Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

More SPOTTED FLYS, first LESSER WHITETHROAT of year and baby GREBES doing well


The last day of May started off rather chilly and overcast (with the odd light shower) but as the day progressed, a ridge of high pressure moved in from the Southeast bringing clear skies, sunshine and increasing temperatures. As such, it was a very pleasant evening.

Apart from a brief excursion to Bedfordshire, most of my time was spent locally, where I was delighted to see more SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and an abundance of HOUSE SPARROWS.......


Thanks to Joan Thompson, I was able to add some very important local sightings to my immediate Recording Area.

In Church Lane, as you approach Sarratt from Church End, I was very pleased to find two nesting pairs of HOUSE MARTINS under the eaves of number 46, a nesting pair of Goldfinches and 5 pairs of House Sparrows in the vicinity of number 26 (TL 043 990).

In nearby Dawes Lane, another colony of House Sparrows were located in the dense hedgerow by number 13

Dawes Common (at TL 036 993) is a tiny but diverse woodland tract with Oak, Birch, Cherry, Hornbeam and Rowan growing within it, whilst several open areas have grass, bracken and remnant gorse and are retained for their flora and insect interest. JT had been surveying this tract as part of her tetrad atlas work and had discovered a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER - a very scarce bird in my Recording Area these days. Imagine my delight at finding not just one but four birds in the wood (two separate pairs) - this location once being a regular haunt of this species. Excellent views were obtained, the birds being particularly vocal, at one stage the male investigating an old dilapitated nestbox.

Breeding was further proved for Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Treecreeper (several young birds being fed), Mistle Thrush, Common Blackbird, Wren, European Robin, Blue Tit, Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap. A pair of Jays was also present, whilst the adjacent field held 17 Woodpigeons and 3 Common Swifts flying overhead..

Sarratt was a haven for House Sparrows, with more breeding pairs located in Doumer Drive and more birds in the main village - in fact, the final total was of 74 birds (37 breeding pairs). A further 5 pairs were noted in neighbouring Chipperfield village.


A garden in Green Lane, Bovingdon, held a further nesting pair of Goldfinches whilst Bovingdon overgrown clay pits at TL 006 027 produced a breeding pair of LESSER WHITETHROATS - my first in the local area in 2011 (it transpired that Joan had seen a singing male at Chenies Bottom during the week - the first record this year). I was also very pleased to prove WILLOW WARBLER breeding - an adult carrying a beakful of insect food - another very scarce bird in the area, with further sightings including Common Whitethroat (singing male), Common Chiffchaff (singing male), Song Thrush (2 singing males), Blackcap (4+), Long-tailed Tit (family group), Blue Tit (family group), Common Blackbird, Chaffinch and Red Kite.


A singing male Common Chiffchaff was at the Maple Hill junction of Ley Hill Common whilst Botley village produced yet more House Sparrows - a colony of at least 8 birds in the thick hedgerow adjoining Joiners Close. The village also yielded a chimney nesting pair of Jackdaws, a singing Dunnock and 3 singing male Chaffinches.


More House Sparrows were located on White Hill (in SE Chesham), in gardens opposite the Leisure Centre, with Bury Pond (at SP 958 015) harbouring the regular pair of Mute Swans and breeding Moorhens and Coots. A Stock Dove was with 57 Woodpigeons feeding in fields opposite but there was no sign whatsoever of the Lapwing pair (possibly flooded out by yesterday's deluge). In the Chessbury Road housing estate (SP 956 012), there was just 1 pair of chimney-nesting Common Starlings.

At Waterside, concerning was the fact that the nesting pair of Mute Swans and single cygnet had completely disappeared without trace leaving just last year's first-year female at the bridge. Both nesting pair of Moorhens had fared well, with one pair tending four chicks and the other two. A pair of Common Starlings was on one of the houses opposite and a male Greenfinch was in full song.

All three Great Crested Grebe chicks were doing very well on the smaller fishing lake - all well advancing towards juvenile plumage. Meanwhile, 23 Tufted Ducks were present on the larger lake.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS on territory; heavy passage of COMMON SWIFTS; 3 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS and more


Today was spent surveying the birds of the Chess Valley, particularly as it had been the best part of a month since I had done any serious birding there. The weather was once again dry, with moderate SW winds and largely overcast skies. I covered at least 14 kms on foot......

There were a number of highlights -:

3 different singing male Garden Warblers found - new for the year

Continuing abundance of Common Whitethroats

A major passage of Common Swifts

A very late Little Egret

A pair of Spotted Flycatchers


Just 2 Common Swifts overhead still, the remainder of the breeding population still to arrive, whilst in the garden, two juvenile Common Blackbirds present, several young Robins, House Sparrows with fledged young, Common Starlings feeding noisy young and Dunnocks still feeding young in the nest.

Elsewhere in the village, a further 3 singing male Dunnocks in Elizabeth Avenue and a singing male Greenfinch at The White House in Bell Lane.


There were 3 nesting pairs of Eurasian Skylarks in the cereal field adjacent to the wood, whilst in the Raans Farm Paddocks, additional species included a pair of Yellowhammers, pair of Robins, 3 Starlings, 28 Jackdaws, a Song Thrush, singing Chaffinch, Great Tit carrying food and a singing male Common Whitethroat. In the open area of farmland to the west of the wood was an additional pair of Yellowhammer and two further singing male Common Whitethroats.

Lane Wood itself yielded at least 6 nesting pairs of Common Blackbird, 4 Robin territories, nesting Blue Tits (3 pairs), 2 singing male Chaffinches and a nesting pair, 3 Wren territories, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a singing male Song Thrush, 3 singing male Blackcaps and a nesting pair of MARSH TITS by the cottages at Ladies Arbour.


The next piece of Chiltern Forest I surveyed was West Wood, between Bell Lane and Stony Lane. Both Jay and Great Tit were recorded close by Bell Lane but once again Robins predominated with 8 territories (some pairs feeding young). The only Goldcrest of the day was a singing male, with male Blackcap, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Wren and Mistle Thrush also recorded. Just as I got to Stony Lane, a male COMMON TREECREEPER was in full song.


Across Stony Lane and in to Walk Wood, where breeding birds included Woodpigeon, Wren (2 pairs), Common Blackbird (3 pairs), Great Tit and Robin. As it opens out in to open farmland, a male Yellowhammer was singing and a pair of Common Whitethroats were nesting in vegetation beside the footpath.


At Chenies Manor, Pied Wagtails were busy feeding young, as well as Robins. Walking the footpath east down Holloway Lane produced more breeding birds - Great Tit, Robin and Chaffinch. A Skylark was in fields to the east of the village and a pair of Common Magpies were in the vicinity. Getting closer to the Chess yielded both singing male Common Chiffchaff and WILLOW WARBLER, Blackcap and a yaffling Green Woodpecker whilst a calling male Red-legged Partridge was my first of the year in the Recording Area.


In the vicinity of the Crestyl Watercress Beds, I first became aware of a moderate westerly passage of COMMON SWIFTS and this was to continue throughout the afternoon, perhaps involving over 50 birds. There were two different male Common Whitethroats in the hedgerow and by the Chess itself were 6 Mallards and a pair of GADWALL.

At Valley Farm (TQ 026 991), two cock Common Pheasants were scrapping in the horse paddocks, with a pair of Barn Swallows nesting, 2 Goldfinch, another nesting pair of Great Tits and two male Pied Wagtails.

At nearby Frogmore Meadows (TQ 022 989), at least two male Common Whitethroats were still singing, a male Song Thrush, male Blackcap and my first male GARDEN WARBLER of the year in the valley.

Back to Chenies Bottom village, with 4 Goldfinch and a Linnet by Mill Farm, another 20 or so Common Swifts west over the Meadows, a pair of Barn Swallows, Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch and a male House Sparrow. There was just one pair of Coot on the fishing lake, with Atlantic Canada Geese nearby, but most unexpected was a single LITTLE EGRET feeding with a Grey Heron on the Chess just east of Church Covert.

Wallace's Wood on the hill produced Long-tailed Tit (pair), BULLFINCH (pair), Wren, a singing Common Chiffchaff and a Mistle Thrush.


At Martin Summit, in scrub adjoining the disused observatory area, I was pleased to note another singing male GARDEN WARBLER and a 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER, with a male Common Chiffchaff there also and a Red-legged Partridge on the entrance track to Martintop Farm.

At the farm itself, Robins were breeding, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a paddock fence, female Yellowhammer, further singing male GARDEN WARBLER and Common Chiffchaff and 3 Chaffinch territories.


In the area of the Observatory, a male Yellowhammer was singing, whilst walking south along Flaunden Bottom added singing Skylark, 4 Carrion Crows, 75 Rooks and 60 Jackdaws.

In Latimer hamlet, the HOUSE MARTINS had returned, with 6 nests already in use on the Village House.


Of 24 Mute Swans present, one pair was nesting, with Little Grebe, 16 Coot and 4 Tufted Ducks also noted. Common Buzzards were displaying and several Red Kites were overflying the area. To the west of Frith Wood, Yellowhammer and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were noted in the hedgerow.


The undoubted highlight was finding a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in Blackwell Lodge garden - the first pair in the Chess Valley for a number of years. The garden also held Stock Dove.


All 5 Great Crested Grebes are doing well on the small lake, whilst 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS are present in the reedbeds of the large lake. Both Grey and Pied Wagtail are nesting at McMinn's, with the local Waterside pair of Mute Swans fledging just two cygnets and another singing male WILLOW WARBLER present for its 6th day near Chesham Swimming Pool.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Spartan times

Apologies for the lack of updates in recent times but World tours have kept me well away from Amersham......

Chris Pontin located a 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER, which was present in bushes behind the allotments and swimming pool in Chesham for much of last week, whilst the Waterside pair of Mute Swans have fledged just two young....

Up to three pairs of Barn Swallows are nesting at McMinn's, along with single pairs of both Pied and Grey Wagtails.

Common Swifts arrived in Little Chalfont on 12 May........