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, 29 April 2010



Another glorious day and with freshening SSW/SSE winds, superb for scarcities arriving, particularly on the coasts. The southerly element in the wind rather than yesterday's westerly really made it feel warm and very pleasant and with long spells of sunshine following a particularly grey morning, it was a particularly rewarding day.

I concentrated on local survey work for much of the morning before venturing north into North Bucks and later Bedfordshire. The highlight of the day was the locating of a TREE SPARROW colony, as well as finally nailing COMMON CUCKOO and some mega-views of reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER..........


House Sparrows are now feeding nestlings whilst the early nesting pair of Common Blackbirds is feeding its sole surviving youngster. Green-veined White butterflies in the garden, as well as 2 Goldfinches still visiting the Nyger.

Nearby, House Sparrows are also nesting at three other households in my road and another pair is utilising the ivy at 102 Elizabeth Avenue.

In Chenies Avenue, nesting birds included a pair of Goldfinches and a pair of Long-tailed Tits.

At dusk, two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew south to roost at 2015 hours.

WEST WOOD, LITTLE CHALFONT (from SU 996 982 to TQ 004 983)

This section of mainly coniferous woodland held three pairs of nesting Common Blackbirds and two singing male Chaffinches, as well as 3 pair of Wren and two of European Robin.


More deciduous than coniferous trees and therefore more productive for breeding species - highlight was the finding of a COMMON BUZZARD active nest, with two different singing male BLACKCAPS, 2 pairs of Long-tailed Tit (a pair by the Stony Lane car park and another by the clearing further east), a singing male SONG THRUSH, single singing male Chaffinch and Wren and nesting Common Blackbird (2 pairs), Blue Tit (1 pair) and Common Magpie. The sunlit glades in the wood were carpeted with large numbers of flowering Bluebells.

In the grass field adjacent (east of Stony Lane), two different singing male EURASIAN SKYLARKS were present, whilst in the clearing between Walk Wood and Coney Wood, firstly a female and then a singing male YELLOWHAMMER were recorded.


Breeding birds included Common Blackbird (1 pair), Wren (3 pairs), Great Tit (1 pair), Long-tailed Tit (1 pair) and European Robin (1 pair).


A total of 5 Coots was present on the wider section of Chess west of the village bridge whilst the pair of Greenfinch were still present around Mill Farm House. One pair of GOLDCRESTS remain in the tall firs in the garden immediately west of Chenies Place.


A pair of SONG THRUSHES was busy feeding young at the extreme south end of Limeshill Wood, with a pair of STOCK DOVE and a single Jay also noted in the wood. Again, the wood was heavily carpeted in flowering Bluebells.

A singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in the scrub bordering the footpath, as was a male Blackcap, whilst the Recording Area's first COMMON WHITETHROAT of the year was a displaying male in the hedgerow that borders the reserve.


From the Water Vole Viewpoint (TQ 023 988) to Valley Farm (TQ 027 992) and the Crestyl Watercress Farm (TQ 028 989), the highlight was a crippling LITTLE OWL that Carmel located. The bird sat just 15 yards away in a Willow beside the boardwalk and afforded outstanding views for several minutes before it undulated away and landed in a neighbouring pollarded Willow.

The pair of COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS were still present around the Watchpoint, along with a singing male Blackcap, a Dunnock and two singing male Wrens, whilst nearby a pair of Long-tailed Tits was nesting.

At Valley Farm, a pair of EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS was on territory.


A party of 6 Common Magpies was feeding together on the grassy sloping field above Holloway Lane, with a NUTHATCH calling from the laneside trees.


The village held a singing male Mistle Thrush and Blackcap and male GOLDCREST at 'The Lodge' by the green. Two different male Dunnocks were in song, with two pairs of Eurasian Collared Dove and a pair of Goldfinch by the horse paddocks.


Halsey's Wood held Green Woodpecker, Common Blackbird (1 pair), Great Tit (1 pair), Long-tailed Tit (nesting pair), Dunnock (nesting pair) and a singing male Blackcap whilst the hedgerow bordering the footpath yielded a singing male YELLOWHAMMER.


A full inventory revealed the presence of 38 birds of just eight different species and a substantial active Badger's sett in Hillas Wood. Most impressive were 5 singing male SONG THRUSHES, with a nesting pair of Stock Dove. Present were Green Woodpecker (yaffling male), Great Spotted Woodpecker (nesting pair), Wren (4 pairs), European Robin (3 pairs), Great Tit (1 pair) and Blue Tit (6 pairs). Not one warbler was recorded, nor Nuthatch or Common Blackbird, and considering the size of the woodland, a very poor overall yield..


This wood is situated immediately north of the Metropolitan railway and lies to the south of the Amersham road and is half a mile east of Little Chalfont village. A full inventory today revealed a nesting pair of COMMON BUZZARDS along with European Robin (2 pairs), Common Blackbird (1 pair), Long-tailed Tit (2 pairs), Great Tit (3 pairs), Blue Tit (5 pairs) and Wren (4 pairs).

A pair of YELLOWHAMMER was in the hedgerow bordering the Amersham road, with a further singing male in the scattered trees in the hedgerow running north on the north side of the road.


The pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES on the smaller of the two lakes has two fledged, small stripy young, sheltering on the back of the mother. They fledged on Saturday and are one of the earliest nesting pairs I have known. The other pair were still present on the larger lake whilst nearby, a pair of European Barn Swallows have returned to McMinn's Yard.


After finishing off local survey work, I decided to drive north to explore the far north of the county and to try and fill in a few missing gaps in my 2010 Bucks Year List. Linford is renown for its variety of warblers and today was no exception. In the warm sunshine of the early afternoon, 10 species of warbler were recorded including a reeling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER showing well at the edge of the field bordering the hedgerow 100 yards from the main car park, a rattling male LESSER WHITETHROAT close to the car park, at least 9 singing male WESTERN REED WARBLERS, 7 singing male SEDGE WARBLERS, 4 Blackcaps, 6 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS, a single male COMMON WHITETHROAT, 2 male WILLOW WARBLERS and 3 singing male Common Chiffchaffs.

There were also a male Song Thrush, male Greenfinch, pair of Long-tailed Tits and several Reed Buntings, whilst the lake yielded 4 Common Terns, 8 House Martins, several Barn Swallows and 5 active LITTLE EGRET nests.

There was an excellent crop of butterflies including Small and Green-veined Whites, 9 Orange-Tips, 17 Peacock and 33 Speckled Woods.


Following up recent sightings, I was absolutely delighted to find a colony of TREE SPARROWS in the village, lying just south of the county boundary with Northamptonshire. These birds were my first in the county this year and were on territory along Dag Lane. Eight birds were noted in total with a pair territorial in an ivy-covered tree 60 yards south of the church and the remainder in and around the garden of number 6 that borders the village (utilising the peanut feeder and the nestboxes) at SP 834 491.

The footpath south of Church Lane and the church also yielded several European Barn Swallows and supported Common Starling (1 pair), Goldfinch and Greenfinch. House Sparrows were nesting at Church Farm.


Flushed with success, I decided to explore the Castlethorpe area in the hope of locating more Tree Sparrows but despite an exhaustive search, failed in my quest. The only birds of note were Yellowhammers, several singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS and a pair of Red-legged Partridges at New Buildings Farm.

Sadly, a dead Badger was near Longland's Wood at SP 830 469.


I returned to Linford after receiving a call from Paul Moon that he had heard a COMMON CUCKOO - a species I was really struggling with this year. Following his directions, I quickly located the bird - a calling male - in Willows and trees bordering the north side of the reserve.

At Haversham Weir (SP 839 437), two COMMON SANDPIPERS were present, whilst in this vicinity and the north side of the reserve, 36 Mute Swans, COMMON SWIFT, 9 House Martins, 3 further male WESTERN REED WARBLERS, 2 SEDGE and 2 CETTI'S WARBLERS.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

GROPPERS still at Linford

At Linford early morning 2 singing Grasshopper Warblers again - the now regular bird by the paddock, and a second over by Hollow Island, on the eastern side of the lake.

Very little else to report, other than an influx of Garden Warblers (min.5 singing) and Reed Warblers (min.4 singing). Also 1 Barn Owl. (Rob Hill)

TREE SPARROWS in Stoke Goldington

Sunday evening at 7pm there was a vocal gathering (flock?) of at least a dozen TREE SPARROW in Hawthorn and Blackthorn along the footpath leading to the Church in Stoke Goldington. I have not seen a Tree Sparrow in the village for at least two years, so this is a significant record. I suspect that these birds have been making use of the two garden feeding stations nearby (per Keith).

Male PIED FLYCATCHER at Burnham Beeches NNR

A very smart male PIED FLYCATCHER showed well in the trees around the Middle Pond at Burnham Beeches NNR mid-afternoon on Sunday 25 April (several observers). It took full advantage of the warm afternoon sunshine but disappeared after 45 minutes of observation at around 1500 hours.

Foxcote Update - Sunday 25 April

As a result of foreign travel since 1st April, this morning was the first time I have visited Foxcote since the end of March. The water level appears to have fallen by about a foot (30cm) from its high point and there are now muddy margins visible from the hide on the far (east) side and in the SE corner.

This morning there were 4 Common Sandpipers and 1 COMMON GREENSHANK. It was also good to see that Common Terns have found the two rafts that are now in-situ - there were a total of 4 birds, which appear to have paired up. I saw one bird passing a small fish to another bird in flight just in front of hide.

Also 66 tufted duck, 26 coot, 9 mute swan, 7 GC grebe, 7 mallard, 4 moorhen, 3 gadwall and 2 cormorant (Bill Parker)

WHINCHAT still at CMK - 25 April

WHINCHAT showing very well mostly between the brown and the grey tanks by the car-park plus a Common Stonechat and two resplendent male Wheatears around to the right on the grassy areas. Seen in the company of Ian Hocking and Malcolm McGar (Ken Earnshaw)


Kevin Duncan has had a COMMON GREENSHANK , 2 European Golden Plovers and an Oystercatcher at Dorney Rowing Lakes this morning (Sunday 25 April)

Saturday birding - Rob Hill

A few bits and pieces from today:

Ravenstone STW - 2m Wheatear, 1 of which was a lovely Greenland type, and 2 Yellow Wags.

Gallows Bridge Farm - 1 Curlew, 1 Lesser 'throat singing. I haven't been down here in a while, and the meadow by the entrance gate has been transformed, with several shallow pools with extensive muddy edges. It looks perfect for breeding waders - I hope the rest of the reserve looks as good.

Calvert tip - 26 Red Kites.

CMK - 1 splendid male WHINCHAT, surely one of the smartest of our summer migrants, and 1m 1f Wheatear.Willen - 26 Common Tern, 2 Common Sand, 3 LRP (Rob Hill)

WHINCHAT in Central Milton Keynes

Rob Hill discovered a WHINCHAT in Central Milton Keynes late Saturday afternoon - 24 April

24 April - Saturday morning

Dave Bilcock discovered a singing male WOOD WARBLER in the small wood above Inkombe Hole early morning and the bird continued to trill until 1130, at which time it packed up. It was still seen up until early afternoon but was then lost and not seen again. A major arrival of GARDEN WARBLERS also took place.

Friday, 23 April 2010

WHINCHAT in Rowsham

An evening walk in Rowsham tonight around the fields finally turned up 2 Wheatear. Closer inspection showed them to be a pair of beautiful 'Greenlanders' the male was amazing !
A third bird consorting with them turned out to be a breathtaking male WHINCHAT !!
3/4 mile run home and then back with camera gear and managed a few pics just before sun went down, a stunning bird (Mike Wallen)

Linford GROPPER still present

At Linford early morning, 1 Grasshopper Warbler singing and showing occasionally in it's usual spot. 1-2 Western Reed Warblers, 1 Common Whitethroat and 6 Common Terns were new arrivals, but otherwise rather quiet, with just 2 LRP & 1 Barn Owl of interest. Rob Hill

GROPPERS in Leckhamstead Woods

A total of 4 GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS all south and east of the central conifer wood and 3 TAWNY OWLS all calling at the same time from different parts of the wood. Two COMMON CUCKOOS plus usual abundance of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and chiffs. No whitethroat yet. Lots of Muntjac and a few Roe Deer (Richard Goodlad)

Impressive flock of YELLOW WAGTAILS

Thursday 22 April: There was a minimum of 33 YELLOW WAGTAILS this evening by the Grand Union Canal at Grove, south of Leighton Buzzard. The flock included 2 BLUE-HEADED WAGTAILS. Also 2 HOBBIES (Geoff Dawes)


After getting an excited call from Mike Wallen early morning telling me of the massive fall of Wheatears on the Beacon , I quickly headed to CMK to see if we were going to be lucky in this Chat bonanza.

Immediately on arrival, I noticed two male NORTHERN WHEATEARS in the long grass , a few more scans seemed to imply no more were lurking , I was just about to leave when a familiar shape suddenly alighted on an upturned cable drum, and I exclaimed to Ben , who I happened to be on the phone to, that I had a Redstart species ! - 30 seconds later and there was a female BLACK REDSTART sat in the scope ! Wonderful start to the day , luckily Rob Hill was only 2 minutes away , and he was able to see it briefly before going to work.

Work kept me out of the county all day , but a quick stop at Stony Stratford Nature reserve this evening had 2 Oystercatchers , 1 Kingfisher and 1 Chiffchaff (Simon Nichols)

Other bits and pieces , 2 Shelduck , 4 Common Sandpipers and 5 Common Terns at Willen early AM ( Nik and Rob )

Swift , Mandarin and 3 Common Terns at Bradwell Lake this evening (Chris Bird)


22 April (Thursday): Still 1 male BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL at Manor Farm this evening, with 7 Yellow Wagtails, in the pasture between the buildings and the pit. About 25 Yellow Wagtails on site in total.

Also on site 4 Green Sandpipers, 4 LRP, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 male White Wagtail, and 1 Little Egret (Rob Hill)

BLACK RED stayed until dusk on Thursday but no sign today

The female-type BLACK REDSTART was still present at CMK at 7pm but elusive, hidden among pallets by blue containers near gate (Dick Bodily)

Thursday Sightings - Adam Bassett

Visited a couple of sites today (Thursday 22 April):

LMGP - a Common Sandpiper on the tern raft and then the south bank and the Common Tern flock had risen to 4 birds.

Dorney Lake - first visit since the causeway was re-opened. A cracking male WHINCHAT was on the fence at the start of the return lake, although I couldn't find it later on my return. 6 Northern Wheatears, 4m, 2f were also at the start of the return lake and having just read Kevin D's e-mail from last night, might be yesterday's birds? A Common Redshank was also on the edge of the return lake here. About 20 Common Swifts called noisily overhead for a while before moving on, a single flock of about 15 birds and 2 groups of 2. Nothing much else except another male Wheatear by the seasonal pool - yesterday's bird? 2 Shelduck on the Reserve Pool and another on the Seasonal Pool.

Frustratingly, I was at Dorney Wetlands yesterday afternoon, briefly, and did not have time to check Dorney Lake, so whether I could have jammed in on the Avocet, who knows. There were 4 Hobbies hawking together over DW and Slough Sewage Farm yesterday, which is only just into Berks, but none strayed over the border. I have now seen 9 Hobbies over the past 3 days, groups of 4, 2, 2 and 1, but all in Berks.

Adam Bassett

WHINCHAT at Dorney - Thursday

22 April: Further incoming news includes 7 Northern Wheaters near the John Lewis Depot in Milton Keynes (per Rob Dazley) and Adam Bassett has had a WHINCHAT and 4 Northern Wheatears at Dorney Lake , as well as 20 COMMON SWIFTS (per Simon Nichols)

Massive fall of WHEATEARS

Up to 28 WHEATEARS, including 5 bright male GREENLAND, arrived on Ivinghoe Beacon slopes on Thursday morning, with at least two more with a female-type BLACK REDSTART in Central Milton Keynes

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

PIED AVOCET at Dorney and first LITTLE GULL

Reeling Grasshopper Warbler (Steve Arlow)


Another light frost overnight and another day of cool NW winds, although these slackened off to almost nothing by dusk. Clear and blue throughout, with bright sunshine, temperatures climbing to 13 degrees C.

It was another bumper day locally, particularly for scarce waders, with the larger species battling their way into the wind. On the downside, I dipped another Marsh Harrier, but on the positive, bagged a nice PIED AVOCET......

(0700-0800 hours)

Failed to meet the dawn commitments with Roy and Dave B so hence missed the Whimbrel that roosted overnight on Wilstone and flew off strongly east at 0618 hours (and most likely relocated further NE in Bedfordshire).

However, just as I drove over the canal bridge from Tring, Ben Miller texted to say that he had just found another LITTLE GULL, this time on Marsworth. Within minutes I was watching it and yet again, another individual in a very confusing state of plumage. It had a patchy black head and all dark bill, pale grey underwings with some dark mottling on the underwing coverts and all white upperwings, so presumably an adult in transitional plumage or a near adult. It also had the salmon-pink flush to the underparts and as it showed well, it flew between both the Bucks and Herts sections of the reservoir.

Acting on news provided by Warren Claydon and Steve Rodwell, I was extremely pleased to finally connect with a reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER - my first of the year. The bird was showing extremely well perched high on top of grasses in the rough field adjoining the sewage works and sang from 0720 until at least 0755 hours.

The number of SEDGE WARBLERS in the Marsworth Reedbeds had also greatly increased with a minimum of 11 singing males, whilst CETTI'S WARBLERS numbered 3, a 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER was located (by the sewage works) and two singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS had arrived, again both in the vicinity of the works.

The only other birds of note were a pair of Shoveler on the Sewage Farm lagoon and a Common Redshank that flew over west calling (whilst Ben saw the first-year Little Ringed Plover that had earlier been roosting on Wilstone jetty)..


As Ben had checked College Lake, I gave it a miss and headed straight for the Chiltern escarpment. It was freezing up there and although the sun was shining, the fresh NW wind kept activity by migrants to a minimum. Just 1 female NORTHERN WHEATEAR remained present on the SE Beacon Hill slope and a single LESSER REDPOLL flew east. Five male COMMON WHITETHROATS were still between the S bend and the penultimate Beacon peak but best of all was a crippling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER reeling from a small bush left (west) of the main track up to the trig point, on the upper reaches of the SW slope. The bird was singing right out in the open with its throat and head reverberating with the strange action of its reeling and its beak wide open. It was still singing at 0820 hours.

A41 (BUCKS) - Sadly, yet another dead Badger, this one lying on the southbound carriageway near Tinker's Lodge at SP 956 095


I was just about to undertake survey work around my village when I took a call from Oxfordshire - Phil Barnett had just discovered a HOOPOE. I managed to locate a single YELLOWHAMMER, a singing male Dunnock and a single EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW east of Burton's Wood before moving on....

Then, just as I was about to drive into the Wilstone car park, Simon Nichols texted to say that Kevin Duncan had just found a PIED AVOCET at Dorney and I was on the move again.....


It was 29 miles driving from Tring to Dorney and I arrived on site at 1956 hours. The PIED AVOCET - a fine adult - was still present on the Seasonal Pool and standing in shallow water, occasionally dipping its upturned bill into the water. The first this year in the Three Counties, I was very pleased to connect. It remained until at least 2015 hours, despite the constant fighting of a pair of Common Shelduck

Another nail-biting end to a challenging and quite exhausting day

Bumper fall of migrant wagtails

At Manor Farm this evening, highlight was a female BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL in the pasture field between the farm and the pits. The bird then flew off towards the pit and I couldn't relocate it. The bird looked very similar to the individual seen and photographed at Calvert by Tim Watts a couple of years ago, but the supercilium was more flared behind the ear coverts (apparently within variation) and the throat was a touch cleaner white than the Calvert bird.

Just as nice were the numbers of Yellow Wag - c30 in total, the largest spring flock I've seen in Bucks for a long time.

On the pits were 8 LRP, 2 Green Sand, 2 Common Sand, 1 Shelduck, and 1 Oyc. Unfortunately the water levels have dropped again, by about 6ft, and conditions are looking less and less suitable for waders (Rob Hill).

HILLESDEN POOLS in recent days

A few notable sightings from Hillesden:

20/4/10 - 2nd summer male MARSH HARRIER, heading north low over the site. Also Little Ringed Plover, Lesser and Common Whitethroats.

21/4/10 - 4 COMMON REDSTARTS, 2 Wheatears, 1 Cuckoo (Richard K Broughton)

Also, 3 RUFF were present at Hillesden on Sunday, and again on Tuesday (Per Tim Watts)

OSPREY through Linford yesterday afternoon

At Linford early morning, no sign or sound of any Groppers, and just 1 Cuckoo & 1 Fieldfare of interest.

Some belated news from the hide notebook there though - 2 Dunlin on Apr 19th, and 1 OSPREY flew north at 2pm on Apr 20th, when Yellow Wag and Common Sand were also present. (Rob Hill)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

WHEATEARS at Dorney Lakes

2 Linnets on the path at the start end 5 Wheatears by the bronze age mound witha 6th on the causeway past the middle bridge. 1 Yellow Wagtail on the causewayat 600 mtrs. A Redshank, 2 Lapwing, a pair of Gadwall and 4 Shelduck on the Reserve Pool. Another Shelduck on the seasonal pool. 2 Chiffchaffs down thereserve track and a couple of 'tack tack' calls eminating from the Blackthorn atthe end of the track presumably Whitethroats Dave Cleal



There was a light frost overnight as the wind switched to the Northwest and freshened during the morning. It remained clear and bright but felt particularly cold in the wind.

It was another good day in terms of migration with more fresh arrivals. I managed two year-ticks - HOBBY and COMMON SWIFT but still failed to find either Grasshopper Warbler or Common Cuckoo. In stark contrast to yesterday, most of the Ring Ouzels had moved on overnight......


Following an early morning call from Dave Bilcock, I was able to connect with the 3 DUNLIN at 0900 hours. They were still feeding on the island on the main lake and involved one adult in transitional plumage and two still largely in winter plumage.

There was also a smart adult male WHITE WAGTAIL in the NE corner of the marsh but otherwise, it was the breeding waders which were significant.

In addition to the two lingering COMMON SNIPE, it was great to finally see that the OYSTERCATCHERS have finally settled down to breed with one bird sat on a nest on the larger of the two Eastern islands. At least 7 pairs of Lapwing were nesting, with one pair with fledged young, with 4-6 Common Redshanks also present.

Wildfowl included the two adult Mute Swans, 3 Greylag Geese and single pairs of both Common Teal and Northern Shoveler.

I failed to hear or see the Common Cuckoo, my best being a singing male WILLOW WARBLER.


Two different male LESSER WHITETHROATS were 'rattling' away, with one in the hedgerow 250 yards south of Northfield Grange at SP 947 133 and another SW of Northfield Road at SP 949 128.

The woodland on the Aldbury Nowers escarpment held 2 singing male Blackcaps and a single Common Chiffchaff, whilst 2 Stock Dove, Nuthatch, Robin and Common Blackbird were also recorded. There was one European Barn Swallow quartering the fields and at least one pair of Eurasian Skylarks in the paddock fields.


A third OYSTERCATCHER was present in the quarry, additional to the nesting pair at College.


Despite the sunshine, it must be still too early for Grizzled and Dingy Skipper, with only Peacocks seen and a single Speckled Wood in the coppice.

I was pleased to see the resident population of HOUSE SPARROWS holding up - with 6 pairs in total, with the nucleus around Grace Cottage - as well as one pair of Eurasian Collared Dove, 3 pair of Chaffinch and 3 pairs of nesting Common Blackbird.

The coppice area held a male BULLFINCH, single singing male WILLOW WARBLER, Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap and Great Tit, whilst the main common held at least one singing male Eurasian Skylark.


At the bottom of Inkombe Hole slope, Dave Bilcock and I recorded 33 PASQUE FLOWER spikes (including 16 in full flower) but little in the way of migrants. A male Sparrowhawk drifted over and 3 Sand Martins flew north.

Elsewhere along the escarpment, there was a fall of COMMON WHITETHROATS, with 5 singing males between the S-bend and the Beacon, a LESSER WHITETHROAT showing well on the Steps Hill slope and at least 6 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS (between Top Scrub and the S-bend). The 5 NORTHERN WHEATEARS remained in situ, favouring the SE slope below the Beacon and including two very bright individuals, most likely Greenland-types.

A very bright pipit that appeared to have a long hind-claw and was skulking about in the grass eventually turned out to be a Meadow Pipit.


At the north end, in the Harding's Rookery area, Coal Tit, singing Common Treecreeper and Nuthatch were noted, whilst further south, a circuituous walk between the War Memorial, up the west side of the golf course and out west to farmland NW of Well Farm failed to yield any Cuckoo, Tree Pipit or Garden Warbler.

The highlight was 6 different singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, along with 4 male Blackcaps, 2 male Common Chiffchaffs, a pair of Jays, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Song Thrush, a pair of Yellowhammer and an Orange Tip butterfly. Two Stock Doves were feeding in the chicken pen by Well Farm

Nearby, in trees north and west of the castle remains, the Rookery held 23 active nests.


An early afternoon visit with DB yielded our first HOBBY of the year - a bird giving a fine show flying back and forth over the reedbed and moving as far west as the hide. Mike Campbell and Peter Leigh had first discovered it at 1300 hours.

Common Tern numbers had increased to 18 birds.


There was no sign of yesterday's European Golden Plover flock but a single Lapwing was in one of the meadows immediately beyond the A41 bridge. This area also yielded a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT and 4 Linnets whilst the village itself held a population of some 35 HOUSE SPARROWS.


I spent a long period from early afternoon surveying the extensive conifer woodlands for crests. At the Hale end, a total of 5 singing male FIRECRESTS was located and 8 GOLDCRESTS, with a hooting TAWNY OWL, 3 singing male Coal Tits, 1 WILLOW WARBLER, the 3 male Common Chiffchaffs, Song Thrush and pair of Long-tailed Tits also recorded. A Comma butterfly was seen, along with 3 Peacocks.

In the small triangular coppice west of the A413 just south of the Wendover Bypass, the Rookery at SP 873 064 held 31 active nests.


I then surveyed the southern escarpment of forest along the Ridgeway, from Boswell's Farm (SP 880 065) through Barn Wood to the north end of Hale Wood (SP 894 072) - a 2.5 mile section of forest. This yielded a further 4 singing male FIRECRESTS and 3 GOLDCRESTS, along with Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Robin and male Blackcap. Most unexpected was another HOBBY - a bird flying high over the ridge above Barn Wood at 1620 hours - one of my earliest ever in Bucks.

Whilst walking back, DB texted to inform me that Jonathon Nasir had just located a male Common Redstart at Miswell Farm......

(evening visit from 1700) (with JN, DB, MCa, and later SR and Warren Claydon)

Mike Campbell and Dave were already on site when I arrived at Miswell Farm shortly after 1700 hours but after scouring the hedgerows and fenceposts north of the 'caravan field', there was no further sign of the adult male Common Redstart.

Not only that, Jon's purple patch continued, as an Osprey being trailed by a Red Kite and Common Buzzard flew over him shortly later, and quickly drifted off NNE as it skirted the reservoir.

I drove around to the main car park and was surprised to see the number of 'new' birds that had arrived during the afternoon, including a summer-plumaged pink-breasted 2nd-summer LITTLE GULL, a minimum of 28 COMMON TERNS (Charlie Jackson counted 33 later) and a huge arrival of hirundines including no less than 320 SAND MARTINS, a massive 43 HOUSE MARTINS and 70 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, and with them 3 COMMON SWIFTS - my first of the year.

There were also 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS present, 2 LAPWING flew west, a female Mallard was accompanying three ducklings and several Red Kites were overhead, whilst a YELLOW WAGTAIL flew east, as well as 7 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Later towards dusk, CJ enjoyed excellent views of a WHIMBREL which settled briefly on the East Bank before being flushed by a dogwalker.

Now 2 GROPPERS at Linford

An early visit to Linford this morning turned up 2 GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS, 1 singing from the paddock, which showed well eventually, and 1 more elusive bird just c50yds up the main track from the car park, which didn't show at all.

Also 1 Barn Owl, 1 Redwing, 2m 1f Wigeon. Still no Whitethroats, Lesserthroats or Reed Warblers though (Rob Hill)

OUZELS remain


The fine weather continued, although several degrees down on yesterday's high point of 19 degrees C. Winds remained light but frequently touched SE and as cloud increased during the day, the first rain for some time fell in the Chilterns just prior to dark.

Today was exceptional for RING OUZELS with many seen, along with more BLACK REDSTARTS and late on - a performing HOOPOE..........


Diverting away from Wilstone, realising that the Whimbrel had flown off east, my first port of call was the Ivinghoe escarpment, where some 3 RING OUZELS remained present (2 males just east of the fenceline just SE of the Beacon and a female on the southern slope of Inkombe Hole) and 5 NORTHERN WHEATEARS remained from last week. There was nothing new to be seen so I moved east....


It soon became apparent that RING OUZELS were to be the order of the day, with a single male feeding with the Red-necked Wallabies and small Patagonian Deer just south of the White Lion ('scoped from the B 4506 Dunstable Road at SP 995 169), three more (male and two females) in the gully just above the Stone Curlew field just south of the European Bison pen (at SP 998 183) and a further 3 (two males and a female) on Bison Hill, SSE of Icknield Farm - the latter all visible from the B 4506 Dagnall Road.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sunday afternoon: 3 RUFF at Hillesden

Hillesden; Steve Norman found 3 RUFF Sunday afternoon, the birds remaining for just over an hour.Also 6-8 Common Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher and 2 Common Snipe.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

'GROPPERS' in North Bucks

Ted and Evelyn Reed found a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER at Linford this morning, initially singing half way between Car park and the Bend to the Hides, and showing well occasionally.

In the Brickhills, Paul Moon recorded four more reeling males

Elsewhere today, three male RING OUZELS remain at Ivinghoe - one in Inkombe Hole and the two on Beacon Hill - whilst another male was discovered this afternoon 1 mile NW of West Wycombe at Butler's Hangings at the top of the slope there.

Friday, 16 April 2010

WHIMBREL at College Lake BBOWT - Thursday 15 April

Mike Campbell found this confiding WHIMBREL mid afternoon, as it chased after insects along the main bund at College Lake BBOWT marsh. The bird was still present in the evening when Dave Bilcock and LGRE visited (DB photographing it) but flew off calling NNE at 1900 hours. It attempted to drop down on the muddy 'puddle' at the north end of the muddy field adjacent to the Pitstone Industrial Estate road but thought better of it and continued north towards Grovebury.


15 April: At Manor Farm this evening, 3 Redshank, 3 LRP, 7 Green Sand, 1pr Shelduck, 1 Barn Owl, c50 Pied Wags, 1 resplendent male WHITE WAGTAIL, 7 Yellow Wags and 1pr each of Gadwall & Teal.

Alas the water level in the western pit is very low, and rather unattractive to waders. Fortunately the eastern pit looks a lot better, and is the better bet for waders (Rob Hill)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Another failed attempt to locate Grey Partridge in the county - LGRE DIARY NOTES


That cold Northeasterly wind keeps blowing, keeping migration to a minimum and preventing many small birds from singing. It remained dry but was grey and overcast up until early afternoon. For me, it was another day birding locally......


In an attempt to nail Grey Partridge for my Bucks Year List, I spent some considerable time searching the farmland to the east of Wingrave, either side of the Leighton Road and east as far as the Mentmore Cross Roads (SP 890 205).

In the sheep fields to the west of Upper Wingbury Farm (SP 875 198), I located two COMMON RAVENS, both birds in wing moult, with one quite heavy. They were feeding in the fields and later flew off east calling loudly, in the direction of Mentmore Park.

There were two Common Buzzards in this area, as well as 1 RED KITE, whilst Common Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 14 Common Starlings were also noted.

Very pleasing was the locating of four nesting pairs of LAPWING in the fields, although disconcerting was an obvious Carrion Crow nest at the top of an isolated tree (most likely designed to fledge at the same time as the baby Lapwings).

Chaffinches were quite numerous, whilst a pair of Long-tailed Tits were nesting in the roadside hedgerow just NE of Wingrave.

Alas, no Grey Partridge were located.....


I took advantage of my visit to fully survey the breeding birds of Wingrave village, with the following results -:

Moorhen (pair on the tiny village pond)
Eurasian Collared Dove (8+ birds noted)
Dunnock (1 singing male)
European Robin (a bare minimum of 7 breeding pairs)
Common Blackbird (7 nesting pairs)
Common Starling (3+ pairs, with a singing male at 119 Winslow Road)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (a singing male in Willows in Lower End at the south end of the village)
*HOUSE SPARROWS (the real success story, with 5 pairs at the north end and a further 3 at the south end and two more in the ivy on the Rose & Crown public house)
Greenfinch (2 displaying males)
Jackdaw (3 pairs nesting on chimneys, with 2 on Winslow Road and another on Nup End Lane)


Next off, I surveyed the ROOKERIES between Wingrave and Long Marston, with 10 active nests opposite Boarscroft (at SP 882 175) and 68 active nests in the Common Alder trees opposite Betlow Farm entrance at SP 885 165.

A dead Badger was just south of Whitwell Farm (SP 881 170) at SP 883 168, whilst the farmhouse itself held 2 further pairs of breeding HOUSE SPARROWS and 2 Red-legged Partridges and a male Pied Wagtail on the plough opposite.

Just south of Beeching House, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Great Tit were all recorded.

In Long Marston village, another 8 pairs of HOUSE SPARROW was located, including pairs by the Primary School and several on houses 9-15, and 5 pairs of Eurasian Collared Doves.


Utilising the information kindly provided by John Hale, I then tried the Oving area for Grey Partridge but despite following John's detailed notes to the line, I completely failed in my quest to locate any. Hearing of a Herts Ring Ouzel on site then diverted my attention..........

Tuesday, 13 April 2010



The biting NE wind continues, pegging temperatures right back and making birding extremely unpleasant at times. Great once in the shelter but freshening towards evening and bringing increased cloud cover.

Once again, more birds were deposited on the highest hills by the conditions, particularly RING OUZELS, but 2 BLACK REDSTARTS made for a change and a (BLACK-LEGGED) KITTIWAKE was the main prize..........

(0900-1230 hours)

More RING OUZELS arrived overnight so my first port of call was once again the Ivinghoe complex. Viewing from the shelter of the scrub just east of the S-bend and close to the kissing gate, I soon located 5 different male RING OUZELS which were flying out from a dense area of scrub to feed out in the open literally yards out from the wire fence and just 150 yards south of the trig point at Ivinghoe Beacon. One male in particular was very confiding and repeatedly came out whilst the others were more elusive and skulking and eventually flew up further to feed on the grass much closer to the trig point.

After a while I was joined by Eaton Bray birder Richard Woodhead, and after he had enjoyed good views of the single male through my 'scope, we decided to explore further. As we searched either side of the ridge, I watched all of the ouzels fly east, 'chakking' loudly as they went, and appearing to alight on the main slope SE of the peak and above the sheep pens and fields.

A male COMMON WHITETHROAT was singing from scrub just 100 yards east of the peak and after enjoying a good view of that and of more migrant WILLOW WARBLERS (there had been a major fall of this species today involving at least 17 individuals), I suddenly came upon another small passerine hopping on and off the wire fence as the track heads east towards Gallows Hill. I quickly intercepted it in the 'scope and was delighted to find that it was a female BLACK REDSTART - my first in the county this year. It was showing very well, just flitting to and fro from the fenceline on to the main track. I quickly contacted RBA and Dave Bilcock, and finally raised Steve Rodwell.

Beacon Hill was then found to be housing two different BLACK REDSTARTS, as shortly later Richard and I located a second bird - this time a first-summer male - just 80 yards further east along the footpath. The five male RING OUZELS had also chosen to relocate to the south-facing slope above the sheep pens but due to the constant pressure of walkers, eventually flew further east and disappeared, leaving just one bird in the area of the 'Mushroom Hawthorn'. Both BLACK REDSTARTS were very similar in appearance, although the young male had much more warmth (brown) in the upperwings and was deeper grey on the upperparts. Neither bird had any white panel in the wing. Dave Bilcock obtained an excellent selection of images of the female (see above).

With news on the pager, birders took no delay in arriving, and after Mike Campbell and Steve Rodwell pitched up, quite a crowd gathered - and within 20 minutes, twice as many than had turned up for last week's Dartford Warbler ! Ring Ouzels really do have that special attraction.

We were all treated to an excellent display by both species and a further search of the area yielded nothing more than a flyover LESSER REDPOLL - it was time for me to retreat and after a follow-up call from Mark Thomas, it was Peacocks Lake at Broom that was to be my next destination......


All three male RING OUZELS were still present just east of Millbrook this afternoon, north of Warren Farm at TL 017 384, commuting between the tall evergreen trees around the farm and the back of the field by the hedgerow (see directions below).

Furthermore, another male was showing well in the paddock fields at Blows Downs this evening, and the elusive male opposite the gatehouse at The Lodge, Sandy, RSPB showed intermittently. Two more males were in the terraced fields at Pegsdon Hills, SW of Deacon Hill summit.

On the Ivinghoe Hills NR (Bucks), five males were showing well this morning just SE of the main summit and trig point (on the slopes above the sheep field), with two BLACK REDSTARTS there alsoWith continuing fresh NE winds forecast for the remainder of the week, more will arrive and those present will probably stay

DIRECTIONS FOR MILLBROOK BIRDSPark in the westernmost car park in Ampthill Park, just north of the B530 and 75 yards east of the A507, and walk due west to the kissing gate into the adjoining field. From here, walk NW diagonally across the field to the gate just before the railings and walk into the small wood. Leave the main footpath and walk 50 yards to the right to the open clearing and from the highest point therein 'scope the hedgerow immediately west (and right of the field catering for the many Alpacas). These birds can be very elusive and disappear for long periods

Monday, 12 April 2010

RING OUZELS perform well today


Well, spring 2010 was certainly short-lived, with cold winds blasting in from the Northeast making it feel freezing. It remained dry though, and fairly bright. Temperatures reached a high of just 11 degrees C, in stark contrast to Scotland, where Aviemore continues to bask in up to 20 degrees C, and even Wick reached 17 degrees. As expected, the biting winds misplaced LITTLE GULLS and RING OUZELS..........

(0830-1100 hours; with Steve Rodwell, Peter Leigh & Chris, and later with Francis Buckle & Dave Cleal)

The two male RING OUZELS first found yesterday morning (Mike Wallen et al) were showing very well this morning and keeping very faithful to one particular area, just SW of the Ivinghoe Beacon trig point. They were actually feeding just east of the Beacon Road at SP 957 167 but were best observed from the penultimate peak just north, and sitting in the lee of the SW slope, it was actually quite pleasant and settled. The two birds were showing very well at sporadic intervals, appearing from the scrub to perch in the open on the leafless trees and the Hawthorn, as well as feeding on the sward of grassy slope (in fact, the 'Duke of Burgundy Cutting' in reality. One was a fabulous adult male, with gleaming white half moon, black upperparts and bright yellow bill, whilst the other was a much drabber and noisier first-summer male - Dave Bilcock obtaining at least one good image of the former - see above). Although they were disturbed fairly frequently by cyclists and walkers alike, the two birds did remain faithful to this one area, but the presence of a nesting pair of Common Blackbirds eventually took its toll. When I returned later in the afternoon to show Francis, just one male was seen in flight and they were no longer visiting the grass to feed. There has been a minimum of 7 Ring Ouzels at the site in the past week but these have been the most reliable and easiest to see by far.

The walk up to the Beacon also produced 2 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS and a singing male Common Chiffchaff, whilst there was also a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT (Dave Cleal) and two male NORTHERN WHEATEARS (Steve Rodwell). Meadow Pipits were fairly numerous, along with Linnets, and a male Bullfinch was in bushes by the main car park.


The resident pair of COMMON RAVENS were showing very well, the male calling loudly from an exposed branch in the vicinity of the nest and the female (now fairly heavily worn) visiting nearby fields and returning with large crops of food for the growing four youngsters.

A Peacock butterfly was also seen but the pair of resident Little Owls were sheltering out of view from the cold wind.


Both pairs of RINGED and LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were present, both now nesting.


There were no small plovers, Common Sandpiper or Dunlin present but waders were represented by up to 8 Common Redshank and 9 nesting pairs of Lapwing (1 on the west island, 5 on the east, 1 on the NE and two to the north of the main lake.

One Little Grebe was present, a pair of Shoveler, 18 Tufted Duck and at least 8 Atlantic Canada Geese, whilst migrants included a singing male WILLOW WARBLER and my first COMMON WHITETHROAT of the year - a singing male to the north of the main lake.


There was a fall of BLACKCAPS in the NW corner, involving up to 6 individuals - mostly singing males, with a singing male Common Chiffchaff nearby.

The quarry lake was fairly quiet, with 6 Little Grebes present, pair of Tufted Duck, 4 Coots, the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (still not nesting) and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


More survey work but with little to be found in this extensive coniferous wood and area of barren farmland - 1 singing Eurasian Skylark, singing Song Thrush and male Blackcap and a pair of Chaffinch.


Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew north, all bar one adult immatures.


After being flooded out a couple of weeks back, the pair of Waterside Mute Swans have relocated and the female is now sitting on a new nest. There is still a pair on Lowndes Park Lake and another on Bois Mill Pond. GREY WAGTAILS are now nesting at McMinn's.


Once again, Kevin Holt and I surveyed the roosting BRAMBLINGS, of which numbers are now dwindling. A total of just 63 birds flew in to roost in the Holly this evening, with the first 5 arriving at 1812 and 25 or more still waiting to drop down at 1915. Although none of the males was in full breeding plumage, several were not far off and in beautiful attire.

Greenfinches numbered 44, whilst Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were noted. A TAWNY OWL was showing well at the entrance to its nestbox.

Nearby, 5 RED KITES roosted again

Weekend news from North Bucks (per Rob Hill)

At Willen Sunday evening, 1 Common Tern (long overdue) and 3 LRP.

A couple of visits to Magna Park Industrial Estate (off the A421 Bedford road) this weekend turned up 2 each of RP & LRP, a pair of Dabchick and 1 Grey Partridge.

The area of Broughton Grounds being frequented by the LRP's has been worked upon, as I feared, and it looks like the birds have moved on.

At Manor Farm on Saturday evening, 8 Green Sands and the male White Wagtail still (Rob Hill)

BEWICK'S SWAN still present - Sunday 11 April

The first summer BEWICK'S SWAN is still present this morning in the field north of Gayhurst Quarry fishing pit. It is in the middle of a flock of 103 Mute Swans.

Also present, a pair of Goosander, Little Egret, Little Grebe, pair of Oystercatchers, Yellow and Grey Wagtails.

At the new Gravel Extraction Works near Newport Pagnell, 4 Green Sandpipers and a displaying Little Ringed Plover (Robert Norris)

Saturday, 10 April 2010

GREAT BUSTARD in neighbouring Oxfordshire


High pressure still firmly in charge and again another warm day, the warmest this year to date (64 degrees F). Mostly clear skies but towards evening, an easterly breeze set in, bringing patchy cloud.

Due to a snapped cam belt, was out of action for the majority of the day, but this evening ventured over to Otmoor RSPB, where the Salisbury Plain GREAT BUSTARD was still present and showing very well.......

(1600-1800 hours)

Although the bird had visited the 'Big Otmoor Field' much earlier in the day and had flown north and had then been seen again early afternoon, I relocated the GREAT BUSTARD this evening to the SSE of Oddington village, at SP 555 145. It was associating with a single Australian Black Swan and up to 18 Mute Swans and was showing very well from the footpath that runs SSW along the New River Ray cut (from Oddington village, take the footpath out to the concrete bridge after 120 yards and then turn right for 250 yards to view from the gate). It sat down for a while and rested, and was very aware of dangers around it, cowering when an aircraft went over. It was a third year and appeared to be a female and was wing-tagged - a RED tag with the numerics '87' if placed on upside down, or '28' if read from the side (perhaps David Waters would be kind enough to send me the history of this individual, first released in 2008). It was finding plenty to eat in the field, taking numerous grubs, as well as eating blades of fresh grass like the swans. Roger Wyatt obtained the excellent image above.

The reserve itself held Garganey, reeling Grasshopper Warbler, male Common Redstart, Black-tailed Godwit and other migrants (per Roger Wyatt) whilst I personally saw 3+ singing male Willow Warblers, a European Barn Swallow and 2-3 pairs of displaying Eurasian Curlew.

Young male BADGERS seem to be getting run over and killed all over the roads at the moment and I saw yet another one today on the eastbound M40 just adjacent to Sundage Wood at SU 821 920.

Friday, 9 April 2010

RING OUZEL moves quickly through

On Ivinghoe Beacon today, a male RING OUZEL passed through, and a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT was noted - the first of the year

Manor Farm

Water level is continuing to drop at an alarming rate , and we may miss out on the peak wader passage , but still 6 Green Sandpipers this evening , along with a pair of SHELDUCK , 4 LRP , 84 (!) Pied Wagtails , 7 YELLOW WAGTAILS and a male WHITE WAGTAIL. Best of all was the BARN OWL that was quartering the eastern end.

Manor Farm yesterday evening - Ben Miller

Late yesterday at Manor Farm with Simon and Rob Hill, we had the following;

Waders - 6-7 Green Sandpipers, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Common Redshank, 1 Common Snipe

1 WHITE WAGTAIL, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Meadow Pipit with a pre-roost flock of 50+ Pied Wagtails

Plus 2 female Goosanders, which then flew east.

At SSNR at dusk, 2 Oystercatchers.

WHEATEARS at Ravenstone

Tonight, Male and Female NORTHERN WHEATEAR on Cereal field to right of the track as you walk down.At the works a pair of Grey Wagtails, 2 Chiffchaffs, 8 Reed Buntings,2 Yellowhammers and 8 Stock Doves (Rob Norris)

Linford - first SEDGE WARBLER

Mainly warblers at Linford this morning, with c6 Blackcap, c7 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Cetti's and my 1st SEDGE WARBLER of the year, singing from the ponds behind the near hide. Also 1pr Bullfinch, and 1 RP, 1 Oyc & 7 Shoveler on the bund, but water levels are still rather high, and there's very little bund showing (Rob Hill)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

OUZELS highlight but high pressure stifles migration


High pressure is now firmly in charge and with it came the warmest day of the year so far. Clear blue skies predominated, along with warm sunshine, with afternoon temperatures reaching just under 60 degrees fahrenheit. Winds were very light with a touch of southwesterly.

As is often the case with clear conditions, visible migration was stifled and in stark contrast to yesterday, few birds of note appeared. Bird of the day was undoubtedly the male BLACK-WINGED STILT which had relocated from the Isle of Wight to Essex.....


Three RING OUZEL remained from much earlier in the day - two males and a female - moving between the southern flank of Inkombe Hole and the Steps Hill slope in line with the stile. Typically, they were very elusive, and repeatedly disturbed by dogwalkers, joggers and walkers.
At least four birds were seen early morning (Steve Rodwell)

WILLOW WARBLERS had increased to 5 singing males in the area, with 2 Red Kites and 2 Song Thrushes also noted. A late REDWING arrived late evening.

As dusk approached, the fields around Down Farm attracted at least 107 FALLOW DEER out to feed, as well as several Red Foxes.


The Rookery at the south end of the Vale wood held at least 35 active nests, with 130 Jackdaws roosting.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


A bit of passage observed here this afternonn: a COMMON SANDPIPER was feeding along the edge of the spit, a COMMON TERN made a brief stop for a preen on the spit at 2:15pm before departing, a large gathering of hirundines over and above the lake in excess of 150 birds, c30 Swallows and the remainder Sand Martins - at about 2:30pm, the cloud started to lift and the bulk of these birds moved off. Also 2 LRP still on the spit (Adam Bassett)

County Mega - DARTFORD WARBLER at Ivinghoe Hills - also first flush of migrant RING OUZELS


Phew - what a day ! I struggled to keep up. It really was one of those exceptional days and migrating birds kept grounding all through the day. After the wind swung round from SE to northerly early morning, I just knew it was going to be good. Add to that the fact that it was murky, with poor visibility, and then later with intermittent rain, it was typical fall conditions. Whilst organising my gear, I heard both a singing male EURASIAN SKYLARK and GOLDCREST - both new for the garden this year.

Deciding to set out early, mainly with two target birds in mind - Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat - I had barely set foot on Croxley Common Moor than Steve Rodwell rang to say that he was watching a DARTFORD WARBLER on Steps Hill. I could barely believe it and having only ever seen one in the Tring Recording Area before (also at Ivinghoe) and not seeing one in the county since the small breeding population became extinct two years ago, I immediately ran back for the car. Steve not surprisingly was very excited and as I ran back, I asked him to stick with it until I arrived..............


It took me 27 minutes to get from Croxley to Steps and a further three minutes to find Steve. He was still gazing at the hedgerow that borders the main footpath at the top of Inkombe Hole and had literally only just heard the bird again, after losing it for over 15 minutes. I walked slowly towards him and as I did, the DARTFORD WARBLER made its diagnostic and scolding churr. It had moved to the end of the hedgerow and then flown out. I crossed the stile and then walked parallel with the hedgerow, lightly 'churring' back to the bird. It immediately responded and sat up in full view in some very low bramble 25 yards out from the hedge. I carried on lightly 'pishing' and this kept the bird preoccupied and it carried on showing at just a few feet range. It was a crippling bird and a beautiful adult male to boot. It was in fresh spring plumage and although the upperwings had a brownish hue to them, the underparts were very deeply marked vinous-red and this extended from the rear flanks to the chin and throat, the latter lightly specked with white. The orbital eye ring was bright red and not orange as in first-year males, whilst the forehead, crown, nape, mantle, rump and uppertail were uniform bluish-grey. The fine bill was distinctly pale on the lower mandible and the legs and feet orange-straw. Responding back to me, it intermittently burst into a quiet, scratchy, sub-song, and when out of view, would utter its harsh 'churr' enabling us to keep on it.

It then flew back into the hedgerow and after I had completed writing my field-notes, Stuart Wilson arrived on site. I lightly 'pished' again and the bird flew to the top of the hedge and just perched there for several minutes in full unobscured view. This was such a stunning bird.

It then got bored of me and sank deep down into the thick vegetation and started to skulk away. It flew to the far end of the hedge and then entered the top plantation at the top of Steps Hill. It quickly moved along the edge of this wood and then found the impenetrable patch of dense gorse, partly in flower. It was still calling occasionally and just prior to Mike Campbell racing up, the three of us enjoyed our last prolonged good view of the bird as it jerkily bobbed and cocked its long tail in the gorse and then fluttered away in weak flight.

It then disappeared into the thick gorse and made its way further down the slope. All in all I had enjoyed views over a period of just under an hour and as Mike was joined by Ian Williams, the two of them and Steve had a couple more glimpses before the bird flew much further down the side of Steps Hill slope and disappeared (to the north of Inkombe Hole).

This was a truly exceptional find and an outstanding one. The only previous record in the area was 12 years ago and Buckinghamshire's second - a first-winter which remained on Steps Hill from 25 November until 6 December 1998 and was seen again on 9 January 1999.

Whilst watching the Dartford, a noisy COMMON RAVEN flew low across Inkombe Hole, whilst Top Scrub held a pair of Bullfinch, 3 singing male BLACKCAPS, 3 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS and a Song Thrush. Several Linnets also flew over, whilst a singing male WILLOW WARBLER was on the lower slope.

As I reached the car park, I heard the familiar 'jipping' sound of COMMON CROSSBILL - and three birds (two males and a female) flew over heading directly north.


At least 6 Yellowhammers were gathered in the field north of the farm, with 7 or more Eurasian Skylarks present in the cereal field on the opposite side of the road - 4 males in song display. A small group of 4 CORN BUNTINGS was in an adjoining stubble field, with both Meadow Pipit and Linnet also present, 3 Stock Doves and a Red Kite over Pitstone Hill.


A return visit at 1800 hours soon yielded the three male RING OUZELS discovered earlier by Don Otter. They were showing well on the grassy slope at the north end of Steps, close to the footpath leading down from the S-bend at cSP 958 162.


Mid-evening, Roy Hargreaves and I located the two adult ARCTIC TERNS that SR and others had seen earlier, feeding amongst 6 COMMON TERNS mainly in the area of water out from the jetty. They represented my first of the year and were earlier than average.

The gloomy conditions (overcast skies with intermittent rain and fresh northerly winds) also grounded large numbers of hirundines, including 186+ SAND MARTINS and 33 European Barn Swallows. There were also 12 Shoveler close to the Drayton Hide, whilst 5 late FIELDFARES were in the tall Poplars.


The paddock wagtail flock numbered 38, including 35 Pieds, a well-marked adult male WHITE and two gaudy male YELLOWS. A high count of 15 Great Crested Grebes was on Marsworth, with a pair of Carrion Crows nesting in the main car park.

All in all, a very enjoyable and highly productive day, but did I get Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat? - No! Tomorrow maybe.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

WAXWINGS are unexpected visitors in Cliveden Estate


A bright and breezy day with some warm spells of sunshine pushing temperatures up to 57 degrees F. Although the wind was initially SW, it veered during the day to a cooler SE.

It was an excellent day for incoming migrants, with good numbers of Osprey, Tree Pipit, Common Redstart, Common Tern, Garganey and Yellow Wagtails arriving, along with the odd male Pied Flycatcher and Common Cuckoo, as well as some 'new' vagrants, most notably a Black-winged Stilt on the Isle of Wight. On a local basis, it was also a very productive day, a flock of WAXWINGS being the main highlight............

(0800-1000 hours)

A full inventory of resident and migrant birds was carried out with 38 species recorded. No Blackcaps or Willow Warblers noted, although Chris Pontin recorded the first of the latter in the Recording Area this year at McMinn's Yard in Chesham today -:

CONTINENTAL CORMORANT (a subadult roosting on the 'Osprey branch' by Crestyl Watercress Beds)
Grey Heron (1 on the Chess by the cressbeds)
LITTLE EGRET (1 still present, feeding on the Chess in front of Chenies Place)
Mute Swan (4 non-breeding subadults by Mill Farm House, with a pair nearby in front of Chenies Place - the cob still frequenting the back garden of Woodside House)
Australian Black Swan (a pinioned bird just outside of the Chess in front of Sarratt Bottom village - recently released)
Atlantic Canada Goose (3 separate pairs on the Chess adjacent to Sarratt Bottom village, with one pair actively nest-building)
Mallard (5 pairs)
Red Kite (1 lingering over Wallace's Wood Larch plantation)
Common Buzzard (1 in Mount Wood)
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (pair just west of Valley Farm)
Common Pheasant (2 males in paddocks west of Valley Farm)
Moorhen (4 pairs)
Eurasian Coot (3 pairs on Chess)
Black-headed Gull (2 flew west along valley)
Woodpigeon (40+ noted)
European Green Woodpecker (3 yaffling birds noted, with one by Chenies Place and two in Mount Wood)
European Barn Swallow (pair by Valley Farm)
Wren (2 singing males in Chenies Bottom gardens, with two more by the boardwalk near Valley Farm, 3 in Sarratt Bottom and a male along Holloway Lane)
Dunnock (2 singing males in Sarratt Bottom)
European Robin (2+ pairs in Chenies Bottom, another opposite Frogmore Meadows, 2 pairs near Valley Farm, at least 3 pairs in Sarratt Bottom and 2+ pairs in Mount Wood)
Song Thrush (singing males in Wallace's Wood, opposite Frogmore Meadows, in Sarratt Bottom (3), 2 within 30 yards of each other in Mount Wood and 2 more along Holloway Lane)
*REDWING (6 late migrants in trees and scrub by the Crestyl Watercress Beds - flew off east)
Mistle Thrush (1 flew across valley towards Chenies village)
Common Blackbird (3 nesting pairs in Chenies Bottom, with another pair near the Water Vole watchpoint and another by the cressbed, at least 4 pairs in Sarratt Bottom, 1+ pairs in Mount Wood and two further birds along Holloway Lane)
*COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (6: singing males in scrub opposite Frogmore Meadows, by the Water Vole watchpoint [also female here, by the boardwalk], by the river on the south flank of Frogmore Meadows and two different birds either end of Sarratt Bottom)
GOLDCREST (pair nesting in tall evergreens in garden of Woodside House)
Great Tit (a pair prospecting a nest-site by Mill Farm House, with a pair in Limeshill Wood, 3 pairs in Mount Wood and another near Holloway Lane)
Blue Tit (a party of 3 birds by the cressbeds, with another pair in Mount Wood and in the top wood by Holloway Lane)
Long-tailed Tit (single pairs in Sarratt Bottom and near the buildings of the cressbeds)
Nuthatch (singing birds by the decoy lake in Mount Wood and at the west end of that wood)
Common Treecreeper (a pair in Mount Wood)
Common Magpie (3 pairs)
Jay (1 in the bushes and trees alongside the Crestyl Watercress Bed)
Jackdaw (15+, including a pair breeding in a dead tree in Mount Wood)
Carrion Crow (8+)
House Sparrow (a pair in Chenies Bottom)
Chaffinch (3 pairs in Chenies Bottom, with the same in Sarratt Bottom and another in Mount Wood)
Goldfinch (pair around Mill Farm House and party of 5 birds in Valley Farm area)
Greenfinch (2 singing males in Chenies Bottom)

Grey Squirrels (18+)


The grounds held 5 Woodpigeons, Common Magpie, singing male Great Tit and Greenfinch and a Mistle Thrush, with a singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF nearby in bushes alongside the track to Neptune Falls, with a young male Common Kestrel in the same area and Great Water yielding 13 Mute Swans, 35 Tufted Ducks (including 18 drakes) and 12 Coot.

(1230-1310 hours)

The singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was still in the tall Poplars of Reedbed Wood, with the two different CETTI'S WARBLERS in the reedbed, the male BLACKCAP still and the singing male WILLOW WARBLER first found by Chaz Jackson still in trees and ivy just at the start of the causeway. Two male REED BUNTINGS were singing and in parachute display in the reedbed.

Twelve Great Crested Grebes were on the reservoir, with just 4 Pied Wagtails in the horse paddocks and a male Grey Wagtail by the lock.

The neighbouring Grand Union Canal held 10 Mute Swans, including 3 first-summers, whilst Startop's End Reservoir held just 35 Tufted Ducks of note.

My proposed visit to Wilstone Reservoir was immediately interrupted by a very important call from Dave Cleal. He had just discovered 6 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS.................


After being away in Highland Scotland when two birds gave themselves up in Milton Keynes, I was delighted to get another chance at connecting with BOHEMIAN WAXWING in Bucks. But in April, this was unchartered territory......

I raced over to Cliveden, where DC had very kindly agreed to keep with the migrant flock of birds. By 1340 hours I had joined him and there feeding on the Mistletoe berries were all six birds - five adults and a first-winter. Dave had done exceptionally well in locating them, feeding high in the canopy and often out of view in the tall trees situated at the junction of the Green Drive and the Dukes Statue at SU 913 845. Excellent 'scope views were obtained, with Dave firing off a number of record shots (see above). They remained present until at least 1443 hours and were particularly rewarding, often pairing up and feeding each other and clearly thinking of spring in Scandinavia. Quite where they had migrated from to get here is unknown, but possibly from Spain or France where they had spent the winter.

Cliveden Estate of course is reknown for its FIRECRESTS and today Dave and I saw additional birds, one pair already nesting and busily carrying nest material. At least 9 singing males have now been located this spring, including 3 in the usual area along Green Drive, and along with these, three additional birds afforded Dave, I and numerous other interested members of public some exceptionally close views. The latter trio were feeding in low introduced Laurel and nesting in an exotic species of Fir.

Newly arrived were at least 4 singing male BLACKCAPS and 1 singing Common Chiffchaff, whilst residents noted included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Red Kite and Coal Tit.


As I had not had the opportunity in the interim period to visit Gayhurst Quarry and Rob Norris' BEWICK'S SWAN, I made a special effort and arrived early evening. With directive help from Rob and later Simon Nichols, I searched in vain the fields to the north of the river, clocking eventually 118 non-breeding Mute Swans. The target bird was just nowhere to be seen and with one last call to SN, I made one last scan of the main fishing pit to the east of the main track. I noticed a single swan shuffling around INSIDE a so-called camouflaged hide close to the pit edge and incredibly (as well as bizarrely) it was it - a rather odd-plumaged first-summer BEWICK'S SWAN.

I guess it was inside the hide as grain had been liberally scattered about but as I approached, it walked out, went to the pit, swam out from the edge and then flew to the neighbouring field. What struck me was its incredibly Whooper Swan-like bill, with a long sloping bill and extensive dull yellow at the base. I was confused, but its relatively short neck and small size alongside Mute confirmed bewickii, and on enquiries with Slimbridge WWT, discovered that first-years can look surprisingly long-billed and yellow (Killian Mullarney also confirmed this with his fine artwork in the Collins Bird Guide, page 39). The bird had extensive grey on the neck and head, dark smoky patches on the upperparts and wings and dark on the breast. It was my third Bewick's Swan of the year in Bucks but my first ever April sighting.

The pit also held a female GOOSANDER and 30 lingering EURASIAN WIGEON, whilst the small wood yielded a single singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF.


I always get excited at this time of year when the BRAMBLING numbers at Penn Wood reach a spring peak as birds from across Iberia and southern Britain migrate back north and stage for up to two weeks at this site. Kevin Holt has been daily censusing the roost since Friday, with respective counts of 253 on 3rd, 69 on 4th, 63 on 5th and 165+ this evening. Frustratingly, I arrived just a little too late but still managed 119 birds before they dropped out of view in the Holly to roost. The birds were 'wheezing' loudly and many were adult males in full breeding attire. Simply awesome.

The Greenfinch roost numbered about 60 in total, with Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch also noted. Kevin had also recorded 6 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS on territory.

Nearby, 7 Red Kites were assembling in a communal roost at dusk.

Belated report of roosting OSPREY

31/03 11:30 : Osprey : Flackwell Heath SU902886. Observed flying out of Ronald Wood, Flackwell Heath, heading WSW in the general direction of Little Marlow gravel pits. Charles Stanhope

First-year BEWICK'S SWAN gets lost in North Bucks

Star bird Sunday morning (4 April) was undoubtedly the first-summer BEWICK'S SWAN that was present in the wintering Mute flock on the field to the north of Fishing Pit. It seemed very settled and was in fact asleep when I left at 9:40.

Other birds present were 2 Oystercatchers, Redshank, Little Egret, female Goosander, a pair of displaying Lapwing, still about a hundred Wigeon, a dozen Teal, 15 Shoveler 7 Gadwall and 2 Little Grebes. There were a couple of dozen Swallows and a single House Martin, a male Blackcap, a Willow Warbler and lots of Chiffchaffs, also a Grey Wagtail (per Rob Norris)

The BEWICK'S SWAN remained Bank Holiday Monday (Simon Nichols et al) and was still present on Tuesday 6 April (Lee Evans)

NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Foxcote - Saturday

A NORTHERN WHEATEAR was on the new fence by the outlet at Foxcote Reservoir. A single HOUSE MARTIN with around 15 Barn Swallows and 25 Sand Martins. A Willow Warbler calling from over near cormorant trees. A pair of Reed Buntings around hide with Common Chiffchaff and Bullfinch (Richard Goodlad)

Friday, 2 April 2010

Caldecott this evening

At Caldecotte Lake early evening, c100 Sand Martin, c35 Swallow, 1 House Martin, and on the verges of the south basin, a dozen Pied Wags plus 2 YELLOW WAGTAILS and 3 Meadow Pipits (Rob Hill).

Manot Farm this morning

At Manor Farm this morning, 2 LRP, 4 Green Sand, 1pr Shelduck, 41 Fieldfare, 17 Mipits & 25 Pied Wags.At Willen, 7 Goldeneye, 1 each of Oyc & Redshank, and c75 Sand Martins moved through quickly.

At Broughton Grounds, 2 each of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers. Each were pairs acting territorially, with the LRP's indulging in a delightful courtship display too. The speed of development of the Brooklands estate is such that I fear these plovers won't have a successful breeding season, although the area they have chosen doesn't look marked for any houses or roads just yet. To my untrained eye, it looks like it could be part of a linear park linking with the new coachway.

At CMK, 1m Wheatear & 9 Linnet (Rob Hill)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Manor Farm this evening

A very busy couple of hours this evening at MF.

A female NORTHERN WHEATEAR along the track leading up to the pumps. In the same area amongst the multitude of Pied Wagtails and the odd Reed Bunting hugging the East Banking was a very smart WHITE WAGTAIL.

The Common Shelduck pair return and the drake has already started to try and clear the area of other wildfowl in the area but avoided the two Goosander that still remain.

As for waders, after a sharp shower there were two LRP's out on the mud while a pair of LRP/RP was on one of the gravel islands. No sign of the recent Redshank but at least five Green Sandpipers now and a pair of Oystercatchers.

Swallows still a plenty with a handful of Sand Martins and the first House Martins i've seen here this year.

All this and a few Teal, Gadwall and Tufted Duck still dotted about on the water and increasing number of Mipits made it all in an enjoyable evening despite the cold and at times wet (Chris Gleadell)


There was a YELLOW WAGTAIL at Caldecotte this lunchtime. On the grass behind the dam with a dozen or so Pieds. Also about 20 Swallows with half a dozen Sand Martins and half a dozen House Martins (Ted Reed)