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, 12 February 2012

Another red letter day in the ice


After yesterday's record breaking overnight temperature of -18 degrees in Chesham, last night was far milder at just -10 degrees. Lots of lying snow still and most waterbodies completely covered in ice. With the wind in the north, temperatures did surprisingly recover to 2 degrees, and the snow started to melt.

After recovering from yet more depressing news (Whitney Houston being found dead in her Hollywood flat at just 48 years old - Carmel and I first met dancing to one of her greatest hits in 1987), I eventually ventured out at 1100 hours. It proved to be another exciting day locally.........


Highlights this morning in the garden included 2 Common Buzzards, 1 Red Kite, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 3 Goldfinches......


Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs still completely iced over with restricted ice-free areas on Wilstone and Startop's End

WILSTONE RESERVOIR was my first port of call, the grassy fields in Cemetery Corner harbouring 70 Greylags and the continuing DARK-BELLIED BRENT as well as 91 Atlantic Canadas

Checking the open water yielded 17 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Mute Swans, 42 Mallard, 258 Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 337 Common Teal, a single drake Shoveler, 5 SMEWS (1 drake and 4 redheads) and 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

But it was the waders that stole the show with a RED KNOT on the ice until 1314 hours (it eventually flew and circled round several times calling loudly before being watched as a speck over Drayton Beauchamp and into Bucks airspace), a single DUNLIN slipping and sliding about on the ice close to the Drayton Bank and hide and an incredibly confiding BLACK-TAILED GODWIT feeding with grazing ducks in the Cemetery Corner.

The WATER PIPIT was also showing well in Cemetery Corner, along with 2 Pied Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail, and a Common Buzzard flew over.

A Chinese Water Deer was feeding by the reedbed whilst a Red Fox ran right across the ice to the centre bund.

At STARTOP'S END, the male SNOW BUNTING was showing very well in the far NE corner of the reservoir and well into Bucks, and the single redhead SMEW I found earlier this week was still present (see Dave Hutchinson's excellent shots above).

I did a thorough check of the 47 Mute Swans present (11 first-years) for rings. Sadly orange 032 was on his own and without his progeny, whilst metal ringed adults included W29266 and M12946 (another I could only read part of the ring).. Otherwise, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Wigeon, 31 Tufted Duck, 103 Pochard and an adult drake COMMON GOLDENEYE.

(Mike Wallen had earlier had a flock of Goosander and Smew fly over)

(WeBS count)

Never before had I seen most of the deep pit frozen and no wonder wildfowl are really starting to suffer. I did a full inventory of birds present with the following results -:

No Great Crested Grebes but 1 Little Grebe present
6 Mute Swans including 3 youngsters
87 Mallard
78 Wigeon
3 Common Teal
48 Gadwall
92 Tufted Duck
86 Pochard
The 3 female Common Goldeneyes
92 Coot
303 Black-headed Gulls
18 Common Gulls
3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
(an adult LITTLE GULL had been present earlier)


Met up with Dan Forder and eventually enjoyed views of 2 WATER RAILS, a fabulous JACK SNIPE and a drake NORTHERN PINTAIL with 6 Common Teal, the latter first found by Lucy Flower yesterday.

Also 2 Little Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, a pair of Wigeon, 10 Gadwall and 2 Grey Wagtails