Friday, 30 July 2010

Morning Update

Water level is definitely dropping, but still not enough bank for a WWBT to stand on – although the 1999 bird on 31st July made do with posts.

Anyway this morning there were three Little Egrets again, also Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and 2 or 3 Common Sandpipers. A COMMON RAVEN perched in a tree by the dry canal was my personal highlight though as it was the first I have seen perched at the reservoirs.

A Hobby was also about this morning and the juvenile Sparrowhawks are definitely in their noisy phase at the moment (Roy Hargreaves)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Recent sightings - Steve Rodwell

Had the chance to do quite a bit of birding as I was home the first couple of days of the week and did the rounds after work yesterday. It is remarkably quiet. Best bird was an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (the first of the year) over Wilstone Wednesday evening. At Pitstone Quarry there have been up to 3 LRPs, 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper (probably the same bird that has been at the sewage works), 1 Snipe, 2 juv Redshanks and 1 Mandarin. At Wilstone there were 27 Great crested Grebes including 7 juvs, 6 Shoveler and 5 Teal. 1 Red-crested Pochard was still at Startops. That's about it. Kind regards, Steve

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Helleborines in the Missenden area

Here are a few photographs of various Helleborines at a site near Princes Risborough taken this weekend. The Narrow-lipped Helleborines are an enigma, much studied and written about as they show characteristic's of Broad-leaved Helleborine, such as the shape of the lip (broader) and the fact that they are cross-pollinating (allogamous). Suggestions are that they are hybrids, a new variety of Narrow-lipped Helleborine or a variety of Broad-lipped Helleborine. I have named the photographs Narrow-lips for now. Currently their identity is unproven (see top three images).

There are also around 20 Violet Helleborine at the site, currently still in bud - see photo. Also gone over White Helleborines making 4 species together (Charlie Jackson)

Early morning roundup - Dave Bilcock

College Lake: 1 Green Sandpiper on the marsh, 1 WOOD SANDPIPER flew off towards Cheddington (05:55) may have been present unseen on the marsh earlier.

Puttenham Church yard: 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS still present

Sewage Lagoon: 2 Green Sandpipers

South of Wing: 1 COMMON QUAIL calling from wheat field

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Early morning CURLEW

This morning started out with the usual two Little Egrets and three Common Sandpipers and when Ian Williams and I were walking back from the Jetty we heard the bubbling call of a EURASIAN CURLEW. Fortunately we managed to see it as it flew North-west towards Puttenham. Continuing to the hide we were joined by Mike Campbell and soon after the mist settled over Wilstone we had two Common Redshank fly in and eventually land for a little while. Little else to report but for a Hobby hawking from the poplars to the right of the hide over the reeds (Roy Hargreaves)

WOOD SAND at College

There was a WOOD SANDPIPER at College Lake BBOWT briefly this morning (per Dave Bilcock)

Friday, 23 July 2010


This morning felt like birdlistening rather than birdwatching. Two Little Egrets were easy enough to spot, but a WHIMBREL that flew through calling eluded both David and I as we scanned for it. Later I was round at Rushy Meadow watching a Chinese Water Deer feeding there and could hear a Common Redshank calling repeatedly as it was presumably flying around the reservoir – naturally I didn’t see that either. One Common Sandpiper and a fair number of Lapwing were the only visible waders this morning. Also a HOBBY perched high on an exposed branch could be seen from the Dry Canal (Roy Hargreaves).

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Breeding Birds


Another very hot day with temperatures reaching 84 degrees F in the early afternoon. No sign of any rain but wind picked up late afternoon and thick cloud cover then moved in. I managed 67 species today, with SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS finally recorded in my immediate area for this year........


A female Tufted Duck with 5 small young was a nice record, with an additional adult female in tow, with 5 Coots (3 young) and 8 Moorhens (4 young).

(Evening visit)

Great Crested Grebes (10 including 1 juvenile)
Continental Cormorants (15)
Grey Herons (3)
Mute Swans (57, mostly moulting birds but including an adult tending just 1 cygnet)
Greylag Geese (29)
Atlantic Canada Geese (57)
Mallard (female with 3 ducklings)
Gadwall (9)
Common Teal (3)
Tufted Duck (44)
Coot (487+, the rafting now taking place)
Lapwing (16)
Common Sandpiper (1)
Common Terns (73)

Common Swifts (16)
European barn Swallow (1)
Sand Martin (2)
House Martins (2)
Grey Wagtails (2)
Common Starlings (18)

Nearby in Tring, 6 House Sparrows were present in gardens just before the roundabout in Tringford Road.


HOUSE MARTINS (small breeding colony in village consisting of 3 active nests)
House Sparrows (usual colony in village in hedgerow of 'Hill View' garden)
Linnets (9)
Yellowhammer (5)
CORN BUNTING (jangling male on wires)


Another small colony of breeding House Sparrows, in gardens just west of the A4146 in Hemp Lane

Monday, 19 July 2010

Scorching weather highlighted by SPOTTED FLYCATCHER family


The steaming heat returned with a vengeance today and by mid afternoon, temperatures had soared to 84 degrees fahrenheit. It was quite difficult birding in such conditions but I ventured out as far as the Tring area......


A beautiful male BULLFINCH flew across the road just south of the village and landed in the kerbside hedgerow - gorgeous...


Following up information kindly received from Don and Sandra Otter, I was absolutely delighted to see the family party of 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS (two adults and three spotty young) in St Mary's Churchyard(at SP 885 149), in the tall pine 30 yards behind Cecilia Hall. They were showing extremely well in the sunshine and were finding a lot of insect food, sallying out quite noisily from the tall conifer tree (you could hear the bill-snapping as they connected with insects).

The churchyard also held a family of Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Green Woodpecker and a Brimstone butterfly, whilst 4 Red Kites were overhead.

I was then very pleased to find a small colony of HOUSE MARTINS nesting in the village - at the Old Rectory and Rectory Stables (SP 884 147) - a total of 3 active nests; this area also held 4 pairs of House Sparrows.


A quick scan revealed the presence of 13 Mute Swans, 25 Greylag Geese and 52 Coot.


Breeding success came in the form of 1 juvenile Great Crested Grebe and a family party of 6 Mute Swans (4 cygnets) whilst overall there were 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Grey Herons, 50 Greylag Geese, 93 Mallard-types, the adult female Red-crested Pochard (SR had also seen this year's surviving youngster), 2 Tufted Ducks, a family group of 4 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 4 Common Terns (including a noisy youngster), 5 Western Reed Warblers and a singing male Reed Bunting.


Over the weekend, Dave B and Steve recorded up to 8 Little Ringed Plovers, 3 Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers and 2 juvenile Common Redshanks. On my visit this afternoon, it was being used as a swimming pool so pickings were meagre - 3 Little Grebes, 7 Tufted Ducks, 13 Coot (5 young) and 3 Stock Doves visiting to drink

Friday, 16 July 2010

BLACK REDSTARTS at Down Farm, Aldbury

These two BLACK REDSTARTS were discovered by ace birder Steve Rodwell today, as he scanned the farmland from the top of Pitstone Hill. Both birds were present in and around the farm buildings at Down Farm and were flitting between the farm implements and the wire fences. David Bilcock obtained the excellent series of images above.

DUNLIN arrives in heavy rain

At Pitstone Quarry this evening, the family group of Little Ringed Plovers were joined by 3 Common Sandpipers and a breeding plumaged DUNLIN (per Rob Andrews)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More local survey work and my first CHALKHILL BLUES of the year

CHALKHILL BLUE and DARK GREEN FRITILLARY butterflies on Ivinghoe Beacon, captured wonderfully on film by Francis Buckle


A lot more rain fell today, with showers continuing on and off until late afternoon. Temperatures remained quite high and the wind was in the southwest. I carried out more breeding season survey work today, highlights being nesting House Martins, Marsh Tits and a wandering Common Raven....


On the River Chess by Water Lane bridge (SP 958 013), a pair of Moorhens was feeding 3 young. Close by, at the junction of Fullers Hill and Wey Lane (SP 958 012), I was delighted to discover two active nests of HOUSE MARTINS on the eaves of the corner house, the owner informing me that a colony had existed there for at least 44 years ! This same area also held breeding Collared Dove and HOUSE SPARROW (1 pair), whilst 8 Common Swifts were overhead.

Chesham has a thriving breeding population of Western Jackdaws utilising the chimney pots - totalling at least 30 pairs (including 3 pairs opposite the Queen's Head and numerous pairs in Bellingdon Road).

A total of 43 pairs of HOUSE SPARROW was located in Chesham, with the core populations on Lansdowne Road, Mount Nugent, Berkhampstead Road and on Vale Road; a further 6 Common Swifts were in the Evangelical Church area on the main road.


The most unexpected sighting here was of a loud cronking COMMON RAVEN that flew NE over the Rose & Crown public house and main road, constituting my first this month. It was missing a few flight feathers.

The woodland strip here held 11 singing male Wrens, Chaffinch with young, Greenfinch, Common Blackbird, Blackcap (feeding fledged young), a singing male Common Chiffchaff and families of both Great and Blue Tits.

I found an excellent new plantation area of young conifers (at SP 944 069) and this harboured Green Woodpecker and young, a family party of 6 Linnets (plus another pair), 5 Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinches and a singing male YELLOWHAMMER. There were two Red Kites overflying the area too.

On the northern outskirts of the Common, a pair of European Barn Swallows were nesting in a horse barn and both family parties of Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff were noted. A Eurasian Skylark was singing nearby.


Buckland Wood was a mixed deciduous woodland bordering Bottom Road but was dense and dark. Birds noted included Jay, Wren, Common Chiffchaff and Coal Tit, with another singing male YELLOWHAMMER on the opposite side of the road on St Leonard's Common.


At the edge of Northill Wood, just behind the buildings, a family party of MARSH TITS was encountered.


Very, very quiet, with little of note - 2 Mute Swans, 1 Common Redshank, 8 Common Terns, 15 House Martins and 8 Sand Martins.


Water level dropped dramatically with the central ridge of mud apparent. A large number of roosting small gulls including 83 Black-headed (including 1 juvenile) and a 2nd-year COMMON GULL (my first this month), along with 20 Lapwings and 8 Tufted Duck.


In the small meadow right of the chalk track, 80 yards beyond the first new gate, I quickly saw 28 CHALKHILL BLUE BUTTERFLIES, despite the poor weather (see Francis Buckle's excellent photographs above). There were also many Marbled Whites, Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Ringlets.


This extensive tract of woodland is best known for its bumper Edible Dormouse population, bolstered by the provision of several hundred nestboxes (for full details, read the following I decided to visit today to carry out an extensive bird survey, the woodland consisting of a wide variety of native and ornamental trees including Douglas Fir, Coast Redwood, Dam Redwood, Norway Spruce, Sessile Oak, Common Oak and Cherry. Most species have now ceased singing but I did manage to prove nesting for Dunnock, Jay, Common Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, Wren and Coal Tit (3 family parties). Two different Goldcrests were found but remarkably no Firecrests. There were numerous Badger setts in the wood.

First juvenile LITTLE EGRETS of autumn

This morning two juvenile Little Egrets were present on the mud to the north of the hide and under the trees there. Also Common Sandpipers on Wilstone and Startop’s End (Roy Hargreaves).

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

HOBBIES - and BADGERS back to form

A distinct and dramatic change in the weather today with an autumnal feel to conditions this evening. A constant wave of light showers were carried along on brisk WSW winds, with a much colder edge to proceedings.


Spurned on by Roy's wader passage, I drifted down this evening and fully censused Wilstone Reservoir from 2000 hours until dusk. Fairly uneventful apart from two adult HOBBIES hawking over the reservoir. No waders to speak of. The results -:

Great Crested Grebe (16 birds in total including 1 juvenile being fed)
Mute Swan (increase in summer moult arrivals with 42 birds present)
Greylag Geese (39)
No Gadwall noted but 3 COMMON TEAL roosting on Drayton Bank
Tufted Duck (just 15 seen - and no family parties)
Northern Pochard (16 roosting on Drayton Bank)
HOBBY (two adults hunting at dusk)
Lapwing (just 6)
Common Terns (87+, including a reasonable number of juveniles on the wing)
Common Swift (117 at dusk)
House Martin (15)


Badgers were much in evidence this evening, presumably taking full advantage of the first rains in several weeks, with 6 noted between Dancers End and Buckland Wood.

More returning waders

This morning three Common Sandpipers were still present, four Eurasian Teal were visible, a Common Redshank flew around before heading off towards College Lake and a DUNLIN was flushed by Greylags and circled high and then headed off East (Roy Hargreaves).

Monday, 12 July 2010

EDIBLE DORMICE performing for second night


After returning from my first-ever WHITE-TAILED PLOVER in Kent, I met up with good friends Dougal, Rossie and John and took them over to Dancers End Woods to show them EDIBLE DORMICE. I followed Chaz Jackson's directions of last night........

The first animals began contacting each other in the avenue of trees shortly after 2200 hours and over the next hour, some 15 specimens were encountered. We enjoyed some excellent views as they fed on berries overhead and clambered from branch to branch. The guys were well pleased.

As darkness fell, at least 3 TAWNY OWLS called and as I drove up through 'The Crong' on returning home, superb prolonged views were obtained of a BADGER in the headlights. It was trying to find food at the roadside but sadly, much of the ground is still very hard.

Weekend Insect searching at the reservoirs...

This afternoon I combined a shopping trip with checking Wilstone – this time concentrating on the Dragonflies and Damselflies. Anyway Red-eyed Damselflies were on the surface vegetation with Common Blues close to the bank. Further along on the surface vegetation in the West Corner there were good number of Blue-tailed Damselflies and further away from the bank Small red-eyed Damselflies were also about. Larger relatives present included Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer and my first Four-spotted Chaser on the reservoirs (Roy Hargreaves).

Friday, 9 July 2010

First autumn passage WHIMBRELS

A very pleasant evening at Wilstone tonight with many juvenile Common Terns fledged and begging for food on the straw bales.

Highlight was at 2108 when 3 WHIMBRELS flew in high from the east, gradually dropping in height as they circled looking for somewhere to land. After attempting to drop down on the tiny bit of mud near the hide they thought better of it and headed up and over the poplars towards Broughton (Rob Andrews)

Monday, 5 July 2010

More non-naturalised BARNACLE GEESE

Sunday 4 July

College Lake: 1 Common Sandpiper, in additional to the usual Redshanks, Oycs and Lapwings

Sewage Lagoon: Green Sandpiper remains

Wilstone: 3 non-naturalised BARNACLE GEESE arrived 08:55 and briefly joined the Greylag Geese flock on the water between the hide and car park steps; after a while they relocated to the opposite side of the Drayton bank viewable only from the hide. They remained until evening. Also present were 6 Common Sandpipers on the bales and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth briefly investigating the Willowherbs by the old overflow (David Bilcock).

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Todays COMMON GREENSHANK at College - images

This adult COMMON GREENSHANK was still present on the main marsh this evening (David Bilcock)


Steps Hill / Beacon: Only managed 5 DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES walking from duke gulley, below the beacon, along the bottom of Steps Hill to the far side of Incombe Hole.

College Lake BBOWT: 1 COMMON GREENSHANK on the marsh and an early Ruddy darter in the ditch along footpath to hide (David Bilcock).

Dave's snippets - returning post-breeding waders and dispersing juvenile COMMON CROSSBILLS

Sewage Lagoon: Green Sandpiper still present

Wilstone: 2 Common Sandpipers and 1st juvenile Little Egret of the autumn

Wendover Hale End: 5 COMMON CROSSBILLS over the clearing heading towards the car park (all females/juvs), single Silver-washed Fritillary flying around tree tops at 7:30am (David Bilcock).


JULY 2010


Some light relief early on when a band of light drizzle passed across the Chilterns. The heat soon returned though and by late afternoon, it was muggy and hot again. Temperatures peaked at 28 degrees C, although the sun struggled to break through the heavy cloud.

I reserved today to do a full circuit of North Buckinghamshire and eventually recorded 68 species. Highlights included breeding TREE SPARROW, YELLOW WAGTAIL and new HOUSE MARTIN colonies but biggest disappointment was failing to locate the breeding Goosanders and again failing to find Grey Partridge.....


I checked out the ''Duke Cutting'' at Ivinghoe this afternoon and was delighted to see good numbers of very fresh DARK GREEN FRITILLARY butterflies on the wing on the more open area just north of the S bend at Ivinghoe. There were several Marbled Whites as well, along with Meadow Browns and Ringlets, as well as 27 Pyrammidal Orchids and several hundred jaded Common Spotted Orchids.


Just inside Bedfordshire and west of the B4506 (at SP 995 174), there are some amazing fields completely covered in Red Poppies - a staggering sight.