 juvenile YELLOWS - the latter my first in the Recording Area this year (2 had been seen by Ed Griffiths yesterday); also 44 migrant House Martins present in the rain.


A total of 12 Pied Wagtails present


After the heavy rain had gone through, I decided to revisit Linford to try and get better views of the GREAT WHITE EGRET. Alan had refound it again this afternoon after it had flown off east at 0800 hours this morning. I arrived there at about 1730 hours in bright sunshine and excellent light conditions. The bird was showing very well - just roosting with 2 Grey Herons on the main bund. This time I could see the legs clearly - definitely no signs of any colour rings. In fact, at the upper part of the tibia, the legs were still quite pale. I could also see that the bird possessed long aigrettes, suggesting that it was an adult bird. The bill was bright orange-yellow, with lime green bare skin at the base and around the eye. It was still sat there preening at 1810 hours when I left.

Also present were a pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets, 8 Eurasian Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 133 Lapwing whilst others had seen 2 GARGANEY and a Common Sandpiper.

Just as I was about to leave the perimeter Swans Way, I received a call from Dave Bilcock - there were 20 RED KNOTS at Wilstone Reservoir........


In virtually the time it took me to drive from Linford to Wilstone, the RED KNOT flock were present - feeding voraciously on the mud to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide (see Dave's two images above). However, at 1844 hours, Steve Rodwell, Roy Hargreaves and about 7 other local observers watched all 20 birds (all apparent juveniles) suddenly take flight and fly strongly NW into Buckinghamshire. Mike and Ted Wallen who arrived literally just minutes before me only just narrowly missed out whilst I was 9 minutes out of synch - blow it, yet another batch of good local birds missed. You really need to be there every hour of daylight in such conditions !

The Knot flock had been the highlight of a surprisingly quiet weekend at the reservoirs. The juvenile LITTLE STINT was still present whilst the RINGED PLOVER flock had now increased to 15 birds, including several of which showed characters of tundrae - the northern TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER (smaller and darker and much browner in appearance). A single juvenile RUFF and COMMON GREENSHANK were still present, as well as 3 Common Sandpipers, whilst Little Egret were back up to 22 and Mike W picked up a late COMMON SWIFT with the 40 or so Sand Martins and 120 House Martins over the central bank.

A further 6 COMMON SWIFTS were hawking over the causeway at Tringford Reservoir

The weather this week promises to be unsettled and quite changeable and should produce dividends at the reservoirs........

Saturday, 3 September 2011

GREAT WHITE EGRET roosts this evening in North Bucks.........


Although mostly overcast and cloudy, temperatures climbed to 75 degrees F today. The wind remained in the southwest.....

Following calls from both Simon Nichols and Steve Whitehouse mid-evening, I made my way over to Linford Reserve in North Bucks, where Alan Nelson had located a GREAT WHITE EGRET - presumably the bird from Northants, last reported at Daventry Reservoir.....

(Permit Access Only)

After negotiating the 17 miles of northbound M1 roadworks, I eventually reached Linford Reserve, to the north of Milton Keynes, just before 2000 hours. I made my way directly to the north end of the reserve and from Swans Way, a panoramic view allowed me to watch the egrets fly in to roost. The GREAT WHITE EGRET was still skulking in thick Willow vegetation by Near Hide as I arrived but after a short while, and light rapidly failing, it joined 6 Little Egrets to roost in even thicker vegetation at the northern part of the lagoons and not, as I expected, on the usual heronry island. The Great White appeared to be unringed and was easily recognised by its much larger size and orange-yellow bill. The long legs appeared to be dark and trailed well beyond the body and tail in flight unlike the Little Egrets.

The bird remained on view until 2010 hours before dropping down and out of sight. It is the first Great White Egret I have seen in the county since the elusive and erratic wintering individual in the Chess and Misbourne valleys two years ago.

This may represent yet another opportunity to try and get this species on to the Bedfordshire list as it is assumed that some of the Willen/Linford Little Egrets visit Rookery Pit by day to feed. Let's hope this one makes the short hop............

A Tawny Owl was calling loudly as I made my way back to the car in the dark