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 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.