Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Monday, 31 December 2012

Another Year over, a new one just about to begin.......

Well that's 2012 done and dusted and not a classic year by any standards with my immediate Recording Area only mustering up a total of 106 species in all - 102 by me personally......

Although I was away a lot in the Spring, did not record neither Garden Warbler or Lesser Whitethroat, or Common Stonechat, or Osprey. The undoubted highlights of course were both the LITTLE BITTERN and GREAT WHITE EGRET in the Chess, the latter of course on set to winter yet again, following its prolonged stay here from November 2009 to January 2010

GWE still

The GREAT WHITE EGRET still present today in driving, heavy rain - feeding voraciously out in the open meadows at Mill Farm and wandering into the grounds of Chenies Place at times; also 5 Little Egrets in area

Saturday, 29 December 2012

GREAT CRESTED GREBE back incredibly early


Several deep Atlantic depressions arriving in quick succession bringing strong winds and more heavy rain to the UK and our region. Statistically, 2012 has been the wettest year in Britain since records began just over 100 years ago.

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was showing well this afternoon in MILL FARM WATER MEADOWS at CHENIES BOTTOM, wandering around in the long grass with a Little Egret in search of prey; also Great Spotted Woodpecker by Chenies Place.

A flock of 45 Fieldfares flew east over Church Grove in LITTLE CHALFONT whilst at CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, Chris Pontin and I had a GREAT CRESTED GREBE (exceptionally early returning individual) and 37 Tufted Ducks

The Chess Valley County Boundary

I have marked on the map above the county boundary line in yellow. Everything below the line is in BUCKINGHAMSHIRE whilst everything above is in HERTFORDSHIRE

Friday, 28 December 2012

Chesham Little Egret

There is often a Little Egret sat in this tree a Millfield Allotments when I visit

Also a Water Rail there (per Don Stone).


Joan, Anna and I enjoyed nice views of the GREAT WHITE EGRET this afternoon as it wandered about in the grass on the south side of the west end of Great Water at Latimer, just west of Bell Lane in Little Chalfont. It had been forced up this end of the Chess due to the incessant disturbance in the Mill Farm Water Meadow. Once again, it seemed to be searching for rodent food.

A lot of disturbance in the Chess Valley today


Another day, another wave of heavy rain showers and result: lots more flooding. Continuing very mild though.

A lot of disturbance in the CHESS VALLEY today, particularly from shooting, thus causing the GREAT WHITE EGRET to retreat from view and relocate to quieter, private stretches of the river. Was feeding as usual at Mill Farm Water Meadows for a while, and returned there from 1320 hours. Quite a few watchers too, perhaps 15 in all.

LITTLE EGRETS numbered 9 again, mostly concentrated between Latimer Bridge and Crestyl Cressbed.

Two pairs of Mute Swan in the lower stretch, including female 'T2L', whilst the GREYLAG GOOSE was near the road 100 yards SW of Latimer Bridge.

Other species noted included 3 Grey Herons, 2 Common Buzzards, 8 Goldcrests, 4 Jays, Grey Wagtail, Song Thrush and Common Treecreeper

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

How to see and locate the GREAT WHITE EGRET when visiting

Markers A-D represent the favoured locations of the GREAT WHITE EGRET and the Yellow markers from where the bird is best observed and located

Some nice shots of the GREAT WHITE EGRET

Paul Frost managed to get these great shots today of my wintering GREAT WHITE EGRET. Today, the bird was wandering far and wide and well out into the meadow, much farther than I have ever seen it enaging before. It was great to see Paul there today, the bird now having attracted around 35 visitors.

Scoffing up the small rodents

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was showing very well today, prancing about in the open all over Mill Farm Water Meadow (and easily viewable from the Chess Valley Walk); once again, small rodents seemed to be on the Christmas Menu

Seven Little Egrets visible in the Chess Valley too

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Not a Pochard to be seen


More heavy rain - and more severe flooding

In the CHESS VALLEY, the GREAT WHITE EGRET is today at Church Covert NR, along with 7 Little Egrets, whilst on SHARDELOES LAKE, not a single Pochard remains as predicted but 208 Coot and the 4 SHOVELER

Yesterday's POCHARD flock (Graham Smith)

Monday, 24 December 2012

What a difference the rain makes

What a difference the rain makes........

I returned to SHARDELOES LAKE this evening after the rain stopped with Graham Smith and the NORTHERN POCHARD flock had increased to a phenomenal 134 individuals - a total more than the rest of Bucks counted together, with 75% of them adult drakes.

Remarkably, there were also 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS at the west end (2 pairs), 4 Gadwall, 9 Little Grebes, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans, 2 Carrion Crows and a Reed Bunting

Also, 2 stag Muntjac Deer at dusk feeding at the edge of the lake

An unprecedented arrival of NORTHERN POCHARDS

Great White Egret (Ian Williams)


Lots more rain and still many areas flooded, particularly Nightingales Lane and some of the more minor roads; very mild though at 46 degrees F...

Didn't do a lot today but did check sites within a 2 mile radius of the house..........

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was back on MILL FARM WATER MEADOWS (CHENIES BOTTOM), showing very well prancing about in the open and chasing anything edible

At least 4 Little Egrets in the area, plus the 2 Mute Swans, Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail

The single GREYLAG GOOSE also still present by GREAT WATER (LATIMER), in with the flock of 113 Atlantic Canada Geese

There was no sign of the drake Goosander at CHESHAM FISHING PITS - just the 2 Mute Swans, 14 Tufted Duck, 16 Coot, SISKIN and Goldcrest

CHESHAM MILLFIELDS held 3 Moorhens, with 3 Red Kites wheeling about overhead

The most astonishing sight at a water-sodden SHARDELOES LAKE was an unprecedented arrival of NORTHERN POCHARDS; no less than 111 birds present - far and away a local record. The majority were adult drakes and I am assuming all of the heavy rain has flooded them out of other sites.

Not much else there, with a distinct lack of both Gadwall and Little Grebe, but the pair of Mute Swans, 4 Common Teal, 194 Coot, Common Kestrel, 7 Argenteus Herring Gulls and Wren

Merry Christmas Everyone

Sunday, 23 December 2012


A lot of disturbance today so the GREAT WHITE EGRET moved to a quieter, private section of the Chess not generally viewable; during the morning, it fed 300 yards downstream of Chenies Bottom bridge

Also at least 6 Little Egrets in Valley with 2 Teal noted at Shardeloes Lake

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Drake GOOSANDER still; GWE


Well the World may not have ended but the rain certainly fell - and fell and fell, leaving serious flooding in my area, especially on Nightingales Lane. Elsewhere, the heavy rain that fell all day plunged the West Country into Red Alert with 4 floods potentially life-threatening and 317 overall; rail services were suspended west of Taunton and hundreds of main roads were closed due to the deep water.

The rain bought much milder temperatures though - up to 12 degrees C.

In the CHESS VALLEY, the GREAT WHITE EGRET was showing well, ranging out of the river and out onto the adjacent Mill Farm Water Meadows, where it seemed to be feeding on small mammals and amphibians. Once again, view from either the Chenies Bottom bridge or from the bend just east of Chenies Place. All 9 Little Egrets were again in the Valley.

At CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, the adult drake GOOSANDER was again on the smaller of the two lakes, but flew off after being spooked by a noisy family; there were also 2 adult Mute Swans, the Canada Goose, an adult drake Northern Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck, 14 Coot, COMMON KINGFISHER and 1 SISKIN. A noisy congregation of 80 Jackdaws were also in the area.

At CHESHAM SEWAGE WORKS nearby, 32 Mallard, 8 Gadwall, 17 Tufted Duck and 4 Coot were present, but of most concern was the absence of any House Sparrows at Ivy House Farm - a traditional site of some 30 years standing.

LATIMER PARK held 62 Rook, 5 Goldcrest and a TAWNY OWL, with just 17 Tufted Duck on GREAT WATER

Friday, 21 December 2012


Don Stone inadvertently flushed an adult drake GOOSANDER off of the Fishing Lakes in Chesham today, the first record of a drake in the valley for over 25 years. It follows a redhead I had recently on Great Water. I assume these are birds straying out of Stockers Lake

Finally connected with some local WAXWINGS; GWE still present too


Following yesterday's deluge which left some serious flooding behind, today was contrastingly pleasant, with clear skies, light winds and dry weather - and a temperature of 8 degrees C.

Also, the World did not end as expected, so I can get out tomorrow and buy some presents....

The GORE HILL covey of Red-legged Partridges increased by one today to 5, whilst on the CHESS VALLEY, the adult GREAT WHITE EGRET moved further east along the river and spent the day fishing just 50 yards west of Frogmore Meadow. Visitors today included Ephraim Perfect and his brother, Arsenal supporter Chris Pontin, Don Stone, Andy Radford and about 11 others

A GREEN SANDPIPER landed on the Chess briefly before relocating to the Crestyl Watercress Beds at Sarratt Bottom and Little Egrets once more numbered 9 birds.

A visit to PRESTWOOD (just about in my Recording Area) resulted in seeing 53 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. Found by Joel Lund this morning, all were still present mid-afternoon when Don, Mike Collard, Graham Smith and Paul Keene and I were there. They are eating some pretty ropey shrivelled-up berries on the two trees between Groom Road and Bouquet Close along Hildreth Road at SP 876 002. Four Fieldfares were also noted and 19 Common Starlings.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


With heavy rain and flooding, the GREAT WHITE EGRET spent all day fishing by the kink in the Chess 200 yards downstream of Chenies Bottom bridge.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

GREAT WHITE continuing to favour the kink in the river of Mill Farm Water Meadows


Although completely overcast, it was not until early afternoon that the forecast rain eventually arrived. It remained cold too, with temperatures never improving on 5 degrees C.

A Jay was back in my garden at CHAFFINCH HOUSE and as I drove past CHENIES BOTTOM closeby, Graham Smith was looking down at the GREAT WHITE EGRET on the kink in the River Chess, 150 yards downstream of the bridge. Mike Campbell then joined us, to be replaced later in the afternoon by Dave Cleal. A flock of 24 Redwings flew down valley.

Talking with Adam Bassett, reminded me of the necessity to visit MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS) and do some more counting - and a good excuse to look at the GREATER SCAUP that had reappeared on the Roach Pit. On route were 4 Red-legged Partridges in the field adjacent to AMERSHAM HILL - the first I have seen in a while in the Recording Area.

Anyway, on to the Marlow complex of pits......

The CROWNE PLAZA LAKE, adjacent to the A404 (at SU 863 865) held 2 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Mute Swans, 36 Coot and 14 Tufted Ducks

The ROACH PIT (at SU 864 872) and accessed from the footbridge at the bottom end of Wiltshire Road was where the action was. Graham Smith and I enjoyed excellent views of the juvenile female GREATER SCAUP (now devoid of any pink neck-ring) as it dived consecutively about 75 yards away. It was a fairly typical individual, being very pale brown in general plumage, thick-necked, flat-headed, with pale feathering on the ear-coverts, some creamish-white on the forehead and a large spatulate bill, the black restricted to the nail. Significantly, and always characteristic of the species, when diving, it leapt out of the water. Much more concerning however, and bewildering, was an Aythya closely associating with it. This too had a large bill and white above the bill base, but it was much darker in the head, not so pronounced in head shape and markedly smaller - an oddball. But strangely, the two birds seemed related. Diving however, the darker individual mirrored Tufted Duck, just diving without jumping out of the water. Knowing that CDRH had seen two juvenile Scaups recently in the region, I phoned him and discussed the individual. It transpired that it was most likely one of three birds he had seen and he kindly agreed to come over and have a browse of it. We concluded that it was either a Greater Scaup x Tufted Duck hybrid or a late brooded juvenile Tufted Duck, some of which occasionally look like this. Interestingly, the resident Coots took a disliking to the two birds, and constantly badgered them whenever they surfaced.

The Roach Pit also held 1 Mute Swan, 8 Coots and a drake Tufted Duck

I then made my way to SPADE OAK PIT where I joined Alan Stevens. The pit was well deep, with water still lapping over the banks and concealing most of the spit, wildfowl being the main beneficiaries......

26 Great Crested Grebes (nice to get a few more of these, as wintering numbers in the county seem well down), 2 Mute Swans (down from 5), 16 Greylag Geese, 1 COMMON SHELDUCK (the sole wintering bird in the county), 17 Mallard, 37 Gadwall, 103 Wigeon, 14 Shoveler, 98 Teal, 142 Tufted Ducks and 30 Northern Pochards (down from 51); also 19 Coot, 11 Grey Heron, 11 Moorhen, 18 Common Snipe, at least 600 Lapwing and 3 COMMON KINGFISHERS

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

GREAT WHITE EGRET still - and more duck counting


Another dry day with temperatures reaching just over 6 degrees C


A first-winter Pied Wagtail was a new arrival to the garden today but nothing much else of note


Joined Steve Blake and Stuart Wilson in the Chess Valley and checked several sites for the GREAT WHITE EGRET but to no avail. Adam Bassett then phoned to say that he had relocated it closer to Chenies village, feeding on the kink in the Chess 50 yards east of Chenies Place. It remained here with up to 6 Little Egrets for most of the day, wading in deep water on occasions. Only once did it stray to the brook, when a Grey Heron flushed it.

Two WATER RAILS, Common Kestrel, 2 LITTLE OWLS, 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 2 Grey Wagtails, 3 LESSER REDPOLL and 10 SISKINS were all noted in the vicinity, whilst SB saw and heard the 2 resident MARSH TITS in Baldwin's Wood.


On to duck counting, with the COLNE VALLEY in mind.....

TILEHOUSE PITS NORTH AND SOUTH (BUCKS) (TQ 037 900 and 029 899 respectively)

Tilehouse North held 1 Great Crested Grebe, 32 Tufted Duck and 36 Coot whilst Tilehouse South had 2 Great Crested Grebes, drake Mallard, 8 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.


A single Little Egret, 2 Egyptian Geese, 11 Mallard, 1 pair of Gadwall, 1 Coot and 6 Moorhens counted, whilst across the road, on the Misbourne (TQ 035 872), a Little Grebe, a Moorhen, 6 Common Teal and a COMMON KINGFISHER


A sizeable new gravel working yielding 15 Coot, 23 Tufted Duck, 2 Moorhen and a single female Northern Pochard, whilst on the neighbouring GOLF COURSE POND (TQ 048 865), Grey Heron, single Sinensis, 1 Mallard, 4 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot and 4 Moorhens.

The grassy fields to the north of the Misbourne Valley and north of Old Rectory Lane held 45 Atlantic Canada Geese, whilst GERRARDS CROSS NORTH POND today held 23 Mallards.


I finished off SW of Beaconsfield where Graham Smith had counted 106 Egyptian Geese a couple of afternoons ago. Large numbers were still present in the fields NE of the farm - 85 being my best count; also no less than 45 Red Kites lingering in the area, attracted to the chickens.

Monday, 17 December 2012



A dry, bright day but fairly chilly, with temperatures peaking at 6 degrees C. It was an eventful day in more ways than one, with both ups and downs........

First thing, checked out the CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS) where there had been a report of a Cattle Egret - a species not yet recorded in the Amersham Recording Area but a potential addition to the impressive list of rare herons already achieved. No luck however, just 5 Little Egrets located......

Then, returning to the Valley after a day's birding elsewhere

Following a message relayed by RBA from Ben Miller, I returned to the Chess Valley with JT and Jeff Bailey. Following a fruitless walk between Chenies Bottom bridge and Latimer Bridge, I phoned Joan so that we could check out a site where the bird had often visited three winters ago. On her way to me, she noticed it in a roadside ditch and on returning, it was still showing well, wading in shallow water of the brook. Latimer Road is a very dangerous place to be at the best of times, being very narrow, dark and steep-sided with hedgerows on either side, so we watched from the relative safety of the houses at TQ 013 986. 'Scope views weren't bad, and Graham Smith and a lady who had been walking the Chess for hours stopped by briefly to have a look. This was presumably the same bird that had wintered in exactly the same spot and in the close vicinity from 20 November 2009 until 21 January 2010 but had chosen Berkshire in 2010/2011. Weirdly, as I approached closer to get some photographs, it walked out of the brook and into the field towards me - and kept on approaching me until a guy sounded his car horn really loudly and frightened it. I contacted Stuart & Lesley Wilson who had initially located the bird on its previous visit in November 2009 and as dusk approached, took them down to see the bird from a private bridge over the stream. At 1610 hours, it flew downstream to roost, joining a total of 9 Little Egrets - flying high over Frogmore Meadow (Herts) towards Stockers Lake.

Also encountered were 4 Mute Swans (single pairs at Church Covert and on Bois Mill Pond), 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 13 Common Magpies at roost, 2 Greenfinches and a large Bat species

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Redhead GOOSANDER at Latimer


After yesterday's rain, it was comforting to see Saturday dawn bright and clear. And, after a week with temperatures barely creeping above freezing, a relief to see double figures once more. In fact, by late afternoon, it was 11 degrees C, but then heavy showers returned.....

I did not do a great deal of birding today just mainly duck counting.......


After stopping off there very briefly on two occasions during the week, it made a change to be able to have a relaxing look today. Thanks to John Tomlin and Johnny Lynch, who very kindly agreed to man the gate this morning, some 75 or so birders were able to savour the delights of the GREY PHALAROPE, now present for its third day. Once again, it was favouring the SW corner of the third pan, elegantly pecking at insects and flotsam on the surface of the warm water. Johnny Foster attempted a couple of images, despite it being some 100 yards away (see above).

Duck numbers had dropped since the freezing temperatures, such that today all I could muster were 2 Little Grebe, 3 Mute Swan, 88 Mallard, 44 Gadwall, 17 Shoveler, 18 Teal, 63 Tufted Duck and 22 Coot; JL and I also had a LESSER REDPOLL fly over us calling.


I met up with Darin and young Charlie, and after consulting the help of Andy Whitney and Andy Grimsey (thanks guys, and once again apologies for mixing you both up), checked the berry-bearing shrubs extensively covering the outer edge of the estate. Sadly, there were no Waxwings to be found, just a lot of winter thrushes and a Red Kite drifting overhead.


I then returned to home ground and set out to finish the duck counting duties for the remainder of the Chess Valley not already done. Lowndes Park Lake had now mostly cleared of ice and held 45 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Muscovy Ducks, 3 surviving Embden Geese, 86 Mallard, 9 Moorhen and 126 Black-headed Gulls, whilst the parkland yielded 2 Mistle Thrush and 6 Long-tailed Tits.

Chesham's Bury Lake (SP 955 015) was filling up with water again (after being dry for the best part of two years) but was birdless; CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (SP 971 003) however held 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 15 Mallard, a drake Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, 21 Coot and 6 Moorhens.

Two WATER RAILS were showing well on the pool just by the footpath SE of the smaller lake, with 1 of 2 wintering COMMON KINGFISHERS there too and 3 SISKIN and BULLFINCH pair also. The adjacent Pow Wow Lake held 2 Mute Swans (the two first-years), 34 Mallard, a female Tufted Duck and 4 Moorhen.

At GREAT WATER, LATIMER (BUCKS) (SU 997 987), the biggest surprise was a redhead GOOSANDER, swimming just upstream of Neptune's Falls. Mute Swan numbers were down slightly at 16, with 113 Atlantic Canada Geese still accompanied by the single adult GREYLAG GOOSE (the sole occurrence in over 15 years), 18 Mallard, 18 Tufted Duck, 8 NORTHERN POCHARD, 2 Little Grebe, 56 Coot and 24 Moorhen. Three LITTLE EGRETS were fishing the stream east of Bois Mill, with 4 Mistle Thrushes, a single Fieldfare (the huge numbers now departed since the freeze) and 3 Goldcrests also encountered.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Duck Counting in South Bucks: new record count of COOT on Shardeloes


A real sharp overnight frost this time, with temperatures dropping down to minus 7 degrees. There followed a beautiful day - clear and bright - although from mid-afternoon, freezing fog started to penetrate

After initially stocking the garden feeders, I set off in pursuit of duck counting, this time concentrating on water bodies in the SE of the county......

At CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS), highlight was 14 Goldfinches at once, followed by frequent visits from a single Jay, Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 2 Dunnocks, 3 Common Blackbirds, 1 male Chaffinch and just 5 House Sparrows (still no Collared Doves, now been missing for over a month).


COOT numbers continue to break all records, and although the Old Amersham end of the lake was frozen, 219 were crammed in on the remaining open water (a new record).

The single drake MANDARIN DUCK was still present at the west end, with 8 surviving Little Grebes, 11 Mallard, 20 Gadwall, pair of Teal, pair of SHOVELER (very scarce here and I think my first locally this year), 7 Tufted Duck, a single drake Northern Pochard (again, scarce this winter so far) and 8 Moorhen.

Gulls washing or roosting on the lake included 83 Black-headed, 13 Common and 2 adult Lesser Black-backed, whilst other species encountered in the park included 2 Carrion Crows, 2 Robins, just 1 Wren, 21 Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, 6 Long-tailed Tits and a single Song Thrush.


Mostly frozen - 47 Mallard and 7 Moorhen; 7 Red Kites circling above the village


Virtually frozen solid - just 13 Mallard; 3 Pied Wagtails in car park


All of the MANDARIN DUCKS were on the Middle Pond as usual - 20 in number (including 11 drakes), 5 down on recent winter counts; also 18 Mallard and 3 Moorhens.


Again, pretty much frozen, but an excellent variety and number of duck present, including 19 Mallard, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), 3 Shoveler (2 drakes) (scarce at this site), 78 Common Teal, 42 Eurasian Wigeon and a single drake Northern Pochard; also 6 Mute Swans (5 first-years), 4 Coot, 5 roosting Lesser Black-backs and 18 Common Gulls; pair of BULLFINCH also of note.


Completely frozen - just a Grey Heron standing on the ice.


The second main site of this species (MANDARIN DUCK) in the county but just 15 found (8 drakes) (indicating that the county population is no more than 40 individuals at present), with 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Atlantic Canada Geese, 83 Mallard, 2 drake Tufted Duck, 2 drake Pochard, 38 Coot and 1 Great Crested Grebe; also Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Ring-necked Parakeet, 4 Robins and 2 SISKIN noted.


Pre-roost gathering flocks of 270 Jackdaws and 66 Ring-necked Parakeets in the tall trees in the Park, whilst on the lake (mostly frozen apart from at the north end), pair of Egyptian Geese, pair of Mute Swans, 11 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot, 6 Moorhen and a Grey Heron.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Yippee ! - A local BARN OWL

The Bramfield HAWFINCHES, photographed in the Old Rectory Garden (Bengeo Andy & Lucy Flower)


The cold theme continued today with another overnight frost, although temperatures by day reached a balmy 7 degrees C ! It was dry throughout, with some sunshine, and with little wind.

First thing was spent refilling all of my bird feeders and replacing the water in the bird baths. Then Steve Blake 'phoned and I quickly had to make my way east.............


I joined Steve Blake, Steve Pearce and Ricky Flesher at Tyttenhanger, where the three of them were watching a family party of 4 BEWICK'S SWANS that had arrived just as Steve rang. They had presumably travelled quite some distance and were asleep at the end of the spit (presumably displaced by the increasingly freezing conditions on the Continent). One of the adults was neck collared - YELLOW with black inscription '078E', presumably banded in Siberia (I will provide details later). These were the first Bewick's in the county this year and a very welcome year-tick and remained present until at least mid-afternoon.

Other highlights on the main pit included a drake COMMON GOLDENEYE (incredibly, only the third in over 25 years at the site, per RF) and two splendid adult drake GOOSANDERS, both departing strongly to the east at 1045 hours. Two GREEN SANDPIPERS were also present, whilst a flock of 16 LESSER REDPOLLS was an additional bonus (been present in the area for several weeks now).

The roll-call was supplemented by 10 Mute Swans, 7 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, 9 Tufted Duck, 54 Coot and 19 Moorhens, as well as a single Jay.


I then returned to Bramfield Village, where over 40 birdwatchers were gathered late morning. HAWFINCH numbers have increased greatly since my visit in the week, with 5 constantly in the vicinity of the Churchyard and Old Rectory and an additional 3 seen with Francis Buckle, Roy Nye and JT in a very distant tall Ash in PARK WOOD (viewing west from the back of the churchyard). The male in Old Rectory garden afforded some excellent views as it flew up from the Yew trees into the Ash tree, with both Bengeo Andy and Lucy Flower obtaining some nice photographs (see above). For Lucy it was a double whammy - a brand new bird to boot and almost on the doorstep - magnificent.

Unlike during the week, HAWFINCHES were present almost constantly, with 3 commuting between the ground and the Yew trees in the Rectory garden and up to 5 feeding in the Yews at the far end of the churchyard (and best viewed from the playing field behind). They were pretty vocal too - especially the adult male. Well done to Keith Henderson for finding them again in our area.

Francis Buckle and I were reminiscing about Hawfinches as we stood chatting. In the 1970's, we both used to see large numbers in Bramfield Forest just to the north of the village, sometimes as many as 60 individuals some winters. How times sadly change. Anyway, make the very most of these whilst you can

Just to the south of the village, in the fields at TL 292 150, 278 Lapwing and 204 European Golden Plovers were counted; a Common Buzzard was stood in the field also.


For the past week, a BARN OWL has been hunting two rough fields to the west of COPPICE HOOP at SU 912 925 - the first in my Recording Area in over a year. Wally Smith had discovered it on an evening jaunt - Bob Jackson also connecting twice during the week. Adam Bassett and I visited this evening and were rewarded with some excellent views. The bird left its daytime roost at 1601 hours and spent the next 15 minutes quartering backwards and forwards over the two fields searching for prey.

Access is best from the footpath just north of Lude Farm but be very careful leaving your car unattended.

About 15 Chaffinches roosted in Coppice Hoop

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Record number of COOT at Shardeloes


Lots of rain again today and then, after it had moved through, an increasing and very cold Northerly wind set in


What I believe was a record number of Coot present on the lake - no less than 202 birds

Not much else to speak of though - the resident pair of Mute Swans, 8 Mallard, 8 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Duck, 6 Little Grebes and 2 Grey Heron.


I was present from 1055 to 1134 when 27 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS repeatedly flew in and out of the tall tree. Now comprising at least 5 first-winters but berries disappearing fast - concentration is now on the third tree and more precarious to view; also several Fieldfares today and a lone Redwing, sadly the latter getting run over.


All around Watermead was sodden and flooded - never seen it like that before - the Fitness Centre was completely surrounded by water. I did a count of the birds present, comprising 8 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Mute Swans, 218 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 Greylag Goose and 74 Mallard. One of the adult Mute Swans was ringed - orange '277'.

Nearby, on flooded fields, 8 Common Magpies and 5 Meadow Pipits noted

On the WENDOVER BYPASS (BUCKS), a female Bullfinch flew across the road

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Just 1 Little Egret

Just 1 Little Egret around at the moment in the Chess Valley, feeding in the stream adjacent to Bois Mill

At Bois Mill Pond today, 3 Mute Swans in attendance - two adults and a first-winter

Saturday, 17 November 2012

BULLFINCH in gardens and mobile WAXWINGS still in area

At Chaffinch House this morning, female BULLFINCH and 2 Coal Tits at the feeders, the former the first record since July.....

Those wonderful trilling WAXWINGS now starting to invade our area......

Following Steve Thompson's flock of 16 at John O'Gaunt's Golf Course, near Potton, present for much of the week, Jim Gurney discovered 5 today in nearby Sandy. These happened to be showing well and performed all afternoon, allowing at least MJP, Mark Thomas & family, Martin Stevens and I to obtain excellent views and photographs. They were frequenting the few berry bushes just inside the perimeter fence of Marshalls Building Merchants in Sunderland Road Industrial Estate and were easily viewable from the car. Apart from feeding on the berries, they were also flycatching and drinking in the puddles, The flock consisted of four adults and one first-winter. Mark Thomas also bumped into another flock of at least 14 as they flew over Sainsbury's supermarket car park in Biggleswade.

In BUCKINGHAMSHIRE today, WAXWINGS reached Aylesbury (10 near Jewson's on Gatehouse Lane), Great Missenden (fire station area) and Chesham (still 7 in Bellingdon Road), whilst 3 were still being seen in Old Amersham (along Mill Lane still)

Just to put these sightings into context though, an astonishing 1,300 Waxwings remain in the Kyle of Lochalshe area in Highland Region, including a single flock of at least 550 birds. So, in essence, many more hundreds to come this winter when the berries are exhausted further north,,,,,

Friday, 16 November 2012


First NUTHATCH in my garden this year, stealing Sunflower Hearts on a quick visit

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Voting day


It was pretty dense fog here in the Chilterns until mid morning but then skies cleared and a pleasant day followed. No sign of any precipitation and temperatures climbed to 7 degrees C.

On a sad note, I lost one of my local Badgers overnight, the animal killed by car along Flaunden Bottom at TQ 005 000

As soon as the fog cleared, I drove down to my local polling station in CHORLEYWOOD and lodged my vote for Tim Starkey. On the cricket ground there, no less than 228 Black-headed Gulls and 1 first-year Common Gull were feeding - the largest number I have ever seen congregated there (see images below). I also saw this beauty.......

Unprecedented numbers of Black-headed Gulls on the cricket pitch - 228 in total

I followed up the sighting of 5 WAXWINGS at Cassiobury Park but failed to find them and then drove northeast to AMWELL........

,,,,,,where I was greeted by a smug-looking Bill Last asking me for my permit. He and his partner-in-crime had seen both juvenile BEARDED TITS two hours hence but they had flown off from by the Watchpoint to the much denser and extensive area of reedbed further north. As to be expected, I failed to see them.

It did give me an opportunity though to finally see the GREATER SCAUP - a first-winter drake that had been present for three weeks or more. As Bill acknowledged, it was now growing up and starting to look like a Scaup - with neat grey/black vermiculating on the scapulars and shoulders, some darkness to the head, a bright yellow eye and black nail restricted to the tip of the bluish-grey bill. A nice bird and showing well in Tumbling Bay (from the Watchpoint, walk north for 700 yards to just beyond the lock gates and then cut in to the right on a well-trodden track and view to your right).

I also noted 26 Greylag Geese, 8 Mute Swans, just 66 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon (1 drake), just 8 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 4 WATER RAILS, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Cetti's Warbler and 2 Reed Buntings. A flock of at least 82 SISKINS was encountered, with 8 LESSER REDPOLLS mixed in, for a while the flock visiting the track to drink on the puddles; 4 BULLFINCHES too

Alan Reynolds and I stood chatting for some time at the Watchpoint and I was very pleased to see the hard work that Alan and others had put in to managing the NW corner of the main lake - superb work - hopefully to pay off with some nice waders.


For 3 days, the Valley was blessed by the appearance of two juvenile BLUEBILLS (7-9 November), mingling with the wintering flock of Tufted Ducks in the Chess Valley. They were part of an influx of birds into the area

Monday, 12 November 2012

WAXWINGS - some lovely shots from Tony Davison

Recent shots from the garden and adjacent Chess Valley

Mute Swans, Mandarins, Black-headed Gull, Great Tits and Robin (LGRE)

WAXWINGS in White Lion Road, between Little Chalfont and Amersham


Although it was dry for the first three hours of daylight, rain soon moved in from the west and remained prevalent throughout the rest of the day.

After hearing that Bryan Lewis, one of Dave Bilcock's work colleagues, had seen 7 WAXWINGS on his way to work along White Lion Road, Amersham at 0900 hours, I drove out and checked all reliable local haunts of this species - but no sign, they had quickly moved on.

I then set out to check the flocks reported to me yesterday - in Aldbury and Wigginton - but again no sign - and few signs of actual Rowan berries. I also had a look round Ivinghoe Beacon where the female MERLIN and 1 WAXWING had been seen earlier, but no joy - too much rain.

What I did find though, SW of ALDBURY VILLAGE, and along NEWGROUND ROAD in crop fields to the Northwest (at SP 956 114), was a huge flock of feasting WOODPIGEONS - numbering at least 2,124 birds (see images above). The birds were commuting between these fields and 'The Hangings' - an area of woodland on the escarpment east of the road.

I was also very pleased to see the continuing survival of 7 'Bluebills', including the young drake

Woodpigeon swarm, when they all took flight (Lee G R Evans)