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, 29 July 2013

Willen this evening

I popped into Willen Lake North Basin on the way home tonight to see if anything had been brought down by the heavy rain. At first I thought nothing as all I could find were a Green Sandpiper and an Oystercatcher amongst the Lapwings and Common Terns. I then noticed a group of 8 small waders on the right hand side of the spit that turned out to be a group of 7 Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper.

There were only 9 Little Egret on the island but there were probably more on the other side of the lake as they tend to gather near the reedbeds on the north side.The drake Red-crested Pochard, which is is now in full eclipse, was right in front of the hide (Robert Norris)

Negative on Redstarts and Wood Sand

Continuing warm at around 22 degrees C but much fresher with SW winds. Some violent storms in the area, leading to localised flash flooding.
Had a good look around the farmland at ROWSHAM (BUCKS) but failed to locate any Common Redstarts (1-2 have been reported here lately including an adult male) - just Green Woodpecker, 3 Common Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer and 28 Barn Swallows noted.
Similarly at GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT (BUCKS), could not locate the Wood Sandpiper present there over the past two days but 3 Sedge Warblers and 4 Yellow Wagtails.
Meanwhile, my first visit to TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS) in over a month resulted in a family party of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS being seen in MARSWORTH WOOD. Goldcrests have bred successfully too with a family thereabouts, whilst the reservoir itself held 11 Great Crested Grebes, 74 Mallard and a family party of 4 Coot. A lot of Western Reed Warbler activity in the reeds by the sluice.

On neighbouring STARTOP'S, 7 Little Egrets on the mud, with 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 66 Mallard and 79 Coot on the reservoir; TRINGFORD held just 18 Lapwing and the 7 Mute Swans (adults with 5 surviving cygnets)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


An adult male COMMON REDSTART is back in the hedgerows east of Rowsham, presumably the first of many..........

Elsewhere, Adam Bassett has been seeing two juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULLS regularly at Spade Oak Gravel Pit (Little Marlow) and the first returning waders are appearing (eg, PIED AVOCET and Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit at College Lake BBOWT on Sunday)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Little Marlow in the tropical weather

After work this afternoon, the shade of the trees along the west bank of the
lake was most welcome!

Lots of birds present but nothing of real note. A single Little Egret
appeared and an Oystercatcher was again present along with two Teal in
eclipse and a single Little Ringed Plover.

Most interesting sightings was of two Black-headed Gulls wearing colour
rings, both adults. A white ring with "EEM3" on left leg. The second bird
had a black ring with "R34A" on left leg and with a silver ring above the
knee on the right leg. I have submitted details to the likely ringing
projects (Netherlands and France) and await replies. I will post on the
sightings website when I find out more. With most of the gulls laying down
I wonder just how many more were there!

Jim Rose

HONEY BUZZARD over Hardmead

I know it's seems early for a migrant but I've just had an adult male EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD over the fields at Hardmead. Absolutely certain on I.D as it came across low enough to see it's yellow eye.
The spots across its belly and wings were obvious on the pale grey background. At one point one of the local Common Buzzards arrived to escort it off the premises allowing a good comparison of the 2 birds with the shorter neck and longer tail of the Honey standing out. Last seen heading East towards Stagsden. Still can't believe it.

Robert Norris

Monday, 15 July 2013


Stopped off at Willen Lake North Basin on my way back from the Rutland Water PGP and couldn't believe how shallow the lake was - lots of mud and some huge potential for the coming autumn season. Waders were represented by 7 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 3 Oystercatchers and 52 Lapwings, with 20 Little Egrets fishing in the shallow reedbed fringes; also female Gadwall with 4 young and female Tufted Duck with 6 young.

Just look at all that mud !!

Roosting Black-headed Gulls, Common Terns and Sinensis Cormorants on spit

The Green Sandpiper flock

Little Egrets and Lapwings

Lots of Little Egrets wading in the shallows

Closer-up of the Green Sandpiper flock

PURPLE EMPERORS are finally out.....

After last week's failure to connect, Francis Buckle, Tim Watts and I returned to FINEMERE WOODS today, just west of Quainton, and had some great results. PURPLE EMPEROR butterflies were up early and egg-laying in the northern sallows from 0700 hours; several were seen perched between then and 0900 hours before the real show began. We then had at least 7 individuals coming down to the track to feed enabling us all to obtain a nice set of images. They were on constant view until at least 1100 hours, even though the temperature by then had reached a sweltering 32 degrees C (87 degrees F). Two WHITE ADMIRALS were also seen along the main ride, along with 3 PURPLE HAIRSTREAKS and at least 10 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, as well as large numbers of commoner species including Comma, Large White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Skipper and Marbled White. Birdwise, just 2 COMMON RAVEN (on the pylons), a pair of BULLFINCH, 2 Jays and a singing male Garden Warbler were noted.

Initial views were of individuals perched high in the Oaks and Sallows, some of the females egg-laying

Then, from 9am, off they came to the ground, offering stunning views

Photographic opportunities were enchanting..

PURPLE EMPEROR - my favourite UK butterfly

A Comma perched in the trees

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

TREE PIPIT on Steps Hill and good numbers of Orchids and DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES

Temperatures were much lower than of recent days with a cool NE wind blowing, although did still peak at 72 degrees F. There was a lot more cloud too and a fresher feel in general.
Within the CHESS VALLEY, Beautiful Demoiselles were emerging in abundance, with quite a few Small Tortoiseshells on the wing too; WESTERN REED WARBLERS have bred successfully at CHESHAM FISHING LAKES and the Grey Herons are still incubating. A male BULLFINCH was the first in my LITTLE CHALFONT garden in a while, feasting as usual on the white sunflower hearts on the birdtable, whilst the 18-strong Common Swift flock now included several screaming juveniles of the year.
To make the most of the heat, I spent another day butterflying - this time concentrating on DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES on the IVINGHOE HILLS. Despite counting over 40, I failed to photograph any but whilst scaling the side of Steps Hill in search of them, a TREE PIPIT flew over me calling, heading away towards Incombe Hole. Intriguingly, a singing male had been reported in this area only recently - so possibly breeding. Lots and lots of butterflies on the wing, including 35 Marbled White, 8 Small Tortoiseshell, 150 Ringlet, 15 Small Heath, 2 Brimstone and 50 Meadow Brown, whilst a pair of BULLFINCH were in Top Scrub, 10+ Meadow Pipits in breeding groups, a jangling male CORN BUNTING at the base of Steps Hill and pair of Yellowhammers.

On neighbouring DOWN FARM CEREAL FIELDS, the COMMON QUAIL was still calling and 3 CORN BUNTINGS were still marking out their territories.

Monday, 8 July 2013

QUAIL at Pitstone Hill

Did a spot of butterflying most of the day with local expert ROGER KEMP (author of an excellent DVD on UK butterflies) but sadly no Purple Emperors out yet at the regular hotspot...

FINEMERE WOOD was alive with butterflies though and although we missed 2 White Admirals, we did see 7 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, 4 Small Tortoiseshells, 3 Brimstone, 9 Small Skipper, 28 Large Skipper, 70+ Marbled White, 400+ Ringlet, 22 Small Heath, 150 Meadow Brown and a Large White; birds noted included a PEREGRINE on a pylon, 8 Yellowhammers, a male BULLFINCH, Nuthatch, Jay and 3 separate family parties of MARSH TITS

Checked out Woodham Industry, a neighbouring disused railway site, Calvert and Hillesden for European Turtle Dove but no sign

This evening, accompanied by Chaz Jackson and an Amersham birdwatcher, enjoyed excellent views of a COMMON QUAIL at Pitstone Hill, in the large barley field adjacent. This bird had originally been heard by Rob Andrews last night - and earlier today by Graham Smith. It came to within 10 feet of us three as we stood at the edge of the barley. The same field also yielded 3 jangling male CORN BUNTINGS, at least 22 Skylarks, a family party of 5 Common Whitethroats and 4 Yellowhammers, whilst the hill itself held freshly emerged DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES.

Post-breeding BLACK-HEADED GULLS at Spade Oak

I paid a lunchtime visit to Little Marlow GP today. It was immediately obvious that there had been an influx of post breeding Black-headed Gulls, with at least 300 birds counted, including 9 juveniles. Amongst these, were 2 colour-ringed birds. The first was black P430, which is a returning bird. It was ringed as an adult on March 30th 2010 at Dumpiai dump, Klaipeda, Lithuania. This bird was first seen here on July 13th last year and the ringer was surprised last year that it had reached England that early – amazing regularity and site fidelity. The second was white 6EC, which looks to be a Danish bird – details awaited. Something to wile away the time when there is little else to look at – I’m sure there will be plenty of other CR ‘eastern’ BHG over the next few weeks.

The CR Common Tern I emailed about last week was present again – split CR blue over yellow, being a bird ringed as a chick here in 2009.

4 male Wigeon were also new in.

Adam Bassett

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Another WOOD SANDPIPER, the third this spring, was found at Spade Oak GP yesterday afternoon (Alan Stevens, Adam Bassett, et al), whilst a TURTLE DOVE was again at Hillesden

Adam also had what was possibly a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE this morning (at Spade Oak) but it disappeared before he was able to confirm it.