Monday, 30 July 2012

Recent butterflies

Local butterflies photographed by Chaz Jackson - Dark Green Fritillaries, Marbled White and Meadow Brown butterflies - the former in usual good supply at Ivinghoe Hills

Sunday, 29 July 2012

BLACK-NECKED GREBE out of the blue

Dave Bilcock (back in Tring after a long time away) very kindly texted me this morning to inform me of this very confiding BLACK-NECKED GREBE on Wilstone (cracking shots from Dave Hutchinson). The bird was favouring the north bank, mainly between the two outflows, and remained on view throughout the morning and early afternoon. Then the  heavens opened with torrential rain, thunder and lightning, and in an extensive search from 1600-1700 hours, I could find no sign of it anywhere.

Dave B had also had a NORTHERN WHEATEAR early on along the east bank whilst NUTHATCHES remain in a Bulbourne garden and at the back of Wilstone.

I also saw the eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard, a single Common Teal, 1 Common Sandpiper and 8 Common Terns whilst Lucy Flower noted the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

TURTLE DOVE at Boars Croft Farm

A EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE was at Boars Croft Farm, north of Long Marston, this evening whilst Lucy Flower located a very early NORTHERN WHEATEAR just SE of the Beacon at Ivinghoe

Roy Hargreaves had a Mandarin at Wilstone and two feeding parties of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS

Monday, 23 July 2012

Little activity at the resses but plenty of butterflies in the hot weather


Summer has arrived at last. Temperatures this afternoon reached 84 degrees F with wall-towall sunshine and clear skies.

After spending four days at the Olympic village it was nice to be able to get out in the field again for more than just a couple of hours. I concentrated my efforts locally.........


A lot of raptor activity including at one site, 8 Red Kites in the air together


Water levels at overflowing point on all four reservoirs and hence little chance of waders this autumn......
Walking between Cemetery Corner and the far end of the orchard produced 2 Song Thrushes, Common Whitethroat feeding young, a juvenile MARSH TIT, a pair of BULLFINCHES, a pair of Greenfinches and the family party of 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS but no sign of either the 2 Nuthatches or the recent Coal Tit. Lots of butterflies were on the wing including Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Comma and a tardy Red Admiral.

A male Reed Bunting was singing from the reedbed whilst a second pair of BULLFINCH was encountered near Rushy Meadow and 8 Goldfinch.

Not much on the open water: 46 Mute Swans, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 22 Tufted Ducks and 300 Coot (in dredging flocks of 160, 98 & 42). Just 2 Common Terns were present.

Three female House Sparrows alighted near the car park to have a drink whilst a worn male was gathering damselflies for its young. A Common Chiffchaff was singing in the NE corner.


Lots of butterflies on the wing including 13 DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES, 70+ CHALKHILL BLUES and several Marbled Whites


This site is looking absolutely superb and is by far the best site in the county at present for waders. Between 1300 and 1400 hours, I recorded 8 species - a superb male RUFF (a so-called white satellite male) (my first of the year), a single summer-plumaged DUNLIN, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, pair of Oystercatchers, a juvenile Common Redshank, 89 Lapwings, a COMMON SANDPIPER and 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS.

Common Terns were plentiful too with, of 84 counted, 7 fledged juveniles and 8 still being fed on the islands; 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls too and nesting success by Great Crested Grebe (two young being fed) and Coot (2 small chicks being fed).


A female GOOSANDER was by the main road bridge on the Ouse with four small young, whilst a Great Crested Grebe was with two small young east of the mill and an adult and juvenile Common Tern.

On the opposite side of the road, the resident pair of Mute Swans had 6 attendant cygnets

In Emberton Park, Mute Swans numbered 38, an adult Great Crested Grebe was feeding a well grown youngster, a COMMON KINGFISHER was on the river and the naturalised flock of Barnacle Geese numbered 107 by the yacht club (including good numbers of young birds).


Dropped down into Bedfordshire where my luck seemed to change. Checked out all of the wetland reedbeds and Rookery South but no sign of the 2nd-summer female Marsh Harrier - not in Quest Pit either.

In fact, very little at the Millenium Park - 1 Little Egret, a female Tufted Duck with 6 small ducklings and a juvenile COMMON CUCKOO

Went over and checked the bridleway leading north from east of the village but no sign of either yesterday's Whinchat or Common Redstart this evening, although the latter was still present in the hedgerow this morning (per finder). I just saw 7 Common Whitethroats.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Weekend Highlights

The pale morph probably male HONEY BUZZARD was again showing occasionally this weekend at an undisclosed site near Tring Park whilst other highlights included at least two NUTHATCHES on Wilstone, up to 7 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and a COAL TIT at the back of the reedbed.

Calling QUAIL included one still at Down Farm Cereal Fields and another between Aldbury and Tring, whilst COMMON CROSSBILLS continue to move through in good numbers, with several small flocks commuting between Wilstone and Wendover, and a number near Tring Park.

Friday, 20 July 2012

REDSTARTS returning on cue

At least 3 COMMON REDSTARTS in Incombe Hole for their third day and another on the fence leading up and away from Down Farm - all moulting adults. No Whinchats though

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

More local breeding SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS

Sally Douglas has sent me these nice photographs of a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS feeding four young in a nestbox nest in Long Marston....

Meanwhile, the Wilstone Black Poplar nesting pair have fledged

Monday, 16 July 2012

TURTLE DOVES in the immediate neighbourhood


Another day of rain. All day again it seems, but not with the intensity of recent weeks


Thanks to Graham Smith and Simon Nichols, I was finally able to add EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE to my Bucks Year List. In fact, they were the first I had seen in the county since 2010 - that's how bad it has got.

I managed two 'purring' males, side-by-side, on wires between thick transects of woodland at SP 930 162. Easily audible but much harder to see - keeping in the main to tall Ash trees.

Take the public footpath from Cheddington Road in Pitstone just NW of ''Autumn Leaves'' and continue for about 250 yards to the metal gate to the left of the gravelly footpath. Literally another 50 yards beyond the gate is a narrow clearing with wires running away down it - this is where both doves kept continually returning to. This was like the territory border line, with both birds returning to the tracts of woodland either side.

I also stumbled on a Sparrowhawk's nest here - noisy chicks being fed in the nest. Quite a few COMMON CROSSBILLS in the area too - at least 7 flying over.


Nothing new to report on but some breeding success still worthy of merit.......

Wader-wise, adult OYSTERCATCHERS still busily feeding the two healthy chicks buy one sadly being left to fend for itself and looking in bad shape. A Carrion Crow was taking an unhealthy interest in it.

Two adult LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS still, yesterday's adult summer DUNLIN still (working it's way along the bund edge), 2 juvenile Common Redshank and 3 baby Lapwings still.

All 3 juvenile COMMON SHELDUCKS still with both parents, Mute Swan pair, 144 moulting Atlantic Canada Geese, 6 Common Teal and the continuing lone Great Crested Grebe

Common Terns feeding two small young on the West Island spit, with 45 Common Swifts overhead

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Hills today

Had a walk around the scrub side of Ivinghoe Beacon this lunchtime. Not much around (in fact very quiet) but just nice to be in out in some warmth and with no excesses of hydrogen and oxygen in the form of "ra*n". Did find a nice Whitethroat singing at various points around a clearing at the Ringshall end of the Ivinghoe Beacon scrub. Pictures attached.

At Pitstone Hill, there were plenty of Corn Buntings flitting and singing -especially on the power lines above the car park (see photo). Also had a quick chance to snap a yellowhammer before it was spooked by walkers.

Michael Nott

Signs of passage

A single DUNLIN was new in at College today, whilst Wilstone's popular pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS have fledged at least 3 young from their Black Poplar nest-site. Still 1-2 COMMON SANDPIPERS at Wilstone with two different EURASIAN CURLEWS seen flying west.

I have received three reports of a displaying Honey Buzzard today close to the reservoirs, whilst several tiny groups of COMMON CROSSBILLS have been seen, mostly flying towards the escarpment. COMMON RAVENS have successfully bred near Drayton Beauchamp.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Migrant waders briefly at College


Not bad temperature wise but the frequent heavy rain showers continued on and on......

At COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS) first thing, Paul Reed identified two adult ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and a single WHIMBREL on the main marsh bit all 3 departed quickly to the east. By the time I arrived, it was mainly breeding waders on view: the OYSTERCATCHERS with three young on west island, no less than 5 juvenile COMMON REDSHANKS, a pair of Lapwings with two small young, LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and at least 1 Ringed Plover.

In addition to the last nesting pair, 129 post-breeding Lapwings were also present

Three juvenile COMMON SHELDUCKS have survived, whilst other species noted included 15 Common Terns, a juvenile Pied Wagtail and 40 Common Swifts

The BTO ringing session yielded Western Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler and Great Spotted Woodpecker amongst its highlights, along with a surprising good number of juvenile Great Tits.

At WILSTONE RESERVOIR, Ian Williams helped me out with my first local LESSER WHITETHROAT rattler of the year - in the new outflow hedgerow - with the Black Poplar nesting pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS busily feeding two young and the male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER still reeling nearby.
Mute Swan numbers have now risen to 42, with a juvenile Common Tern present amongst 21 adults and 5 migrant COMMON SANDPIPERS

Thursday, 5 July 2012

SABINE'S GULL on Texel, Holland

It is interesting to speculate whether our bird is the first-summer present recently on the island of Texel in Holland and last seen on 25 June - : (per Jacob de Vries)

SABINE'S GULL still present - new shots

A different perspective from Ben Miller

It spent quite a bit of time on the Grand Union Canal today allowing Mike Nott to obtain these images above

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

And another close up of the yellow at the tip of the bill

Another close up of the bill revealing the presence of a little trace of pale yellow (Dave Hutchinson)

Close up of the bill

I can always rely on ROGER WYATT to take some truly outstanding shots and his of the Sabine's Gull above are no exception to this rule. One can clearly see the pale yellow on the bill in the top image

And even still there today !!

And some more great shots from my close friend Chris Holt - just what a celebrity bird. Still showing well on Startop's today

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

After all the panicking, SABINE'S GULL still present for its third day

A nice selection of Sabine's Gull and Common Tern images from today taken by Francis Buckle