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, 31 July 2014

RED-BACKED SHRIKE on Quainton Hills

This fabulous male RED-BACKED SHRIKE was found by Tim Watts on Quainton Hills late morning and remained present for the rest of the day. Tim, Warren, Laurence and I enjoyed some beautiful views of the bird as it hunted in the late afternoon sunshine from the hedgerow on the top of the West Slopes, just 100 yards west of the transmitter. In addition to a number of beetles and Bumblebees, it also caught an adult Long-tailed Field Mouse and was particularly active. The local family of Common Kestrels took a dislike to it, attacking it on an umber of occasions and forcing it to dive into dense cover. Representing the first record for the site, this was also the first adult male to grace the county in over 40 years. A stupendous find, but then Tim is one of the most prolific bird-finders in the county - extremely well done. The area also held 4 COMMON REDSTARTS, a few Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Northern Wheatears.

Friday, 25 July 2014

RUFF at Manor Farm

Having a look for Rob Hill's Wood Sandpiper of last night, I found this male RUFF at Manor Farm this afternoon. Also present were 2 Ringed Plover, 4 Little Ringed Plover (including a juvenile), 3 juvenile Common Redshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Green Sandpiper, 8 Little Egret, 110 Lapwing, 2 juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Absolute disgrace

Can somebody kindly clarify what the benefits are to ringing our one and only EUROPEAN NIGHTJAR for years in the county is? Last night, as it got dark, mistnets were placed in strategic parts of the clearing and the ringer and his wife lucked upon catching the male bird, which has been churring each night for the past 16 nights without interference. Yes, he had all of the paperwork and clearly had permission, but to what gain? Personally, I find it abhorrent, putting that bird through all of that stress for nothing. After it was released, it moved to a different part of the clearing that I have not seen it before. What do others think of this behaviour?

Monday, 7 July 2014

NIGHTJAR still present

Buckinghamshire Bird Club has lifted its veil of secrecy and revealed the presence of this Rare Breeding species in the county. Nightjars have declined dramatically in the last 20 years, with the last stronghold locally in Surrey. Worst of all, they felt it necessary to allow the bird to be trapped and ringed. I give up.

SPOONBILL back again

My first port of call, in another day of tetrad surveying, was SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT (LITTLE MARLOW), where Adam Bassett had again relocated an adult breeding-plumaged EURASIAN SPOONBILL there. The bird was typically sleeping on the spit but did awake on the odd occasion, before flying off east just before midday.

Not a bad list of species for early July, highlights being the Little Egrets (two nests have fledged a total of 4 young on the island), both Australian Black Swans still, 4 Mute Swans, 17 Greylag Geese, family party of 9 Egyptian Geese, 41 Tufted Duck, 2 Northern Pochard (adult drake and a juvenile), 55 Coot, 12 Great Crested Grebe, 23 Common Tern (including quite a few fledged juveniles), 55 Herring Gull, 2 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (an adult and first-summer), 115 Black-headed Gull, 275 Lapwing, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Swift, Stock Dove, Grey Wagtail, Western Reed Warbler and a male Bullfinch.

The 3 juvenile Little Egret from one nest

The rest of the day was taken up surveying NW of MARLOW, with Coal Tit, Common Buzzard and Red Kites in PULLINGSHILL WOOD (SU 8286), a pair of House Sparrows at 'The Hatchet' in BOCKMER END (SU 8186), 77 Rook and 2 Stock Dove at BOCKMER HOUSE (SU 8086) and HOMEFIELD WOOD yielding numerous FIRECRESTS, at least 12 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES, breeding Coal and Marsh Tits, 25+ Wren, Nuthatch and several family parties of Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

More House Sparrows were to be found in LOWER WOODEND (SU 8187), along with Stock Dove and a singing male Yellowhammer, a Sparrowhawk in HOLME WOOD and up to 8 Skylarks by CHISBRIDGE FARM (SU 8088). MARLOW COMMON (NORTH) harboured a typical selection of woodland species.

A total of 43 active SAND MARTIN burrows was located in SPRINGFIELD FARM QUARRY, whilst searching for Dave Cleal's male Common Redstart on DORNEY COMMON after the rain, yielded 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS on the flood.

NIGHTJAR still - and waders on the move

The churring male EUROPEAN NIGHTJAR is still present in the south of the county this evening, as is at least one of the LONG-EARED OWLETS, while elsewhere, up to 9 Little Egrets are at Spade Oak GP (Little Marlow) (two nests have spawned 6 young so far) as well as a Mediterranean Gull and returning waders are being seen, particularly in the north of the county, with Green Sandpipers and Eurasian Curlew being recorded.

It is an excellent year for PURPLE EMPEROR BUTTERFLIES, with large numbers being seen in at least 14 localities throughout the county