Recording Area Annual Totals

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

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Feeling like winter again with temperatures struggling to reach 7 degrees C and a biting NW wind blowing........
In the CHESS VALLEY at BOIS MILL POND, the immature Sinensis Cormorant was still present, perched on top of the island, while at CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, a lot of migrant activity with the return of at least 18 Black-headed Gulls and at least 3 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS singing (two on the South Lake and 1 on the North). Nuthatch and Coal Tit were in song, with Long-tailed Tits (pair), Robin (4), Wren (4),  Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Common Starling and GREY WAGTAIL all noted. The GREAT CRESTED GREBE pair were still on territory, with 8 Coot and 21 Tufted Duck also present. Across the road, LATIMER ROAD NUMBERS 1-49 held Common Starling (pair), Jackdaw (18), Common Blackbird, Chaffinch and House Sparrow (male chirping from guttering).

Last week they had all gone but with cold weather returning, at least 18 Black-headed Gulls were on site today

Some confiding male Common Blackbirds

One of 3 singing Common Chiffchaffs

Coots and Moorhens feeding together

21 Tufted Ducks

Great to see this male House Sparrow chirping away
Another pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBE were at SHARDELOES LAKE, where also to be found were 10+ Little Grebe (several whinnying), the 3 Mute Swans (the male busily chasing last year's offspring around and the female incubating), 44 Atlantic Canada Geese, a pair of MANDARIN DUCKS, 12 Gadwall, 13 Tufted Duck and 54+ Coot. A noticeable passage of gulls with 7 Argenteus Herring present, 2 adult Lesser Black-backed and a single Black-headed, while a WATER RAIL was squealing from last year's nesting area. The 2 Grey Heron were still lingering, as were 34 Fieldfare and 26 Redwing, while new in were 3 singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS. Other species noted included Wren (4), Common Blackbird, Mistle Thrush (2 singing males), Robin (2), Great Tit (2), Stock Dove (4), Red Kite (5), Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Common Buzzard and Common Magpie (6).

Plenty of Little Grebes still...

pair of Great Crested Grebe

Common Buzzard being seen off by Rooks as it overflew the Rookery

Fieldfares and Redwings in the far field

a pair of Goldfinch

Argenteus Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls

a 3rd calendar year Herring Gull

one of six juvenile Herring Gulls

The cob Mute Swan acting very aggressively towards his offspring of last year

and the reason why - female sat on the nest

Rooks eeking out food

Leaving the local patch, I then headed north to BEDFORDSHIRE - the Rookery on the A1 roundabout at BIGGLESWADE NORTH now containing 24 active nests. Nearby, at GYPSY LANE WEST PIT (BROOM GP), the undoubted highlight was a migrant first-winter drake RUDDY DUCK - one of only 71 now left in the UK. It was showing very well at the north end of the pit, diving continuously at first before resting with one of the 2 Great Crested Grebes present.
This pit also held 4 Greylag Geese, 12 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall and 10 Coot, with the scrape to the north yielding Ringed Plover, 4 Stock Dove and 45 Woodpigeon. Across the road on GYPSY LANE EAST, waders were well represented with 3 Ringed Plovers, a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (my first of the year), a pair of Common Redshank, a pair of Oystercatchers (one of them ringed) and a winter-plumaged migrant DUNLIN, while 12 COMMON SHELDUCK was a large gathering for inland.
In addition, a single Little Grebe, 26 Greylag Geese, 26 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 8 Coot, 84 Black-headed Gull, 20 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mistle Thrush, Wren and Goldfinch.
I then returned to SOUTH BUCKINGHAMSHIRE with an evening visit to SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) hoping for a sighting of Mediterranean Gull. Despite a large roost, I could not locate the adult of recent days, but there were at least 430 Common Gulls (predominantly adult), 15 Herring and at least 5 Lesser Black-backed. All 3 GARGANEY (2 drakes) were showing well, feeding along the closest vegetative edge of the spit (see pix below), along with a Little Grebe (scarce here), 4 Common Shelduck, 4 Egyptian Geese, 115 Common Teal, 44 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon and 34 Gadwall. A COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in song, as was a Mistle Thrush, while Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring-necked Parakeet (2), Red Kite (5), Stock Dove, 5 Pied Wagtail and 2 Song Thrush were all noted. A Red Fox was out on the spit.

As I walked back to my car, I picked up a raptor flying purposefully east at 1755 hours - pretty high in the sky. It turned out to be an immature male MARSH HARRIER - the first I have ever seen at Little Marlow.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A marked arrival of COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS in Chess Valley

A very sharp frost overnight with temperatures falling to minus 3. A pleasant day followed, although the NW wind was fairly biting.
I spent the morning in the CHESS VALLEY, where around CHENIES BOTTOM, the following bird species were noted -:
Mallard (3 - 2 drakes), Moorhen (pair), Atlantic Canada Geese (2 pairs), Coot (pair), LITTLE OWL (usual bird), Woodpigeon (6), Jackdaw (6, paired up and on the chimneys of the cottages along the Latimer Road), Common Blackbird, Robin, Wren (2), Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch (singing male), Common Magpie (4) and Dunnock (singing male).

Little Owl peeking out from centre of Pollarded Willow

Male Stock Dove occupying nestbox

At CHURCH COVERT, the Chess was still flooding over the roots of the Ancient trees, with Jay, Wren (3 singing males), Robin (2), COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (singing male), Stock Dove (occupying the nestbox), Coot (2 pairs), Great Tit, Woodpigeon (pair), Jackdaw (pair), Red Kite, Moorhen (pair), Mallard (pair), Common Buzzard (pair) and Goldcrest (singing male) all noted.
In the MILL FARM MEADOWS AREA, another 'singing' Stock Dove, 8 Woodpigeon, singing male Dunnock, 8 Jackdaws and a female Common Kestrel (in the nest tree), with FROGMORE MEADOW producing 2 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS, Long-tailed Tit pair, Mallard, Wren and Blue Tit. The woodland belt at LIMESHILL WOOD held Green Woodpecker and Robin.
VALLEY FARM PADDOCKS failed to produce any migrant chats but did yield another COMMON CHIFFCHAFF, Common Buzzard, 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Carrion Crows, 8 Jackdaw and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, while the CRESTYL CRESSBEDS added Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch and Robin.
Little to speak of in MOUNT WOOD other than a Sparrowhawk, Common Magpie, 2 Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit, while CHENIES around HOLLOWAY LANE added 6 House Sparrows (a pair by Woodville Farm and 4 in gardens just in from the main road), Skylark, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 Common Magpie, 36 Jackdaw, Goldfinch and Robin. The village itself held Greenfinch, Wren, Dunnock and Chaffinch, with the 5th singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF of the morning in the trees opposite Chenies Place.

Holloway Lane in Chenies - home for at least 6 House Sparrows

A single sub-adult Sinensis Cormorant was on BOIS MILL POND, with the Mute Swans now occupying a nest on CHESHAM WATERSIDE. Three more Mute Swans were on BOIS MILL MEADOW and the male still on LOWNDES PARK LAKE.
Still trying to determine whether or not a Snowy Owl had been sighted on the Mucking Marshes in Essex, I headed down that way regardless but diverted to KENT on hearing that Barry Wright had connected with the HOOPOE, first seen in November 2013. I arrived about 1530 hours and after a lengthy search, I eventually located the bird on OASTPARK GOLF COURSE at SNODLAND. The bird was showing well but distantly and because of the fading light, I fired off a number of record shots before the bird flew off, presumably to roost (see below).

Record shots of Snodland's Hoopoe this evening, prior to it flying to roost


The area also produced 2 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese, 6 Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Blue Tit, 6 Common Starling, Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 5 Common Blackbird, 6 Linnet, Dunnock, 6 Common Magpie, 4 Carrion Crow, Greenfinch and 6 Chaffinch, as well as 2 Red Foxes and 18 Rabbits.