Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Thursday, 29 April 2010


Two stag ROE DEER were rutting in the large field west of Stony Lane this morning at 0800 hours, the first I have seen in this area for a long time.
BARN SWALLOWS (up to 4 birds) have returned to their breeding grounds at McMinn's Yard in Chesham, with a pair of GREY WAGTAILS nesting there too.

First COMMON WHITETHROAT on territory


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.

Friday, 16 April 2010

WILLOW WARBLER at last - and RAVEN delight


With the wind still blowing from the Northeast, most of the day was fairly cool. From about midday onwards, the pressure started to build and the cloud cover dissipated, leaving clear blue skies and long spells of sunshine. Towards evening, the wind slackened right off, making it very pleasant.

I spent the day mopping up a few local year-ticks, the highlight being my first LESSER WHITETHROAT of the year, some nice adult LITTLE GULLS and more ARCTIC TERNS.........

(with Chris Pontin)

At last, my first WILLOW WARBLER of the year in the Amersham Recording Area - a singing male showing well in Willows at the west end of the larger lake. Chris had seen one last week which had sang briefly at the back of McMinn's whilst Kevin Holt had seen an equally brief songster in Penn Wood earlier this week.

A singing male Common Chiffchaff was still present, whilst Blackcaps had increased to two singing males, with at least one female present.

Most unusual was the sight of 4 COMMON RAVENS together at 1130 hours - all having a noisy argument and tussle high above the valley. Again, as other Ravens I have observed this week, they were in heavy wing moult, and eventually all four birds flew high NE towards Berkhamstead.

RED KITES were equally active and abundant with at least 7 in the valley skies, as well as 4 Common Buzzards.

Both pairs of Great Crested Grebe were still present, the nest on the smaller lake still intact, with a Coot now sat on another nest just three yards away. Five Tufted Duck were present (with an additional 13 on Bois Mill Pond).

EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS numbered 7, with two singing Wrens, 3 Goldfinch and a displaying male Greenfinch also noted.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Penn Wood review of past few days - Kevin Holt

Brambling: 6th 165, 8th 65, 10th 41, 11th 51, 12th 63 (33 seen by me + 30 already roosted per LGRE)

Greenfinch:6th c70, 8th c40, 10th c45, 11th c40, 12th c 40

Warblers beginning to get into the wood:

Common Chiffchaff - 8 singing highest count so far
Willow Warbler - 1 heard on 10th at Brambling roost area
Blackcap - up to 2m + 1f so far

Also, on 11th 2 Siskin perched above pair of Bullfinch at "The Penna" crossroads.

Kevin Holt

Monday, 12 April 2010

BRAMBLING numbers starting to dwindle at Penn Wood


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..........


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

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

GOLDCREST and SKYLARK at Chaffinch House

Early morning saw a singing male GOLDCREST and overhead a singing male EURASIAN SKYLARK - both firsts in the or over the garden in 2010

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

First WILLOW WARBLER of year and a full inventory of the eastern part of the Chess Valley; BRAMBLING numbers peak in Penn Wood


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.


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.


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.