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

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A tour of North Bucks and North Beds


What a day. Rain, rain and even more rain. It started shortly after first light and then became very heavy for two hours or more before turning into drizzle - and then continuing on and off for the rest of the day. Visibility was often awful - down to 75 yards on occasions - and keeping optics clear was a major obstacle to overcome.

Anyway, I risked the conditions and spent the day trying to find some target birds, namely the long-staying Great White Egret, Pintail, Willow Tit, Red-crested Pochard and a few other species. I was half successful.....


Following up on some sightings by Don Stone and Dave Cleal of last week whilst I was away, I was particularly pleased, despite the attrocious weather conditions, to find the wintering flock of plovers east of Little Hundridge Lane (in SP 92 01). The birds are commuting between the large ploughed field immediately east of the lane and the grass fields west of Hundridge Manor and are in numbers not recorded in my area since at least 1987. The LAPWING flock numbers 112 birds whilst the EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (in two distinct groups) total an astonishing 658 birds. This is an exceptional record, with both species being particularly scarce in my Recording Area. Full marks to Don for locating them.

Two Common Buzzards and 2 Red Kites were also present in the area.


Checked out a report of a pair of Ruddy Ducks and found that they were captive birds, the same lake also housing a drake Common Eider and a Coscoroba Swan. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldcrest were of interest.

Nearby, just east of Haybinders House, a dead Badger was besides the A41 at SP 730 175


My first visit to this site this year and in heavy rain and viewing from the hide, highlight was a dapper adult drake PINTAIL to the left of the hide - my first in the county this year

Other wildfowl included an exceptional 185 Common Teal, with just 28 Eurasian Wigeon, 28 Tufted Duck, 8 Northern Pochard and 8 Common Goldeneye (2 adult drakes), whilst other species present included just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 6 Atlantic Canada Geese, 108 Coot, 34 Lapwing and a female Reed Bunting.

Just east of the reservoir, 20 noisy House Sparrows were in the garden of Cobblestone, Leckhampstead (SP 728 373


Pride of place went to the 6 GOOSANDERS (3 adult drakes, 3 adult females), with 41 Lapwings and 8 Common Gulls roosting on the islands.


No sign, in an exhaustive search (and in improving weather conditions) of the wintering adult Great White Egret but 5 Grey Herons prospecting and repairing nests on the island, 44 Mute Swans, 65 Common Teal, 85 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 28 Tufted Duck and 11 Northern Pochard.

Bumped into Rose & Mike Collard and Dave Parmenter and shortly later enjoyed excellent views of the apparent WILLOW TIT and 2 MARSH TITS at the Woodland Hide, very frequently visiting the freshly restocked feeders and birdtable. A Jay was also noted.

Visited both WILLEN LAKES and GAYHURST QUARRY (NORTH BUCKS LOCATIONS) but very little of note - 12 Common Goldeneye at the former and Stock Dove, 1 Little Egret, c300 Greylag Geese, 106 Mute Swans, 136 Mallard, 35 Wigeon, 20 Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested Grebe, Green Woodpecker and a single Rob Norris at the latter. Again, no sign of the Great White Egret.

At STOKE GOLDINGTON nearby, still no Tree Sparrows - a species still to be recorded in Bucks in 2012. The feeders were fully topped up but just Chaffinch, Greenfinch (8) and Great and Blue Tits were visiting them. A Mistle Thrush was also in the village.


I checked the two lakes visible from the A 509, with 6 GOOSANDERS (2 adult drakes), 4 Mute Swans, 15 Tufted Duck, 24 Coot and 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS being noted.

Nearby, at Olney Water Meadows, there was no sign of the 22 Barnacle Geese seen recently - just 80 Atlantic Canada Geese.


Being in North Bucks, I decided to spend the remaining hours of daylight in North Bedfordshire, with the sole aim of finding Red-crested Pochard and Pintail......

Harrold-Odell lake was full of wildfowl including no less than 126 Mute Swans (including orange-ringed adults numbers '387' and '392'), 91 Atlantic Canada Geese, 89 Wigeon, 48 Mallard, 38 Gadwall, 44 Tufted Duck and 7 Great Crested Grebes. Highlight was another pair of GOOSANDERS. No Red-crested Pochards though.


On the Viaduct Pit at the west end (TL 004 587), I did not find the two drake Pintails of last Sunday but did find 2 adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARDS. Feasting on the beet thrown out for them at the SW end were 3 EGYPTIAN GEESE, 2 Bar-headed Geese and a large number of Wigeon and Teal, whilst Mute Swan numbers here peaked at 36, with 73 on neighbouring Pit 5 and 15 more on additional pits. A few Shoveler were also seen.


The rain returned in the late afternoon so I decided to give up but was pleased to see a LITTLE EGRET on the roadside pits as I drove along the Kempston Bypass.