Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Another mild but overcast morning in Coleshill brought some excellent early morning sightings. Not quite Eastern Crowned Warbler standard but good all the same.
By 8:30 a few small flocks of Redwing had passed over, their 'tsseep' calls heard long before they appeared over the tops of the trees and heading in a northerly direction, this continued for about 15 minutes with numbers no bigger than 10-15 birds in each flock heading over. By 9:00am it was relatively quiet with the exception of 2 calling Nuthatches and a good flock of 20 or more Goldfinches feeding in the garden, they seemed to be favouring a number of wild Rose bushes and presumably were feeding on seeds or hips on the bushes. Shortly after 9:00am I was alerted again to the 'tsseep' calls and looked up to see a flock of about 50 Redwing going overhead which were shortly followed by another flock of the same size, this continued for about 5 or 6 minutes with groups passing over at about 30 second intervals and my rough tally came to about 350+. Once the Redwing flocks had passed over I could soon hear the 'chattering calls of Fieldfare, my first of the Winter here and an impressive sight of about 150+ birds heading northwards behind the Redwing, they were soon gone and following up were a few lone individuals of both Fieldfare and a few Redwing. Some of the Redwing had come down in one of the trees and leaving my gardening duties I wandered off to have a quick look, 8 were sat in one of the tops of a Chestnut tree in the garden and calling constantly but their arrival hadn't gone unnoticed and one of the local Mistle Thrushes obviously took dislike to them being on his patch. The Mistle Thrush looked eager to safeguard his supply of Rowan and Cotoneaster berries which were now under threat from the advancing invaders and promptly saw them off, up they went and headed off to the north. I was quite pleased at seeing the Winter Thrushes passing over in such vigour and having worked in the Hambleden Valley in previous Winters couldn't recall ever seeing an influx like this in such a sort time, not quite thousands but a pretty impressive sight all the same.
I wandered back to continue my endless task of picking up the leaves in the garden(yawn) but instantly picked up on what I knew was a bird of prey calling, It was fairly distant and sounded similar to a Kestrel at first but slightly deeper in tone but getting louder every second. All of a sudden I could hear the wing clapping of a flock of Wood Pigeons as they took to the air, they had flushed from the trees in an adjacent field and were now approaching overhead rapidly splintering in to small groups as if they were being pursued, within seconds I could see why as a stocky looking Falcon appeared gliding over the trees. I had to pinch myself at first as I couldn't believe it, a PEREGRINE in all it's glory right above me, the broad based and long pointed wings clear to see as it drifted over uttering it's shrill 'kek-kek-kek' call. It's was deep chested which could be seen as it glided round in a circle overhead at about 50ft before circling round and heading north with fast shallow wing beats. By it's size it had to be a female and in pretty good condition by the looks of it, perhaps one of the birds that is seen at the nearby Springfield Tip area. I've seen them pretty regularly over the last few years but never had such a good view as today, I was gobsmacked and although I know they're becoming more common it's still an exceptional garden tick!
By lunchtime I had also seen
3 very vocal Jays,
4 Song Thrushes,
2 Mistle Thrushes
1 Unidentified Warbler-most probably Chiffchaff
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker,
1 Common Buzzard & a passing Kestrel.
And later in the day
1 Little Owl sat in an Oak tree calling, late afternoon.
2 M&F Tawny Owls calling early eve.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Between the area of the Holly + Rhododendron tree and the garden gate with the plaque, there were two very vocal and easily seen Coal Tit (first I have seen for a long time). There were also "flitterings" lower down in the nearby holly and shrubs but no Id was obtained.
Jays were half-hearted in their calls, a few chaffinch were amongst beech mast by the roadside (Holtspur Lane) and a single Ring-necked Parakeet flew over heading into town. Also Buzzard calling locally and likely Sparrowhawk seen briefly through the treetops.
Nice to see a small group of children having fun in the wood. Reminded me of my younger days some 45+ years ago when I used to cycle down the edges of the chalk pit on the edge of the wood near the railway line.
Dropping in to Penn Wood on my way home, I found no Brambling (yet) but saw my first two Redwing of the season. The local 5+ Tawny Owls in and beyond adjacent Charcoal Grove were in good voice at 5:15pm. (Kevin Holt)
Monday, 26 October 2009
Whenever the clocks go back, I always sense a feeling of sadness and cannot help feeling that the autumn migration is nearly over. I harp back to the sounds and sights of late summer and think back to my last Common Swifts in my village at the end of August - another year is once again coming towards a close.
Today, it really did still feel like summer. It was surprisingly warm (with temperatures reaching 16 degrees C by midday) with clear, calm and sunny conditions and a fresh southerly wind.
There was no sign of the Osprey in the Chess Valley this morning so I moved south to explore a 'new' site for me - 'Hogback Wood' between Forty Green and Beaconsfield.
HOGBACK WOOD, WEST BEACONSFIELD (SU 928 913)
In the glorious sunshine of late morning, I strolled into Hogback Wood, just west of Beaconsfield. Graham Smith's directions were particularly useful and after a short walk, I met up with Wally Smith - a local birder. Wally had found a FIRECREST last week inside the wood and very kindly showed me exactly where it had been. The woodland today was relatively quiet, apart from a raucous arguing group of Jays, and as we stood chatting I suddenly heard a few 'crests. I started lightly 'pishing' and attracted in a Goldcrest and seconds later, two FIRECRESTS. The two birds were together and flitting very low down in the Holly bushes and low canopy of the many Beech trees and slowly came towards us. They were both very excited, playing and chasing each other, and were both males and very vocal. Some 'crippling' views were obtained as they worked their way through the Holly to the footpath and then crossed it and flew to trees backing on to the gardens.
DIRECTIONS: From the main Penn Road in Beaconsfield, take Forty Green Road SW. Take Eghams Wood Road left after 200 yards and then Hogback Wood Road. A public footpath leads west into the wood between house numbers 21 and 23 and at the entrance stile after 30 yards, take the left track leading up behind the gardens. Once you have passed the closest back garden fence to the footpath (in fact one which bears the small plaque commemorating the memory of John and Joyce Peck), the next 50 yards of mixed Holly and Beech is where the two Firecrests were favouring today - at approximately SU 928 913.
PENN VILLAGE POND (SU 907 934)
The tiny village pond held 23 Mallards and 3 Moorhens (adult and two first-winters)
A CLOUDED YELLOW butterfly constituted the first-ever record for the location and for my Recording Area. A RED ADMIRAL and PEACOCK were also on the wing in the warm afternoon sunshine.
Great Crested Grebe (1 adult still)
Little Grebe (11)
Grey Heron (a bizarre experience - a first-winter was walking along one of the footpaths searching through nettles and long grass looking for food; seemed unaware or unbothered by my presence and just walked out of my way, allowed me to walk past and then returned to the track and started hunting again - nowhere near any water)
Atlantic Canada Geese (14)
GADWALL (two pairs present again at west end of lake)
RED KITES (8+ - very vocal)
Common Buzzards (4+ with much aerial activity in the clear skies)
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (1 near the maize strips)
Common Pheasant (220+)
Black-headed Gulls (51)
STOCK DOVE (2)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Eurasian Skylark (1 near Mop End Lane)
Meadow Pipit (1)
Pied Wagtail (2 on the cricket pavilion roof)
European Robin (9 winter territories)
Song Thrush (1)
REDWING (2 in hedgerow near Summerville's Wood)
Common Blackbird (2)
Great Tit (male in song)
Blue Tits (5)
Coal Tit (1)
Long-tailed Tit (5)
COMMON TREECREEPER (1 near the lake)
Common Magpie (2)
Carrion Crow (6)
LESSER REDPOLL (1 in Willows at the side of the lake)
SISKIN (3 in riverside trees by Jackson's Field)
Bullfinch (2 west of Upper Park)
*REED BUNTING (1 briefly by the lake and two more in one of the maize strips north of the footpath at SU 935 972)
*YELLOWHAMMER (15 in the large maize field at SU 935 972)
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
At 1100 hours (Friday 23 October) I received a call from Lee and Joan informing me that they had just seen the Chess Valley OSPREY carrying what appeared to be a large Rainbow Trout flying overhead and east as it flapped low over the M25 in Chorleywood, whilst the two of them were waiting for their transport to South Shields and the Eastern Crowned Warbler. As a result on hearing this I set off for yet another attempt to see it.
Within 15 or 20 minutes I was at Latimer Bridge surveying the countryside but there was no sign. I headed down the road to Mill Farm at Chenies where I hoped to have better luck. At Mill Farm 2 LITTLE EGRETS were perched up in the trees looking east and a pair of COMMON STONECHATS was again showing in the scrubby grass around the river edges but no sign of the Osprey. I decided to have a scout around and drove along the country lanes towards Sarratt Bottom meeting Paul Keene who had seen it earlier from Mill Farm. Paul kindly gave me a few good locations to try but unfortunately there was no sign anywhere so I headed back to Mill Farm to wait and see if it flew down the valley. I was soon joined by a very nice gentleman from Chorleywood and we watched the valley till 4pm ish, during that time one of the Stonechats showed again in the scrub near the river, a Little Owl could be heard calling but nothing much more of note. At 3.50pm a lone COMMON RAVEN could be heard calling and then appeared overhead before it headed off Northwards which was a bonus after again dipping the Osprey. I had hoped it would be 3rd time lucky but perhaps it will be 4th time lucky, that's birding for you (Ashley Stow)
Thursday, 22 October 2009
At 1123 hours, Stuart and Lesley Wilson kindly 'phoned me to say that the OSPREY was sitting in a dead tree just 50 yards east of Latimer Bridge (in fact on the same perch in which the two Little Egrets and Common Buzzard had been sat yesterday). I immediately rushed down and was just in time to see it still sitting there, showing fantastically well from the road bridge.
It was being mobbed by a procession of birds, including even a Grey Wagtail, and just as I went to 'scope it, a Common Buzzard had a go at it and it took flight. It took to the air and circled around over the River Chess before being intercepted by firstly one, then two and finally three RED KITES. All three Kites then chased it and continued following it eastwards towards Chenies Bottom. As it got to Chenies village, the three kites left it but their place was then taken by a persistent Carrion Crow, which then pursued it well into Hertfordshire and I finally lost it from view over the woodland belt (at 1138). It presumably carried on towards Stocker's Lake.
Poor Ashley Stow only just missed it and Mike Collard and the Frogmoor warden turned up a little later. The owner of Valley Farm said that it had been present at the cressbeds and old trout farm at Sarratt Bottom earlier in the morning.
I spent the next two and a half hours searching for it but it did not appear, I guess late mornings are best.
It was an excellent period birding in the Chess Valley today though with the following species encountered :-
Continental Cormorant (near adult flew east)
Grey Heron (2 but no sign of the four Little Egrets)
Red Kites (3+, almost constantly present over Frogmoor Reserve)
Common Buzzard (5 including an adult with much white in the uppertail)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1 male)
Common Kestrel (2)
COMMON GULL (1 first-winter flew south)
HERRING GULL (2 - adult and juvenile - flew south)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1 by Latimer Bridge)
Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker
EURASIAN SKYLARK (23 flew south over Mill Farm Meadow)
Meadow Pipit (1+)
Pied Wagtail (first-winter on Mill Farm Barn)
Grey Wagtail (2)
COMMON STONECHAT (yesterday's pair had moved across the road into Mill Farm Meadow)
REDWING (37 over Mill Farm Meadow and landing in trees at Chenies House)
Mistle Thrush (1)
Jays (20+ very active)
LESSER REDPOLL (party of 11 birds around Mill Farm)
SISKIN (1 over)
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
LITTLE CHALFONT AND THE CHESS RIVER VALLEY
A RED KITE had been showing an interest in one of my ponds for some time, circling back and forth with its head and beak pointing downwards and when it was joined by a second bird, I thought nothing of it. However, on closer inspection, I realised it had long wings and a flight silhouette that somewhat resembled a large gull. I quickly grabbed my 'bins and latched immediately on to it - it was white underneath with a darker chocolate-brown breast-band. Crikey - it was an OSPREY.
It drifted off north and I jumped quickly in the car, hoping to intercept it in the neighbouring Chess Valley. Less than nine minutes later I was at Latimer and as I ran along in front of the Conference Centre Hall, I picked the bird up again, being mobbed by four Jackdaws. It was flying with heavy flaps fairly low over Great Water and as it approached the much narrower section of river at the west end, started to circle around and then hover. It was staring down at the water and as I scrambled with my tripod and telescope to get better views, it started flapping again and started retracing its flight back towards the waterfall.
It was very white below on its body, undertail coverts and underwing coverts, the white only broken by a noticeable band of feathers across the chest, forming a dark chocolate-brown streaked band of feathers. The crown was also white, with a dark line through the eye and a beady yellowish eye. The upperwings and mantle were dark but appeared to be pale-fringed, suggesting it was most likely a first-winter. It seemed to be lingering so I contacted RBA, Mike Collard, Ben Miller, Simon Nichols and local birders Dave Cleal, Ashley Stow, Chris Pontin and Graham Smith. I kept it in view from 1327 until 1341 hours but then, for no apparent reason, it drifted off west up the Chess towards Chesham. I lost it from view when it reached Bois Mill and the Sewage Farm and despite searching for the next three hours, failed to relocate it.
I was then told by Stuart & Lesley Wilson that they had obtained fabulous views of the bird as it fished along the eastern section of river by Mill Farm at 1225 hours and talking to other local residents, it seems that it has been present for some time in the vicinity of Sarratt Trout Farm and may well be the individual recently present at Stocker's Farm.
Whilst searching for the Osprey and walking between Chesham and Chenies Bottom along the Chess River Valley, the following species were seen -:
(in part searching with Dave Cleal and Ashley Stow)
Little Grebe (7)
Grey Heron (5)
*LITTLE EGRETS (4 birds now back, all adults, two of which were showing very well by Latimer Bridge)
Mute Swan (18 adults on Great Water)
GREYLAG GOOSE (an adult was still present on Great Water) *see later note
Atlantic Canada Goose (15)
Tufted Duck (3)
WATER RAIL (two squealing individuals in Church Covert Reserve)
Black-headed Gull (15)
HERRING GULL (3 noted, including two juveniles and an adult; all flying east)
Common Buzzard (4 individuals including a juvenile which landed close to Latimer Bridge)
Common Kestrel (1)
RING-NECKED PARAKEET (noisy pair in Chenies village)
Stock Dove (14)
Collared Dove (6 over)
Green Woodpecker (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Eurasian Skylark (2)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Meadow Pipit (4)
*COMMON STONECHATS (pair in weedy field just west of Mill Farm Barns representing the first record of the autumn - first seen by Stuart & Lesley Wilson)
Jays (16+ - much activity)
Common Magpie (6)
Common Starling (8)
Goldcrest (1) (extremely scarce of late)
Long-tailed Tit (8)
Coal Tit (1 by Hall)
NUTHATCH (3 in Latimer Hall grounds)
Chaffinch (7 together in Beech trees west of Latimer Hall and 6 further flyover singletons)
SISKINS (party of 3 overhead by Church Covert and a singleton heard by the Hall)
Goldfinch (charm of 23 by the Latimer Bridge)
I checked out Shardeloes Lake just in case the Osprey had relocated there. It was also an excuse to see whether the adult GREYLAG GOOSE was still present and it was - confirming my suspicions that there are two different adults in the area - remarkable considering these are the first records for at least 12 years.
A flock of 37 LAPWINGS also flew twice over the lake but otherwise it was similar to yesterday with 13 Mallard, the 4 Tufted Ducks, again no Gadwall, all 6 Mute Swans again (thankfully), 81 Black-headed Gulls, numerous Jays and just 1 REDWING
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
The wind veered SE this morning, the first time in a long while, with the raw and freshening breeze continuing throughout the day. It brought in low cloud and intermittent drizzle and saw a light fall on the hills.
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
(1645 until dark)
Great Crested Grebe (1 adult still present)
Little Grebe (11)
Grey Heron (2 roosting on island)
Mute Swan (5+ including three of the first-winters)
Atlantic Canada Goose (136)
GREYLAG GOOSE (the lone adult and first in area for over 12 years still present)
Tufted Duck (4)
Black-headed Gull (77)
COMMON GULL (2 adults)
Common Pheasant (183+ by Wheatley Wood)
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (1 in stubble near the maize strip)
RED KITE (5 in roost)
Common Buzzard (1)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (male hunting at dusk)
Stock Dove (7)
Green Woodpecker (1)
European Robin (4)
Mistle Thrush (1 on cricket field)
REDWING (flock of 24 birds flew south)
Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit (8)
Jay (much activity - 5+)
Carrion Crow (5)
Jackdaw (133 towards roost)
Common Starling (32 over)
Sunday, 18 October 2009
The lone GREYLAG GOOSE was this afternoon on Shardeloes Lake with Atlantic Canadas (Graham Smith)
Friday, 16 October 2009
BLACK REDSTART at dusk and first returning LITTLE EGRET of winter period; also record number of STOCK DOVES for area
A Northerly wind blowing, with increasing cloud. Dry throughout. Spent the afternoon walking the entire Chess River Valley between Sarratt Bottom and Blackwell Mill, carrying out a complete inventory of all bird species present. A single LITTLE EGRET was back on winter territory, whilst a local record flock of STOCK DOVES was encountered.
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT
A single LESSER REDPOLL flew high south over the garden
CHESS RIVER VALLEY BETWEEN SARRATT BOTTOM AND BLACKWELL MILL
(38 species recorded)
Little Grebe: 5 on the stretch of river between Latimer Bridge and the dam, with a further 3 on Great Water
LITTLE EGRET: an adult just east of Church Covert NR, flushed from feeding in the river to where it roosted in a tall tree.
Grey Heron (1)
Mute Swan (2 adults by Latimer Bridge, with 14 on Great Water)
Atlantic Canada Goose (8 by Latimer Bridge)
Mallard (20 in total)
Tufted Duck (5 on Great Water)
Common Buzzard (1 adult)
Common Kestrel (1 male)
Common Pheasant (5)
Moorhen (18 in and around Great Water)
Coot (36 including 32 on Great Water)
Woodpigeon (615 feeding on Beechmast and in the large crop field immediately south of Tooley's Croft Wood at SU 993 994)
STOCK DOVE: the largest flock ever recorded in this area - 198 feeding with the above mainly on fallen Beechmast.
Little Owl (a long-dead bird by a barbed-wire fence 150 yards east of Latimer Bridge)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1-2 birds fishing the stretch of river between Church Covert NR and Chenies Bottom)
Green Woodpecker (1)
Eurasian Skylark (1 flew high south)
Pied Wagtail (1 by Latimer House)
European Robin (7, again several in full song)
REDWING (just 1 noted - feeding in the short crop field with the Woodpigeons and Stock Doves)
Common Blackbird (just 1 male noted in Church Covert)
Great Tit (5)
Blue Tit (4)
COAL TIT (2 in the grounds of Latimer Hall)
MARSH TIT (1 in Church Covert NR)
Long-tailed Tit (6)
Common Magpie (7 in the vicinity of Mill Farm Barns)
Jay (2 - actively gathering acorns)
Jackdaw (impressive feeding flocks - 83 in the grassy fields north of Mill Farm and 163 in the same field as the pigeons)
Rook (11 near Mill Farm and 96 by Tooley's Croft Wood)
Carrion Crow (4)
Common Starling (13)
Chaffinch (odd calling birds flying over to the south)
LESSER REDPOLL (1 vocal individual in Church Covert)
BULLFINCH (2 in Church Covert)
LUDE FARM, BETWEEN PENN AND LOUDWATER (at SU 915 918)
A BLACK REDSTART was commuting between the farm machinery and old twisted metal to the east of the road and the red-tiled house roofs and large sheds at dusk, being constantly harried by 3-4 territorial European Robins.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Sadly, one of the local Tawny Owls was killed on the A404 just west of Amersham Crematorium.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Eight REDWINGS arrived in Chesham at the weekend, whilst MEADOW PIPIT numbers are slowly increasing at Hill Farm (Chris Pontin)
Friday, 2 October 2009
And a further surprise - WHOOPER SWAN pair drop-in at midday - the first ever record for the Recording Area
Now for yesterday's news - THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER
Wind continued from the Northwest but was very calm and it was surprisingly warm in the afternoon sunshine. Another dry day.
I was just attending to one of my cats late morning and talking Northwestern Redpolls and Taiga Flycatcher images with Shetland contacts on the mobile when I heard the familiar bugling or trumpeting sound of WHOOPER SWANS. I looked up to find two birds flying at fairly low level slightly west of north over my house in Little Chalfont. I was absolutely staggered as only yesterday I had constructed an email urging local birders to watch out for this species as large numbers were migrating SSE through Speyside and elsewhere in Scotland on their way back to wintering areas in Norfolk, particularly Welney WWT - much earlier than normal. The birds were dropping in height and I suspected that they were heading for the Chess River Valley where a resident herd of Mute Swans is always present.
Retrieving my Tabby from a neighbours stairway, I jumped in the car and raced over to Latimer, where at 1222 hours I relocated both birds on the main 'Great Water' in front of the Conference Centre and hall (at SU 995 987). They were trumpeting with glee after presumably finishing a long journey and were not impressing the resident Mute Swans and were drinking, washing and bathing. Whooper Swan has never before been recorded in my area and is an excellent addition to the local avifauna and excited with my find I contacted Chris Batty (RBA), Ben Miller, Simon Nichols, Mike Collard and others to ensure that those that may wish to could perhaps come over and see them.
I was most excited about them mainly because one of the birds (they were both full adults by the way) was heavily stained rusty-brown on the head, neck and upperparts - a feature I have noted on numerous returning wild Whooper Swans before and a feature of birds spending the summer in Iceland (apparently the orange staining is caused by iron deposits in the upland pools in which Whoopers feed during the summer months). Both birds were obviously very tired and exhausted after their journey too as within a very short while, they both tucked their heads in and went to sleep. They kept to themselves and to the outer edge of the 18-strong Mute Swan herd. I watched them for about forty minutes before moving on but was pleased to hear from Ashley Stow that they were both still present when he visited later in the afternoon (he also managed to rattle off at least 100 images of them, a selection of which are presented above).
Their arrival coincided with that of many other Whooper Swans in the south, including 80 fresh-in at Welney Refuge and at least two flocks in Cambridgeshire (11 birds flew NW over Paxton Pits NR in the evening).
Great Water also held 22 Coots, whilst nearby parkland held both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, several singing Robins, Mistle Thrush, two fly-over Meadow Pipits and a Jay at Chilton's Wood.