Thursday, 30 September 2010

LITTLE STINT still present

This juvenile LITTLE STINT is present at Wilstone for its third day today and was superbly photographed by Dave Hutchison.

LITTLE STINTS take advantage of the mud but yet another RUFF departs quickly

Dave Bilcock's phone-scoped images


Very misty with somewhat poor visibility for a few hours after dawn. Dave Bilcock texted to say that he had seen two LITTLE STINTS at Wilstone, so I made my way straight over......

(0830-0930 hours)

As DB had implied, Wilstone was really in great shape and very attractive for birds. With work to be carried out again on the vegetation on the banks, the water level is dropping daily and extensive mud is now on show. Although the earlier RUFF had departed after just a short while, I was very pleased after missing the weekend Red Knot to finally add a new bird in late September - the LITTLE STINTS...

Both juvenile birds were still present and showing very well just to the left (north) of the Drayton Hide. Dave Hutchison managed to obtain an excellent image of one of the birds and on Wednesday and Thursday, a singleton remained.

The first 26 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS of the autumn also arrived and were roosting on the central spit but most impressive was the 14 NORTHERN PINTAILS - the flock including one adult drake.


The juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE was still present, favouring between the jetty and the Drayton Bank.
Little Grebe (1 still present)
Great Crested Grebe (11)
WHOOPER SWANS (both adults still present)
Common Teal (196)
GARGANEY still present
Eurasian Wigeon (57)
Gadwall (24)
Shoveler (82)
Northern Pochard (204)
Lapwing (74)
Common Kingfisher (3)
Pied Wagtail (2)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Goldcrest (5 in North Hedgerow)

Chinese Water Deer (1)


A massive influx of wildfowl with a full inventory logging 15 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Mute Swans, 15 Teal, 34 Shoveler, 226 Tufted Duck, 93 Northern Pochard and the two continuing RED-CRESTED POCHARDS.


Just single Great Crested Grebe and Mute Swan

Monday, 27 September 2010



Light NE winds and light drizzle is what befell my visit to the reservoirs today and there was little in the way of interest apart from a major build up in wildfowl numbers.


Great Crested Grebe (12)
Little Grebe (1)
*BLACK-NECKED GREBE (juvenile still present to the east of the Drayton Bank)
Mute Swan (27 including the lone first-year)
Gadwall (24)
Common Teal (297)
Eurasian Wigeon (57)
Shoveler (122)
Tufted Duck (117)
Northern Pochard (204)
Lapwing (104)
Grey Wagtail
House Martin (4)

Sunday Afternoon at Wilstone

An astounding 4 GREY PLOVERS over at 16:30 heading East towards College lake.

The Garganey and Black-necked Grebe are both still present as well as a single Common Sandpiper, but no sign of the earlier Spot'shank seen by Francis Buckle.

Yesterday evening a Dunlin and 2 Yellow Wagtails were at Startops.

Saturday Afternoon

No sign of the Red Knot Saturday afternoon but an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was amongst ca.15 LBB resting on the mud between the hide and overflow. A Common Gull was also present with the BHGs.
The GARGANEY was showing well in front of the hide and the juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE distantly off the jetty.

Local Mega - RED KNOT at Wilstone Saturday morning

Myself and Roy Hargreaves initially watched the RED KNOT fly in and land amongst the Coots on the recently exposed spit opposite the car park steps, before it relocated to the mud just off the old overflow (David Bilcock).

MANX SHEARWATER in Aylesbury Town Centre

This exhausted MANX SHEARWATER made an unexpected crash landing in Aylesbury Town Centre last Thursday (per Simon Nichols)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

WRYNECK braves the rain

Quite unexpectedly, the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK refused to take advantage of last night's calm weather and relatively clear skies and was still present this morning when Mick McQuaid paid homage to this very welcome visitor. It had to brave some very torrential rain and electric storms though but was still present at dusk this evening and once more roosted in its favoured Beech tree. This is its fourth day of residence. Martin Parr obtained another selection of great images today, which are uploaded above.

DIRECTIONS: Leave Wendover town centre westwards on the Ellesborough Road and just after passing the last few cottages on the right, park sensibly and courteously at the first bend in the road (at SP 864 074) (please note that there is only room for five cars to park here, so if full, there is a further parking area 70 yards further east). Take the chalk track towards the Bacombe Hill Nature Reserve and opt for the steeper left hand track which takes you to the tumulus after a hefty 250 yard uphill climb. The Wryneck is favouring the tumuli, where generally it affords viewing at less than 15 yards range (SP 862 072)
Wilstone this morning had an eclipse drake GARGANEY – could be the earlier bird from August. Also one Common Redshank, Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper. Two Hobbies were also calling (Roy Hargreaves)

Yesterday, there was a report of 16 Common Redshanks on Wilstone Reservoir.

First autumn REDWING and other thrushes on Ivinghoe Hills this morning

A bash around the hills from 0900 to 1015 when I was too wet to stay any longer !!

Steps Hill had an obvious influx of thrushes, with at least 6 Song Thrush, 15 + Blackbird ( some looked continental ) and rather surprisingly a single REDWING. These were all showing well in a dry weather window at 9am, but after returning there an hour later with heavy rain set in they were much less active, although still present. They are favouring hawthorn scrub, but more pertinently two large berry laden trees about 300 metres North of the car park, on the right of the path as you walk the main path towards the S bend. This is probably my earliest ever Redwing on the hills.

Little else of note though, the rain was pretty torrrential at one point, but a flock of c60 Swallows went South.

A quick look at Startop's End Reservoir ( Herts ) produced the 2 Red-crested Pochard still, but no waders or anything else of note.

Back home 9 Blacxkbirds have just invaded the cherry tree, dont usually have any! (Mike Wallen Birding)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Top quality images from ANDREW MOON

Should I Stay or Should I Go ?

That was the dilemma facing the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK this evening. After leaving the Ivinghoe Hills late afternoon, I returned once more to Bacomb, where from 1700 hours until dusk the bird was still showing exceptionally well, often down to just a few feet. It was once against commuting between the numerous active anthills on the tumulus and spent over two hours moving just 25 yards ! It was feeding voraciously and endlessly, probing its bill and then extending its tongue into the anthills and eating ant after ant, as well as the occasional Cranefly snatched from the ground. Well camouflaged, it fed without regard for its safety and was again enjoyed by large numbers of admirers - perhaps a further 80 observers before the sun faded (including several pin-stripe suited birders from Central London taking advantage of the Metropolitan line). Even birding royalty paid it homage today - a certain CDRH snooping by to take a look.

This really has been one of the birding events of all-time in Buckinghamshire - such a well-loved, well-enjoyed and cripplingly-showing rarity. Once again, I ensured its safety until dark, making sure it roosted safely in its chosen Beech tree for a fourth night (a bird such as this could be a sitting target for a local Sparrowhawk). It flew to roost at 1915 hours and kept on feeding until just seconds before. It must be really heavy by now after consuming so many ants. As darkness fell, it was another calm evening, although quite cloudy, with a light SSW wind - pretty ideal leaping conditions - but not as ideal as the last two moonlit nights.

Interestingly, viz-mig was still underway late this evening, with 11 Meadow Pipits south, and a total of 89 European Barn Swallows.

Prior to my visit to Wendover, I had tried to emulate Mike Wallen, who well-deservedly found the county's first migrant EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD of the year - a fine adult that must have roosted overnight at Ivinghoe - which flew off south shortly after dawn.

I put in a long spell of sky-watching over Ivinghoe Beacon but it was dire - virtually nothing moving apart from local breeding raptors and large numbers of Meadow Pipits and hirundines. I was certainly expecting an Osprey at the very least, especially considering the wind veering from light SSE during the late morning. Another bird I was keen to see was Mike's COMMON STONECHAT - but again no joy and believe it or not, I have still to see one in Bucks this year after they were hit for six during last winter's freeze-up.

Tony Howell obtained some awesome images of the Wryneck whilst with me on Tuesday and over the next few days I shall upload many of them on to my local blogs. If anyone else would like to showcase their images of this beauty, please do not hesitate to email me them - this really is a bird to be proud of photographing. A real treasure.

HONEY BUZZARD is early riser

A brilliant morning, and at last a really good bird for the hills this Autumn. Highlight was without doubt an adult EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD which appeared soaring very low ( maybe 60- 80ft ) on the East side of Steps hill at 0645am, several minutes before the sun came up. I suspect that it had just left its roost, as it thermalled up, but only enough to clear the hill, and then flew SSW over Steps Hill. If I'd been in the car park at the time it would have been straight overhead. Seems really early to get raptors but both Common Buzzard and Red Kite were hunting within minutes of this bird.

Passage of other stuff was not heavy this morning, a Reed Bunting ( not the Lapland yet !! ) passed over calling, mipits were low in number. 5 'alba' wagtails went over, but three of these together were seen really well and were Whites; several decent Skylark and Hirundine flocks.
A COMMON STONECHAT was on the fenceline on the Beacon.

At Startops Reservoir ( Herts ), no waders, but an obvious influx of 'aythia' duck with 29 Pochard and another increase in the Tufteds; still 2 Red-crested Pochard (Mike Wallen)

Nearby, Rob Andrews recorded a NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Pitstone Hill and the COMMON GREENSHANK was still present in the Quarry.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A Day in the life of a migrant WRYNECK

Disappointed with a no-show of a Bobolink in South Wales this morning, I decided to spend the day watching the Bacombe Hill Wryneck and viz-migging. It was a glorious day, with wall-to-wall sunshine, mainly clear skies and light southerly winds. I arrived on site at about 10.30am and remained until dusk, during which time the Wryneck was admired by a total of 86 people, including visitors from as far afield as Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey. Numerous individuals phoned me during the day, keen to see such a showy and charismatic bird and I agreed to stay on to keep tabs on it, with Rob Hill, Nik Maynard, Paul Moon and Darin Stanley all arriving late in the day.

The bird fed voraciously throughout the entire period of my stay, mainly feeding on the infestation of ants around the tumulus. Like many migrant Wrynecks, it was almost totally oblivious to visitors, wandering around the grass in the manner of a Lapland Bunting or Tree Pipit, and often at just feet range. Occasionally it would wander into more dense vegetation and to avoid losing it, I kept with it so that I could direct all further visitors (one ignorant bystander interpreted this as flushing the bird). It did flush on two brief occasions when it settled for a while in its roost Beech tree but throughout the afternoon, it moved slowly around its chosen circuit, barely moving more than 15 yards, and delighted observers with its comical antics. What a truly charasmatic bird and a wonder to watch. It finally went to roost in its favoured shrub at 1910 hours.

DIRECTIONS: Literally on the western outskirts of Wendover town, park on the first sharp right hand bend on the Ellesborough Road (room for just 5 vehicles) and continue along the footpath to the first gate and take the left hand of three tracks running parallel with the Ridgeway Trail. After 300 yards, this upper track brings you out at the tumuli.

It was an excellent day for migration and I was mightily impressed with the diurnal passage, with birds migrating south direct in a line from the Quainton Hills. The largest numbers were of the hirundines, with some 116 European Barn Swallows recorded, and 15 House Martins. Next off were the raptors, with a total of 22 Common Buzzards south (including a single kettle of 15 juveniles) and a single HOBBY. Five Red Kites also drifted over but they were more than likely local birds.

The best was a party of 6 SISKINS - my first of the autumn - with a final tally of 16 Chaffinches (mostly singletons but moving south throughout the day) and 3 Eurasian Skylarks. A single YELLOW WAGTAIL also went south.

In the scrub were 3+ MARSH TITS, several Coal Tits and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

WRYNECK still present

The WRYNECK is still present at Bacombe Hill this morning, showing well again on the tumulus. Images by kind courtesy of Ian Williams

Monday, 20 September 2010

WRYNECK present until dusk

Although elusive at times, the WRYNECK remained throughout the afternoon and was still present at dusk, eventually being seen by at least 35 birders before dark. Both Ashley Stowe and Ian Williams obtained further images of the bird.

WRYNECK at Bacomb Hill

Just got back from the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK which is showing extremely well feeding on the tumulus mounds just south and above the Ridgeway Trail (1030-1145 hours). It is a dark-eyed juvenile.


Park on the Ellesborough Road just SW of Wendover and follow the upper Ridgeway Trail SW along towards the Coombe Hill monument. To your left after 250 yards is the raised tumuli (at SP 862 072, where the WRYNECK is favouring and can be seen by looking back east from the minor trail that leads south. The bird is showing extremely well and returned even though being inadvertently flushed. A superb find.

There was much Vismig at the site involving Meadow Pipits, a few Bullfinch and Jays, whilst the Low Scrubs woodland held Marsh and Coal Tits and Goldcrests.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Another BLACK-NECKED GREBE and first RUFF of the year

There is another BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Wilstone this morning, along with a migrant juvenile RUFF and a single DUNLIN. A COMMON GREENSHANK also remains, as does the lingering first-winter COMMON TERN.

Thanks to David Bilcock for the updates

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Early Shift

Three PINTAIL and a male Mandarin were visible from the hide and three COMMON SHELDUCKS were on the cemetery quarter on the water between the two sets of barley bales. The juvenile Common Tern was still present and perched on the jetty – allowing a good opportunity to try out my camcorder. A Yellow Wagtail flew over low heading SW and seven Skylarks were on the fields by Drayton Beauchamp. First thing a flock of c. 30 Sand Martins was supplemented later by a larger flock of House Martins.

Two Chinese Water Deer in the meadow between the cress beds and Rushy Meadow and a Roe Deer in the field south of the Dry Canal to the west of the track to Miswell – managed to be in both counties (Roy Hargreaves)


Three COMMON SHELDUCKS arrived at Wilstone this morning and were still present this evening.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Strong winds up North but no displaced seabirds here


A rare opportunity to do some local birding this evening - my first chance this month ! With rarities flooding in on almost a daily basis, far flung places in the UK are my normal September-November abode.

With strong NW winds battering the coasts of North Wales and NW England, the opportunity of finding storm-driven Grey Phalaropes, Manx Shearwaters and Leach's Petrels inland is now quite high. With this in mind, I ventured out to the reservoirs this evening. The weather here was fine, fairly clear and quite blustery.


Sadly, no sign of any wind-blown or misplaced seabirds but an opportunity to do a 'stock take'. Wildfowl had arrived in good numbers and a single Common Tern was lingering.........

Great Crested Grebe (11)
Cormorant (15)
Grey Heron (1)
Mute Swan (29+)
WHOOPER SWANS (the two non-naturalised adults from Bedfordshire)
Mallard (57)
Gadwall (12)
*NORTHERN PINTAIL (4 feeding in front of the Drayton Hide)
Shoveler (42)
Eurasian Wigeon (8)
Common Teal (202)
Northern Pochard (29)
Tufted Duck (77)
Common Kestrel and Eurasian Sparrowhawk (up to 3 HOBBIES also in area, and juvenile female PEREGRINE but not seen this evening)
Coot (529)
Lapwing (37)
Black-headed Gull (248)
Argenteus HERRING GULL (2 juveniles)
COMMON TERN (1 first-winter on the rafts)
House Martin (114)
Muntjac (1 stag)


An excellent selection of birds present including an impressive 14 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Mute Swans, 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, 3 Common Teal, 8 Shoveler, 114 Tufted Duck and 240 Coots. There were also 19 Pied Wagtails present and a large number of hirundines including 215 House Martins, 8 Barn Swallows and 5 SAND MARTINS.


A single COMMON GREENSHANK was present on the muddy scrapes, with 6 Little Grebe, 7 Teal, 4 Shoveler and 3 Tufted Ducks the only other species of note

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Another good day for COMMON REDSTART passage


Ivinghoe Beacon: 1 female along fence line below the beacon and another bird glimpsed briefly in flight from footpath between car park to s-bend

Wilstone: Stuart Wilson found one along the hedgerow west of ringers gate, where the footpath leads up to the dry canal, later it had been joined by a 2nd bird (both females) (David Bilcock).

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Jeff Bailey discovered an OSPREY at Wilstone Reservoir this afternoon, the bird lingering for a while before finally off strongly to the south at 1640 hours. This follows another OSPREY seen over Wilstone a few days back.

Otherwise, fairly quiet today - 1 COMMON GREENSHANK still in the area (per Dave Bilcock)

And later Tuesday morning

And later

Ivinghoe Beacon: Female COMMON REDSTART hunting from fence line east of Beacon where the path goes down to the main Dunstable road, also Spotted Flycatcher in same area.

Wilstone: BLACK TERN remaining, single Pintail and an adult Common tern looking very wintery with black bill and dark lesser coverts (see image above).
The 'ferruginous' type hybrid duck present last autumn has returned and was on the spit in front of the hide this afternoon (David Bilcock).

Tuesday morning

Startops - 2 Common Swift getting over the canal into Bucks, 1 adult Common Tern, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Red-crested Pochard (2 drakes), 2 Wigeon

Wilstone (Herts) - Moulting adult BLACK TERN still in a very quick visit

College Lake - 1 Yellow Wagtail over, distinct lack on birds on the reserve (other than Canada Geese)

Pitstone Quarry - 1 Greenshank, 1 ad Ringed Plover, 1 ad Little Ringed Plover (just into Bucks along the western edge), 10 Little Grebe

Ben Miller

Monday, 6 September 2010


Ian William's discovered and photographed this SPOTTED REDSHANK early on Sunday morning at Startop's End Reservoir. It remained from just 0900-0930 hours before flying off strongly east. It represented the first record of the year for the county.

Sunday morning at Wilstone

A group of 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS (photo of one attached) in field behind the hide along with Common Chiffchaff and a few tits. The Whoopers Swans were still at Wilstone with Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and 2 Green Sandpipers (David Hutchinson)

SPOTTED REDSHANK briefly at Startop's mud on Sunday morning

Ian Williams discovered this adult SPOTTED REDSHANK at 0900 hours Saturday morning. It remained for just half an hour before flying off strongly east (images courtesy of David Bilcock)

NORTHERN WHEATEARS on the Ivinghoe Hills

Some excellent images of NORTHERN WHEATEARS taken at Ivinghoe this weekend (Chaz Jackson)

Images from Saturday morning - taken by MIKE KNOTT

Wilstone Reservoir, mostly from the Hide, Saturday morning 7:30 am to 11 am.1.
1-2) Chinese Water Deer. Appeared from reeds on far side of inlet to right of hide.
3-4) Common Greenshank. In front of hide and moving around all morning. Was eating afish at one point
5) Common Sandpiper, kept on flying on to pile of twigs visible from near old outflow on Drayton bank side. Was a long way off and this is a crop.


Saturday morning

Annika Forsten and I started this morning at Wilstone – having been surprised to find that it wasn’t too foggy and that you could see things. A quick foray to the jetty yielded nothing, but the walk to the hide allowed us to see Common Sandpiper and a single Greenshank (we had two yesterday). Returning back to the car park we scanned again and found a BLACK-NECKED GREBE out amongst the barley bales. It then flew over the bales to the area of open water adjacent to the reeds and Cemetery Corner.

A “foreign trip” up to Ivinghoe Beacon didn’t produce much as we missed the earlier Redstart. The only visible migration was a couple of Siskins flying over – not exactly Lapland Buntings! (Roy Hargreaves)


Saturday morning
Wilstone: Juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE (found by Roy) showing distantly from the jetty.

Quarry: 2 LRPs

Beacon: 1W male COMMON REDSTART near s-bend but low cloud made viewing difficult, typically just started to lift as I was leaving! (David Bilcock)

.......And more to follow

Another cracking morning on the Ivinghoe Hills (3 September), with obvious migrants around and the 'chats' stealing the show.

3 COMMON REDSTARTS, the only showy one is a female favouring the bushes and fence line to the right ( East ) of the path between the S bend and the Beacon proper. There was another in these bushes, tail only seen as it was chased by the 'showy' female. The other bird was in the obvious clump of bushes East of the Trig on the South slope just off the 'lower' path, looked like a 1st winter male but very skulky. In this latter location there was also a Spotted Flycatcher.
5 plus Wheatears including a huge pale Greenlander.
1 juvenile WHINCHAT and 1 TREE PIPIT over
c20 YELLOW WAGTAILS with a number amongst the sheep but also flyovers.

Mike Wallen Birding

Early morning Ivinghoe Hills - 3 September

One of those fantastic mornings on the side of Steps Hill when you look out over a sea of mist covering the vale of Aylesbury. The above picture was from the top of Incombe hole looking towards Halton.
Birdwise there were several flocks of Meadow Pipits heading west along the ridge and a TREE PIPIT calling over Incombe Hole which appeared to land on the slope towards the s-bend (David Bilcock).

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Recent Images from the Reservoirs - all taken by IAN WILLIAMS

The SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in Hide Meadow, the 3 WHINCHATS in the 'Back Fields', the male COMMON REDSTART that spent four days in the Hide Meadow tree-line and the WATER RAIL family right of the Drayton Hide - all taken by Ian Williams