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, 12 May 2014

Local Mega: CATTLE EGRET at Spade Oak

The strong westerly wind of yesterday abated, giving way to some fine, warm weather. In fact, temperatures reached nearly 70 degrees F during the afternoon before the onset of 'monsoon' weather just as it got dark.
Just as I was about to leave the house this morning, Adam Bassett 'phoned to say that he had just found a CATTLE EGRET at SPADE OAK - the first ever to have been recorded there. I jumped immediately into the car but as it was rush-hour still, it took me about 35 minutes to arrive. In that time, Adam had seen the bird depart and return, but as I arrived at the 'watchpoint' on the west bank, there was no sign. I walked around to the south side and checked the 'Cormorant Island' from the railway but still no sign - had it gone? I glanced back towards the bench and suddenly espied it - it was roosting on one of the small islands where a few near-adult Grey Herons were building nests. As Adam had stated, it was in fine fettle, with rich buff on the crown and some light buff on the mantle; the bill was largely pink.
It sat in the Willow for the next 90 minutes before suddenly taking flight at 1116 hours, heading purposefully SSE along the River Thames. I lost it as it reached Berks airspace but CDRH positioned elsewhere, hotly pursued it and relocated it on COCK MARSH, before it was swiftly disturbed by walkers. After eight minutes, it flew back to SPADE OAK, this time settling with the 4 Little Egrets feeding at the east end of the spit. It then remained here, rather distantly, for the next four hours, before flying off again mid-afternoon. A trickle of observers arrived after midday, including Jim Rose and Dave Cleal.

CATTLE EGRET images follow.........

My initial views of the Cattle Egret as I looked back towards the west bank

standing out in full view on the Willow but very distant

I got close but could not get a clear view through the branches

Once on the spit, it became even more distant

Adam and I also saw and photographed a first-summer CASPIAN GULL at the site, loafing with up to 12 Lesser Black-backed and a few Argenteus Herring Gulls. Otherwise, 5 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS were noteworthy.

Also noted were -:
Great Crested Grebe (10+, including a pair nesting on one of the smaller islands)
Sinensis Cormorant (90+, including at least 67 youngsters on the island)
Grey Heron (45+, including 9 fledged young)
Little Egret (3 active nests on the island with 4 birds at a time feeding on the spit)
Mute Swan (4)
Australian Black Swan (pair)
Common Shelduck (6)
Greylag Geese and Atlantic Canada Geese (both accompanying young)
Egyptian Geese (pair still with 9 goslings)
Mallard (20+ including 2 family parties)
Tufted Duck (4)
Red Kite (18)
Moorhen (4)
Coot (12, with at least 4 active nests)
Lapwing (2)
Black-headed Gull (1)
Common Tern (26)
Woodpigeon & Stock Dove (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (feeding young)
Common Kingfisher (both adults flying back and forth with food)
Ring-necked Parakeet (4)
Common Swift (4)
Song Thrush (1)
Common Blackbird (4)
Wren, Robin, Dunnock & Chaffinch
Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff

Small Tortoiseshell & Brimstone butterflies