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, 6 January 2013



A very murky start to the day with some light drizzle at first; very mild though, with temperatures stabilising at 8.5 degrees C

When Robert Norris 'phoned at half past 9 to say that he had a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Gayhurst Quarry, I thought great, at last I have got a chance to carry out some thorough counts of North Bucks Water Bodies, but nothing ever goes to plan with birding and as it was I struggled to cover them. Anyway, hard on the heels of his call, I set off........

First off, a roadside casualty at MOULSOE caught my eye - a dead Chinese Water Deer besides the road (the A509) at SP 893 414.


Thinking this would be just a 'walk in the park' was a big mistake. What Rob hadn't told me was that Gayhurst was barely recovering from the recent floods and was a quagmire. I got absolutely caked in mud - and very wet too - part of the Ouse still engulfing the valley. What's more, despite traipsing all over, the straggling Brent was nowhere to be found - it had left for pastures new (and perhaps dry).

Anyhow, a great excuse to carry out my counting..

The gardens at the back of the Lakes Lane extension housed lots of garden birds including 3 Collared Doves, 26 Common Starlings, 4 Dunnocks, 5 Common Blackbirds, 20 House Sparrows, 15 Blue Tits, 4 Great Tits, a male Greenfinch, 25 Chaffinch and a singing male Song Thrush, whilst a lot of noisy Rooks and Jackdaws were in the vicinity.

The QUARRYHALL PIT to the east of the footpath (at SP 860 452) held 105 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Mallard, 8 Common Teal and 4 Tufted Duck, whilst the two FISHING PITS immediately left of the track (at SP 855 450) added 3 adult Mute Swans, a single Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mallard, 20 Tufted Duck, 17 Coot and 4 Moorhen. As is normally the case, the MOTORWAY PIT (SP 853 449) held the majority of the birds, with a whopping 92 Mute Swans (including 8 first-winters), a staggering 389 Greylag Geese, 35 Atlantic Canada Geese, an exceptional 278 Mallard, 18 Wigeon, 5 Tufted Duck, 5 Northern Pochard, 25 Coot and 2 Grey Herons. The narrow strip of woodland at SP 857 447 yielded a singing male MARSH TIT, 9 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Goldfinches and 2 Fieldfare.

LAKES LANE RIDING STABLES at SP 863 445 held a healthy population of 8 House Sparrows.

Nearby, just north of the Great Ouse in NEWPORT PAGNELL, another flock of 36 Atlantic Canada Geese, whilst at the neighbouring complex of NEWPORT PAGNELL GP (SP 884 445), a very disappointing number of wintering waterbirds present, with just 1 Little Grebe, 1 Mute Swan, 8 Coot and 35 Tufted Duck; the smaller of the pits held absolutely nothing.

Then, a little bit of luck - there was the DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE right by the road at SP 883 447 - feeding just 50 yards away on the grass field with 70 Greylags, 6 Atlantic Canadas and a Grey Heron. It was in the same field that I and other MK birders had seen a nice male Ring Ouzel last year and was affording cracking views. It was a very dingy individual but the lack of any contrast in the wing-coverts and its dark undercarriage meant that it was an adult-type rather than a first-year and more than likely the bird seen recently in Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire. My trip had been worthwhile and Rob returned later in the afternoon and got a few shots.

Looking NW from SHERINGTON BRIDGE, I counted a total of 46 Mute Swans, 43 of which were by the road at LATHBURY. Nearby TYRINGHAM BRIDGE at SP 858 466 produced Little Egret, Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Greylag Geese, 10 Atlantic Canada Geese and 25 Mallard.

It was then time to visit one of my favourite haunts in North Bucks - the wonderfully picturesque and quaint STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE. This is the last stronghold in the county of TREE SPARROW and in the usual garden at the top end of DAGS LANE, resident birder Keith Mitchell and I had an exceptional 29 birds roosting in the shrubbery above the garden - Magnificent! A male BRAMBLING was also in the vicinity, plus 15 Goldfinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Keith very kindly invited me round to his house in RAM ALLEY where immediately I saw 3 of the 29 LESSER REDPOLLS currently visiting his Nyger feeder.

Eastwards and onwards to Olney where EMBERTON LAKES COUNTRY PARK (SP 882 502) supported large numbers of wintering wildfowl. Despite yachting being carried out on the main lake, the 14 GOOSANDERS were still present, including a drake that was so tame the boats had to avoid colliding with it. There were 7 adult drakes in all, in absolutely crippling finery - what a beautiful sawbill.

The Grebe Lake held 9 Atlantic Canadas, 5 Mallard and 2 Moorhens, whilst the Boating Lake had 5 Mallard and an injured Barnacle Goose. The Heron Lake, due to a lot of activity and disturbance, held most of the birds, including 13 of the GOOSANDER, 11 more Atlantic Canadas, 69 Mallard, a pair of Gadwall, 10 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans (with 2 more on the adjacent Ouse), a Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron and most unusually, and a site-tick for me - an adult female COMMON GOLDENEYE.

Although there was no maize nor Tree Sparrows to be found at LITTLE LINFORD WOOD, an added bonus was a small covey of 4 GREY PARTRIDGES just to the east of the wood at SP 836 453; also 2 Brown Hares in a field at SP 842 454, close to HOO WOOD. A dead Brown Hare was also west of Mill Farm on the road at SP 849 454.

And then a thorough check of all of the Water Bodies between the M1 and Old Wolverton in chronological order -:

VICARAGE SPINNEY LAKE (SP 850 444) held just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans and 37 Greylag Geese and the four fishing pits south of Little Linford Lane absolutely nothing, not even a Moorhen or Mallard. I did not check the Heron Lake at LINFORD but did cover BLACK SWAN LAKE (SP 845 427) (6 Great Crested Grebes, 24 Tufted Duck, 2 Coot and a flyover Meadow Pipit) and the main LINFORD NATURE RESERVE LAKES (SP 838 430) (6 Grey Herons in the colony, 3 Little Egrets*,15 Mute Swans (including 3 first-winters),16 Mallard, 330 Eurasian Wigeon, 42 Common Teal, 138 Tufted Duck, 24 Pochard, 32 Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe) *note no roosting Little Egrets anymore.

HAVERSHAM LAKE (SP 832 425) without sailing held 2 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 6 Mallard and 36 Coot whilst the two NEW BRADWELL LAKES (SP 830 418) together mustered up 5 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swan, 10 Tufted Duck and 4 Coot on the east lake and 2 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swan, 8 Mallard, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Moorhen and 4 Coot on the larger 'Red-necked Grebe' lake. At dusk, 80 Fieldfares flew over to roost.