Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Not today's bird but that which was present in the Chess River Valley, close to Latimer Bridge from 25-29 March 2009. It was superbly captured on film by ace photographer Mike Wallen on 28 March and was the first of three different individuals to grace the valley with their presence in spring 2009.
As I was driving east along Latimer Road at 0715 hours this morning, my attention was drawn to a large raptor 'hovering' over the wider section of the River Chess at Chenies Bottom, just behind the row of cottages at TQ 013 987. Its unique flight silhouette immediately raised my suspicions of OSPREY as it banked sideways and the distinct front-arch of the wings at the carpals quickly confirmed my initial thoughts. It repeatedly hung in the air, hovering at about 25 metres along the short stretch of relatively wide water.

I drove into Chenies Bottom and parked close to the bridge where the bird afforded excellent views. It had an obvious gorget of dark brown streaks across the white breast and was very white on the underparts and on the underwing-coverts. The carpal patches were blackish and stood out, as did the dark line running back from the eye to the nape and the white head and crown. As I stood and watched it from the bridge, it seemed to have its eyes on me, and was reluctant to plunge.

It cumbersomely flew on heavy wings, with a laboured flight, the upperparts being very uniform dark brown, and it flew very short distances each time before resuming a new place to hover. I got a great look at its head, with its pale eye standing out with the 'scope view and faint streaking on the forehead. There was a little light wear/damage in one of the wings but otherwise it was immaculately plumaged.

I quickly contacted Dave Bilcock, knowing that he would be on this very same road not long after, and of course Simon Nichols (who very kindly got the news out via email) and both Joan Thompson and Mike Collard. I kept with the bird for just under 15 minutes but had to leave at 0727 hours, at this time the Osprey was being repeatedly harassed by 3 (Western) Jackdaws (which it dwarfed in size). It was still on view flying over Hill Farm as I drove away but was not located when DB did an extensive search of the valley at around midday.

Having missed out on the long-staying bird in the valley earlier this spring and another that flew over Amersham a few weeks later, I was absolutely delighted with my find and although it is a species which has appeared perhaps eight times in the 22 years I have lived in the parish, I have never been in the right place at the right time to see one. Three in one spring is incredible and testimony to the remarkable recovery this predominantly Scandinavian species is now enjoying in this country. The breeding population in Britain is now in the region of 180 pairs, with up to 6 pairs nesting in England and at least one pair in Wales (Lee G R Evans)

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