Friday, 21 January 2011

GREBE still present

Did the gull roost with Warren Claydon and amongst the biggest roost of the Winter.

Warren spotted a 3rd W ICELAND GULL on the BBOWT Lake. It has white primaries, very light grey mantle, small amount retained immature plumage and dull yellow bill; viewed at very long range. At least one adult CASPIAN GULL still present.

We Looked for the Iceland Gull on main sailing roost but couldn't spot it amongst the huge roost in bad light.

Also redhead Goosander, 1-2 Bitterns seen in flight and BLACK-NECKED GREBE still on sailinglake by reedbed on East bank (per Tim Watts)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present

Calvert Area; a Black-headed Gull was present with a mantle so pale grey it appears white at distance/Sailing Lake BLACK-NECKED GREBE moved to sheltered bay in S/W corner.

Gallows bridge farm; Long watch; for first two hours very little seen with only c300Lapwing and c50 Golden Plover in the air at stages. 12 0'clock it brightened up for short period, PEREGRINE appeared and put up c 2,000 Lapwing/c150 GoldenPlover, 2-3,000 gulls, Starling and Fieldfare flocks.

Larger female sat in meadow preening, then although too distant to hear could see it calling up to the sky. Lapwings went up again and the smaller male Peregrine was high above them. It singled one out in chase, got above it stooped and just missed it, climbed again stooped and hit, caught it and carried off and landed in field to North of main meadow. Only small flocks of Teal/Wigeon seen in flight today, don't think the Peregrines went over the hidden wet fields where they are hanging out (Tim Watts)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Large influx of PINTAILS; BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present

Calvert BBOWT; 8 PINTAILS, 5 drakes, presumably from Otmoor. At least 2 BITTERNS still present.

Calvert sailing lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE still feeding off point of reedbed on East bank.

Hillesden; 147 Greylag Geese / 26 Mute Swans

Gallows bridge farm; Adult female PEREGRINE sat in field and young MERLIN still

Tim Watts

Monday, 10 January 2011

BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present but no White-fronts or Ruff


As the day wore on, a warm front approached from the west bringing heavy cloud and strong southerly winds, eventually pushing the temperature to over 10 degrees C. The wind was quite hindering and affected any small bird sightings. I spent the day in Buckinghamshire and after a lot of effort added 7 new birds for the Bucks year - Common Snipe, PEREGRINE, Linnet, BLACK-NECKED GREBE, Bullfinch, Common Goldeneye and BITTERN.

A Red Kite was by the Aylesbury Bypass, with two more over Waddesdon, but there was no sign of the 29 Waxwings opposite the Shanks car recycling yard on Griffin Lane when I drove by.


Up to 140 Redwing and 50 Fieldfare were in fields east of Waddesdon but an extensive search of Woodham Industry produced just 5 COMMON SNIPES. I once recorded 17 Jack Snipes at this site in its hey-day.


The two resident PEREGRINES were sitting in the large grass meadow visible from the hides - perhaps the resident pair from Aylesbury (which I still have not seen this year despite scanning every time I pass). Every now and again they got up and had a fly around, 'playing' and spooking the large wildfowl flock.

A single LINNET flew over the hide whilst at the far west end of the reserve, the flooded fields held 668 Lapwing, 261 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 550+ Common Starlings, 538 Eurasian Wigeon, 230 Common Teal and 2 Gadwall. At least two Common Kestrels were resident but there was no sign of the wintering Merlin.


The winter-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE was showing very well in the vicinity of the pink buoy, close to the reedbed fringe on the eastern shore (present for its 3rd day), with 3 Little Grebes, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck and an adult drake Common Goldeneye also present. A flyover male Bullfinch was a bonus bird and my first of the year.


Very windy with all of the birds at the far south end of the lake - comprising just 66 Tufted Ducks and 58 Coots. Nothing of interest in the pre-roosting gulls.


A flock of 13 Lapwing was in fields south of the A 421 east of its junction with the B 4033 at The Common, along with 40 Fieldfares and a Common Kestrel.

Milton Keynes and its environs was a complete wash-out and almost a birdless zone. I could find no sight nor sound of the 200 or so Waxwings around the shopping complex at Bletchley, Willen Lake was very blowy, again a complete blank with the Tree Sparrows and Marsh Tits at Dairy Barn/Little Linford Wood and no Common Stonechats west of Olney.


I drove back to Calvert for dusk - just 1 EURASIAN BITTERN coming in to roost in front of the first hide (at 1640 hours). Interestingly, this bird flew in high from the west and had presumably been feeding on the Sailing Lake. It roosted in the reedbed in the vicinity of the lone tree.

Some 65 Redwings also roosted

Again, nothing of interest could be found in the gull roost. However, an alarming number of Argenteus Herring Gulls are now in full breeding plumage.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Another highly productive day

Aylesbury; fantastic views of the WAXWINGS coming and going outside Shanks, most I counted was 57.

Gallows Bridge Farm: 1st visit late morning; 4 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE still present but in fairly long observation period only c 200 Lapwing seen and not much else. Suspected still lots of birds at far end but a no show from Peregrines meant they stayed put.

Calvert Sailing Lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present and Neil, an angler, keeps reporting seeing BITTERNS on the sailing lake.

Gallows Bridge Farm: 2nd visit 3:30- 4:50 with Warren Claydon, this was much, much better. Two PEREGRINES on show most of visit, on size presumed male and female, hunting, resting on pylons, on ground and in tree. At one stage both on ground quite close together. These birds terrorised the bottom end putting up what we estimate c 1,000 Lapwing, c600 mixed Wigeon/Teal flock, c1,000 Starling, 2-300 Fieldfare. Warren spotted a fem/imm MERLIN; it flashed across main meadow then preened for a long while on cut hedge. The duck flocks only went up twice and after the 2 Peregines on ground took flight,we suspect they were hunting as a pair and this was enough to put the ducks up. No Owls seen but looks a good bet (Tim Watts Birding)

Saturday, 8 January 2011


An adult and first-winter CASPIAN GULL roosted this evening, along with several YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (Warren Claydon)


Three BITTERNS arrived in the reedbed to the right of the top hide, one after the other, between 4:15 and 4:45. All three showed well as they posed up on the reeds in a neat line by the water's edge (John O'Dwyer).

On the opposite side of the road, the BLACK-NECKED GREBE was present for its second day (Tim Watts)

Friday, 7 January 2011

BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Calvert Sailing Lakes

Calvert sailing lake; BLACK-NECKED GREBE feeding mostly just off tip of the golden reedbed on clubhut bank. I had scanned lake four times with bins, then scope and didn't spot it; only on my final scan did I find it. For brief period it swam closer into bay by jetty. Technically sailing club area is for members only but they are very welcoming to birders and if they are sailing/working someone will always let you in to have a look at any interesting bird on site.

Spent two hours in 1st hide on BBOWT and no Bittern sightings, I'm sure they're still there but maybe spending lot of time feeding up in the recently thawed reedbeds (Tim Watts).

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Wintering BITTERNS

Calvert BBOWT; BITTERNS 2-3 January 2011 - Yesterday a definite 3 , probably 4 on site. 1 flew from North corner to inside left bed, at same time Chris Botterel spotted another 2 fighting on opposite bank at far end. I had started attempted count with 1 in small isolated bed opposite hide and kept close eye on that bed, very unlikely it got out without being spotted so hence probable 4th individual.

Today (Bank Holiday Monday); same sort of thing but numerous flights to various beds made it hard to say for sure how many. Again definitely 3 but probably 4. None walked out in open at close range but both inside beds had one in there, one did walk along edge but just within reeds. Bittern with 'white flank' stripe seen.

Every single small reedbed being used at some stage and they are also occasionally feeding out in open on opposite bank on the low flattened green sedge-type reeds.

Count of 230 Coot is 4-5 times normal number (Tim Watts)