Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Another week at CHENIES

Herring, Lesser Black-backed & Black-headed Gulls were again on the field behind the Baptist Church, where a Little Owl was seen being mobbed by Blackbirds & Chaffinches in the car park on Friday. A HOBBY was again over on Thursday & Friday, when a Cormorant also passed through. On the same day as it rained 28 Pied Wagtails were on the cricket pitch along with 35 Swallows which seemed to be passing through every time I looked up from my work.In the rough field behind the cricket pitch about 50 Goldfinches were present on Wednesday & 15 Meadow Pipits sat on the wooden fence during the rain on Friday (Don Stone)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

WOODLARKS and CHATS just ouut of area


A band of heavy rain passed through from the southwest early to mid morning before clearing away. It was replaced by very still conditions - and quite mild. Having aborted a trip down west for Ortolan/Buff-breasted Sandpiper, I was soon then hit by all manner of messages from the Northeast - with rare warbler after rare warbler found as the skies cleared. In fact by 1400 hours, no less than 3 different Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers had been found - I was well depressed....

Anyhow, I made the best of a bad situation and decided to flog around the local areas in search of that rare and although not in the same league as your Arctic/Greenish, did turn up a few surprises.....but it was hard work

(mainly private)

I decided to start at Springfield Farm where GS had 'gripped' me off the previous evening with his phone call. After liaising with him again this morning, I soon located the COMMON STONECHATS - in fact 3 of them - an adult male, an adult female and a first-year. There was also at least 1 WHINCHAT still present, as well as a single adult COMMON WHITETHROAT. The chats were concentrated well down the cinder track - much further down than usual - and were the first that I had seen in the Recording Area for a couple of years. But better was yet to come......

As I got to the point where the cinder track veered sharply to the left, I became aware of a very large flock of Meadow Pipits (100+) in the patch that had been cleared by the archaeologists' earlier in the summer. As I wandered out into the sparsely vegetated ground to check through them, I heard a liquidy alarm note and there just a few yards in front of me were 2 WOODLARKS - an adult and a first-year. I enjoyed excellent views of them for a few minutes before they flushed and flew calling across to the well vegetated pit top at the end of the track. I immediately called Rob Hill as I knew this was a species he wanted to see in the county, and then RBA, Graham Smith and Dave Cleal. As I was on the phone, both birds seemed to drop back down on the cleared area and I left them (Adam Bassett phoned me later to say that he was getting great views of one of them).

I did a thorough search of surrounding areas but only came across 8 Linnets, more Meadow Pipits, 2 COMMON RAVENS and lots of Red Kites. A group of 6 adult male Greenfinches were nearby bathing.


I then joined up with Steve Blake at Tyttenhanger where we enjoyed excellent views of a male COMMON STONECHAT and a WHINCHAT on the fenceline on the east side of the main birding pit; also a Bar-headed Goose amongst 59 Atlantic Canada Geese and two Common Chiffchaffs.


For around half an hour, it poured with rain and I sat in the car talking with the various observers that seemed to be stumbling into PG Tips on the North East Coast. With clearing skies and slack winds, I decided to take my chance on the hills and do a full circuit. Approaching the trig point, a large raptor appeared overhead and rather than the expected Red Kite, it was a juvenile OSPREY purposefully on its way SSW. It was flapping strongly rather than gliding and was following the contour of the hills and had a typically well streaked breast band, distinctive pale tips to the terminal tail band and gleaming white unmarked underwing coverts. This was at 1425 hours and by three minutes later it was gone - perhaps heading towards the Gade Valley.

As I continued up towards the Beacon trig point, I flushed a strange looking bird from the edge of the chalk track. It had a longish tail and was very dark. I thought pipit at first but when I tracked it down in the grass, I was surprised to see that it was a locustella - and quite a greyish one at that. I looked at it for ages and next to point blank range but could not make it any more than just a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER - perhaps a young one or an individual from further east.

A wave of 22 House Martins and 7 Barn Swallows passed away to the SSW (following the same line as the Osprey), whilst 50 or so Goldfinches were still resident along the top escarpment.

Dropping down into the weedy field at the base of Gallows Hill, the fenceline held 3 WHINCHATS and 2 Northern Wheatears, whilst the only other migrant I noted in the area was a single Common Chiffchaff by the car park. An awful amount of flogging around with few birds to show for it.


And so on to the reservoirs and Startop's was pretty birdless - fishermen were wading out into the water. WILSTONE on the other hand still harboured our celebrity GREAT WHITE EGRET - fishing in the shallows but in the boatyard corner and rather distant (see Alan Reynold's superb montage of images above).

All 6 Little Egrets were still present too, 16 Great Crested Grebes, 42 Mute Swans, 4 Greylag Geese, 12 Gadwall, the 3 PINTAIL, 113 Shoveler, 114 Wigeon, 313 Teal, 138 Tufted Duck, 106 Pochard and a whopping 802 Coot - RINGED PLOVER still present, 39 :Lapwing, active Kingfishers and a single remaining HOBBY - oh, and a bright and chirpy Lucy Flower !

And that was it......

Friday, 21 September 2012

CHENIES PARISH this past week

Meadow Pipits were again in evidence this week, mainly singles which seem to have taken up residence in the area as they didn't pass straight through, the exception being a flock of 9 heading south on Monday when 2 Mistle Thrushes were also seen. A Little Owl was heard calling on Thursday & Friday near the Baptist Church. Friday lunch was brightened up by the appearance of a HOBBY which caused mayhem amougst the Swallows on its first visit, it later returned and just cruised through. Red Admirals seen daily, some flying south (Don Stone).

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Finally scored a HOBBY

At last I found a local HOBBY today after Dave Cleal had seen one and Don Stone had seen two. This bird was chasing hirundines over the McMinn's yard in Chesham - at least 55 Swallows amongst them; also 1 Common Chiffchaff

At SHARDELOES LAKE yesterday, not much change.....

All of the 4 juvenile Great Crested Grebes still surviving and 2 'new' begging juvenile Little Grebes to join the two that fledged a month or so ago; in fact 10 Little Grebes were logged, the highest number in a while

No less than 97 Coot included still quite a few 'begging juveniles' whilst just 1 Gadwall was encountered and 3 COMMON TEAL (2 of which have been present since 4th September); 4 Mute Swans completed the wildfowl inventory

Feeding in the sheltered sunlit wooded area immediately behind the cricket field were a single migrant WILLOW WARBLER, 2 Goldcrests and a Common Chiffchaff

Monday, 17 September 2012

Images from today in the CHESS VALLEY and from CHAFFINCH HOUSE



A bright and sunny day with a light to moderate NE wind

Following up a report of a juvenile Citrine Wagtail at HADDENHAM (BUCKS), the bird in question in fields by the Garden Centre was a YELLOW WAGTAIL - one of two first-winters present.

Went back home and did a full inventory and walk of the LOWER CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS) - checking from Chenies Bottom to Chenies village.

In the warm sunshine, there was a lot of butterfly activity, with good numbers of Red Admiral and Comma feeding on the hedgerow just north of Mill Farm and several Speckled Woods along the footpath.

Three MEADOW PIPITS flew west, with Nuthatch and Goldcrest encountered in Chenies Bottom. Two Common Kestrels were noted, with 5 Pied Wagtails in the horse fields at Valley Farm and a Great Spotted Woodpecker by the cressbeds.

The ploughed fields at Mountwood Farm held 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 5 Argenteus Herring Gulls.but no Wheatears or chats; at least 6 Barn Swallows were also flying around

Just as I was about to head back to my car, I was texted about a BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Daventry Reservoir in Northamptonshire and with it being so quite of late locally, I thought I would head up there and attempt to see it. Before departing, I checked with two locals on the authenticity of the sighting.

Anyhow, it was 57 miles to the pay & display car park at DAVENTRY COUNTRY PARK (NORTHAMPTONSHIRE) and by the time I had arrived, the bird had been lost - seemingly flown and disappeared into emerging shoreline vegetation......

About 25 of us searched high and low for the bird from the dam but drew a blank before John Judge relocated it in its original location viewing from the tea room at the base of the dam. And then that dreaded jinx the site has cut in. Joining JJ in the bay, we obtained 'crippling' views of the bird at just 40 yards range and immediately I was struck by the size of the bill. It was extremely spatulated in shape on the outer flanges and was a deadringer for a Shoveler bill - even being orange at the under base. It was all wrong for the normal black bill of Blue-winged Teal. Furthermore, the legs were very orange rather than the yellow of adult Blue-winged Teal - sadly this bird has to be a HYBRID. A good looking one though, with a perfect Blue-winged Teal pattern, as well as breast, flank and undertail covert markings of that species, and the pale loral spot. We live and learn.

A Green Sandpiper and 2 Common Sandpipers were seen, 27 Shoveler, 23 Common Teal and 7 House Martins.

Friday, 14 September 2012

MEADOW PIPIT passage at Chenies this week

Sightings from Don Stone from Chenies village

13th Sept: 6 Meadow Pipits heading south during morning.

14th Sept: 18 Meadow Pipits heading south between 9 & 10am, 7 of which formed a small flock.

Large gull flock at Chenies

Talking of Black-headed Gulls, been working at Chenies for the past week or so and midday today the farmer began ploughing, within half an hour 20 gulls were following the plough, after hour and a  half numbers had increased to 155 Black-headed Gulls, 18 Lesser Black-backed & 11 Argenteus Herring Gulls. Surprised me how they arrived so quickly, as I've only noticed a few gulls passing over head while working there. A flock of 23 LAPWINGS dropped in briefly as well.

Don Stone

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Late SWALLOW family

Four SWALLOWS fledged yesterday from a very late nest at McMinn's - all gone this morning

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

SWALLOWS at Flaunden


Yes, one word to describe my day out - pretty dire

The wind had switched to the Northwest, pegging temperatures back to about 61 degrees. It remained dry and was part cloudy.


A pocket of sunlit hedgerows and fields had attracted 30 European Barn Swallows close to the village

Sunday, 9 September 2012


With the wind freshening from the SE this evening, lots of HOUSE MARTINS on the move over my house, totalling at least 50 birds.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Not the first HOBBIES after all

At Great White End Farm this morning, 86 Linnets were sat on overhead wires above a stubble field in two flocks of 55 and 31 - the field hedge held roughly 25 Chaffinch and 2 juvenile Bullfinches, while a few Lesser Black Backed Gulls were in the distance.

At Chenies the combine harvester attracted at least 6 Red Kites and 4 Buzzards, 2 of which constantly hovered side by side.

RE: the aforementioned HOBBY was not quite the first in the area this year, I saw one on 28th April at Chesham Fishing Lakes if you remember


Pied Wagtails at Chorleywood

This evening, there were no less than 66 Pied Wagtails feeding on Chorleywood Cricket Field, including good numbers of juveniles

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

First HOBBIES in area this year

HOOBY at Chenies today: First seen taking insects on the wing, then moved onto the House Martins, following every twist and turn of one individual but without any luck. It then changed tack and climbed up high several times and repeatedly dived into the flock,but still without success.Also two Kestrels seen together through out the day and a Sparrow Hawk.

Two Wheatears at Hunts Green on 3rd September.

Don Stone

Earlier, Dave Cleal had seen a HOBBY at Shardeloes Lake over the weekend.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Today's images from SHARDELOES

Great Crested Grebe and Rabbit images

Thriving colony of FIRECRESTS at Wigginton Bottom


A juvenile SPOTTED REDSHANK briefly at Wilstone late on Saturday evening was the weekend highlight locally (David Bilcock), whilst I mustered up 5 WHINCHATS at Springfield Farm Quarry on Monday (03 September).

With a band of thick cloud to the north of the Chilterns, I was quite hopeful this morning and set off early to the Hills. A light to moderate NW wind was blowing and blue sky and sunshine was the norm. It was still pretty warm.

(0730-1130 hours)

I did a full circuit of the Hills, partly in company with Francis and Chris. It was a fairly productive morning. Highlights included a flyover TREE PIPIT at 0916 (my third in recent weeks), an elusive COMMON NIGHTINGALE that moved from scrub by the S-bend to that adjacent to the end of the fenceline below the Beacon and two juvenile COMMON REDSTARTS (both new) on the upper fenceline between the two gates, 170 yards north of the main car park.

Chris had seen 5 COMMON REDSTARTS yesterday (an adult male and female in scrub to the south of the car park, 1 on Steps Hill and two on the SE slope towards Gallows Hill) and 2 WHINCHATS but we could not find any of them today.

There was a steady trickle of hirundines moving west over the Beacon all morning, totalling 13 House Martins and 24 Barn Swallows, whilst further diurnal passage involved 2 Meadow Pipits and a single juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were two juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEARS around the sheep pen and a further in the field at the base of Steps Hill whilst other migrants included a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER by the S-bend gate, 4 Common Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, a LESSER WHITETHROAT in Incombe Hole and 8 Common Chiffchaffs.

At least 240 Goldfinches were in a massive 'charm' just SE of the trig point, including nearly 50% juvenile, with 8 BULLFINCHES around the site of note and a single CORN BUNTING.

Most unusual was a MARSH TIT in isolated Hawthorns 80 yards east of the Beacon, with another one in more typical surroundings in Top Scrub. Lots of butterflies were on the wing (mainly Meadow Browns, Small Heaths and Ringlets) including some nice fresh Brimstones.


Three VIOLET HELLEBORINES were photographed (see blog), one of which was still in pristine condition, but there was no sign of the male pale morph Honey Buzzard from the gate viewpoint at Hill Farm. In fact, there was no apparent raptor movement today. A pair of Mintjac were enjoying the sunshine.


Decided to revisit some extensive woodlands that had yielded both breeding Woodlark and Hobby in the past and was delighted to find large numbers of FIRECRESTS in an area where 3 singing males had been recorded in May. At least 16 birds were recorded, mainly in three noisy family parties, whilst Goldcrests were in double that number, in excess of 35 birds. The area was now being used for motorbike racing and was soon to be visited by loggers.

Other species noted included Common Buzzard, Common Chiffchaff (3), Nuthatch (2 family parties), Common Treecreeper (5), Coal Tit (numerous family parties), Robin, Wren (2) and Great Spotted Woodpecker


All four baby Great Crested Grebes were doing well although again, only the single male to be found. Also 1 juvenile Little Grebe on site. Two Grey Herons, 76 Coot, 2 COMMON TEAL, 5 Gadwall, Grey Wagtail and Common Treecreeper, whilst migrants represented by 4 Barn Swallows, 1 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, 1 juvenile WILLOW WARBLER and 1 LESSER WHITETHROAT.