Recording Area Annual Totals

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

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)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Apparently 3 HAWFINCHES were seen this afternoon in Penn Wood, calling quite regularly from tall trees surrounding the house in the woods towards the south end. Typically, they were difficult to see in the foliage.

Hawfinches are an enigma in this Recording Area and disappear as quickly as they appear. For several years a pair nested in Mike & Lynn's orchard at Little Chalfont Golf Course but now that they have moved to Austria, I can no longer gain access. I suspect that they are still there.

I just can't get you out of my head.....

Yes, getting back to my car today at the entrance to LATIMER PLACE, I heard a bird repeatedly calling which sounded like a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER. It called 5 times in quick succession and seemed to be coming from the dense ivy-clad bushes adjacent to the gate and stile. I waited and searched for about half an hour later but saw or heard nothing more. I don't know if I was hearing things and it was a Pied Wagtail nearby - just don't know, but I have a sneaking suspicion there's a Yellow-browed Warbler hiding in there somewhere. I pished a number of times but only raised a female Chaffinch but did glimpse a smaller bird twice.

GREYLAG'S back in the Valley


After some overnight rain, Wednesday dawned fine and clear and with the wind veering to the Southwest, temperatures improved somewhat to a high of 9 degrees C


As it has been quite some time since I have done a full walk of the valley, I decided to do so today, especially when I heard that the Hooded Merganser was nowhere to be found at Pagham....

The grounds of LATIMER PLACE held 2 Goldcrests, 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Redwing, 6 Common Starling, 4 Carrion Crow, Robin and Greenfinch, whilst GREAT WATER yielded 21 Mute Swans (including 1 first-winter), 189 Atlantic Canada Geese, 1 GREYLAG GOOSE (presumably last winter's adult returning), 17 Tufted Duck, 41 Coot and 8 Moorhens.

The woodland tract supported at least 7 Jays, whilst 3 Common Buzzards and 5 Red Kites were overhead.

Most of the Chess Valley LITTLE EGRET flock were in the meadow near Bois Mill, with 5 birds there and the sixth at Chenies Bottom Bridge.

Before I forget, LATIMER'S House Martin colony numbered 14 active nests on The Village House this summer

CHURCH COVERT and environs produced the first of 3 Green Woodpeckers, 3 Common Blackbirds and 1 of 4 wintering Common Kestrels, whilst the resident pair of LITTLE OWLS were in their Pollarded Willow nearby.

MILL FARM APARTMENTS held a male Pied Wagtail and 2 GREY WAGTAILS, with 2 Common Kestrels hunting the meadow (the female of which successfully captured a Field Vole), with the small wood by the orchid reserve producing a mixed flock of 9 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Goldcrests and a Common Treecreeper.

The Woodpigeon count reached only 83 birds, well down on recent autumn numbers, whilst Common Magpies numbered 8.

At VALLEY FARM, the horse paddocks held 2 adult Common Gulls, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 45 Black-headed Gulls, along with 4 more Mistle Thrushes. Just 1 Wren was encountered and walking back the same route added 3 SISKINS, and 2 LESSER REDPOLLS at Church Covert and a COMMON KINGFISHER on the brook. I was very surprised at the amount of weed in the main tributary, seemingly starving the flow.

A single SINENSIS CORMORANT flew over Bois Mill Pond, whilst CHESHAM FISHING LAKES produced 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 19 Tufted Duck, 8 Coot and 10 Moorhens, along with at least 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS and a Great Spotted Woodpecker; all 4 Mute Swans (pair and their two 2012 offspring) were alive and well on Pow Wow Lake

Thursday, 1 November 2012

HAWFINCHES again in Penn Wood


A much cooler day than of late with temperatures struggling to reach 6 degrees C. Fresh westerly winds too, with some real heavy showers coming through...

With it being the first day of a new month, I did a full comprehensive inventory of the reservoir birdlife...


As Lucy Flower reported earlier, the mobile WATER PIPIT was still present, moving between all of the sections of mud, including the two bays in Buckinghamshire. A single Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtails and 5 Pied Wagtails also favouring the same areas.

Of 4 adult Mute Swans present, one was orange-ringed '4ABL', whilst other waterfowl counted included 1 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Canada Goose, 29 Mallard, 26 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 27 Gadwall, 57 Tufted Duck, 33 Pochard, 162 Coot, 8 Moorhen, 27 Black-headed Gulls and 1 adult Common Gull; also 5 Lapwing on the mud, 3 Common Magpies and a single Skylark flying west.


Nothing much on the water apart from 4 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans and 42 Shoveler, with 18 Woodpigeon, male Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, 2 Wrens, Redwing and SISKIN noted.


On the reservoir, 1 Little Grebe, 8 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Gadwall, 3 MANDARIN DUCKS (drake and two females at far end under trees visible from hide), 33 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard and 63 Coot counted, with the woodland surroundings yielding 48 SISKINS, 4 Robins, 2 Mistle Thrush, 30 Redwing, 11 Goldfinch and 8 Jackdawa; 2 WATER RAILS heard and a Meadow Pipit flew over


The SLAVONIAN GREBE was still showing well along the east shore, with 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 43 Mute Swans, the two adult WHOOPER SWANS, 84 Mallard, 32 Gadwall, 406 Teal, 198 Wigeon, 4 PINTAIL (1 drake), 86 Shoveler, 201 Tufted Duck, 79 Pochard, 3 female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 733 Coot, 100 Lapwing and 33 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER present.


Not a bad selection of birds present today, identified in a full circuit walk around.......including 2 Little Grebes, 12 Mute Swans, 15 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 11 Wigeon, 46 Mallard, 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (drake and two females), 2 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, a single female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 92 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, an adult Argenteus Herring Gull, an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, just 3 Coot, male Common Kestrel, 6 Robins and a Redwing.


Water level back to normal now with 4 Little Grebe, 8 Moorhen and 2 Coot resident.


A LITTLE EGRET roosting on the island was unusual here but 8 Little Grebe, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swans, pair of Gadwall, 3 female Tufted Duck, 192 Coot, Green Woodpecker, 3 Jays, Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tit were typical fare; 5 SISKINS flew over.


Highlight here on a very wet and muddy (underfoot) visit were 2 HAWFINCHES in tall trees by the 'Holly Roost', both very vocal and presumably at pre-roost, but no other finches noted and just 3 Common Treecreepers, 5 Coal Tits, 5 Jays, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Song Thrush encountered in a 90-minute slog round. A Red Kite with a yellow wing-tag was intriguing.