Recording Area Annual Totals

97 Species in 2013, 99 in 2012, 94 in 2011, 108 species were recorded in 2010;

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lots of FIELDFARES, a drake TEAL, SISKIN flock - Shardeloes highlights

Now that the UK autumn is coming to an ornithological close, I had a chance to pop over to one of my local patches - SHARDELOES LAKE. Not an awful lot to see but a reasonable selection - immature Sinensis Cormorant on the lake, along with 6 Dabchick,1 Canada Goose, a drake COMMON TEAL, 18 Gadwall, 6 Tufted Duck, just 16 Coot, 2 Water Rail,137 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Herring Gulls; Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails too.

In the surrounding parkland, 98 Fieldfare was a good count, 18 Redwing, Jay, 10 Goldcrest, 8 Mistle Thrush, 3 LESSER REDPOLL and a flock of 25 SISKINS in the riverside Alder trees that border the cricket pitch

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Don Stone and I recorded a flock of about 250 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER in fields between Hyde Heath and Hyde End this weekend, the largest numbers for a few years in our Recording Area......

Also quite a few Redwings now being seen

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

SWIFT calamity

Since I moved in to Little Chalfont some 28 years ago, COMMON SWIFTS have nested in some numbers in the village. This year has been an exception though, with just three pairs returning to breed at Chaffinch House, rather than the usual 8-10 pairs. As a result, just two young fledged and looking out on this blustery evening, it seems that they have departed south already, much earlier than usual. I shall miss their loud screams as they wheel about the house chasing insects (and each other). What worries me more though is that sooner rather than later, my Swifts won't be coming home at all, such is the serious decline in numbers. Depressing news and adding to the near extinction of House Sparrows in my garden (from an average of 78 birds 1987-2013 to just 2 now) and the loss of nearly 90% of Greenfinches through disease.

Recent images from the Chess Valley

Since early May I have been away on numerous long birding trips and have had little opportunity to do any 'local birding'. As a result, virtually nothing of any interest has been seen....

On 2nd July, I did a full inventory of local sites but found little to shout about. Here are some images I took that day......

Plenty of Foxgloves in full bloom

Stacks of Banded Demoiselles along the Chess

A Painted Lady close to Crestyl Cress Beds - very scarce in the Chess Valley but coinciding with a huge irruption from North Africa

An excellent summer for Small Tortoiseshells

Buckinghamshire's consistently Best Kept Village - Chenies

and a local supercar

Monday, 4 May 2015

WHEATEAR at Pednor today

At last, the first WHEATEAR in the Amersham Recording Area today - back in the ploughed fields just beyond the model aircracft flying field at Pednor.....

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

First-ever EGYPTIAN GEESE for the Amersham Recording Area......

Monday 13 April
Another gorgeous day for mid April with temperatures soaring to a high of 70 degrees fahrenheit with wall-to-wall sunshine
Following information kindly supplied by Rob Andrews (to the BBC website), I was up at first light and out at SHARDELOES LAKE by 0700 hours. Rob had found a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE on Sunday evening - the first-ever record for the Amersham Recording Area. Both birds had presumably roosted on the lake overnight and had relocated to the cricket field - showing well and allowing me to obtain a large number of photographs. Well pleased!

Although I failed to find RDA's pair of Teal, the early morning rollcall included 4 Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Mute Swan (breeding pair and two of last year's offspring), 40 Canada Geese, 1 GREYLAG GOOSE, 6 Mallard, 9 Gadwall, pair of Pochard, 17 Tufted Duck, 22 Coot, 12 Moorhen, female Kestrel, 3 Red Kite, 4 Argenteus Herring Gulls (3 first-years & a second-year), pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Stock Dove, Common Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 2 singing Chiffchaffs, Song Thrush, Nuthatch and Jay; the Rookery now containing at least 23 occupied nests.
Walking the DRY CANAL above WILSTONE RESERVOIR, was very pleased to find the two NORTHERN WHEATEARS still present on the manure heaps to the south, with 8 Skylark, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, male Yellowhammer, 2 Goldfinch and 3 Red Kites noted.
Little change on WILSTONE with all 3 GARGANEY still present, 3 Pochard, 28 Black-headed Gull, 2 first-summer Common Gull, a first-summer Herring Gull, 5 Teal and 8 Shoveler. The East Bank Wood held singing Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, with 22 Sand Martin and 8 Barn Swallow over.
Over at STARTOP'S END, a COMMON SANDPIPER, 2 Common Redshank and 4 COMMON TERN were on the bales, with 10 Mute Swans (including 9 first-summers), 2 Greylag Geese, female Red-crested Pochard, Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch and singing male Reed Bunting noted. A 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER was in trees along the west bank in the NW corner.
In the Bucks reedbed section of MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, a singing male SEDGE WARBLER was a 'year-tick', with Western Reed Warbler there (plus the 2 by the overflow), Common Kingfisher, £ Common Terns and 2 Jays; 15 Barn Swallows were overhead.
PITSTONE HILL was alive with the sound of singing & displaying Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, as well as 2 jangling male CORN BUNTINGS. A pair of COMMON STONECHAT was present too, along with Great Spotted & Green Woodpecker, Linnet, Yellowhammer and this cracking male GREENLAND WHEATEAR.
In neighbouring INKOMBE HOLE, 3 male RING OUZELS were commuting between there and the bottom fenceline of STEPS HILL, with the only other migrants evident being Song Thrush and male Blackcap.
On ALDBURY VILLAGE POND, most surprising sight was of this pair of confiding MANDARIN DUCKS on the Village Pond.......
Then, just after 2.15pm, Steve Blake phoned to say that Ian Rose had found a 'Bluethroat' at AMWELL and warden Darren Bast had photographed it!! This was a true mega for Hertfordshire, none of the 6 previous records being twitchable. My closest county rival Graham White had fortuitously stumbled into the last one trapped & ringed at Rye Meads Sewage Farm on 4 April 1983 so I had added impetus to try and see this one. Following Steve's call I was off, arriving just over half an hour later at the watchpoint overlooking GREAT HARDMEAD LAKE. Around 20 Amwell birders were already on site, Mike Ilett & Barry Reed being two of those that had already connected. Darren showed me his back of camera shots and there it was - a cracking male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT. Around 15 of those gathered had seen the bird fly a few minutes prior to my arrival from the reedbed on the left to that on the right and it was to be another 20 minutes before it was re-sighted - hugging the edge of the reedbed. It soon became apparent that it was walking a circuit of the fragmented reedbed, showing about once every 50 minutes on average. The problem was the number of observers on the watchpoint trying to get a view - numbering 65 at one point. I remained on site from 1500-1915 hours, eventually obtaining a series of largely record shots (see below) as it hopped out for just seconds at a time. By dusk, over 100 observers had connected.
It constituted the sixth county record and the first since 1983 -:
1) A male White-spotted at Aldenham Reservoir on 4 March 1942;
2) A male at Marsworth Reservoir on 23 September 1969;
3) A first-year female at Tewinbury on 12 September 1970;
4) A White-spotted found dead at Spellbrook, Bishop's Stortford, on 29 April 1978;
5) A male trapped & ringed at Rye Meads on 4 April 1983.

A pair of BLACK-NECKED GREBE in transitional plumage were also seen from the watchpoint, as well as 6 Little Egret, Egyptian Goose, 4 Gadwall, 2 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Redshank, 6 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, Common Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern, 2w YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, Water Rail, Common Kingfisher, 32 Sand Martin, 8 Swallow, SEDGE WARBLER, 2 Cetti's Warbler and Reed Bunting

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

SWALLOWS back in force this evening...

No less than 6 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS had returned this evening, hawking back & forth over CHESHAM FISHING LAKES; also 20 Tufted Ducks, the male Great Crested Grebe, 3 Grey Wagtails, Stock Dove and a single singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF noted with a pair of LITTLE EGRET acting suspiciously on the POW WOW LAKE. Chris Pontin had 50+ Linnet in the vicinity of HILL FARM