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

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

From no JACK SNIPE to two


Today was one of those days when it felt good to be alive. From dawn until dusk, it was a glorious day - virtually spring-like. Despite an overnight frost, temperatures recovered to a pleasant 8 degrees C, with no wind whatsoever and wall-to-wall sunshine.

For no apparent reason, I had decided to target JACK SNIPE today and donning my wellington boots, trudged over to BROUGHTON POOLS, NEAR AYLESBURY (BUCKS), once upon a time a guaranteed stake-out for the species. The fields and sedge-beds were really, really wet and it took some walking before I finally found an area where Snipes were feeding. It turned out to be the big field immediately east of the trout ponds and in a half-hour period, I flushed 9 COMMON SNIPES and 1 JACK SNIPE.

Heading back towards Tring, one of Weston Turville's 14 or so Little Egrets was feeding in the marsh besides the A41, whilst at WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS), the WATER PIPIT was putting on an excellent performance along the concrete edge just north of the jetty, albeit still in complete winter plumage. No Pintail again though, but a walk around the back past the orchard and onto the Dry Canal yielded Jay, both Blue and Great Tits, BULLFINCH, 8 Chaffinch and 45 Fieldfare. A WATER RAIL and 2 Pied Wagtails were also noted (the wildfowl being very much the same as yesterday).

At TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (HERTS), all 5 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were still present (the 3 drakes and 2 females), thus confirming the presence of 8 birds at the moment in the Tring Area. The female SMEW was still present (hiding beneath the vegetation on the south bank), along with 58 Common Teal. A male Song Thrush was in full song, whilst numerous Rooks were re-building their nests in the wood; a charm of 12 Goldfinches was in the gardens.

Adam Bassett then contacted me with news of a JACK SNIPE on the deck and showing, which was too good to miss. I drove down to SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) (SOUTH BUCKS) to join him and Dave Cleal still watching the bird, feeding along the back edge of the spit just in front of the reedbed.

Somehow I managed to dip out on an adult Mediterranean Gull in the pre-roost gathering, despite Adam trying to get me onto it in his 'scope and then on to it as it flew west towards Marlow to roost. It was a large gathering of gulls, predominantly passage Commons, of which there were at least 750.

But back to the snipe, it was this species that was headlining the news - a whopping 101 COMMON SNIPE counted within just a 70-yard section of spit - Incredible.

Still lots of wildfowl to be seen (and counted), including all 8 NORTHERN PINTAIL by the island.