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

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Gallows Bridge WOOD SAND - more pix

Dave Hutchinson's shots from today - the bird lurking amongst the sedges


The juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER still showing well for the crowds today at Gallows Bridge, still commuting between the pools where I first saw it and the main pool in front of the hide. Some great photographs were taken of it

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

WOOD SANDPIPER still present

Taken through the scope - Dave Cleal's record shots of the WOOD SAND

The juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER was still present at Gallows Bridge BBOWT this morning, showing well with a Green Sandpiper in front of the hide; also 2 WHINCHATS still there (per Rod Scaife)

Last night, Warren Claydon had a juvenile MARSH HARRIER at Calvert Sailing Lake not that far away

Lots of COMMON REDSTARTS still around, including up to 9 at Rowsham, 11 on the Quainton Hills, 3 around Steps Hill and singles at Stowe and elsewhere; numerous WHINCHATS too

An OSPREY flew through College Lake on Saturday (Steve Rodwell)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

WOOD SANDPIPER rescues a dire day locally


Having been away seawatching in Cornwall when all of the local action was going on, I was keen to get back in the swing of things today. It was still very warm for the time of year (75 degrees F), dry, mostly sunny but with a fresh SW wind. The Bank Holiday Weekend had seen a juvenile Montagu's Harrier at Deadman's Hill, along with 4 juvenile Marsh Harriers and 2 Common Quail, with a juvenile Common Redstart at Amwell and lots of passage Whinchats. The Tring Reservoirs had yielded Black-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Little Gull and 2 Ospreys and it was the latter that I was concentrating on today - but without success......

Following a report of 2 Ospreys at PANSHANGER PARK yesterday, Alan Reynold's very kindly advised on my plan of attack and for several hours during the morning, I overlooked the lake from the new public footpath running alongside it. Needless to day there was no sign of any Ospreys but a migrant YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over and the lake itself held a female Tufted Duck with 3 small young and 8 Little Grebes; 4 Blackcaps, 3 Nuthatches and 2 Common Treecreepers were also seen.

Having not seen (only heard) the juvenile Redstart at Hollycross Lake, Amwell, yesterday afternoon, I gave the site a wide berth today - other species of note there yesterday being 6 Common Sandpipers and a family party of at least 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. Alan did not seem to be faring well at Deadman's Hill either so I gave that site a miss too.


Making a speedy rendezvous with Steve Blake at Tyttenhanger (where, incidentally, Steve Murray had seen an adult and two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls yesterday afternoon), we both enjoyed some splendid views of a WHINCHAT on the fenceline of Willows Farm car park - the first I have ever seen at this specific location. The fencing also held 21 tired Barn Swallows, with 4 YELLOW WAGTAILS (2 adult males and 2 juveniles) on the field edge.


I then decided to put in an hour or more at Wilstone Reservoir, skygazing with Steve Rodwell from the East Bank from 1530-1700 hours. I was hoping for another migrant Osprey, following Steve's two on Saturday but it was not to be. SR really is amazing and deserves every bird he gets - spending eight hours on that bank most days truly deserves a medal. We did see a nice adult HOBBY, plenty of Red Kites and Common Buzzards and 43 Mute Swans, whilst the ploughed field in Cemetery Corner yielded 98 Lapwings and 122 Black-headed Gulls. SR had earlier seen 4 Yellow Wagtails fly west.


Still 'needing' Marsh Harrier for the Bucks Year, I headed west through a 'police-ful' Aylesbury (the Queen and other Royals were in town apparently for the launch of the Paralympics) and up the A41 to Gallows Bridge. The reserve was looking fabulous with two 'new' marshy pools in the left hand field as you walk down to the hides. A juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER was a real surprise and bonus, bobbing its head nervously as I tried to walk past it as it fed on the second marshy section. It called loudly and then flew overhead and landed in front of the second hide, favouring an obvious spit on one of the overgrown islands. It was a very fresh juvenile and was alert and mobile. It repeatedly flew back and forth between the two sites but clearly favoured the sedge-filled pool behind the hide and fence. Warren Claydon and others saw it too.

Three Little Egrets were also present on the main scrape, as well as YELLOW WAGTAIL and 5 SEDGE WARBLERS, but there was no sign of the recent Whinchats nor any passage Marsh Harriers. Maybe tomorrow !

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Overcast conditions deposit more birds on Hills


The wind had freshened quite substantially from the SW this morning, with somewhat overcast conditions continuing on from yesterday evening's rain. I expected a few birds in such conditions


Along with FB, Chris and SR, I did a mid-morning check-round of the Hill circuit with reasonable results. Commuting between the stubble field and the sheep pen fenceline were 3 WHINCHATS (an adult and 2 juveniles) and 4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS (an adult and 3 juveniles) whilst a contingent of 17 Eurasian Barn Swallows were lingering over the stubble and slope clearly waiting for better visibility. Two TREE PIPITS flew over calling in quick succession whilst in the scrubby area below the car park, a number of COMMON REDSTARTS was still present, including a vocal male in the last isolated hawthorn before the two gates at the bottom of the slope. There were also 3 Yellowhammers in this area, whilst Chris had a single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER. I also came across a SMALL COPPER butterfly.

Incombe Hole and Steps Hill were difficult to work in the freshening wind and yielded nothing of note

WHINCHATS were also seen widely elsewhere in the county today with the two juveniles still at Springfield Farm Quarry, two at Ravenstone Sewage Works and 5 at Gallows Bridge NR, along with two still at Batford (Herts) and a further 7 in Bedfordshire.

Lee G R Evans

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

WHINCHAT passage continues in earnest


Several degrees cooler than of late but still very pleasant. A light SW breeze but as evening approached, a belt of heavy rain arrived. WHINCHATS were the name of the day with numerous birds discovered in the Home Counties, with Darin finding a second bird at Batford and Simon West seeing one at Amwell...


The highlight this morning was the arrival of 3 juvenile Common Blackbirds and a Song Thrush on the lawn - my resident pair of Blackbirds failing to raise any surviving young this year from their three broods. Also a Coal Tit repeatedly visiting


With so many WHINCHATS about, I simply knew that Springfield would reap rewards and after walking 150 yards down the perimeter footpath, two fresh juveniles were located and seen well. Both birds were favouring weeds by the cinder track.


Stopped off briefly at 1400 hours but little going on: Egyptian Geese numbered 29 (including young), the Bar-headed Goose, 427 Black-headed Gulls and the continuing juvenile Common Sandpiper. There was no sign of the juvenile Turnstone.

Then scoured Pump Lane North for Adam's Whinchats but could not locate them


A single juvenile WHINCHAT was showing well on the fenceline just before the sheep pen (earlier SR and FB had seen 2), along with a single CORN BUNTING and 8 Linnets, whilst in the section of scrub just below the main car park, 3 COMMON REDSTARTS were flicking to and fro, including an adult male still in nice condition.

There was nothing of note at TRING RESERVOIRS or COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT

Monday, 20 August 2012

TURNSTONE was a real bonus

Having been away at the Rutland Bird Fair since Thursday, I finally managed to get in some quality birding today, many birds seemingly on the move just now

Yesterday evening (Sunday 19 August), I joined Ashley Stowe, Alan Stevens and other local birders at SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT, LITTLE MARLOW and was rewarded with excellent views of the juvenile TURNSTONE present throughout the day - only the second in the county this year and my first. It was very mobile, flying around frequently and calling regularly - and commuting between the end of the spit and bay nearer to the island. There was also a single Common Sandpiper present, whilst a GREEN SANDPIPER flew over.

The temperature at 1800 hours was an incredible 77 degrees F with a single EURASIAN WIGEON and 19 Argenteus HERRING GULLS somewhat out of sync with the conditions. The Bar-headed Goose was still present, 5 Common Teal, a male Sparrowhawk and much Common Kingfisher activity.

In the TRING AREA, Steve Rodwell had 8 WHIMBREL fly over last night whilst COMMON REDSTARTS were being seen all over the place, with up to 12 on Quainton Hills, 5 at Rowsham and 7 in the Ivinghoe Hills area.


Thankfully, temperatures cooled somewhat today - down to 70 degrees - with a little light rain this morning as well as a lot of cloud. Although the wind was light southwesterly, I was expecting a bit of a fall on the hills but it never quite materialised.

The IVINGHOE HILLS was therefore my first port of call - SR, Francis B and Chris also having the same idea. Walking the hedge-lines between Town Farm and the bottom of Incombe Hole produced no less than 7 COMMON REDSTARTS - including 4 adult males. Only one could be located in the Hole proper, with 3 migrant WILLOW WARBLERS also present and 3 Mistle Thrushes. Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch, 6 Robin, 5 Common Whitethroat and 3 Common Chiffchaff were also noted but most interesting were the 5 COMMON RAVENS - presumably one of the local family parties. The juveniles were in immaculate flight condition whilst the adults were quite worn with the odd wing and tail feather missing.


Very quiet ! The female Tufted Duck was still with her 6 ducklings whilst the gull roost held 2 adult YELLOW-LEGGEDS and a single adult COMMON.


As I walked along the causeway between STARTOP'S and MARSWORTH at 1230, I heard the familiar call of a WHIMBREL and looked up to see it flying from the canal direction, up and over the causeway trees and out westwards over Startop's. Two COMMON SWIFTS were also seen.

Marsworth also held two successful nesting pairs of Great Crested Grebe, with one pair attending two small young and another one older young. This is in addition to the pair on Startop's with 3 young. There were also 48 Black-headed Gulls present whilst Startop's yielded the two juvenile BLACK TERNS and a pair of eclipse-plumaged Red-crested Pochards.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR was remarkably quiet with a mobile flock of 226 dredging Coot, 86 post-breeding Lapwings and 14 House Martins. Although I spent some time scanning the skies, just Sparrowhawk and 8+ Red Kites were noted.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Yesterday's LITTLE TERNS....

Although a single juvenile lingered overnight and stayed until at least midday today, the rest of the 18-strong clan had carried on their migration. Above is a selection of John Foster's images of the birds

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Unprecedented county flock of LITTLE TERNS displaced by unseasonal weather


An unseasonal fast-moving depression tracked east across the country today bringing quite strong S/SE winds. It was also accompanied by a few short sharp showers. Clearly associated with this front were large numbers of terns, including Sandwich, Arctic, Black and Little - the latter appearing in an unprecedented number in Buckinghamshire..........


Not long after 1315 hours, Adam Bassett phoned me to say that a 'flock' of LITTLE TERNS had flown in, numbering at least 15 birds. Within minutes I was in the car and on the way. By the time I arrived some 17 minutes later, the figure had been revised to 19 (nineteen) - the largest single flock ever recorded in the county and certainly the largest inland flock that I have ever witnessed. The flock were showing very well and roosting on the spit - David Ferguson managing to photograph the entire group. It consisted of two very fresh juveniles, 13 yellow-billed adults and 4 wholly black-billed individuals which I couldn't decide whether they were adult winters or first-summers). They afforded superb views from the vegetated spit on the west bank and remained present until at least 1400 hours, often hunting in a pack at the east end.

I also discovered two very fresh juvenile LITTLE GULLS surface-feeding at the east end, whilst 17 Common Terns were present and a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL amongst the spit-roosting Black-headed Gulls. Although the number of larger gulls on site was small, the roost did include 5 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

A COMMON GREENSHANK was also present, along with the female Egyptian Goose and surviving young and 5 Shoveler. Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 3 Nuthatches were also encountered.


Acting upon a call from Jeff Bailey, I headed north to Tring Reservoirs to check a windswept Startop's End Reservoir. Along with David Bilcock, we all logged 5 BLACK TERNS and a juvenile ARCTIC TERN. One of the adult BLACKS was still in very good 'nick' whilst two were fresh juveniles. No less than 15 Common Terns were present too - along with 8 COMMON SWIFTS. All 3 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were still surviving and being fed.

On neighbouring MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, another pair of Great Crested Grebes were attending a single youngster, with a juvenile Sparrowhawk seen and Mute Swan orange 681 remaining present with his partner.


All 4 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were alive, well and growing although there was no sign of either father. A single Little Grebe was also noted, whilst baby/juvenile Coots numbered 17. Green Woodpecker and juvenile Common Buzzard were also noted whilst migrants included 21 COMMON SWIFTS, 1 House Martin, 8 Common Chiffchaffs and the 9 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS.

Elsewhere in the county, Rob Norris had a single juvenile BLACK TERN at Willen Lake South Basin

Monday, 13 August 2012


Rose Collard discovered a moulting adult LITTLE STINT at College Lake BBOWT reserve just before lunch on Sunday and the bird remained on the main marsh for the rest of the day feeding in emergent vegetation. David Bilcock also had a SPOTTED REDSHANK fly over, whilst both COMMON SANDPIPER and up to 5 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were seen.

Elsewhere, lots of migrant SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a WHINCHAT for its third day at Hardmead, numerous COMMON REDSTARTS and a single NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Pitstone Hill.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Chats and SPOTTED FLYS in North Bucks

At Ravenstone STW this lunchtime, not only were the two WHINCHATS still present but there was also a juvenile COMMON STONECHAT and a female type Wheatear. The first three on the corn north of the track and the Wheatear frequenting the track about half way down.

This afternoon a family group of 6 Spotted Flycatchers were in the Allotments at Lathbury. Presumably these were the ones from over the road in the village.

Earlier in the day there were still around 20 Swifts over West Street in Olney.

Robert Norris

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Another juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE


Another pretty warm day with a few sharp showers and a continuing light SW wind.....


Some passage overhead with 5 COMMON SWIFTS and 40 House Martins noted


All four Mute Swans still, a female Gadwall, a single juvenile Coot and 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS; marked out all of the orchids with canes for protection


My fourth Bucks BLACK-NECKED GREBE of the year involved a dusky juvenile showing very well in the SW corner of the lake, loosely associating with Tufted Ducks

A lot of COMMON KINGFISHER activity, an eclipse Shoveler but not much else of note

A single well grown Great Crested Grebe chick with parent, single Mute Swan, 55 Greylag Geese (including numerous young), 7 Egyptian Geese (including a female with 3 young, one of which was leucistic), 23 Tufted Ducks, 197 Lapwing, a roosting flock of 97 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 7 Argenteus Herring Gulls, 26 Common Terns (including 3 juveniles, one of which still being fed on the raft) and a feeding flock of 209 Common Starlings.


Great Crested Grebes continuing to do very well with one pair feeding a well-growing single youngster and the second pair shielding 3 very tiny youngsters.

Both adult Mute Swans again, a female GADWALL with 5 well grown young, a female MANDARIN DUCK, good numbers of baby and juvenile Coots and a Grey Heron.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER numbers have risen slightly with now 9 birds present, most likely two separate family parties as mostly juveniles. A single House Martin overhead and a Common Treecreeper

Monday, 6 August 2012

More Black-tailed Godwits

Three more BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were seen in the county on Sunday flying west over Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow (Alan Stevens).

Also, just been told about a singing male Wood Warbler reported from near the Buddleia turning circle at The Hale end of Wendover Forest  in June (per Graham Smith). First I had heard of it but apparently 'special invitation only'.due to the possibility of it being on territory.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Saturday's Highlights

Dave Bilcock had up to 9 YELLOW-LEGGED and an adult and juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL in fields at Ivinghoe Beacon early morning whilst an adult and juvenile COMMON REDSTART remained in Incombe Hole. At College Lake BBOWT, an adult and two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS was present, whilst the BLACK TERN remains at Calvert.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Just where do these BLACK-NECKED GREBE juveniles come from?


The day began overcast and drizzly but soon gave way to clearer conditions from the south and was eventually quite warm in the afternoon, with temperatures just about reaching 72 degrees F.

My first port of call was Calvert Lakes, followed by a roundup of local sites........on route, a dead Badger was besides the A41 just west of Kingswood


There was no sign of the recent Black Tern on the Sailing Lake - just 6 Great Crested Grebes. On the opposite side of the road, most surprising was the sight of two juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBES from the second hide, swimming together in the middle of the lake. One was markedly larger than the other but generally they were identical in plumage, with dusky markings about the head and neck and very striking white throats. The reddish eye was a noticeable feature. These two birds follow hard on the heels of a juvenile at Wilstone Reservoir which I somehow managed to miss, despite it being there an hour or so earlier.

Breeding success was confirmed by both Coot and Tufted Duck (female accompanying 7 small ducklings) whilst the 120-strong Lesser Black-backed Gull throng held 3 different YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS - a 3rd-summer, 2nd-summer and very fresh juvenile.

Most frustrating was the presence of yobbos drinking cans of beer in the second hide and seemingly gathering wood to start a fire.


Spent some time traversing the West Slopes, the highlights being 3 different COMMON REDSTARTS (2 males and a female) and several passage Willow Warblers and Common Chiffchaffs.

GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT proved to be birdless whilst ROWSHAM and its adjacent farmland and hedgerows produced no less than 4 different COMMON REDSTARTS.


The recent heavy rains have transformed this site since my last look with extensive water in the right hand side once again. This consequently held the local OYSTERCATCHER family (the two adults and two surviving young), a GREEN SANDPIPER and 40 Atlantic Canada Geese. Several Common Chiffchaffs were on the slope.


Not a great deal to write home about but noteworthy were 2 Great Crested Grebes, 34 Lapwing, an adult Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, 11 Common Swifts and a fabulous HOBBY - seemingly a first-summer rather than a juvenile.

The two juvenile Common Terns were still being fed on the spit with 15 Black-headed Gulls, a female Mallard with two small ducklings, a new baby Moorhen with parent, 2 Mute Swans and a male Common Kestrel making up the logcall.


Walked the entire circuit but still failed in my quest to locate the Nuthatches or lone Coal Tit. WILSTONE orchards held 2 Jays, male Common Pheasant and Red Fox whilst the reservoir itself held 46 Mute Swans, 36 Greylag Geese, a drake Gadwall, 7 SHOVELER, 9 Great Crested Grebes, 12 Grey Heron, 27 Sinensis Cormorants, Stock Dove, COMMON KINGFISHERS (much activity still), 1 Barn Swallow, 36 House Martions and numerous Western Reed Warblers. The East Hedgerow held a number of migrant Common Chiffchaffs.

At TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans and 16 Tufted Duck and on MARSWORTH, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Common Chiffchaffs and a Jay. STARTOP'S END held the only successful nesting pair of Great Crested Grebes (an adult with 3 small stripy young), with 3 additional adults, 2 Mute Swans, 62 Coot (just 2 young) and a notable 52 Tufted Ducks. Also a passage COMMON SANDPIPER. Quite what two Mallard decoy ducks were doing in the middle I do not know but I hope that there was no intention of shooting.