Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Thursday, 30 September 2010

GREYLAG GOOSE at Shardeloes



My first opportunity in many weeks to check Shardeloes Lake, with the main change being the increase in wildfowl numbers........

Great Crested Grebe (the single youngster still being fed by both parents)
Little Grebe (4)
Grey Heron (1)
Mute Swan (all 5 birds still present)
Atlantic Canada Goose (180 present)
GREYLAG GOOSE (1 with the Canadas)
Mallard (25)
Tufted Duck (3)
WATER RAIL (1 squealing)
Coot (45)
Red Kite (1)
Grey Wagtail
HOUSE MARTINS (36 at dusk)
Common Chiffchaff (2)
Long-tailed Tit (8)
Blue Tit (5)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go? The dilemma facing Wendover's WRYNECK this evening

That was the dilemma facing the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK this evening. After leaving the Ivinghoe Hills late afternoon, I returned once more to Bacomb, where from 1700 hours until dusk the bird was still showing exceptionally well, often down to just a few feet. It was once against commuting between the numerous active anthills on the tumulus and spent over two hours moving just 25 yards ! It was feeding voraciously and endlessly, probing its bill and then extending its tongue into the anthills and eating ant after ant, as well as the occasional Cranefly snatched from the ground. Well camouflaged, it fed without regard for its safety and was again enjoyed by large numbers of admirers - perhaps a further 80 observers before the sun faded (including several pin-stripe suited birders from Central London taking advantage of the Metropolitan line). Even birding royalty paid it homage today - a certain CDRH snooping by to take a look.

This really has been one of the birding events of all-time in Buckinghamshire - such a well-loved, well-enjoyed and cripplingly-showing rarity. Once again, I ensured its safety until dark, making sure it roosted safely in its chosen Beech tree for a fourth night (a bird such as this could be a sitting target for a local Sparrowhawk). It flew to roost at 1915 hours and kept on feeding until just seconds before. It must be really heavy by now after consuming so many ants. As darkness fell, it was another calm evening, although quite cloudy, with a light SSW wind - pretty ideal leaping conditions - but not as ideal as the last two moonlit nights.

Interestingly, viz-mig was still underway late this evening, with 11 Meadow Pipits south, and a total of 89 European Barn Swallows.

Prior to my visit to Wendover, I had tried to emulate Mike Wallen, who well-deservedly found the county's first migrant EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD of the year - a fine adult that must have roosted overnight at Ivinghoe - which flew off south shortly after dawn.

I put in a long spell of sky-watching over Ivinghoe Beacon but it was dire - virtually nothing moving apart from local breeding raptors and large numbers of Meadow Pipits and hirundines. I was certainly expecting an Osprey at the very least, especially considering the wind veering from light SSE during the late morning. Another bird I was keen to see was Mike's COMMON STONECHAT - but again no joy and believe it or not, I have still to see one in Bucks this year after they were hit for six during last winter's freeze-up.

Tony Howell obtained some awesome images of the Wryneck whilst with me on Tuesday and over the next few days I shall upload many of them on to my local blogs. If anyone else would like to showcase their images of this beauty, please do not hesitate to email me them - this really is a bird to be proud of photographing. A real treasure.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A Day in the life of a migrant WRYNECK - Wendover bird still present and showing handsomely

Disappointed with a no-show of a Bobolink in South Wales this morning, I decided to spend the day watching the Bacombe Hill Wryneck and viz-migging. It was a glorious day, with wall-to-wall sunshine, mainly clear skies and light southerly winds. I arrived on site at about 10.30am and remained until dusk, during which time the Wryneck was admired by a total of 86 people, including visitors from as far afield as Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey. Numerous individuals phoned me during the day, keen to see such a showy and charismatic bird and I agreed to stay on to keep tabs on it, with Rob Hill, Nik Maynard, Paul Moon and Darin Stanley all arriving late in the day.

The bird fed voraciously throughout the entire period of my stay, mainly feeding on the infestation of ants around the tumulus. Like many migrant Wrynecks, it was almost totally oblivious to visitors, wandering around the grass in the manner of a Lapland Bunting or Tree Pipit, and often at just feet range. Occasionally it would wander into more dense vegetation and to avoid losing it, I kept with it so that I could direct all further visitors (one ignorant bystander interpreted this as flushing the bird). It did flush on two brief occasions when it settled for a while in its roost Beech tree but throughout the afternoon, it moved slowly around its chosen circuit, barely moving more than 15 yards, and delighted observers with its comical antics. What a truly charasmatic bird and a wonder to watch. It finally went to roost in its favoured shrub at 1910 hours.

DIRECTIONS: Literally on the western outskirts of Wendover town, park on the first sharp right hand bend on the Ellesborough Road (room for just 5 vehicles) and continue along the footpath to the first gate and take the left hand of three tracks running parallel with the Ridgeway Trail. After 300 yards, this upper track brings you out at the tumuli.

It was an excellent day for migration and I was mightily impressed with the diurnal passage, with birds migrating south direct in a line from the Quainton Hills. The largest numbers were of the hirundines, with some 116 European Barn Swallows recorded, and 15 House Martins. Next off were the raptors, with a total of 22 Common Buzzards south (including a single kettle of 15 juveniles) and a single HOBBY. Five Red Kites also drifted over but they were more than likely local birds.

The best was a party of 6 SISKINS - my first of the autumn - with a final tally of 16 Chaffinches (mostly singletons but moving south throughout the day) and 3 Eurasian Skylarks. A single YELLOW WAGTAIL also went south.

In the scrub were 3+ MARSH TITS, several Coal Tits and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Just out of area MEGA - WRYNECK at Bacomb Hill, Wendover

Just got back from the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK which is showing extremely well feeding on the tumulus mounds just south and above the Ridgeway Trail (1030-1145 hours). It is a dark-eyed juvenile.


Park on the Ellesborough Road just SW of Wendover and follow the upper Ridgeway Trail SW along towards the Coombe Hill monument. To your left after 250 yards is the raised tumuli (at SP 862 072, where the WRYNECK is favouring and can be seen by looking back east from the minor trail that leads south. The bird is showing extremely well and returned even though being inadvertently flushed. A superb find.

There was much Vismig at the site involving Meadow Pipits, a few Bullfinch and Jays, whilst the Low Scrubs woodland held Marsh and Coal Tits and Goldcrests.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

STONECHAT at Penn Street

On Saturday, Andy Radford discovered the first COMMON STONECHAT of the year in the Recording Area - a male in the hedgerow north of Penn Street Farm

Sunday, 12 September 2010

WHINCHATS again at Penn Street Farm

I have been away from Amersham for the past 10 days but today (Sunday) I saw 3 WHINCHATS this evening, again in the hedgeline north of Pen Street Farm (and again found by Andy Radford)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

WHINCHAT delight

The 101st species in the Recording Area this year - WHINCHAT

High pressure still firmly in charge with continuing light NE winds. In fact, gorgeous early autumn weather and prime conditions for drift migrants. Prize of the day was an adult BLACK TERN and yet more WHINCHATS.........

In Hemel Hempstead town centre this morning, I recorded Grey Wagtail and 65 Feral Pigeons.


Andy Radford very kindly notified me of two WHINCHATS that he had discovered about half a mile north of Penn Street Farm yesterday evening and were still present this afternoon. They represented the first record of this species in my Recording Area this year so I made a concerted effort and met up with Andy early evening. One bird - a juvenile - was still showing very well and favouring the hedgerow in the valley in the vicinity of SU 925 962 - the hedgerow separating the stubble fields. The bird was repeatedly flycatching from the tops of the bushes.

Also noted were 4 Collared Doves, 3 Stock Doves, Woodpigeons, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Blue Tit.