Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

More local breeding FIRECRESTS located

Western Reed Warbler and male Reed Bunting (Mike Lawrence) - both species present at Shardeloes Lake today


It certainly has been 'flaming June' in these last few days at the end of the month with temperatures this afternoon once again reaching 29 degrees C. Thankfully, a light westerly breeze picked up today.

It was another day surveying local breeding successes and examining new areas not visited previously. Highlight was another breeding FIRECREST find.......

(1530-1630 hours)

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (1 adult showing)
Little Grebe (at least two adults present, with singles at either end of the lake)
CONTINENTAL CORMORANT (Sinensis) (sub-adult roosting on the island, scarce at this time of year)
Grey Heron (1)
Mute Swan (3 first-summers still present)
Atlantic Canada Geese (50 in total, including at least 22 young)
Mallard (1 female with 12 ducklings, along with four juveniles from a much earlier brood)
GADWALL (3 females and a drake noted at the far west end)
Tufted Duck (8 - 4 pairs)
Moorhen (first juvenile seen)
Coot (76 birds in total including 6 fledged older juveniles; two additional pairs feeding 2 tiny young)
Red Kite (several overhead, all heavily worn)
Common Swift (2)
European Barn Swallow (6)
GREY WAGTAIL (two juveniles feeding together on the island)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (male in full song at west end and showing well in the scrub)
Blackcap (2 males in song)
Greenfinch (male in song in the garden at the entrance gate)
REED BUNTING (two males singing to each other)


A new survey area, made up of open fields (cereal fields) and extensive tracts of mixed woodland. I surveyed this new area, walking along the public footpath from Bell Lane (SU 990 982) west as far as Raans Farm (SU 982 983), checking north to the open clearing east of Round Wood and then back through Lane Wood and Ladies Arbour Wood. A total of 13 species recorded.

EURASIAN SKYLARK (one flew up from the rough ground just west of Lane Wood)
European Robin (1 in song in Ladies Arbour Wood)
Common Blackbird (nesting; 3 pairs in total)
*SONG THRUSH (a single bird noted at the edge of Lane Wood and then a pair feeding young further into the wood - first confirmed breeding of the species this year at a local level)
COMMON WHITETHROAT (pair feeding young in the open clearing area west of Lane Wood)
*FIRECREST (pair feeding young in Holly and deciduous trees in Lane Wood, 300 yards NW of Bell Lane at SU 991 985 - located on calls. Another extension in local breeding range)
Blue Tit (8 birds in family party in Lane Wood)
Great Tit (juvenile in Lane Wood)
COAL TIT (confirmed breeding with young birds noted in both Lane Wood and in gardens adjacent to Bell Lane)
NUTHATCH (juvenile noted in Lane Wood, presumably born locally)
Jay (pair by Bell Lane)
Carrion Crow (pair with 3 young)
*YELLOWHAMMER (another extension in local range; female calling from trackside hedgerow just west of Lane Wood, most likely breeding)

Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Comma butterflies also noted

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A cracking BEE ORCHID !


Continuing the very hot theme of late, temperatures today reached a steamy 31 degrees C. Breaking away from the World Cup games and Glastonbury Festival, I did a little bit of birding in Chesham, highlighting in the sight of a magnificent BEE ORCHID by the Fishing Lakes.......


An adult Black-headed Gull in full breeding plumage in Lowndes Park was an odd occurrence, whilst 10 Common Swifts were at the Vale end of town and GREY WAGTAILS were present at Waterside and at McMinn's. The European Barn Swallows there are again sitting.

At the Fishing Lakes, I enjoyed crippling views of the magnificent BEE ORCHID specimen discovered by Chris Pontin and photographed by him above. What a beautiful rare plant this is.

On the smaller of the two lakes, still only two GREAT CRESTED GREBES present (mother and baby) and no further sign of the father and the other juvenile. Coots had three small young and a male Common Chiffchaff was singing.

On the larger lake, the Mute Swan was still in residence, the non-nesting pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES, Atlantic Canada Geese with three 'new' goslings (with 9 larger young from an earlier brood and 12 adults present), 10 Tufted Ducks and Coots with 3 and 1 young respectively. Common Chiffchaffs were feeding a fledged first brood and a male WESTERN REED WARBLER was singing from the reedbed close to the causeway.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Local Common Buzzards cause confusion

One of our local breeding pairs of Common Buzzards in Chesham Bois accounted for reports of both an Osprey and a Marsh Harrier today (BirdGuides of course). The real main highlight for the Recording Area was the location of a single BEE ORCHID in the Chesham Fishing Lakes (per Chris Pontin)

Friday, 25 June 2010

My female Common Blackbird has spent the whole day gathering up all of the dried mealworms I have placed on the closest birdtable to the house. I presume she is taking them back to the nest to feed the young. The resident Goldfinches have managed to eat an entire feeder's worth of Nyger seed this week

New colony of HOUSE MARTINS located, another WESTERN REED WARBLER found and ORCHIDS galore and a DARK GREEN FRITILLARY

The Flauden and Latimer Study Area

Another gorgeous day with wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures in the afternoon reaching 84 degrees fahrenheit. It was time again to check the breeding successes of birds in the valley and amongst the many highlights was the discovery of a new colony of nesting HOUSE MARTINS.....


In addition to my own House Sparrows, several pairs were present in Pavilion Way, with further birds (4) at 65 Elizabeth Avenue and in Chenies Avenue (2 pairs at one end and breeding confirmed at number 35). A singing male Greenfinch was also present in gardens in Chenies Avenue, as well as a singing male Dunnock.


At Latimer Park, the HOUSE MARTIN colony numbered at least 8 pairs, with NUTHATCHES noted in the wooded garden there.

Between Neptune Falls and the bridge, wildfowl were as noted - 2 Mute Swans, female Mallard with 8 ducklings, 6 Tufted Ducks plus a female with 7 ducklings (my first brood of the year), a pair of Coot with 4 small young and a single Little Grebe.

In Latimer Village (at TQ 003 988), I was most excited at the discovery of a new colony of HOUSE MARTINS - 10 active nests in total - and under the eaves of 'The Village House'. Quite well grown young were present in at least three of the nests.

Gardens in the village also yielded Coal Tit and confirmed breeding of Robin, Great Tit and Goldfinch. There was also a single pair of European Barn Swallows breeding.

Great Water held just 1 Little Grebe, 13 Mute Swans, 11 Atlantic Canada Geese, 11 Tufted Duck and 24 adult Coot, whilst around the Conference Centre grounds were both breeding Stock Dove and Mistle Thrush, a pair of Common Starlings and a feeding pair of European Barn Swallows. Butterflies included my first 3 MARBLED WHITES of the year, numerous Meadow Browns and the first of 2 Common Blues in the valley.

Church Covert Reserve yielded both a singing male GARDEN WARBLER, COMMON CHIFFCHAFF and a singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER (the latter in the clump of reeds on the river by the crossing point), with a pair of Mute Swans and the first of many Banded Demoiselle damselflies. Two different male Wrens were on territory and Common Blackbirds were breeding. Nearby, a male COMMON WHITETHROAT was singing from the hedgerow by the isolated clump of trees and a male REED BUNTING singing from by the river.

In the Mill Farm Chalets area, Small Tortoiseshell and Privet Moth were encountered.

Walking further east to Frogmore Meadows, a singing male Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Red Kite were recorded. There was a good display of ORCHIDS, with 15 COMMON SPOTTED spikes and a total of 107 SOUTHERN MARSH spikes by the river. COMMON WHITETHROATS have done very well on the reserve with three separate broods being attended and a further singing male up on the slope above. There was also a noisy NUTHATCH family moving through, a pair of displaying LINNETS over, some LARGE SKIPPERS and a calling male RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE in the Mill Farm Meadow.

I then took the footpath from Baldwin's Wood to Flaunden Bottom. Baldwin's Wood held 2 singing male Blackcaps, a family of COAL TITS, a singing male Dunnock and Common Chiffchaff and post-breeding roaming flock of Long-tailed Tits. There were also a pair of Jays and as I walked much further in the wood, another family of Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and 3-4 MARSH TITS. Both Robin and Wren were typically present and 2 tall spike COMMON SPOTTED ORCHIDS were besides the main bridlepath.

Flaunden Grove produced Song Thrush and butterflies in the form of a DARK GREEN FRITILLARY (my first record here), numerous Speckled Woods and Meadow Browns, whilst the fields and hedgerows in the Observatory Area held 2+ YELLOWHAMMERS and a singing male EURASIAN SKYLARK.

At Flaunden Bottom, 400 yards north of the village, a pair of Stock Doves were by the road and a new singing male YELLOWHAMMER just north of the Asheridge Road at TL 005 003

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

WESTERN REED WARBLERS busily feeding young


With the Summer Solstice now just passed, the hot weather of the last few days intensed further, reaching 75 degrees fahrenheit by late afternoon. It remained clear and sunny throughout. Breaking away just briefly from the final group stages of the World Cup, I did a quick check of Chesham and the Fishing Lakes..........


Rather disconcertingly, for the second day running, only one adult and one juvenile GREAT CRESTED GREBE could be located on the smaller of the two lakes. Two birds are missing. On the larger lake, both adults were present, and courtship dancing was again noted (no nest still).

A LITTLE GREBE was on Pow-Wow Lake, with the Mute Swan family (pair with four cygnets) in residence and four pairs of GADWALL present. There was also a pair of Tufted Duck there, with a further 8 on the lakes, and an additional Mute Swan.

On the smaller fishing lake also, a pair of Coot was attending three tiny young, with two older fledged young on the larger lake, whilst 14 gosling Atlantic Canada Geese were also present.

WESTERN REED WARBLERS have once again bred successfully, with two pairs busily attending young on the west side of the larger lake, with a Common Chiffchaff still singing at McMinn's Yard. Also, for the second year running, European Barn Swallows are nesting inside the main barn at McMinn's.

The first EDIBLE DORMOUSE of the year appeared early this morning.


This evening, 7 Common Swifts were noisily wheeling around together.


Pied Wagtails have successfully bred with three juveniles present on the pitch.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Local GOSHAWKS fledge the nest

Three baby NORTHERN GOSHAWKS successfully fledged the nest today, the first to survive for three years in the Recording Area

Garden Visitors - JAY highlights

The garden here at Chaffinch House has been brimming with activity in recent days. A JAY was present for over half an hour on Saturday morning whilst both GOLDFINCHES are still present on the Nyger, with frequent visits from Greenfinches.

There are two Woodpigeons present almost constantly, with repeat visits from Blue Tit and Great Tit families, up to 25 Long-tailed Tits at a time, 1-2 COAL TITS and 29 House Sparrows.

Common Blackbirds are now feeding their second brood, with Common Starlings having had a good breeding season with the local flock containing at least 8 juveniles.

RED KITES are still daily visitors

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


For the second day running, two GOLDFINCHES have been constantly present on my Nyger seed feeders here at Chaffinch House.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A comprehensive survey of the breeding birds of the Shardeloes Estate


All morning long, heavy rain fell, leaving little opportunity for birding. It eventually cleared away to the east, giving rise to the occasional heavy shower, but remained fairly warm with light winds. I utilised the afternoon and evening by surveying........


A comprehensive bird survey of the estate, covering the lake and Misbourne valley area west to Mop End Lane, the cricket ground, all of High Wood and Shardeloes House and both Summerville's Wood and Wheatley Wood. A total of 47 species recorded :-

1) GREAT CRESTED GREBE (1 pair breeding; just male seen again today)
2) Little Grebe (only 1 pair present this summer, at the west end of the main lake)
3) Grey Heron (2 birds present)
4) Mute Swan (3 first-summers present at east end of main lake, whilst the resident pair were midway along the Misbourne, the breeding attempt having failed; a further sub-adult was on the Misbourne SE of Kennel Farm)
5) Atlantic Canada Goose (14 adults present with a creche of 23 goslings; a further 12 adults in fields by Kennel Farm)
6) MANDARIN DUCK (successful breeding: the female today with her four ducklings by the weir)
7) Mallard (a very good year, with 6 broods fledged totalling 40 young)
8) GADWALL (pair present at west end - no sign of any young yet)
9) Tufted Duck (16 present; a punt containing three fishermen had presumably disturbed the Northern Pochard that were present yesterday)
10) RED KITE (two active nests found with both containing young and being attended by adults with food)
11) Common Buzzard (just 1 active nest found - in High Wood)
12) Red-legged Partridge (just one bird located at the edge of a field at the Mop End end of the estate)
13) Common Pheasant (numerous birds noted - part of the release scheme on the estate)
14) Moorhen (low numbers present on the Misbourne - no evidence of successful breeding yet)
15) Eurasian Coot (36 adults present on the lake; two adults still sat on nests whilst 3 broods - 2 well grown young, 3 small young and 1 tiny chick on the river)
16) Stock Dove (at least 4 territories, mainly in High Wood, with a flock of 12 feeding on a newly planted cereal field near Mop End)
17) Woodpigeon (still flocking with, for example, 35 in new cereal field by Mop End)
18) COMMON SWIFT (35 hawking high above the lake and a further 12 hawking over the river Misbourne by Kennel Farm)
19) Green Woodpecker (singles heard in High Wood and Wheatley Wood)
20) Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 male in Pollarded Willows at the west end of the lake)
21) EURASIAN SKYLARK (just 1 pair on the estate - in a cereal field 400 yards NW of the Electricity Sub-Station at SU 927 974).
22) European Barn Swallow (1 near Mop End Farm)
23) HOUSE MARTIN (8 hawking over the main lake)
24) Pied Wagtail (pair breeding at the cricket ground)
25) GREY WAGTAIL (male flew over the cricket pavilion calling)
26) Wren (2 territories in the wood at the east end of the lake, with another pair by Mop End Lane and at least one territory in Wheatley Wood; 3 more territories are known of in High Wood)
27) Dunnock (actively feeding young at the moment so very skulking; at least 5 pairs on the estate)
28) European Robin (pairs breed in the gardens of Shardeloes House, Lower Park House and at the Gatehouse, with 10 or more pairs in the main woodlands; first broods fledged now)
29) Song Thrush (singing males at the west end of the lake, in High Wood and in Wheatleys Wood)
30) Common Blackbird (many adult males again in song, with birds by Mop End Lane, in High Wood and by the Conservation Area)
31) WESTERN REED WARBLER (1 singing male in reeds at the west end of the main lake)
32) Blackcap (numerous singing males including one on the island at the lake, 2 by Mop End Lane, another by the pylons close to the Conservation Area, another near the Electricity Sub-station and one by the stile by Summerville's Wood; a female was near Wheatley Wood)
33) Common Chiffchaff (two males still singing - one in the Conservation Area and another in Wheatleys Wood)
34) Goldcrest (just one singing male encountered - in conifers at the side of Mop End Lane)
35) Great Tit (1 pair still feeding young in the nest but otherwise 4 fledged family groups)
36) Blue Tit (6 fledged family parties noted)
37) Long-tailed Tit (two family parties noted)
38) Common Magpie (just 1 bird noted - in the hedgerow of Mop End Lane)
39) Jay (1 pair breeding in Summerville's Wood)
40) Western Jackdaw (up to 20 pairs utilising natural tree holes on the estate)
41) Rook (active rookery with 37 nests in front of Shardeloes House)
42) Carrion Crow (at least 7 pairs)
43) Chaffinch (many males singing, with 2 by Mop End Lane, 1 in Lower Park House garden and several in Summerville's and High Woods; breeding has occurred with several young birds noted)
44) Goldfinch (breeding in both Lower Park House and the Gatehouse gardens)
45) Greenfinch (male singing from tall conifer in Lower Park House garden)
46) REED BUNTING (a singing male at the west end of the main lake)
47) YELLOWHAMMER (two singing males noted along Mop End Lane, just SE of Todd's Wood)

In addition, Common Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Common Starling and Coal Tit breed on the estate but were not recorded today.

Three Brown Hares were also seen feeding in the cereal field east of Mop End Lane.


Sadly, on route home, yet another dead BADGER on this stretch of road - at SU 982 993

Monday, 7 June 2010

MANDARIN success at Shardeloes Lake


The hot weather gave way to slightly cooler conditions, bringing overcast skies and later, in the evening, a band of rain from the west. The wind was in the west but fairly light.

I spent the day birding locally, mainly intent in adding Spotted Flycatcher to my Hertfordshire Yearlist. Thanks to Darin Stanley, I finally succeeded. Another high was finding a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nest.......


The nesting pair of Coot by the bridge have successfully fledged SEVEN young, all of which are now well grown.

(Evening visit; 2000-2100 hours; light rain throughout)

My first visit to the site in over 6 weeks and a very pleasing number of young wildfowl present, indicating an excellent breeding season. Water level is still very high, which is presumably the reason for such high successes.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (just 1 of the adults seen - other presumably at nest)
Little Grebe (pair at west end)
Grey Heron (2 on island)
Mute Swan (the adult male seen but not the female and the three first-summers from last year's nest)
Atlantic Canada Geese (12 adults with a creche of 23 goslings)
*MANDARIN DUCK (successful breeding: female with 4 ducklings)
Mallard (an excellent season, with 19 independent young and adult females accompanying 8, 6, 6, 4 and 8 ducklings respectively)
GADWALL (adult drake on island)
Tufted Duck (25 present with courtship noted)
NORTHERN POCHARD (two adult drakes and a female present)
Coot (36 adults noted)

COMMON SWIFTS (15 hawking over the lake in damp conditions)
HOUSE MARTINS (8 hawking)
Common Blackbird (male)
Song Thrush (singing male)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (singing male at west end)
Blue Tits (pair with fledged young)
Great Tit (pair with 4 fledged young)

Saturday, 5 June 2010


As the very hot weather was broken by heavy rain this evening, all 12 COMMON SWIFTS gathered over my house towards dusk - the largest party I have seen here this summer so far.