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, 5 November 2011

SLAV still present - and GREENSHANK finally secured on Year List


A switch overnight in the wind direction. Although slack at first light, a Northeasterly set in during the day, eventually clearing away the thick fog encountered in much of Hertfordshire.........


I returned in much better light conditions to Spade Oak, where the SLAVONIAN GREBE was still present fishing close to the main island. It was fairly elusive, and diving frequently, but on one occasion swam away from the island and headed once more to the Willows in the SE corner of the pit. On closer views, the redness of the eye was apparent, although the lack of a clear demarcation line on the crown and a pale tip to the bill suggested a young bird. Although obviously a small grebe when compared to the Great Crested Grebes, the stark contrast between the gleaming white underparts and the black upperparts ruled out Black-necked Grebe, as well as the flatter crown (no central peak) and the heavier and straighter bill. It was also longer and thicker-necked, and much whiter in the neck.

The water level was particularly high on the pit, with the perimeter trail quite muddy with the recent heavy rains. Also recorded were the following species -:

Great Crested Grebe (21)
Cormorant (54 on the island)
Grey Heron (7)
Greylag Geese (132 including a leucistic bird)
Egyptian Geese (pair)
Mallard (31)
Common Teal (76)
Wigeon (19)
Gadwall (3)
Shoveler (17)
Tufted Duck (168)
Northern Pochard (23)
Coot (26)
Lapwing (217)
Common Gull (4)
Common Kingfisher (2)
Grey Wagtail (3)
Mistle Thrush (4)


Joined Ray Hooper, Mike Ilett, Brendan Glynn and Chris Stone at the former Quail site and spent two hours searching for Alan Reynold's Merlin. Once again, we drew a blank and once again, the Sparrowhawk was sat in the fields, and 2 Common Buzzards. The covey of 14 GREY PARTRIDGE were still present, along with 32 Red-legged Partridge, as well as 2 European Golden Plovers, 38 Skylark and a flock of 400 Common Starlings. The aforementioned observers all saw the Kelshall GREAT GREY SHRIKE at Coombe Road later too.


After failing to find Stuart Warren's female Black Redstart in East Road, Langford, I headed up to North Bucks where at long last, thanks to Rob Norris, I finally connected with a COMMON GREENSHANK in the county this year. Pretty pathetic I know, but despite Wilstone getting bumper numbers this autumn, Buckinghamshire in general has had relatively few. Anyhow, this bird which has been present for at least a month was still feeding along the muddy edge at the extreme east end of the pit to the right (east) of the footpath. The long-staying adult GREAT WHITE EGRET was also still present on the shallow pit just east of Motorway Pit.


A mid-afternoon visit to Swan's Way yielded just 12 Little Egrets in the roosting Willows and 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS flying high over the rough ground by the ruins. Both birds were being constantly disturbed by a myriad of dogwalkers, joggers and walkers - dogs running all over the site and flushing them up out of the grass.


Late afternoon saw me arrive at Calvert and after a 20 minute search, I eventually located the COMMON SCOTER that has been present for several days. The presence of dusky white underparts (belly) confirmed my suspicions that it was a JUVENILE, although I was surprised by the amount of contrast in the cheek patches. The bill was all dark. Warren had warned me how elusive it was and I eventually found it hugging the NW bank close to the reeds.

The Sailing Lake also held 11 Great Crested Grebes (including a very young, still begging juvenile), 5 Mute Swans (3 young), a pair of Wigeon, 3 Gadwall and 12 Tufted Duck, with a CETTI'S WARBLER vocal in the scrub.

The neighbouring BBOWT Reserve held 3 more Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Mute Swans, Grey Wagtail, 2 Bullfinch and 8 Goldcrests with the reedbed harbouring 13 roosting Reed Buntings and eventually 370 Common Starlings.

It was a sizeable gull roost on the Sailing lake and by 1633 hours, I had click-counted a total of 3,148 large white-headed gulls. These comprised of no less than 2,760 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (predominantly adults), just 44 Great Black-backed Gulls (just 6 first-years), 326 Herring Gulls (including at least 25% Argentatus), 14 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (12 adults, 1 2nd-winter and 1 first-winter) and 4 different CASPIAN GULLS (a lovely adult in full winter plumage, a sub-adult (4th/5th winter-type), a 2nd-winter and a first-winter). In addition were two adult-type 'hooded' Lesser Black-backed Gulls closely resembling Azorean Atlantic Gulls.