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

Sunday, 30 October 2011


A juvenile COMMON SCOTER was present at Calvert BBOWT Lake this evening (Tim Watts)


The GREAT WHITE EGRET was back on Motorway Pit this lunchtime amongst the Greylags on the Tern Island.

Also a Greenshank on Fishing Pit - the bird seen by Mr Coppock a fortnight ago ? Otherwise little of note other than a Lesser Redpoll in the Goldfinch flock on the feeders of the last house (Robert)

A phenomenal morning on the hills - WOODPIGEON passage in full swing


When Carmel and I walked home last night after a night out, the seeping sound of REDWINGS flying overhead clearly indicated that migration was in full swing. As such, I was out early on the Hills in anticipation..........

There was a bank of very clear weather to the north of the Chiltern Hills but south of there, it was thick cloud with a fairly strong SW wind. It had been very calm but cloudy overnight - following on from a gloriously fine day - ideal conditions for grounding migrants.


I positioned myself on the lower knoll shortly after 0745 hours and remained on the escarpment until 1045 hours. Passage was occurring from the outset. WOODPIGEONS were the order of the day and they were absolutely pouring through. Initially, flocks were coming in low over Gallows Hill but after a while, the main migration concentrated further to the east, with the passage continuing into the Gade Valley. A grand total of 2,747 birds was counted, with the biggest single flock of 490 birds (18 + 174 + 3 + 115 + 41 + 8 + 19 + 41 + 95 + 159 + 130 + 255 + 8 + 28 + 75 + 7 + 67 + 490 + 35 + 302 + 117 + 33 + 215 + 168 + 144). The passage continued throughout. A total of 42 STOCK DOVES was identified amongst the flocks.

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS passed over high to the west at 0815, both being mobbed by Jackdaws for a while, whilst two different WOODLARKS flew south calling - low to the contour. At 0937 hours, an immature/female MERLIN appeared over Gallows Hill and followed the line of the hills, departing west from the higher knoll just SE of the Beacon trig point.

At 0935 hours, a massive flock of 440 FIELDFARES made landfall in the Beeches from the east; they paused very briefly before continuing on, disappearing to the west over Top Scrub and Steps Hill - a further 23 (in two flocks of 5 and 18) were later seen

REDWINGS were far scarcer with just 13 noted, with just 1 dark-billed Continental Blackbird and three separate first-year RING OUZELS - all continuing westward (the latter located by their characteristic chacking call-note).

Weirdly, 2 Cormorants (an adult and juvenile) flew south over the trig, whilst the remaining species identified included -:

Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Jay (1)
Skylark (57)
Dunnock, presumably continental (arrived from the east)
Chaffinch (strong southerly passage - 159 birds in total)
Bullfinch (6)
REDPOLL species, indeterminate (7)
Yellowhammer (24 west)
CORN BUNTING (3) - presumably local birds
Common Starling (224 in total, the largest flock being of 45 birds - all migrating directly west)


Following a conversation with Neil Wright, I decided to travel north to Bedfordshire, just on the offchance that the recent Hen Harrier might still be around. Neil had found a FIRECREST so I decided to follow his directions and have a look. As it was, the flock of birds contained two FIRECRESTS - both birds showing very well in the ivy scrub fairly low down in the canopy. They were amongst a group of 8 Goldcrests, a Common Treecreeper, a Nuthatch and 10 Blue Tits - the flock being fairly mobile. The area also produced quite a few Fieldfares.

DIRECTIONS: From Ampthill town centre, drive north on the Bedford road and as you leave the town at the top of the hill, turn right on to the concrete drive to Houghton House. Drive to the end of the road and park by the houses and then continue past the pumping station and aerials to the last house and pond. Continue to the entrance to the wood and take the right hand footpath leading north and parallel to the edge of the wood. Continue for a further 300 yards and just 70 yards before the metal gate - the flock is in this area

Friday, 28 October 2011

Still no Rock Pipit but CROSSBILL and SHORT-EARED OWL; also new record count of LITTLE EGRETS in North Bucks


What a fabulous day. From start to finish, winds were light and variable, with clear blue skies and bright, warm sunshine. Difficult to believe it was the end of October

I put in a full day today trying to catch up with some Buckinghamshire Yearticks. Frustratingly, didn't bother with Calvert, where the Red-necked Grebe remains present......


Despite an exhaustive search, no sign of yesterday's Scandinavian Rock Pipit between the 500 and 750 metre markers, just 18 Meadow Pipits, 15 Skylarks and a first-winter COMMON KINGFISHER. Dave Cleal had also photographed a littoralis at the same site on 11 October.


I met up with Dave Cleal in Branch Lane, at the north end of Woolman's Wood. We then spent the next 40 minutes in the wood, made up of deciduous and coniferous trees, as well as much Holly and other shrub understorey. This was the first time I had ever birded this wood and I was very impressed with the results.

The highlight was COMMON CROSSBILL - four birds, two males and two females, showing well at the top of the Douglas Firs, extracting pine seeds from the cones. Two birds also flew overhead but may have been the same birds.

BULLFINCHES were also very much in evidence in the wood with at least 6 seen/heard and as expected FIRECREST - at least two birds being heard. A SISKIN flew over.

Other species noted included Red Kite, Jay, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush (1), Coal Tit (4), Nuthatch (3) and Goldcrest (12+). A Red Admiral and a late Speckled Wood were also noted.


Wilstone Reservoir did not yield either Water Pipit or the 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipits - just 4 Meadow Pipits. New in was a single DUNLIN on the main bund, whilst EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS numbered 206, a COMMON SNIPE was roosting, NORTHERN PINTAIL had increased to 9 (5 drakes) and both Jay and BLACKCAP were noted in the East Hedgerow. Counts included 4 Little Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 39 Mute Swans (including the colour-ringed family from the Grand Union Canal).

At Startop's End Reservoir, just 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained (2 drakes), with 16 Great Crested Grebes, 56 Eurasian Wigeon and 2 Common Gulls (adult and first-winter) also sighted.

Tringford Reservoir was the lowest I had seen it since the early 1980's and consequently it harboured 4 Little Egrets, a GREEN SANDPIPER, 2 Mute Swans, 62 Common Teal and 25 Shoveler.


No sign of the Ring Ouzel seen earlier by the Beacon summit and no sign of a juvenile Hen Harrier seen quartering the fields below Gallows Hill for 45 minutes before I arrived; it had drifted off east


Late afternoon saw me observing what must be a new county record of roosting LITTLE EGRETS - no less than 29 of them crammed into the Willows of the two islands at the north end. Certainly well exceeds my previous highest total of 17. The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET was also with them and showing very well - initially on the main bund before moving to a Willow housing two Little Egrets. The three birds had an altercation, with the Great White stabbing out at the two Little Egrets.

There were also 95 Cormorants roosting on the bund, with 6 Little Grebes, 21 Mute Swans, 252 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 27 Teal and 42 Shoveler being counted.

At 1616 hours, a cracking SHORT-EARED OWL rose up from the rough fields adjacent to Swans Way and affording outstanding views for over 20 minutes as it hunted back and forth - my first of the year.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Recent News

Dave Cleal had a ROCK PIPIT at Dorney Lakes today, whilst a SHORT-EARED OWL remains for its third day at Linford NR

Sunday, 23 October 2011

An excellent day

The long-staying GREAT WHITE EGRET remains at Linford NR today whilst nearby a drake COMMON SCOTER was on Haversham Pit (Andy Harding).

A RING OUZEL was briefly on Ivinghoe Beacon (Mike Campbell), with the drake COMMON SCOTER still on College Lake BBOWT and a RED-NECKED GREBE on Calvert Sailing Lake

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Foxcote WeBS

The water levels at Foxcote Reservoir are as low as I've seen them for at least a couple of years, but despite this the number of wildfowl is impressive. Doing my monthly WEBS count this afternoon there were 473 wigeon, 461 coot, 427 lapwing, 55 gadwall, 51 mallard, 32 teal, 20 tufted duck, 15 shoveler, 11 mute swan, 8 moorhen, 2 great crested grebe, 2 goldeneye (fem) and 1 greylag goose.

I'm assuming the low numbers of tufted duck, great crested grebe and absence of pochard are due to lower water levels. Despite the abundance of exposed mud, the only wader I could find (except for the roosting lapwing) was a single green sandpiper.

As I left at 17:15, gull numbers were building but I counted 635 black-headed gull, 35 LBB gull and 7 common gull.

Bill Parker


Not a bad day at College Lake today - the adult drake COMMON SCOTER from Wilstone ended up spending most of the day on the main lake, obviously feeding well, and was still there at 5pm. Also, 7 Pintails and good numbers of wigeon, pochard, tufted duck and shoveler. Highlight of the day though was a SHORT-EARED OWL which was actually spotted thermaling at around 250 ft with five buzzards. Personally I have never seen anything like this and for a time doubted my ID skills! Good numbers of fieldfare going through all day, and redwings around the hedgerows around the reserve (Paul Reed)

The COMMON SCOTER was still present at dusk, showing very well in the bay adjacent to the Ogtagonal Hide, whilst the gull roost held 880 birds, including 550 Black-headed, a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN, 5 Common, 17 Herring, 226 Lesser Black-backed and 3 YELLOW-LEGGED (Lee Evans)


At Gayhurst Pits today in North Bucks, a party of 6 wild adult WHOOPER SWANS was present, as well as the long-staying adult GREAT WHITE EGRET

First COMMON GOLDENEYS of the autumn

Highlight of a walk around Willen this morning were 4 Common Goldeneye. 2 on South Lake and 2 North Lake. Duck numbers starting to build with good numbers of Wigeon, Tufted, Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler. 6 Little Grebe on North, but not much else.(Rob Norris)

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Adam Bassett saw the juvenile ARCTIC TERN at Spade Oak Pit, Marlow, this morning whilst Rod Scalfe discovered a 'BRENT GOOSE' at Calvert BBOWT this afternoon......

Large numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing are also on the move

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Adam Bassett had a late COMMON GREENSHANK drop in briefly at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow, this morning, whilst at least 1 first-year Yellow-legged Gull remained in the roost

A single WHINCHAT remained with Common Stonechats just SE of Ivinghoe Beacon