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);