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

Friday, 7 December 2012

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.