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, 31 July 2009


Early this morning there was no sign of the Black-tailed Godwit. On the Seasonal Pool just 2 Common Sandpiper and c150 Black headed Gulls and a Teal. The Reserve Pool had 2 migrant Little Ringed Plovers.

During a visit this evening the summer-plumaged DUNLIN had moved to the Seasonal Pool, feeding amongst the Lapwing on the spit that has formed as the pool dries. Still 2 Common Sandpipers. Black-headed Gulls numbers were down to just 20 compared with 100's at the same time over the pass few days.

The juvenile Common Tern was perched on a buoy. I checked it for any rings - but none fitted (Kevin Duncan)

POLECAT delight

I have been watching badgers for about 23 years but what happened tonight will be etched in my memory for a long time. Just one of those magical moments.

I started going back to a sett I have not watched at for 20 years a few weeks ago just to see what was happening; the sett was disturbed by a landowner many years ago before the 1992 Act became available to use.

I was dipping badly; no sign of the Badgers which I had been seeing regularly over recent visits; just one previous dip; 2 nice Red Foxes was all I was seeing. Then a BADGER came out and promptly went back in after 15 seconds as a light aircraft went over. I put my notebook away and as it was quite dark decided it was time to leave. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement about 30 yards from where I was sat; unable to see what it was, young rabbits have been frequenting that part of the sett recently. I slowly stood up and there was an adult POLECAT walking towards me over the sett; it carried on walking and got within 10 yards of me and slowly went down a disused hole and that was that.

Having been slighly stressed at the possibility of missing the College Lake animals and a UK mammal tick ( I was in the US when the news broke ) it has given me so much pleasure to find my own animal.

This was just about the only night I did not take my video camera with me.

Mike Collard,


At Willen Lake this evening, a female Tufted Duck with 3 well-grown ducklings, 1pr Great Crested Grebes with 2 well-grown chicks, plus 1 Green Sandpiper, and a high summer count of 146 Coot, numbers swelled by fledged youngsters - at least one species seems to have had a successful summer. Alas the lone surviving Common Tern chick probably perished a couple of weeks ago (Rob Hill)

Today's COMMON REDSTARTS on Quainton Hills - images by Tim Watts

Immature and moulting adult male COMMON REDSTARTS at Quainton Hills today - a total of at least 6 birds passing through in recent days.

Inkombe Hole COMMON REDSTARTS still present

Sally Douglas observed two COMMON REDSTARTS in Inkombe Hole, Steps Hill, this evening


31/07 : COMMON GREENSHANK : Manor Farm Quarry. Possibly two birds present. One in inlets, one on main pools with Green Sandpipers (Chris Gleadell)



Andy Radford discovered a juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEAR at 1700 hours and the bird was still present and showing well when I arrived from 1834-1854 hours. It was frequenting the large pile of tyres to the left of the public footpath as well as the tarmac area by the farm sheds and was scolding frequently. It represents the second record of this species in my Recording Area this autumn.

In the area by the farm reservoir, 8 Stock Doves, 3 male Greenfinches, 2 Linnets and a male Blackcap were noted. Red Kites were also very vocal, with two juveniles begging for food (Lee G R Evans)
Juvenile Northern Wheatear images by kind courtesy of Tim Watts (photographed at Quainton Hills)


A first summer male MARSH HARRIER flew west over College Lake this afternoon at 1530 hours but there was no sign of it at Wilstone later (Mike Campbell)

Fall of COMMON REDSTARTS on Quainton Hills

Quainton Hills; after a clear, calm night there was a slight fall on the Hills

A total of 4 COMMON REDSTARTS was found on the North Slopes and fortunately all were very different in appearance: an adult female with a juvenile male at the bottom of North slopes and an adult male with a not so smart female on the top of the West slopes. The juvenile male still had spotty head markings.

Also noted were COMMON RAVEN and several migrant LESSER WHITETHROATS and WILLOW WARBLERS

Calvert BBOWT; 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 2 Common Terns through and an increase in warblers in scrub on both lakes (Tim Watts)

COMMON REDSTART remains in Inkombe Hole

A single juvenile COMMON REDSTART remains in Inkombe Hole this morning (Steve Rodwell), whilst up to 8 CORN BUNTINGS remain (Ben Miller).

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Butterflies Galore, two juvenile GARGANEYS and a MEDITERRANEAN GULL


After the odd rumble of thunder and isolated shower, the day was rather pleasant, with some good spells of sunshine giving rise to warm temperatures. The SW wind continued and was fairly brisk. I had planned to check on a number of raptor nests but that all went pear-shaped, when an adult summer Cattle Egret was located in West Berkshire. That bird was dipped on two occasions but two Garganey and a Mediterranean Gull salvaged the day.


I did the Chess Valley Walk from Chenies Bridge (TQ 017 987) to Valley Farm (TQ 026 992). Very quiet birdwise but notable for the number of Barn Swallows recorded.

*COMMON KESTRELS (pair busily feeding four noisy fledglings which are all on the wing)
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (adult in Mill Farm Meadow - unusual in July)
Green Woodpecker (3)
BARN SWALLOWS (2 hawking over Mill Farm Meadow, with a further 15 over the paddock immediately west of Valley Farm. Several juveniles from the two nests at the farm were queuing up along the fence to be fed by the parents. At least four nests in this small area successfully fledged young - an excellent year)
Wren (1 by Chenies Bottom Bridge)
Mistle Thrush (2 at Chenies Place)
COMMON WHITETHROAT (single juvenile in Frogmore Meadow)
Goldfinch (2)
Black-billed Magpie (2 adults; I also found a juvenile shot dead)
Long-tailed Tits (8 in Limeshill Wood)
MARSH TIT (1 scolding in Limeshill Wood at TQ 023 991)

Frogmore Meadow and the adjacent meadow were swarming with butterflies, with the wild flowers and weeds attracting incredible numbers including 600+ Large Whites, 74 Green-veined Whites, 44 Small Whites, 1 tatty Small Tortoiseshell, 11 COMMAS, 55 COMMON BLUES, 67 Peacocks, 330+ Meadow Browns, 55 Ringlets, 22 Small Heath, 65 Gatekeepers, 25 SMALL COPPERS (with egg-laying observed) and 14 PAINTED LADIES. A total of 13 species in one small area.

My walk was rudely interrupted at 1505 hours when Ken Moore and Roger Stansfield discovered a summer-plumaged Cattle Egret at Padworth Lane GP in neighbouring Berkshire - only the second county record and a species I have still to see in the county. I made my way back to the car, picked up Ray Scally and then finally got going at 1536. Just as I got to the M4, I received a call from Andy Horscroft giving me the good news that the bird had flown east and had been lost. I turned around and headed back.

SHARDELOES LAKE (1630-1730 hours)
(with Ray Scally)

Ray Scally is the Irish artist that has illustrated both Russell Slack's new book on Rare Birds and my forthcoming 2009 revision of the Ultimate Site Guide and he was keen to get some photographs of local Buckinghamshire birds. With no Cattle Egret to chase, I took him to Shardeloes, where many species show well. This afternoon's haul included -:

GREAT CRESTED GREBES (pair constantly feeding the three growing juveniles)
Little Grebes (7+ including the usual family group)
Grey Heron (1 juvenile)
Mute Swan (family party of 6 birds)
Canada Geese (69, including 59 just east of Kennel Farm)
GADWALL (2 eclipse birds at west end)
Tufted Duck (2)

Common Buzzard (moulting adult)
Red Kites (several including the two fledged juveniles)
Common Kestrel (first-summer male)
Stock Dove (6+)
BARN SWALLOW (juvenile hawking over cricket pitch)
House Martins (18)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Pied Wagtail (just 9 left on the cricket field)
*SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS (now 5 showing well at the west end, flycatching in the sun from the Willows)

At 1739 hours, Andy Horscroft 'phoned again to say that the Cattle Egret had returned to the spit. Off I went again in hot pursuit. Battling the Marlow Bypass and the M4 around Reading at rush hour is not a good idea and by the time I got to the A4 at Junction 13, guess what the egret flew east once more (at 1845). I had 'dipped' twice on the same day, without ever getting to the site.

(1910 hours; with Alan Stevens and others)

Jim Rose had located two Garganey late afternoon so being a species I had not observed in the county this year (I am not sure if there have been any, certainly not while I was in the country), I quickly double-backed down the motorway, arriving not long after 1900 hours. At last some success.

Great Crested Grebes (12 present including a single first-winter)
Continental Cormorants (18)
Egyptian Geese (17 including an adult female still with her single gosling on the spit)
Common Teal (single)
**GARGANEY (two very freshly plumaged juveniles feeding on far side of spit, keeping very close together and moving between the island and the far left of spit. Uniformly coloured underparts and striking head pattern with nondescript upperwings. My first of the year in Buckinghamshire)
Northern Shoveler (3)

OYSTERCATCHER (still present)
Lapwings (300+)

Black-headed Gulls (462)
**MEDITERRANEAN GULL (at 1925 hours, I located a 2nd-summer fly in to the Black-headed Gull roost and land amongst them at the far side of the spit. It had largely moulted all of its black head feathers and had some dark shading in front of and just behind the eye and some grey extending towards the rear crown. The thicker bill was orange-red marked with a diagonal black bar, whilst the longer legs were deeper red. It was very pale grey above, pure white below, with some black spotting on the primaries. It attempted to drink at the edge of the water but within a couple of minutes of landing, the entire flock was spooked and the Mediterranean Gull flew up in the melee and disappeared towards the River Thames - at 1928. It did not reappear in the roost)
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (5 present, including 3 adults and 2 3rd-summers)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (45 including 12 juveniles)
Interestingly, no British Herring Gulls

COMMON KINGFISHERS (2 racing around, calling frequently)
House Martins (17)
Sand Martins (5)

Lee G R Evans


The BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was still present on the Seasonal Pool this morning as also was the Common Sandpiper I didn't see the second CS. Black Headed Gull flock was at circa 150. 200 plus Lapwing. Returning to the start end there were 5 Linnet along the lake bank and a further 3 in the grass area adjacent to the car park. A study of the thick hedge there produced 2 pristine juvenile Willow Warblers with a small number of tits. This encouraged me to have a look in the arboretum around the bench, where 6 Common Chiffchaff was a slight increase on the other day (Dave Cleal)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

QUAIL still calling from barley field at Down Farm

Peter Stevens had single COMMON CROSSBILLS in Farm Wood, Wooburn Common, and Wendover Woods today, as well as the calling COMMON QUAIL at Down Farm, Aldbury.

Rain showers deposit godwit

Managed to get to the Seasonal Pool a little earlier than planned after my daughter's driving lesson was aborted due to the weekly Dorney Lake Triathlon. Reaching the Seasonal Pool I could see a number of Black-headed Gulls were high again with about 250 present with more flying in, reaching a total of c400+. On first scan of the pool I located a summer plumaged ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT feeding in the north-east corner. Whilst scanning the gulls which contained many juveniles a summer plumaged LITTLE GULL was seen on the pool briefly, before flying east.

There was no sign of yesterdays Mediterranean Gull but the flock did also contain 5 Common Gulls and 3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and a juvenile. I expect the LBBG's have bred on the Slough Trading Estate. Still 2 Common Sandpiper present (Kevin Duncan)

WHINCHAT present for its 15th day

Remarkably the WHINCHAT at Ravenstone STW was still present this lunchtime- now for it's 15th day.Also 5 Grey Wagtails ( 2 adults, 3 juveniles) at the works.

At Gayhurst Quarry tonight, a juvenile DUNLIN on the Tern Island on Motorway Pit (this is a different bird to the one on Monday)

Also 2 Green Sandpiper,2 Common Sandpiper,2 Little Egret,Kingfisher (Robert Norris)

WESTCOTT VILLAGE garden successes

Here in our Westcott garden two Song Thrush families have raised young already and one of the pairs is currently feeding a second brood in a clematis above our front door. Our small (single digit) House Sparrow population has also raised several young which seem to have got the hang of the peanut feeder very quickly, something the adults haven't tried until now. Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Dunnock & Collared Dove, at least, have also raised young in the garden. There are Wrens about but I've seen no sign of youngsters. Yesterday I watched a pair of Swallows feeding four juveniles perched in our willow tree (although I've not noticed any nests on the houses along our road). Over the past couple of weeks a young Green Woodpecker has been a regular visitor to the many ant colonies living in our lawn (Dave Wilton)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Highlight tonight (19:10) was a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL on the Seasonal Pool (1250m) amongst an influx of c200 Black-headed Gulls.

The two Common Sandpiper are still present in there usual positions. Along the Return Lake at 1500m and on the Seasonal Pool.

Viewed from the causeway between the Rowing Lakes (Kevin Duncan)

Monday, 27 July 2009

Second WHINCHAT of the autumn

A juvenile WHINCHAT was present in Docks growing widely in the large Barley field just east of the A355 and north of the public footpath at SU 949 906 this morning, constituting the first record in the Amersham Recording Area and District this year (Dave Ferguson). Sadly, there was no sign of it in an exhaustive search this evening (LGRE).

A Eurasian Sparrowhawk nest was located in Mount Wood (adults feeding at least two noisy chicks) whilst a pair of Moorhens was on a tiny, almost dried-up pond in the wood just NE of Wilton Park Farm at SU 950 903 (Lee G R Evans).

DUNLIN at Gayhurst

Rained off for a couple of hours this morning so had a look to see if anything had dropped in at GAYHURST QUARRY. Almost in exactly the same place on the Fishing Pit as last weeks Knot was a DUNLIN just fading out of breeding plumage.

I have to say with the water level dropping the Pits are starting to look very wader friendly at the moment. The six Common Sandpipers and 2 Oystercatchers that were present obviously think so too.

I hadn't been up to Quarryhall for a while so decided to have a look at the Bean Field at the top of the hill.I should have gone earlier,because as well as several Linnets and Skylarks, I saw at least 2 families of Yellow Wagtails comprising of at least 8 Birds. There were probably more as they seemed to be flying around everywhere, the parents still feeding the youngsters so obviously bred on site (Robert Norris)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Today's SANDERLING at Calvert Landfill

One of perhaps three adult SANDERLINGS in Buckinghamshire this week, showing very well for an hour or more at Calvert Landfill - a private site with no general access (Tim Watts)

The Dorney SANDERLING of last week

Dave Cleal obtained this record shot of the moulting adult SANDERLING present on the Dorney Return Lake on Wednesday 22 July - one of three birds recorded in the past week. Exceptional !

SANDERLING at Calvert Landfill

Calvert BBOWT; 1 Green sandpiper/1 Common Sandpiper

Calvert landfill: no access to this private site. I spotted a small wader roosting and was praying it would be a Dunlin rather than just another Common sandpiper! Amazingly, it was not a Dunlin but a cracking SANDERLING, the first one I have ever found myself and only the second I have seen at Calvert. It roosted for a while, fed for a bit before flying around a corner, and out of view.

Also seen, 2 migrant juv Little ringed plover/2 Common Sandpiper/ 2 Little Egret (Tim Watts)

COMMON REDSTARTS present for 4th day at Steps Hill

There were 3 COMMON REDSTARTS present this morning, all juveniles, favoring the small valley on the right-hand side of Incombe Hole. If you walk along the footpath towards Pitstone Hill and sit looking down the valley, they were all feeding together at one stage, along the edge of the trees out of the wind. See images above (Dave Bilcock)

Saturday, 25 July 2009


Calvert sailing lake; 2 Common Sandpiper

Hillesden; Little Grebe with 3 chicks

Quainton Hills; 2 COMMON REDSTARTS, the first migrants of the autumn and following two juveniles at Ivinghoe Hills NR on 23-24 July; an adult male and female-type. Both very wary birds, first glimpsed in flight in bushes. Sat down and waited but didn't re-appear. Left for an hour and got one in 'scope from extreme range. Crawled closer but they still spotted me. Managed to obtain long range poor quality record shots. The second bird appears on zoomed image to have remnants of speckly head which would make it juvenile, possibly a male as back quite greyish but not sure.

Also 2 COMMON RAVENS over tops regularly and cronking and Warblers are on the move. So open/barren/no scrub up there you only get migrant warblers. Today had 1 Lesser Whitethroat/3 Common Whitethroat and 2 Willow Warbler (Tim Watts)

DIRECTIONS; Walk from Quainton village, head towards radio mast. Go through mast field with mast on right, through next gate, straight on, through next gate and there's a very sparse line of Hawthorns in front of you. Both redstarts were in paddock type field to left. This is top of West slopes. Slightly off path but open grass area and not a problem, just don't wander into farmhouse areas.

Colour-ringed LITTLE EGRET

25/07 08:15 : Little Egret : Jubilee River. Coloured Ringed Left Leg: Orange Ring Black code 4, Right Leg: Yellow Ring Black code N. Feeding along Amerden Scrapes. (Kevin Duncan)

This bird was trapped and ringed in a North Kent breeding colony on 16 May 2009 - an interesting movement (LGRE, per Mark Grantham, BTO Ringing Unit)

Thanks for the sighting of Orange ring black code 4 left, Yellow ring black code N right. The metal ring on the right tarsus was GC58870, and it was ringed as a nestling on 16/05/2009 near Faversham, Kent (Jan Pritchard)

Friday, 24 July 2009

LITTLE EGRETS roosting on island at Spade Oak

I stayed a little later than everyone else to see a third LITTLE EGRET fly in to roost on the north-side of the island at Spade Oak GP. At about 10pm whilst looking for Gloworms (16 seen) a Common Sandpiper flew over the railway bank towards the Thames calling. I could still hear one calling towards the spit so could have just flown in (Kevin Duncan)


A flock of 10 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS flew onto the spit at Little Marlow GP this evening (Jim Rose)


A juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL was amongst roosting Black-headed Gulls at Manor Farm GP this evening (Rob Hill)

Dorney Lake waders

Made my second visit of the day after waiting for a while for dark clouds and a heavy shower to pass over at 15:00. Walking down the causeway a Little Egret flew over. On the nearly dry Reserve Pool (750m) were 3 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers. Further along the causeway at 1250m on the Seasonal Pool the Dunlin had increased to three from this morning, feeding amongst 224 Lapwing. Still present were just 2 Common Sandpiper. On on the Return Lake at 1500m and another on the Seasonal Pool (Kevin Duncan)

Waders on the move

Rob Hill had 8 WHIMBREL flying east over Linford NR at 0620 hours this morning

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Long-staying WHINCHAT still present

The WHINCHAT at Ravenstone STW was still present tonight (for it's 9th day at least). It was on the Wheat about three quarters of the way down to the works.

At the works one Grey Wagtail (Robert Norris)

What A Good Year For The.......Butterflies

Although Elvis Costello sang about the Roses in October 1981, this year he could have re-released it about the butterflies. It has been a phenomenal year and today was no exception. Large Whites are absolutely everywhere and records of other species are going through the roof. The reason for this excess is the tremendously high temperatures experienced in the last week of June (temperatures in the 90's) which seems to have done wonders for the population.



Juvenile COMMON CUCKOOS are a rare sight nowadays, certainly in my Recording Area, so when Andy Radford found one this morning being fed by a Dunnock, I made every effort to get out and see it.

Sadly, even though I was only perhaps an hour behind Andy, I could not locate it anywhere.

What I did find though was an interesting farm reservoir hosting a single Moorhen.

Farmland species recorded included 2 Stock Doves, a Linnet, and confirmed breeding of Barn Swallow, Common Blackbird, Chaffinch and Blue Tit.

What was amazing was the incredible number of butterflies in the rough field behind (north of) the farm, including 400+ Large Whites, 15 Commas, 35 Peacocks, 40 Small Tortoiseshells, plenty of Small Heaths and many hundreds of Meadow Brown and Ringlets.


Following a call from Steve Rodwell, I followed Mike Campbell into Inkombe. Sitting patiently in the grass just to the left of the 'orange-rolling' slope and footpath (at SP 958 155), I enjoyed excellent views of the two juvenile COMMON REDSTARTS which were repeatedly visiting the three isolated hawthorn bushes to the left of the track through the centre of the Hole. Both birds were incredibly spotted on the underparts (very juvenile Robin-like) and were very young and certainly implying that they had fledged very locally. Certainly the early date suggests that and once again suggest that we have a very tiny breeding population still hanging on in the once breeding stronghold of Ashridge Forest. Even though both Steve and I have made a concerted effort to survey much of the forest this summer, once again we failed to locate a) either singing male Common Redstarts and b) any nesting birds. Just like Spotted Flycatchers, juvenile Common Redstarts quickly move away from the immediate nesting area and eek out suitable feeding localities, although this is often only a mile or two from the actual nest-site.

I also recorded my first Tring Area juvenile Yellowhammer of the year (just 1), whilst Meadow Pipits were actively song-flighting again. Large Whites, Meadow Browns and Ringlets were again in incredible high numbers.

(1130-1222 hours)

At 1130 hours, I overlooked the Quarry mud and in doing so immediately located a loafing adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL in with the 55 Black-headed Gulls present. I was delighted with my find as it represented my first in Buckinghamshire this year (I had missed Adam Bassett's by a whisker and dipped on all of Warren and Tim's birds at Calvert). It was an adult still in 'good nick' with much of its summer attire (black hood) still largely intact as well as its pure white 'eyelids' and its stunning red bill. Obviously the hood and face did have some white patching, but overall this was a highly distinct bird, with an excellent set of gleaming white primary feathers and tail feathers. It was having a good old preen and repeatedly bathing in the shallow water. I 'phoned Steve and after 25 minutes he eventually arrived. The bird was still present when we both departed at 1222.

Another highlight was the sight of a female and four well grown juvenile MANDARIN DUCKS - the second successive year that the species has bred successfully in the quarry.

Also, 20 LITTLE GREBES was a remarkable sight, with 7 fledged juveniles still doing well.

The oversummering single Mute Swan was still present, along with 22 Tufted Ducks, whilst a migrant LESSER WHITETHROAT was in the scrub.


Visiting the famous Buddleia bush prior to the rain gave me a further opportunity to survey the butterfly population in the forest. An absolute bare minimum of 22 SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARIES was on the wing, along with several PURPLE EMPERORS (feeding high in the Oaks on the west side), 35+ COMMAS, many MARBLED WHITES and an absolute abundance of LARGE WHITES.

I failed to find any Common Crossbills at Pendley Manor nor in the Aston Hill area but then the heaven's opened and I returned home

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Dorney SANDERLING goes some way to salvaging disastrous day


Shortly after 1030 hours, I took a call from East Kent informing me of a BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER that had made landfall at St Margaret's-at-Cliffe, about four miles north of Dover. The bird had been flying back and forth over the paddocks near the monument but had then drifted off north after just ten minutes of presence (1000-1010 hours). It was heard again at 1030 but not seen.

My only BCBE in Britain had been the well-showing bird at Cowden in East Yorkshire in July 1989 so after 20 years I was more than keen to see another one, particularly as it would have been a Kent tick.

Anyhow, just over an hour later at 1130 hours, I took another call from Jerry Warne informing me that the bird was still present and showing well perched in a bush 400 yards north of Bockhill Farm. That was the catalyst that sent me running and as I sat queuing on the M25 in the roadwork section between Junction 17 and 16, Steve Rodwell 'phoned to say that he had just found a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL in Pitstone Quarry. It was all happening at once.

Just as I approached the M25 services at Clacket Lane, Jerry 'phoned again to say that the bird had flown north at 1250 and had possibly flown out to sea. It had certainly been lost from view. Foolishly, I pulled up in the services to wait for news. At 1303, it flew back to its favoured bush and was showing well again, so once more I was on its trail. Just as I was traversing my way around Dover, Garry Bagnell 'phoned to say that yet again the bird had flown, and had been lost (at 1338). This time I ignored the disappointing news (particularly as I was just ten minutes away) and felt sure that it would return.

However, on leaving the main Deal road at the St Margaret's junction, I was horrified to see an advert for a local ballet performance of the 'Nutcracker Suite'. This bought back memories of another major 'dip' I had experienced at St Margaret's - that of a Nutcracker that had spent several hours showing well there that I had driven from Porthgwarra in Cornwall for one August day. My heart sank.

On arrival, I was met by a plethora of gleeful observers that had 'filled their boots' with 'scope views of the lost waif, some of whom had obtained crippling photographs of it. I was well and truly gripped. Anyway, it had last been seen flying south with a party of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows and had been lost.

And that was it. Despite searching for over three hours, it was not to be found, and 73 predominantly Kent-based birders had gone home happy. Throughout the afternoon, squadrons of hirundines battled their way south along the coastline into the strong southerly. It appears that the Bee-eater had done this too.

DORNEY ROWING LAKES (1940-2040 hours)

Attempting to salvage something out of the day, I targeted Dorney Rowing Lakes on my way home. Dave Cleal and Kevin had discovered a SANDERLING late afternoon and after missing Alan's bird at Spade Oak on Sunday was very keen to get this one.

DC very kindly pinpointed its exact position over the phone and after a 17-minute and 2,500 metre hike from the main gate, I set eyes upon it, still feeding in that very same spot. It was favouring a sandy inlet almost directly in line with the 1,500 metre marker on the west shore of the Return Lake and was showing well. It was an adult that had largely moulted out of breeding plumage but still possessed a light russet chin and throat, a mixture of black and orange-russet feathers about the face, crown and hindneck and a strong gorget of darker feathers. From hereon, the underparts were entirely gleaming white and unmarked.

The mantle and back were neatly striated black, with black 'spangled' feathers on the scapulars and black-centred tertials. There was some warmth to the coverts but these were largely bleached and overall the bird was a pale small wader. When preening, it showed an awful amount of white in the rump and had a prominent white wing-bar when outstretched. The bill was relatively short and straight, thicker at the base and jet-black; the legs were relatively short and also jet-black.

The bird moved very little during the half-hour I watched it and did not run vigorously. It was feeding with two Common Sandpipers, in which it was surprisingly comparatively sized. Dave Cleal had photographed it earlier (see above) and Kevin had videoed it.

As Sanderling is such a scarce July visitor to Buckinghamshire, I would hazard a guess that this bird is the same one which Alan saw at Marlow on Sunday.

Also noted were 3 COMMON SHELDUCK on the Seasonal Pool (adult and two juveniles - the latter fledging from a nest on the Jubilee River), 24 EGYPTIAN GEESE and a huge swarm of corvids, including 614 Jackdaws and 236 Rooks.

As dusk approached, large numbers of hirundines flew south, including 58 SAND MARTINS and 13 BARN SWALLOWS. Four Common Swifts were also associated with this movement.

The Demise of the DARTFORD WARBLER as a breeding Buckinghamshire bird

Sadly, despite numerous searches, I have failed in my quest to find DARTFORD WARBLERS in Buckinghamshire this year - they appear to be extinct as a Buckinghamhsire bird. This mirrors my experience on some Surrey heaths, where from a high of 23 singing males on Chobham Common in 2008, I have managed to locate just 3 males in 2009.

The species really was hit hard in last winters two weeks of severe weather, where hard-crusted lying snow remained for ten days. This really shows how critical this species is of concern and it seems that we are looking at an 87% decline nationally overall. Strangely enough, the only area of the country where they seem to be unaffected (excepting Cornwall which largely escaped the snow) is in East Anglia, where numbers have upheld in the coastal heaths of Suffolk and Norfolk.

The History of Dartford Warbler in Buckinghamshire

The first Dartford Warbler to be recorded in Buckinghamshire was as recent as 1993. That year, a female which was wintering at Slough Sewage Farm (Berkshire) strayed over the county boundary on 1st and 31st January (Dave Carter)

It was not until five years later that we got the second - an exceptionally elusive first-winter female on Steps Hill from 25th November until 6th December (Don Otter et al). This bird was seen again on 9th January 1999 (Rob Andrews).

In September 1998, I had heard what I believed to be a Dartford Warbler in suitable breeding habitat near Burnham and in early 1999, a singing male was present from 14th January to 15th May. A further male was present in Black Park on 21st March 1999 (Don Otter).

Later in the year, two different males were located near Burnham, with both remaining from 28th October (Dave Rear, D. Taylor, Peter Stevens, Dave Ferguson, LGRE, et al).

In Year 2000, the population exploded, with up to 7 singing males at the main site throughout the first half of the year, with four remaining on territory from 5th April until at least 25th May (LGRE) and two still singing until 20th June, especially towards dusk. Despite trying, I never confirmed breeding at the site and towards the latter part of the year, just a single male was regularly located.

A further female was in residence at a second heathland site in the south of the county from 20th August and this increased to two birds - a pair - in December. In early January 2001, I located three birds at this site but at the original location, just a single male seemed to be present throughout 2001.

2002 saw a further demise in the population with the male remaining at the main site until 29th June and a female at the Black Park site from 30th August to 7th September.

2003 saw the first confirmed breeding in the county, with two pairs successfully fledging youngsters (7 in total) at the core site (LGRE et al) and a second pair yielding four young from a further nest in Black Park. Dartford Warbler had become an established resident bird in the county at last (or so I thought).

In 2004, a pair remained at the core site until mid-March whilst in Black Park, a pair bred successfully again, fledging three young. At least three of these birds remained into January 2005, when, on 23rd January, a first-winter was discovered just outside my recording area in a weedy field at Sarratt Bottom (Steve Younger). This individual was consorting with a pair of Common Stonechats and I recorded it almost daily until 28th January.

Two singing males were present at the Black Park breeding site on 10th April 2005, both remaining throughout the summer. In June, a pair were constantly flying back and forth with food but the outcome was not recorded.

A single pair bred successfully again in 2006, with three juveniles fledging from a nest in Black Park. At the original breeding site, a female was again present on 11th January but not subsequently.

In 2007, a single male was present in Black Park from 23rd January until at least 1st July, with a pair together on 25th April. An additional singing male was located at nearby Fulmer on 11th May whilst a single bird was disturbed at the original site on 21st October.

Breeding was once again successful in 2008, when on several occasions in June and July, I witnessed a family group of up to seven birds. This was at the Black Park location. Elsewhere. I failed to find any birds and much of the former habitat had become overgrown and unsuitable. I last visited the area in December 2008, when at least three birds were scolding from gorse clumps in Black Park.

So, in summary, a viable population of Dartford Warblers survived in the county for just over ten years and during this time, over 20 young were successfully fledged. The severity of last winter's winter weather however proves how precarious a foothold this Mediterranean species has in southern Britain.

Hopefully, this is just a blip in an ongoing attempt to colonise northwards of its core breeding areas such as the New Forest and Surrey heathlands. Hopefully, another pair will set up territory and start the whole chain of events off again.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

LITTLE EGRETS fledge six young


Torrential rain fell for much of the morning and with seabirds and waders dropping in across the Midlands, I had high hopes for some good birding today. The wind was strong Southwesterly. The rain moved NE by early afternoon leaving overcast skies and temperatures of 16 degrees C.

Following several morning calls from Birmingham-based birders, I raced up to Bill Oddie's old stomping grounds of BARTLEY RESERVOIR (West Midlands), where together with many old friends enjoyed fabulous views of a spectacular pale morph adult POMARINE SKUA that had arrived in the appalling weather conditions. It was an astounding occurrence at this time of year and, apart from one of the 'spoons' being broken off, was in full breeding plumage.


After being hastled by several Lesser Black-backed Gulls and with a narrow window in the blanket cloud cover and heavy rain, I watched the bird rise up, circle three times and then fly strongly SE at 1250 hours. I eventually lost it from view in the low cloud.

(1515-1530 hours)

Driving back from Birmingham, I stopped off at Gayhurst, where Rob Norris had earlier discovered an adult summer RED KNOT - an exceptional July record. Rob had last seen the bird late morning but despite searching all of the Fishing Pit, it was nowhere to be found when I managed to get there. The only waders present were 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS and 25 Lapwing.

The Mute Swan herd numbered 27 and migrant warblers included 2 LESSER WHITETHROATS and 4 juvenile Common Chiffchaffs in the hedgerow


Being in the north of the county gave me an ideal opportunity to check the breeding colony of LITTLE EGRETS. At Site A where I recorded three pairs in April-May, I was absolutely delighted to find 6 fully-fledged juveniles in the trees - the fifth successive year of success. Two adults were also visiting the colony.


Deciding to check further sites for the Knot, I visited Linford Reserve but apart from a single COMMON SANDPIPER on the bund and noteworthy counts of 8 Great Crested Grebe and 17 Northern Pochard, it was fairly birdless.

(1715-1745 hours)

With a scattering of waders grounded by the weather, I fully expected some new arrivals at Tring. I was to be disappointed however, with 2 DUNLIN dropping in after I had left. In fact it was very quiet,

DUNLIN (2 summer-plumaged adults on the spit this evening, viewable from the hide - Dave Bilcock)

Mute Swans (22)
Common Teal (1 still)
EURASIAN WIGEON (eclipse drake still)
Lapwing (248)
COMMON SANDPIPER (3 on the bunds)
Common Terns (78)
HOBBY (1 adult - DB)


Mute Swans (32)


**LITTLE GREBES (excellent breeding success, with three pairs accompanying young - single pairs with two chicks apiece, and another pair with a single chick. Additional four adults.
Mute Swan (1)
COMMON REDSHANK (1 juvenile)
Black-headed Gulls (68 roosting including 4 juveniles)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (3 adults)
Common Swift (25)
Song Thrush (2 singing males)
Blackcaps (4)

(evening visit)

A red letter day for a whole host of reasons. Most importantly for more breeding successes, particularly of grebes, but also for Hobby and Sedge Warbler sightings - the latter representing the first for the year in the District.

GREAT CRESTED GREBES** (a record 9 birds noted. The original pair now has THREE stripy chicks in tow and all feeding well - the male coming in to feed them with small fish every few minutes - whilst an additional pair are present and incredibly a further adult with a very well grown and self-sufficient juvenile feeding at the extreme west end)

LITTLE GREBES** (the original pair were still feeding their two growing youngsters whilst another pair were feeding three tiny young. A further pair were also seen.

Continental Cormorant (1 immature roosting on the island)
Grey Heron (3)
Mute Swans (family party of 7 birds)
Canada Geese (77)
Mallard (27)
Tufted Duck (4, plus a female with three juveniles)
Gadwall (2 females)
Northern Pochard (1 female)
Moorhen and Coot

RED KITES (much activity as one of the breeding pairs has fledged two young - much chasing and crying going on)

HOBBY (a superb adult flew in and chased a juvenile Sand Martin low over the water. After several rapid manouevres, the falcon eventually caught the martin and flew off with it in its talons)

Green Woodpecker (1)
Common Swift (32)
House Martin (25)
SAND MARTIN (1 juvenile, sadly taken by Hobby)
Pied Wagtail (15 on the cricket pitch, including 11 juveniles)
Carrion Crow (6 birds on the cricket pitch, mainly juveniles)
Goldfinch (8)
Blackcap (1)

**SEDGE WARBLERS (2 noisy juveniles in sedges along the edge of the lake just where the Willows begin at the west end. Both birds showed well when 'pished' and represent the first record in the Amersham District Recording Area this year)

(Lee Evans)

RED KNOT in the north

Rob Norris discovered a summer-plumaged RED KNOT at Gayhurst Quarry Fishing Pit, feeding along the southern shore. The bird was present for at least an hour (to early afternoon) but could not be located mid-afternoon when I was there (Lee Evans)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Another day of heavy downpours and strong SW winds


A day of heavy downpours and strong SW winds. Bird of the day was a remarkable July SANDERLING occurrence - sadly I missed it.

SPADE OAK GP, LITTLE MARLOW GP (early afternoon)

During the morning Alan Stephens had seen a SANDERLING on the spit but despite an extensive search, I could not locate it.

Great Crested Grebes (3)
Sinensis Cormorants (24)
EGYPTIAN GEESE (female with single gosling on spit, with 13 others nearby)
Gadwall (2)
Tufted Duck (15)
Pochard (2)
Coot (pair with 4 very small young)
Lapwing (342 on spit)
*DUNLIN (adult summer on spit)
OYSTERCATCHER (adult on spit)

Roosting gulls on spit included 258 Black-headed (3 juveniles), 11 British Herring, 5 YELLOW-LEGGED (3 adults, 2 2nd-summers) and 37 Lesser Black-backed. Most unusual was a single 2nd-summer COMMON GULL.

Common Tern (21 including 9 juveniles)

Common Kingfisher (much activity involving at least 3 birds)
Stock Doves (3 feeding on spit)
Common Starlings (140 feeding on spit)

Two LITTLE EGRETS were the highlight as well as the first SAND MARTIN of the year in the district

Great Crested Grebe (two adults but no sign of female and young)
Little Grebe (2 adults and 1 juvenile)
Grey Heron (2 juveniles)
*LITTLE EGRETS (2 - an adult and a juvenile - initially feeding in the shallows by the island and then later feeding on the rushy edge at the far west end of the lake. These represent my first record at this location and my earliest autumn arrivals in my district. Dave Ferguson also saw both birds independently.
Mute Swans (nesting pair with their five cygnets)
Mallard (32)
GADWALL (pair at western end)
Tufted Duck (6)
Coot (73)

Red Kite (2)
Green Woodpecker (juvenile)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Swifts (36)
House Martins (large increase in heavy downpour involving at least 56 birds)
SAND MARTIN (1 with the above - first record in the Recording Area this year - 103rd species of 2009)
GREY WAGTAIL (adult and juvenile)


19/07 16:45 : 3 COMMON CROSSBILLS : Bottom Farm, Radnage SU792966 (Peter Stevens)

Unusual July SANDERLING occurrence

This Morning at Spade Oake GP, Little Marlow, Alan Stevens recorded a SANDERLING on the spit - an exceptional July occurrence for the county.

An adult summer DUNLIN was also present, as well as a 2nd-summer COMMON GULL

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Ravenstone WHINCHAT still present

The juvenile/female WHINCHAT was still present at Ravenstone this afternoon. It is usually found on the weeds on the side of the track or on the wheat that is growing on the right hand side (Rob Norris)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Hunting HOBBY

At 10:15am driving along the lane to Little Marlow GP my attention was drawn to a HOBBY that was below roof top height about 100yds past the King's Head pub. It appeared to be trying to catch House Martins from around their nest site under the eaves of one of the houses and kept stalling and diving in a very tight area in front of the nests. Never seen this behaviour before, although I have seen them catch House Martins from flying flocks. I guess this might indicate it has a juvenile to feed somewhere, although it was not successful on this occasion (Adam Bassett)


A flock of at least 20 COMMON CROSSBILLS is now present in Wendover Forest (per David Bilcock)


16/07 14:00 : 2 Spotted Flycatchers : Turville SU767911. Flycatching from on and around gravestones in churchyard. (Gavin Foster)

Thursday, 16 July 2009


16/07 17:50 : 13 COMMON CROSSBILLS : Gerrards Cross.

Second flock of the day, arrived from the NW, landed briefly in a Spruce tree, then headed off south. Both flocks today very agitated and flighty with constant calling, presumably desperate to find ripe cones (Rob Andrews)

Earlier, RDA had discovered a flock of 16 birds in Chalfont St Giles.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

LITTLE MARLOW GP this evening

Between 17:15 and 20:45 ...

1 Yellow-legged Gull with ring 624J (as recorded previously)
1 Common Sandpiper
1 Oystercatcher (long-staying)
2 DUNLIN (5th day and looking very comfortable here; both in summer plumage; continually favouring the end of the spit where vegetation is relatively thick - can be hard to find at times but often both seen in open water)

Kevin Holt

YELLOW-LEGGED GULL numbers increasing at Marlow GP

Adam Bassett reports 4 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS on the Spade Oak Gravel Pit today, including three adults and an immature. This species has been occurring at this site daily since the first week of July (per Alan Stephens)

Dorney Wetlands Today

A Ringed Plover on the Seasonal Pool with 91 Lapwing. Two Juvenile Little Ringed Plovers on the Reserve Pool.

Of the rest, 22 Egyptian Geese, 3 Grey Herons, 7 Green Woodpeckers, 1 Kestrel and a Whitethroat (Dave Cleal)

First WHINCHAT of the 'Autumn'

A WHINCHAT was seen along the main footpath down to the treatment works at Ravenstone this afternoon (Rob Norris).

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER at Blue Lagoon

There was a 'reeling' GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (and briefly seen) near the ponds this afternoon (Chris Coppock)

COMMON TERN ringing in Buckinghamshire in 2009

Common Tern Ringing in Buckinghamshire 2009
College Lake
23 Chicks ringed - BTO ring on left leg, black over white colour ring on right leg; 8 large chicks not ringed and 3 chicks too small to ring; 3 x scrapes with 2 eggs and 1 x scrape with 3 eggs
This is similar to last year when we ringed 26 chicks plus there were another two that were too big
Wilstone Reservoir, Tring
13 chicks ringed - BTO ring on left leg, black over white colour ring on right leg
5 small chicks; 3 scrapes with 3 eggs, 3 x scrapes with 2 eggs and 1 scrape with 1 egg and one of the small chicks
This is up on last year when 7 chicks were ringed and there were 2 small chicks, 2 dead chicks and 4 x scrapes with 2 eggs in each
Little Marlow
22 chicks ringed - BTO ring on left leg, light blue over yellow colour ring on right leg
6 eggs; 4 dead
Highest number ringed in the last 7 years
Calvert BBOWT
8 chicks ringed - BTO ring on left leg, white over orange colour ring on right leg (apparently the orange is difficult to see at a distance) ; 2 very small chicks; 6 x scrapes with 3 eggs, 1 x scrapes with 2 eggs, 1 x scrape with 1 egg and 1 x scrape with 5 eggs!!
Last years attempt was aborted due to a hole in the wire fencing on the raft.
All sites were visited in the same week and a second visit made to Wilstone the following week
Although you might expect the colonies to be more or less at the same stage, these results suggest that College Lake and Little Marlow are the favoured sites which are colonised first, with Wilstone and Calvert a little way behind.
Please report any sightings of these or previously ringed Terns to myself (Calvert/Wilstone/College Lake), Mick McQuaid (Little Marlow) or Mike Collard (scheme co-ordinator)

We would like to thank Nancy Reed for allowing us to ring the terns at College Lake and for the help she and the assistant warden Stacey Hewitt gave us with ringing the chicks.
Also thanks to Tim Watts for assisting with the Calvert ringing effort and those folks involved with the Little Marlow ringing effort.
Mick A'Court
Tring Ringing Group

Sunday, 12 July 2009

LITTLE MARLOW GP this morning - waders on the spit

2 adult Dunlin
2 Little Ringed Plovers
1 Oystercatcher
1 Common Sandpiper
280 Lapwings
Yellow-legged Gull (Ring number J624 at this site on the same date last july)

Alan Stephens

Saturday, 11 July 2009

LITTLE MARLOW GP this evening

Dunlin 2 - present from at least 12:30 to 20:45
Common Sandpiper 1 - seen c13:30 to 14:00
Oystercatcher 1 - long-staying individual that is good at playing hide-and-seek

Also, the one remaining Egyptian Goose youngster is still doing well.

Kevin Holt

Friday, 10 July 2009


A flock of 5 summer-plumaged adult ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS dropped in to Willen Lake briefly Thursday morning. The site also held 9 GREEN SANDPIPERS and 3 Common Redshanks (per Simon Nichols)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Gareth Luscombe discovered a flock of 19 adult ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS at College Lake BBOWT this afternoon and the entire flock was still present at 1910 hours this evening.
The family group of 4 OYSTERCATCHERS was still present, as well as a single COMMON SANDPIPER
Dave Bilcock, LGRE, RDA

Monday, 6 July 2009

Dorney Lakes this evening

The Dunlin and Green Sandpiper were still present on the fast shrinking Seasonal Pool at 18:00. After a short heavy shower they were joined by a Ringed Plover.

Earlier in the day the Egyptian Geese peaked at 34 and the Lapwing at 110 (Kevin Duncan)