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 list of field trips for the period until June 2019 have been added to the Events tab. Some further details will be added closer to the events but the dates should not change.  Note that the start times for the events are often a little earlier than in recent years.

The next field meeting is to Farlington Reserve on Sunday 21st October 2018.  Note the start time of 8:30am.  We should see a variety of  waders, wildfowl and perhaps some Grebes and Winter visitors.

 

For more details click here. 

 

The Next Indoor Meeting

The indoor meeting is on Thursday 1st November 2018 and is a talk by Andy Harding called “The Danube Delta.    This should be a very interesting talk by our own County Recorder and tour leader.  Andy is in fact standing down at the end of the year as County Recorder after thirty years in this role!  The club AGM precedes the talk and the new County Recorder will be announced then.                                      Click here for more details.  

Roller

 

Great White Pelican

The venue is  Wendover Memorial Hall in Wharf Road.  Door open at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start for the AGM.  The talk will commence at 7:45pm.  Entrance is free for members and £2 for non-members.   As usual refreshments will be available.

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Spotted Crake at Willen Lake

A few regular visits to Willen Lake (north) by Mike Wallen turned up trumps when he found a Spotted Crake early on the bank holiday Monday.  Unfortunately it was rather distant at about 350 metres range!  News was soon out and the bird was seen by many local birders as well as others from further afield.  The bird remained until 27th September.

There were six Spotted Crake sightings in the UK on 27th August and a total of 13 so far for the month of August.

The photo below is the only one received so far.  Given the distance to the bird, people may not feel they have a worthwhile photo, but if you do have a better photo, hopefully from a closer range, then please send to Webeditor for possible inclusion in these pages.

Spotted Crake keeping close to the reed bed. (Photo copyright Mike Wallen)

Spotted Crake – Above two photos copyright Phil Tizzard.

This individual is only the fifth record record for the county, the others being listed below.  A few historical records, now regarded as “unsafe” are not included.

1995 Willen – An adult 19th-23rd Aug, with a juvenile from 5th Sep.
2000 Dorney Common – A juv showed well for over a week in a stream on the Bucks/Berks border from 9th-19th Oct.
2003 Little Marlow GP – 1 29th-30th Mar.

A few photos of these birds can be found at this link.  There are some nice photos of the Dorney Common bird.

It is interesting that another Spotted Crake was found on the same day at Eton Wick, Berks but this is right on the Bucks border on Dorney Common and only about 150 metres from the sighting in 2000!

Bucks Peregrines 2018

We have Peregrines breeding on the council offices building in Aylesbury once again and also at the MK Stadium in Milton Keynes.  These have both become regular breeding locations for this amazing species.  Unfortunately the links to the cameras at Aylesbury are not working this year, despite repeated attempts to fix.  So we are very much in the dark as to the progress.  Normally by the end of April hatching of the eggs takes place with fledging in early June. This year we will have to observe from a distance to see how things are going.

As of 22nd May there was just one chick in the nestbox which was duly ringed.    Unfortunately the Milton Keynes pair failed this year.

The Aylesbury youngster was taken to St Tiggywinckles for the second time as it is was found grounded and unable to fly.  It stayed there for a week. Checks did not find anything wrong and it was released back on the office block on 30th June.  All now seems OK and the parent birds are in attendance.  Thanks to St Tiggywinkles for their fantastic support.

The single Aylesbury Peregrine chick being ringed. (Photo copyright Lynne Lambert)

There are numerous Peregrine sightings on the Bucks Sightings website.  If you wish to view them click on Search, enter “Peregrine” in the Species Name field, also change the date field to say search from the start of the year and you will see all Peregrine records for that period (unless suppressed to protect potential breeding birds).

 

Field and Indoor Meetings

We have reached the end of the published field and indoor meetings for 2017/18.  The new dates for the 2018/19 period will be published shortly.  Please check back later.

 

Cranes at Gallows Bridge

The Common Crane is a rare vagrant to Buckinghamshire and despite reintroduction schemes in the UK in recent years, there were no sightings of this species in 2016 and 2017.  So when Warren Claydon found two at Gallows Bridge Farm BBOWT Reserve on 16th May, it was somewhat of a surprise!  It was assumed that they would soon move on.  However that was not the case and the birds were seen daily until 27th May attracting quite a lot of interest with local birders.  Fortunately the fact that the birds were on a nature reserve with excellent hides, birders could visit the hides with little or no disturbance to the birds.

The two birds spent much of the time over the first few days at the far end of the reserve, so with warm sunny days, the views were not great due to the distance and the heat haze.  From time to time the birds left the reserve and went onto nearby farmland presumably to feed.  As the days went on the pair moved much closer to the hides and were seen to perform their display dance on more than one occasion.  It was hoped they might stay and breed, albeit being quite late in the breeding season, but they departed probably overnight or early morning on 28th May.

The following photos courtesy and copyright from the following people.  John Edwards (top 2), Graham Smith (middle 2), Rob Cadd (lower 4).  Click on the images to view full size.

The pair were constantly close together.

Feeding together.

 

Parts of the dancing behavior shown in these four photos.

 

Local birder Rob Cadd spent a considerable amount of time in the hides observing and photographing the Cranes and put together this stunning video :-

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New Forest Field Trip

This field trip was to the Acres Down and Beaulieu Road Station areas of the New Forest on 21st May.  Seven members turned up at Acres Down for this Hampshire trip on a clear and sunny day. Unfortunately for most of the group the highlight of the day, a male Honey Buzzard, first appeared from the Raptor Point at 9.20am and was gone by the time of the official start of 9.30am. Those that were fortunate to see it were thrilled that it flew directly overhead giving magnificent views of the bird.

Unfortuntaely this photo of a Honey Buzzard was not taken during the field trip!

A pair of Stonechats were displaying on top of the gorse bushes on the walk to the Raptor Point from where the trip was based. Buzzards were the next raptors to be seen and it was not long before the male Goshawk was seen perching on his usual tree opposite the viewing point. He was later seen circling high in the sky before disappearing in the clouds.
After an excellent cream tea the short trip to Beaulieu was made in the hope of seeing some woodland species. After walking round most of the woods at Shatterford a male Redstart made a brief appearance on a branch before disappearing in the undergrowth. Upon leaving the woods a juvenile Sparrowhawk went through the trees at the edge of the wood.
Although the total number of species seen was quite low there were some excellent birds during the foreshortened trip.

Paul Wright

Gallows Bridge/Quainton Hills Field Meeting

On Sunday 22nd April about 12 club members met at the Gallows Bridge Farm BBOWT nature reserve. The plan was to meet at Gallows Bridge, see what birds were present and then move onto Quainton Hills and/or Calvert reserve.

We got off to a good start in that the three Whimbrel that had arrived the previous day, were still present.  We saw them on the ground and in flight with several Curlew.

Whimbrel on the main meadow. A rather distant photo!

We were fortunate in that Laurie Bryant joined our group and he was able to take us to areas that are normally closed to the public.  While walking around the reserve we saw four Curlew, a Raven, an Oystercatcher, a small flock of Linnet, Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, etc.  The lack of other Warblers was noted.  Despite the walk around the reserve was very interesting and gave a better idea of the value of this key BBOWT reserve.

Some of the group then moved onto Quainton Hills where Tim Watts had seen two Ring Ouzels and five Wheatears earlier that morning.  We were again fortunate to guided by Laurie Bryant who knew exactly where we needed to look.  We parked near the church and walked across the hills to view the northern slopes.  On the way Dave Cleal spotted a group of Ravens but other than that birds were a bit thin.  Arriving at the northern slope we came across a stunning male Wheatear presumably a “Greenlander”.

Wheatear on the Northern slopes.

Another Wheatear was nearby.  We sat and watched the area where a Ring Ouzel had been present for several days.  After about 20 minutes a female Ring Ouzel flew out and gave us a decent view.  It did not stay long and flew to another location and disappeared into vegetation.  After that satisfactory conclusion we headed for the local pub!

Thanks to Dave Cleal for leading the group and Laurie Bryant for guiding.

 

 

Hawfinch Invasion!

Recent weeks have seen a huge invasion of Hawfinches into the UK with Buckinghamshire certainly getting it’s share of birds.  The vast majority have been fly overs, in particular at Ivinghoe Beacon/Steps Hill which is a regular place for birders to watch for visiable migration (Vizmig).

The birds were first seen at Ivinghoe Beacon on 16th October where a number of birders had gathered in anticipation of a Hawfinch passage (based on reports elsewhere in the UK).  Sure enough there were sightings of perhaps 20+ birds in a number of separate groups and there were also reports of two at Bledlow Ridge and Marlow Bottom.  The next few days saw birds reported from Great Brickhill (3), Lodge Hill, Little Marlow GP, Marlow and a site in mid-Bucks.  Then on 21st numbers built up on Steps Hill to 34,  21 on 22nd Oct and amazingly over 90 birds on 23rd!  Since then Hawfinches have been recorded from Milton Keynes in the north of the county to Marlow Bottom in the south.  Steps Hill is still the hot-spot with over 30 seen on 26th and over 60 on 27th and 28th October (although numbers could be significantly higher with multiple observers involved).  There were generally smaller number during the rest of October but 71 seen by a group of observers at Steps Hill on 30th was excellent.  Steps Hill continued to be well watched early mornings in early November and small numbers reported.  However Hawfinches then started to be seen on the ground at a few sites including Tattenhoe (MK), Chesham Bois Woods, Whiteleaf and most significantly a large group at Great Hampden.  These were found by Warren Claydon on 1st November when 24 were recorded.  The following day 42 were counted with at counts in the high thirties by several observers the following day.  Since the above sightings Hawfinches have been seen at a large number of sites across the county.  For details see the Bucks Bird Club sightings database.

There is still time for you to try and see one of this impressive Finches!

It is thought that these birds originated in Central Europe and one theory is that storm Orphelia forced the birds to fly much further west than usual.  Whatever the reason local birders are very happy to see them.

With the majority of the Hawfinches being initially seen as fly-overs, there were few photos.  Later a few photos were obtained.

One of the only photos obtained in the county during this invasion.. Mid Bucks - Copyright Tim Watts

Hawfinch in Mid Bucks on 20th Oct 2017 – Copyright Tim Watts

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Steps Hill – Birders gathering at first light on 28th October for the anticipated Hawfinch movement.

 

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They were not disappointed!

 

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Watching Hawfinches on passage is not always easy. This flight view is probably better than many of the views obtained!  It does however show the distinctive heavy shape and wing pattern (Photo copyright Mike Wallen)

 

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A small group of Hawfinches fly over. (Photo copyright Mike Wallen).

 

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Hawfinch at Great Hampden on 2nd November – Copyright Jim Rose

The above video was taken in poor light at some distance but does show a Hawfinch feeding on Hornbeam seeds.  The birds may not move very much and are easily overlooked.  In the tree in question about eight birds were feeding but this was only apparent when they all flew out in one group.

Hornbeam is one of the prime food items for Hawfinches at this time of year.  Many seeds will have already dropped to the ground so some birds will be searching through the leaf litter for them.  Look for the distinctive shape of Hornbeam seeds and leaves  if you wish to find your own Hawfinches.  Unfortunately some trees do not appear to have cropped very well this year but Hornbeams are a common species in woodland and larger mature hedgerows.

To see previous photos of Hawfinches in the county, click here.

Yellow-browed Warbler Invasion!

Late September/Early October saw an unprecedented influx of Yellow-browed Warblers into the county.  Firstly one at Little Marlow GP, then in Central Milton Keynes and finally one put in a brief appearance at Weston Turville Reservoir.

Little Marlow GP

On 27th September 2017 Little Marlow regular Adam Bassett found what is probably the 9th Yellow-browed Warbler for Buckinghamshire and which is also the first record for Little Marlow. The bird was part of the way along the east bank and in thick vegetation between the footpath and the lake.  (In fact Adam thought he had heard a Yellow-browed Warbler call from this location the previous day but the bird was not seen and did not call again). Adam soon put the news out and a number of local birders were on site within a very short time. However the bird was very elusive and was constantly moving around and only calling very infrequently, so the bird went missing for long periods.  Fortunately everyone saw the bird (I think) even if just a glimpse.  Photography was all but impossible with the bird moving around constantly.

The next day Bourne End birder Simon Ramm relocated the bird in the same area about 7:30am.  Again local birders were soon on site and the bird was seen by a good number of people all day.The bird never moving very far from a group of tall Cherry trees.  The Warbler did show somewhat better than the day before and a few people managed to get some record shots.

The Warbler remained until Monday 2nd October at least.

This is the first record of this species at Little Marlow.

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Photo copyright Mike Wallen

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Yellow-browed Warbler – Showing well for a change!

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Above two photos copyright Mick Vogel

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It was very acrobatic at times – Photo copyright Jim Rose

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Photo copyright Dave Ferguson

 

Milton Keynes

On 30th September by Mark Hawkes found another Yellow-browed Warbler in Central Milton Keynes.   It was in area area in and around a car park near the food hall and was calling and giving good views at times.  It remained until 1st October at least.

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Yellow-browed Warbler in Central Milton Keynes

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Above two photos copyright Stuart Mundy

 

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Yellow-browed Warbler – Central Milton Keynes

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Above two photos copyright Derek Hales

 

Weston Turville Reservoir

Dave Parmenter came across yet another Yellow-browed Warbler on Sunday 1st October.  He had already walked right around the lake but went back to the area by the old tin hide (of Bearded Tit fame) to try and refind an oddly calling Chiff Chaff.  However he then heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling and followed it along as it moved through thick undergrowth towards the stream.  He did get some views of the bird but was unable to photograph.  Despite several birders getting on-site fairly quickly the bird was not refound.

 

There are six accepted records of Yellow-browed Warbler in Bucks and two pending sightings.  The prior records are:-

1966 Holmer Green – 1 on 9th Oct.
1992 Marlow GP – 1 on 11th Oct.
2003 Water Eaton, M Keynes – 1 in a garden 19th-21st Oct.
2004 Woburn GC – 1 from 4th-14th Apr.  Click here to view photos of this bird
2006 Dinton – 1 on 21st Oct.
2013 Woughton Park, M keynes – 1 on 19th Nov.
2016 Comm0n Wood, Penn – 1 on 17th Oct.
2016 Black Park – 1 on 20th Oct.
The latter two records awaiting acceptance by the rarities committee.

If you have a more photos for the website please forward to Jim Rose