This blog is about all forms of wildlife I record around North Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes in particular. My main interests for 2012 will be looking for anything I've not seen before.

Wednesday, May 18

Bats are back !

I'd staked out last years Noctule roost a couple of times in the day over the last few weeks to see if I could hear them. My results were 1 Greater Spotted Woodpecker in and out and worst still 2! Grey Squirrels poking out of two of the holes last weekend. Last night was show time as I'd organised to lead a walk (back in February) for the local natural history society to see the emergence (presuming the bats would return ;). Having not done a proper emergence survey I was unsure that any bats were actually in the roost. I popped up after tea with my daughters for one final check before leading the walk. My youngest was adamant she'd heard them for a second from inside the tree. But I struggled due to all the bird noise. I started to stake out the tree around 2030 and was chuffed to hear them inside the roost. The 20 or so MKNHS members then joined and had to wait until 2109 before the first Noctule emerged soon followed by another 21. This follows the pattern of last years results, where the same number were recorded at this time of year and soon grew to the high 70's later in the summer.
I'm well chuffed.

Friday, April 8

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Glorious sunshine and no breeze.
Reserve was very quiet with a Little Ringed Plover the only wader. A pair of Red Crested Pochard we a belated year tick. At least 2 Cettis Warblers singing were the only other birds of note.
Insects were the order of the day with numerous Bee Flies and even two locked back to back mating. Butterflies included my first Speckled Wood of the year, also Peacock, Orange Tip, Small White, male and female Brimstones.

Thursday, April 7


A quick stop off at CMK this morning on the way to work yielded 7 Wheatears strung out in a line. I could also hear a Meadow Pipit close by but couldn't see it.

At lunch time as I walked through the car park at the back of work I saw my first Orange Tip of the year. Taking my butterfly tally to 6.

Wednesday, April 6

Manor Farm today

Lunch time visit. 20 Oc, Sunny but blustery.
1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Linnets, 3 Sand Martins and 1 Meadow Pipit feeding out on the spit for a few seconds - was hoping is was something rarer, but alas not.

Also 1 female Brimstone.

Tuesday, April 5

Willen and CMK

Popped into Willen this lunchtime. From the hide 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Tern, 1 Little Grebe, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatchers, 1 female Goldeneye and a Willow Warbler in full song behind me. The South Lake held nothing of note.
Onto CMK other than Wood Pigeons a single singing Skylark was noted.

Plus the Common Pipistrelle was feeding in the back garden around 20:00 tonight.

Round up

Few bits and bobs:
Sunday early morning - at least 2 Smooth Newts in the pond next to Shenley Wood.

Monday - Manor Farm Gravel Workings, a lunch time visit - 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Swallow, 2 Sand Martins, 2 Buzzards, 1 Oystercatcher and 1 Little Egret. Site looks good for spring wader migration!

Tuesday (today) - Gallows Bridge BBOWT NR, Rob and I set off from MK at 05:20 and were first to arrive in the car park as dusk approached at 05:55. We set off towards the hides which we could just make out in the gloom. Scanning the large open meadow in front of us it wouldn't be hard to see if last nights COMMON CRANE was still on site this morning. My bins (10x) could barely pick out the Canada Geese. So I set up my scope (20-60x) and started to scan. My first impression of an object was a white carrier bag stuck on the fence line, it wasn't until the neck and head appeared to start moving, so I paid closer attention. Eventually I gave up and asked Rob to have a look - 06:17 - bingo it was the Common Crane, Bucks ticks for both Rob and I. We were then joined by a Northants birder in a suit and tie! and enjoyed the Crane for another 10 minutes. We then had to head back to MK before the rush hour started and to get the family up. Other birds on site (in the gloom) were Curlew, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and a few bits of wildfowl. There appeared to be more Hares in the meadow than birds, you could see their black tipped ears walking under our scoped views as we watched the Crane.
Nice when a planned twitch and Bucks tick come together.

Thursday, March 31

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Warm and sunny but somewhat pegged back by 21 mph south westerlies, seemed like a good idea to finally get out and connect with some spring and summer migrants, well that was the plan.
Having missed Water Pipit and both sorts of small plovers at Linford recently I thought I'd give it a lunch time dash. Nice to see Cowslips and Celandine's in flower along the footpath in. Numerous Chiff Chaffs were vocal and the odd Blackcap joined in in the bustery conditions. One loan Comma made up my fifth butterfly species of the year (having added Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Small White in Cornwall at the weekend). From Near Hide a pair of Oystercatchers, 1 Little Egret and a female Goosander were the best spots. Still not seen a hirundine this year. On the walk back a very quick view of a probable Small White butterfly. Also nice views of a male Blackcap and a pair of Great Tits displaying and mating.

Wednesday, March 30

Local area - Medbourne

Walked the girls to school this morning, we again checked out the local pond next to Shenley Wood. Still no newts, spawn or frogs in evidence. I did however hear my first Blackcap of the year duelling with a Chiff Chaff just inside the wood. Further on towards school I again spotted the House Sparrow pair feeding under the Hawthorn hedge near the play park.

Tonight I thought I'd try and increase my bat species list. I gave it 30 minutes in the back garden facing the wood. I did see a Buzzard flying west hotly pursued by two Crows. The Jackdaw roost is still around 300, amazing how they always fly in pairs, even when there are a few hundred flying over you. But alas I didn't see any Noctules, Brown-long Eared or even last weeks Common Pipistrelle. Still, it's early in the season.

Tuesday, March 22

Willen South

A shorter lunch today, so thought I'd check out Willen South for spring migrants.
2 Buzzards, a drake and 3 female Goldeneye were the best spots. Not many ducks or gulls either.

Back garden Pipistrelle 45

Over the past few evenings I've been gazing out the kitchen window at dusk looking for my first bat of the season. On the 21/03/2010 (at 18:54 looking at last years field notes) I saw (and heard) my first Common Pipistrelle. Last night I looked out the back window and again saw the hundreds of Jackdaws swirling over Shenley Wood before they roost. At 18:40, bang on cue a bat flew over the house. I found one of my bat detectors and raced outside with the frequency set to 45. I then had to wait another 5 minutes before a Common Pipistrelle (45) did a few flybys over the back gardens and happily fed. I even got the girls to come out and have a look (and listen) to this marvellous mosquito muncher. Mammal number 5 and Bat seasons open!

Monday, March 21

Walton Balancing Lakes

With a report yesterday of a Bearded Tit still at Walton I thought I'd take a quick look in my dinner hour. The V8 was awash with Primroses and trees in 'white' blossom all the way down from the city centre. A balmy 14 oc and light winds made for a pleasant half an hour observing from the platform.
A singing Chiff Chaff in a tall Silver Birch was my first of the year. A Grey Heron was also flushed from the cleared section on arrival. A couple of Mistle Thrushes flew over showing their 'white armpits'. Three Mallards then came through the reeds and started feeding in the clearing. A couple of 'squealing' Water Rails were also noted. I also noticed the reed cutting carried out by the Parks Trust and the 'numbered' tennis balls staked out in the local area. Hopefully the intended Harvest Mice don't mind their bright yellow 'prefab' homes!

record shots from my mobile

Friday, March 18

Willen Lake yesterday

With a text from Martin late afternoon yesterday of an Avocet at Willen. I made a detour on the way to Niks. Arriving at the same time as Rob, we started scanning the island from the sewage treatment works car park. Even at that range and with bins the Avocet was easily picked out feeding near a Grey Heron, along the side of the island. Alas other reports had had the bird feeding outside the hide - which was lucky as we'd not have seen it from the STW car park. I then thought about trying to find the Redshanks reported earlier. With bins, I spotted a small wader and thought that looked promising. Rob by now had set his scope up and advised it was a Ringed Plover. So I got my scope out (with a 60x zoom) and positioned myself on the side of Robs van (not enough time to get my tripod out) and used his roof as a tripod. With this view it defo looked like a Ringed Plover. But as mentioned on Robs blog and later reports on the NBBR stated it was a Little Ringed Plover. So I'll have to see both now to be sure of a proper 'year tick'.

Bechsteins talk last night

Last night I attend a meeting of the North Bucks Bat Group for an update on last years Bechsteins Project. I knew the results were good as I helped out with as many as I could. We recorded 9 different Bechsteins Bats in 16 surveys which is a great effort. We still have 13 more surveys to carry out this year between May and the end of June so could be a busy few months.
The other reason for this post is the meeting was in Winslow and I always enjoy the drive back to Milton Keynes through the country roads, looking for mammals or owls. On this journey and with many I completed last year, I spotted nothing at all. Ironically the only two mammals I did see were next to the last roundabout to my house! These included a scruffy, skinny Fox (actually walking into the undergrowth on the roundabout/island itself) and a Rabbit opposite, on it's back legs, bolt upright with it's ears fully stretched out. I'm guessing he'd seen the Fox and Fox not he. Makes you realise how much wildlife lives within Milton Keynes - or sad that there's not a lot to see in the countryside.

Sunday, March 13

Rufous T. Dove for one morning only - praise the Lord !

Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove
......sounds like a sixties soul singer !!
Well, with a weird 'free Sunday morning pass' from the Mrs - (I promise I will paint the en suite as soon as the 6 Nations is over :) and with no other (lifer) birds on. Rob and I decided (and as it's a year of 'lifers' for me) to give the Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove a go in Chipping Norton. On route from first light, I happily spotted a herd of 7 plus Roe Deer feeding in the lovely Oxfordshire countryside before we arrived in Chipping Norton. Plus we must have seen 30 plus Pheasants on route, some with the worst "green cross code" you could ever imagine.

As we drove down The Leys at 07:25! We couldn't see any other birders outside number 41 - a good sign?? (it had had 600 backing up the hill!)
As we parked around the corner near Jewsons and walked back up 'The Leys' following another couple of birders we still thought it was looking good (i.e quiet).
We waited outside, the four of us, in the light drizzle, after about 5 minutes, we were ushered in by the house owner, Steve. Expecting to be asked to take our shoes off, I was surprised to see another 20/25 pairs of boots/shoes already lined up along the hallway?
As we entered the small dinning room, Steve briefed us as to the set up, we paid our £5 (to a worthy cause) and we were finally ushered into the kitchen, a long Victorian extension with nearly 20 birders already positioned, ready for the appearance of the Siberian Dove.
As Rob and I were positioned at the back of the kitchen next to the 'aga' and near the constantly trickling fish tank it was going to be a long, hot wait... - I mentioned to rob I recognised a silver haired gent at the front on the left - Geoff Dawes from Leighton Buzzard! who was a good friend who helps with the North Bucks RSPB local group! - small world birding or what!!
Rob and I waited patiently on the heated tiled floor / next to the pumping heat of the aga and even from our 'behind the back of the head views' notched up 6 Brambling, 5+ Bullfinch and numerous other 'garden' birds enjoying Steve's offerings.
It was not until 08:55 that finally the front row birders started muttering/shuffling/mentioning that the Oriental Rufous Turtle Dove (mega vagrant 3 star) had appeared in an ash tree out of mine and Robs views. After a few minutes Steve rota'd the assembled birders so that everyone at the back could get to the front and see this pretty bird. Which Rob and I did. Even better the OTD dropped down onto the bird table and munched with the best of them! Giving views down to 7 metres, before having enough and flying off into next doors.
At which point we left Steve's, giving our humble thanks. Well to us it was 'amazing' that he had allowed (and still does allow) bird watchers into his house to witness this amazing 'mega' bird - would you?

Many thanks to Geoff Dawes for getting in touch and emailing me these shots taken on Sunday.

Saturday, March 12


Driving to school this morning to help out with a gardening detail. A Buzzard was being mobbed by a Crow, don't get many sightings on the estate. A couple of 7 Spotted Ladybirds were rescued from the kids whilst gardening. Driving home and parking up saw my first butterfly of the year with a splendid male Brimstone flying along the edge of Shenley Wood in the sunshine. Finally it looks like Blue Tits are nesting again in the back garden.