Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

GREAT WHITE EGRET showing well

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was showing really well today, just 30 yards from the car by the gate just west of Chenies Bottom bridge. It was consorting with a single Little Egret. Yesterday, Andrew Moon had it fly over his house in Rickmansworth late afternoon, seemingly on its way south to roost at Stockers Lake.

A Common Kingfisher was also performing well by the bridge, whilst both Little and Barn Owls remain present.

Andy Radford had 4-5 Tawny Owls calling last night in Penn Street and at least 4 BRAMBLING in the Penn Wood roost

Monday, 18 February 2013


A short video of a few of the nine GADWALLS which were present at Deep Mill Pond last week

Don Stone

Thursday, 14 February 2013



Valentine's Day 2013 saw a gradual improvement in weather conditions. The last of the snow washed away overnight and was replaced by a warm Atlantic front raising temperatures to 9 degrees C, the warmest day in several weeks.


Downriver of GREAT WATER, the GREYLAG GOOSE was present with 24 Atlantic Canada Geese, whilst in the vicinity of the Da Vere Hotel, 14 Jackdaw and Greenfinch were seen.

GREAT WATER held 9 Mute Swans (with 3 more below Neptune's Falls and two pairs near Church Covert), 66 Atlantic Canada Geese, 6 Mallard, 9 Tufted Duck, 22 Coot and 12 Moorhen, whilst a flock of 9 Mistle Thrushes was feeding on the slope, 11 Stock Doves, a Little Egret and 2 Wrens.

Over at CHENIES BOTTOM, an additional 4 Little Egrets were seen, with the LITTLE OWLS in the Willow, 5 Redwings and a RING-NECKED PARAKEET flying east, the latter my first in the Recording Area this year.

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was apparently seen at Neptune's Falls early morning but in recent days, it has been well within Hertfordshire, on the Chess SE of Crestyl Cress Beds.

Rather disconcerting, Chenies Place has put in an application to have 8 Cypress trees cut down, as well as other trees in the vicinity. These trees have been subject to a Preservation Order for some years and harbour a number of breeding species of bird including Goldcrest and Coal Tit.

Down at SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) (SOUTH BUCKS), I met up with Marlow birder Neil Wragg and accompanied him on a full circuit of the pit. I gave him a lesson in bird song and sounds and I was impressed by his keenness to learn - and more impressed by his possession of a notebook.

Wildfowl were the order of the day with 4 COMMON SHELDUCK present (down from the 7 of yesterday), a highly impressive 192 Gadwall, 55 Shoveler, 156 Wigeon, 66 Tufted Duck and 47 Northern Pochard. At least 15 Grey Herons were on the island, along with 13 pairs of Sinensis Cormorant already in occupation. A Little Egret was also present, along with 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes and 9 Coot.

The PINTAIL proved to be the hardest birds to find, all 8 birds hiding in thick vegetation to the north and east of the spit. They could only be seen from the east shore.

Two different Song Thrushes were in song, along with 3 male Great Tits.

A check of a few other sites for Jack Snipe once more drew a blank, with Gallows Bridge deserted by all accounts (no Curlew back yet).

I then held out for the roost at CALVERT (NORTH BUCKS) but a workman put paid to that, unsettling the gulls on the Sailing Lake. Graham Smith joined me, and other than getting disgustingly muddy and wet, we had very little to show for our efforts. Steve Rodwell arrived independently and had similar success.

About 2,900 Black-headed Gulls roosted on the Sailing Lake, and 90 Common Gulls - COMMON KINGFISHER, WATER RAIL and 4 BULLFINCH also noted.

All of the large white-headed gulls roosted on the BBOWT Lake, including 9 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, 2,700 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 73 Great Black-backed Gulls; 38 Coot and 11 Cormorants were present also.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

BARN OWL still performing well

Our lovely BARN OWL was still performing well this afternoon, flying about in the snow from 1500 hours onwards

The GREAT WHITE EGRET was still present too (beating its previous stay by over 20 days!) favouring a private section of the Chess to feed. This Little Egret too - one of 3 still around.

Lots of snow in the Valley again, about 3-5 inches underfoot and surviving since Sunday evening.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Nice crop of CASPIAN GULLS at Hedgerley Landfill


Another new month and temperatures sliding back a little (5 degrees C) as a freshening Northerly wind sets in. Not a bad day though, with long clear spells.

Eventually got out into the field early afternoon and just did some local birding, including my first visit to Tring Reservoirs in over two weeks......

In the CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS), my first Sinensis Cormorant of the year, drying its wings out on one of the fishing pontoons 100 yards west of the Chenies Bottom bridge. No sign of the Great White Egret again - just 4 Little Egrets. Both the LITTLE OWLS and BARN OWL were showing well.

SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS) was pretty much devoid of wildfowl (apart from the pair of Mute Swans, already nesting, and a couple of COMMON TEAL), but the Coot flock was still holding up at 127 birds. Still 6 Little Grebes present, two males of which were whinnying, whilst roosting gulls included 8 adult Common, an adult Lesser Black-backed and 13 Argenteus Herring Gulls. A single adult Argentatus Herring Gull was also present.

Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Treecreeper, 2 Mistle Thrush, SISKIN, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Common Buzzard, 5 Red Kite, 2 Wrens, 2 singing male Great Tits, 2 Carrion Crow and a Common Magpie were also seen, as well as a nice stag Muntjac.

The first of a trio of dead BADGERS found today was seen on the Amersham Road (the A355), with one on Gore Hill at SU 959 962 and another near Red Barn Farm at SU 956 935, and a further one on the Great Missenden bypass at SP 902 002.

As luck would have it, virtually all of the gulls at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL (BUCKS) this afternoon were roosting on the grassy slope behind the Recycling Centre, enabling some really nice 'scope views to be had. All in all there were about 680 gulls present, including 278 Black-headed, 302 Herring and just 5 adult Lesser Black-backed. At least 7 of the Herring Gulls bore red North Thames Gull Ringing Group rings, as did two of the 91 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS present. I was able to pick out 5 different CASPIAN GULLS on the slope, including an adult of 3 bearing a distinctive green ring and two different first-winters (both different to the regular male at Spade Oak).

Large numbers of Corvids also present, 41 Red Kites and 200 Common Starlings.

I then moved on to the TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS) to carry out my first thorough counts of the month; I had not been there in over 20 days but little seemed to have changed.

In the MARSWORTH WOODED BELT, 2 Blue Tits, a singing Robin and a Common Blackbird, and on the reservoir proper, 1 Little Grebe, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Coot, 4 Moorhen, a drake Pochard and all 5 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS from neighbouring College Lake, showing very well from the causeway and displaying.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR yielded 54 Greylag Geese, 1 Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, 11 Mallard, 73 Tufted Duck, 15 Pochard and 193 Coot, whilst TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (surprisingly with water level now dropping) producing 8 Sinensis Cormorants, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Common Teal, 6 Gadwall, 12 Mallard, 9 Tufted Duck, 8 Moorhen and 86 Coot. The long-staying female SMEW was showing well from the screen.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR held a lot of wildfowl including 5 Great Crested Grebes, just 2 Mute Swans, 8 Greylag Geese, 19 Mallard, 213 Wigeon, 52 Teal, 14 Gadwall, 66 Shoveler, 173 Tufted Duck, 191 Pochard and 5 COMMON GOLDENEYES (1 adult drake), as well as a single Little Grebe and 215 Coot (just 496 overall).

David Bilcock was just leaving as I entered the Drayton Bank Hide but it was a healthy gull roost, with just over 3,000 well-spread Black-headeds, 76 Commons, a single adult Lesser Black-backed and the regular first-winter MEDITTERANEAN.

Returning back to MARSWORTH, all 3 EURASIAN BITTERNS showed before dusk, including the regular bird close to the causeway climbing up to its reedy'platform'. The BARN OWL also appeared on cue over the Sewage Farm Field, with 4 WATER RAILS in the Cut Reeds.