Friday, 30 January 2009


At least 1 EURASIAN BITTERN remains at Calvert BBOWT, showing very well today as you can see. Tim Watts obtained these superb shots.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Yet more beautiful images taken by Calvert warden Tim Watts


In addition to the four wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS, the juvenile ICELAND GULL and an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL roosted on Calvert BBOWT (Warren Claydon, Tim Watts).

Mike Wallen did the Sailing Lake roost, where he recorded both regular CASPIAN GULLS (the adult and the first-winter) and 6 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.


Red Kite (Kevin DuRose)

Aylesbury area; 33 minimum RED KITES at roost site, nearly double last years winter counts - 27 in air at once, 4 in trees and 2 late comers. Once they started going into trees too hard to count but could only see birds arriving from North and West so guess other unseen birds arrived from South/East.

Also c 80 Greenfich + c 200 Chaffinch.

A41 Berryfields layby; 5;05 p.m; 2 BARN OWLS hunting (Tim Watts)


With Tim Watts and others first thing this morning:

BITTERN (4 separate birds, excellent views of each) - see Tim's superb shots above

Water rail (1 - in front of the hide and then flew into the reeds to the right of the hide.
Common snipe (2 - in front of the hide).

John Hale
Calvert BBOWT; 7:15-11;30. Could only locate 1 BITTERN in roost spots. Flights started and soon established 3 and later with John Hale a 100% 4, with 2 together far left of hide/1 on opp bank/ 1 flew from inside right. Later, with Iain treated to amazing views, 2 together inside left bed had squabble, one emerged,then 2nd did same. At one stage, 1 flew around right corner towards 2nd hide area. Think this is where 4th bird came from earlier, no phragmite reed area round there so possible it was feeding in the shallow juncus lined pool nr 2nd hide or maybe roosting in a tree?
On arrival at 7:15 there was what I would say was the vast majority of the gull roost on water. Most unusual as they use sailing lake, almost certainly been there all night as a thick line of moulted feathers against edge of marginal ice (Tim Watts)

Friday, 23 January 2009


All FOUR BITTERNS were still present at Calvert BBOWT Lake this afternoon, one showing exceptionally well in front of the CF Hide (Kevin Henshaw)


CALVERT BBOWT and GREBE (SAILING LAKE) are situated just SW of Steeple Claydon and are best accessed from the A41, on the Grendon Underwood road.
The reserve hides are situated on the BBOWT lake (the one on the east side of the road) and there is room for three cars parking just north of the lake. The first hide (the Crispin Fisher) is just 40 yards walk from where you walk (and this is where the Bitterns are best seen) whilst the second hide is situated half way down the west side (and overviews the large pre-roost gull gathering).
Calvert Sailing Lake (Grebe Lake) is private and owned by the Sailing Club with no general access. This is where the gulls roost at dusk.
Calvert BBOWT is a nature reserve with permit access only. Tim Watts is the honorary warden.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


This pair of PINTAIL (there were actually 3 birds) visited Calvert BBOWT Lake on Tuesday, whilst this skulking CETTI'S WARBLER has been resident at the site since last August (Tim Watts)



Calvert BBOWT; 3-5:30 p.m With Phil, Nick and Gareth between us had 11 separate views of BITTERNS. These included, one on inside edge of reeds briefly, 1 in flight close doing croaking call, 2 together with threat display seen (as yesterday).

Best of all was that between us we located 3 roosting with a 4th suspected - 2 in opposite bank reedbeds and 1 in inside left. Inside bed had 2 areas of heavily jolting reeds tight to left of hide. One jolting area produced one roosting but not second area although hard to view that spot.

Gareth, with his hawk like eyes!, spotted our 3rd bird on opposite bank when virtually dark, just as we had settled for 2. Getting 4 on a relatively small site does seem remarkable but reckon they arrived during the recent big freeze. Most waters in county were frozen over and if feeding reed areas as well as ice adjoining the deeper water roosting spots iced over could have prompted birds from other sites to move. Apart from small area of cut reeds and bit of inside bed Calvert remained ice free. Calvert consisits of very deep clay pits and as foxes seen on frozen lakes in county think open ice free/predator free roosting spots at Calvert would be very attractive to Bitterns.

Much squabbling between the 4 birds and do not no how much longer they will tolerate being in such close proximity to each other (Tim Watts)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Now 3 BITTERNS at Calvert BBOWT

Calvert BBOWT lake 20 JANUARY 2009; Can confirm there are without doubt 3 EURASIAN BITTERNS on site. Have suspected 3 for a week or so and on two visits was pretty sure but always one with unseen escape route available. Birds are using all 7 reedbeds on both banks, with many flight views during day. Trick is to pin individual birds down once they have landed in isolated reedbed and keep an eye on them. Today after early flights I knew where two were. Joined by Ken Earnshaw and Oxonbirder, we saw one fly right down to bottom bed on opposite bank, shortly followed by 2nd which landed in different bed but also down bottom/South end. Was sure neither of these came from bed near hide where had seen one earlier. We kept eye on all 3 areas and sure enough the one by hide flew!! So definitely THREE. Getting silly now!!.. but outside chance 4 !!! When we had 3 pinned down one appeared in flight, landed in inside bed. It did not appear to come from 3 areas mentioned but can't be sure. They are very visible in flight, in good light, and gulls/cormorants go mental, so good early warning system. For 2nd time heard one doing rarely heard croaking call in flight, earlier this week saw one puff out breast, neck with wings out in threat posture, pretty sure to another Bittern. They do not seem to like each others company and I think because there are three different birds on site this is resulting in numerous flights/activity during daylight. I once had 11 separate views on one visit !! If you spend an hour in the hide at the moment, virtually guaranteed seeing one.

Also today 3 NORTHERN PINTAILS (drake and two females) ( 2nd hide) and wintering CETTI'S WARBLER (Tim Watts)

Monday, 19 January 2009


First-winter and adult CASPIAN GULL in BBOWT pre-roost gathering, along with 3+ YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (Warren Claydon, Jon Holt). Both EURASIAN BITTERNS still present in front of first hide.

The image above is a record shot taken of the recent juvenile ICELAND GULL that roosted last week (Tim Watts)

Friday, 16 January 2009

At Foxcote Reservoir at about 2 pm: drake NORTHERN PINTAIL on the dam, drake drake RING-NECKED DUCK put in a brief apperance on the far side of the reservoir opposite the hide.

At Calvert BBOWT: CETTI'S WARBLER showing well in reeds to right of first hide. Water Rail strolled across in front of hide. BITTERN in left hand reed bed having a dull yellow bill, clambered up the reeds; 2nd BITTERN showing well at edge of right hand reed bed having a greenish tinged bill. It then strolled steadily across in front of hide in view for about 15 mins in total giving some excellent views. A reasonable gull roost eventually built up but no wihite-winged gulls noted (Ken Earnshaw)

Thursday, 15 January 2009


Wildfowl numbers had further declined - only 4 Common Goldeneye; no Gadwall or Shoveler; Wigeon not counted but perhaps 200. Small numbers of Common Teal, though I suspect more were hiding in the reeds; no sign of RING-NECKED DUCK (although it was still present this morning); only one G C Grebe. Low number of Pochard and Tufted Duck. 29 Cormorants had gathered in the trees by the time I left.

Gull roost counted at 2,000 with about equal numbers of Common and Black-headed Gull and just 10 Lesser Black-backs.

Most interesting were 7 REED BUNTINGS, presumably going to roost, near the hide (Phil Tizzard)


Calvert BBOWT; Juvenile ICELAND GULL in pre-roost/ 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS still in front of hide; WATER RAIL; drake COMMON GOLDENEYE (Tim Watts)

One BITTERN came to roost at 16.30; at the edge of the reedbed in front and left of the first hide. CETTI'S WARBLER heard also (David Roe)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Calvert BBOWT Lake; Bitterns looked for from 1st hide by John, myself and others virtually all day but no sign as far as I know in daylight; 1 hauled up reeds to roost in left reebed 16:50.
With Warren C and Steve N we gave gull pre-roost a go. We had 3 distinctive gulls seen here before, 1st W and nr adult CASPIAN GULLS and the adult Argentatus Herring Gull (thayeri type) with white wing tips (see photographs above). Lots of Herring Gulls, large numbers from landfill overflew to sailing lake at dusk. Coot seen stating to build a nest!! (Tim Watts)

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Redhead SMEW and drake RING-NECKED DUCK both present this afternoon, the Smew tucked in under the bank on the NE shore. Also 6 GOOSANDER, 8 Goldeneye, 428 Wigeon, 135 Teal and 10 Great Crested Grebes (Phil Tizzard)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Roosting large white-headed gulls, one of the two EURASIAN BITTERNS and a skulking WATER RAIL all photographed at Calvert BBOWT in recent days (Tim Watts)



Calvert BBOWT; The 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS seen 4 times in flight between 2:20- 4p.m. One flew across lake to different small reedbed than one used last night. Only small patch of ice left in deeper water, but as last night,the loafing gulls on this give good early warning of Bitterns flying or emerging. If they go up screaming, get bins up and ready! Also male Common Goldeneye/6 Shoveler new in.

Sailing lake; male + imm male Common Goldeneye. Colleen came to see Bitterns and as usual spotted the most unusual/unexpected birds of visit!I was greedily, quickly scanning deep water for Divers/Grebes when she pointed out 2 DUNLINS feeding virtually under my feet!! She let herself down though by insisting we went home just as dusk approaching!! Wanted to check the Greylag flock more than anything and like last night trying to optomistically spot a 3rd Bittern!!(Tim Watts)

Monday, 5 January 2009


Had meeting at Whittlebury Hall and conveniently finished early enough for stop off at Calvert between 15.30 and 16.45 - great chance for a freezing 'Bitternless Bittern watch'!!! No Cettis either!!

Did get :1 Kingfisher
22 Cormorants
48 Tufted Ducks
34 Pochards
2 Grey Herons
32 Coots
8 Reed Buntings
2 Water Rails (1 @ 11 o'clock and 1 @ 1 o'clock from 1st hide in far side reeds
2 Shovellers
2 Gadwalls
1 Buzzard
1 Lapwing flying over
1 Little Grebe

Nick Mariner


I had a fine day today, visiting a few west and mid-Bucks sites.Starting at Foxcote Reservoir, where there was - as most of you now know -1redhead SMEW, plus the drake RING-NECKED DUCK, plus 1m Goosander, 16 Common Goldeneye, 523 Wigeon, and 109 Teal amongst plenty of duck, plus 1Water Rail.

Then at Calvert, there was again no sign of the female Scaup. Highlights here were single Snipe and Kingfisher, and amongst a hefty flock of loafing gulls on the sailing lake, 7 YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (5ad,1 3rd-w & 1 1st-w).

At Gallows Bridge Farm, a 110+ Chaffinch flock also held a handful of Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers, and there were 28 Snipe feeding inone of the roadside fields, an encouraging winter sight. Also 1 Golden Plover and 2 Red Kite.

Finemere Wood was, as one might expect, fairly bereft of birds, the best being 1 MARSH TIT. There were also 120+ Fieldfare & c25 MeadowPipit in the approach fields (Rob Hill)


4 JANUARY 2009

Berryfields A41 layby; A quick look on the way to pick Colleen up was pretty productive tonight. At 1535 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS up in layby field, 1540 2 more on ridge. With certainty 4 strongly suspected 6 or more! Had to dash off at 3:50, at this time there was lots of activity with one owl in seemingly every section of ridge scanned but only 4 seen together at one time (Tim Watts)


Calvert BBOWT; Spent a toe-numbing 4 hrs !! at site hoping the Bittern would emerge from reeds. At 10:45 spotted it jolting reeds and it climbed half way up reeds in middle of right bed. Whilst it was firmly locked in my scope, a visiting Bicester birder located a 2nd Bittern flying across gap below hide, c40mts out, coming from left bed and landed near 1st one. The bird sat in reeds dropped down at 11:45 out of sight but by following jolting reeds it came very close to inside edge, facing hide. Didn't emerge into open but a fair bet one of them will sometime. Left at 12:15, both birds still in there, about 10mts apart,again not seen but reed movement giving their positions. Waterfowl do get in there and move reeds but frozen at moment so any jolting reeds will almost certainly be Bittern.This does show that we haven't just got one old bird returning each year,and habitat good enough to attract other different ones. Also seen, Water Rail on ice/ c200 Chaffinch at Granborough hay store today (Tim Watts)

2 JANUARY 2009

Calvert BBOWT; Visited before sunrise, BITTERN in roost spot and preened, stretched and dropped into reeds at 0725./Water Rail squealing/ biggest gull roost of Winter so far, with sailing lake covered and c1,500 also on BBOWT in the darkness.

Hillesden; pools/lakes frozen, site birdless!! 20 Siskin/2 Redpoll in alders.

Drove around various roads/watchpoints looking for Swans/Geese in Padbury/Claydons brook areas but no luck. Seems to be a lack of Mute Swans in mid-Bucks this year. There are still c10 in small domesticated paddock with Chickens etc, roadside, between Calvert and Hillesden.

Grendon Underwood layby; 12-2. c200 mixed finch flock contained a male Brambling/ Large female PEREGRINE perched in dead tree. 2-3: viewed same block from different spot, much smaller, male PEREGRINE hunting. The usual large numbers of Plovers were not present, only c50 Lapwing seen.


Friday, 2 January 2009



A slightly warmer day than of late with no frost and somewhat overcast conditions; E wind picked up during the afternoon


RED KITE over village and several Common Buzzards perched in trees alongside the A41


Very quiet this afternoon with no finches noted, just Red Kite, Common Buzzard, 60 Fieldfares and 7 House Sparrows in garden of 'Winding Brook'.

(1515-1540; with Bob Fowles)

Great Crested Grebe (7)
Cormorants (25 in trees)
Mute Swans (13 adults)
Canada Geese (85)
Eurasian Wigeon (250+)
Gadwall (18)
Common Teal (11)
Tufted Duck (53)
Pochard (17)
**RING-NECKED DUCK (adult drake initially out of view in reeds at edge of NW arm but disturbance frightened it out and then fed in good view for 15 minutes or more)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (10; 3 adult drakes)
*GOOSANDER (4; 1 drake)


LITTLE OWL nearby in favoured tree

Several more Common Buzzards perched by Buckingham-Winslow road


A total dead loss with nothing seen in the last hour of daylight other than 2 Common Buzzards