Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Three GREAT CRESTED GREBES now back; first-ever WAXWINGS at Shardeloes and thrushes in full song


The dreary weather continued with light drizzle on and off all day. The wind veered to the NNE, knocking a few centigrade off the temperature. Everywhere, the ground is completely sodden.

Today, I decided to birdwatch in my home county, doing some more survey work and then concentrating on remaining target birds in North Bucks. Never made it to Milton Keynes, so still missing that elusive Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl..........


Sadly, a dead Badger was a roadside casualty just east of Little Chalfont by the A404 at TQ 006 978.

At Chenies Bottom bridge, the lagoon to the west held a Little Grebe and two drake COMMON TEAL, whilst the Chenies Place garden was still supporting the resident family of Mute Swans (pair and their three offspring from 2010), the adult female of which is 'T2L' - ringed on 13 March 2009 at the same site and first noticed by me on 27 August 2010. A Robin was in full song by the gardens whilst the resident Jackdaw flock numbered 46.

Walking east alongside Frogmore Meadow, a male Mistle Thrush was in full song, whilst Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jays, Common Blackbird and Blue Tit were all seen. As I approached the Cressbeds along the boardwalk, a party of 7 Long-tailed Tits moved noisily past and a Green Woodpecker 'yaffled'.

Crestyl Cressbeds at Sarratt Bottom held 3 LITTLE EGRETS and 11 Moorhens but no Green Sandpiper; Valley Farm produced the first Ring-necked Parakeet of the year and 8 Redwings flew west.

My first local MARSH TIT of the year was a typically vocal bird in the hedgerow bordering Wallace's Wood and by the time I had walked back to the bridge where I had first parked my car, 4 LITTLE EGRETS were now feeding together in the River Chess (with the 5th wintering individual down at Latimer Bridge).

So it was off to Great Water to count the wildfowl. I was greeted by a male Song Thrush in full song on my arrival and 12 Redwing flew over. The lake held 1 Little Grebe, 15 Mute Swans (1 first-winter), 126 Atlantic Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 12 Tufted Duck and 61 Coot; 1 near-adult Sinensis Cormorant flew downriver and a Common Buzzard was sat on a post.


Three GREAT CRESTED GREBES have now returned to the Recording Area, after an absence of just two months. Singles are now present on both the smaller and the larger of the two lakes. Otherwise though, very sparse, with just 13 Coot and a single drake Northern Pochard. Undoubted highlight was 83 SISKINS in the Alder trees - in two groups - 60 and 23.


Not visited for a while, I was delighted to add a new species to the Site List today. A flock of 28 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was feeding in the Mistletoe in the tall trees just left of the gate at the far west end of the lake. They were very high up in the tree and had first been discovered yesterday.

Also present was the first returning GREAT CRESTED GREBE on the lake (2nd day), the two adult Mute Swans (no sign of last year's three surviving offspring), 28 Mallard, 4 Tufted Duck (1 female), 7 drake Northern Pochards, 40 Coots and a Grey Heron.

A COMMON KINGFISHER was showing very well perched, whilst a WATER RAIL squealed, and loafing gulls including a 4th-winter Argenteus Herring Gull, 14 Common Gulls and 62 Black-headed Gulls.

A few Red Kites were drifting around, with another Mistle Thrush advertising its presence, a Yellowhammer and a party of 6 SISKINS that flew over.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

WAXWINGS increased in number


Another pretty miserable day weatherwise, with cold NW winds and intermittent rain all day. The light remained very poor and the rain got heavier throughout the afternoon.

After several false-starts, I finally got down to doing some target-birding in Bedfordshire.....


BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS returned to my village today with a vengeance; firstly, a small group of 4 appeared on the few remaining Pink Rowans by the entrance to the Anglo Office Park in White Lion Road and then, half an hour later, this figure increased to 18 - with an additional 26 in trees surrounding Shardeloes Lake early afternoon. None appeared to be colour-ringed.

In White Lion Road, a Mistle Thrush was acting very aggressively towards the flock.

WAXWINGS are back in village

A small group of 4 WAXWINGS has returned to Little Chalfont, feeding for their second day on the few remaining (and largely dried up) Pink Rowan berries by the entrance to the Anglo Office Park on White Lion Road in Little Chalfont (Lee Evans, Stuart & Lesley Wilson)


At least 6 WAXWINGS were by the Industrial Estate along White Lion Road yesterday morning (per Stuart & Lesley Wilson)

Friday, 21 January 2011



After a sharp frost, another cold day with clear blue skies and sunshine. Beautiful birding conditions.


Five 'fat' Woodpigeons now resident in the garden, 1 SONG THRUSH still (since early December), 3 Goldfinch, 4 Coal Tits and 2 Robins (incidentally sharing the same birdtable together - a rare sight)


Hogback Wood lies on the extreme western fringe of Beaconsfield and is a relatively small area of mixed deciduous and conifer woodland. What is has got is an enormous amount of Holly and it is this habitat which I feel is attracting the increasing number of FIRECRESTS - a species which is now resident in the Chiltern woodlands. This same habitat proves extremely productive for Firecrests in the New Forest in Hampshire.

Thanks to local birder Wally Smith, I eventually (after over two hours of searching) tracked down 3 wintering FIRECRESTS and a single Goldcrest. They were favouring an area of dense Holly scrub about 85 yards in from the gardens, accessed by walking down the main ride at the end of Woodside Road for 100 yards (parallel with the railway line) and then turning right by the crater and climbing up the slope for a further 35-50 yards where it meets the Holly. In fact, it is almost like a 'tunnel of Holly' here and extends for about 60 yards and this was by far the favoured area. Although they were largely silent today, they could be located by their distinctive calls.

I also recorded 8 Redwings, 10 Common Blackbirds, Nuthatch, 5 Coal Tits, 15 Blue Tits, 11 Great Tits, 4 Wrens, 2 Common Magpies, 2 Jays, 2 Robins, 8 Long-tailed Tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker in the wood.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


A light frost overnight and a welcome return to calm conditions. There was little wind all day and little cloud - in fact a glorious birding day. Not too cold either.


The LITTLE EGRET was still present in the roadside section of the Chess this morning, showing exceptionally well. Large numbers of Rooks were gathering close to the Rookery.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011



Another night of very heavy rain and consequently many roads were almost impassable first thing this morning. It was particularly bad in Chenies, as well as along Nightingales Lane in Little Chalfont.

Once the rain had moved through, a brisk NW wind cleared the air and it was cool and clear. Towards nightfall, a frost was likely.


All 3 LITTLE EGRETS are still present in the valley today, which was exceptionally flooded this morning with the river swollen. One was in ditches by the sewage works whilst the other two were in the Church Covert area.

The first SINENSIS CORMORANT of the year flew over Bois Mill Pond early morning, with a drake Tufted Duck and the pair of Mute Swans on there..


Chris Pontin discovered a returning GREAT CRESTED GREBE yesterday afternoon and the bird was still present on the larger of the two lakes today - the first of the year.

There were also 23 Tufted Ducks, 8 Northern Pochards and a Mute Swan present, with a male Song Thrush in full song

Monday, 10 January 2011

SHOVELER is replaced by another


As the day wore on, a warm front approached from the west bringing heavy cloud and strong southerly winds, eventually pushing the temperature to over 10 degrees C. The wind was quite hindering and affected any small bird sightings. I spent the day in Buckinghamshire and after a lot of effort added 7 new birds for the Bucks year - Common Snipe, PEREGRINE, Linnet, BLACK-NECKED GREBE, Bullfinch, Common Goldeneye and BITTERN.


The adult drake SHOVELER of last week has been replaced by a first-year drake - a very rare species indeed in the Chess Valley. A drake Pochard was also present, along with 4 Tufted Duck, with both Robin and Great Tit in full song. A male Common Kestrel was seen, with 2 Pied Wagtails wintering in gardens across the road.

A Red Kite was by the Aylesbury Bypass, with two more over Waddesdon, but there was no sign of the 29 Waxwings opposite the Shanks car recycling yard on Griffin Lane when I drove by.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

GOOSANDER and SHOVELER still present in Chesham

Chris Pontin saw both the redhead GOOSANDER (smaller of the two fishing lakes) and drake SHOVELER (Pow Wow Lake) today

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


The map above virtually embraces all of the Amersham Recording Area - from SP/SU 860 westing/TQ 050 easting to Su 890 on its southern limit to SP 07 on its northern limit.

Wintering BLACKCAP in Little Chalfont

Stuart and Lesley Williams had a male BLACKCAP visit their Little Chalfont garden today, along with a single SISKIN, a whopping 60 Goldfinches and several Greenfinches; they have also had LESSER REDPOLL and MARSH TIT recently.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

LAPWINGS and Winter Thrushes


Despite a fresh SW wind, it remained very cold; in fact, I was surprised how cold the wind was. It was dry throughout and fairly bright.


Driving east along the A404, I was surprised to see a flock of 12 LAPWINGS feeding to the south of the road at TQ 007 976 - the first record this winter in the local area.

On the opposite side of the road and either side of the access road to Great House Farm (TQ 014 983) were large numbers of winter thrushes feeding, including 140 Redwing and 15 Fieldfares. There were also 15 Common Starlings and 8 Long-tailed Tits in the trees lining the track.

NORTHERN SHOVELER at the Pow Wow Lake in Chesham


Another frosty start leaving a pleasant dry day. Another day spent trying to catch up on birds remaining present from the Christmas week.....


A single LITTLE EGRET was east of Bois Mill, 2 Mute Swans were in Lowndes Park and 43 WAXWINGS were still present in the Broadway (although had largely stripped the Rowan trees bare).

The most exciting find was an adult drake NORTHERN SHOVELER - present with 12 Mallard and a pair of Gadwall on the Pow Wow Lake - a very rare bird in the Recording Area averaging just one occurrence per year. Chris Pontin discovered it whilst walking the dog and I was able to connect with it later after he texted me. A superb start to the year with Goosander, Common Teal and Shoveler recorded.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

MANDARIN at Shardeloes; WAXWINGS still in Chesham Broadway


A roundup of sightings in the relatively local area today

A much brighter day than of late but several degrees cooler. In fact, there was a slight frost overnight. It remained bright all day, with very light winds - in fact very pleasant all round.

I spent today 'mopping up' on a few local Year-ticks and checking out some late December 2010 rarities......Undoubted highlight was a flock of BARNACLE GEESE....

JUBILEE RIVER, TAPLOW (Bucks section between Amerden Lane and Marsh Lane) (park at SU 915 803)

I first checked the grass field SSW of Amerden Lane, where grazing in the field were 25 Mute Swans, 2 Greylag Geese and 120 Atlantic Canada Geese; the 8 Egyptian Geese had all moved on.

The field also held 372 Woodpigeons.

The Amerden Scrapes and river held 6 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Grey Heron, several Sinensis Cormorants, 2 Gadwall, 9 Eurasian Wigeon, 130 Tufted Ducks and numerous Coot, with Ring-necked Parakeet recorded, as well as Jay, Great Tit and 2 Eurasian Skylarks that flew over.

Driving around to Marsh Lane Weir, I soon found the geese. As luck would have it, 15 of the EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE had flown from the field to drink on the river and were affording some exceptional views. This 15 held 5 adults and 10 juveniles.

The other three birds (a pair with a single juvenile) were still feeding amongst the 186-strong Greylag Geese flock SW of the car park in the field. A single adult Bar-headed Goose was also with them.

Checking the Jubilee River from here added 8 Mute Swans (including 5 first-winters), 6 Gadwall, 2 Northern Pochards and a few Moorhens, along with a Grey Wagtail at the weir, 5 more flyover Skylarks, several Fieldfare and 9 Lapwings.

At 1135 hours, a flock of 15 BARNACLE GEESE appeared from the east and attempted to land with the Greylags. They circled the field twice but then headed off SSE towards Dorney Rowing Lakes before veering east and following the Jubilee River course along. They circled Dorney Wetlands briefly before eventually flying off SW over Dorney Common. I am assuming that they are part of the huge displacement of Continental Barnacle Geese currently being undertaken in Southern England, with flocks of over 100 birds appearing at various localities along the South Coast, from East Sussex to Dorset and South Devon. They were calling constantly as they were flying around. The only non-naturalised birds in the area is the flock at Eversley GP.


A further 460 Tufted Ducks were click-counted on the section of Jubilee River between Marsh Lane and the weir to the west of Moores Lane, along with 6 Shoveler, 50+ Eurasian Wigeon, a single Common Teal, 25 Mute Swans and an island filled with 104 Lapwing. Meadow Pipit and Redwing were both new for the year.

East and west of Moores Lane, i recorded 3 female SMEWS but no drake.


Although largely frozen, I was most surprised to find all of the resident MANDARIN DUCKS present on the Upper Pond - a total of 25 birds (15 adult drakes).

The adjacent woodland yielded Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Jay, Wren, Robin, Great Tit and Blue Tit.

BURTLEY WOOD (BUCKS) (A355) (SU 950 884)

A Red Kite was repeatedly swooping down to feed on a dead cock Common Pheasant on the southbound verge of the A355.

(permit access only)

All of the water was frozen and much of the rubbish largely covered. Not one gull was to be seen so I made to by click-counting the corvids - a staggering 334 Carrion Crows present, either feeding on the rubbish or roosting in the trees surrounding the pits. A total of 13 Red Kites were seen, along with Skylark, Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush.


I was surprised to see tipping being carried out on a Sunday and from the entrance to the site, careful scrutiny could be made of the large number of birds taking advantage.

Again, corvid numbers were impressive, with a further 424 Carrion Crows click-counted, along with 44 Red Kites scavenging and 100 Common Starlings.

The gull flock comprised at least 2,400 individuals - the bulk of them Black-headed. Not a single Common Gull to be seen but 430 Herring Gulls (including a surprising number of Argenteus - perhaps 50%), 73 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 53 Great Black-backed Gulls (including a few first-winters).


Well what a difference a few days make. Penn Wood today was very unproductive - no Woodcock, Bullfinch, redpolls or Hawfinch - in fact very little and hardly worth the effort - 7 Jays, Nuthatch, 4 Goldcrests and a Muntjac.

Nearby, where the Penn Bottom lane joins the main A413 east of Hazlemere, 2 Redwings were feeding on the verge - the first I have seen locally this year (since the snow, numbers of this species have diminished in the Amersham District).


More Corvid counting - this time Jackdaws - 302 of them feeding in a field 300 yards east of Mop End Farm.


Still virtually frozen over apart from a small section at the west end. Remarkably though, worth the visit, as two adult drake MANDARIN DUCKS were present - a scarce species in the locale. Just 8 Coots remained, with the gull roost on the ice harbouring 76 Black-headed Gulls and 8 adult Common Gulls. An adult Mute Swan was standing isolated in one of the neighbouring fields with 2 Red Kites roosting in a dead tree by the access roundabout.

FULLER'S HILL, CHESHAM (BUCKS) - 3 Long-tailed Tits in a roadside hedgerow


A group of 4 Moorhens were feeding on the grass by the stream.

(with David Bilcock & Roy Hargreaves)

A late afternoon visit. Not much change from yesterday although wildfowl click-counting revealed the presence of 317 Common Teal, 239 Wigeon and 134 Northern Pochard; 12 Mute Swans remain as do a single Little Grebe, just 4 Great Crested Grebes and 8 NORTHERN PINTAILS (4 adult drakes).

A redhead GOOSANDER was on the ice-free section by the hide (Ian Williams had seen two earlier in the day) and the gull roost produced over 1,600 Black-headed, 96+ Common and 4 Lesser Black-backs. David did superb in picking out a standing roosting adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL - presumably the same bird last seen in early December.

(with David & Roy, as well as Mike Campbell and Stuart Wilson; at least 12 others were also present)

For the second night running, one of the wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS chose to roost halfway up the hedgerow at the back of the reedbed - almost directly opposite the hide -allowing everybody present an opportunity to see it It remained there into darkness. We also saw the second bird - flying from left to right at the back of the reedbed at 1630 hours.

The resident BARN OWL also put in an appearance - hunting over the rank vegetation east of the sewage farm - and as dusk approached, TAWNY OWLS became very active in the tall trees bordering the compound - two birds at least calling.

Only a single WATER RAIL squealed and there was no sound of any Cetti's Warblers (although Ian had earlier seen the Wilstone individual as well as 54 roosting Corn Buntings).

Saturday, 1 January 2011

GOOSANDER starts New Year off in style


Virtually all of the lying snow has now melted but on the lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, thick ice is still prevalent and many sites are still not ice-free. It was another reasonably mild day though (temperatures reaching 7 degrees C) but very dreary and grey, with rain moving in during the afternoon.

The undoubted highlight of the day was a RED-THROATED DIVER in Bedfordshire, found by Roy Nye.


At 0400 hours, two TAWNY OWLS were calling to each other in the tall trees opposite the house, whilst later at 0800 hours, the lawn and feeders yielded Woodpigeon (4), Collared Dove, the continuing Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Common Starling, Jackdaw, House Sparrow (34), Blue Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail (adult male), Goldfinch (1) and Common Magpie.


A total of 82 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was still present in Chesham Broadway, continuously commuting between the tall trees behind the Station car park and the Rowan trees in front of Waterstones book shop. On occasions, the birds showed very well and were constantly entertaining the general public as they were walking by. Both Red Kite and Black-headed Gull were overhead.


The large lake was still completely frozen but the smaller had just one restricted area of open water. As I scanned its contents, I was amazed to see a redhead GOOSANDER present in amongst the 8 Northern Pochard and 3 Tufted Ducks. This is a very rare bird in the Recording Area and the first for several years. It was showing very well and diving frequently. I telephoned Chris Pontin who lives just across the road from the site and he managed to see it before it was flushed inadvertently by dogwalkers. It lasted all of ten minutes !

A single LITTLE EGRET was also noted (fishing in the shallow stream behind the houses), along with 5 Mute Swans (family party of two adults and three surviving young), 28 Mallard, just 4 Coot, Moorhen, 18 Black-headed Gulls, Wren, Robin, Great Tit and Coal Tit.

A GREY WAGTAIL was feeding on the stream by the entrance whilst the Birches held 46 SISKINS and a few Goldfinches.


Up to 184 Black-headed Gulls were present, whilst opposite 75 Rooks were gathered on the grass fields. It is interesting to see how many Rooks are already attending the nests.

Nearby, an adult Mute Swan was surviving at Bois Mill Lake.


A second LITTLE EGRET was feeding in shallow water just east of Latimer Bridge, with Common Kestrel and Chaffinch noted nearby.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in Latimer Village, as were the resident flock of 20 Fan-tailed Doves.

The section of River Chess between Neptune Falls and Latimer Bridge held 2 Mute Swans, 10 Tufted Duck, 10 Northern Pochard, 8 Coot and 2 Wrens, whilst the fully ice-free Great Water held 86 Atlantic Canada Geese, a single GREYLAG GOOSE, a further 13 Mute Swans, 17 GADWALL (a high count for this site), 7 Tufted Duck, 6 Northern Pochard, 34 Coots, Grey Heron, 68 Black-headed Gulls and an adult Common Gull.

The slopes held a pair of Stock Dove and 7 Mistle Thrushes, whilst other species noted included Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch and 2 Carrion Crows.


A third wintering LITTLE EGRET was present in its usual area of river by Church Covert whilst the wide section of water just west of the hamlet produced an excellent 4 COMMON TEAL (3 drakes) (another very scarce bird in the locale), a Little Grebe and a Grey Heron. Two Robins were present at Mill Farm Barns but there was no sign of the two Common Stonechats present before the freeze.


Sadly, a very freshly killed Badger was lying beside the A 416 almost opposite the entrance to Haresfoot School at SP 882 064.