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, 24 June 2013

Breeding WATER RAILS and an early returning WOOD SANDPIPER



For images, see my Birding Amersham blog

Following an initial cool start, the first stages of an Azorean high arrived after lunch pushing temperatures up and slackening off the westerly wind

At SHARDELOES LAKE, the undoubted highlight was the confirmation of breeding WATER RAILS at the west end - a pair feeding 3 very small black baby rails. The adults were very vocal and noisy, the group all keeping deep within the tall sedges. This is the first time I have ever confirmed breeding in the Recording Area.

Lots of other breeding activity taking place with the Mute Swan pair still with one surviving cygnet, the pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES secretly and carefully taking care of two small stripy young, 24 recently (or fairly recently) fledged Coot young (from a total of 86 birds) and a female MANDARIN DUCK accompanying 6 growing young.

Otherwise, a single SINENSIS CORMORANT roosting in the Willows, 1 Grey Heron, 76 Atlantic Canada Geese (including over 40 young), 15 Mallard, 15 Tufted Duck, 6 GADWALL, 3 Red Kites, 4 Moorhen, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 12 Common Swifts, 8 House Martins, 5 singing male Blackcaps, 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs, 5 Wren, 16 Goldfinch, 2 juvenile Pied Wagtails and 3 broods of Blue Tits.

More interesting fare included the singing male REED BUNTING still, a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS 90 yards west of the lake and a singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER in sedges at the west end. I also noted my first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year.

At MILL FARM and FROGMORE MEADOWS in the CHESS VALLEY, a beautiful array of ORCHIDS on display including 26 spikes of HEATH SPOTTED and 84 of SOUTHERN MARSH; also 46 Jackdaws, 6+ Common Whitethroats (including a family party) and 3 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS - my first in the Recording Area this summer.

I then whizzed down to SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) to connect with Adam Bassett's WOOD SANDPIPER - a nice adult still in breeding plumage. Although distant, the bird was showing well on the extreme NE end of the spit, often within yards of the family group of Red Foxes playfully jostling for position in the same area. Other waders present included three very noisy and bickering adult OYSTERCATCHERS, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and numerous Lapwing, whilst 3 Common Teals (2 drakes) were unseasonal.

Record shots of todays WOOD SANDPIPER as well as a family of RED FOXES

A noisy trio of arguing OYSTERCATCHERS

A quick visit to HOMEFIELD WOOD secured MILITARY ORCHID for the year - 38 spikes in all - as well as 260+ COMMON SPOTTED, 2 calling TAWNY OWLS and a pair of BULLFINCHES

Friday, 21 June 2013


Did a lot of woodland surveying today in the GREAT HAMPDEN area and eventually located 31 singing male FIRECRESTS plus at least 9 individual family parties post-fledging; also lots of ORCHIDS and at dusk, the MONKTON WOOD area produced a single roding WOODCOCK (from 2210 hours), numerous EDIBLE DORMICE and several bat species.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

PIED AVOCET at College today

This PIED AVOCET was present at College Lake BBOWT this morning, gracing the main marsh until 1045 hours when it flew east..........

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Butterflies and FIRECRESTS


Clear blue skies prevailed with temperatures reaching a heady 70 degrees fahrenheit by mid afternoon. A fresh easterly wind was also blowing

With nothing much happening nationally, I concentrated on local birding and butterflying, eventually connecting with both GRIZZLED SKIPPER and GREEN HAIRSTREAK.....

Highlights at SHARDELOES LAKE included my first local SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS of the year (a pair at the far end) and the return of REED BUNTINGS (two singing males and what appeared to be a female feeding young in a nest)

The resident Mute Swans had just one surviving cygnet (from 6 eggs) whilst the Atlantic Canada Geese had 77 goslings - what a contrast in success !

A near adult Sinensis Cormorant drying its wings out on the island was an odd June occurrence whilst more regular fare included the solitary male Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebes, a Grey Heron, a female Mallard with 3 small chicks, 3 drake and 1 female Gadwall, 7 Tufted Duck, 40 Coot (including 11 active nests, 1 fully fledged and independent young and 3 small young), 4 Red Kites and Stock Dove.

Additionally, a pair of Long-tailed Tits in the wood, single singing Common Chiffchaff, 2 male Blackcaps, 3 Common Swifts, Mistle Thrush, 5 Blue Tits, 3 singing male Chaffinches, male Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch, Common Blackbird, Wren and singing male Song Thrush. The Rookery was now abandoned with this year's young fledged, a few Carrion Crows around, numerous Jackdaws and a Common Buzzard overhead.

PITSTONE FEN held a pair of Eurasian Skylark and a singing male Willow Warbler with butterflies in the warm sunshine including 100+ Small Blue, a Small Heath, a Brimstone, an Orange Tip, a late GRIZZLED SKIPPER, at least 30 Dingy Skippers and 3 Common Blue.

Nearby, the IVINGHOE BEACON CUTTING held 4 DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARIES, 3 Small Heath, 2 Dingy Skippers, 2 Small Blue and an early BROWN ARGUS, whilst a migrant SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was along the fenceline just SE of the Beacon. A singing Tree Pipit was reported from Steps Hill but could not be found when I visited - the remaining spikes of Pasque Flowers were surrounded by a myriad of scientific machinery.

Further butterflying at BISON HILL, WHIPSNADE, yielded 6 relatively fresh DUKE OF BURGUNDYS, several GREEN HAIRSTREAKS, 2 Small Heath and 3 Dingy Skippers; a single GARDEN WARBLER was singing from the scrub.


Another glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures climbing to 22 degrees C - still a light NE breeze blowing.

For me, another day of butterflying with a little birding mixed in............

Just north of the border in NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, I visited SALCEY FOREST, where I was delighted to find 33 WOOD WHITE butterflies on the wing along the main drove - my first this year. Very few other butterflies to be seen other than Orange Tips; 3 GARDEN WARBLERS were in song from the thickets.

In nearby STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE, at least 6 TREE SPARROWS were present in Missendon Cottage garden and nesting, whilst at TYRINGHAM BRIDGE just to the south, four HOBBIES were flighting back and forth north of the bridge chasing insects. A pair of Red Kites was nesting in a tall Oak, with Common Buzzards bringing in food and a LITTLE OWL in the park. A further Red Kite was seen in LATHBURY.

Missendon Cottage - the last salvation of the Bucks Tree Sparrow plantation

Hobby and Common Buzzard at Tyringham Bridge

I then did a comprehensive survey of WENDOVER WOODS, checking from The Hale to Go Ape Car Park and back as far as Wendover. Not prime time for singing crests (they generally stop singing around 0900 hours in June), I did eventually locate 11 singing male FIRECRESTS but only (surprisingly) 2 Goldcrests - all of the territories being regular ones. Two different Great Spotted Woodpecker nests were located (with noisy young about to fledge), a Sparrowhawk nest, 4 singing male Song Thrush, 3 singing male Common Chiffchaff, Stock Dove, 2 male Blackcap, 8 Long-tailed Tits by the pond and 4 Common Treecreepers.

A flock of 50 post-breeding Rooks were in fields opposite BURY LAKE in CHESHAM but there was no sign of any of the nesting Lapwings present in April and May. In LATIMER VILLAGE, 6 pairs of House Martin were nesting.

After being just 5 Common Swifts about my house in LITTLE CHALFONT in recent days, I was very pleased to see 13 together when I looked out at dusk