Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Just out of area - calling COMMON QUAIL


Well the last day of July was yet another hot day with some clear periods and a light SW wind. Some light rain had fallen during the early morning but that hardly made any affect on the scorched and parched grass. Thanks to Mike Collard and his tetrad atlassing, I was finally able to add COMMON QUAIL to my County Year List......


Having not checked this site in a few months, thought I had better complete a summer census, despite most breeding birds now having departed.

The lake itself held 1 Mute Swan, 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 14 Mallard, 33 Coot (including 3 juveniles), 8 Moorhen (including 4 juveniles), 1 Lapwing, 1 Black-headed Gull, 2 Stock Doves and 1 European Barn Swallow, whilst the woodland edge yielded Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Treecreeper, Common Chiffchaff, Common Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Wren and Carrion Crow.

The undoubted highlight was an adult HOBBY (in heavy wing moult) which kept flying back and forth over the lake catching insects.


Following up Dave Cleal's sightings of yesterday evening, I was delighted to confirm LITTLE RINGED PLOVER nesting at the site - a female feeding two very small juveniles - as well as COMMON RAVEN nesting - a pair attending two juveniles in the quarry.

Once again, 2 Common Buzzards, 6+ Red Kites and a myriad of large white-headed gulls were feeding on the newly laid rubbish, the latter containing at least 65 argenteus Herring Gulls (predominantly first-summers) and several YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

A Song Thrush was also seen.


Whilst at Springfield Quarry, I received a message relating to a COMMON QUAIL near Little Hampden. As this was still a species I had not recorded in Bucks this year (dipped 4 so far), I made my way straight over. The grid reference provided was SP 862 023 but when I got there, this clearly was not the location. Fortunately, Neil Fletcher had phoned the record in and through RBA it was easy enough to raise him. He eventually managed to talk his way through the directions and at long, long last, I was finally able to add COMMON QUAIL to the Bucks Year List. It was repeatedly calling from a wheat field to the west of the Little Hampden road, 300 yards south of the church, from 1430-1500 hours and its exact location is at SP 863 003.

The same field also yielded Common Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge (pair), with 3 singing male Yellowhammers in the vicinity.

I then decided to explore the Icknield Way and walked from Little Hampden church (SP 861 035), north through Little Hampden Common wood, past Little Hampden Farm all the way to Dunsmore Old Farm (SP 859 050). This was largely mixed woodland, with both coniferous and deciduous growth.

Species recorded included GOLDCREST (2 family parties totalling 10 birds), MARSH TIT (pair by Hampden Farm), Coal Tit (3 family parties), Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Wren, Common Chiffchaff (1), Common Blackbird, Common Buzzard (4), Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Green Woodpecker, and Jay (3), as well as Comma and Red Admiral.


Little Grebes had successfully bred at this site (1 juveniles), with other species recorded including Mute Swan (pair), Atlantic Canada Goose (pair), Mallard (5), Tufted Duck (female), Coot and Moorhen

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

First juvenile WILLOW WARBLER of the autumn as McMinn's second SWALLOW brood fledges


A few light rain showers during the morning followed by very humid and cloudy conditions. Dark clouds gathered again early evening. I spent the day searching for Yellow Wagtail in my local Recording Area but without success (these next four weeks are optimum for this species). Autumn is fast approaching now with my local Common Swifts sadly now departed (after an excellent breeding season) and the first juvenile Willow Warbler of the fall appearing.........


The nesting European Barn Swallows have now all fledged with the three juveniles all lined up along the wires (second brood)


Little change apart from a rise in Great Crested Grebe numbers and the first migrant Willow Warbler of the autumn.....

Great Crested Grebe (a third adult has arrived to join the resident pair)
Little Grebe (two pairs and two independent juveniles)
Grey Heron (2)
Mute Swan (4 present - the 3 first-summers and the resident cob)
Mallard (20 with one female accompanying 7 ducklings)
Coot (99)
Moorhen (10 including 4 juveniles)

Red Kite (6 including 2 recently fledged juveniles from one of the park nests)
Little Owl (1 calling from the orchard)
Green Woodpecker
Common Magpie
Pied Wagtail (2 adult males and an adult female on the cricket ground)
European Barn Swallow (family party of 4 birds)
Common Blackbird (male)
Common Chiffchaff (6)
WILLOW WARBLER* (single bright yellow juvenile in the Sallows - the first migrant of the autumn)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (adult and juvenile still present in the Sallows at the west end of the lake)
Goldfinch (6)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

RAVENS in Hawridge

Charlie Jackson saw 3 COMMON RAVENS in the Hawridge area over the weekend, involving at least one young bird.

The number of Common Swifts in Little Chalfont are diminishing daily, from 8 yesterday to just 5 today - soon they will be gone again for another nine months ! I always become a little depressed when they finally leave and it certainly means that autumn passage is now among us. Will I survive long enough to intercept them on their winter quarters this year? I hope so.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Future of SAND MARTIN colony safeguarded


Negligeable wind, coming from a northerly direction. Still very warm but very overcast and few bright periods. Checked out a few local sites......


Colony of House Sparrows by farm buildings.


I returned to this site after Dave Cleal and I discovered a huge breeding colony of SAND MARTINS earlier in the month. Visiting today, I was concerned for the second broods, as work was ongoing on extracting sand just 75 yards away. I contacted the RSPB and Mark Thomas very kindly telephoned the owners of the site for me and arranged a meeting. The Site Manager was a certain Brian Stevens and I was soon overwhelmed by the incredible interest and concern that was shown for the Sand Martins. He very kindly accompanied me and took me on a tour of the site and in all, 174 nest burrows were located - 137 of which were still active. On my previous visit to the site - at dusk on 14 July - I had counted an incredible 405 Sand Martins at the site, making it far and away the largest colony in the county. The future of the Sand Martins was safeguarded and I really must thank Brian for his interest and hospitality.

Other species recorded during an hour-long survey included 4 Atlantic Canada Geese, 24 Red Kites, a fresh juvenile Common Buzzard, 43 Argenteus Herring Gulls, 7 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (third-years and older), 77 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Green Woodpecker, European Barn Swallow, Magpie, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, 5 juvenile Great Tits, Linnet and male Yellowhammer.


Successful breeding record of European Barn Swallow - pair feeding young on wires at farm


This Boxmoor Trust Reserve lies between Pudds Cross and Bovingdon Green and is an area of overgrown brick pit workings now covered in Elder and bramble scrub.

Species noted included Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Wren, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Common Whitethroat (3 fledged broods), Blackcap (2 broods), Common Chiffchaff (15+), Linnet (3), Bullfinch, Dunnock, Robin, Greenfinch, Common Buzzard and Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile)


Male Pied Wagtail on farm buildings


A male Grey Wagtail showing well at the bridge

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Great Crested Grebes at the smaller of the two Chesham Fishing Lakes have disappeared as well as their two young. One pair remains on the larger lake (Mike Lawrence)


The second brood of this year and a very successful nest..... (Chris Pontin)



Another very hot day with temperatures reaching 84 degrees F in the early afternoon. No sign of any rain but wind picked up late afternoon and thick cloud cover then moved in. I managed 67 species today, with SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS finally recorded in my immediate area for this year........

(walked from Forest Cottages west through wood to Round Wood and Raan's Farm and then returned via the Saw Mill footpath to Bell Lane)

Red Kite (pair feeding young at edge of Round Wood)
Woodpigeon (15)
Green Woodpecker (1)
European Barn Swallow (successful breeding at Raan;s Farm - family of 5 birds)
House Martin (2 over the wood)
Eurasian Skylark (singing male in cereal field immediately west of Lane Wood)
Robin (7 along the trail in scrub behind Bell Lane school)
Common Blackbird (5+ including two males by the Raan's Farm paddocks)
Song Thrush (7 birds noted in total with breeding proved)
Wren (3)
Common Whitethroat (family party of 4 birds just west of Lane Wood)
Common Chiffchaff (adult giving anxiety calls along trail behind the Saw Mill)
GOLDCREST (6 - all in one family group by Forest Cottages)
Blue Tits (5 - family party)
Coal Tit (2)
Great Tit (3)
*MARSH TIT (1 with the tit flock by Forest Cottage)
Nuthatch (1)
Magpie (10+, with 3 juveniles in the paddocks by Raan's Farm)
Jay (2 juveniles along Saw Mill Trail and further birds by Forest Cottages)
Carrion Crow (4)
Jackdaw (2 juveniles)
Greenfinch (3)
Goldfinch (2)
Linnet (5 - breeding in hedgerows by Raan's Farm and 4 together in the clearing just west of Lane Wood)
Yellowhammer (pair feeding young in scrub in clearing just west of Lane Wood and an additional singing male in hedgerows north of Raan's Farm)

Common Shrew (2 in Lane Wood)

Speckled Wood Butterflies (35+)
Chalkhill Blue (1)
Gatekeepers (25+)


The Common Swift colony increased in number to 28 birds today whilst House Sparrows were proved breeding at 46 Bell Lane.


Great Crested Grebe (just 1 adult noted; ominously now none to be found on smaller lake)
Mute Swan (first-summer still present)
Atlantic Canada Goose (28)
Mallard (female with 4 small young)
Tufted Duck (2 females)
Coots (pairs with 3 tiny young and 2, 1 and 1 larger fledged young)
Western Reed Warblers (3+)
Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff
Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit
Jackdaw (86 in post-breeding flock - large number of fledged juveniles)

On the neighbouring Pow-Wow Lake were 12 Mallard, 2 Moorhen and 2 Coots, whilst a family of Goldcrests was in hedgerows and trees bordering McMinn's and Red Admiral, 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS and Coal Tit along the Riverside Walk.

LATIMER ROAD: In the vicinity of Bois Mill, two freshly dead Badgers, one a small youngster.


Still 9 active HOUSE MARTIN nests on 'The Village House' with a total of 26 birds counted, whilst between Neptune Falls and Latimer Bridge were Little Grebe, 1 Mute Swan, a pair of Coot with 1 surviving youngster and Green Woodpecker.

On Great Water itself, Grey Heron, 20 Mute Swans (including an adult tending 1 cygnet), 30 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Little Grebes, 12 Tufted Duck and 30 Coot (including a pair with 4 young).

A nest was found of the usual pair of Common Kestrels, the female attending noisy young in a nest hole (presumably ready to fledge)


Despite an extensive search, no sign today of the summering female Common Goldeneye (seen yesterday by Paul Lewis). Species noted included Great Crested Grebe (15 including the sole juvenile), 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 1 Mute Swan, GADWALL (13, including a female with two small young), Tufted Duck (females with broods of 4, 8 & 5 respectively), NORTHERN POCHARD (female with two young and an additional female), Moorhen, Coot (88 including pair with 2 young on river), 5 Black-headed Gulls (2 juveniles), COMMON KINGFISHER, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Sand Martins, 3 Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackcaps, a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and 2 SEDGE WARBLERS in sedge and reedmace by the river.


A routine check revealed the presence of 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS - the first to be recorded in the Amersham District this year. A pair was feeding two spotty young in the Willows and thick vegetation at the western end of the lake.

Also noted were -:

Great Crested Grebe (the resident pair but still no young)
Little Grebe (a well-grown juvenile present, presumably moved in from elsewhere in the Misbourne; 2+ adults too)
Grey Heron (3)
Mute Swan (the resident pair and all 3 of last year's offspring still present)
Atlantic Canada Geese (22)
Mallard (females with 8 and 7 young respectively)
Gadwall (1 female at the west end)
Tufted Duck (female with 4 small young plus 2 females)
Moorhen (6)
Coot (115)
Stock Dove (2)
Green Woodpecker (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (2)
Common Swift (noticeable passage involving 30 birds)
Pied Wagtail (male on the cricket pitch)
Robin (fledged family party in gatehouse garden)
Song Thrush (adult gathering food)
MISTLE THRUSH (post-breeding flock of 18 mixed adult and juvenile birds feeding on cricket ground)
COMMON WHITETHROAT (a singing male was in scrub by the Misbourne 100 yards west of the main lake - a scarce species at Shardeloes Estate)
Carrion Crow (5)
Goldfinch (5)
Greenfinch (3)


A female Tufted Duck with 5 small young was a nice record, with an additional adult female in tow, with 5 Coots (3 young) and 8 Moorhens (4 young).

Monday, 19 July 2010

A scream of SWIFTS

An astounding 23 COMMON SWIFTS were wheeling noisily round and round Chaffinch House this evening, indicating a brilliant breeding season.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Surprise flock of LAPWING this evening

As I drove past St Clement Dane School Playing Fields in West Chorleywood this evening, I was amazed to see a flock of 20 post-breeding LAPWINGS present - only the second record in my Recording Area this year and the first flock. There were also 98 Common Starlings feeding in one flock (including 31 juveniles), 5 Pied Wagtails and 52 Black-headed Gulls

More local survey work - surprise July COMMON RAVEN


A lot more rain fell today, with showers continuing on and off until late afternoon. Temperatures remained quite high and the wind was in the southwest. I carried out more breeding season survey work today, highlights being nesting House Martins, Marsh Tits and a wandering Common Raven....


On the River Chess by Water Lane bridge (SP 958 013), a pair of Moorhens was feeding 3 young. Close by, at the junction of Fullers Hill and Wey Lane (SP 958 012), I was delighted to discover two active nests of HOUSE MARTINS on the eaves of the corner house, the owner informing me that a colony had existed there for at least 44 years ! This same area also held breeding Collared Dove and HOUSE SPARROW (1 pair), whilst 8 Common Swifts were overhead.

Chesham has a thriving breeding population of Western Jackdaws utilising the chimney pots - totalling at least 30 pairs (including 3 pairs opposite the Queen's Head and numerous pairs in Bellingdon Road).

A total of 43 pairs of HOUSE SPARROW was located in Chesham, with the core populations on Lansdowne Road, Mount Nugent, Berkhampstead Road and on Vale Road; a further 6 Common Swifts were in the Evangelical Church area on the main road.


The most unexpected sighting here was of a loud cronking COMMON RAVEN that flew NE over the Rose & Crown public house and main road, constituting my first this month. It was missing a few flight feathers.

The woodland strip here held 11 singing male Wrens, Chaffinch with young, Greenfinch, Common Blackbird, Blackcap (feeding fledged young), a singing male Common Chiffchaff and families of both Great and Blue Tits.

I found an excellent new plantation area of young conifers (at SP 944 069) and this harboured Green Woodpecker and young, a family party of 6 Linnets (plus another pair), 5 Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinches and a singing male YELLOWHAMMER. There were two Red Kites overflying the area too.

On the northern outskirts of the Common, a pair of European Barn Swallows were nesting in a horse barn and both family parties of Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff were noted. A Eurasian Skylark was singing nearby.


This extensive tract of woodland is best known for its bumper Edible Dormouse population, bolstered by the provision of several hundred nestboxes (for full details, read the following I decided to visit today to carry out an extensive bird survey, the woodland consisting of a wide variety of native and ornamental trees including Douglas Fir, Coast Redwood, Dam Redwood, Norway Spruce, Sessile Oak, Common Oak and Cherry. Most species have now ceased singing but I did manage to prove nesting for Dunnock, Jay, Common Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, Wren and Coal Tit (3 family parties). Two different Goldcrests were found but remarkably no Firecrests. There were numerous Badger setts in the wood.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Lodge Lane fields harvested


Well, we finally got the rain that we were forecast and that which was desperately needed. It was on and off all day but did not amount to much.

Joan T was keen to see some of my EDIBLE DORMICE so we arranged to meet and I showed her two of the adults. At the same time, we checked out a private area and talking to another birdwatcher we met, was delighted to confirm breeding RUDDY DUCK - a female accompanying five quite well grown chicks - fantastic news.

We also saw an excellent selection of waterfowl including 121+ Gadwall (including many young), at least 4 broods of Northern Pochard (5, 5, 3 & 3), a pair of eclipse-plumaged SHOVELER, at least 6 broods of Tufted Duck (the largest of 7), a pair of Mute Swan with one cygnet, 8+ Little Grebes including 4 young, Sparrowhawk, 66 Black-headed Gulls (including 8 juveniles), Common Terns (feeding 3 chicks) and male Common Kingfisher.

In Lodge Lane, Little Chalfont, the fields opposite Cross Lane Farm had been mowed and harboured 4 Stock Doves, 11 Carrion Crows (including numerous juveniles), 3 Red Kites and a total of 10 European Barn Swallows (including two locally fledged family groups)


A minimum of four EDIBLE DORMICE invaded last night, creating havoc with the bird seed, scattering it in all directions

Garden Activity

Bounty of activity in the garden this morning with the juvenile Common Blackbird still being fed, 4 Goldfinches on the Nyger, a procession of visiting juvenile Blue and Great Tits and two RED KITES at the pond


Some great images recently taken by top bird photographer Mike Lawrence

Friday, 9 July 2010

GOLDFINCHES still, but some COMMON SWIFTS on the move

A rather uneventful week locally, apart from a slight southerly movement of Common Swifts. The two Goldfinches have visited the Nyger seed all week and 8 Common Swifts remain about the house.

Black-headed Gulls numbered 27 by Chesham Sewage Farm on Thursday.

Monday, 5 July 2010

MEGA: COMMON TERN over Chesham Fishing Lakes

The Late Afternoon Shift

After revelling in the record flock of local Common Sandpipers of the early afternoon, I ventured out this evening to check on a few breeders and the summering Goldeneye. I was not expecting a second event in the valley - the first Common Tern in over ten years.......


The summering female COMMON GOLDENEYE was still present, diving frequently in the middle of the pit. There were also 12 Great Crested Grebes present and most importantly, one pair were attending two chicks (JT please note, as I believe it is a new breeding record for this square)

Tufted Ducks have had another good season with four broods recorded - of 10, 2, 4 and 3 ducklings. Coot numbers totalled 144.


I visited the Tern Hide with the intention of surveying the success on the rafts. The Black-headed Gulls have done very well - two well grown juveniles on the right hand raft, with 3 and 2 less developed chicks on the left hand. In terms of Common Tern, 1 juvenile had fledged and was on the wing, with one well grown unattended chick on the left raft and another very small chick with one parent. There were at least five active nests on the right raft but because of the high vegetation, it was not possible to determine success.


Chris Pontin 'phoned at 1945 hours to say that he was watching a COMMON TERN at the lakes - a surprisingly rare vagrant to the Chess Valley and the first in over ten years. I rushed over to join Chris and from 1955-2005 hours, the tern - an adult - was commuting back and forth and fishing between the two lakes - a superb record and the 94th species recorded in the Valley this year.

All four Great Crested Grebes were still present, along with the single Mute Swan, an adult COMMON KINGFISHER and the family party of Common Chiffchaffs. A further pair of WESTERN REED WARBLERS (the third pair on site) have fledged young.


Common Sandpipers (Gary Thoburn)

Another very warm day but fairly cloudy. The fresh SSW wind of yesterday had died down though. Whilst in the middle of writing a Norfolk River Warbler Rare Bird Alert, I received a phone call from Stuart and Lesley Wilson informing me of a staggering four COMMON SANDPIPERS on the Chess River Valley at Neptune Falls - the first in the Recording Area this year and a large count for the valley. As soon as I could, I raced down there......


I arrived at Neptune Falls early afternoon and apart from two recently fledged juvenile GREY WAGTAILS feeding on the weir, there was no sign of the Common Sandpipers. I checked the immediate section of River Chess, recording both Coot (pair feeding just one surviving young) and Tufted Duck (female still with 4 young) but still no Common Sandpipers.

I then decided to check Great Water and was very relieved to find the birds just 200 yards upstream of the weir - in the vicinity of the second wooden jetty. Incredibly, there were not only four COMMON SANDPIPERS but a total of EIGHT - all roosting together - the highest number I have ever recorded in one single flock in the Valley. It was a mixture of ages, including both adult and juvenile birds. I telephoned Stuart, Joan T, Dave Bilcock and Simon Nichols to inform them of the find.

In addition to the sandpipers, Mistle Thrushes were feeding young in front of the Latimer Hall, 2 juvenile Green Woodpeckers were seen, a family of NUTHATCHES moved through and on the lake itself, Little Grebe, 16 Tufted Ducks and a family group of 7 Coot were noted.

Nearby, I checked the HOUSE MARTIN colony in Latimer village - 9 nests still active with noisy young.

Saturday, 3 July 2010


JULY 2010


Some light relief early on when a band of light drizzle passed across the Chilterns. The heat soon returned though and by late afternoon, it was muggy and hot again. Temperatures peaked at 28 degrees C, although the sun struggled to break through the heavy cloud.

I reserved today to do a full circuit of North Buckinghamshire and eventually recorded 68 species. Highlights included breeding TREE SPARROW, YELLOW WAGTAIL and new HOUSE MARTIN colonies but biggest disappointment was failing to locate the breeding Goosanders and again failing to find Grey Partridge.....


Chris Pontin and I counted 83 spikes of Pyrammidal Orchids in the field just adjacent to Hodd's Wood (see photographs above), along with large numbers of Marbled White butterflies. A Song Thrush was singing loudly from the wood.

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Three juvenile GREY WAGTAILS fledged today on the River Chess, spending most of the afternoon on the roof at McMinn's Yard (Chris Pontin)