Thursday, 29 November 2012


Roy Hargreaves had TWO different WATER PIPITS at Wilstone Reservoir this morning, but otherwise little to report from there in the past week



Well after the floods, now comes the deep freeze..........

It was a heavy frost this morning and with clear blue skies and winter sunshine throughout the rest of the day, temperatures really struggled, reaching a high of just 3 degrees C

On his way to work, Steve Rodwell noticed a single WAXWING perched high on the hedgerow just beyond and opposite the entrance to LONG MARSTON CRICKET CLUB (HERTS) along Cheddington Lane at SP 902 159. Mike Campbell, who lives in neighbouring Cheddington, arrived shortly later and found 2. Having not seen one in Hertfordshire this year yet, I set off in hot pursuit, but by the time I got there (25 minutes later), the two birds were nowhere to be seen - they had flown off.

The hedgerows and fields to the east were swarming with winter thrushes, including some 500 Redwing and 400 Fieldfare; a single Reed Bunting was also in this area.

Nearby, about a mile north of HORTON (BUCKS) on the B488, a dead Chinese Water Deer was in the centre of the road at SP 916 215 - the first one I have recorded in this area.

Stopping off in WOBURN (BEDFORDSHIRE) to glance at the traditional Leighton Street Pink Sorbus berry-bearing trees, I was delighted to see no less than 31 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - affording outstanding views to all those present, including residents, photographers and birdwatchers alike. Not one colour-ringed bird with this group either, and at least 8 first-winters. They were favouring the shrubs at numbers 45 and 47 and were a delight to watch and photograph - spooking frustratingly each time a few vehicles passed. The odd bird was getting 'drunk' and allowing closer approach. Some argy-bargy going on though, so photographers do need to be respectful of each other and avoid rushing up to the birds as they alight. A pretty sizeable turnover of watchers too - these birds really are popular.

Being the greedy person that I am, I could not resist a drive over to KEMPSTON (BEDS), where on the Woburn Road Industrial Estate (accessed along Wolseley Road), up to 76 WAXWINGS have recently been present (DJO, MJP, et al). Nothing like that number in the half-hour or so that I cruised the trading estate - just 13 showing well in ADAMS CLOSE.

Being back in Bedford, I decided to have another go at reaching PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) and this time I succeeded. Adorning wellington boots, I managed to traverse the remains of the swollen Ouse and reach the NE corner of the main lake - and there the first-winter SLAVONIAN GREBE was showing well - hugging the East shore and diving frequently for food. Also 13 Great Crested Grebes on the lake, some 36 Tufted Duck and just 8 Northern Pochard. Amongst the 15 or so Mute Swans were two orange ringed birds - '500' and '44GM'.

At CHURCH END (BEDS) in their normal grazing fields at SP 962 365, I counted no less than 19 Chinese Water Deer.

I then received a call from JT informing me of a rare duck on HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS). So, being on the M1 anyway, I made my way down, getting delayed by over half an hour as a car overturned between Junctions 5 & 4. The duck in question was a juvenile COMMON SCOTER and was still present at 1600 hours. I also located two different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in the 3,000 or so Black-headed Gull roost, and a single adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Aylesbury WAXWING flock rises to 24

In Gatehouse Way by the Micha Building, the WAXWING flock increased to 24 birds today. Peter Brazier obtained this series of images published below - just look at the size of the crowds....

and Chris Hinton obtained thies excellent series of shots

Meanwhile at Wilstone, a very quiet weekend - David Bilcock reporting just 6 Common Goldeneyes, 2+ Pintail, a handful of Common Snipe, 2-3 piebald Coots and the continuing WATER PIPIT

Friday, 23 November 2012

Plenty of Fieldfares

Managed a brief visit to Wilstone reservoir this afternoon. Concentrated on the shoreline and surrounding fields. No sign of the Water Pipit (but that's not unusual). 2 Grey Wagtails and 3 Pied Wagtails. A Common Buzzard and a Little Egret were perched in seperate trees, north-west of the reservoir. Approx 200+ Fieldfare and Redwing around the reservoir (80% Fieldfare, I'd estimate). 120+ birds in the field/bushes by the new overflow on the NW bank. Another 80+ birds in cemetery corner woods and along the back of the dry canal. The Marsh Tit looked lovely in the sunshine and was very vocal (on the track leading from cemetery corner woods up to the dry canal). 2+ Lesser Redpoll feeding on seedheads along the dry canal. A small flock (10+) of Goldfinches with 3+ Chaffinches were also feeding on seedheads around cemetery corner.

Lucy Flower Birding

Thursday, 22 November 2012

WAXWING circus continues

All 20 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS spent long periods feeding on the berry-laden bushes in Aylesbury today, showing well from at least 0830 to 1400 hours. The flock includes three first-winters. They were again favouring the same two berry busges adjacent to the Micha building in Gatehouse Way.

There were large numbers of admirers, both birders and general public, as well as local journalists, including a team from the Bucks Herald. This is a very busy road, so parking is limited. Lots of great photographs were taken by the myriad of photographers on site.

I expect the flock number to rise considerable over coming weeks

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

WAXWINGS now up to 18 in AYLESBURY

Looks like many of the smaller WAXWING flocks in our area are all joining up as Paul Boult has just 'phoned to say that there are now 18 birds where I saw them yesterday on Gatehouse Way, Aylesbury. So Rob (RDA), your assumption is correct, clearly more than one flock and explains why I could not find the first-year bird previously photographed. Well worth the visit, as by sitting in your vehicle, you can obtain brilliant views of these birds. If you walk around though, they will most likely fly off. There is enough berries in the area to keep Waxwings supplied for several weeks

Monday, 19 November 2012

Today's view from the Drayton Bank Hide

Simon Gardner obtained this nice image of one of the Gatehouse Way WAXWINGS whilst I took the following shots from the Wilstone hide.....

WAXWINGS in Aylesbury


Well rain was forecast but it never actually arrived. The SW wind freshened up though, and all day was grey and overcast. Whilst Chris Heard had an excellent and highly productive morning in neighbouring Berkshire, I fared contrastingly badly in Bucks. I started off by checking a number of rural sites not that far from home looking for more Waxwings but drew a blank but did locate some nice new feeding areas for finches, etc..........


Found an excellent field at SP 885 040 literally caked full of feeding birds including 404 Jackdaws, 104 Rooks, 6 Red Kites and 75 Chaffinches


The resident PEREGRINE pair were both roosting on the town hall building, the female standing at the edge of the platform.

Close to where the A41 link road joins the Roman Road near COLLEGE FARM, 3 Little Egrets were feeding on flooded fields SE of the carriageway.

At the GATEHOUSE WAY INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, a flock of 11 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was showing extremely well from 1322-1356 hours, visiting the heavily laden berry bushes adjacent to the Micha building at SP 807 142. All eleven individuals appeared to be adults and none was ringed.


Much the same as recent weeks with the wildfowl weighing in at 45 Mute Swans, the 2 adult Whooper Swans, 58 Greylag Geese, 77 Mallard (including the female with the orange fishing float speared through the side of its face), 298 Teal, 128 Wigeon, just 8 Shoveler, just 2 drake PINTAILS, 202 Tufted Duck, just 7 Pochard, all 5 female-type COMMON GOLDENEYES again and 2 Little Egrets (roosting on the bund).

A Common Kingfisher was fishing in the section behind the hide, with 25 Redwing here and there, 3 Skylark west, Jay and of course, the WATER PIPIT showing well in the small bay adjacent to the jetty.

A Mr T. Birch of Markyate High Street left his bag and belongings in the Drayton Bank Hide


RED-NECKED GREBES are a rare bird these days so when CDRH found one and 'phoned me about it first thing this morning, I felt that I better make time and get down and see it before the day was out.

After being very flighty throughout the morning, this afternoon it had settled down and was showing very well just offshore of the Yacht club, diving intermittently in the company of 8 Tufted Ducks. It was a first-winter, having moulted most of its juvenile head feathers. Present until at least 1545 hours when I left.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

BRAMBLING in Tring garden

Sally Douglas had this nice male BRAMBLING in her Tring garden today, as well as an unwelcome Brown Rat !


The WATER PIPIT was showing really well along the Carpark bank at Wilstone Reservoir this afternoon and despite being flushed constantly by walkers it kept returning to feed along the water's edge. It was noticeably silent never once calling when in flight. The 2 Nuthatches were in the cemetery corner Poplars and a confiding flock of about 12 Lesser Redpolls were feeding on Artemisia seedheads along the dry Canal (per Charkie Jackson)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Nothing to write home about but WAXWINGS all around

No less than 10 WAXWINGS today in Aylesbury and still 7 in Chesham and 3 in Old Amersham so more to be expected in Tring area in coming days....

Meanwhile, John Foster photographed the WATER PIPIT at Wilstone today (see below)....

.....whilst Peter Brazier captured these 17 COMMON SNIPES together at College Lake BBOWT


Very little news from the reservoirs this week other than the WATER PIPIT being present on Wilstone, generally favouring the East Bank (and still present this morning)

Thursday, 15 November 2012


At College Lake BBOWT this afternoon, a SHORT-EARED OWL was performing well over the fields at the extreme north end of the reserve. Many thanks Paul Reed for relaying the news

Monday, 12 November 2012

No luck with Waxwings but WOODPIGEONS en masse

Woodpigeon clouds (Lee G R Evans)


Although it was dry for the first three hours of daylight, rain soon moved in from the west and remained prevalent throughout the rest of the day.

After hearing that Bryan Lewis, one of Dave Bilcock's work colleagues, had seen 7 WAXWINGS on his way to work along White Lion Road, Amersham at 0900 hours, I drove out and checked all reliable local haunts of this species - but no sign, they had quickly moved on.

I then set out to check the flocks reported to me yesterday - in Aldbury and Wigginton - but again no sign - and few signs of actual Rowan berries. I also had a look round Ivinghoe Beacon where the female MERLIN and 1 WAXWING had been seen earlier, but no joy - too much rain.

What I did find though, SW of ALDBURY VILLAGE, and along NEWGROUND ROAD in crop fields to the Northwest (at SP 956 114), was a huge flock of feasting WOODPIGEONS - numbering at least 2,124 birds (see images above). The birds were commuting between these fields and 'The Hangings' - an area of woodland on the escarpment east of the road.

I was also very pleased to see the continuing survival of 7 'Bluebills', including the young drake

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Little happening

David Bilcock 'accessed all areas' at the weekend and discovered nothing new - less in fact - although PINTAILS at Wilstone were back into double figures (at 12 again).

A few WAXWINGS cropping up, with at least 3 seen in Aldbury village today and up to 6 in Wigginton. This is going to be another 'big' Waxwing invasion this winter.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

SNIPES on Wilstone

A gathering of 23 COMMON SNIPES at Wilstone this morning (John Foster)

Lack of birds


Another nice morning with temperatures climbing to a balmy 12 degrees C. No rain and long bright spells

At CHAFFINCH HOUSE first thing, 11 Goldfinch on the Nyger feeders and 20 Common Starlings fighting over the suet..

Then two dead BADGERS - one just north of ASHLEY GREEN along the A416 at HOCKERIDGE WOOD (SP 978 057) and another on the A41 close to NEW GROUND.

Vizmig at IVINGHOE BEACON was non-existent in increasing westerly winds but I was pleased to see 5 FIELDFARE at the Beacon itself.

Likewise, STARTOP'S END drew a blank, neither any pipits to be found nor the female Goosander....

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR had a nice COMMON KINGFISHER fishing at the sluice, with 3 Great Crested Grebes, 65 Greylag Geese, 55 Shoveler, 1 Redwing and 12 Long-tailed Tits seen.

WILSTONE was equally as poor with no sign of the recent Slav, the 2 adult WHOOPERS, 45 Mute Swans, 1 Little Egret, 5 European Golden Plovers and an increase to 215 Lapwings

Discarded fishing float

Careless fishermen again. This female Mallard has a discarded fishing float inserted into her lores. Disgraceful.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Michael Stallwood's images from today

Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail and berry-feasting Redwing


Lucy Flower photographed this nice female GOOSANDER on Startop's End Reservoir today, along with this intriguing WATER PIPIT. Apparently both shots are of the same bird !!

Monday, 5 November 2012


Mike Reed has kindly updated me with details of adult MUTE SWAN 4ABL I read the ring of recently at Startop's End Reservoir. It had been ringed 1,271 days previously at Tringford Reservoir and appears never to have moved away from the reservoirs

A dead loss up the hills but BEDFORDSHIRE scores heavily


Following yesterday's torrential rain, today dawned clear and bright. In fact it was a beautiful late autumn morning, with light NNE winds and largely cloudless skies. It was still very much on the chilly side though, with temperatures hovering around 7 degrees C.

I had high hopes for Woodpigeon migration following the recent weather but this proved to be a non-event - in fact migration was virtually at a standstill.

I did an hour or so of vizmig at PICADILLY HILL KNOLL, IVINGHOE BEACON (BUCKS), before walking the usual circuit, but it was dire - passage consisting of just 9 Redwing, 12 Skylark and 11 Chaffinch and the berry-bearing shrubs in Inkombe Hole supporting 21 Common Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrush, 10 Redwing, 2 Jays and 2 Bullfinches and Top Scrub producing just 2 Goldcrests.

I decided to move onto BEDFORDSHIRE, where I had not visited in any proper birding capacity in over a month........

At STANBRIDGEFORD (BEDS) near Eaton Bray, a large cereal crop held at least 25 Skylarks, whilst STOCKGROVE PARK LAKE (at SP 914 283) produced a superb count of 62 MANDARIN DUCKS and the adjoining BAKER'S WOOD an impressive 25 Jays, 66 SISKIN, 2 Nuthatch, MARSH TIT and Coal Tit.

BROGBOROUGH LAKE (BEDS) (at SP 975 395) held an enormous number of Aythya ducks and after diligently click-counting them twice came up with a total of 2,134 birds, 1,625 of them Tufted Duck and 509 Northern Pochard. The two long-staying BLACK-NECKED GREBES were still present at the West End, viewable from the Watchpoint at SP 973 393, with 17 Great Crested and 8 Little Grebe noted also, and 4 Mute Swans.

I was just about to bird Marston Vale Millenium Park when Lol and Bob 'phoned to say that they had relocated the Dotterel in the Southill area, first seen by Steve Blain, Paul Donald and Steve Heath yesterday. It was in the fields north of the village at about SP 434 158 but was flighty. I aborted Marston Vale and drove over to join them both.

At around 1410 hours, after Lol & Bob had lost the flock, I relocated some 650 European Golden Plovers in the cereal fields just NE of SOUTHILL VILLAGE (BEDS) at around SP 157 425 and after a quick scan, located the juvenile DOTTEREL in with them. Managed some pretty decent views before I was joined by Stuart Warren in the layby. I pointed it out to Stuart and after a while, he managed to get his 'scope on to it, but within minutes the entire flock took flight again and wheeled around for a while. Thankfully, they came down in a field on the opposite side of the footpath where large numbers of Starlings and Lapwings were feeding. Once again, I quickly relocated it and got Stuart on to it, and then Bob Chalkley, Lol and Cambridgeshire birder Aubrey. Dave Odell arrived shortly later and eventually he latched on to it too. It was difficult to see, due to the undulating nature of the field, but for a while it sat in full view preening in the sunshine.

Then disturbance from walkers on the footpath (one of them a birdwatcher) saw the flock take flight again at 1435 hours and after a long time in the air, they dropped back down again in the field about a mile north of Southill. I did not see the Dotterel again after that time and left Phil Rhodes, Mike Campbell, Jack O'Neill and others searching for it. These do seem to be the favoured fields however but as always, the flock is particularly mobile. Have patience if you are visiting.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Belated news: AGP flies west over reservoirs

Early on Tuesday morning, Rob Andrews heard and saw an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER fly high west over Marsworth and Startop's End Reservoir. Francis, Mike Campbell and I searched for it shortly later but there was no sign of it on Wilstone. However, this afternoon, what must be the same bird was relocated with European Golden Plovers on Port Meadow, just NW of Oxford. It is a juvenile. Rob's sighting represents the first record of AGP for the county.

Startop's End WATER PIPIT (Dave Hutchinson)


A much cooler day than of late with temperatures struggling to reach 6 degrees C. Fresh westerly winds too, with some real heavy showers coming through...

With it being the first day of a new month, I did a full comprehensive inventory of the reservoir birdlife...


As Lucy Flower reported earlier, the mobile WATER PIPIT was still present, moving between all of the sections of mud, including the two bays in Buckinghamshire. A single Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtails and 5 Pied Wagtails also favouring the same areas.

Of 4 adult Mute Swans present, one was orange-ringed '4ABL', whilst other waterfowl counted included 1 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Canada Goose, 29 Mallard, 26 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 27 Gadwall, 57 Tufted Duck, 33 Pochard, 162 Coot, 8 Moorhen, 27 Black-headed Gulls and 1 adult Common Gull; also 5 Lapwing on the mud, 3 Common Magpies and a single Skylark flying west.


Nothing much on the water apart from 4 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans and 42 Shoveler, with 18 Woodpigeon, male Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, 2 Wrens, Redwing and SISKIN noted.


On the reservoir, 1 Little Grebe, 8 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Gadwall, 3 MANDARIN DUCKS (drake and two females at far end under trees visible from hide), 33 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard and 63 Coot counted, with the woodland surroundings yielding 48 SISKINS, 4 Robins, 2 Mistle Thrush, 30 Redwing, 11 Goldfinch and 8 Jackdawa; 2 WATER RAILS heard and a Meadow Pipit flew over


The SLAVONIAN GREBE was still showing well along the east shore, with 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 43 Mute Swans, the two adult WHOOPER SWANS, 84 Mallard, 32 Gadwall, 406 Teal, 198 Wigeon, 4 PINTAIL (1 drake), 86 Shoveler, 201 Tufted Duck, 79 Pochard, 3 female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 733 Coot, 100 Lapwing and 33 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER present.


Not a bad selection of birds present today, identified in a full circuit walk around.......including 2 Little Grebes, 12 Mute Swans, 15 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 11 Wigeon, 46 Mallard, 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (drake and two females), 2 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, a single female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 92 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, an adult Argenteus Herring Gull, an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, just 3 Coot, male Common Kestrel, 6 Robins and a Redwing.


Water level back to normal now with 4 Little Grebe, 8 Moorhen and 2 Coot resident.


A LITTLE EGRET roosting on the island was unusual here but 8 Little Grebe, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swans, pair of Gadwall, 3 female Tufted Duck, 192 Coot, Green Woodpecker, 3 Jays, Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tit were typical fare; 5 SISKINS flew over.


Highlight here on a very wet and muddy (underfoot) visit were 2 HAWFINCHES in tall trees by the 'Holly Roost', both very vocal and presumably at pre-roost, but no other finches noted and just 3 Common Treecreepers, 5 Coal Tits, 5 Jays, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Song Thrush encountered in a 90-minute slog round. A Red Kite with a yellow wing-tag was intriguing.