Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Another calling QUAIL

In what is proving to be an excellent year for COMMON QUAIL, one was calling at 2100 hours this evening on Ivinghoe Beacon - in the arable field below the main car park at SP 962 162.

LGRE away in the Arctic Circle

Unfortunately I will not be able to update the blog(s) for a while as I am leading a tour in Northern Scandinavia. Be back in mid July.


Dave Bilcock obtained these superb images of our local adult LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS last weekend. This year they raised a single youngster but sadly have now moved on, presumably heading south back to Southern Europe.


Both Fritillary species were showing well (8+) in the 'DoB' cutting just doiwn from the S Bend on Ivinghoe Beacon this afternoon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

MARBLED WHITES now emerging

Marbled Whites (top) are now emerging at College Lake and other chalkland and downland sites in the area whilst Speckled Woods still abound, as well as Small Blue and Comma in localised areas. Chalkhill Blues are just starting to emerge at Ivinghoe Cutting. All images were taken by Stuart Read.

More Summer Surveying Work


Another very warm day with temperatures reaching 25 degrees C. Predominantly clear blue skies with light winds. Undoubted highlights were an unseasonal AVOCET occurrence and successful breeding of SPOTTED FLYCATCHER.


Just over the border in Berkshire and thanks to a timely call from the finder CDRH, excellent views were obtained of an unseasonal adult PIED AVOCET at 1240 hours feeding in shallow water just left of the tern raft. Although asleep on one leg initially, it awoke and began drinking and then preening.


Great Crested Grebe (single adult still present on main lake)
Canada Geese (122 on marsh)
Tufted Duck (6)
Coot (just 2 adults on main marsh)
Lapwing (24 post-breeding birds roosting on bund; 6 adults on marsh with 4 young birds recorded, including one very small)
OYSTERCATCHERS (pair on main marsh but no sign of any juveniles)
Common Terns (32 on islands)

HOBBY (adult hawking for dragonflies over main marsh)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (3 singing males)
Linnet (pair)
Reed Bunting (singing male)

An excellent selection of insects was also noted including Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Azure Blue Damselfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Brown Hawker and Hairy Hawker.

PITSTONE QUARRY (heavily disturbed by six persons swimming in the pit and sunbathing on the island)

Little Grebe (4 adults)
Mute Swan (first-summer still present)
Tufted Duck (9)
Pochard (5 present - 2 drakes, 3 females)
Coot (6 adults; 4 juveniles)
Black-headed Gull (first-summer)
Common Terns (2 adults)


Great Crested Grebe (first sign of breeding with pair and two stripy young on Wilstone; 8 further adults on Wilstone with another pair on Startop's End, another pair on Tringford and just 3 adults on Marsworth)
Little Grebe (1 adult on Tringford)
Sinensis Cormorant (adult on Tringford, with 14 birds on Wilstone)
Grey Heron (5 juveniles on Wilstone, with 3 adults on Tringford; 33 nests were located on Wilstone this summer)
Mute Swan (marked increase in numbers, particularly of first-summer birds, with 16 on Wilstone, 12 on Tringford and 38 on Startop's End - 66 in total; sadly, one first-summer had been attacked by a dog on Startop's and had a wound by its bill which was still bleeding)
Atlantic Canada Goose (17 on Wilstone)
Greylag Goose (46 on Wilstone, with 2 on Startop's End)
MANDARIN DUCK (3 well-grown juveniles on the sewage farm)
Mallard (reasonable breeding success with single females being accompanied by 9, 5 and 3 ducklings respectively on Tringford, 2 and 4 ducklings on Startop's End and 56 adults on Marsworth).
GADWALL (18 adults on Wilstone but no evidence of breeding as yet)
EURASIAN WIGEON (2 summering eclipse drakes on Wilstone)
POCHARD (18 on Wilstone; no sign of the recent female with 2 young)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (drake on Wilstone and female accompanied by single perhaps hybrid young on Marsworth)
Tufted Duck (Successful breeding: single large unattended young bird on Tringford, with a female with 5 small young on Tringford and a female with 5 small young on the Sewage Farm; 43 adults on Wilstone, 16 on Tringford, 14 on Startop's End, a pair on Marsworth ande 2 additional pairs on the Sewage Farm)

Common Kestrel (male hunting over Marsworth Reedbed)
Moorhen (4 adults on mud in SW corner of Startop's End)
Coot (Full census - on Wilstone, 557 adults with 18 young being attended; 4 active nests on Tringford with 4 juveniles being fed; 16 on Startop's End with 2 young being fed and just 2 pairs nesting on Marsworth)
Lapwing (25 post-breeding birds roosting on the central rocks on Wilstone)
Black-headed Gull (4 roosting on rocks at Wilstone involving 2 adults and 2 first-summer birds)
Common Tern (53 adults with at least 15 chicks on rafts)

Woodpigeon (present)
Stock Dove (pair near Wilstone)
Eurasian Collared Dove (pair by Wilstone Great Farm)
COMMON CUCKOO (male calling behind Sewage Farm)
Common Swift (8 birds near Sewage Farm)
House Martin (pair on Wilstone)
Pied Wagtail (pair on Wilstone)
Wren (4 singing males in Marsworth Wood)
Dunnock (present)
Robin (4 on Marsworth)
Common Blackbird (several males in song again; 5 fledged juveniles in Tringford Wood)

Blackcap (2 family parties in Marsworth Wood)
CETTI'S WARBLER (singing bird on Marsworth with family group of perhaps 4 birds near sewage farm)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (successful breeding in Marsworth Reedbed where at least 8 birds noted; 3 further singing males behind sewage farm)
Common Chiffchaff (2 singing males in Marsworth Wood)
Great Tit and Blue Tit (several noisy family groups)
Magpie (present)
Jackdaw (successful breeding, with 20+ juveniles on Tringford)
Carrion Crow (present)
House Sparrow (3 just into Tring by canal bridge and 22 including fresh juveniles by the Angler's Retreat)
Chaffinch (2 fledged young in Marsworth Wood)
Goldfinch (pair feeding 3 young on Startop's End)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wilstone: evening 2 Oystercatchers, 6 Hobbys, 74 Common Terns, 3 B.h.Gulls, 1 R.l. Partridge.

Tringford: Tufted duck - 2 broods of 8 chicks. Pitstone Quarry: 6 Redshank, 2 LRP.

Pitstone industrial estate: 1 RP and 1 LRP.

Summer Solstice Birding - RED KITE feeding frenzy

A spectacular RED KITE display this afternoon as the farmer was cutting the grass fields NW of Wilstone reservoir. I counted 11 birds in the air at once hunting over the cut fields and occasionally perching in the nearby trees.

Along the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal between Puttenham bridge and Wilstone lots of White-legged damselflies were present.

Listened for Quail around Pitstone Hill between 8:15 - 8:45pm this evening with no joy (Dave Bilcock).

Quiet Weekend

Saturday - College: 2 Ringed Plovers on the island on the main lake with 6 juvenile Redshanks. Pitstone Quarry: Single LRP and an adult Redshank.

Sunday - Pitstone Industrial Estate: 2 adult LRPs and a single Ringed Plover. One LRP was very close to the car pull in (Dave Bilcock).

Thursday, 18 June 2009


A BARN OWL flying over fields to the north of the reservoir and drying off in trees was the highlight this morning. A drake Common Teal, as well as the drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD and the two Eurasian Wigeon were also present (Roy Hargreaves)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Afternoon Deluge stops play..and then AFRICAN ROYAL TERN is relocated in North Wales

PITSTONE QUARRY (1815 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (1 pair)
Little Grebe (3 pairs)
Mute Swan (first-summer still present)
Tufted Duck (15)
POCHARD (5 present including 3 drakes)
Coot (10 adults; 3 small young being fed by 1 pair)
Moorhen (3)
Common Tern (2 adults)
COMMON REDSHANK (3 including a juvenile)


LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (juvenile still present on remaining scrape but no adults noted)
Stock Dove (pair)
Linnet (1 male)

Displaying TURTLE DOVE and calling COMMON QUAILS make for a great weekend

Just as it looked as though the spring passage was over, new arrivals are still taking place

Most thrilling and following on from the first at Calvert BBOWT this year (per Jon Holt), the first EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE in my recording area for many years was discovered by Dave Hutchinson yesterday morning. I quickly made my way over and enjoyed excellent views of the bird late afternoon, the bird singing from an open perch.

The dove is at the overgrown brickwork site (Boxmoor Trust land now) at Bovingdon Green (at TL 005 028). Park on Shantock Hall Lane and follow the footpath NE for 250 yards to the gate. There is an entrance to the land here and the Turtle Dove was 'singing' from the tall trees literally in line with Gilbert Motors.

There were also 2 male GARDEN WARBLERS singing, at least 4 COMMON WHITETHROATS (including a pair feeding young), a singing male Common Chiffchaff, pair of Linnets, 2 singing male Song Thrushes and a family party of Great Tits.

Following a text from Dan Forder, I then went to meet up with Dave Bilcock and Pitstone Hill.

During an hour in the evening (1930-2030 hours) in balmy flat calm conditions, three calling male COMMON QUAIL was heard in the large barley field opposite the main car park at SP 957 150 and west of Down Farm, all well spaced apart and calling very infrequently.

There was also a gathering of 23 Fallow Deer in the field, a certain Sue Rowe, good numbers of singing Eurasian Skylarks, at least 12 Meadow Pipits feeding young, 4 Linnets and at least 5 CORN BUNTINGS (again, some adults carrying in food).

Nearby at Great Seabrook (SP 930 166), I recorded an adult HOBBY.

Close to home, an adult TAWNY OWL carrying food flew across the bottom end of Bell Lane at 1020 hours.

It has been an excellent year for local FIRECRESTS, with 5 different singing males in Wendover Forest, a pair successfully breeding near Bison Hill and at least four different singing males in Ashridge Forest.

College Lake (early) - The Dunlin was still on the main lake island for its 5th day. 4 Adult Oystercatchers were still on the marsh but one pair flew off at 06:45 towards Startops, leaving the usual pair and their 2 chicks.

Wendover (Hale end) - Good numbers Garden Warblers still singing (see above picture) otherwise 2 Tawny Owls calling and a Buzzard low the over clearing.

Downs Farm: 3 COMMON QUAILS present, although calling very infrequently, one north east corner of field nearest Incombe hole, another towards Downs Farm in middle of field and the other possible was nearer car park. A single DARK GREEN FRITILLARY was watched over NE corner of Barley field, before settling in grassland the other side of the footpath (Dave Bilcock)


I watched 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS on Pitstone Industrial Estate last night about 6pm - after Daves post I assume it was a pair and a big chick. The adult pair were very active, taking short flights, calling and displaying. Two GREY PARTRIDGE decided to cross the scrape and were confronted by a defensive LRP when they got a bit close. The LRP adults flew off towards Pitstone Hill about 6 - don't know if they came back (Sue Rowe)

More Breeding Success...

At least 18 nests of COMMON TERNS on the Wilstone rafts with 10 young fledged and may eggs still to hatch; also CETTI'S WARBLER have bered successfully, with 4 fledglings ringed (John Taylor)

LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS get off one young

College Lake - The breeding plumaged DUNLIN remains on the island on the main lake, with at least 12 Common tern chicks but no sign of the Greenshank on the marsh. An adult RINGED PLOVER was on the island.

Pitstone Industrial Estate - 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, an adult with one well grown chick present.
See Images above

Friday, 12 June 2009

POLECATS are still showing today !

I saw on your website that the polecats had not shown yesterday so I was a bit concerned they may not be there today and I was taking my dad to see them for the first time.

We got to the hide in the woods and they had been seen but only for short periods and the hide was full of people so rather than stand looking over peoples shoulders we went to the study centre to see what birds were feeding there through the large windows overlooking the feeders. Look who popped up for us drinking at the water tray (see attached photos taken this afternoon Friday 12/6/2009 at about 13:30hrs).

Best Regards

Chris Hinton

College Lake - early morning visit

A glorious morning to be out today.

Unsurprisingly this morning there was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper Dave found last night at College Lake, although my visit was just a “quick” pre-work check, so it may have been hiding somewhere…

Other highlights included:

COMMON GREENSHANK still on the mud on the NE corner of the marsh
DUNLIN – Summer-plumage bird again on the island on the main lake
4 Oystercatchers – 2 adults and 2 rapidly-growing chicks
6+ (more like 8) Redshanks on the marsh
10+ Lapwings including 3 chicks1
Red Kite sailed over
1 Great Crested Grebe on the main lake

Cheers & Good Birding, Ben Miller

Today's WOOD SANDPIPER at College Lake

Record phone-recorded image taken by Dave Bilcock this evening.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Negative news on Polecats

Not one Polecat was seen at College Lake today suggesting that the family have now reverted to more natural nocturnal behaviour



Some torrential rain fell during the night leaving localised flooding. Once cleared, the day was clear and bright, with clear blue skies and average temperatures.


Following a call from Dave Bilcock informing me of a WOOD SANDPIPER he had just found, I made my way straight there and joined him at 2027. The bird was still showing and feeding with a COMMON GREENSHANK (found earlier in the day by Gareth Luscombe) on the exposed mud in the NE corner of the main marsh. It flew a short way and landed on a miniscule island and proceeded to feed as the light faded. The bird was quite dark in plumage and not in full 'spotting' of breeding attire but had obvious and typically long pale greenish-yellow legs, a very noticeable white supercilium extending behind the eye and rather diffuse brown streaking on the breast. The upperparts were brown with variegated pale spotting, with the uppertail narrowly barred. Both birds were Bucks Year Ticks for me and fairly scarce birds on spring passage. Ian Williams and Roy Hargreaves also connected.

The marsh also held three further species of wader: Lapwings (including 4 chicks), 6 Common Redshanks and an adult OYSTERCATCHER (there was no sign of the other adult and the two small young seen earlier in the week by Rob Andrews). The main island on the lake held at least 8 nesting pairs of Common Tern, with 6 small fledged young waiting to be fed on the edge.


My first visit in a while. A quick inventory revealed the presence of the following -:

Great Crested Grebe (14 adults including a pair with two small stripy young up against the central bank)
Mute Swan (9)
Canada Geese (11 adults)
Greylag Goose (22 adults and 17 well-grown goslings)
Mallard (62 mainly eclipse drakes)
EURASIAN WIGEON (two drakes remain, one now in eclipse plumage)
Gadwall (2 pairs)
*SHOVELER (pair near hide; scarce in summer)
*NORTHERN POCHARD (successful breeding - female with two small young; additional 17 adults including 5 females)
Tufted Duck (36)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (adult drake still present in NW corner, bleached by wear on crown - found by Steve Rodwell on Sunday 7 June)
Coots (311 including 163 huddled together in a very tight mass on the Drayton Bank)

Black-headed Gull (1 adult)
COMMON TERNS (large gathering towards dusk of 88 birds, with a further 11 sat on the rafts)

HOBBY (4 hunting over Drayton Bank)


Highlight here was a calling male COMMON CUCKOO from fenceposts on the south side.

Also present were adult Great Crested Grebe, first-summer Mute Swan, 10 Tufted Ducks and 5 Common Swifts