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, 23 January 2012

Neighboring rares in Oxfordshire and a gull-feast at Hedgerley


The fierce Northwesterly wind had dropped overnight and had moderated down to little more than a force 3. It was still cold though and very grey and overcast........

Having survived my eight days ''Round Britain Tour'' and feeling over the moon at connecting with my first-ever Little Auk in Buckinghamshire, I spent part of today birding in Oxfordshire, where two ''first-rate rarities'' were on offer in the form of a GREY PHALAROPE and an overwintering TEMMINCK'S STINT. On the way back, I stopped off to survey the landfill gulls at Hedgerley..........


The GREY PHALAROPE present since Friday was showing exceptionally well on Farmoor I, favouring the east bank and literally the section adjacent to the main car park. It was continuously covering a 200 yard stretch of reservoir, culminating in reaching the feather flotsam washing up against the 'pier'. It would then fly back and follow the same routine over and over again. the views were exceptional - down to just 10 yards - and an assortment of photographers were having a field day.

the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was also present on Farmoor I, as well as 25 Great Crested Grebes and 4 Little Grebes, whilst neighbouring Farmoor II held just 4 Common Goldeneye (2 drakes) and 15 Tufted Ducks; Cormorant, Coot and Pied Wagtail were recorded also


With Tar Lakes, this nature reserve is a 30 hectare site incorporating three lakes that are being managed by Smiths Bletchington for the benefit of wildlife. It is situated on Cogges Lane, accessed from the east end of Witney.

An unseasonal TEMMINCK'S STINT has been present here since its discovery on Saturday and today was showing well on the narrow strips of emergent vegetation at the north end of the lake. It was often bullied by a much larger male Pied Wagtail and was the only wader to be found at the site.

Also seen were Great Crested and Little Grebes, 8 Cormorant, 1 Common Shelduck, 59 Wigeon, 13 Common Teal, 11 Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, 6 Northern Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Common Treecreeper, 5 Redwing and 8 Long-tailed Tits.


What was presumably last winter's returning DIPPER was showing exceptionally well this afternoon on the River Windrush just downstream of the mill at New Mill, about 1.5 miles west of Witney.


This last week, refuse is being dumped at the west end of the landfill and this area can easily be overlooked from the isolated conifer plantation, 250 yards south of the M40 and adjacent to the footpath that runs down the western flank of the council site.

I pitched up at about 1400 hours to find several thousand gulls present - in fact over 4,500 birds. As they were feeding over the newly arrived rubbish, the views were very good and many birds were flighting to an adjacent sandy ridge to roost and preen. Most impressive was the presence of no less than 147 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS - a scarce species in my area.

I 'scoped back and forth and eventually located a selection of rare birds amongst the throng; a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL was quickly followed by a very white, pale-based billed 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL, whilst of three different adult-type CASPIAN GULLS present was a green-ringed individual, presumably of Polish origin. There were also a large number of Herring Gulls present, many adult Argenteus now completely white-hooded in appearance, with 1,400 or more present including over half that number being juveniles. Perhaps just 20% were streak-hooded northern Argentatus. There were very few Lesser Black-backed Gulls present - just 37 - and not one Common Gull.

Just 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were picked out - two first-winters and a third-winter - with the rest of the throng being made up of about 2,900 Black-headed Gulls.

Other scavenging species included 57 Red Kites and an array of corvids whilst 5 Linnets, 15 Chaffinches, 17 Pied Wagtails, Fieldfare and my first Bucks Meadow Pipit of the year was noted

Chris Hazell drove down and joined me at about 1600 hours and caught the tail-end of the flock before they were all frightened away from the tip by loud bird-scarers. He managed to see the Iceland Gull but everything else scattered