Compared to most recent years, when for example I recorded 165 species in the county in 2011, 187 in 2012 and 173 in 2013, this has been a particularly poor one with just 157 species recorded by mid December - one of my worst years on record


It's all over - 2012 has come to an end. I managed a total of 187 out of the 198 species recorded all told in Buckinghamshire - 94% of the total - probably my highest-ever annual tally.

The current record is 191 species achieved in 2006 and held jointly by both Rob Hill and Simon Nichols

Sunday, 30 December 2012

WAXWINGS in Milton Keynes

Ashley has found 38 WAXWINGS in Wymbush this morning, just over the road from Lodge Lake - on the corner of the Great Holm and Two Mile Ash Roundabout.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Latest News as we near the end of 2012

The GREAT WHITE EGRET is still present on Mill Farm Water Meadows in the Chess Valley today, but the two Foxcote Long-tailed Ducks seem to have gone

Warren Claydon had 2 adult CASPIAN GULLS at Calvert BBOWT over Christmas as well as the HAWFINCHES in Penn Wood that I first found way back in November

A flock or two of WAXWINGS still about (in the South and North of the County) but not much else

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The favoured haunts of the Chess Valley GREAT WHITE EGRET

Markers A to D represent (in order of preference) the locations the wintering GREAT WHITE EGRET is visiting. The yellow markers represent the main viewing localities. Please park in Chenies Village

GREAT WHITE EGRET still present

Paul Rowe obtained some nice shots of the Chess Valley GREAT WHITE EGRET today, as it stalked largely mammalian prey in the Water Meadows at Mill Farm. For up-to-date details of this bird and for more stunning shots, bookmark my Birding Amersham blog

Monday, 24 December 2012

GREAT WHITE EGRET still present and an unprecedented arrival of NORTHERN POCHARDS into the Amersham Recording Area


Lots more rain and still many areas flooded, particularly Nightingales Lane and some of the more minor roads; very mild though at 46 degrees F...

Didn't do a lot today but did check sites within a 2 mile radius of the house..........

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was back on MILL FARM WATER MEADOWS (CHENIES BOTTOM), showing very well prancing about in the open and chasing anything edible

At least 4 Little Egrets in the area, plus the 2 Mute Swans, Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail

The single GREYLAG GOOSE also still present by GREAT WATER (LATIMER), in with the flock of 113 Atlantic Canada Geese

There was no sign of the drake Goosander at CHESHAM FISHING PITS - just the 2 Mute Swans, 14 Tufted Duck, 16 Coot, SISKIN and Goldcrest

CHESHAM MILLFIELDS held 3 Moorhens, with 3 Red Kites wheeling about overhead

The most astonishing sight at a water-sodden SHARDELOES LAKE was an unprecedented arrival of NORTHERN POCHARDS; no less than 111 birds present - far and away a local record. The majority were adult drakes and I am assuming all of the heavy rain has flooded them out of other sites.

Not much else there, with a distinct lack of both Gadwall and Little Grebe, but the pair of Mute Swans, 4 Common Teal, 194 Coot, Common Kestrel, 7 Argenteus Herring Gulls and Wren

Merry Christmas Everyone

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Other News

GREAT WHITE EGRET still on the Chess, both LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Foxcote, juvenile female GREATER SCAUP on the Roach Pit and adult CASPIAN GULL at Calvert

WAXWINGS in North Bucks

There were 2 WAXWINGS on Renny Park Road, Newport Pagnell (near the Land Rover garage) at 10:30 this morning. Feeding on roadside Rosehips until frightened off by a large lorry. Not seen to return.

At Tesco's in Kingston a flock of 8 were in the car park at 11 o'clock, with a further 16 at the nearby Dominos Pizza (Robert Norris)

Friday, 21 December 2012

Large WAXWING flock in Prestwood; GWE still


Following yesterday's deluge which left some serious flooding behind, today was contrastingly pleasant, with clear skies, light winds and dry weather - and a temperature of 8 degrees C.

Also, the World did not end, so I can get out tomorrow and buy some presents....

The GORE HILL covey of Red-legged Partridges increased by one today to 5, whilst on the CHESS VALLEY, the adult GREAT WHITE EGRET moved further east along the river and spent the day fishing just 50 yards west of Frogmore Meadow. Visitors today included Ephraim Perfect and his brother, Arsenal supporter Chris Pontin, Don Stone, Andy Radford and about 11 others

A GREEN SANDPIPER landed on the Chess briefly before relocating to the Crestyl Watercress Beds at Sarratt Bottom and Little Egrets once more numbered 9 birds.

A visit to PRESTWOOD (just about in my Recording Area) resulted in seeing 53 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. Found by Joel Lund this morning, all were still present mid-afternoon when Don, Mike Collard, Graham Smith and Paul Keene and I were there. They are eating some pretty ropey shrivelled-up berries on the two trees between Groom Road and Bouquet Close along Hildreth Road at SP 876 002. Four Fieldfares were also noted and 19 Common Starlings.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


The GREAT WHITE EGRET is still present in the Chess Valley feeding 200 yards downstream of Chenies Bottom Bridge - please park sensibly in Chenies Village and walk down to the first bend on the hill.

In South Bucks, the juvenile female GREATER SCAUP is still present on the Roach Pit.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Roach Pit SCAUP and its odd companion


Although completely overcast, it was not until early afternoon that the forecast rain eventually arrived. It remained cold too, with temperatures never improving on 5 degrees C.

A Jay was back in my garden at CHAFFINCH HOUSE and as I drove past CHENIES BOTTOM closeby, Graham Smith was looking down at the GREAT WHITE EGRET on the kink in the River Chess, 150 yards downstream of the bridge. Mike Campbell then joined us, to be replaced later in the afternoon by Dave Cleal. A flock of 24 Redwings flew down valley.

Talking with Adam Bassett, reminded me of the necessity to visit MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS) and do some more counting - and a good excuse to look at the GREATER SCAUP that had reappeared on the Roach Pit. On route were 4 Red-legged Partridges in the field adjacent to AMERSHAM HILL - the first I have seen in a while in the Recording Area.

Anyway, on to the Marlow complex of pits......

The CROWNE PLAZA LAKE, adjacent to the A404 (at SU 863 865) held 2 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 36 Coot and 14 Tufted Ducks

The ROACH PIT (at SU 864 872) and accessed from the footbridge at the bottom end of Wiltshire Road was where the action was. Graham Smith and I enjoyed excellent views of the juvenile female GREATER SCAUP (now devoid of any pink neck-ring) as it dived consecutively about 75 yards away. It was a fairly typical individual, being very pale brown in general plumage, thick-necked, flat-headed, with pale feathering on the ear-coverts, some creamish-white on the forehead and a large spatulate bill, the black restricted to the nail. Significantly, and always characteristic of the species, when diving, it leapt out of the water. Much more concerning however, and bewildering, was an Aythya closely associating with it. This too had a large bill and white above the bill base, but it was much darker in the head, not so pronounced in head shape and markedly smaller - an oddball. But strangely, the two birds seemed related. Diving however, the darker individual mirrored Tufted Duck, just diving without jumping out of the water. Knowing that CDRH had seen two juvenile Scaups recently in the region, I phoned him and discussed the individual. It transpired that it was most likely one of three birds he had seen and he kindly agreed to come over and have a browse of it. We concluded that it was either a Greater Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid or a late brooded juvenile Tufted Duck, some of which occasionally look like this. Interestingly, the resident Coots took a disliking to the two birds, and constantly badgered them whenever they surfaced.

The Roach Pit also held 1 Mute Swan, 8 Coots and a drake Tufted Duck

I then made my way to SPADE OAK PIT where I joined Alan Stevens. The pit was well deep, with water still lapping over the banks and concealing most of the spit, wildfowl being the main beneficiaries......

26 Great Crested Grebes (nice to get a few more of these, as wintering numbers in the county seem well down), 2 Mute Swans (down from 5), 16 Greylag Geese, 1 COMMON SHELDUCK (the sole wintering bird in the county), 17 Mallard, 37 Gadwall, 103 Wigeon, 14 Shoveler, 98 Teal, 142 Tufted Ducks and 30 Northern Pochards (down from 51); also 19 Coot, 11 Grey Heron, 11 Moorhen, 18 Common Snipe, at least 600 Lapwing and 3 COMMON KINGFISHERS

WAXWINGS at Wolverton Works

Yes, Wolverton Works.

Around 40 WAXWINGS this afternoon (Tuesday) down the 'Black Boards' path at the far western end of the railway works between Wolverton & Old Wolverton. They were flitting down into the gulleys between the roof apex on the Works buildings where I guess water was collecting. Still in area on leaving in gardens alongside, soouth side of Longville, Old Wolverton.

100 yards further north on Manor Farm Workings, 9 Goosander (6 drakes, 3 redheads), a couple of Golden Plover, 5 Green Sandpiper including three quite happily feeding on floods right by the railway line and a handful of Common Snipe, Little Egrets also dotted here and there.

Chris Gleadell

Elsewhere in North Bucks, still at least 100 WAXWINGS in the Bletchley/Stony Stratford area, and several other flocks scattered around the county (LGRE)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

GREAT WHITE EGRET still - and more duck counting


Another dry day with temperatures reaching just over 6 degrees C


A first-winter Pied Wagtail was a new arrival to the garden today but nothing much else of note


Joined Steve Blake and Stuart Wilson in the Chess Valley and checked several sites for the GREAT WHITE EGRET but to no avail. Adam Bassett then phoned to say that he had relocated it closer to Chenies village, feeding on the kink in the Chess 50 yards east of Chenies Place. It remained here with up to 6 Little Egrets for most of the day, wading in deep water on occasions. Only once did it stray to the brook, when a Grey Heron flushed it.

Two WATER RAILS, Common Kestrel, 2 LITTLE OWLS, 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 2 Grey Wagtails, 3 LESSER REDPOLL and 10 SISKINS were all noted in the vicinity, whilst SB saw and heard the 2 resident MARSH TITS in Baldwin's Wood.


On to duck counting, with the COLNE VALLEY in mind.....

TILEHOUSE PITS NORTH AND SOUTH (BUCKS) (TQ 037 900 and 029 899 respectively)

Tilehouse North held 1 Great Crested Grebe, 32 Tufted Duck and 36 Coot whilst Tilehouse South had 2 Great Crested Grebes, drake Mallard, 8 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.


A single Little Egret, 2 Egyptian Geese, 11 Mallard, 1 pair of Gadwall, 1 Coot and 6 Moorhens counted, whilst across the road, on the Misbourne (TQ 035 872), a Little Grebe, a Moorhen, 6 Common Teal and a COMMON KINGFISHER


A sizeable new gravel working yielding 15 Coot, 23 Tufted Duck, 2 Moorhen and a single female Northern Pochard, whilst on the neighbouring GOLF COURSE POND (TQ 048 865), Grey Heron, single Sinensis, 1 Mallard, 4 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot and 4 Moorhens.

The grassy fields to the north of the Misbourne Valley and north of Old Rectory Lane held 45 Atlantic Canada Geese, whilst GERRARDS CROSS NORTH POND today held 23 Mallards.


I finished off SW of Beaconsfield where Graham Smith had counted 106 Egyptian Geese a couple of afternoons ago. Large numbers were still present in the fields NE of the farm - 85 being my best count; also no less than 45 Red Kites lingering in the area, attracted to the chickens.

Monday, 17 December 2012

GREAT WHITE EGRET reappears in Chess Valley - 2nd day - but viewing is problematical


A dry, bright day but fairly chilly, with temperatures peaking at 6 degrees C. It was an eventful day in more ways than one, with both ups and downs........

First thing, checked out the CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS) where there had been a report of a Cattle Egret - a species not yet recorded in the Amersham Recording Area but a potential addition to the impressive list of rare herons already achieved. No luck however, just 5 Little Egrets located......


Following a call from Allan Stewart, I made my way over to HPR where Allan had seen the GREAT NORTHERN DIVER that Ian Bennell had photographed yesterday (see above). Somehow, in the half-hour it took me to get over, Allan had lost it and despite JT, Ian Williams, Derek Turner and I searching, there was no further sign of it; no sign either of 2 redhead Smew that had been seen yesterday

In fact, HPR offered very little in way of compensation - 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 15 Gadwall, 13 Pochard, Common Pheasant and 8 SISKINS.

So, with the midway point reached in December, it was time to do more duck counting and off I went to TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)......

WILSTONE RESERVOIR harboured the most numbers but overall, counts were almost 100 down on early December's counts - from 2,143 birds to 1,947....

Undoubted highlight though was a redhead SMEW - found by Steve Rodwell early on and still present when Mike Campbell and I visited subsequently; difficult tho' as it was frequenting the sheltered side of the bund and only visible from the far right of the hide. First record this winter but in line with a widespread arrival of the species from the Continent in the past week.

Also counted were 9 Great Crested Grebes (up from 5), just 6 Mute Swans, 137 Teal (well down), 12 Gadwall, just 122 Wigeon (also down), 58 Shoveler, 158 Tufted Duck, 120 Pochard (increase), the 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE (single adult drake) and 202 Coot.

There were also 46 Lapwing roosting on the tern rafts, 85 Fieldfare and 71 Common Starlings feeding together in a field, 2 Long-tailed Tits by the car park and a Mistle Thrush feeding on Yew in the churchyard.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held 2 Little Grebes (first here in a long time), 5 Great Crested Grebes, 46 Greylag Geese, 6 Mallard, 11 Shoveler and 8 Moorhens, whilst STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR produced 5 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 71 Mallard, 22 Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard and an increase to 417 Coot.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR was the last call, with 1 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Sinensis, 2 Mutes ('682' still), 11 Gadwall, 55 Teal, 15 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 87 Coot and 6 Moorhen; also 6 Goldfinches and the Song Thrush still wintering in the wood near Tringford Farm.


Met up with JT and tested out her wildfowl counting skills and techniques. I must say I was impressed and most of our independent counts tallied - although it did take an awful long time to square up Mute Swans !

So, here goes - 3 Little Grebes (wintering on the east fringe of the deep lake), 41 Mute Swans (including orange 4ABM), 34 Atlantic Canada Geese, 15 Mallard, 27 Gadwall, 3 Common Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, 10 Northern Pochard, 82 Wigeon, the 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (drake and two females on marsh), 60 Coot (59 on the deep pit) and 5 Moorhen - also Sparrowhawk, 38 Lapwing and a number of Blue and Great Tits at the feeders.


Dire, complete waste of time and a disgraceful number of discarded floating plastic bottles and drinks cans - just 8 Mallard on the water and a pair of BULLFINCHES in the wood.


Had a drive round Aldbury and Tring Station looking for Waxwings but to no avail - still huge numbers of wintering Woodpigeons though with at least 136 and 2 Stock Doves opposite Westlands Farm and 2,300 or more feeding on cereal to the west of the village near Newground Road. Common Buzzard in this area too. All of the berries have been eaten!


Following a message relayed by RBA from Ben Miller, I returned to the Chess Valley with JT and Jeff Bailey. Following a fruitless walk between Chenies Bottom bridge and Latimer Bridge, I phoned Joan so that we could check out a site where the bird had often visited three winters ago. On her way to me, she noticed it in a roadside ditch and on returning, it was still showing well, wading in shallow water of the brook. Latimer Road is a very dangerous place to be at the best of times, being very narrow, dark and steep-sided with hedgerows on either side, so we watched from the relative safety of the houses at TQ 013 986. 'Scope views weren't bad, and Graham Smith and a lady who had been walking the Chess for hours stopped by briefly to have a look. This was presumably the same bird that had wintered in exactly the same spot and in the close vicinity from 20 November 2009 until 21 January 2010 but had chosen Berkshire in 2010/2011. Weirdly, as I approached closer to get some photographs, it walked out of the brook and into the field towards me - and kept on approaching me until a guy sounded his car horn really loudly and frightened it. I contacted Stuart & Lesley Wilson who had initially located the bird on its previous visit in November 2009 and as dusk approached, took them down to see the bird from a private bridge over the stream. At 1610 hours, it flew downstream to roost, joining a total of 9 Little Egrets - flying high over Frogmore Meadow (Herts) towards Stockers Lake.

Also encountered were 4 Mute Swans (single pairs at Church Covert and on Bois Mill Pond), 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 13 Common Magpies at roost, 2 Greenfinches and a large Bat species

GREAT WHITE EGRET access problems

Viewing this GREAT WHITE EGRET is problematical as it spends the majority of its time in the private meadows between Chenies Bottom and Latimer Bridges. Most of the time it can only be viewed from Latimer Road which is narrow and bordered by hedgerows on both sides. It is a very dangerous road to walk on, only this afternoon a cyclist being knocked off. Also, you MUST park in CHENIES VILLAGE and walk back to the site - a distance of half a mile or more

During its last visit in 2009, it was very erratic and temperamental, favouring sections of the Chess for a day at a time before moving on to a different section. Many places it visited were strictly private and I can envisage there being some problems. Please respect the residents in this area

Friday, 14 December 2012

Friday Roundup

Just over the border in BERKSHIRE, an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT remains for a third day, showing down to just a few yards on the West/Northwest bank of Queen Mother Reservoir; this is a real MEGA and well worth the visit (Day Permits on offer from the gate at £2)

In North Bucks, both juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCKS are still present on Foxcote Reservoir, with 33 WAXWINGS in Bernwood Forest at Oakley Wood, 30 still in Bletchley (in Asda Car Park) and up to 30 in Buckingham Road, Aylesbury.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Regular Duck counters wanted

In order to accurately assess the population of Water Birds in Buckinghamshire, I am looking towards trying to count all of the water bodies twice a month (eg, between 1st & 7th and 18th & 24th). I can cover most sites but I do need help on many others and would be keen to hear from anyone who fancies taking part.

The species that have to be counted are: Great Crested & Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Bewick's Swan, Greylag, Atlantic Canada, Barnacle & White-fronted Goose, Egyptian Goose, Mandarin Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Moorhen and Coot

Sites I require help with are: 1) River Ouse Valley from Water Stratford to Buckingham

2) Padbury Brook (from Padbury to Thornton)

3) Cosgrove Park

4) Manor Farm

5) Grand Union Canal from Cosgrove to Bozenham Mill

6) New Bradwell Lake

7) Haversham Sailing Lake

8) Linford Nature Reserve (especially Egret roost)

9) Little Linford Complex

10) Gayhurst Quarry

11) Gayhurst Motorway Pits

12) Tyringham Park

13) Tongwell Lake

14) Newport Pagnell Pits

15) Blue Lagoon, Bletchley

16) Little Brickhill Pond

17) Middle Claydon

18) Adstock Pond

19) Addington Manor

20) Wingrave Pond

21) Aston Abbotts Abbey Pond

22) Marlow Low Grounds

23) Westhorpe Farm Pits, Marlow

24) Dropmore Lake

If you fancy taking on any of these sites regularly, or others in your area, please email me on; Many thanks

MERLIN at Gallows Bridge

A female/immature MERLIN is present for a third day at Gallows Bridge BBOWT, whilst nearby both adult and first-winter CASPIAN GULL roosted at Calvert BBOWT (per Tim Watts)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Juvenile GREATER SCAUP with pink plastic ring round its neck !!

Local birder and WeBS counter Neil Wragg photographed this juvenile GREATER SCAUP today on the Roach Pit at Little Marlow (that's the pit next to the A404 dual carriageway); incredibly, it has a plastic ring round its neck, presumably attached during a dive

Duck Counting: SE Bucks (looks like less than 40 MANDARIN DUCKS surviving in county)


A real sharp overnight frost this time, with temperatures dropping down to minus 7 degrees. There followed a beautiful day - clear and bright - although from mid-afternoon, freezing fog started to penetrate

After initially stocking the garden feeders, I set off in pursuit of duck counting, this time concentrating on water bodies in the SE of the county......

At CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS), highlight was 14 Goldfinches at once, followed by frequent visits from a single Jay, Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 2 Dunnocks, 3 Common Blackbirds, 1 male Chaffinch and just 5 House Sparrows (still no Collared Doves, now been missing for over a month).


COOT numbers continue to break all records, and although the Old Amersham end of the lake was frozen, 219 were crammed in on the remaining open water (a new record).

The single drake MANDARIN DUCK was still present at the west end, with 8 surviving Little Grebes, 11 Mallard, 20 Gadwall, pair of Teal, pair of SHOVELER (very scarce here and I think my first locally this year), 7 Tufted Duck, a single drake Northern Pochard (again, scarce this winter so far) and 8 Moorhen.

Gulls washing or roosting on the lake included 83 Black-headed, 13 Common and 2 adult Lesser Black-backed, whilst other species encountered in the park included 2 Carrion Crows, 2 Robins, just 1 Wren, 21 Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, 6 Long-tailed Tits and a single Song Thrush.


Mostly frozen - 47 Mallard and 7 Moorhen; 7 Red Kites circling above the village


Virtually frozen solid - just 13 Mallard; 3 Pied Wagtails in car park


All of the MANDARIN DUCKS were on the Middle Pond as usual - 20 in number (including 11 drakes), 5 down on recent winter counts; also 18 Mallard and 3 Moorhens.


Again, pretty much frozen, but an excellent variety and number of duck present, including 19 Mallard, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), 3 Shoveler (2 drakes) (scarce at this site), 78 Common Teal, 42 Eurasian Wigeon and a single drake Northern Pochard; also 6 Mute Swans (5 first-years), 4 Coot, 5 roosting Lesser Black-backs and 18 Common Gulls; pair of BULLFINCH also of note.


Completely frozen - just a Grey Heron standing on the ice.


The second main site of this species (MANDARIN DUCK) in the county but just 15 found (8 drakes) (indicating that the county population is no more than 40 individuals at present), with 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Atlantic Canada Geese, 83 Mallard, 2 drake Tufted Duck, 2 drake Pochard, 38 Coot and 1 Great Crested Grebe; also Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Ring-necked Parakeet, 4 Robins and 2 SISKIN noted.


Pre-roost gathering flocks of 270 Jackdaws and 66 Ring-necked Parakeets in the tall trees in the Park, whilst on the lake (mostly frozen apart from at the north end), pair of Egyptian Geese, pair of Mute Swans, 11 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot, 6 Moorhen and a Grey Heron.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Still lots of WAXWINGS

At least 200 WAXWINGS still in the county today at a variety of sites, with the two juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCKS still at Foxcote

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Today's Highlights

Both juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCKS remain on Foxcote Reservoir, where 3 Goldeneye and 1 redhead Goosander were also seen; 9 more Goosander on Stowe Lake and 2 more on Caldecotte Lake

WAXWINGS galore still, including the 146 still on Denbigh Road, just off of the former A5 in Bletchley at MK1 1DT, at least 56 in Gatehouse Way, Aylesbury (HP19 8BB), 21 in Oakley and 4 near Leckhampstead

Friday, 7 December 2012


Tim Watts obtained these shots of the LONG-TAILED DUCKS; note the dark brown underparts and all dark bills, indicative of juvenile plumage, also the lack of white scapulars.

Duck counting in North Bucks - plus huge WAXWING swarm and LONG-TAILED DUCKS


The cold weather continued today with some snow, sleet and rain first thing giving way to clearer conditions, but with a freshening and bitingly cold NW wind. In the main, temperatures hovered about 3.5 degrees C.

I spent today trying to count as many waterbirds I could at wetland sites in the North of the county, culminating in 3,313 birds, including 848 Coots and 229 Mute Swans. I still run out of time to do a number of other key sites though so will either have to return or cajole others into helping....

First stop was in Aylesbury, where there was no sign of yesterday's huge flock of Waxwings.

Very windswept at WOTTON LAKES - 5 GOOSANDER being the highlight

At FOXCOTE RESERVOIR (NORTH BUCKS), the two juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCKS were diving in tandem directly opposite the hide; also just 1 female Common Goldeneye.

Otherwise, just 3 Great Crested Grebes, no Mute Swans, 177 Atlantic Canada Geese, 19 Mallard, 122 Wigeon, 137 Common Teal, 9 Pochard, 15 Tufted Duck and just 8 Coot.

To the NW of Buckingham, STOWE PARK LAKE was my next destination at SP 674 369.....

As expected, GOOSANDERS were back and showing very well - 6 in total including 3 cracking adult drakes. Also, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Mute Swan, 34 Atlantic Canada Geese, 5 very feral and dodgy-looking Greylag-types, 3 Mallard, 1 drake Tufted Duck and 38 Coot. Woodland species included Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit and 6 Long-tailed Tits, whilst large numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings were in the surrounding countryside.

(STALEYS) HYDE LANE LAKE (SP 725 352) was next on the agenda and the cereal crop to the NW bordering the access track was alive with feeding birds, including 27 Pied Wagtails, over 800 Woodpigeons, 2 Skylarks, 3 Meadow Pipits, 3 Common Starlings, 25 Fieldfares and 9 Chaffinches, along with 30 Mute Swans and 4 Atlantic Canada Geese. The lake itself held 68 Mallard, 16 Gadwall, 26 Wigeon, 32 Tufted Duck and 22 Coot.

Breaking away from wildfowl for a moment, I returned to my fascination of WAXWINGS - counting no less than 146 eventually (darn, they were difficult to count), commuting between the entrance of Chemetall and the Avant Business Park on Watling Street, BLETCHLEY. The birds were feasting on Rowans and were landing dangerously on shrubs at road level. Many were also drinking in puddles on the road and pavements. I could not find any ringed birds but it was difficult in the conditions. Quite a few Redwings in the area too - in fact, Milton Keynes in general had hordes of winter thrushes feasting on roadside berries.

CALDECOTTE NORTH was hard work - 14 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, 54 Atlantic Canadas, 18 Mallard, 31 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard, 12 Coot and 6 Moorhens only being seen. Across the carriageway, on CALDECOTTE SOUTH, 8 more Mute Swans (2 first-years), 11 Pochard and 109 Coot additional.

WILLEN LAKE SOUTH BASIN, like Caldecotte, had no Goosander, but 8 Great Crested Grebes, 122 Mute Swans, 10 Atlantic Canada Geese, 24 Greylag Geese, 62 Mallard, 25 Wigeon, 24 Gadwall, 157 Tufted Duck, just 6 Common Goldeneye (3 adult drakes) but an impressive 327 Coot.

The NORTH BASIN then yielded 4 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Grebes, 10 Mute Swans, 64 Mallard, 18 Gadwall, 96 Common Teal, 138 Wigeon, 6 Shoveler, 142 Tufted Duck, 22 Pochard, 118 Lapwing, 8 Moorhen and another 208 Coots.

TONGWELL LAKE in the North of Milton Keynes produced 1 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Atlantic Canadas, 1 Greylag Goose, 8 Mallard, 27 Gadwall, 3 Wigeon, 26 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard and 26 Coot, plus a Grey Wagtail.

LINFORD NR was very flooded and as a consequence, duck numbers were down: Black Swan Lake held 7 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mallard, 7 Tufted Duck and a redhead GOOSANDER whilst the main reserve lake harboured 11 Mute Swans, 50 Wigeon, 78 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 18 Mallard, just 1 Tufted Duck, 98 Coot, 1 Little Egret and 3 Water Rails.

The NEWPORT PAGNELL GP at SP884 445 were much quieter than normal with just 4 Mute Swans, 15 Teal and 38 Tufted Ducks counted, whilst neighbouring LATHBURY OUSE VALLEY MEADOWS supported 38 wintering Mute Swans in the cereal crops.

The maize crop at LITTLE LINFORD WOOD housed no less than 28 TREE SPARROWS, whilst in nearby STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE, a further 6 TREE SPARROWS were in their usual garden in Dag Lane.

I could not locate the naturalised Barnacle Goose flock in the Olney area but 2 GOOSANDERS, 8 Tufted Duck and over 300 Atlantic Canada Geese were at EMBERTON LAKES.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


The two juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCKS were still present today at Foxcote Reservoir, whilst WAXWINGS have increased greatly, with 133 at Aylesbury (Gatehouse Way) and at least 70 in Bletchley. Also quite a few GOOSANDERS now in

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Warren Claydon had two adult WHOOPER SWANS this evening at Calvert, perhaps last year's adult bringing back a mate or two birds from years previous; he also had an adult CASPIAN GULL in the roost


According to my Master Database, there have been just 24 LONG-TAILED DUCKS in the county, the last in June 2009; I have seen 14 of them -:

1) The first was at Weston Turville Reservoir on 18-19 November 1957;
2) A drake at Foxcote Reservoir from 17-19 November 1959;
3) A drake and two females at Little Marlow GP on 11 April 1966;
6) An exceptional record of a juvenile on Shardeloes Lake on 15 February 1969;
7) A juvenile at Calvert from 19 October 1970 to 13 January 1971;
8) A drake at Calvert from 18 February until 18 March 1973;
9) A female at Willen Lake from 17 November until 18 December 1979;
10) A juvenile then present at Startop's End Reservoir, Tring, from 31 December 1979 until 19 January 1980;
11) A female at Willen Lake on 9 December 1981;
12) A juvenile at Stony Stratford GP from 19 November until Boxing Day 1982;
13) A juvenile female on the Blue Lagoon at Bletchley on 4 March 1983;
14) Another at Startopsend from 23 October 1988 until the ridiculously late date of 4 June 1989;
15) A juvenile drake and female on Weston Turville Reservoir from 16 December 1990 until 13 January 1991;
17) Two more juveniles at Willen Lake from 2 November until 10 December 1991;
18) An adult female was present on Tilehouse North Pit, near Denham, from 10 January until 3 May 1993 and again from 30 October 1993 until 17 April 1994; it then reappeared for a 5th winter at the same site and neighbouring Broadwater GP (Middlesex) from 29 October 1994 until 2 April 1995. It was again reported on Tilehouse on 6 January and 17 March 1996 and on 9 March 1997, then from 28 February to 10 April 1998 and from 14 November 1998 until 10 January 1999; also on 27 January 2000;
19) A juvenile was at Caldecotte Lake from 2-19 December 1996;
20) A second female joined the long-staying Tilehouse Pit North bird on 4 April 1999;
21) A juvenile drake occasionally straddled the border into Bucks at Startopsend from 11-15 May 1999;
22) An immature drake visited Foxcote from 20-28 April 2002;
23) A juvenile drake remained at Calvert from 17 November 2005 until 15 April 2006;
24) A first-summer drake visited College Lake BBOWT Deep Lake from 28 May to 11 June 2006;
25) A dapper adult drake on Calvert Sailing Lake all day on 3 June 2009.


Rod Scaife discovered 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS today at Foxcote Reservoir (from the hide), incredible after I had left Elaine at the Waxwings and said to her I was off to search for that species !

Adam Bassett had a redhead GOOSANDER and a 'new' unringed first-winter CASPIAN GULL too - at Spade Oak Pit, Little Marlow.

Still at least 34 WAXWINGS hanging around Gatehouse Way but not doing much feeding

WAXWING really in the wars

This was the poor Waxwing I spoke of yesterday, complete with large gash on the side of its neck. Paul Keene and I got very close to it but there was nothing we could do. Paul's images are above.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

New wave of WAXWINGS in Gatehouse Way


Continuing cold and dry but with little wind.

Last stop of the day was in AYLESBURY (BUCKS), at the GATEHOUSE LANE TRADING ESTATE (SP 806 144), where with Paul Keene and his dog warden friend Ann, we recorded 66 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. Sadly, one first-winter had been injured just below and behind the eye and was bleeding and was busily feeding on its own. It allowed me to approach it to within a couple of feet and was still quite perky but did remain in the Rowan tree until dusk. Strangely, the remaining flock of 65 all flew in calling late afternoon as if to encourage the bird to join them to roost. They then all flew off towards Fairford Leys (LGRE).

Piebald COMMON BLACKBIRD in Wycombe

My birding pal Paul Frost took the pics attached. The location car park area of Holmers Farm recreation ground, Buckmaster Road, High Wycombe, where the bungalows back onto the car park. Present at 09:30 today (Chris Sharp)

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Rounding off a very quiet weekend in the county, with just 2 WAXWINGS being reported today - both at Gatehouse Way, Aylesbury, briefly.

Two HAWFINCHES remain at a regular site, flighting in to roost very early at 1353 hours (please respect the privacy of owners)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Today's Highlights

Very few I am afraid - drake PINTAIL and drake Common Shelduck on Spade Oak Pit (Little Marlow) and lots of WAXWINGS in the North of the county, including 40 in Stony Stratford, 25 in Bletchley at Bond Avenue and 22 near Leckhampstead.