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.

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

Black-winged Stilts at Little Marlow GP

On arriving at Little Marlow GP at about 10am on 20th April 2017, local birder Alan Stevens was amazed to find two Black-winged Stilts feeding in the shallow water by the sand spit.  News was quickly put out and an initial rush of local birders gave way to a steady stream of admirers.  In the first three hours approximately thirty birders managed to see these county rarities.  The birds stayed throughout most of the day.  During their stay the birds moved quickly around the shallow waters and covered a wide area.  The birds were frequently a fair way apart and often flew short distances to reach another feeding area.  At one point the birds flew up as if to depart, but quickly dropped back down.

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Above three photos from Dave Parmenter.  Those below from Jim Rose

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There have only been two prior records of this species in the county previously.  They were firstly in 1988 when a pair were at Willen Lake from 7th to 18th June, and at Manor Farm, MK where a pair were present on 24th April.

If anyone has any better quality photos of these birds, for inclusion above, please seen to Jim Rose at webeditor@bucksbirdclub.co.uk

Little Marlow Tern Rafts 2017

The existing rafts were looking rather sorry for themselves after the bad weather of the last winter.  Some were leaning over at an angle and they had all broken away from their position and were close to the west bank.

On Saturday 15th April a group of club members retrieved the rafts, carried out some refurbishments and relaunched them back out onto the lake.  They are now positioned fairly close to where they were last summer which proved to be very successful.

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Kevin Holt, John Barnes and Andy Radford working on one of the old rafts. The underside of raft on the right waiting for new barrels.

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John Bowman arriving with more barrels in tow.

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The finished rafts. Looking well used but ready for action!

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Chief boatman Mick McQuaid towing the rafts out with a helping push from Andy.

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The rafts in place and Mick dropping the anchors. With ten Terns present today it should not be too long before they start breeding.

Indoor Meetings

The series of indoor meetings over the Winter have now concluded.  Details of the first indoor meeting for next season (in September) will be published here.

Waxwing Arrive

The start of 2017 saw small groups of Waxwings arrive in the county.  At first they seemed to prefer adjacent counties which was rather frustrating but eventually they did arrive in a few areas.  In fact the first record was of two on 19th December 2016, but then we had to wait until 6th January when one was seen at Walters Ash and a group of thirteen were seen in Aylesbury.  Then on 8th a group of twelve were seen in Milton Keynes.  On the 10th birds were reported as far apart as Cressex, Bledlow, Buckingham and Weston Turville.  Waxwings have also been reported from Stoke Mandeville, Lodge Hill and Bletchley.

The largest flock reported was at Bletchly on 15th when 30 were seen.  Since then numbers have significantly diminished.  The last report (at the time of writing) was of one at Bledlow on 24th January.  So a decent influx occurred but not matched the flocks of over 100 that were seen in January 2013.

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Aylesbury – one of the 13 that were present on 6th January (G Smith)

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Milton Keynes:  The group of Waxwings at Oldbrook.

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Milton Keynes: A single bird at Oldbrook on 8th January.  (M Wallen)

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Milton Keynes: Taken at Witan Gate on 14th January (M Wallen)

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Milton Keynes : One of two Seen by the Genesis building on Witan gate on Sunday 15th January (M Appleton)

Please send any further photos for inclusion to the Webeditor