Thursday, 31 December 2009

Recent Images - Tim Watts

Vagrant MARSH HARRIER seen briefly one evening in December and adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL and Great Black-backed Gull on the main BBOWT Lake at Calvert

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

28 December Calvert Roost

BBOWT LAKE; 5 PINTAILS, 3m+2 fem/ Water Rail swam between reedbeds/ female GOOSANDER arrived when virtually dark/ increase in common wildfowl/ Swan movements, all Mutes, 3 new on sailing lake, 2 then 3 arrived on BBOWT but chased off by resident pair (Tim Watts).

27 December Highlights

27 December: Calvert BBOWT a.m- drake PINTAIL in SW corner/58 Pochard

Hillesden; pair of COMMON STONECHATS/ c60 Lapwing/ 16 Golden Plover/ c200 Greenfinch on sunflower strip setaside.

Twyford mill, mid way between Calvert and Hillesden;Driving around looking for Swans and found some! 11 feeding/loafing on cabbage type crop but all Mutes. Will keep an eye on this field with hope that the Wintering Whoopers from previous years drop in.

Calvert p.m; 3+hr watch from 1st hide DIDN'T produce a hoped for Bittern! / Water Rail swam between reedbeds/25 Reed Bunting came in to roost/ 3 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS in decent pre-roost (Tim Watts)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Adult PONTIC GULL in roost again

BBOWT Lake; large numbers of large gulls all afternoon, amongst these was an adult CASPIAN GULL, the one photographed recently. Also 4 adult Yellow-legged Gulls (Tim Watts)

Whitchurch area - 20 December - both MERLIN and PEREGRINE

Berryfields; c80 Fieldfare/ 3 Roe Deer/4 Chinese water deer

Stayed local and did an hour watch from high point, five minutes from ny house in Whitchurch looking back towards Creslow; Highlights were an adult PEREGRINE attacking Woodpigeons, hit one but not killed and Peregrine then went into another Woodpigeon flock and a female-type MERLIN bombing low over field, where there was a flock of 24 Skylark feeding in the open on the edge of that exposed from snow stubble. Two flocks of 21 and 43 European Golden Plover flew through SW with about 80 Lapwing through in small flocks./6 Yellowhammer (Tim Watts)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

MARSH HARRIER - a real winter surprise

BBOWT Lake; Yesterday morning gulls settled at North end by reeds when they all erupted into air, ducks and Grebes swam out from reeds and suspected a Bittern could be about. Did Bittern watch tonight but got something totally unexpected. Gulls again settled near reeds and flew up in panic. I Quickly scanned for Bittern in flight, and got a big pair of brown wings over the reedbed but they were attached to a female/imm MARSH HARRIER!!!

It did three low circuits over the reedbed areas then lost to view in far left corner; it either dropped into reeds to roost or carried on North. it was mobbed by a Carrion Crow and a Red Kite. This was at 1500 hours. Got some chronic record shots on compact camera with no zoom. This our 1st ever Winter record of one here. Also female Goldeneye/ 141 G.B.B gulls (Tim Watts)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Recent Images from Calvert BBOWT - Tim Watts

A typical seelection of excellent images taken by Tim Watts - female Northern Pochard, female Common Goldeneye, an adult Scandinavian Herring Gull, an adult Argenteus Herring Gull and an adult Great Black-backed Gull with Lesser Black-backs.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Another excellent Gull Roost at BBOWT Lake

Calvert BBOWT Lake; Next to 2nd hide spotted 2 Goldcrests and an unusual Chiffchaff, quite possibly a Siberian type.

GULLS TONIGHT; 3rd Winter CASPIAN GULL (found by Warren Claydon) new bird, looks very like adult on BBC photo page but has some black in tertials/ 1st W CASPIAN GULL, popped up 30mts!! from hide in near darkness/ exactly 100 G.B.B Gulls counted/ minimum of 9 ad YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS/ Tim Watts

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Foxcote Roost Spectacular

Another terrific show for 4 observers. 5,000 Common Starlings attracted the attention of a single Sparrowhawk and a male PEREGRINE. The latter was actually chased by c 500 Starlings at one point. Eventually about half roosted next to the hide and half in the reeds around the bay next to the wood.

The drake RING-NECKED DUCK was obliging for a change and a drake GOOSANDER looked pretty in the sunshine. Many fewer gulls than last week, but still 1 adult YELLOW-LEGGED (Andy Harding)

First-winter CASPIAN GULL in roost this evening

This first-winter CASPIAN GULL roosted again this evening on Calvert BBOWT Lake - the same bird first seen in October (Tim Watts, Mike Wallen, LGRE, Warren Claydon, et al)
All photographs by kind courtesy of BBOWT warden Tim Watts

Friday, 27 November 2009

Large gathering of night-feeding WOODCOCK

26/11 : 12 WOODCOCK : Hambleden. 12 birds feeding near a wood on a field grassed by sheep. 22h30!. Frederic Desmette

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gulls galore and increase in Tufted Ducks

BBOWT lake; Good numbers of large gulls in pre-roost, 11 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS was most I got at one time.

78 Tufted Duck is an increase (Tim Watts)

Friday, 20 November 2009


The first-winter CASPIAN GULL LGRE first found a few weeks back was present again this evening on the main BBOWT Lake, as well as a stunning adult, along with at least 15 adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (per Warren Claydon and Tim Watts)

Monday, 16 November 2009

STARLING roost spectacular

Another wonderful night with around 4,000 Common Starlings roosting all at once in front of the hide at Foxcote Reservoir. One or two Sparrowhawk attacks on the way in followed by two birds perching in the willows around the hide for the next 20 minutes waiting for the straggelers (probably another 500 starlings over the next 20 minutes) to arrive and making frequent attacks either alone or 2 together (Richard Goodlad)

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER stays overnight but departs early morning Sunday

The juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (photographed above by Tim Watts) was still present on the BBOWT lake at dawn today (Sunday 15 November), but at 0740 hours it did one and a half circuits of the lake and flew off strongly to the North-West.
Nearby, 10 TREE SPARROWS were still viewable from the Grendon Underwood layby (per Mike Wallen)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Storms displace a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER


A very deep area of low pressure passed over the area today bringing near gale force SSW winds and more heavy rain, occasionally torrential. There was little respite from the conditions all day and mid afternoon saw the arrival of a windswept juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Calvert BBOWT


Took a call from Warren Claydon at around 1430 hours; he had just located a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER on the main BBOWT Lake at Calvert. Frustratingly I was 43 miles away by that time but with two hours of light left, I decided to give it a go.

It was about 1515 hours when I arrived and Warren, Tim Watts and local birder Colin Oreton were still watching the bird from the Second Hide. It was showing very well, perhaps at 100 yards, and was a juvenile, with characteristic pale barring and pale edgings on the mantle and back. It was gleaming white on the breast with much blacker feathering on the hindneck, nape and crown and had the typical 'bump' on the crown preceding the steep forehead. It had a thick neck with a large pale grey bill. The dark feathering at the base of the neck characteristically formed a half collar.

It was surprisingly on view for much of the time, diving fairly infrequently, but did then become more active and moved back towards the back of the lake. It remained until dusk.

There was a large gull roost on the BBOWT, including at least 1,839 Black-headed Gulls, just 3 Common Gulls, 139+ Herring Gulls (including a predominate number of argenteus adults), at least 9 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (5 adults, 2 2nd-winters and 2 first-winters), 700+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls and just 5 Great Black-backed Gulls.


The species is a rare visitor to the county with just 15 previous records, mostly between November and January. Todays bird represents the fourth for Calvert.

1) The first record involved a bird in the Ford area on 3 December 1774;
2) A juvenile was captured alive in a ditch at Chequers Court on 9 May 1850;
3) One was apparently seen in Chesham in November or December 1859;
4) One was 'obtained' on the River Thames at Marlow in November or December 1865;
5) One was obtained at Temple Island near Henley-on-Thames in 1865;
6) A juvenile was shot at Calvert Brick Pits on 11 November 1944;
7) A juvenile crash-landed in a field adjacent to Foxcote Reservoir on 4 November 1964. It was taken into care and later released but was found dead two days later;
8) One was at Iver GP on 17 January 1965;
9) One was found dead near Willen village in February 1971;
10) A juvenile appeared at Linford GP on 12 November 1972;
11) After a 14-year gap, a juvenile was present at Taplow Fishing Lake from 12 December 1986 until 11 January 1987 (photographed by Mike Wallen and published on page 18 of the 1986 BBR);

12) One was found at Willen Lake on the South Basin during the gull roost vigil on 16 December 1994. It was present for just the first half hour of daylight on 17 December;
13) An adult moulting out of breeding plumage visited Calvert Sailing Lake on 27-28 November 1997 but flew off west when visibility improved on its second day;
14) A juvenile remained present at Caldecotte Lake from 23 December 1997 until 6 January 1998;
15) A juvenile was found late afternoon on Calvert Sailing Lake on 28 November 2006. It was present for just a short time the next morning before flying off east.

Lee G R Evans

Despite the high winds and rain, a productive morning

Pretty good mornings birding in bad weather.

Sites visited, in reverse order.

Grendon Underwood layby; just off A41 on road to Grendon Church.Park and view from metal gate. Even in gloomy conditions many hundreds of birds seen; spotted a 'ball'of small birds dropping down then back into hedge. Suspected Sparrows and although mostly House there were at least 11 TREE SPARROWS, feeding in cut Maize field on left side viewed from gate. Also seen, c300 Lapwing, hundreds of Corvids, gulls, Woodpigeons. c 500 Starling, c200 Fieldfare, c60 Linnet, c 50 Chaffinch (think had Brambling with them)/46 Stock Dove/24 Skylark. Interesting distant group of mixed Skylark, Meadow Pipits and Reed Bunting on edge of ploughed field, but too gloomy to go through them properly. All birds either over or adjacent to the still to be completed new BBOWT Gallows bridge reserve, which rather handily is on the best undisturbed block of farmland in mid-Bucks!!

Hillesden; Large adult PEREGRINE over pools then seen twice more over valley bottom/ c300 Fieldfare/ mixed flock of c 250 Finches on set a side strip/ c200 Greylag/ work started on new scrapes.

Calvert; sailing lake; 7 Shoveler

Calvert BBOWT; Water rail on East bank/21 Pochard/ c 300 Fieldfare over fields behind East bank (Tim Watts)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sightings 6/11 - GOOSANDER new in

Calvert sailing lake; The RED-NECKED GREBE is back on this lake. I spent half an hour scanning with no luck but did spot a new in female GOOSANDER feeding tight amongst South bank tree roots. Returned with Warren Claydon later but no joy. It was seen by 2 others in afternoon and Warren saw it whilst doing late gull roost watch.

Two flocks of Fieldfare migrating over my Whitchurch garden 7:20 a.m/ 300 Fieldfare nr Granborough and Warren had c200 over at Calvert (Tim Watts)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE at Calvert

Taken at great distance yesterday afternoon as the bird fed on the Sailing Lake (Tim Watts). The images clearly show the dark stripe behind the eye and the extensive yellow on the bill - features indicative of a first-winter.


Neill Foster and I spent some time at Foxcote Reservoir mid morning, and saw the adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK heading into the hidden corner, also pair of PINTAIL and female Goldeneye plus usual range of other Duck.

Visited Calvert on the way home and watched the first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE on the BBOWT Lake from the second hide (John Gearing)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Perhaps on cue - RED-NECKED GREBE on the Sailing Lake


A glorious day weatherwise, dawning bright and clear and then predominantly blue skies and sunshine throughout. The wind though was a cool WNW with temperatures struggling to reach 8 degrees C. Surely not winter already! Despite the beautiful conditions though, birding was rather uneventful, until of course I took that call from Tim.......


Calvert supremo Tim Watts contacted me mid afternoon to say that he had located a RED-NECKED GREBE - a first for the year and an excellent county bird. Wasting no time, I battled my way through the Aylesbury school run and after successfully surviving the hazardous rat-run between Berryfields Junction and Edgcott, eventually arrived at Calvert at 1633 hours.

The juvenile/first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE was still present, preening its neck and breast feathers, in amongst a few Mallard along the southern shore (in fact towards the SE corner) of the Sailing Lake at SP 677 248. It smartened itself up before tucking its head under its wing to roost and was still sleeping when both Tim and I left it. It still had remnants of the dark striping on the rear crown and ear-coverts indicating that it was a first-winter and had a dark crown, some russet-brown on the fore-neck and an extensively bright yellow bill. It was also markedly smaller than a single Great Crested Grebe nearby. It was the 35th individual to be recorded in the county (see detail below).

I then moved round to the BBOWT Lake where I click-counted and surveyed the large numbers of gulls in the roost showing exceptionally well from the second hide. A total of 2,458 birds logged between 1650 and 1710 including 29 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1,988 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 83 Herring Gulls (including a larger proportion of Scandinavian Argentatus), 11 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (7 adults, 1 3rd-winter, 2 2nd-winters and a juvenile), a single well-marked first-winter and very white-headed CASPIAN GULL, 11 Common Gulls and 335 Black-headed Gulls. Additional to this were at least 3,500 birds already roosting on the Sailing Lake including 6 Great Black-backeds and 2,000 or more Lesser Black-backs.


The Red-necked Grebe is a rare visitor to the county with perhaps one record every five years on average, although at one stage it appeared almost annually. Prior to 1900 there was one record - a bird shot at Saunderton on 10 October 1848. There have been at least 35 recorded since 1974.

1) The first record in modern times was of a first-winter at Weston Turville Reservoir from 9-26 November 1974 providing me with one of my first ever opportunities to study this scarce grebe at close quarters.

2) In February 1979, there was a major influx of Red-necked Grebes throughout central Britain following severe weather in the Baltic and this resulted in four individuals reaching Buckinghamshire. There were two first-winters at Willen Lake on 14 February;

1979-1985: Data Incomplete (Reports missing)

6) 1987 was another extraordinary year with an unprecedented seven occurrences, including the first to ever oversummer in the county - singles at Willen Lake on 1 January, the Blue Lagoon, Bletchley, from 16-27 January, at Newton Longville Brickpits from 18-28 January, at Randall's Farm in the Little Marlow GP complex on 24 January, on the River Thames at Bourne End from 31 January to 2 February and an adult largely in breeding plumage at Willen Lake on 22-24 March. This latter bird then moved to Haversham on 26 March and New Bradwell from 31 March to 9 April and was most likely the full summer-plumaged adult that loafed with non-breeding Great Crested Grebes at Caldecotte Lake from 6 June until 19 August and again from 7-27 September. A further bird was at Newton Longville on 2 December;

13) An adult in full breeding plumage visited Willen Lake on 9 April 1989;

14) One remained at Calvert from 5-20 February 1990;

15) A first-winter was present at Little Marlow Spade Oak Pit on 24-25 December 1990;

16) Two arrived in late 1991 with a first-winter present on Caldecotte Lake from 26 November to 11 December, with a second bird present from 6-10 December;

18) A first-winter remained at Caldecotte Lake from 22 November 1994 until 19 April 1995 and was seen next day (20 April) on Willen Lake;

19) 1996 was another exceptional year with no less than five recorded including an unprecedented three together: the first of three different birds arrived at Caldecotte Lake on 7 February, followed by another on 22 February and a third on 26 February. Two remained until 28 February with one to 27 March. What was presumed to have been one of these three was present on Willen Lake from 14-21 February and another at Linford NR from 9 March until 2 April. A bird which was wintering on the River Thames on the Berks/Bucks border straddled across to the Taplow Court side on 17 and 24 March with a further arrival at Weston Turville Reservoir on 22 March;

24) One visited Marlow GP on 7 April 1997;

25) A first-winter remained at Calvert from 23 October 1997 until 24 April 1998, by which time it had acquired full summer attire;

26) One was seen at Taplow on 22 December 1998;

27) A long-staying bird remained at Thorney CP from 2 January until 10 April 1999;

28) A juvenile was at Calvert from 16-19 October 1999;

29) An adult remained at Willen Lake from 4 February until 26 April 2001 (see photo in 2001 BBR Report);

30) An adult in almost full breeding plumage visited Calvert Lake on 24 March 2001;

31) One appeared briefly in the gull roost at Willen South Basin on 10 November 2002;

32) One was present briefly at Calvert Lake on 19 March 2005;

33) A wide-ranging first-winter in North Bucks visited New Bradwell Lake on 26-27 February 2006 before moving to Haversham Lake on 3-4 March and Willen Lake from 14 March until at least 1 May (see photo in 2006 BBR Report);

Saturday, 31 October 2009

CALVERT images from today - kindly provided by Tim Watts

A real red letter day for Tim

Calvert Sailing lake; 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS in middle of lake in gloomy conditions early on. Watched them for two hours or more and they fed, then roosted/rested then when got brighter - a long spell of vigorous preening/wing stretching. They flew off after this, heading East at 11:30.

Whilst sat at water edge got glimpse of small brown jobby in flight that suspected was ROCK PIPIT, even though never had one here in 14 yrs of watching! No white in outer tail. With Ian Burrus we saw it again in flight. After another hour found it feeding along rocky shoreline to right of clubhouse.

On BBOWT lake were 4 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, 2 male + 2 female (Tim Watts)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Hillesden and Calvert BBOWT 25/10

Hillesden; Did a 2 hour watch up until dark; male and female COMMON STONECHAT/ 2 Barnacle X Canada hybrids/ 6 GREY PARTRIDGES/ 3 FIELDFARE flew into house grounds bushes to roost/c 200 Starling/ adult PEREGRINE over pools at dusk.

Calvert BBOWT; earlier in afternoon JACK SNIPE. Returned when dark and 2 Little Egret in roost trees (Tim Watts)

JACK SNIPE at Calvert 25/10

JACK SNIPE near waters edge in front of first hide along with single Water Rail, Little Egret and Common Snipe plus a Cetti's Warbler heard.

The JACK SNIPE was close to the end of the right-hand reedbed near to a post sticking up at an angle. Initially found by Nita and Pete Brazier.

A sizeable gull roost this evening but nothing particularly out of the ordinary noted (Ken Earnshaw)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Another confusing hybrid to entertain us

Quainton Hills; Large numbers of Chaffinch over West in 1st hour, only spotted 14 !! Redwing.
Calvert BBOWT; Male Scaup-type hybrid roosting by 2nd hide - round head, yellow eye, light mantle but brownish head and large nail on bill. Did wonder if young male or male coming out of eclipse. Not the peak headed Lesser Scaup lookalike seen here in previous year (see pix above). Also Water Rail/ 61 Pochard
Hillesden Pools; 50 Fieldfare/c300 Greenfinch/c 250 Linnet/2 Little egret/c20 Skylark
Rough field nr Waddesdon; pair of COMMON STONECHAT. Usually Common Snipe here but this year too dry at moment (Tim Watts)

Calvert blank

Spent 3 hours at Calvert BBOWT today 11am - 2pm but no sign of Ferruginous Duck. Still, plenty else to see with 33 species for the visit; best included party of Bullfinch (m, f and juv) on berries on railway line path, Red Kite over, two flocks of Redwing totalling 37 over, 675 gulls on lake (mostly Lessers, some Herring and a couple of Black-headed and Greaters) and great views of Kingfisher perched on one of the posts visible from the second hide (Steve Marshall)


The drake RING-NECKED DUCK remained as did at least one female COMMON GOLDENEYE (per Richard Goodlad)

QUAINTON HILLS viz-migging 17/10

Tried new observation spot half way up S/W slopes and infinitely better than summit. From here an all round panoramic view; get everything passing over tops and most importantly a good view across Aylesbury Vale. Picked up many more Thrushes high over vale that would have been missed before. Wrote down flocks from 10-150 and just added them up. Totals were 2050 REDWING and 470 FIELDFARE. Some Fieldfares went low overhead. All birds flying West, between 0745-0900 hours.

Also c300 Starling, c200 Finches, an increase in Woodpigeon,1 Skylark,1 Bullfinch.

Later walked bushlines and only odd blackbirds/Song Thrush.

Tried the massive East hollow,which can't see from new watch spot and 30 Fieldfare in bushes but also 170 feeding on Cattle grazed slopes, also 100 Redwing in flight.

At base of South slopes was a male COMMON STONECHAT in area never seen one in before, Grey Wagtail (scarce here) and a Chiffchaff and 90!! Fieldfare around churchyard. Fieldfare could have been counted already, earlier? (Tim Watts)

FERRUGINOUS DUCK at Calvert BBOWT - the photos

Last year's returning adult drake - seen just on three dates so far, and never consecutively. Hopefully will start into regular pattern soon (Tim Watts)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

First real push of winter thrushes

An excellent morning on QUAINTON HILLS today: first hour- c1,750 Redwing over S/W then W./ C 300 finches/40 Stock Dove.

Later wasted lot of time watching hedgelines on tops but only c30 mixed Thrushes.

Walked down and a large hedgeline half way down S/W slopes stuffed with birds!! My first 6 FIELDFARE of the year on grass. Original estimate of c200 birds woefully under!! Got in position (difficult) and 150 flew out and away, these included at least 10 Fieldfare. Then another 80 Redwing flew off. Remainder settled down and still a good 200 thrushes, amazingly 30 Fieldfare still. Also c40 Blackbird/c30 Song Thrush/c200 Starling/lots of mixed finches including Bullfinch/2 G.S.Woodys/2-3 Jays/Robins/Dunnocks/2 Goldcrest. Also surrounded on open grass by c80 Mipits/6 Skylark/c40 Goldfinch. FANTASTIC!!!

Next dawn watch I won't go to summit but will watch from here. As noted before here a lot of passage is over Aylesbury Vale on this side of hills (Tim Watts)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

FERRUGINOUS DUCK - further details

Calvert BBOWT; Drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK, roosting with small group of Northern Pochard in SE corner. This will almost certainly be the same returning bird from last year that Steve Norman found at Calvert in early September. It wasn't seen again on here, but re-located a week later on a private site for one day and has not been seen again until today.

Also seen- female Mandarin Duck (3rd one ever had on here) preening on raft by first hide/ 1 Green Sandpiper/5 Snipe/30 Pochard/2 Shoveler/1 Wigeon.

At work this morning 24 Redwing in bushes at Fenny Stratford and c 30 at Drayton Parslow (Tim Watts).

Drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK reappears

The adult drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was again at Calvert BBOWT Lake this afternoon, consorting with Northern Pochards (per Tim Watts)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Sightings 8 October

Three COMMON RAVENS at Foxcote Reservoir and a late WESTERN REED WARBLER in front of the hide were the only birds of particular note there, although Wigeon and Teal numbers were quite good, while at Calvert BBOWT similarly a Green Sandpiper and Little Egret were only birds of note (Ken Earnshaw)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

POLECAT hunting

Chronic quality pics but even so managed with small compact camera and scope
to get record shots of something even Simon King failed to do in Scotland!!
A POLECAT hunting!! This was on Quainton Hills, tops of Denham Hill, at 10 a.m today
5/10/09. Not just crossing field but actively stalking, running after Rabbits and sticking
head down burrows.
It moved quickly most of the time,mobbed by Crows and on view for 5 minutes. Spotted at extreme
range 3/4 mile? on private large, steep, sloping hollow riddled with warrens. Lost it to sight at
base of old wall that goes over top, possibly den there?

Saw one at close range in headlights at base of hills last Autumn. Today,through scope could
see it had the distinct, diagnotic white facial markings and think 1 or 2 of pics show this.
Pic of crows mobbing and another uncropped (it's the brown blob!!) on slope to give idea
of scale. Saw lots of birds today but this fantastic sight was easily the best (Tim Watts)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Quainton Hills 5 October

Haven't been up hills for a while so not sure if birds collected over period or arrived last night but there was about as much as you ever see, quantity wise, in bushes on tops. Top of West slopes; c20 Song Thrush/c 10 Blackbird/c50 Chaffinch/ 3 Chiffchaff/2 Blackcap/ Robins and Dunnocks popping up everywhere!/many more Tits than usual and unusually a female Reed Bunting in bushes. Was happy sat watching this area but next spot better.

Top of East slopes; c 60 Song Thrush, 49 counted flying out in small groups to lower bushes with more remaining/ c 30 Blackbird/1 Redwing ,seen well perched/1 Mistle Thrush/ c40 Chaffinch/2-4 Chiffchaff/3 Bullfinch/ 10 Greenfinch/c40 Goldfinch/3 Linnet/1 Blackcap/ Robins and Dunnocks again popping out all over shop! Limited time so only sat and watched 2 hedgelines, many other similar spots in area so these must be minimum counts! also massive flock of c150 Mipits over open area.

Easily best sighting of day was watching a POLECAT hunting Rabbits on top of Denham hill (S/E slopes). Seen for 5 mins and got some long range record shots (Tim Watts)

Images from Sunday 4 October

Peregrine and Common Stonechat on Calvert Landfill (Tim Watts)



Calvert BBOWT; 4 Little Egret, 3 in roost trees/ 303 Greylag Geese roosted/ 2 Snipe/Grey Wagtail/ influx of c20 Song Thrush/Blackbirds in bushes.

Quainton hill; Quick look from base, c50 Mipits/1 Mistle Thrush.

Foxcote Reservoir; Lots of wildfowl! Wigeon most numerous after Coot!/Grey Wagtail

Hillesden Pools; 2 Little Egret/c 100 Linnet/c100 Greenfinch

Calvert landfill; (no general access) Juvenile COMMON SHELDUCK, PEREGRINE attacking Lapwings then landed on boulder. Green Sandpiper/c600 mixed Canada and Greylags/8 Shoveler/10 Teal; female COMMON STONECHAT (Tim Watts)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

GARGANEY at Foxcote Reservoir

FOXCOTE RESERVOIR: About 150 Lesser Black-backed Gulls plus one juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Common Snipe and a Common Redshank.

A female/immature GARGANEY was feeding right of the hide near far bank.

A plump immature Western Reed Warbler crashing around in the reeds in front of the hide and a build up in the number of Eurasian Wigeon were the main highlights this afternoon (Ken Earnshaw)
Calvert BBOWT; 10 Little Egret in roost trees, pre-dawn. Only 4 fed on reserve later.

Juvenile Water Rail with dull coloured bill fed in cut reeds/2 Common Snipe/ 15 Pochard/ c150 Hirundines briefly/Little Grebe/ c300 mixed Canada/Greylags/ 1 Lesser whitethroat, 3 Common Chiffchaff in bushes.

Common Sandpiper + 2 Egrets on sailing lake later.

Quainton Hill; 2 Wheatear/ female COMMON REDSTART only popped out of bushes onto fence for 10 seconds top of West slopes/ Lesser Whitethroat/4 Blackcaps/6 Chiffchaff/ only 3-4 Blackbirds/ c50 Linnet (Tim Watts)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Migrating hirundines

Creslow, a high point on a line between Ivinghoe beacon and Quainton Hills. Evening walk produced masses of hirundines on top. Spent a fair while counting/estimating and no hesitation in saying c 550. Underestimate if anything!! Only counted what could see at more or less the same time from one spot. c200 on wires above my head good starting point! c 150 in air and on wire fences on Cattle fields looking East/ c 100 over Creslow farm buildings looking North and c100 over outskirts of Whitchurch. Groups of them were sitting on fine ploughed fields and would say 70% Swallows, rest House Martins but also c20 Sand Martins.

In quick look at cattle fields and disused radar station saw 2 Yellow Wagtail/3 Mipits/ c50 Goldfinch/c50 Starling. Only right of way to this spot involves 20 min uphill walk from Whitchurch. Road to top is strictly private.

In the garden and on guttering tick a.m with a Little Owl being harassed by 4 Magpies!! (Tim Watts)

Thursday, 17 September 2009


At Calvert this evening, at least 7 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were identified in a very large gull roost (Tim Watts)

Monday, 14 September 2009


Calvert BBOWT; NO sign today but Steve Norman found a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK yesterday evening. It was seen stood with Pochards at quite close range. Steve thought it most likely a male in partial eclipse, and it is almost certainly the bird recently at Pitsford Reservoir in Northamptonshire.

On sailing lake tonight there was an eclipse male NORTHERN PINTAIL in the centre; also 1 Green Sandpiper whilst 4 Little Egrets/Teal/c50 Swallows/Shoveler and big influx of B.H.Gulls on reserve (Tim Watts)

Saturday wanderings (12 September)

Calvert BBOWT; 12 Little Egret in roost trees. All flew towards 1st hide shallows 6:07 a.m. Again very vocal in this intial flight, as groups of 2, 5, 4 and 1 joined up. Only 4 stayed feeding, others flew off site and weren't on sailing lake.

Also 4 Shoveler/ 3 male Wigeon/lot of Blackcaps and a few Chiffchaffs in bushes/influx of Blackbirds.

Quainton Hill; 1 worn, very vocal male COMMON REDSTART on stile top of West slopes/ 2 Wheatear, 1 with broken/damaged leg/ 1 Spotted flycatcher/ 6+ Blackcaps/2 Lesser Whitethroat/4+ Chiffchaff/2 Common Whitethroat/1 juv Willow Warbler. Lot of small flocks of Mipits. All above right on tops, lower slopes empty, possibly something to do with thick fog early on (Tim Watts)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Quainton Hills migrant

Female COMMON REDSTART feeding on Elderberries/2 Lesser Whitehroat/ 6 Common Chiffchaff/1 Common Whitethroat/ Common Raven heard/definitely influx of Dunnocks/Robins/Chaffinch on tops.

First definite arrival of migrant thrushes.8+ Blackbird and 1 Song Thrush in Hawthorns on tops.Probably dreaming, but got brief partial views of possible juvenile Ring Ouzel. All I could see was bits of a 'Blackbird' in bush that had some kind of white markings on flanks (Tim Watts)

Egret joy

Calvert BBOWT; Got in position for Egret roost count at dawn but thick fog!! Plan B!

Sat waiting in 1st hide and at 6:05 a.m 3 Little Egret in, then 5 more, then 2, then 1 TOTAL 11 birds. Amazing views as all 11 fed/hunted, as a team, the small fish in shallows. They caught lots, quickly and easily, even making fish jump out of water ahead of them! Think Egrets got quite excited as very vocal today! With this food supply/safe (if protected/undisturbed) roost site they are very likely to hang around. Possibly more than 11 as 3 on sailing lake later.

A fantastic sight for anyone but if you do visit, from experience, need to be in that hide before they get there - today watched them 'tll 7:10. Last visit got in hide, egrets already there, they stayed a bit but knew I was there and dispersed. Open flap slowly, quiet, no movements is essential (Tim Watts)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Hirundine procession

The largest number of LITTLE EGRETS ever recorded at Calvert BBOWT (Tim Watts)
Today's Sightings
Calvert BBOWT; 3 Little Egret/ 8 fem Teal/ few hundred large gulls on both lakes, many, many more over tip/bushes appeared empty.
Quainton Hill; Base of South slopes,where found some sheltered hedgelines. The ones containing Elderberry bushes had the birds. 1 Spotted Flycatcher/6 Lesser Whitethroat/2 Willow Warblers.Most noticeable birds were the hirundines, mostly Barn Swallow.Estimate 200 over the slopes, all feeding and resting on bushes/wires (Tim Watts)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday rush-round

A very quick rush around early evening (Monday 7 September)

Quainton hill, base of north slopes; 3 Spotted Flycatcher, only a few warblers.

Calvert BBOWT; 2 Spotted Flycatcher in dead pathside bush. Think my first ever sighting of these actually on the reserve/ 3 Little Egret/2 Common Sandpiper.

BBOWT team have done fantastic job of opening up view/cutting reed section from 1st hide.

Yesterday Ian Burrus ringed 51 Blackcap amongst others in morning session on small area of scrub on Sailing lake (Tim Watts)

LITTLE EGRETS break new site record (6 September)

Calvert BBOWT lake; 5:30 a.m fantastic news for reserve with new record count of 13 LITTLE EGRETS in roost trees. Amazing sight of all 13 flying to and feeding together briefly in cut reeds in front of 1st hide at dawn (Tim Watts)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Saturday Birding (5 September)

Foxcote Reservoir; 5:15 a.m tried early to see if any Egrets roosting but none. Very suprised that no gulls roosted at all. Lot of lake covered in surface weed and wondered if this put gulls off? With this easy food supply Coots all over lake, must be one of sites in Bucks with highest count of these.

Calvert sailing lake; 4 Little Egret/2 Common sandpiper

Calvert BBOWT; 2 Little Egret

Quainton Hills; a good overnight influx of migrants.10 Wheatear, 4 North slopes, 2 Conduit hill, 2 Cimber hill, 1 Denham hill and 1 on path near transmitter; female COMMON REDSTART and TREE PIPIT in tree then tall bushes; 1 Spotted flycatcher, 1-2 WHINCHATS, 1 yellow Wagtail, 4 Skylark over, c10 Mipits, all the above seen on North slopes most at ground level (Tim Watts)

Calvert BBOWT

5 Little Egrets feeding and resting in front of hide 1 from 2.30 - 6.00pm. Two Common Kingfishers also diving from the perches in front of the hide, and hovering and diving while the Egrets were there. A cormorant was also taking advantage of their presence and feeding alongside them (N & P Brazier)


Male Common Redstart- Quainton Hills - 4/9/09

Worth the rollicking I got from Colleen for coming back with my sparkling clean
walking clothes covered in Sheep droppings and being late to do decorating!
Took 150 pics but would have kept going until memory cards full if didn't have
to get back, very unusually this Redstart took no notice of me. Didn't have to
approach it as it was right next to path when spotted (Tim Watts)

Friday 4 September

BBOWT Lake; 5:15 - 8 Little Egret roosting in trees. All flew to cut reed area infront of 1st hide 5:45. Whole gull roost on reserve lake. No small gulls at all.

Quainton Hills; 2 COMMON REDSTARTS, a female in same bush for 3rd week in transmitter field and a stunning, summer plumaged male found at base of North slopes on way home. Also 1 WHINCHAT, 1 Wheatear on tops/ lot of Warblers early on/1 Raven / Swallows over/1 Yellow Wagtail/noticeable increase in Chaffinch/Dunnock/Blackbirds (Tim Watts)

Monday, 31 August 2009

CETTI'S WARBLER still present

At Calvert BBOWT, the long-staying CETTI'S WARBLER was still present today (Nick Mariner)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Large increase in LITTLE EGRET numbers

Calvert BBOWT; 5 a.m amazed to find 11 LITTLE EGRETS roosting in the Cormorant trees. Highest count here by a long way. Validates our shutting off that section of path which attracted noisy/unwanted visitors. Would think this record count for a Bucks BBOWT reserve and possibly any BBOWT reserve? A valuable record for a site still under lease. continued at bottom of mail.

Hillesden Pools; 8 Yellow Wagtail /no waders.

Quainton Hills; lots of warblers, Willow and Chiffs at bottoms and Blackcaps higher up. After long look eventually got 3 COMMON REDSTART - male at bottom of north slopes, male in Elderberry on East slope and female in transmitter field. Think I had a TREE PIPIT on tops of saplings/bushes in small plantation top of East slopes. Flew off, didn't hear it call but flight not as weak as Meadows.

Calvert BBOWT Half hour later 9 of egrets feeding on sailing lake edges. On BBOWT appeared to be the whole gull roost, estimate c3-4,000 nearly all Lesser Black-backed. Also c 300 mixed Canada and Greylags/Kingfisher/lots of warblers in bushes,mostly Blackcaps/think heard and glimpsed Cetti's warbler (Tim Watts)

Monday, 24 August 2009

RUDDY SHELDUCKS still around

What appears to be an adult female and three first-year RUDDY SHELDUCKS at Calvert Landfill on Sunday 23 August
A very good morning in mid-Bucks
Calvert landfill; (private No access) Undoubted highlight for me was seeing and correctly identifying a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER that flew up from underfoot and had 3 second flight view. Another highlight was the relocation of last week's presumed family group of 4 RUDDY SHELDUCKS on the Landfill - all unringed and very wary. Seen feeding by up-ending. Took a long, uncomfortable, hidden wait but eventually obtained images (see above).
Also on landfill 4 Little Egret/ 1 Common Sand/4 Teal/good selection of warblers in scrub.
Calvert sailing lake; Greenshank /Green Sandpiper on edges.
Hillesden; 1 Little Egret/Green Sandpiper/ got close pix of a large female Sparrowhawk bathing after it made a half hearted attack on the Green Sandpiper!!
Tim Watts

Weekend Highlights

A summary of Recent Sightings - 21-23 August


On 22 August, a late morning visit produced 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, 8 LESSER WHITETHROATS (all at the base of the North Slopes in a dead Hawthorn bush), 3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS (all in East Hollow) and 3 COMMON REDSTARTS (singles in Transmitter Field, halfway down the West Slopes and at the top of the South Slopes).

By late afternoon, NORTHERN WHEATEARS had increased to 5 (with 4 together on Denham Hill and another by Manor House), with 4 BULLFINCHES and a COMMON WHITETHROAT near the church

At 2300 hours on 21 August, Colleen and I saw a POLECAT race across the road by Quainton Railway Centre.

Tim Watts

Monday, 17 August 2009


16/8/09- QUAINTON HILLS; at least 3 COMMON REDSTARTS (possibly 2 more) - bright male, faded male, female; 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS/ 3 NORTHERN WHEATEAR/PEREGRINE over tops/22 Mipits/ 4+ Lesser Whitethroats.

Recently these bushes have been empty, birds seen on North and East slopes.



13 August - CALVERT BBOWT; Green Sandpiper/Hobby/ Grey Wagtail

14 August - CALVERT BBOWT; 4 RUDDY SHELDUCKS flew in from east, circled 3 times, very nearly all landed by 2nd hide pool then South bay. Seen from 2nd hide. Nita and Pete also saw them from 1st hide. They saw one land breifly - good views with bins and think 3 males and a white faced female.

15 August - CALVERT BBOWT - 53 Cormorant, possibly site record flock/2 Green sandpipers/1 Common Sandpiper

HILLESDEN POOLS; 12 YELLOW WAGTAILS, a NORTHERN WHEATEAR/Greenshank/Green Sandpiper/152 Greylag Geese

CALVERT LANDFILL; (private) Greenshank/7 Little Egret/Green sandpiper/63 Greylag/153 Mallard/c 300 Lapwing.

New BUTTERFLY for Calvert

This very worn SILVER-WASHED FRITILLARY was present in John Holt's Calvert garden yesterday afternoon, favouring the white buddleia in the front garden.
This is most likely a new record for Calvert

Friday, 14 August 2009

Continental RUDDY SHELDUCKS circle Calvert

A party of 4 RUDDY SHELDUCKS are currently circling the BBOWT reserve at Calvert at 1705 hours (Tim Watts)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

First COMMON TREECREEPER ever on Quainton Hills

Forgot to mention at Quainton Hills this morning had a site tick with a COMMON TREECREEPER. This was right on tops in transmitter field, where very few trees and they certainly aren't normally up here. Wondered if there is any evidence that they are partial migrants?

Calvert landfill (private); still 8 Little Egrets/2 Green Sandpipers/ 1 Common Sandpiper/c 400 Lapwing and only new birds were 2 female Shoveler (Tim Watts)


Calvert BBOWT; dawn- 161 Greylag Geese roosted/large gull roost just departing/ 72 Lapwing by 2nd hide/Great Crested Grebes feeding large young with large Crayfish.

Quainton Hills; improvement on yesterday with Willow Warblers/Whitethroat/Lesser Whitethroat/Chiffchaff in hedges mostly on tops. First migrant flock of 28 Meadow Pipit on Conduit hill/ adult Yellow Wagtail/c60 Goldfinch.

Four SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS on tops near aeriel field - 2 adults and 2 brown/spotty juveniles (Tim Watts)

Saturday, 8 August 2009

LITTLE EGRETS reach new Site Record

Calvert BBOWT Lake; 1 Green Sandpiper/ 3 Pochard, 2 are 1st males back/ unusual sighting was a juvenile Yellow Wagtail on open area/fair few warblers in bushes/ Water level risen by 3" which unhandily has covered the new mud edge I just shaped to bring waders close to 2nd hide!

Calvert landfill; Private site; Little Egret numbers still rising and now 8. This is a record Calvert flock I think.They could be roosting in Cormorant trees on reserve but needs a late trip and difficult to observe. Also 2 Green Sandpipers/3 Common Sandpipers/ 4 Tufted Duck young - the first breeding success at Calvert for years./ c400 Lapwing.

Water level has risen dramatically here.

Hillesden Pools; 1 Green Sandpiper/1 Common Sandpiper/1 Teal/ 1 Yellow Wagtail (Tim Watts)

Friday, 7 August 2009

Migrant clearout

Hedgelines at base of North slopes empty!! Warblers etc that were here have moved on.

Tops also very quiet and took a fair while to locate a bit of activity, this was on top of West slopes. There was 1 female COMMON REDSTART,1 Willow Warbler and 1 Common Whitethroat (Tim Watts)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

COMMON REDSTART new in at Calvert

Calvert BBOWT; 2 Green Sandpiper/1 Common Sandpiper/ c 800 large gulls, mostly L.B.B loafing on BBOWT lake/ 2 pochard/1 ad Little Grebe. Had look around scrub and saw 2 Lesser Whitethroat. I obviously didn't spend long enough looking as Chris Botterel located a COMMON REDSTART here at 9:30 a.m. We just about get one or two every year so must be attractive to them. I hope it utilises one of my posts I put in with them in mind!

Quainton Hill; 20 minute look at one spot at base produced 10+ Willow Warblers/2 Chiffchaff/ 4 Lesser Whitethroat in the small clump I staked out. Two juvenile YELLOW WAGTAILS on stony track (Tim Watts)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Hill Migrants

QUAINTON HILLS; again had limited time so just did one small area at base of North slopes. On intial slow scans nothing seen but looked good so sat ,waited and watched. A SPOTTED FLYCATCHER darted out of a largish Oak, then a female COMMON REDSTART.

No less tham 9 LESSER WHITETHROAT together in one hedgeline. Spotted something on overhead wires, this turned out to be a NORTHERN WHEATEAR ! Same one or another on horse paddock fence half a mile away. A single juvenile YELLOW WAGTAIL in with the Pied Wagtail flock and two Meadow Pipits.


Sunday, 2 August 2009

Hill migrants today

Quainton Hills: Had limited time but a quick look at a few spots was pretty good; East slopes; quite a few warblers and 4 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. Bottom of North slopes warblers included Willow/Lesser and Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Also 1 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and c30 Swallow resting on bushes. Conduit Hill; 1 juvenile Northern Wheatear. Tops near aerial mast; male and female COMMON REDSTARTS (Tim Watts)

Saturday at Calvert

Calvert BBOWT; 1 Green sandpiper/ 1 ad C.Tern/ distinct lack of warblers in scrub; Calvert landfill; No general access: 4 Little Egret, 1 of them constantly being hastled by another 3/ 1 Green Sandpiper/ 3 Common Sandpipers/ 44 Greylag geese/ 2 Juvenile Common Terns briefly in rain/ c 300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls/ 1 ad YELLOW-LEGGED GULL/ 6 British Herring Gulls (Tim Watts)