Bird Sightings

Seen an interesting bird?  Then let us know by submitting a record on our on-line database.  It is easy to do but if you need some instructions take a look at the Submit Sightings Page.  To view the latest sightings just click on the menu item for Latest Sightings.

Some birds are not uncommon in other parts of the country or around our coasts, but may be in Buckinghamshire.  If you want to see just how scarce a particular species is then take a look at the Bucks List.

The Next Field Meeting

The complete list of field trips for the period until June 2018 are now listed on the Events tab.  Some further details will be added closer to the events but the dates should not change.

The next field trip is to College Lake, and is on 1st October 2017, meeting at 09:30 on the “terrace” outside the main building.  We hope to see a few late summer visitors, some early wintering wildfowl and hopefully some passage waders.

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College Lake

For more details click here.


The Next Indoor Meeting

The indoor meeting is on Thursday 5th October 2017 and is a talk by Dr Mark Avery on “Current conservation issues“.    This should be a fascinating talk covering one or more of the current conservation issues.  It is the major indoor meeting for the club in 2017.  More information can be found on this link

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The venue is as usual at Wendover Memorial Hall in Wharf Road and start time is 7:30.  Entrance is free for members and £2 for non-members.   As usual refreshments will be available.

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MEGA - Black-crowned Night Heron!!

On Tuesday 22nd August 2017 Northants birder come fisherman Bob Bullock, was fishing for Catfish at Claydon Lakes when at 8:30pm he saw a Black-crowned Night Heron as it flew past him and landed in an Oak tree.  He passed word on and the next evening a small group of birders including Simon Nichols, Rob Hill, Lee Evans, Tim and Coleen Watts turned up to see if the bird was still present.  Just after 8:30pm it appeared and was seen in flight and perched in a tree.  Encouraged by this on the evening of 24th about fifteen birders arrived and again the bird appeared in flight and perched for about five minutes in a tree.  The bird then flew off fairly high to the NW over Steeple Claydon, possibly to feed by the river Thame.

The bird was last seen on 29th August.

The bird is thought to be a first summer bird, having some plumes but also some streaking on the breast.  It is unringed.

A few photographs were obtained, although the light was very poor, so these are just silhouette shots. (Click on the photos to view full size).  If anyone has, or manages to obtain and better quality photos, then please contact Jim Rose.

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In gathering gloom the group of birders waited patiently for the Night Heron to appear.

 

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Several shots of the bird in flight were obtained but due to low light, they are only silhouettes.

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The bird flew off into the sunset NW over Steeple Claydon.

This is just the sixth record for the county, the previous sightings being as follows:-

1797  Cliveden – 1 immature shot

1899  Taplow – 1 in August may have been an escape

1967  Newport Pagnall GP – Immature on 3rd Aug

1987  Willen Lake – Juvenile on 26th Oct

2005  Old Wolverton – An adult on 13th May 

 

 

 

Gibraltar Point Anyone?

The club field trip to Gibraltar Point  NNR is Lincolnshire is due to take place on the weekend of 20th-22nd October.  This has been a regular event on the Bucks Bird Club calendar for many years, although the accommodation arrangements changed after the storm surge in December 2013 (which destroyed the observatory accommodation block).  These days we stay in the Crown hotel just down the road from the reserve.  Breakfast and evening meals are at the Crown Hotel.

For those of you not familiar with Gibraltar Point take at look at http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/gibraltar-point

The cost starts at £106 per person for two people sharing a twin room, including a two course dinner and breakfast for two nights.  Some people may wish to stay on an extra night or have a single room.  Please contact Steve Marley at FieldMeetings@bucksbirdclub.co.uk for further details.  Room are subject to availability.

Please note that the final date for booking your place is 31st August 2017.

 

 

Cuckoo Breeding at Little Marlow GP

Cuckoos have bred at Little Marlow on several occasions over recent years. There is obvious concern at the decline of this species in the UK. This year we were fortunate that a nest was identified (initially by Simon Ramm) by the calls of the young bird as it begged for food, the bird being unseen.  A watch was kept on the nest site and on 6th July Alan Stevens had spotted the juvenile Cuckoo perched close to the edge of the bush in which we presumed the nest to be (the bush is partly in a reed bed).  A few birders and other locals managed to see the individual before it moved overnight into much taller trees nearby and was subsequently harder to see.

The young bird remained within 50 metres of the nest site for at least eight days after fledging. Apparently Reed Warblers typically continue to feed young Cuckoos for 2-3 weeks after fledging (per BWP).

The following photos were taken on 14th July about 40 metres from the nest site with the host Reed Warblers still working hard to feed the oversized flegling. (Click on image to see full size).

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The juvenile Cuckoo looking more confident. (photo copyright Helaine Cadman)

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These two photos show the huge size difference between the Cuckoo and it’s hosts! (photos copyright Helaine Cadman)

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The following video was taken on 6th July by Simon Fielder who just happen to be passing by!  If you watch for a short while you will see the Cuckoo being fed by it’s Reed Warbler hosts.  Note that the bird was well hidden hence the video only being of it’s head.  The Cuckoo hardly moved, letting the Reed Warblers do all of the work!

We can only hope this youngster will manage to return to Little Marlow next year and continue with the breeding success.

 

MK Peregrines

While the pair of Aylesbury Peregrine Falcons failed to successfully raise any young past the fledging stage this year, the good news is that Peregrines in Milton Keynes have been successful in fledging three chicks from a nest in the MK Stadium.  Apparently a staff member at the stadium has seen one of the adults drop prey items in the middle of the pitch and two of the youngsters took it in turns to fly down and grab it.  No doubt good practice.  Hopefully these birds will be seen in the area for some time.

The World’s fastest bird has successfully bred again in 2017 inside Stadium MK, the home of Milton Keynes Don’s.pegchick2017stadiummk1a-700

A pair of Peregrine’s was first noted in 2013-2014 and they are believed to have attempted to breed in 2014.  In 2015 the first confirmed breeding took place when the falcon’s utilised an old crow’s nest in the East stand and successfully fledged (flying independently) one chick.  In 2016 the birds moved to an old crow’s nest in the South-West corner of the stadium and successfully raised their family of 3 chicks to fledging stage, with the chicks on the wing in mid-June.

In 2017 the birds again nested in an old Crow’s nest in the South of the Stadium and fledged  3 chicks again, a week earlier than 2016.  The family are still doing well and whilst only really visible for much of the time from inside the stadium, with patience the birds can be observed over and around the outside.

A purpose built platform has been erected inside the stadium which has a dedicated CCTV camera fixed on it, it is hoped that the birds will utilise this platform for breeding in 2018. If they do then it is hoped that images from this camera can be screened to a wider audience.

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Female Peregrine in the stadium

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird, reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph in a stoop ( a dive ); speeds of between 250-300 mph have been claimed. Their prey is virtually any other bird species ( that they are able to carry ), and predominantly always taken on the wing. In catching their prey Peregrines can undergo tremendous ‘G- force’, way in excess of that endured by human’s, for example- fighter pilots. The Peregrines at StadiumMK represent only the 3rd known breeding site in Buckinghamshire, and the 2nd in an urban environment.

The Peregrines population in the UK has fluctuated over the last century, mainly due to effects on it caused by humans, both negative and positive. In the 1960’s the population hit an all-time low due to problems with egg shell thinning caused by pesticides. Since then there has been a fourfold population increase, with the population in the UK estimated at over 1500 pairs, so birds have started moving into many of our towns and cities, utilising tall buildings to nest upon. This has allowed dedicated people to install CCTV camera’s which has allowed us to see in far greater detail the life of this stunning raptor. One interesting aspect of Peregrine behaviour only confirmed in recent years has been their propensity to hunt at night, making use of the artificial light from the streets below to light up their prey as it passes over.

Peregrines are afforded special protection in law, and it’s fair to say that they enjoy even more protection at StadiumMK where the staff feel proud of their Peregrines and enjoy the sight of the the fastest creature on the planet zooming overhead.

These birds are at the top of the avian food chain, they are stunning to watch and breath-taking when hunting and in courtship displays, in the eyes of many, they are simply ‘Bird number 1’.

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One of the MK youngsters

Article and photos supplied by Mike Wallen (Thanks Mike).  All photos taken around the 7th June.

 

Aylesbury Peregrines - 2017

Unfortunately the breeding attempt by the Aylesbury Peregrines came to a sad end when the single chick was found dead under the tower.  It was thought likely to have flown into the building on one of it’s first flights.

So that will be the end of he breeding attempt this year.  Hopefully they will return next year with more success.    Comments on the recent activity can be seen at Aylesbury Peregrine Project website.

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Taken om 11th June while it was getting ready for it’s first flight. (Photo from Mike Wallen)

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The single youngster as on 2nd June. It sometimes wanders around the platform and out of sight.

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The tiny chick being guarded by an adult. 2nd May 2017. The chick hatched on 28th April

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Sitting Peregrine – April 2017

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Nightingale Recording

Sadly this species is is now extremely scarce in the county.  The recent stronghold at the MOD site at Arncott has not recorded any this year.  Fortunately one did turn up at another mid Bucks site and Bill Parker managed to obtain this excellent recording.

Click on this link to hear recording Nightingale in Song.

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This photo of a recently fledged Nightingale was taken by Paul Watts at Arncott in 2012 when there were 4-5 singing males..

Let us hope that the species has a better showing in 2018 but the trend is not looking good.

Wryneck at Cressex

This Wryneck was present in a private garden at Cressex, High Wycombe on 29th April.  It was photographed and videoed by Emma Willson.  The bird seems very happy to be feeding in one spot, presumably feeding on ants.  It was not seen the following day.

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Wryneck – Copyright Emma Willson

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Presumed to be feeding on Ants on the frame.

This species is more often seen in the Autumn than Spring migration.  See this chart for a historical view of record distribution in the county.

Kentish Plover - A County 2nd!

Following the twitch on bank holiday Monday, for local birders to see a Kentish Plover, it was found that it had in fact been seen and photographed the previous day by Andy Radford.  Unfortunately Andy was not sure about the ID and thought it might have been a juvenile Ringed Plover, so he did not report it.  It was only after the news broke the following day did he realise that he had seen a Kentish Plover!

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Kentish Plover – Andy Radford – 30th April.

So the following day, on the 1st May, Dave Bilcock, a keen local birder visited the site and came across the Plover.  Dave was completely unaware of the previous days sighting, so was extremely surprised to see a possible Kentish Plover in front of him!  Due to the distance to the bird, the ID was not easy.  By 8am Dave had put the word out and birders soon began to arrive.  There was a lot of interest from both Bucks and Herts birders to get a county tick (the county boundary cuts through the site). The bird could easily be overlooked on the flat expanses of the quarry, as many of the visiting birders can testify to!  Before the bird flew of south at 11:35 am, perhaps one hundred birders had seen the bird in Bucks, or Herts, or both.

It was interesting to hear the chatter between the birders of whether the bird was in Bucks or Herts and where exactly the border was!  Fortunately the bird was very obliging and spent time in both counties.

The bird, a female, was actually missing it’s right foot, so will be easily recognisable if it turns up elsewhere.

 

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Photos above and immediately below Copyright Dave Bilcock

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Above photo copyright Ian Bennell

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Above photo Copyright Paul Wright

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Kentish Plover in flight – Copyright Ian Williams

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There has only been one prior record for Kentish Plover in the county, that being in 1981 when one was seen at Willen Lake on 13th April.

If you would like to contribute further photos of this bird please email to me at webeditor@bucksbirdclub.co.uk – Thanks