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

Thursday, 28 March 2013

BLACK RED surprise


A tad 'warmer' today, mainly because the biting Easterly wind had moderated. Temperatures reached a high of just 3 degrees C, with increasing cloud as the day wore on.

Another day of primarily local birding, extending a visit into neighbouring Oxfordshire....

Just west of FLEET MARSTON (BUCKS) and south of the A41, no fewer than 500 winter thrushes in a roadside field, 85% of them Fieldfares, whilst at GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT (BUCKS), another 55 Fieldfares and just one male EURASIAN CURLEW.

FARMOOR RESERVOIRS (OXON) produced 6 winter adult LITTLE GULLS amongst 185 Black-headed Gulls, as well as 6 Common Goldeneyes (3 drakes); others had seen Black Redstart and 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipits.

OTMOOR RSPB (OXON) was a real challenge with a cold 1.5 mile hike out to the screen overlooking the deep reed-fringed pool just south of the Barn Field. Luckily for me and 10 or so other hardy souls, the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was performing, skirting the edge of the reeds and crossing occasionally from one side of the lagoon to the other. Expecting it to be the recent Bedfordshire drake, I was quite surprised to see that it wasn't, being quite drab in general and most likely a first-summer drake; perhaps it was the Somerset Levels bird. Although the Pochard-like influence was apparent on the slope of the bill, the black did not extend beyond the nail and did not appear to continue around the flange. I managed a few record shots but poor in comparison with those taken earlier with the big SLR's.

At the far west end of Ashgrave Level, all 7 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still present, with 7 Eurasian Curlews and 220 European Golden Plover on Greenaways. Wildfowl included Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Pochard.

Others had seen up to 3 Bitterns, a Marsh Harrier, a Merlin, 80 Dunlin and 3 ringtail Hen Harriers around the reserve.

For the Ferruginous Duck, park at the end of Otmoor Lane a mile north of Beckley hamlet. Take the main footpath from the car park out to Greenaways Field, turning left for 800 yards to the next crossroads. Turn right here and continue 400 yards to the first screen and on for another 600 yards to the second screen - all in all a walk of about 1.5 miles (half an hour). The track is also very muddy.

Driving quickly back to join Kevin Duncan and Graham Smith at the JUBILEE RIVER at MARSH LANE WEIR (BUCKS), all three of us enjoyed nice views of a cracking male BLACK REDSTART present on site for its second day. It was highly mobile but showed for a while 80 yards west of the weir.