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 Elmley Marshes and Sheppy on Sunday 5th March 2017. This is an all day visit.
Elmley National Nature Reserve
We hope to see a variety of wildfowl, waders and hopefully some interesting raptors. This should include Marsh Harriers and Peregrine, and hopefully Hen Harrier and Merlin. There is always a lot to see here.
For more details click here.
The indoor meeting is on Thursday 6th April 2017 and is a talk by Edward Meyer on “Swifts, Their Lives and their Conservation“. The talk covers Swifts, highlighting the challenges they face, including their spectacular migrations to Africa and back, plus providing information on ideas for action to help end their sad decline.. This should be a fascinating talk.
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. More information on this link. As usual refreshments will be available.
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.
Aylesbury – one of the 13 that were present on 6th January (G Smith)
Milton Keynes: The group of Waxwings at Oldbrook.
Milton Keynes: A single bird at Oldbrook on 8th January. (M Wallen)
Milton Keynes: Taken at Witan Gate on 14th January (M Wallen)
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
Bearded Tits are scarce species in the county. There have been three records in recent months, one in 2015 but before that the previous record was in November 2012. On 18th January Peter Weisner saw a male from one of the hides at the BBOWT reserve at Weston Teurville Reservoir and put the news out via the Buckinghamshire Goingbirding sightings website. A few birders visited the site later that day but were unable to locate the bird. The following morning Richard Birch and Dave Evans were carrying out one of their regular walks around the lake and saw the bird from the old hide on the south side of the lake. The news was put out again and soon a few local birders arrived to see this very smart male. We then heard that a local birder had seen a Bearded Tit (90% certain) 2-3 weeks earlier!
The bird was again located in the same area in front of the old hide on 20th January and seen by good numbers of birders. With plenty of ideal habitat at this site, hopefully the bird will stay for some time. (Update: The bird was still present until 25th Jan at least).
Above two photos from Adam Bassett
Above two photos and video below from Jim Rose
To view some historical photos of this species, that were taken in the county, click on this link.
The Buckinghamshire 2015 Annual is now available. It is being distributed to all club members free of charge. However non-members may purchase a copy. For more details click on the image below.
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.
Photo – Lucy Flower
Photo Lucy Flower
Photo – Lucy Flower
Photo – Peter Garner
Photo – Peter Garner
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Above four photos by Ashley Beolens
An interesting comparison in size with a Little Egret.
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.
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.
Farmoor Reservoir – Part of the group approaching the causeway.
Red-necked Grebe – Top bird of the day. It followed us along the bank for some distance.
Black-necked Grebe – We were fortunate to see both Grebes fairly close to the bank. We also saw Great Crested and Little Grebes.
Common Scoter – A bit more distant and only seen asleep.
Yellow Wagtails – A group of 6-10 birds was seen on buildings and then on the side of the reservoir.
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
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.
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
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).