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, 18 February 2012



The first half of the day continued very mild and drizzly, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees C. The wind remained in the SW but as the day wore on, gradually veered around to the NW, bringing with it an hour or so of heavy rain early to mid afternoon. The skies then cleared, giving rise to plummeting temperatures. An overnight frost was expected.

Today was reserved for more local target birding with species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Firecrest on the menu.......


Got in early before the bird scarers arrived and spent two hours or so carefully scrutinizing the gulls present. With a procession of refuse lorries coming in and out and offloading, there was no shortage of available food and over 2,500 gulls were scavenging through it. Most surprising, nothing of interest was found. Black-headed Gulls predominated with about 2,100 present, followed by 11 Common Gulls, just under 300 Herring Gulls (90% Argenteus), just 85 Lesser Black-backed and 17 Great Black-backed.

Walking down just beyond the footbridge, I came face-to-face with a Red Fox, whilst the scrub there yielded 25 LESSER REDPOLLS, 2 Song Thrush, 15 Redwings and several Chaffinches and Goldfinches. Two different singing male Dunnocks were noted, with a Skylark over and the MEADOW PIPIT still in the rough grass besides the track. Some 25 Pied Wagtails were in the area.

Red Kites numbered just 26 today.


No sign of any Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers at either site. In fact, very quiet, Church Wood producing 2 Nuthatches and a singing male Mistle Thrush.


After spending half an hour wandering about the woodland with no results, I came across 3 FIRECRESTS together as I approached the Woodside Road entrance. They were inhabiting the thick section of ivy, Holly and Laurel overhanging the footpath immediately behind Tinglewood Cottage and were showing very well, feeding low down in the habitat and a male in full song.


Steve Blake kindly provided me with a site for Lesser Redpoll but despite bashing about for half an hour or more, could not find any in their favoured Silver Birches. What I was most pleased with however was stumbling upon a WOODCOCK roost - no less than 5 birds in one small area of vegetation, all within 15 feet of each other. It was in an area of newly planted trees, scattered with thick Laurel scrub.

Jay, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest were the only other species noted, whilst the main pit was very quiet (not even the Shelduck), 107 Lapwings and 17 Common Gulls being of note.


This is a great little reserve and with heavy rain for a few hours, I utilised the hides for shelter. The cress beds produced 4 LITTLE EGRETS, Grey Heron, 8 Moorhens, 3 GADWALLS (2 drakes - a scarce species here), 3 Teal (2 drakes) and 4 GREEN SANDPIPERS (one of which was colour-ringed in August 2008).

A pair of Stock Doves, Jay, 6 Chaffinch, Goldcrest and 5 SISKINS were also encountered, along with 2 female Reed Buntings on Barry's feeders.


It was whilst chatting to warden Barry Trevis about one of his ringed Mute Swans I recently recorded at Tring that he tipped me off about a large flock of finches and buntings he had been trapping at Cromer Hyde (in game strips south of the village at TL 205 116). Although the weather was not particularly conducive for study, I was delighted to find 5 BRAMBLINGS in amongst the 200 Chaffinches present (my first of the year in Herts), as well as an impressive number of 140 LINNETS. There were also 70 Yellowhammers and 56 Reed Buntings in the crop and 16 Stock Doves nearby.


Two SHORT-EARED OWLS started to perform shortly after the heavy rain passed away to the SE, one of which captured a Field Vole and then flew with it very high in the sky with a male Common Kestrel in tow. It then proceeded to transfer the dead animal from its talons to its bill, gradually consuming the entire creature after five minutes or so. During this period, it frequently hovered in one place in the sky. Once eaten, it then flew back towards the ground and made an unusual beeline for me, 'growling' as it flew just overhead of me and staring directly at me with its bright yellow eyes. It then flew off over the scrub to join the other hunting bird. The habitat of Ellenbrooks does not appear to be that suitable for SEO now, the scattered saplings now growing quite high.

The only other bird I noted was a male Sparrowhawk.


I spent the last half hour of sunset at Heartwood 'Forest' where I was treated to another glorious display by a further 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS - hunting the long grass just south of the 'Archaelogical Field'. One bird was taking advantage of a wooden platform and perching, regurgitating pellets every now and again. A magical evening.

Another Red Fox was seen as it got dark