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 December 2013

Wintering GOOSANDERS in Buckinghamshire

When I was in my early teens, the number of GOOSANDER wintering in Buckinghamshire always exceeded 100 birds, with flocks of over 40 rather commonplace at both Willen Lakes South Basin and at Foxcote Reservoir. Nowadays the entire winter total rarely reaches 50 and today's 44 is about average - with 20 on Emberton Lakes (12 drakes), 11 on Stowe Lakes (4 drakes), 7 on Wootton Underwood Lake (2 drakes) and just 6 on Willen Lakes (1 drake).

Sunday, 22 December 2013


The long-staying CATTLE EGRET is still present today at Calvert/Steeple Claydon, feeding with cattle near Lake Farm - some nice new pix from Sean

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

CATTLE EGRET still there

The CATTLE EGRET is still present today in the field south of Lake Farm, about a mile west of Steeple Claydon. A nice bit of video uploaded here -:

Monday, 9 December 2013

CATTLE EGRET still present

Just to the north of Calvert BBOWT, the CATTLE EGRET is still spending its daylight hours about a mile north with cattle and sheep in the large field south of Lake Farm

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I finally found time to twitch the CATTLE EGRET.........

I finally had an opportunity to visit CALVERT BBOWT this morning and as the light was coming up, young Ted Wallen, his dad Mike and I watched the CATTLE EGRET awakening from its overnight roost spot in the 'Cormorant Trees' about 100 yards south of the middle hide. After a few stretches and preens, it flew off NNE at 0733 hours - and still barely light.

Once it had gone, I set off in search of its daytime feeding area, scanning the array of farms, fields and open countryside to the north of the Calvert complex. After hearing of reports of a white egret with cattle midway between Steeple Claydon and Hillesden Lakes, I made my way to 'The Avenue' and walked about a mile along it. No sign I am afraid (not of the egret nor of the cattle) but HILLESDEN LAKES did support 28 Greylag Geese, 10 Eurasian Wigeon, 8 Common Teal and 12 Coot, whilst the surrounding area produced 85 Fieldfare, 35 Redwing, Goldcrest, 4 Bullfinch, 60 Common Starling and 18 Long-tailed Tits.

Fieldfares: a lot around today in the Hillesden area

I then drove a wide circuit of rural countryside finding nothing more than 45 Linnets at BORSHAW FARM at SP 738 228, eventually joining up again with Mike & Ted at Briarhill Farm not long after 0900 hours. It seemed a hopeless task and knowing that I had a survey to carry out, headed back to the CHESS VALLEY........
All 3 wintering Little Egrets were on view in the valley, commuting between Bois Mill and Church Covert Meadows, whilst the family party of 5 Mute Swans and immature Sinensis Cormorant were still present on BOIS MILL POND. A female Grey Wagtail was by MILL FARM, whilst walking between CHENIES BOTTOM BRIDGE and FROGMORE MEADOWS added 4 Redwing, 25 Fieldfare, Song Thrush, 6 more Mute Swan (pair by bridge and pair by Vole Viewpoint, both with sole surviving cygnets), 2 Grey Heron, Jay, Common Kestrel and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.
My survey work involved a visit to CRESTYL WATERCRESS BEDS at SARRATT, where 2 Little Egrets, 8 Moorhen, 2 Grey Wagtail, Marsh Tit and Little Owl were all encountered but more importantly was the discovery of at least 23 Water Vole burrows.
Once I had completed my work, I checked my phone and pager and noticed that the CATTLE EGRET had been relocated. I 'phoned Simon and he confirmed that both Mike and Ted had relocated it - only a short time after I had left - Drat!
Anyhow, keen to photograph it, I drove the 37 miles back and located it just SSE of LAKE FARM at SP 682 264, feeding in an open field. Frustratingly, it was behind a hedgerow and I could just not find a gap from where I could get a full view. When I finally did, it flew and seemed to disappear behind a farm building. I then lost it but after a while of searching, relocated it at a private site near PORTWAY FARM. It was with cattle at the back of a farmstead but quite distant but I did at last manage to get a few record shots (see below). Once it saw me however, it was gone and darted back eastwards towards Lake Farm. I followed it along the road but then lost it as it crossed back over the Calvert-Gawcott road. By now, Graham Smith and quite a few others had arrived and despite searching over the next hour, it could not be relocated. Then, following some gunshots from some farmers shooting Woodpigeons, it reappeared from the Calvert Lakes direction and landed NW of Lake Farm - in the field at SP 678 266. Here it afforded the best views yet and I was able to run off a lot of shots before it gradually wandered farther away. The late afternoon light was not great but I was reasonably happy with the shots. The bird was unringed and in full winter plumage. It remained until at least 1530 hours.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


For the second night running, a CATTLE EGRET has roosted on the BBOWT Lake at Calvert, arriving at just before 4pm and perching along the west shore some 100 yards south of the middle hide (Tim Watts, Warren Claydon). This morning, it left the roost at 0740 and it is presumably the bird seen recently wandering the Stokenchurch and Chinnor areas.

In the north of the county, a party of 5 WHOOPER SWANS is roaming, flying SW over Manor Farm on Sunday and being seen over Bletchley, Marston Moretaine and Woburn Park today.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Local Mega: SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF at Manor Farm

Matt Slaymaker discovered a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF at Manor Farm, Old Wolverton, on Tuesday - the bird still present with up to 5 colybitta today........further details and pictures here -

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


A GREAT WHITE EGRET was present at Calvert Sailing Lake for a short while today (Warren Claydon, Tim Watts)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Local Mega - First-winter PALE-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Little Marlow

Just before midday, I met John Hoar at LMGP who told me that he had seen a lone Brent Goose about 45 minutes earlier in a newly sown crop field just to the north of the pit, north of the Marlow Road.  He said that it had flown off south and he hadn’t seen it again and thought it might have come into the pit, which it hadn’t.  I checked the fields adjacent to the pit with no success, so decided to revisit the original location accessed just north of the farm shop at Emmetts Farm.  I quickly found a lone Brent Goose in the second field NE of the farm, but it was very distant.  Shortly later, a low flying Red Kite flushed it and it flew off south towards the Marlow Road, but then doubled back and landed a field closer to me, though still quite distant.  The paleness of the flanks was always quite obvious, as was the clear demarcation of the black neck to the paler upper breast, so I immediately thought that this might actually be a Pale-bellied Brent as opposed to the more regular Dark-bellied birds – Dave Cleal also thought this.  I was struggling to remember the actual variability that Dark-bellied might show, so took some distant record shots – Graham Smith turned up and had a text that said one of the key features was lack of dark belly between the legs – this bird appeared to have a white belly in this region from what I could see.
On returning home after school pick up and children ferrying, a quick look at my downloaded records and a few google images and Collins, it appears that this bird probably is a Pale-bellied Brent – I will upload them to the Bucks website, but the bird was distant, so they are heavy crops.  It was too distant to even be sure if it was adult or juvenile, but the images appear to show an adult bird.  I understand from Mike Collard that he could not locate the bird at 2:30pm which coincided with shooting in the area, but hopefully it will be relocated (Adam Bassett)


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

WILLOW TIT still in residence at Linford NR but bring your own food

I travelled up to Linford Nature Reserve yesterday in the hope of photographing the resident WILLOW TIT but little did I realise that you have to take your own food, as the feeders in front of the Woodland Hide where it resides were empty. As a result, I failed miserably, coupled with the lack of food and the continuous drizzle. The Willow Tit came by on a number of occasions, always announcing its arrival by its nasal calling, but failed to visit the table; a couple of MARSH TITS arrived briefly but even they were a nightmare to photograph. As it was, I got reasonable images of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Grey Squirrel!

In addition, other species noted included a first-winter MEALY REDPOLL, 140 Fieldfare and a pair of Bullfinches whilst the Black Swan Lake by the entrance held 3 COMMON GOLDENEYES.