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

Friday, 30 August 2013

Yet another WRYNECK

David Bilcock flushed a WRYNECK from one of the tracks on Top Scrub, Ivinghoe Hills, late morning and after a brief search, he relocated it perched high in a Hawthorn. It remained on view for about 35 minutes, allowing both Mike Campbell and Francis Buckle to connect (see pictures), but then flew into dense cover and disappeared. Several more people then arrived but despite searching, it could not be relocated. Dave also saw TREE PIPIT, 4 COMMON REDSTARTS and a WHINCHAT during a comprehensive sweep of the area.
At the time, I was in East Kent, but on returning late afternoon, I grilled David on exactly where he had first seen it, knowing how site faithful Wrynecks are. After getting the lowdown on the bird, I relocated it within a few minutes of arriving on site. The bird was favouring a particular anthill and judging by the amount of droppings, it had been present for at least a few days. Frustratingly, it was not possible to view the bird feeding without flushing it, due to the nature of the vegetation surrounding the anthill. I saw the bird on at least 9 occasions in the two hours I was present, it still being in the area at 1700 hours. JT, Jeff Bailey, Lucy Flower and around 6 other observers also connected.

Park in the main Ivinghoe Beacon car park and cross the road into Top Scrub. Continue as if walking towards Inkombe Hole but before reaching the main footpath, turn right 40 yards before at the first cross tracks. Continue down this ride for 80 yards until you reach the clearings on both sides and 4-5 obvious anthills on the edges of the footpath. A track then leads off to the left for 25 yards and peters out just before the thick scrub. The anthill the Wryneck is favouring is at the end of this but as you approach, it flies up into the gorse or adjacent Hawthorn bush. It did this repeatedly every ten minutes.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

28 August: WRYNECK and a trio of PIED FLYCATCHERS

Tim Watts discovered a WRYNECK on the track leading to Ladymead Farm late morning Wednesday, in the area of the brook and stone walls at SP 754 203 NNE of Quainton village. The bird was typically skulking but remained long enough for Mike & Rose Collard, Graham Smith and others to connect before totally disappearing for good just after 1330 hours.

I visited the site from 1600 hours and after finding a juvenile PIED FLYCATCHER in Denham Lane/Denham House garden as I walked up, I eventually saw two more in the hedgerow NNE of the church along with up to 20 Spotted Flycatchers, a juvenile Common Stonechat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Willow Warbler, 11 Common Chiffchaff and a single Garden Warbler; also 40 Barn Swallow and 15 House Martins.

Three different juvenile Pied Flycatchers at Quainton Hills on Wednesday 28 August (LGRE and Sean D'Arcy)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

26 August Bird Sightings

26 August: 2 WHINCHATS in paddocks between Wendover bypass and Welwick Farm (Stephen Richards), with 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in fields just east of Ivinghoe Campsite (RDA), 2 more WHINCHATS at Lodge Hill (WC) and 2 RUFF (male & juvenile) and GREENSHANK at Manor Farm (Rob Hill)

25 August Bird Sightings

25 August

GREENSHANK at Spade Oak briefly (AS), with 3 WHINCHATS in scrub behind Wing Park (Ian Malin) and a BLACK TERN at Weston Turville Reservoir (Mike Wallen)

At Manor Farm this evening, the 1w Med Gull again, plus long stayers such as 1juv Wood Sand, 1juv Ruff and 3 Greenshank; 1 Curlew was new though. It flew off west. 1 Snipe, 8 Green Sand, 2 Common Sand & 2 R Plover completed the waders. Plus a Wheatear around the courtyard buildings (Rob Hill)

Friday, 23 August 2013

WOOD SANDPIPER amongst other waders at Manor Farm this evening

Final totals from the farm this eve -

RUFF 1 juvenile
Green Sand 7
Common Sand 2
Greenshank heard only
Snipe 1
Oystercatcher 2 juv
Yellow Wagtail 2 over south
Swift 1 over south

Also modest southward passage of Swallows.

Rob Hill

Monday, 19 August 2013

GARGANEY and RUFF at Manor Farm

At Manor Farm this evening, drake GARGANEY, juvenile RUFF and 2 GREENSHANK, whilst at Quainton Hills, the 4 COMMON REDSTARTS remain

Thursday, 15 August 2013

RUFF present for a third day at College


 Much cooler than of late with a showery westerly airstream dominating the weather
Not a lot happening today, other than 5 Common Redstarts and 8 Spotted Flycatchers on the Quainton Hills (per Tim Watts), a Common Redstart at Hardmead (Rob Norris) and a couple of Greenshanks at Manor Farm.
I decided to return to COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT where the juvenile RUFF was present for its second day. Although favouring the dense clusters of Purple Loostrife to hide and feed in, it eventually flew from the spit and landed close to the Octagon Hide. I took my cue, made my way to the hide and fired off around 60 shots of the bird - generally feeding at between 100-120 yards distance (see images above). The Lapwings were not keen on it and chased it back to the spit after ten minutes.
Lapwings had actually increased heavily in number - 107 being tallied - whilst a single Common Sandpiper was the only other wader to be seen.

Just 5 Mute Swans remain; two broods of Tufted Duck (a 6 and a 7 - see pix), Red Kite overhead, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (including 5 juveniles), 14 Common Terns and 3 juvenile YELLOW WAGTAILS

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Fulbrook Farm REDSTARTS and a welcome RUFF

Temperatures struggled to reach 17 degrees C today as a WNW wind blew across the Chilterns Region. There were a few odd showers, with cloud predominating until clearing late in the evening.
At TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, a COMMON GREENSHANK remained for a third day, probing the mud at the far west end (see images), as did 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS and a COMMON SANDPIPER. All 7 Mute Swans were together, whilst Tufted Ducks were accompanied by at least 17 young. Before I entered the woodland, a Common Kestrel flew towards Tringford Farm, and once in the wood, 2 Stock Doves were calling and a party of 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were feeding in the canopy. From the hide, 1-2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 5 Little Egrets, 3 Grey Herons, 16 Moorhen, 53 Coot and 40 Black-headed Gulls were noted. Butterflies by the overflow dam included 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 2 Small White and a Small Blue - the latter a rarity at the reservoirs.
Across the road on STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, the juvenile DUNLIN was still showing very well along the north shore (for its 7th day); also noted were 2 Mute Swans, 1 Little Egret, 3 Shoveler, 77 Greylag Geese, 18 Common Terns (8 juveniles) and a Grey Wagtail, whilst on MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, at least 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were in the wood and tall Poplars behind the reedbed, 3 Common Chiffchaff, a migrant juvenile WILLOW WARBLER, Wren family party, 3 Sand Martin and 8 House Martin.

For Images, see my Birding Tring Reservoirs blog
After some sound advice from Tim Watts, I then travelled over to FULBROOK FARM at the north end of QUAINTON HILLS. Although it took me a long time, mainly because they were so elusive, I eventually managed to photograph all four individual birds present in the hedgerows east of the farm - 3 males and 1 female-type.

The first bird - female-type - just along the first hedgerow beyond the gate

A cracking adult male where the two hedgerows meet

Another adult male between the first hedgerow and second

And a third male in the first hedgerow and fairly close to the road

 COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT was very quiet apart from a single juvenile Common Redshank so I then headed home to SHARDELOES LAKE. The cricket pitch held 13 Pied Wagtails (3 family parties), with the Misbourne alongside two noisy COMMON KINGFISHERS.
All 3 Great Crested Grebe youngsters were surviving (one of which was now fishing independently) as well as the sole Mute Swan cygnet. A single SINENSIS CORMORANT was lurking in the shallows with female Tufted Ducks accompanying 6, 7 and 3 young respectively; just a pair of Gadwall were seen - and no young. Migrants included 3 Common Chiffchaffs and 2 House Martins, with a local family party of 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the Willows. Coots numbered 116 and a Grey Wagtail flew over.

Whilst at Shardeloes, news came via John Gearing of a RUFF at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT - the first in the county this year. Failing to get it properly checked out via the usual channels, I had to race back there - arriving just after 1640 hours. After a few scans, I quickly relocated it - a fresh juvenile of the year - feeding in long vegetation on the spit of the westernmost island. Although very distant from the Information Centre, I managed a number of record shots presented below. A most satisfying end to the day. At least 6 more juvenile Common Terns had fledged since my visit last week, culminating in at least 24 young for the site this year - an excellent result considering the poor start.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

REDSTARTS at Quainton Hills

Tim Watts had at least 5 COMMON REDSTARTS today on the Quainton Hills, mostly adult males

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Passerine passage is on

There were 3 different COMMON REDSTARTS on Quainton Hills today, as well as remaining singles at Ravensthorpe Sewage Farm and Steps Hill.

Waders too were making headlines, with 2 COMMON GREENSHANKS and 2 Dunlin at Manor Farm

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

REDSTART still present in North Bucks

The male Redstart first seen last Thursday at Ravenstone STW
was Still present this lunchtime.

From the roadside gate, walk down to the next gate and look back towards
the roadside hedge, about 50 yards right of the black bale bags.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

GARGANEY at Manor farm GP this evening

At Manor Farm this evening, 1 eclipse male Garganey, 7 Common Sand, 6 Green Sand, 3 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank and 1 R Plover.

Also Little Owl, 1ad 2juv Oycs and at least 5 broods of Tuftie.

This site really does look excellent at the moment, and regular watching this autumn will surely produce a few good birds.

Rob Hill

First COMMON REDSTART of the autumn at Inkombe Hole

After twitching Alan Gardiner's Tyttenhanger DUNLIN (which was still present on the spit incidentally when I left at 2pm), I returned to TRING RESERVOIRS to complete my counts of the smaller three reservoirs.
TRINGFORD RESERVOIR is at the lowest I have seen it for some years and very reminiscent of when I have recorded Spotted Crake there; it is looking exceptional for passage waders. Dave Hutchinson and I had a summer-plumaged ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT feeding on the flattened area of mud at the far corner from around 1600 hours, the bird flying off at 1738 when spooked by three Red Fox cubs playing on the bank. A total of 4 GREEN SANDPIPERS was feeding on the wettest mud in the far corner and resident species included 7 Grey Heron, the family party of 8 Mute Swans, a single Shoveler, three broods of Tufted Duck totalling 28 young (including 2 very pale individuals with one party of 6 ducklings) and 38 Coot. The 7 Little Egrets were also present.
On neighbouring STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, the celebrity first-summer female COMMON SCOTER was present for its third day, showing extremely well not far from the car park, as well as the juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (also present for its third day). A pair of Great Crested Grebes has built a new nest on one of the algae bunds.

The first sign of migration on the Hills involved a COMMON REDSTART and LESSER WHITETHROAT in Inkombe Hole, the former proving very elusive and lingering in the bushes by the orange-rolling slope; 3 Bullfinches also.

Monday, 5 August 2013

PEC' PIPER just over the border again

Kevin Duncan picked up a small brown wader which he believed to be a 'Pec' at Eton Wick Flood on Sunday morning - Russell Ness confirming his suspicions some 25 minutes later. In exactly the same location as last autumn's birding, one could forgive speculation that it is the same bird returning. It remained all day and was still present on Monday, the scrape also yielding an adult summer Dunlin and two flocks of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits last week. The site is literally just yards from Buckinghamshire, bordering the east end of Dorney Common. Graham Smith and I staked it out last night but there was no realistic chance of either of us getting it on the 2013 Bucks Year List - the Dorney Common flood being completely dried out and just grass. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull has also visited the scrape in recent days. These were the best images I obtained of the Pec in fading light and at 200 yards range - seems to be an adult.........

The local Mute Swan pair on the river...

........and sunset

Borderline Butterflying

On Friday 2nd August, I visited Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, literally yards over the border in Oxfordshire. In the 84 degree heat, I counted 236 SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS (the speciality here), 6 BROWN ARGUS, a Large Skipper, 15 Essex Skippers, 105 Small Skippers, a whopping 775 CHALKHILL BLUES, a staggering 206 Large White, 81 Brimstone, 95 Common Blue, 8 Comma, 600+ Gatekeeper, 100+ Meadow Brown and 400+ Ringlet butterflies...........

A selection of my best shots of the day follow -: