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, 30 April 2012

Surprise WOOD WARBLER whilst HS2 surveying


Can you believe it - not a single drop of rain today. It was pleasantly warm, the sun shone brightly and the skies were clear intermittently. The wind, initially blowing from the south, veered SE and then due east..........


New arrivals in TOP SCRUB were two singing male GARDEN WARBLERS - my first of the year. Also, at least 6 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS in that area, and a further 3 on Steps Hill.

Another new arrival was a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT in scrub below the Beacon knoll, whilst most impressive, was the sheer array of WHEATEARS, 5 of which were GREENLANDERS. There were 23 individuals in total, matching Mike Wallen's total of early morning, with a party of 12 birds along the fenceline beyond the gate at the bottom of the slope, 5 on the SE slopes, 3 on Gallows Hill and 3 more in the fenced-off sheepfield enclosure. Two singing male CORN BUNTINGS were also observed in the latter, whilst 3 migrant Barn Swallows went through.


(1145 hours visit)

Highlight for me was a single HOBBY chasing Common Swifts in the sky above the Black Poplars in the SE corner, another first for the year.

Otherwise, disaster had struck, with 9 Grey Herons just standing around forlorn, after presumably falling foul of the weekend weather, most likely killing the young.

18 Great Crested Grebes still, 14 Mute Swans (reedbed nest washed out), female Mallard with 3 surviving ducklings, 8 Gadwall, 1 drake Common Teal, 38 Tufted Duck, just 3 Northern Pochard, 83 Common Terns and 40 Common Swifts.

At MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, the male COMMON CUCKOO was still calling, with 8 Common Terns and 5 Blackcaps noted. A tree had been blown down and had fallen across the causeway footpath.

Thankfully, the raft-nesting Mute Swans had survived the floods and wind on STARTOP'S and a pair of Greylag Geese was accompanying 4 yellow goslings.


Next off, I had to undertake two comprehensive wildlife surveys to areas affected by HS2 - both areas completely new to me. The sites were just west of Aylesbury and part of the Thame floodplain, south of the A41. The starting point of the survey was at Putlowes Farm at SP 783 150 before fully surveying the Thame flood meadows in grid square 78 14. The plain was completely flooded due to the recent rains, with many grass fields completely sodden or underwater. This is the area where the HS2 viaduct will be built.

A total of 30 species was recorded in Part 1 of the survey -:

Grey Heron - 4 individuals noted, 3 adults and a first-year

Greylag Goose - 1 pair

Atlantic Canada Geese - 18

Mallard - two pairs on the floods with an additional female with 12 small ducklings

Red Kite - 1 flying overhead

Common Buzzard - single very vocal adult

Common Kestrel - 1 male

Common Pheasant - 15

Argenteus Herring Gull - 3 first-years on the floods

Lesser Black-backed Gull - 8 adults on the floods

Stock Dove - 2 pairs around the farm buildings

Woodpigeon - 15

Collared Dove - pair around the houses by the access road

Eurasian Skylark - just 2 singing males in the cereal crops

Barn Swallow - 2 pairs around the farm buildings

*YELLOW WAGTAIL - single male in the cereal fields and water meadows. According to 83 year-old farmer Geoffrey Jarvis, this species has bred in this area for at least 35 years.

Dunnock - 1 pair in hedgerow

Robin - just 1 pair

Common Blackbird - single pair

*COMMON WHITETHROAT - 2 singing males in hedgerows bordering cereal crops

Blue Tit - 1 pair

Long-tailed Tit - single nesting pair

Common Magpie - single pair

Jackdaw - 90+ of floodplain

Carrion Crow - 5 nesting pairs

House Sparrow - 6 pairs in the vicinity of the barns at the farm

Chaffinch - two separate singing males

LINNET - 3 nesting pairs in hedgerows

Goldfinch - 2 pairs in vicinity of farm buildings

YELLOWHAMMER - pair in hedgerow


The second part of the survey was of the golf course primed as a target for the HS2 route. This and Lower Hartwell Farm were particularly rich in bird diversity. Most unexpected was a migrant male WOOD WARBLER - moving through and singing along the Thame Valley Walk, about 200 yards north of the Newt Pond at the extreme NW end of the golf course.

Mute Swan - pair on Hartwell House Lake

Atlantic Canada Goose - 8 in the grounds of Hartwell House

Common Buzzard - single flew high over Lower Hartwell Farm

Common Pheasant - 12

Coot - pair on Hartwell House Lake

Woodpigeon - 35

Stock Dove - pair nesting in tree hole on golf course

Green Woodpecker - 1 yaffling

Great Spotted Woodpecker - pair feeding young

Wren - 6 territories

Dunnock - pair breeding in vicinity of Hartwell Farm

Robin - two nesting pairs, with singles at Hartwell Farm and on the golf course

SONG THRUSH - 4 birds on the golf course with nesting suspected

Common Blackbird - 5 nesting pairs

Blackcap - 4 singing males

COMMON WHITETHROAT - singing male by Newt Pond

*LESSER WHITETHROAT - rattling male by Newt Pond

Common Chiffchaff - 2 singing males on Golf Course

Great Tit - 4 birds

Blue Tit - 2 nesting pairs

Long-tailed Tit - 3 nesting pairs

Common Magpie - 4

Jay - single pair

Jackdaw - 50+

*ROOK - colony in trees on west flank of golf course with 72 active nests in main cluster and an additional 9 in a neighbouring colony

Carrion Crow - 3 nests

House Sparrow - breeding pair in barns at Whaddon Hill Farm

LINNET - pair

Goldfinch - 2 pairs

Greenfinch - singing male on golf course

YELLOWHAMMER - pair in cereal fields and hedgerow

A single Grey Squirrel was noted, whilst butterflies included 2 Peacocks, a Large White, 4 Brimstones and a Speckled Wood. The ponds hold Great Crested Newts


Both the adult drake COMMON SCOTER and the still-transitional-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE were still present, with a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and several Willow Warblers present close to the Scrapyard Corner of the lake. With MJP, watched 4 ARCTIC TERNS fly straight through to the east at 1635 hours but failed to locate the Common Nightingale noted earlier.

At PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) at 1709, the single BLACK TERN was present, whilst at PEACOCKS LAKE, BROOM (BEDS), all 3 BLACK TERNS could be seen at 1739. A pair of GREY PARTRIDGES was showing in a cereal crop opposite. Nothing else of significance though, although Richard Bashford and SCB saw Bar-tailed Godwits later in the evening in the area.


Returning back to Wilstone at 1930 hours, I was very pleased to see the adult drake GARGANEY found by Stuart Wilson just prior to my arrival. It was showing very well swimming back and forth along the Drayton Bank and at times was only 75 yards from the hide. Barry Reed had found a different drake at Amwell early morning and that bird was also still present this evening.

Whilst watching the Garganey, an adult summer LITTLE GULL dropped in whilst COMMON SWIFT numbers reached 90. The pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present as well as 4 Teal.


The first local WESTERN REED WARBLER of the year arrived today in the larger lake reedbed on the west shore, with both Great Crested Grebes and 28 Tufted Ducks also present

The end of another exhausting day

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Torrential rain and localised flooding

Well, Sunday morning was a complete washout. Overnight and this morning, rain was torrential with a strong NE wind bringing down many trees, falling because of waterlogged foundations. Rivers and streams burst their banks too and fields were completely sodden.

It was not until Dan Forder phoned me that I decided to venture out - he had seen a male Ring Ouzel in a local Hemel Hempstead park. Despite joining him within five minutes, neither I, Lucy Flower or Dan could relocate it. Whilst looking for it, Kevin Duncan rang to say that he had just relocated the Dorney GREY PLOVER. Drat, I had got soaked for that one yesterday. Anyway, I told Kev to keep his eyes on it and made my way down to him...........


I got to Dorney at 1645 hours, where I joined Kevin, Dave Cleal, Adam Bassett & son and Graham Smith overlooking the reserve pools at the 750m marker. The winter-plumaged GREY PLOVER was still present and after feeding for a short while, concealed itself amongst vegetation and hid. Bonus bird however was a cracking breeding-plumaged BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, its long and bright orange-based bill, orange-brown underparts, white undertail coverts and vent, strong mid-breast barring (not blotching) and tiger-striped tertials indicating that it was a passage nominate bird - EUROPEAN BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa) - by far the much rarer of the two that occur in Bucks. These two passage waders constituting my 152nd species in the county in 2012 - the first time I have ever recorded 150 species prior to the end of April.

A couple of Common Redshanks were also present, as well as pairs of both Common Shelduck and Egyptian Geese, with 90+ COMMON SWIFTS encountered and 4 male NORTHERN WHEATEARS. The heavens opened again whilst we were there, the second afternoon running I have got drenched through at the site.


Visited Spade oak after the rain but little to speak of - a COMMON SANDPIPER, a few COMMON SWIFTS, 45 House Martins, a nesting pair of COMMON KINGFISHERS, Egyptian Geese on the tern raft, 8 Common Terns and a single singing WESTERN REED WARBLER but no Garden Warblers on the south shore.

At 1930 hours this evening, the corking full breeding-plumaged BAR-TAILED GODWIT was still showing well on the main spit at Tyttenhanger, being constantly harassed by the nesting Lapwings and Common Redshanks. Around the same time, a flock of 59 Bar-wits flew east through Amwell

SANDWICH TERN in the rain

29/4 : Sandwich Tern : Calvert Sailing Lake, Calvert.

Stayed 5 mins then headed east.

Warren Claydon

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Some drought this is


It rained virtually from dawn until dusk - perhaps for 13 hours in all. It was also very cold, with strong winds blowing in from the Northeast. I managed to stay in the field all day despite the soaking and was highly rewarded for my efforts, culminating in my largest-ever flock of WHITE STORKS in Britain


Despite being on site by 0715 hours, I still managed to dip out on the two Common Shelduck (College pair) that Ian Williams had seen close to the hide. There was also no sign of last night's Northern Wheatear in Cemetery Corner and most frustrating of all, missed yet another Osprey by a few minutes (Dave Bilcock watched one fly along the Dry Canal just as I left the car park)

Anyway, browsing across the windswept pallet, noteworthy were just 7 Mute Swans, 40 House Martins, 120 Barn Swallows and 45 Common Terns


A CETTI'S WARBLER was singing loudly from the far reedbed whilst a COMMON CUCKOO in the Black Poplars was my first of the year


Returning once more at 0800 hours, primarily to search again for the Osprey, a first-summer LITTLE GULL had dropped in and a female YELLOW WAGTAIL was with 2 Pied Wagtails by the steps. As I stood talking to Ian, Steve Blake 'phoned to inform me of 2 PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger.........I left Ian to grip me off


Just as I arrived at a wet and soggy Tyttenhanger, Steve Blake 'phoned me to say that the Avocets had only that minute just flown off. Great I thought. Anyway, there was a possibility that they had flown on to the Fishing Pit, so I got back into the car and drove around to the north side. Thankfully, just as I was parking, SB phoned again to say that they had both returned and so with a little hastiness, I ran to the watchpoint and clocked on to them, just in case they got airborne again.

Both PIED AVOCETS, an apparent adult pair, were showing very well on the main sandy spit of the east shore and were both wading and swimming just offshore. Although annual these days, still a great bird to see in the county and rarely any more than a one-dayer. Perhaps due to the inclement conditions, they remained all day.

Also noted were 2 Common Redshanks, 10 Common Terns, a COMMON CUCKOO and single singing SEDGE WARBLER and COMMON WHITETHROAT by the conveyor belt.


After speaking to Lol, Keith Owen and others, it was clear that driving up to Broom to search for Mark Thomas' Rough-legged Buzzard was going to be a waste of time - it had not been seen since MT had watched it fly north not long after 0600 hours !

Instead, I chose to twitch Martin Green's Pillinge Pit Grey Plover, still present in front of the hide at 0730. The rain got gradually worse as I drove north and was now constant. I joined both Lol and Bob in the Pillinge hide but no joy - the plover had long gone. The only waders present were 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and the OYSTERCATCHER pair.

A COMMON CUCKOO flew past the hide and landed in Poplars to call, whilst a COMMON SWIFT was over the lake - both new species to my 2012 Beds list. Over 50 House Martins were also over the lake, whilst 2 different CETTI'S WARBLERS were singing.


More frustration was to follow. Scanning back and forth over the lake revealed the presence of 175 Barn Swallows, 110 House Martins and 70+ Sand Martins, with the male COMMON WHITETHROAT still singing opposite the car park. There was no Turtle Dove to be found along the Green Lane wires and at that time, the first-summer Kittiwake that Martin and Dave Ball both saw for 10 minutes later (1239-1249) had not arrived.


After consulting with Simon Nichols and Graham Smith, next stop was Manor Farm but typically the waders had gone (particularly the 2 Dunlin I was after). However, opposite where I parked the car, a female RING OUZEL was showing very well in the sheep field adjacent to the access track.

Much of the complex was flooded and waterlogged, with 1 Oystercatcher and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on view.


(complete inventory for Simon and Rob)

With Linford scoring heavily early morning (Whimbrel, Little Tern, etc), I decided it was worth a visit, especially as MJG had informed me that the Stewartby Kittiwake had departed. As such, I had a good look around and conducted a full survey of the reserve's birds (the majority of which had been washed out by the floods) -

Great Crested Grebe (6)

Little Grebe (2)

Sinensis Cormorant (9 roosting on the bund)

Grey Heron (12 nesting pairs)

Little Egret (5 nesting pairs)

Mute Swan (single pair)

Greylag Geese (12)

Mallard (15; just 1 female with ducklings)

Gadwall (2)

*GARGANEY (pair on the bund, seemingly washed out by rising water levels)

Shoveler (2 drakes)

Tufted Duck (32)

Northern Pochard (2)


Common Tern (4)

Sand Martin (75)

House Martin (55)

Barn Swallow (80)

YELLOW WAGTAIL (2 males on the bund)

Wren (6 territories)

Dunnock (1 pair)

Robin (2 pairs feeding young)

GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (1 reeling from Swans Way Meadow)

Blackcap (14 noted, including 9 singing males)

Common Chiffchaff (5 singing males)

WILLOW WARBLER (8 singing males)

Blue Tit (5)

Long-tailed Tit (3 nesting pairs)

Common Treecreeper (2 singing males)

Jackdaw (46)

Carrion Crow (7 nesting pairs)

Common Magpie (4)

No Common Cuckoo or Garden Warbler noted


Alan Nelson had relocated Steve Rodwell's Wilstone Whimbrel on the main marsh but it had only stayed a short time. As such, it had gone when I arrived mid afternoon. Click-counting the main lake revealed the presence of 196 Barn Swallows - clearly a major arrival of this hirundine.

Both RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were seen (male and female) with nesting Greylag still, OYSTERCATCHER, 12 Lapwing, 9 Common Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and Gadwall. The Mute Swan pair seem to have abandoned (or been washed out).


My third visit of the day at 1545 hours heralded little change, except for an impressive arrival of hirundines and numerous COMMON SWIFTS. With the click-counter to hand, no less than 753 BARN SWALLOWS was logged, along with 116 House Martins and about 70 Sand Martins.

The first-summer LITTLE GULL was still present, whilst Common Terns were back up to 88


Decided to dip yet another Grey Plover, this time the winter-plumaged bird that Jim Rose had discovered by the 750m mark late morning, but just as I was walking back, news came in of a White Stork in Oxfordshire so I was off..........


In still constant rain, I entered Oxfordshire, and after gleaning the knowledge of local guys Adam Hartley and Roger Wyatt, arrived in Standlake village shortly after 1815 hours. After a nervy 500 yard march, there they were, a flock of 6 WHITE STORKS in the grass meadow - resting and preening. After being first seen in Worcestershire (initially in a flock of 9) and then splitting up and moving to North Wales, these 6 had hit Oxfordshire on Thursday, where they had last been sighted flying SW over Didcot and Drayton late afternoon. This was the largest single flock of White Storks to have been seen in Britain for at least 50 years so I was mighty desperate to see them. And there they were - showing exceptionally well just 110 yards away. Both Roger Wyatt and Ewan Urquhart obtained some fabulous shots of them (see above) and despite me phoning RBA within seconds of me seeing them, just 10 observers arrived in the next hour. The birds rested for a bit, sheltering from the increasing NE wind, before lifting up one by one and flying half a mile south to land out of view just north of the River Thames at 1840. All of the birds were identical in plumage barring two birds with much brighter pinkish-red leg colour. All were lightly soiled on the upperparts. Rather surprisingly, none were ringed. It had certainly been an eventful day and this had capped it off well.


Just before I left to drive home, I stopped off at Farmoor, where 5 full breeding-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBES were showing at 25 yards range just 100 yards along from the main car park.

GREY PLOVER at Dorney Lakes

By way of a change I thought a visit to Dorney Lake was a good idea. Not the best place to visit in steady rain as there is no shelter, so full waterproofs were called for in the steady rain.

My decision to visit there was soon justified with four Wheatears on the causeway, two of which were probably of the Greenland race. Walking further down the causeway I then found a Common Sandpiper and then heard a distant wader call. I saw something flying away which may well have been a Greenshank but I could not be sure. I then located 3-4 Redshank to the south of the return lake in the reserve area. While scanning this area I came across a winter plumaged GREY PLOVER, a species I have only seen in the county on a few occasions, so a great find. I managed a few rather distant photos which are now on the BBC website.

The seasonal pool held about 60 mainly immature large gulls, plus two Shelducks.

Lots of Swifts and Swallows about, plus a few House Martins. Number increased while I was there. Also several Common Terns fishing.

Walking back along the causeway, I had just about got back to the start line when six Ringed Plover, flying in a tight flock flew in low as though to land but few off again. Maybe my presence put them off. I then found two more Wheatears at nearby Dorney Common and another two by the pumping station.

Worth getting wet for.
Jim Rose

WHEATEARS at Mursley

There were 16 WHEATEARS in Mursley this morning: field immediately north of recreation ground at SP812293.

Wheatears have been present here all month, with double figures for the past 3 weeks.
David Roe

LITTLE TERN now through Linford

A LITTLE TERN has just flown east thru Linford - straight over Black Horse Lake

Also 3 Oystercatchers West at 08.15

Also 2 DUNLIN at Manor Farm per Chris Gleadell

Simon , Rob and Lucy Nichols

WHIMBREL briefly at Linford

1 WHIMBREL has just (08.05) flown east thru Linford.

Pair of Garganey , 4 LRP and 3 Yellow Wag on bund.

Simon, Rob and Lucy

Friday, 27 April 2012


Bird of the day was a summer-plumaged COMMON GREENSHANK on the bund at Linford NR (Mal McGar et al)

Influx to North Bucks

On Wednesday 25 April, 3 BLACK TERNS and a number of ARCTIC TERNS and LITTLE GULLS appeared at Linford Nature Reserve and Willen Lake South Basin respectively (Simon Nichols, Ben Miller). Yesterday. highlights were just 1 ARCTIC TERN at Willen and a migrant COMMON SHELDUCK through

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Excitement at College


Well, what a day. Shortly after dawn, it started raining and then continued almost incessantly until just after 1300 hours. This resulted in localised flooding. Throughout this period, the wind was strong ESE, presumably accounting for the impressive arrival of Little Gulls, Arctic Terns, Black Terns and Common Swifts that was to follow.........


The last of the heavy and persistent rain moved off north at around 1300 hours. At this point, I walked up to the top of the car park steps and scanned the reservoir. The two adult summer LITTLE GULLS from prior to the rain were both still present whilst sterna terns numbered 104 in total. Working my way through them, I eventually identified 36 ARCTIC TERNS. Also obvious was the huge arrival in COMMON SWIFT numbers, with 33 the peak count, many of which were darting back and forth over the car park.

Hirundine numbers in general were well up, with 55 House Martin, 65 Sand Martin and 85 Barn Swallows. Other than that though, just a pair of Shoveler of note.


Joined Dave Hutchinson and Ed Griffiths by the Information Centre and enjoyed great views of a single WHIMBREL that dropped in on the main marsh as the rain stopped. It was resting on the muddy spit of the westernmost island and allowed DH the opportunity of a distant shot (see above). After about 20 minutes, it became restless and had a drink before calling loudly. It then took to the air and quickly gained height and steadily and purposefully headed off due north. I lost it from sight at 1350 hours.

Whilst phoning in news of the Whimbrel, I noticed a flock of LITTLE GULLS arrive from the west, dropping in from a great height. At first 2 birds, then 10, then 15 and eventually 21 - astounding. All except for one first-summer were adults, virtually all in full breeding plumage. They dropped down on to the main lake and started weaving backwards and forwards and almost as quickly as they arrived, they started leaving again, although 10 eventually settled and landed on the water to preen. Mike Campbell and Francis Buckle duly arrived.

Associated with the Little Gulls was an arrival of 11 ARCTIC TERNS, although again their stay was brief. Several COMMON SWIFTS also moved through quickly.

Away from the excitement, much the same as yesterday, with 9 Common Redshanks, the Oystercatcher pair, Common Shelducks, etc


Expecting great things, MC, FB, CJ and I returned to Wilstone, where at 1430 hours, no less than 117 Commic Terns was present. Careful grilling revealed the presence of an outstanding 43 ARCTIC TERNS, an increase over the hour I was away. The two Little Gulls had gone however, whilst COMMON SWIFTS were up to at least 35.

Walking the Dry Canal from east to west (Little Tring to Drayton B), 3 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS were encountered, including one in scrub by the road.


With seemingly nothing more turning up, I made the decision to drop down to Marlow where I was very pleased to find Adam Bassett's summer-plumaged BLACK TERN still present and patrolling backwards and forwards along the eastern flank of the pit. Not much else though - 10 Common Terns, 75 Sand Martins, 15 House Martins, 60 Barn Swallows, the drake Eurasian Wigeon and 15 Argenteus Herring Gulls. I then left but hugely frustrating was taking a call to say that an Osprey was heading my way.........

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Major passage of ARCTIC TERNS


Another day of topsy-turvy weather. Initially, winds were blowing from the Northeast and it was cold and grey then, by early afternoon, the cold front had been matched by higher pressure from the south, clearing the skies and inducing temperatures to virtually double to 13 degrees C. There was no rain during the afternoon

The big story of the day was the ARCTIC TERN passage, with over 500 being recorded over the Midlands Region today, peaking at a flock of over 115 in the Northamptonshire Nene Valley. COMMON SWIFTS were also notable by their arrival........


The first-summer Sinensis Cormorant was still present in the Chess Valley, this morning roosting on the island at Bois Mill Lake.


At WILSTONE RESERVOIR from 0900-0945 hours in a cool Northeasterly, no less than 22 ARCTIC TERNS were present, many of which were in full breeding attire with full tail streamers. Significant also was the large arrival of HOUSE MARTIN - 76 being click-counted.

Otherwise, fairly standard-fare and no wader passage - 12 Great Crested Grebes, 10 active Sinensis nests, 5 Mute Swans, 14 Greylag Geese, 8 Gadwall, 8 Common Teal, 98 Tufted Duck, 53 Common Terns, pair of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 45 Barn Swallows and 55 Sand Martins.

At MARSWORTH, no luck with the earlier Cuckoo, but a 'new' singing Common Chiffchaff along the causeway, 3 singing Western Reed Warblers and another pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. By Lock 41, the reeling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was still present (see Lucy Flowers fabulous new shots above).

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR held a single COMMON REDSHANK, 5 Black-headed Gulls and a House Martin.


Most noteworthy was a COMMON SANDPIPER on the 'beach' in the NW corner of the marsh - my first of the year in Bucks. Other waders, mostly actively breeding, included 9 Common Redshanks, the OYSTERCATCHER pair (now sitting) and 12 Lapwings.

Three Shoveler remain, as do 1 pair of Gadwall, the 2 COMMON SHELDUCKS and the drake Red-crested Pochard, whilst 2 pairs of Greylag Geese were present (1 female sat on eggs), 2 Common Terns and 2 singing male WESTERN REED WARBLERS.


Both COMMON SHELDUCK remain, with 15 Herring Gulls, 10 Common Terns and at least 120 Sand Martins.


No evidence of much movement, with 2 Common Terns and a singing male Willow Warbler at the west end.


At the Pillinge Lake, OYSTERCATCHER (pair), LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and Common Redshank were present, with a nice male LESSER WHITETHROAT 'rattling' away and showing occasionally in bushes and Hawthorn scrub along the NW bank (my first of the year).

In fact, a wealth of warbler activity was apparent, with 2 CETTI'S WARBLERS, 11 SEDGE WARBLERS, 5 WESTERN REED WARBLERS, 13 Willow Warblers and 15 Blackcaps. Hirundines included 4 Barn Swallows and a party of 9 House Martins that quickly flew through.


With vastly improving weather. Stewartby Lake held 17 ARCTIC TERNS and 4 Common Terns at 1230, the former part of a widespread movement in the county that included 40+ at Broom and 3 at Priory Country Park.


Parking up behind the Oasis Swimming Pool, I walked the 400 yards east along the Ouse to the main lagoon at Fenlake, where in the short sedges at the NE corner, 2 reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS were performing exceptionally well early afternoon; there were also 2 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS alongside the riverbank.


After hearing of 2 Whimbrels on site at 1115 hours, I decided to try my luck with them but with most records of this species in the county, their stay was short-lived and they had already departed by the time Tim Watts arrived an hour earlier than me. A few EURASIAN CURLEW were in the vicinity, a nice male YELLOW WAGTAIL, a singing WILLOW WARBLER, a singing COMMON WHITETHROAT and several Blackcaps.


On the main Sailing lake at 1634 hours, 19 ARCTIC TERNS was present, many of which were sat on the water washing and bathing. TW had found them much earlier in the morning. Nothing much else though, apart from 3 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS.


One of the adult PEREGRINES was sat on the nest


A return evening visit in the company of Mike Campbell and Mike & Ted Wallen. A total of 78 sterna terns was present including at least 25 ARCTICS, along with a single LITTLE RINGED PLOVER by the hide and 7 newly arrived COMMON SWIFTS - my first of the year.

A Sparrowhawk flew high across the reservoir, with 5 Red Kites in the vicinity. Sand Martins numbered 70+ with 25 Barn Swallows.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Bitterly cold and more rain


Temperatures struggled to make it into double figures and once noon had passed, rain returned with a vengeance and continued into darkness

After visiting Cambridgeshire and some nice singing Nightingales and then North Oxfordshire with an early migrant Dotterel, checked out a few South Bucks sites in the hope of seeing some grounded migrant waders.......


Very quiet with nothing new. The rollcall included 10 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Egyptian Goose, Coot with four tiny young, the drake Wigeon, 3 Teal, 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 12 Common Tern, 45 Barn Swallow and 55 Sand Martin


Two pairs of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS still on territory, with 6 Coot, 4 Teal (2 pairs), 4 Barn Swallow, Blackcap and 2 singing Common Chiffchaffs


Thanks to JT, located a 'new' ROOKERY of 31 active nests, 22 of which were unusually in tall conifers

Saturday, 21 April 2012

WHIMBREL at Gallows Bridge

Sat in 1st hide when heard a WHIMBREL calling overhead; it circled meadow then landed but was quickly

mobbed by a Curlew..Flew to field behind hide 2, then disturbed by Crow flew to main meadow and fed
vigourously in middle until spooked by 2 Buzzards.Then flew in direction of entrance field but despite 5 of
us looking couldn't spot it again.

Also smart White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail along with 1 L.R.P. 4 Curlew seen, with Colin Oram we spotted what thought unusually large flock of Linnets for time of year, a good 150 (Tim Watts),

WHIMBREL at Little Marlow

21/4 15:30 : Whimbrel : Little Marlow GP.

Landed on spit after rain shower then flew of NE. Seen with AJS, MM and MP.

Jackie Newcombe


21/4 : Osprey : Chilton.

circling over lake at back of Chilton House before heading off to Wootton.

Chris Young

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Heavy rain, then sunshine and showers - TERN PASSAGE


A band of heavy rain moved north through much of the morning, associated with some quite strong SW winds. As expected, it produced a surge of tern passage through our region, but you had to be quick to intercept them...........


The persistent rain stopped at about 1030 hours and was replaced by sunshine and showers. I headed straight over to Wilstone, where I met Cliff Tack at the top of the car park steps.

A total of 71 'Commic Terns' was present, of which I identified 15 ARCTIC TERNS, 3 of which being in nice condition and with full streamers. Dave Bilcock had seen 3 Arctics during the rain but acknowledged that there had been a marked arrival since the rain had stopped. What was surprising was how many of last night's Common Terns were absent.

Other than the Arctic Terns though, it was fairly disappointing, and it was just hirundines increasing in number (17 House Martins, 70 Sand Martins and 25 Barn Swallows). A single male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over.

A female Mallard was accompanying 12 tiny ducklings, with the DARK-BELLIED BRENT showing well by the hide, 22 Gadwall, 20 Common Teal and 8 Shoveler remaining. A male House Sparrow was on the bank.


Both the Black Poplar Common Chiffchaff and woodland Goldcrest were singing with Reed Bunting activity involving at least 6 singing males. A male SEDGE WARBLER was singing from the reedbed, as well as 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS.

Neighbouring STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR yielded my first COMMON REDSHANK of the year, whilst the nesting LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present and the 2 Red-crested Pochards. Three more male House Sparrows were by the hide.


Blowing a gale and very inclement and nothing to add to the 8 RING OUZELS remaining on Gallows Hill and the SE slope


With Lol just leaving and heading up the Paddock Slope, I braved the heavy shower and relocated the COMMON REDSTART that he had just seen briefly. It was flitting about on the 'new' fencing at the very top field of the paddocks and had joined the original bird initially found by Rob Dazley. Both birds were females and were showing very well. A single male RING OUZEL was also still present in the paddocks (its 6th day) and others had seen at least 8 more on the slopes. Whilst watching the redstarts, Jim Gurney phoned to say that a Sandwich Tern was showing at Derek White's............


It took me about half an hour to get to Derek White's Pit and alas NO Sandwich Tern - it had departed (apparently JG had watched it up until 1249 hours). Consolation came in the form of 9 Common Terns


Little success here either - and certainly no Arctic Terns - 7 Common Terns being the best on offer on Peacock's Lake

Then did a tour of the usual Bedfordshire locations, stopping off at WILLINGTON GP (very quiet, with 1 Barnacle Goose, 2 Willow Warblers and 8 Blackcaps highlighting), OCTAGON FARM (zilch), PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (very poor, no Sedge or Reed Warblers or House Martins), STEWARTBY LAKE (distant views of the still transitional SLAV), MILLENIUM PARK (useless in the strong winds, neither Reed or Sedge Warblers) and BROGBOROUGH LAKE (birdless).

At 1545 hours, Jeff Bailey phoned with news that he had just found a LITTLE TERN at Wilstone. It was time to head straight back.........


Jeff very kindly kept on the LITTLE TERN until I arrived - it was still flying backwards and forwards amongst the throng of Commic Terns at the reedbed end on the far southern bank. Mike & Ted Wallen were already watching it and within minutes, both Ian Williams and Bill Pegram arrived. The bird had quite an extensive white forehead but an obvious yellow bill and seemed to be in transitional plumage. I kept on it until it suddenly flew through the gap by the Drayton Bank and crossed over into the SW quarter - the heavens then opened and Ian and I retreated to the cars. At this moment (1640 hours) Dave Bilcock arrived and in very inclement conditions, we failed to relocate it (it did reappear though and was still present until at least 1915 hours)

The ARCTIC TERN count was still at 15 but HOUSE MARTINS had really increased in number - up to 72 birds at least - a marked arrival


I finished the day at Spade Oak, joining Alan Stevens and a couple of other locals at the 'bench'. Once again, my arrival coincided with that of a huge downpour and for 10 minutes or more I got soaked (the others sensibly had umbrellas). However, once the shower had moved away to the east, diligent searching of the terns revealed the presence of 17 Common and 1 ARCTIC, the latter having an obvious broken tail streamer.

Otherwise, fairly normal fare, with the drake Wigeon, Egyptian Goose, pair of LRP, 41 'immature' Herring Gulls, 37 Barn Swallows, 26 Sand Martins and 5 House Martins.

Another RING OUZEL in the North.....

There are now 2 RING OUZELS at Ravenstone Sewage Works, along the fence line above the bank north side of the path (per Chris B)

Another brief-staying SANDWICH TERN (Spade Oak)

SANDWICH TERN on the spit at Little Marlow GP at 09.10 before flying off (Adam Bassett)

Monday, 16 April 2012

RING OUZELS-a-plenty


The only birdwatching I managed over the weekend was a quick twitch for Alan Gardiner's adult male PIED FLYCATCHER at FROGMORE LAKES, RADLETT late on Sunday afternoon. It was a cracking stunner and afforded tremendous views, Ian Williams obtaining an impressive array of images as it flitted from Willow to Willow just 80 yards along from the Hyde Lane car park footbridge (see my Hertfordshire Birding blog for images). Just 9 birders were there to savour the delights !

Today saw a heavy frost overnight in the Chilterns, followed by clear blue skies and sunshine. A cool northerly wind kept temperatures hovering around just 9 degrees C

On a local front first thing, the Red-legged Partridge pair was still in the field at the BELL LANE/LATIMER ROAD JUNCTION in LITTLE CHALFONT and 3 Tufted Ducks were in LOWNDES PARK, CHESHAM - my first ever there.


Joined Francis Buckle, Chris King, Peter Leigh, Mike Collard and many others at this 'in place' and enjoyed views of at least 9 continuing RING OUZELS feeding out on the slope just SE of the Beacon (possibly all 13 still present). This same area also held 8 WHEATEARS including a nice male GREENLANDER.

Attempting to see/hear a Lesser Whitethroat (Mike Wallen had seen one earlier), I walked the entire circuit but failed in my quest; 8 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS was noteworthy though


I then followed up on Dave Odell's messages and drove over to Pegsdon Hills (and to answer Paul Phillips' question, it is 19 miles between these two sites). Although it took an eternity, after sitting down on the ridge at the top of ''Chack Valley'' (the valley immediately south of the wood), eventually the RING OUZELS emerged from the scrub. A total of 11 birds finally appeared, the flock including 4 female/first-year males. I enjoyed superb views from above, the birds settling down to feed during a lapse in hillwalker activity. Not much else to report other than COMMON RAVENS and 2 MARSH TITS in the small thicket above the valley.


Next off, I took the opportunity of checking out some more ROOKERIES on route to Quainton Hills. Alongside the A418 at ASCOTT HOUSE, WING (SP 895 233), there were 5 active nests, with a further 27 near WINGRAVE CROSSROADS and 38 more just south of ROWSHAM. Further along the A418 in BIERTON, another 40 active nests in two clusters.

Driving NW along the Berryfields Road east of LOWER FARM, in the line of trees running NE of the road, another colony of 55 active nests. I then came upon a large number of Rookeries in the QUAINTON area, with 2 nests in tall pines at the start of DENHAM LANE at SP 751 200, 65 across the road at SP 753 197 and 20 by farm buildings at SP 744 210

A further 21 nests in the plantation at SP 740 227, 34 more SW of STONEHILL FARM at SP 758 221 and then a cluster of colonies along CARTERS LANE in the vicinity of QUAINTON DAIRY (SP 764 205), with 19, 17, 21 and 8 respectively. Then where the lane met the Whitchurch road at the T-junction (at SP 767 195), a further 7, 8, 13 and 8 nests in four loose colonies.

Between WHITCHURCH and AYLESBURY on the A413 saw more 'new' colonies, with 7 nests just south of WHITCHURCH (at SP 805 203) and 10 near WEEDON at the NEW ROAD JUNCTION at SP 808 177. Lastly, in AYLESBURY TOWN CENTRE, 4 nests (presumably relocating birds from the former Police Station site) in the tree by WEARDALE HOUSE opposite MILTON ROAD at SP 827 127.


Explored the area with Waddesdon birder Laurence Bryant and after eventually contacting Quainton Hills regulsr Tim Watts, managed to secure some birds on this mammothly extensive site. A first-summer male BLACK REDSTART was located at FULBROOK FARM, 8 RING OUZELS were feeding together on the 'humpy' field at the top of the West Slopes, 5 WHEATEARS were on the North Slope (including 2 bright GREENLANDERS) and a single Barn Swallow was noted.

We parked by the shop in the High Street in Quainton village and followed the marked footpath north across Simber Hill and cow-filled pasture fields to the transmitter and beyond. The ouzel field was just 100 yards NNW of the transmitter.

Once back in the car, I drove round to FULBROOK FARM (situated at SP 749 225 and enjoyed superb close views of the BLACK REDSTART, the bird singing from the fence and farm mavchinery. A flock of 42 FIELDFARES was by the disused railway line to the west and a dead BADGER was beside the quiet lane by the entrance to Hogshaw Hill Farm at SP 745 227.


Popped in this evening at 1930 hours but little going on in the cold conditions. The COMMON TERN flock numbered 81 individuals, with 12 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 13 Mute Swans, 4 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, 1 adult Black-headed Gull, 1 adult Common Gull, 15 Sand Martins and 12 Barn Swallows being noted.


Chris B has just found a male COMMON REDSTART by the Sewage works at Ravenstone. It is on the barbed wire fence by the works (per Simon Nichols)


15/4 09:30 : male COMMON NIGHTINGALE : Ambrosden. Ringed at private MOD site in Arncott. (Paul Watts)

Sexing and Ageing RING OUZELS

At this time of year, sexing and ageing RING OUZELS can be very difficult and is reliant on extremely good views being obtained - separating some first-year males from females is almost impossible. Anyway, Martin Parr has obtained some nice images from Ivinghoe Beacon today illustrating some of the differences -

The bottom two images are of a cracking adult male, with extensive yellow bill and well defined black and white plumage, whilst the next four are most likely an adult female. The two birds at the very top of the page seem most likely to be first-summer males.


Sunday 15 April: There were 11 NORTHERN WHEATEARS this morning (8 males) in the stony field immediately north of the recrestion ground at SP 812 293.

As usual, good numbers of Skylark, Yellowhammer and Linnet were in this area, plus Meadow Pipit, Stock Dove, and singles of Buzzard and Kestrel.

A little further north along the disused railway track, there were 7 Chiffchaff, most in song, but I can manage only single Blackcap and Willow Warbler. This track is is usually good for all the common warblers in spring (David Roe)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Migrating raptors north over Little Marlow

Alan Stevens had both MARSH HARRIER and OSPREY north over Spade Oak Pit today

GARGANEY pair still at Linford

Mal McGar has called , the pair of GARGANEY are still at Linford ( Permit Holders Only ) They are on the back lake just before the Far hide , but will probably be back on the main lake at some stage. Also 4 Snipe there (per Simon Nichols)


Friday the 13th: There are 13 RING OUZELS on the South-East slope of Ivinghoe Beacon moving regularly to Gallows Hill ( the hill towards Dunstable ). Whilst Ted and I were out there enjoying the spectacle I heard a TREE PIPIT calling ( it may have just flown in ) but then what was almost certainly the bird was on the ground on top of an anthill. It flew into bushes on the South-East slope and presumably remained there but we were then back with the Rouzels, 10+ Wheatear too including a stunning male Greenlander.

Dave Bilcock had earlier glimpsed a Redstart on the bank below the main car park on Steps Hill. Steve Rodwell subsequently located it, a male COMMON REDSTART. Whilst a few of us were enjoying this stunner a second bird popped up in the same place, another male Common Redstart. There may even have been a third !These are within 100metres of the car park, just down the bank if heading for the Beacon ( not the main path to the Beacon ).

To add to the spectacle a flock of c120 Golden Plover ( some in SP ) were flying around the valley (Mike + Ted Wallen)


A quick morning visit to LMGP found little of note – plenty of Common Terns in now though.

I decided to check out Pump Lane for yesterday’s Wheatear and Corn Bunting and also drew a blank. I then checked the paddocks at the north end of Pump Lane to the east of the Three Horse Shoes, an area I watch too infrequently. First birds I saw were a pair of Wheatear and 4 Fieldfares. 10 minutes later and another 2 Wheatear appeared, then a flash of red and quivering red tail and a fantastic male COMMON REDSTART was on the fence posts. Whilst trying to grab some record shots, another red-tailed bird hopped onto the ground – a female Redstart – Wow! Should come here more often.

For anyone going, the male Redstart in particular is showing really well feeding off the exposed fence line. Walk about 50 yards along the footpath on the east side of Pump Lane just past the Three Horse Shoes pub. The path drops into a valley at the bottom of which is a a pile of debris surrounded by a square of fence posts – the Redstarts were around here. I stayed at the top of the path looking down into the valley to avoid disturbing the birds.

Adam Bassett

Thursday, 12 April 2012

North Bucks having a good day

Pair of GARGANEY in front of Near Hide at Linford NR (per Ben Miller)

per Mal McGar and Ben. The Ravenstone RING OUZEL was also still showing well mid morning with the 4 Northern Wheatears and a CURLEW heard. Another RING OUZEL , this time at Newport Pagnall Gravel Pits ,viewable from the main road in large field before storage depot (Rob Norris).

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Quainton Hills today

A definite influx of migrants today, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers in lower hedgelines/ 3 groups of Wheatear in 3 areas totalled 16 / Meadow pipits in groups of 6- 20 in all areas plus a steady trickle passing overhead earlier/ 2 Swallows over

Found what assumed was same male COMMON REDSTART seen in this hedgeline a few days ago, sat and watched at distance and saw it at far end. Crept a bit closer, sat and watched it popping out when a 2nd male flew out closer to me (Tim Watts).

RING OUZEL in North Bucks

1 RING OUZEL, 3 Wheatear, a Cuckoo and YELLOW WAGTAIL at Ravenstone sewage works (Rob Norris)

At CMK, just 3 Wheatears at 13:45 (Paul Moon).

Monday, 9 April 2012

Rain all day


What a dreary Easter ! The wet theme continued today with rain virtually falling all day. The wind was in the southwest and temperatures were just slightly lower than average at 11 degrees C

This was my first full day's birding since last Tuesday so I was keen to make the most of it, visiting all three Home Counties in the process and adding a few 'year birds'.....


Checked out two Rookeries in Old Wolverton - that at the west end (SP 804 411) yielding 15 active nests and that at the east end (SP 820 414), a further 10 nests.


Thanks to Simon Nichols, eventually managed to find my way around this large complex of pits and walked from the south side to the north bank. There was no sign of yesterday's drake Garganey but the site did yield 4 Common Teal, pair of Tufted Ducks, pair of OYSTERCATCHER, 4 Common Redshanks, numerous Lapwings, at least 1 pair of displaying LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, Song Thrush, 5 Sand Martins and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs. The highlight however was the wagtail flock at the NE end of the complex, including two male YELLOWS (my first of the year) and two eye-catching male WHITES. I also saw a pipit here that was either a Water or Scandinavian Rock but it flew before I managed a decent view; 9 Meadow Pipits were also in the area.


At midday, looking north from the hide, I noted 1 drake Wigeon, 2 COMMON TERNS and 3 HOUSE MARTINS, with a singing male WILLOW WARBLER in trees behind the hide and a noisy CETTI'S WARBLER in scrub to the right of the hide; at least 5 Blackcaps too and several singing Chiffchaffs

Just south of MOULSOE BUILDINGS on the A509, a dead BADGER at SP 893 413


I then entered Bedfordshire in search of migrants, with my first port of call the Willington area. The recently tilled field adjacent to the footpath to Dovecote Pit held both YELLOW WAGTAIL (two beautiful males) and WHITE WAGTAIL (a single male), along with 23 FIELDFARES, numerous Linnets and 15+ Meadow Pipits. A female Mallard was accompanying a single duckling on the river and I saw just 2 Barnacle Geese in the grass field.


There was no sign of the 2 Ruff at Derek White's and with Aubrey and Martin Stevens, saw very little of note at Broom. At the East Pits, 4 COMMON SHELDUCK and 2 Sand Martins were of note, but Steve Heath's adult Little Gull had moved straight through


Traversed the area back and forth in the rain but no migrants and certainly no obvious Ring Ouzel - up to 4 Red Kites and two displaying male Meadow Pipits.


Managed my first WILLOW WARBLER of the year in Beds but otherwise just 6 Mute Swans, the pair of Whooper Swans, pair of COMMON SHELDUCKS, 14 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall and a single GREEN SANDPIPER


A single BARN SWALLOW with 27 Sand Martins but little else of note


After the excitement of the last few days (Fulmar, Kittiwake, etc), 1520 hours this afternoon was back to normal. COMMON TERNS had increased to 6 birds, with 15 Black-headed Gulls, 43 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall, the continuing DARK-BELLIED BRENT, 14 Sand Martins, 5 HOUSE MARTINS and 3 Barn Swallows to see.


The drake Red-crested Pochard and pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS noted, with 10 Great Crested Grebes in residency on here and adjacent Marsworth.


Met Bob & Lol in the Paddocks where we obtained excellent views of a female BLACK REDSTART and pair of NORTHERN WHEATEARS as the rain stopped and the SW wind freshened.


Both Great Crested Grebes were on the larger lake whilst an arrival of hirundines included 5 BARN SWALLOWS and 3 HOUSE MARTINS

RING OUZEL at Waddesdon

08/4 : RING OUZEL : Waddesdon. female. Michael Hunt

GARGANEY at Manor Farm

Bob Tunnicliffe found a drake GARGANEY at Manor Farm on Easter Sunday, the bird remaining until dusk; also 2 male YELLOW WAGTAILS and two male WHITE WAGTAILS in the same gravel pit complex


07 April: 3 males for second day in recently turned field immediately north of the recreation ground at Mursley at SP 812 293. This field/area holds numerous Skylark and finches, esp. Yellowhammer and Linnet (David Roe)

FULMAR found moribund at Haddenham

05/4 13:37 : NORTHERN FULMAR : Haddenham. I took a call from Tiggywinkles at this time to say that someone had brought an emaciated Fulmar in that morning, found at the roadside in Haddenham. It was on a drip, but not well. (Adam Bassett)

07 April - male COMMON REDSTART at Linford

07 April: an elusive male COMMON REDSTART at Linford by the first turn in the path (Rob Hill)

07 April BLACK REDSTART at CMK all day

A cracking adult male BLACK REDSTART showed well in the car park between Argos and the waste ground at CMK all day Saturday (many observers).

A Day on QUAINTON HILLS - 06 April - Tim Watts

Spent seven hrs trying various spots on tops and surrounding fields and in the end a very good day!

Common Chiffchaffs base level and tops/ Northern Wheatear at base level in a tree!/ c30 Fieldfare + 3 Redwing base, c 350 Fieldfare on tops/ 6 Song Thrush together in paddock on top (migrants)/ another 7 Northern Wheatear found in 3 different areas.

Had tried a lot of hotspots for Redstart/ Ring Ouzel with no luck but seems was looking in wrong areas, both found late in day, not on tops/slopes but at ground level at base of hills. Male COMMON REDSTART at bottom of Sth slopes, very, very wary. Fed mostly from inside hedgeline.

Virtually last stop of day at base of East slopes, found a Female RING OUZEL feeding in a field. Checked this field countless times over years and only ever had 1 Stonechat, so scanned from roadside gate. I was very pleased to see the Ouzel but not pleased it saw me!! It went into hedgeline, watched for long time from distance trying both sides of hedge, other fields but didn't see it again. This was two fields from base of hills and damper and these are areas been looking at as top of hills (Tim Watts)

Fall on Quainton Hills 06/4

Tim had a male COMMON REDSTART and 8 NORTHERN WHEATEARS up Quainton Hills on Friday........

COMMON SHELDUCK movement at Foxcote Reservoir

06 April: Several explosions of SAND MARTINS through , with possibly the odd House, but the biggest novelty was seven COMMON SHELDUCKS, possibly a site tick for me. Two Green Sandpipers too (per Chris Coppock)

Female RING OUZEL at Wendover

06-07 April at least : female RING OUZEL at Bacombe Hill, Wendover. (per Jonathan Seabrook)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

North Bucks today

A quick check of a couple of North Bucks sites this evening produced:

Willen North: 2 LRP, 1 Oystercatcher

Willen South: 2 Common Tern, 17 Sand Martin, 4 Swallows

Caldecotte South: 1 House Martin, 10+ Sand Martin, 3 Swallows

Ben Miller

More Rook surveying and more RING OUZELS

Male Ring Ouzel in Inkombe Hole today (Dave Hutchinson)


Well first thing there was another light frost and I had to scrape ice from the windscreen for the third day running. This was followed by another fine day (very unexpected considering the forecast) before another cold front reached the Chilterns just after 1800 hours, with cold winds increasing from the ENE

Checked out west Bucks this morning, mainly searching for ROOKERIES. Found two more sites - WESTFIELD FARM at MEDMENHAM along the Marlow Road at SU 797 847 (43 active nests) and then along London Road in STOKENCHURCH at SU 768 959 (54 active nests). Bizarrely, Richard Billyard also checked this latter site today.....

At NORTHLEIGH GARDEN CENTRE in OXFORDSHIRE, a singing male MARSH TIT was showing very well


At around 1800 hours, the wind freshened up from the ENE and a huge sleet shower moved across the Chiltern escarpment. New in today were 3 RING OUZELS in Inkombe Hole - a splendid adult male, a first-winter male and a female - all showing well on the upper slopes at the top end (car park end) and easily viewable from the new gate on the bridleway. A single male NORTHERN WHEATEAR was also with them, with yesterday's 3 still on the Beacon SE slope. I also had 2 Continental Song Thrushes on Steps Hill.


I was expecting big things with this evening's weather but nothing exciting. WILSTONE had the ever-present DARK-BELLIED BRENT, 4 Little Egrets, 5 Mute Swans, a drake Wigeon, a female Pochard, 18 Gadwall, 27 Shoveler, a COMMON TERN, 18 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Common Gulls, just 1 OYSTERCATCHER, an increase to 115 SAND MARTINS, 9 HOUSE MARTINS and 14 BARN SWALLOWS.

Very quiet at the other reservoirs - just 1 LRP of note on STARTOP'S

Great to hear my good friend Clive Byers chatting to Simon Mayo on Drivetime Radio 2 about woodpeckers and how they do not sustain brain injury when drumming/tapping

Rowsham fields harbour fall of WHEATEARS and first COMMON REDSTART of year

A bitterly cold walk around the fields this evening was livened up when I noticed a couple of Wheatears. I then noticed more in the adjacent field so approached for a closer look. The few turned into 7 definites, possibly 9. Whilst admiring these I then heard a repeated 'huet' and pretty much instantly recognised it as a calling COMMON REDSTART. I couldn't see it for ages and then just the briefest of glimpses as it flicked out of some bushes and back in again. Definitely of the Common variety and probably a male but couldn't be 100%. The incredible thing is that it was in exactly the same 30 metres of hedge that the first male of last Summer/ Autumn's birds turned up in. The weather deteriorated and the bird became silent, I ran the last bit to home as a hailstorm arrived.

Unfortunately this bird is miles from the nearest footpath on private land, it is not where birders enjoyed many last Autumn. I'm not sure I'll have chance to check it out tomorrow, maybe Friday morning. If its there I'll try and arrange access (Mike Wallen)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Spade Oak Pit today

Dave Ferguson watched an ICELAND GULL this afternoon in the roost on Spade Oak whilst photographer John Foster had at least 10 HOUSE MARTINS overhead this evening (see above)

Cracking male RING OUZEL at the Beacon Slopes


Well the day started off fine and dry with another light frost followed by clear, bright periods. The wind was light northerly and with the sunshine, temperatures reached 52 degrees F by late morning. Dark clouds then approached from the west with a cold front encroaching down from the north, pegging temperatures back by at least 10 degrees by mid-afternoon. Some hefty rain/sleet showers followed, with further rain setting in by evening.

With such an abrupt change in the weather, migrant birds were bound to appear and by the end of the day, a nice haul was bagged.......


Following up on Geoff Lapworth's visit of yesterday, I joined JT mid-morning and enjoyed my first views of WILLOW WARBLER this year - a male singing and showing close to the main footpath that crosses the common; also a singing male Blackcap and at least 6 singing Common Chiffchaffs


Next off, Joan and I visited Stocker's. Avian highlights included a single COMMON TERN (another year first for me), 7 Red-crested Pochards (6 drakes) on Bury Lake, a single BARN SWALLOW by Stocker's Farm and a very confiding and vocal CETTI'S WARBLER in scrub along the causeway.

The full list of species included Great Crested Grebe (8), Sinensis Cormorants, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Atlantic Canada Geese, Mallard, 2 Common Teal, Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, a remaining adult drake COMMON GOLDENEYE, Sparrowhawk, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, pair of Greenfinches, 8 House Sparrows by Stocker's Farm, Reed Bunting, 11 singing male Common Chiffchaffs and 5 singing male Blackcaps

Joan and I then decided to visit GLOUCESTERSHIRE, where we quickly connected with a first-winter BONAPARTE'S GULL.........


As we arrived back into Buckinghamshire, we hit a huge hail storm and blackened skies. Such conditions are ideal for grounding migrants so Joan and I headed straight for the hills.....

At the entrance to WAUDS HURST FARM, RINGSHALL (SP 984 147), sadly a dead BADGER (this follows two that I saw on the A41 at the weekend and another on the B4442 in Chalfont St Giles (SU 994 939))


In much cooler temperatures, Dunstable birder Tony Stachnicki, JT and I walked up to just below the Beacon trig point and relocated Daniel's cracking adult male RING OUZEL. It was favouring the rabbit burrows on the SE slope and as evening approached, it flew to roost in scrub adjacent to the Beacon footpath. I speculated whether or not this was last year's adult male returning (the long-staying male of last spring). The slope also held 3 migrant NORTHERN WHEATEARS, a bright male and two females.


In such conditions, it is always worth checking Wilstone and this evening proved extremely worthwhile. Whilst scanning the large number of newly-arrived hirundines, I came across a large raptor circling the reedbed at 1920 hours and instantly recognised it as a male MARSH HARRIER. In fact it was an adult male, with some moult in the primaries. I quickly got Joan on to it and then 'phoned Dave Bilcock. Two corvids took an instant dislike to the bird and began pestering it, forcing it to gain height. It kept on spiralling upwards and then when just above the Black Poplars, started to flap strongly eastwards. The two corvids continued to harass, the harrier then gaining ever increasing height. It then started to head northeast. At this point, Charlie Jackson arrived at the steps, and after a few attempts, I finally managed to get him on to the bird. Joan and I then watched it eventually disappear to a dot, most likely over Long Marston in the end. I took my eyes off of it at 1927 hours.

A single noisy EURASIAN CURLEW was roosting on the hide spit before it flew off east, whilst a single COMMON TERN was flying amongst 15 Black-headed Gulls. A swirl of SAND MARTINS numbered an impressive 83 birds. Great Crested Grebes numbered 32.


The Wilstone EURASIAN CURLEW had relocated to the mud on Startop's but after calling loudly, it once again flew off and this time headed south towards Tring. Both OYSTERCATCHERS were present and the single drake Wigeon.

Monday, 2 April 2012



After a very slight frost, it was another glorious day, with light northerly winds, clear skies and unbroken sunshine. Despite the cool wind, temperatures reached 12 degrees C during the afternoon

Following an early morning call from Darrel Bryant, I started off my day at Norton Green.......


Darrel discovered a cracking adult male RING OUZEL at Norton Green last night and luckily, despite clear skies, it was still present this morning. I joined two other observers mid-morning to find the stunning bird resting in Willows on the west flank of the site, just 200 yards in from the parking gate at the south end. It sat there for about 25 minutes before finally being pestered by a male Common Blackbird and then flew to the ground and started feeding. It afforded excellent views and was still present when I departed at 1020 hours.


Two CORN BUNTINGS noted in the roadside hedgerow at TL 164 287


Walked the Icknield Way Path and Deacon Hill area but failed to find any Ring Ouzels or Northern Wheatears - just 4 FIELDFARES on the lower slopes, 1 singing Common Chiffchaff in the Palnatation, a singing male Blackcap in The Meg and several Red-legged Partridges. A Red Kite was busy collecting nest material.

Spent an hour or so in suitable weather scanning over Goshawk habitat but no joy - just several more Red Kites and Common Buzzards.


The two (pair) Whooper Swans were present, along with 15 Common Teal and 8 Gadwall, 4 Common Snipes, a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and 4 singing male Common Chiffchaffs


Not far from Grovebury, I located two displaying pairs of EURASIAN CURLEW, the eery calls penetrating loudly across the fields; also Sparrowhawk and a single FIELDFARE

On the pit itself, very quiet - pair of Great Crested Grebes, pair of Mute Swans and pair of OYSTERCATCHERS

Nearby at GROVE (BUCKS), the small coppice at SP 920 222 held 28 active Rook nests (the total this spring in the county a whopping 1,094 nests - and still more to count)


An impressive 35 waders of 5 different species noted, including a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS from Octagon Hide (my first in Bucks this year), 2 Common Snipes, the usual pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (which, incidentally, do seem likely to be the parents of the Tring 3), the 11 Common Redshank and 18 Lapwing (7 birds now sitting).

Also present were 6 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Mute Swans, the COMMON SHELDUCK pair, 8 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 6 Common Gulls, 1 Argenteus Herring Gull, pair of Lesser Black-backs and singing Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff (2).


No sign of KD's Dark-bellied Brent Goose of the last two days but 32 Mute Swans grazing in the second field south of the river.


Little migrant activity apart from 20 SAND MARTINS, a single BARN SWALLOW (my first in Bucks) and the LITTLE RINGED PLOVER pair on the spit

Usual padders in the form of Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, 8 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 6 Shoveler and 8 Great Crested Grebes, just 12 Lapwing, 18 Herring Gulls, 25 Common Gulls (mostly first-years), 2 Sparrowhawks, upwards of 25 Red Kites and singing Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

BRENT GOOSE still present at Amerden

01/4 14:00 : DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE : Jubilee River. Still present feeding amongst the Greylag/Canada Geese in the adjacent fields west of Marsh Lane opposite Taplow Lake. (Kevin Duncan)