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 Indoor Meeting

The indoor meeting is on Thursday 1st December 2016 and is a “members evening” when various club members will give short talks on recent birding events, trips, experiences, etc.  There will be time to chat over a cup of tea or coffee.  It should be a good evening.

The venue is as usual at Wendover Memorial Hall in Wharf Road and start time is 7:30.

 

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The Next Field Meeting

The complete list of field trips for the period until June 2017 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 Tring Reservoirs on Sunday 27th November.  This is a morning visit. We hope to see a variety of wildfowl and some winter visitors.  Recent sightings include a Ring-necked Duck at Startopsend Reservoir and a Ferruginious Duck and Garganey at Wilstone Reservoir.  A great time to visit these sites!

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Ring-necked Duck at Startopsend Reservoir

For more details click here.


Velvet Scoter Invasion!

With only four prior records of this species in the county, then two separate sightings in two days is almost an invasion!

7th November 2016 – Willen Lake
The first birds found were at Willen Lake where local birder Paul Moon came across two smart Velvet Scoters on the south lake.  They spent all day on the lake fishing and asleep at times, allowing a lot of local birders to get excellent views of a species usually seen way out at sea.  For most people it was a Bucks tick and for some a UK life tick.  Viewing was easy from just in front of a pub and fitness centre.  The birds remained until the 16th November.

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Photo – Lucy Flower

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Photo Lucy Flower

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Photo – Lucy Flower

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Photo – Peter Garner

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Photo – Peter Garner

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Photo – Peter Garner

  

                                              

The was some discussion about the sex of these birds and apparently the whiteness of the belly is a factor, so these two pictures are included here. They are video clips of each bird.

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Dorney Lake – 8th November 2016

Before heading north to Willen Lake to twitch the Velvet Scoters,  Dave Cleal decided to check out one of his local patches, Dorney Lake.  Low and behold he found a single Velvet Scoter on the main rowing lake.  It was diving and flying around the lake quite a bit.  Word was put out quickly and some of the birders who could not get to Willen Lake (plus a few that did) managed to see this individual.  This is the sixth county record.  The suspicion is that it may have arrived at the same time as the Willen birds, but was unseen the previous day.  The bird was last seen by John Edwards on 18th November when it was seen to fly up and down the lake several times before rising high into the sky and flying off south over Berkshire.

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The prior county records are.

1890 Linford – 1 killed on 27th Oct
1948 near Iver – Male on 12-13th Dec
1982 Willen – 11 on 9th Jan
2006 Willen – A 1st winter male on 2nd Feb.

All Velvet Scoter photos from Jim Rose unless otherwise stated.

Titchfield Haven Field Trip

On Sunday 18th September a small group of club members met at Titchfield Haven (Hants) for a Bucks Bird Club field meeting.  Sixty two species of birds were seen including the rather nice Curlew Sandpipers below.  The best of the rest included Red-throated Diver, Bearded Tits, Cetti’s Warbler, Whinchat, Wheatear, Marsh Harrier, Black-tailed Godwits and a Water Rail.

The next field meeting is to Little Marlow Gravel Pit.

Curlew Sandpipers

Curlew Sandpipers

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Great White Egret in North Bucks

Not too many years ago this was a real “Mega” bird in the UK.  Now they seem to be around somewhere or other in the UK most of the time.  However in Bucks they are still a rare species albeit with increasing frequency.  The first in the county was in 1994 and then we had to wait until 2003 for the next.  Then one turned up in 2008, after which they became a little more regular.  More recently they have stayed in one area for a longer period of time allowing many more birders to catch up with this attractive species.

On 9th August a Great White Egret was found at Manor Farm Quarry, near Milton Keynes.  It has been seen at the site many times since up until today at least (17th September 2016) and therefore allowing many people to enjoy seeing and photographing, what is still a scarce species in the UK.

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Above four photos by Ashley Beolens

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An interesting comparison in size with a Little Egret.

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Lower two photos from Lee Evans

A list of prior sightings of this species can be found at on the Bucks Species List  A few of the historical photos of the species can be found at this link.

Farmoor Field Trip Report

Fifteen club members met at Farmoor Reservoir for the best field trip on the new calendar.  It turned out to be a great success with all three of the scarce birds, that had been present the day before, still remaining, with a few more decent birds also been seen.  The group walked around the perimeter of this large reservoir, taking all morning to do so.  The main species are pictured below. Click on the photos to see full size.

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Farmoor Reservoir – Part of the group approaching the causeway.

 

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Red-necked Grebe – Top bird of the day. It followed us along the bank for some distance.

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Black-necked Grebe – We were fortunate to see both Grebes fairly close to the bank. We also saw Great Crested and Little Grebes.

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Common Scoter – A bit more distant and only seen asleep.

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Yellow Wagtails – A group of 6-10 birds was seen on buildings and then on the side of the reservoir.

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Ringed Plover – A fairly confiding individual.

Also seen was a passage Black Tern, several Common Sandpipers, at least one Yellow-legged Gull and the usual Farmoor species.  A great start to the new field trip calendar.

The above photos supplied by Peter Garner and Jim Rose

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.

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Woodlark – Singing male in March 2016.

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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.

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Stonechat – Male

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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.

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

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

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13th June – Wing flagging practice.

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22nd May – Supper being delivered.

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16th May – Growing chicks

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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.

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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!!!!

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

 

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1st April – 4 eggs

 

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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

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.

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Male Black-winged Stilt (Photo © Lucy Flower)

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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))