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.

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Peregrines Breeding

2021 has seen a significant increase number of Peregrines attempting to breed in the county. Most of these are on the steeples of tall churches or other tall buildings where they are relatively secure from unwanted disturbance. A summary is as follows :-

Aylesbury – The breeding pair in Aylesbury have breed on the specially erected platform on the council offices for some years. This year a single bird fledged and was seen on the top of County Hall in mid June.

High Wycombe – A pair attempted to breed on All Saints church but apparently failed. Hopefully this pair will return and try again next year.

Milton Keynes – A pair again attempted to nest in the MK Stadium. Details awaited.

Marlow – A pair have made use of a new platform that was installed over the winter months on All Saints church (next to Marlow bridge) and as of mid June there were three well grown youngsters getting ready to fly.
The WildMarlow group were instrumental in arranging for the platform and also for monitoring of the breeding. This has been reported regularly on Twitter by @wildmarlow1. A recent video is shown at the bottom of this post. WildMarlow have organised a drop in event at the bottom of Marlow High Street on Sunday 4th July (from 10am to 2pm), so that members of the public can view the birds perched on the spire. Members of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club will also be present.
Telescopes will be provided and suitable Covid precautions will be taken.

The following photos were kindly provided by local photographer Neil Richards.

Parenting activities underway!
The 2021 Juveniles
The above video clip is linked to the @WildMarlow Twitter feed. There are many other videos and photo on this feed.

To see a previous post on Peregrines in the county visit


The Hoopoe is a rare species in the county but this year so far we have had two birds that have been seen by many observers. The first was at Willen Road excavations in Milton Keynes. This individual was present from 22nd to 24th April. Then in the south of the county another was found at Hedgerley Green and was present from 3rd until 6th May.

The Willen bird was found by Milton Keynes birder Mark Baker and was seen by many local birders and others from further afield. It was in a large site and was elusive at times.

Hoopoe – Willen Excavations – Photo copyright Jason Chalk

The Hedgerly Green bird was found by local birder Colin Barnes and seen by many birders However it was seen distantly by most people as it tended to feed on the far side of a paddock. Danielle was fortunate to photograph the bird on the track and therefore much closer.

Hoopoe – Hedgerly Green – Photo copyright Danielle Lennon

Prior to these birds, there have only been about five records of the species in the county in the past ten years.

To see all of the historical records for the species in the county go to

To view historical photos of Hoopoes in the county go to


College Lake Webcam

A new webcam has been installed at one of Buckinghamshires top bird reserves. Take a look at the webcam below at College Lake, the BBOWT reserve near Tring. There is a chance of seeing breeding Oystercatchers and Redshank as well as a variety of wildfowl. Some of the smaller birds may test your ID skills!

Graphs of the Occurrence of Scarce Birds

Dave Ferguson has kindly updated the graphs showing the occurrence of some of the scarcer visitors to Buckinghamshire.  For each of these species there is a graph showing the occurrence year by year and a separate graph showing the distribution of the species during the calendar year.  Some of these are quite revealing.  The species covered are the scarcer species that typically occur annually or near annually.  The rarer species have all sightings listed on the Bucks Species List.

  • The rarer birds with full details of sightings included in the Bucks Species List  include birds such as the Divers, the Skuas, Dipper, Snow Buntings, etc.
  • The scarcer birds with graphs include such species as the rarer Grebes, Bittern, the scarcer Swans, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Pied Flycatcher, Ring Ouzel, etc.
  • The commoner species records are contained in the Annual Reports, the Monthly Bird Bulletins and in the Goingbirding database.

A couple of example of the graphs available are given below:

Graphs for Smew

Smew have always been a bird of cold winters and it has always been unusual to see one before December. However numbers have declined dramatically since 2000 with no records since 2016. Is this due to Global Warming?

Graph for Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper is a decreasing species in the county. While good numbers were recorded on a few occasions in the last century, they have all but disappeared from our annual reports. Note that the largest flock recorded is eight, so the records for 1985 and 1990 refer to multiple flocks.

All of the graphs can be accessed via the  Bucks Species List where the words “See Chart” are given.  Just click on these links to view the graphs. See image below.

Note that the above is just an example image and it contains no links to the graphs.

Breeding Goosanders on the Thame

Goosanders have bred on the River Ouse in the north of the county for several years. As this is a fair way for their normal range in the UK this is certainly rather exceptional. Then in May 2019 there was a report of a female with seven well grown young on the River Thame near Haddenham. So maybe a indication that the population on the River Ouse was expanding.

Then in 2020 a pair bred on the River Thame and the brood captured on a trail camera. See below:

The video was recorded on 22nd June 2019. There are eight birds shown. The female is the bird that perches on the concrete platform first and has the bright coloured legs. The leg colour of the juveniles is much duller.

Thanks to Henry Manisty for allowing us to use his video.

For a previous post on Goosanders breeding in Buckinghamshire take a look at

Bucks Bird Blockers

This following list is for general interest and shows all of the birds that are on the Bucks list but which have not been seen for some years. Sometimes for a great many years! This of course does not cover all of the species that have never turned up in the county. That would be a long list!

If you have been birding in the county for quite a few years then maybe you have seen a few of these. If not then it is maybe something to aim at!

While some of these are certainly possible (e.g. Rose-coloured Starling) others look extremely unlikely (e.g. Pallas’s Sandgrouse)! It also seems strange that a bird such as Puffin has been recorded 11 times in the county, but none since 1979!

The data was kindly compiled by Roger Bibby.

160 years100 years
Guillemot (1852)Palla’s Sandgrouse (1908)
90 Years80 Years
Little Bittern (1922)Roller (1938)
50 Years40 Years
Bufflehead (1961)Serin (1971)
Great Snipe (1962)Hooded Crow (1975)
Nutcracker (1968)Rose Coloured Starling (1978)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (1970)Puffin (1979)
30 Years20 Years
Long-tailed Skua (1982)American Golden Plover (1991)
Bluethroat (1983)Black-eared Wheatear (1992)
Corncrake (1985)Eider (1993)
Cirl Bunting (1985)Pomarine Skua (1994)
Arctic Skua (1985)Razorbill (1996)
Little Bunting (1987)River Warbler (1997)
Aquatic Warbler (1990)Purple Sandpiper (1997)
Richards Pipit (1998)
Great Shearwater (1999)
Franklin Gull (1999)
10 Years
Whiskered Tern (2001)
Red-rumped Swallow (2002)
Woodchat Shrike (2003)
Least Sandpiper (2003)
Two-barred Crossbill (2003)
Bee-eater (2005)
Twite (2006)
Wilsons Phalarope (2007)
Black Stork (2008)
Great Reed Warbler (2008)
Icterine Warbler (2008)
Green-winged Teal (2010)

Migrant Dates

One of the interesting aspects of birding in Buckinghamshire is the arrival and departure of migrant species (such as Cuckoo, Swallows, etc). Questions are often asked as to what is the earliest arrival date, or what is a typical arrival date for a specific species. This post answers many of these questions.

The data below contains data on the various migrant birds species found in Buckinghamshire and has been extracted from Annual Reports for the county from 1971 until 2019 . It includes Summer visitors, Winter visitors and passage migrants.

This date was compiled by Jim Rose and Graham Smith.

Please bear in mind the following points :-

  • The average dates given are that of the earliest records received and not the typical arrival date which is obviously somewhat later.   The opposite of course applies to average late dates.
  • Some species that are normally regarded as UK residents (e.g.  Ringed Plover) can be treated as summer visitors to Bucks as there is a clear break in records during the winter months.
  • Some species that are regarded as summer visitors to the UK, may in fact be treated as migrant species in Bucks (e.g.  Wheatear), as it is possible to separate the spring passage from the return passage. Hence there are two sets of tables for these species (see Spring and Autumn Migrants).
  • You may find that there are some species missing from the tables that you might have expected to see.  This may be due to the back that some species that are normally regarded as say a summer visitor do turn up during other months making it difficult to determine arrival and departure dates (e.g. Blackcap).
  • Where the occasional exceptional record occurs (e.g. where a normal summer visitor is recorded over wintering) that record is ignored from the average date calculation and from the earliest/latest ever data.  This is indicated against that species in the table.  Similarly in years where wintering birds stay on to breed, the dates for those years have been ignored (e.g. Goosander).
  • Additional years data will be added on the publication of the Buckinghamshire Annual Bird Report.
  • Red Italics means that data is inconclusive due to some out of season records or lack of data


Below is one example of how migrant arrival dates have changed over the years. It appears that Swallows now arrive up to ten days earlier than previously.

Arrival dates for Swallow from 1972 until 2017
Note that the graph has been “smoothed” by plotting “three year averages”.

Club Constitution

The Buckinghamshire Bird Club constitution was updated in November 2020. To see a PDF copy click on this link.

Buckinghamshire Bird Club Constitution


Indoor Meetings

The committee have decided to run a series of “Indoor Meetings” using the on-line “Zoom” application. This will allow members to see a presentation from their own home without the risk of attending a meeting in Wendover. For more information on these meetings see the Club Events tab.

Members can run Zoom from most PCs as well as many tablets and smartphones. The minimum requirement is a speaker but a microphone is required if you wish to ask a question. A camera is nice to have but not essential.

The first Zoom presentation will run immediately after the Club Annual General Meeting on 12th November 2020 at 19:30. Club Member Nick Marriner will give a talk on the work he is doing with local farmers to improve habitats for wildlife.

County Bird Racing

This is an article looking back in time to when County Bird Racing was popular. At one time there were national competitions which attracted hundreds of teams from many counties across the UK. The teams would consist of four birders who would have to see or hear as many species as possible in a 24 hour period, from within their county. The teams would be handicapped as to what their species target would be and the winners would be the team with the highest percentage of their target.

So in an attempt to document what happened in Buckinghamshire, the results have been pulled together and are shown in two tables.

Table 1 – The List of Participating Teams and Totals. This data can also be found at

The second table is in PDF form and can be downloaded with this link. This table shows all of the species seen for the teams.

It is quite interesting to see how some species have become more common over the years and how some species have become very difficult to find. For example in the early years it was not possible or extremely difficult to see Little Egret, Red Kite, Buzzard or Raven. It was however, with a bit of planning, possible to see or hear Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Willow Tit, Turtle Dove, Ruddy Duck and others. Take a look at the species table for the whole picture.

Since the last race took part in 2012 things have changed further. Turtle Dove and Nightingale have all but gone from the county and birds such as Great White Egret are now a possibility! If anyone does attempt a bird race in the future it will be interesting to compare results. One thing is for sure is that to get even close to the current record of 121 species will be a real challenge!