Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Chesham CUCKOO still

A COMMON CUCKOO was calling last night again from near Chesham Sewage Works, this bird having been present for nearly two weeks now

Also at the Fishing Lakes, both young Great Crested Grebes continue to grow well (with both pairs present), 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS are on site, up to 6 European Barn Swallows, 17 Tufted Ducks and 1 Mute Swan

Friday, 21 May 2010

GOSHAWK success

One of the local breeding pairs of NORTHERN GOSHAWK has managed to successfully fledge young this year, the adults now flighting in frequently to feed the incredibly noisy young birds. As usual, the parents favoured a traditional Larch tree and the young birds are expected to depart the nest at the end of June.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Waterside MUTE SWAN success

The Waterside pair of MUTE SWANS have fledged 6 cygnets and are now feeding them by the bridge. Let's hope they don't all drown as they get washed over the weir like last year.

CUCKOO delight

At last, I finally connected with COMMON CUCKOO. Chris Pontin heard one calling this morning (at 0750 hours) in the area of Hodd's Wood, Chesham, whilst this evening, Carmel and I enjoyed excellent views of the calling male south of Flaunden, in the hedgerows and scrub around the Wireless Station and north of the Observatory.

A pair of GREY WAGTAILS was also noted at McMinn's (and the returning pair of European Barn Swallows), whilst 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS were on the western bank of Chesham Fishing Lakes. My COMMON SWIFT flock has now increased to 5 birds.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

More GARDEN WARBLERS and first CUCKOOS of year


A beautiful day with long spells of warm sunshine and clear periods. The wind was light and variable and the afternoon temperature reached 20 degrees C, one of the warmest days of the year so far.

Following up on a report from last night, I failed in my quest to locate some local Common Cuckoos, but did manage to connect with a fine breeding-plumaged adult Grey Plover.......


Joan Thompson had discovered two calling COMMON CUCKOOS in the Observatory area south of Flaunden (at TQ 013 001) Tuesday evening, representing the first record for my Recording Area this year. Keen to see them, I ventured out there this morning and evening but failed in my quest to locate them. I took the opportunity to do a full inventory of the area, the highlights being breeding Bullfinch and numerous Yellowhammers. The number of singing Common Whitethroat was also noteworthy.

Common Buzzard (1 hunting over fields in evening)
EURASIAN SKYLARK (3 different singing males)
Dunnock (4); Wren (1 by farm)
Common Blackbird (3+ pairs)
Mistle Thrush (1 flew over calling)
Blackcap (male singing in Baldwin's Wood with another two by the Wireless Station)
GARDEN WARBLER (male singing from scrub by Wireless Station compound)
COMMON WHITETHROAT (3 present, with single singing males by the Observatory, in the western hedgerow and in the hedgerow just north of the farm)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (2 singing males by Wireless Station)
Blue Tit (2 pairs)
Common Magpie (pair)
Chaffinch (common, with at least 7 pairs noted)
BULLFINCH (pair breeding in orchard by Martin's Top Farm)
Goldfinch (pair in Flaunden village)
Linnet (4 birds noted)
House Sparrow (22 counted in Flaunden village)
YELLOWHAMMERS (a total of 4 singing males in the hedgerows bordering the large rape field NW of Martin's Top Farm - 2 females also seen with nesting suspected)

Butterflies noted included 3 Peacocks and a pair of Orange Tips.


Chris Pontin had recorded a very late LITTLE EGRET here on Sunday and had noted 10 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS in the area. Several of these were still present this morning along with a very showy male GARDEN WARBLER in the tall Oak by the entrance to the reserve. A singing male Blackcap was opposite, whilst two male Common Chiffchaffs were still in full song.

A Red Fox was showing well out in the open, with a European barn Swallow around Mill Farm, the male GOLDCREST still singing from the single evergreen there and Green Woodpecker noted. The Common Kestrels have returned to their nesting tree of last year.


COMMON SWIFTS have now increased to four, whilst the nesting House Sparrows now have noisy young. Coal Tits are frequently visiting the feeders, as are at least 2 Goldfinches.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Chris Pontin discovered a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT in McMinn's Yard this morning, with 11 COMMON SWIFTS hawking for insects overhead. Up to three RING-NECKED PARAKEETS are still visiting Chesham daily.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Great news - 3 young COMMON BLACKBIRDS in garden

I was fearing the worse when seeing my resident pair of COMMON BLACKBIRDS appear with just one youngster but today, spending long periods at home, I was delighted to see the father feeding three well-grown fledglings on the wood chippings. It was interesting that when father went searching on the main lawn for worms, all three had the sense to conceal themselves under the hedge - and thereby remaining safe from cats. Interestingly, there was no sign of the mother Blackbird - perhaps she is sitting on a second brood

The male House Sparrows are particularly shabby now in appearance and with the continued presence of the Goldfinches at the feeders, it suggest that they are not breeding.

JAY visits feeders

The cold Northeasterly wind is still blowing making it feel absolutely freezing. In fact, there was a light frost overnight. Whilst stuck in updating, my attention has been diverted to a JAY visiting the feeders at Chaffinch House, and to two GOLDFINCHES on the nyger.

Monday, 3 May 2010

New colony of FIRECRESTS discovered and first GARDEN WARBLER and COMMON SWIFT of the year


Well, it certainly does not feel like the first week in May. I had to resort again to winter gloves today and throughout, the fresh Northeasterly wind was biting. Temperatures struggled to make double figures but at least it remained largely dry, with just the odd light shower.

With so many rares being 1 or 2 dayers of late, I decided to spend the day locally, catching up on vital survey work. It was a very rewarding day, climaxed with a new colony of FIRECRESTS and at the end by a purring EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE - a very rare sight indeed locally these days........


Despite the torrential rain of Sunday, the two early fledged GREAT CRESTED GREBE chicks on the smaller of the two lakes survived and were both huddled snugly on mum's back under the overhanging Willow branches. Four of the Coot nests had also survived with the birds still sitting tight.

The most impressive sight, as with most water bodies inland at the moment, was of the large numbers of EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS hawking over the water - a total of 45 - one of the largest spring gatherings in my area. A total of 5 HOUSE MARTINS was also consorting with them.

Both the singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER and REED BUNTING were still present, in the small reedbeds on the north shore of the larger lake.

The single Mute Swan was still present, whilst a pair of Atlantic Canada Geese were accompanied by a brood of 12 goslings.


Singing male Blackcaps included one by the parking area at the entrance to the Conference Centre and another in the wood just west of the complex, whilst a pair of Common Starlings was busy gathering food and flying to a nest hole in trees near Neptune Falls.

Just downstream of Neptune Falls, the female Mute Swan was still sitting on eggs, whilst on the main Great Water, 11 birds were present. There were also 22 Tufted Ducks present but no sign of any Little Grebes.

A Red Kite in heavy wing moult glided over whilst a pair of Common Buzzards were nesting in Lane Wood. A pair of LINNETS flew over.


I surveyed the area from Pennstreet Farm, through Priestlands Wood and Tragoe's Plantation east to Coleshill Larches and West Wood and back through Winchmore Hill village.

At the tiny farm reservoir just NE of Pennstreet Farm, 3 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS were perched on the wires and 'singing', whilst the trees bordering the road held 23 active Rook nests.

Priestlands Wood (SU 928 957) held 1 singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF, 2 singing male Chaffinches and a nesting pair of Mistle Thrush, whilst Tragoe's Plantation (SU 933 957) held an additional singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF, a male Blackcap, a male Greenfinch, a pair of Great and Blue Tits and 2 Long-tailed Tits. The Chiltern Heritage Trail runs through these two woodlands and there was a healthy spread of flowering Bluebells. There were also 4 free-ranging Vulterine Guineafowl in the wood.

On the opposite side of the road, Coleshill Larches, Turner's Wood and West Wood (SU 930 955) held breeding Blue Tit (1 pair), European Robin (2 pairs), Common Blackbird (2 pairs) and Chaffinch (3 pairs), along with a singing male SONG THRUSH and a male Blackcap.

Winchmore Bottom itself yielded two displaying male Greenfinch, a pair of Goldfinch, 3 Wrens and Common Blackbird (5 breeding pairs), whilst the allotments across the road held a nesting pair of Robins and Long-tailed Tits.

(1700-1800 hours)

A detailed survey of all species present was undertaken with Common Chiffchaff, GARDEN WARBLER and FIRECREST being of prime importance. A total of 19 species was recorded -:

TAWNY OWL (4 nestboxes occupied, all with young)
Green Woodpecker (1 yaffling bird)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 nest found in Birches - pair busily feeding young)
Jay (1-2 pairs)
Common Blackbird (3 pairs)
European Robin (5+ pairs)
Wren (5 pairs)
Blackcap (singing male by main drove to Penna, with another in Rhododendron scrub and two further males in southern section)
GARDEN WARBLER (my first in the Recording Area this year, a single well-showing singing male in scrub by a cleared area to the west of the paddock area)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (a total of 7 singing males, with one up at the Goose Pond Gate end, two near the Penna, one 200 yards further west and two more in the Tyler Green Gate area, and another pair breeding)
WILLOW WARBLER (two singing males within yards of each other in Birches along the SE ride - only the 2nd-3rd birds in the Recording Area this spring)
GOLDCREST (3 singing males)
**FIRECREST (a new colony discovered, involving 5 singing males - all along the main ride west of the Penna with three in the Rhododendron tunnel and two more in tall conifers where the tracks all meet and it gets particularly muddy at the west end of the main ride. The birds were very low down in the foliage and showing exceptionally well and in full song and territorial display - fantastic. My first in the Recording Area this year but following the two wintering birds in Beaconsfield and another briefly at Shardeloes Lake)
Long-tailed Tit (2 pairs)
Great Tit (5= pairs)
Blue Tit (8+ pairs)
Coal Tit (at least 1 pair)
Nuthatch (not recorded today but usually present)
Chaffinch (6 pairs)
BULLFINCH (pair nesting in Birches along drove on southern flank)

Nearby, a pair of Pied Wagtails were breeding at the Industrial Estate in Penn Street.


In an attempt to add Common Cuckoo and European Turtle Dove to this year's Recording Area list, I made my annual pilgrimage to Bovingdon Green, but neither species was present yet. As usual, COMMON WHITETHROAT was present, with just 1 displaying male.

There were also 3 singing male Blackcaps and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs, whilst other species noted included Song Thrush (2 singing males), Common Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit and Great Tit.

Whilst I was failing to find Turtle Dove, Steve Rodwell was watching one..........

(evening visit)

Joining Steve and Vicky and David Bilcock, all four of us listened intently to the sweet soft purring of a EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE from dense Hawthorn scrub in the Top Scrub at Ivinghoe, 200 yards from the main car park. In the fierce NE wind and above the constant whine of aircraft after aircraft taxi-ing into Luton Airport, it was difficult to hear this distinctive sound of summer and after much searching, we all eventually obtained flight views of the bird.

Top Scrub also held 6 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS and 3 COMMON SWIFTS flew east.


The first COMMON SWIFT of the year arrived this evening - circling the house and road at 2030 hours