The Bucks Bird Club

piedwagtail-500The Buckinghamshire Bird Club was formed in 1981 and was granted charity status in 1989. It was formed with the objective of bringing together under one organisation all those interested in birds in the county. All birders from the complete novice to the skilled ornithologist are able to enrich their interest and encourage nature conservation by joining the Buckinghamshire Bird Club.

The Next Field Meeting

The next field trip is to Farmoor Reservoir on Sunday 4th September.  This is a morning visit to see late summer wildfowl and hopefully some passage waders.  The site often attracts unusual species, so almost anything can turn up!

Farmoor from air

For more details click here.


Breeding Birds at Stoke Common 2016

Since the City of London Council took over ownership of the site some years ago, a tremendous amount of work has been done to maintain the habitat as heath land and to revert some of the wooded areas back to heath land.  Although not large, the site does now offer a reasonable sized area for heath land specialists and at two of these have successfully bred this year.  The most significant of these is Woodlark, which although has bred here before, it has not done so in recent years.  The second of these is Stonechat, which although is not uncommon in suitable habitat around the UK, it is a very rare breeder in the county.

Woodlarks were previously recorded at Stoke Common between 1997 and 2000 and also in 2010 but the last time breeding was proven was in 2000.  More recently a singing bird was seen in the Spring of 2014 but there is no confirmation of any breeding attempt. This Spring a singing Woodlark was discovered in March and two birds, presumed to be a pair, were seen a week or so later.  The territory was in a fairly restricted area so it was thought best not to publicise the presence of these birds at that time.  A family party was then seen on 9th May with one singing male still in the area.  In mid-May seven birds were present and it is thought likely to have been the breeding pair, four juveniles and another unpaired male.


Woodlark – Singing male in March 2016.


Woodlark – adult bird in April.

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Woodlarks – two juveniles in mid-May.

Stonechats bred at Stoke Common in 1995 and then between 2000 and 2003.   In 2015 a pair successfully bred at the site but there were no sightings between the end of October 2015 and early May 2016 when a pair were seen.  They took up residence in one particular area but there was no proof of breeding until mid-June when juveniles were seen.


Stonechat – Male


Stonechat – Female

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Stonechat – One of the juvenile birds.

Apart from these two heath land specialists, Stoke Common holds high numbers of breeding Whitethroat as well as several pairs of the declining Willow Warbler.  It can however be a hard place to bird and sometimes seems devoid of any bird life!

Congratulations and thanks to the City of London Council for these successes in restoring the site back to heath land habitat.

(Click on the photos to enlarge).



Common Terns Ringing at Little Marlow GP

It has been a successful breeding season for the Common Terns so far, at Little Marlow Gravel Pit.  Five rafts were launched on 24th April and moored together in the SW of the lake.  Ten or so pairs eventually took up residence and as a group fended off a variety of potential dangers including Herons, Buzzards, Red Kites and a variety of Gulls. Birders watching from he bank were lucky if they could count 10 or so individual young, however today (24th June) the actual number was discovered when the young were ringed by local ringer Mick McQuaid.  One well grown young bird actually flew from the rafts as Mick approached.  Two other young jumped ship, one of which swam to the shore and was retrieved, ringed and returned to the rafts (the other was looked after by the adult birds).   Twenty one were ringed and six were left un-ringed as they were too small to ring.  Sadly there were eight dead chicks on the rafts, which may have been due to the torrential rain that we experienced this week. There were also two unhatched eggs.   So the grand total is of thirty-nine eggs laid, thirty-seven chicks hatched and twenty-nine still surviving on the ringing day.  Hopefully they will all manage to fly from the rafts successfully.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

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Mick collecting the young from the rafts.

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A ring being placed on the leg of one youngster.

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The ring being tightened.

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One of the swimmers drying off.

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Mick returning from the rafts after completing the ringing. The adults were back feeding the young within five minutes of this.


Aylesbury Peregrines

18th June – “1Y” decided to fly overnight and ended up in the Bus Station!  She ended up at St Tiggywinkles Wilflife Hospital where she was given a clean bill of health, so was returned to the platform by Mike and Ted Wallen.  This close up was taken during this process.  After putting her talons straight through the thickest pair of gardening gloves that Mike had, she was released and jumped onto the roof of the box and started calling.  Within 10 seconds the female appeared off the east side of the building carrying prey ( no doubt a stashed pigeon ). and came straight in and landed on the platform and gave food to the chick.  An incredibly quick response!

AS of 19th June “1Y” was still on the platform.


17th June – Peregrine “2Y” on the windowsill of the council building.


14th June – An adult bringing in a large prey item.


13th June – Wing flagging practice.


22nd May – Supper being delivered.

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16th May – Growing chicks



7th May – Still waiting for the forth egg to hatch.  Not looking good.

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Meanwhile the adults continue to bring in food (possibly a Pigeon)

6th May – The adults were busy feeding the chicks but one apparently chick died and was seen to be carried off by one of the adults.  An anxious wait to see if the fourth egg will hatch.

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Adult feeding the three chicks late morning.


Three chicks huddled around the remaining egg.

5th May – Second and Third Chicks hatched.  One more to go!

4th May – First chick hatched.

19th April – A male Peregrine that came into the territory of or resident birds was attacked by the resident male.  Both males ended up tangled in netting that was put up to deter Pigeons.  They were untangled but required checking over as one of the birds was injured.  The uninjured bird was later released while the injured bird was taken into care at St Tiggywinkle’s Wildlife Hospital.  It will be released at a later date.  Fortunately the resident male was uninjured and is back performing it’s parental duties and waiting for the eggs to hatch.

1st April –  4th egg laid!!!!


The Peregrines panoramic view of Aylesbury. (click on image to enlarge)



1st April – 4 eggs




The cameras on the Aylesbury Peregrine platform are live again in time for the 2016 breeding season.  Peregrines have been seen around the council offices, where the platform is situated, so it hoped that the Peregrines will breed again this year.

The links below will take you directly to the Peregrine website and the cameras.  The cameras are again partly funded by the Buckinghamshire Bird Club.

Aylesbury Peregrine Project website

Platform Camera

Overhead Camera

Submitting Bird Sightings

Bird sightings should be submitted through the “Goingbirding” database that is linked with this website.  Goingbirding has been used since 2009 and contains a huge amount of bird records for Buckinghamshire and are accessible to everyone.

On 16th May 2016 a new interface was introduced for the entering of sightings.  The new interface uses filters to make data entry easier, especially when entering data from a mobile device.  The following screen shots show the new features.

  1.  The submit screen is similar to the original screen and contains the same fields.  One addition is the ability to tick a “Negative News” box.  This is useful to indicate to others that an interesting bird could not be found, perhaps having left the site.


2. Click in the Site field and start typing the site name.  A filter immediately offers you the valid choices that start with those characters. Click on the relevant site name.


3. Start typing the species name in the Species field.  Again a filter will show the allowable selections.  If a species is not shown it could be that you have not typed the correct first characters.  Note that in the example below neither Redshank or Redstart are prefixed with “Common” as shown in some databases.  A list of the Bucks species with valid spellings will be provided. 

If the bird is simply not in the list then select “OTHER” or “MEGA” and describe the species name in the notes.  “OTHER” is used mainly for escaped/feral species that are not on the British list.  “MEGA” is used for species not previously recorded in the county.  In this case the species name will be added to the database as soon as is possible.

Select breeding status if relevant and tick any of the boxes below that.

When complete click on “Add Sighting”.  Your data will be stored and other species can be entered.  When all species have been added click on “Finish” and the “Review Sightings” box will appear.



4.  Check over your sighting details.  Delete and re-add any that require alteration.  Then click on “Save” to add your sightings to the database.  Easy!!!!


Submit Your Bucks Sightings

Although the majority of bird records are submitted by members of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club, we are always pleased to receive records from other birders.  We ask that only records that are reliable are submitted.  Please indicate if there is any doubt over the identification or origin of an unusual species.  For certain scarce species within the county, you may be asked to supply written “field notes” before the record can be accepted as part of the official county records. Forms to use for the submission of scarce and rare species can be downloaded on the Reporting Scarce and Rare Birds page.

The preferred method of record submission is via the “Latest Bucks Sightings” page on this website.

Alternatively records may be submitted in spreadsheet format (Excel or compatible format).

See below for more information on both of these methods…

Submission via Website Click here to read Submit Your Bucks Sightings →

Black-winged Stilts at Manor Farm

One of the newer nature reserves in Bucks, Manor Farm NR (Milton Keynes) really turned up trumps when a pair of Black-winged Stilts turned up on 24th April.  Ted Reed discovered the birds, soon put the word out which enabled a good number of birders to see these elegant, very long legged wading birds.  Unfortunately the birds could not be found the following morning.  During their visit they moved around quite a bit which made it a bit of a challenge for the photographers.

The species is not uncommon in southern Europe but a rare bird in the UK and this is only the second record for Buckinghamshire.  The previous record was of a pair at Willen Lake from 7th until 18th June 1988.


Male Black-winged Stilt (Photo © Lucy Flower)



Black-winged Stilt female (Photo © Lucy Flower)

Mating sequence (BBC)

Black-winged Stilts copulating in what is a tricky balancing manoeuvre! (Photo © Lucy Flower

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Female Black-winged Stilt (Photo © Mark Appleton)


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Male and female Stilts (Photo © Paul Gibbs)

Video provided by Bill Parker (change settings to view in HD or in full screen mode))

Tern Rafts at Little Marlow GP

The rafts were repositioned further away from the bank after winter storms had moved them very close to the west bank.  John Bowman brought the boat along on his trailer and Mick McQuaid did the hard work (rowing, droppimg anchors, etc).

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The position of the rafts close to the west bank.

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Mick dropping the anchors in the new position further from the bank.

A short while after work was completed a pair of Egyptian Geese were on one of the rafts but left a little later.  The Common Terns took an interest but did not land on the rafts (it usually takes a day or so for them to take their positions on the rafts).  There are very few Black-headed Gulls visiting the lake at present, so we don’t expect this species to attempt breeding at Little Marlow, as has happened at other sites in the county.

New Annual Report

The Buckinghamshire 2014 Annual is now available.  It is being distributed to all club members free of charge.  However non-members may purchase a copy. For details click on the image below.

2014 Annual Report

Dipper - The first since 1994!

On 14th February, local photographer Sarah McKeeman was walking along the Loughton Brook near Bradwell, MK, when she came across a bird she did not recognise.   Sarah managed to photograph the bird and a passer-by managed to identify the bird as a Dipper.  Sarah then posted the photo on her 360 Project page.

This is the first record of this species in the county since one was seen flying along the Thames in March 1994!

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Dipper photos courtesy Sarah McKeeman





Then on 16th February a Dipper was photographed by a Mr HM Johnson in the Emerson Valley Park stream in Furzton, MK.  The photo is was sent to the county recorder who confirmed ID but the quality is not good enough to post here.

The two sites are approximately four miles apart but even so it seems very likely that this is the same individual moving through the area.  Despite several local birders trying to relocate the bird, it has not been seen since.  The Bucks Records Committee consider the bird to be of continental race “Black-bellied Dipper” (C.c.cinclus).

To see a list of all Dipper records for the county visit the county list on this link.

To see a photo of the 1991 Black-bellied Dipper at Three Locks click on this link.

Ferruginous Duck

A scarce duck in the county with only ten or so records.  However the possibility of escapes from wildfowl collections can not always be discounted.  For a list of all records go to the Bucks List 


This rather smart drake turned up at Caldecotte Lake on 4th February 2016.  It stayed there for several days and then moved to Mount Farm Lake on 12th February.  It then proceeded to move between the two lakes periodically.

The following photos show all of the identification features of a Ferruginous Duck. While the origins of many scarce ducks is often unknown, this individual is rather wary at times and is un-ringed, so perhaps suggesting a wild origin.  The Bucks records committee will decide in due course whether to accept as a wild bird or a potential escape.


Ferruginous Duck 1


Ferruginous Duck 5

Ferruginous Duck 4

Ferruginous Duck 3

Ferruginous Duck 2

Ferruginous Duck 6

The above photos copyright Andrew Moon


Bonaparte's Gull - New to Bucks!

Initially found by Roy Hargreaves on 4th January at Wilstone Reservoir (Hertfordshire). News was soon put out but the bird soon flew off and was only seen by two observers.  The bird was again present on 8th January when it was seen to fly off towards College Lake just prior to dusk, presumably to join the Black-headed Gull roost.  On Saturday 9th January quite a few birders caught up with the bird at Wilstone where is spent quite a bit of time but also fed on nearby fields.  In dreadful weather conditions the bird was found in the College Lake roost at 15:40 by Dave Bilcock and also seen by Lee Evans.  So adding another species to the Bucks county list!

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The Bonaparte’s Gull at College Lake. It is the smallest gull in the centre of the photo. (Photo taken on 9th Jan by Dave Bilcock)

On Sunday 10th January the bird again appeared at Wilstone, again moving between the reservoir and nearby fields.  At 16:40 it was located in the huge Black-headed Gull roost at College Lake, in among an estimated 5000 Gulls, again found by Dave Bilcock.  A group of twelve or so local birders managed to see the bird before it was lost in the darkness.  The bird seems to roost at College Lake every night and at the time of writing, it was seen on 12th January.

The following excellent flight photos were taken by Ian Williams.  These were taken over the fields of Miswell Farm, which is just to the South-east of Wilstone Reservoir and in Hertfordshire.

 Bonaparte 22-1200  Bonaparte 17-1115

Note the greyish “shawel” over the neck.  This is white on most Black-headed Gulls.  Also note the pink legs.

Bonaparte 26-800  Bomnaparte 28-900

Note the black bill and the longish black trailing edge to the wings.

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Black-headed Gull and Bonaparte’s Gull – An interesting comparison. Note the much whiter underwing on the Bonaparte’s Gull

If anyone manages to get any further photos of the bird in Buckinghamshire, please forward onto Jim Rose at