Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Monday, 30 January 2012


Peter Stevens has very kindly provided me with the details of Red Kite 7 - a bird I recorded in School Lane, Old Amersham last week. This was one of two juveniles tagged near West Wycombe on 9 June 2009. The Red Kite images above were taken by John Foster

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Great Crested Grebes nestbuilding

Chris Pontin reported the two Great Crested Grebes on Chesham Fishing Lakes nestbuilding this morning, with 25-30 Siskins still in the Alders

Friday, 27 January 2012

Hard Work


A glorious day weatherwise. Following an overnight frost, the day was dominated by clear blue skies and sunshine, with an increasingly biting NW wind and cold temperatures

I spent today locally with a few target birds but managed to miss most things.......


I returned to the stubble field first thing, mainly in the hope of connecting with a pair of Common Ravens that had been displaying in the vicinity. Despite prime conditions, they failed to turn up.

The YELLOWHAMMER flock was still going strong, with 124 still present and showing well on the 'deck'. Also mixed in with them were 8 Goldfinches and a few Chaffinches, whilst the flock of 60 Eurasian Skylark were still in the stubble. Two MEADOW PIPITS were new, whilst 8 Common Starlings, 3 Song Thrushes and 5 Stock Doves were also encountered.

Red Kites were very numerous, with at least 8 hunting the stubble, including an individual with wing-tags - a number 7 on both tags with the left one bright yellow with a bright red border and the right one pink. Several Common Buzzards were also in the vicinity.


My first visit in a while and not much change - 5 Little Grebes, just 1 adult and 1 of last year's young Mute Swans on view, 75 Atlantic Canada Geese, 11 Gadwall, 4 Tufted Duck (2 drakes), 61 Coot and an adult Grey Heron. The gull flock yielded 8 Argenteus Herring Gulls (an adult and 7 first-years) and 44 Rooks were back at the rookery.

A further 36 Rooks were back at the rookery at Winchmore Hill, whilst the Beech trees at Marrod's Bottom produced 60 Chaffinches, 5 BRAMBLINGS and a Nuthatch. Kevin Holt and I had pondered for years about where the Penn Wood Bramblings go by day and Dave Cleal came up with the answer. It seems that these Beeches west of Great Beard's Wood are attracting some of them.


Red Kites were everywhere today, including 3 circling low over Station Road in Tring.


My main aim for visiting the reservoirs was to see the drake Goosander that Roy, Mike C, Steve, Dave B and others had seen during the last week but despite searching hard, I could find no sign of it. With good weather, I fully censused the water birds present............

WILSTONE RESERVOIR held just 6 Great Crested Grebes, no Mute Swans, 70 Greylag Geese, 83 Atlantic Canada Geese, the first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE (very mobile today, flying about a fair bit), 22 Mallard, 12 Gadwall, 257 Eurasian Wigeon, 320 Common Teal, no Shoveler, 66 Tufted Duck, 68 Northern Pochard and 728 Coot. I could only find 1 drake Common Goldeneye.

Otherwise, 4 Sinensis Cormorants were attending nests in the remaining bund tree, 38 Lapwings were at the edges, a Green Woodpecker was in the north hedgerow, the North Fields harboured 38 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 96 Common Starlings and a male Chaffinch and the hide area 2 Wrens and 2 Great Tits.

A male Muntjac and 2 Chinese Water Deer were also at the reed edge.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR was where all of the Mute Swans were lurking with 31 counted (including 9 first-years), along with 1 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 313 Coot, 92 Mallard, 15 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 41 Tufted Duck and an impressive 98 Northern Pochards.

The first-year male SNOW BUNTING was putting on a particularly good show in the sunshine, showing down to just 10 feet on the stony beach - always in the vicinity of the steps at the NW end.

TRINGFORD harboured a further pair of Mute Swans with MARSWORTH yielding the only Shovelers - 35 of them - a further 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Pochard and my first Red Fox of the year; 3 Goldfinches too.


After the excitement of last Sunday, proceedings were back to normal today with little to see - and no sign of Wednesday's Egyptian Goose.

The rollcall included 10 Mute Swans (1 first-year), 18 Wigeon, 1 drake Gadwall, 1 drake Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, the usual pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on the west bank of the deep lake, 44 Coot, 20 Lapwing and 2 COMMON SNIPE.

I then decided to move on to BEDFORDSHIRE where I had planned to add several species to that counties' year list of mine. That proved disastrous though and in the end, I managed to locate just 1 target bird.


the ageing RING-NECKED PARAKEET of unknown origin was sleeping in its usual tree hole at the westernmost of the 6 trackside trees 75 yards beyond the gate following the dogleg in the footpath. This area also held 6 Yellowhammers, Goldcrest, 30 Rooks and 4 Rabbits.

At STEWARTBY LAKE, it was as barren as I have seen it in July, with no sign of the wintering Common Sandpiper and just 12 Pied Wagtails on the Sailing Club green.

The BROOM GP/DEREK WHITE'S COMPLEX was little better, with no sign of the Common Shelduck at any of 5 locations and just drake Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 1 Little Grebe and 50 Lapwings of note at the latter. Likewise, not a sniff of a Golden Plover flock and no Barn Owls at several sites too. Most notable was a Common Starling roost of some 400 birds in tall Leylandii at TOP HOUSE FARM, BEADLOW (at TL 104 385).

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

More local snippets and some video footage

Those Golden Plovers certainly increased in numbers since weekend, a bit of footage here

Last week 17th & 20th January there were 2 WATER RAILS in the channels at the allotments behind Chesham Swimming Pool & down at the Fishing Lakes 2 Great Crested Grebes, 3 drake Pochard, 43 Tufted Duck & 4 Bullfinch on 20th January.

Water Rail footage here

Don Stone

Plovers still present


The mild theme with the weather continued with temperatures reaching 9 degrees C this afternoon. It was primarily dry but overcast with some light drizzle in the wind.

Managed to get some birding in today, mainly in Bedfordshire this afternoon.......


The large plover flock was still present this morning, again favouring the large ploughed field immediately east of Little Hundridge Lane - all 112 LAPWINGS and at least 500 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS; 4 Stock Doves were also seen


Some major changes afoot at this location, with over 100 new houses being built at its southern end. Very difficult to access now and terribly overgrown.

The Quarry is a traditional place to see wintering Jack Snipe but despite an hour or more trudging around the site this afternoon, I failed to find one. Two COMMON SNIPES were seen - and a nice WOODCOCK but no Jacks.

I also recorded my first Beds MEADOW PIPIT of the year, as well as 8 Greenfinches, several Fieldfares and a singing male Song Thrush. The Common Magpie roost held 158 birds by 1600 hours

Nearby, the neighbouring fishing lake held an impressive roost of no less than 800 Black-headed Gulls

With a stream of large white-headed gulls heading west, I quickly relocated to Grovebury......


A most impressive gull roost awaited my arrival at 1620 hours and between then and 1700 hours, I click-counted the proceeds....

Stand-out birds were 3 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, with 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls also of note. Herring Gulls (both Argentatus and Argenteus) were very numerous, with 472 roosting, whilst Lesser Black-backed numbered just 59 (Calvert Lake really is the capital for this species in winter). A total of 52 Common Gulls was amongst the approximate 1,900 Black-headed Gulls roosting.

Very little of note otherwise on the lake - 29 Eurasian Wigeon, 17 Tufted Ducks and just 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Record PLOVER flock


What a day. Rain, rain and even more rain. It started shortly after first light and then became very heavy for two hours or more before turning into drizzle - and then continuing on and off for the rest of the day. Visibility was often awful - down to 75 yards on occasions - and keeping optics clear was a major obstacle to overcome.

Anyway, I risked the conditions and spent the day trying to find some target birds, namely the long-staying Great White Egret, Pintail, Willow Tit, Red-crested Pochard and a few other species. I was half successful.....


Following up on some sightings by Don Stone and Dave Cleal of last week whilst I was away, I was particularly pleased, despite the attrocious weather conditions, to find the wintering flock of plovers east of Little Hundridge Lane (in SP 92 01). The birds are commuting between the large ploughed field immediately east of the lane and the grass fields west of Hundridge Manor and are in numbers not recorded in my area since at least 1987. The LAPWING flock numbers 112 birds whilst the EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (in two distinct groups) total an astonishing 658 birds. This is an exceptional record, with both species being particularly scarce in my Recording Area. Full marks to Don for locating them.

Two Common Buzzards and 2 Red Kites were also present in the area.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Hedgerley Landfill this afternoon (Beaconsfield)


The fierce Northwesterly wind had dropped overnight and had moderated down to little more than a force 3. It was still cold though and very grey and overcast........

Having survived my eight days ''Round Britain Tour'' and feeling over the moon at connecting with my first-ever Little Auk in Buckinghamshire, I spent part of today birding in Oxfordshire, where two ''first-rate rarities'' were on offer in the form of a GREY PHALAROPE and an overwintering TEMMINCK'S STINT. On the way back, I stopped off to survey the landfill gulls at Hedgerley..........


This last week, refuse is being dumped at the west end of the landfill and this area can easily be overlooked from the isolated conifer plantation, 250 yards south of the M40 and adjacent to the footpath that runs down the western flank of the council site.

I pitched up at about 1400 hours to find several thousand gulls present - in fact over 4,500 birds. As they were feeding over the newly arrived rubbish, the views were very good and many birds were flighting to an adjacent sandy ridge to roost and preen. Most impressive was the presence of no less than 147 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS - a scarce species in my area.

I 'scoped back and forth and eventually located a selection of rare birds amongst the throng; a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL was quickly followed by a very white, pale-based billed 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL, whilst of three different adult-type CASPIAN GULLS present was a green-ringed individual, presumably of Polish origin. There were also a large number of Herring Gulls present, many adult Argenteus now completely white-hooded in appearance, with 1,400 or more present including over half that number being juveniles. Perhaps just 20% were streak-hooded northern Argentatus. There were very few Lesser Black-backed Gulls present - just 37 - and not one Common Gull.

Just 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were picked out - two first-winters and a third-winter - with the rest of the throng being made up of about 2,900 Black-headed Gulls.

Other scavenging species included 57 Red Kites and an array of corvids whilst 5 Linnets, 15 Chaffinches, 17 Pied Wagtails, Fieldfare and my first Bucks Meadow Pipit of the year was noted

Chris Hazell drove down and joined me at about 1600 hours and caught the tail-end of the flock before they were all frightened away from the tip by loud bird-scarers. He managed to see the Iceland Gull but everything else scattered

Friday, 6 January 2012

60-odd BRAMBLINGS in Penn Wood Roost


A much calmer day than of late with a light westerly wind and predominantly blue skies. In fact it felt very pleasant with temperatures reaching 11 degrees C. Completely dry.

Despite both species being seen this morning, I managed to miss both the Tyttenhanger Tree Sparrows and the Hilfield Little Gull. Highlight was censusing roosting Bramblings..........


A solitary Long-tailed Tit paid a brief visit to the garden


Although Tony Blake had seen two by the feeding station in the morning, I completely failed in my quest to locate any Tree Sparrows at Tyttenhanger. I was also horrified to find that the Coursers Road site had been trashed and was no longer - a bank of mud now replacing the Tree Sparrow hedgerow and feeding station. The gravel workings have extended.

The main birding pit produced 2 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Cormorant, 4 Mute Swans, 8 Common Teal, 33 Tufted Ducks, 34 Coot, 128 Lapwing, 100+ Black-headed Gulls and a healthy 76 Common Gulls whilst the hedgerow and neighbouring countryside yielded 6 Red-legged Partridges, Common Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, a singing male Song Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch, a female House Sparrow, Common Kestrel, 3 Common Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, 2 Common Starlings, 6 Great Tits and 4 Blue Tits. The game strip held just 4 Yellowhammers and 8 Reed Buntings.


A wasted visit. Despite being seen at Hilfield earlier, I could not find the first-winter Little Gull at either Aldenham Country Park or Hilfield Park Reservoir - highlight were the 6 MANDARIN DUCKS still (4 drakes).


This was my first opportunity at a comprehensive survey of the roosting finches of Penn Wood this winter and I was delighted at the presence of so many birds, despite the relatively mild weather so far.

By 1600 hours, the main Penna drive and its dense Rhododendrons held 368 roosting fringillidae. including 307 Chaffinches and a surprising 61 BRAMBLINGS - my first of this winter at the site. A single male SISKIN was also amongst them.

One hundred yards away at the Holly roost-site, no less than 398 Greenfinches roosted and 175 Redwings. There were also a further 15 Chaffinches here - and two male BRAMBLINGS - but it is possible they were part of the main Penna Ride roost.

Other species encountered included Jay, Coal Tit, Common Buzzard, Song Thrush (singing male) and 3 roosting BULLFINCHES.



In addition to the hand-tame first-year Mute Swan and Atlantic Canada Goose, wildfowl today included 12 GADWALL (6 pairs), 32 Tufted Ducks and 3 Northern Pochards. Chris Pontin also saw 2 Reed Buntings - the first in the Recording Area this year.