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.

Friday, July 30

Milton Keynes Noctule roost

Noctules remain with at least two out and over after 21:00 hours.

Next week

Off for a week to the Dorset coastline tomorrow, so have as good an opportunity as any to add lots of mammals to my year list. All these are possible:
Common Dolphin, Bottle-nose Dolphin (lifer), Harbour Porpoise. Common and/or Grey Seals.
Rarer dolphins/Whales?
Red Squirrel and Sika Deer with a day trip planned to Brownsea Island.
I'll be taking some Longworth 'hotels' so possibly Yellow-necked Mouse, Field Vole or Pygmy Shrew could turn up.
Not to mention all the Otters, Stoats, Wild Boar and Mink dodging the car headlights.
I will be armed with a bat detector also.
Plus, lots of birds as my current year list is way down on usual.
I'll only have my mobile phone so updates on the blog will be short and sweet. Good bird sightings we'll be texted/called into Bird Guides.
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 27

Twenty Minute Batting

This evening I checked if the local Noctule roost remained. From 21:15 to 21:35 I had at least 20 out over my house. I've really noticed a difference in their 'commuting' mainly because the amount of flying food has increased. Whereas before the bats would emerge and always head directly north - Monopoly style...Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect Insect Prey On Route, now they can head west, north west or north always swooping, diving and chasing after prey. The sound on the detector is amazing having 3 or 4+ bats at a time flying over your head in full attack.
Also tonight I had an undetected bat fly low over the back garden directly into the wood at 21:15 (14 minutes after sunset) So I decided to survey to the west from my garden but alas didn't pick up any more 'myotis' or other bats following it's predecessor. I'm guessing this bat and others previously seen using this flight path could be from my known Brown Long-eared roost (which was still empty this evening).
Then to finish off 2 Common Pipistrelles started feeding low right above my head - amazing to have these echolocation's intermingling with the sounds of the Noctules above them.
Not bad for twenty minutes surveying and I did even have any shoes on!
Just checking my note book and the first Noctule I recorded was way back on the 19th May.

Monday, July 26

Linford Lakes at lunch time

With showers just passing as I entered the car park, I saw my first Red Admiral of the year resting on a blue car. So I started another butterfly survey for 15 minutes. I also added 5 Gatekeepers, 2 Green-veined White, 1 Small White, 1 Common Blue, 1 Meadow Brown and 2 Speckled Wood.
On the bird front - 3 Green Woodpeckers on the road in, 1 Kingfisher (my first at this site all year!), 4 Little Egrets and 1 Egyptian Goose on the bund. Grey Squirrel, Rabbits and a tiny Grass Snake made up the rest.

Sunday, July 25

Sunday 25th July Front Garden

At lunchtime I noticed a Common Blue butterfly feeding on the lavender in the front garden (a rare occurrence in my parts) so I completed another 15 minute survey. But only added another Common Blue, 1 Small White, 1 Large White. Updates on the website to follow.

Saturday Night - Rushmere Park - Bechsteins Survey

Told you - like buses my updates !
A joint batting operation took place on Saturday evening between NBBG and the Beds Bat Group.
NBBG (North Bucks Bat Group) were surveying for Bechsteins bats using two Harp traps as part of our year long survey.
But as we were having our plan of action meeting I noticed some small butterflies - 4 in total, flitting high up in one of the oaks in the early evening - this shouted loud and clear - Purple Hairstreaks! A second year tick of the day.

Regards the bat surveys - alas weak batteries on the special lure equipment hampered our results i.e very low signals were omitted to lure the Bechsteins in. In all we encountered 1 male Natterers, and mist netted 1 male Brown long-eared. Other bats recorded via detector included - Noctules, Soprano and Common Pips and various Myotis species. Plus 64 Brown Long-eared out of a known roost ( a Bucks record ?) and (best for me) numerous flyby's of Barbastelle bats in Bucks airspace :)
Nice as it was to add Barbastelle to my bucks list a drive through bucks countryside at 01:15 in the morning was very disapointing to only record 1 Rabbit and 1 Fox.

Forgot to add I also spotted a female Glow worm near the house and heard 2 Tawny's calling from the Bucks section.

Saturday Evening - Little Linford Wood early evening

Late afternoon I took both of my daughters up to Little Linford Wood to meet Martin and his niece Daisy for another butterfly survey and wander around this great reserve. A warm and sunny afternoon did not disappoint and at 17:00 hours within our 15 minutes we recorded:
1 Peacock, 3 White Admiral (alas missing from Shenley earlier), 1 Speckled Wood, 1 Comma, 4 Ringlet, 2 Small White, 2 Small Skippers, 1 Large White, 1 Brown Argus ( a year tick for me :) and 1 Silver Y. Details added to the
Other highlights of the trip included 2 Marsh Tits, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Partridge - both of these along the road out of the reserve.

Saturday lunchtime - front garden

Alas with most of my weekends wildlife watching it will normally come down to a Sunday night typing session! So here's a recap.
With - hot in the news - (even my mother called me Friday night to tell me she'd seen the press regards this event!)
So as per the above I was chuffed to find the returning Humming-bird hawk-moth back on the front garden lavender so thought I'd patrol the front garden for another 15 minutes at 11:50 to complete a survey. Only other butterflies added were 1 Large Skipper, 1 Small White and 1 Gate Keeper. A Buzzard over Shenley Wood was a nice bonus.
With the survey bug and the sun finally breaking through I took my eldest into Shenley Wood (well the top of the ride from our house) to carry out another survey --- come on, surely a 7 year old can keep her attention span for 15 minutes (my 5 year old had already refused earlier - point blank :-)!
We had an excellent 15 minute survey with : only 1 scratched thumb and 2 near misses of dog mess on the path - Butterflies included: 3 Large Whites, 4 Ringlets, 1 Green-veined White, 2 Speckled Wood, 1 Large Skipper, 4 Small White and 1 Brimstone. Disappointed not to add White Admiral to this list but I had other plans up my sleeve for the day.

Friday, July 23

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Another fairly quiet visit today. Decided to stick to the paths and hope I'd trip over a mammal or two. Best spots were actually butterflies with 3 Common Blues, 1 Marbled White, 1 Large and 1 Small White, a few tatty Ringlets, a Speckled Wood and lots of Gatekeepers. 1 Six-spotted Burnet and a few Meadow Browns made up the rest. Is it me our are Red Admirals having a bad year? I've personally not seen one yet this year!
Only other things to hit the notebook were 1 juvenile Grass Snake, 1 Grey Squirrel and numerous Rabbits.

Does seem like a good time to plug this -

Thursday, July 22

Milton Keynes Noctule Roost

I didn't have time to survey the roost tonight. But gave it a couple of minutes at the patio doors and saw at least 5 Noctules head north at 21:25.

More climate change......

Interesting article on the return of the Dainty Damselfly

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Not much to report on the wildlife front on my lunch time patch.
A juvenile Grass snake under one of the tins was the best spot.
10 Common Terns from the hide with a loan Teal headed a rather boring bund.
A female Blackcap showed itself well on one of the footpaths.

Should have gone to Willen to look for Rob's fly over Black-tailed Godwits whilst he was at Lathbury earlier.

Wednesday night River Chess, South Bucks

Now I know the title of this blog is 'North Bucks Wildlife' but sadly we don't get Water Voles up north.
So after some excellent detailed 'gen' from Lee & Joan, Rob and I decided last night was as good a night as any to travel an hour south to Latimer and the River Chess. This first picture was taken from Latimer Bridge, made famous in November 2006 for the Purple Heron which I twitched and was actually my first ever visit to the site. The photo does not do justice to the beautiful clear water.

We set off east along the river and picked up some nice birds, with Kingfisher, Hobby, Red Kite and Little Grebes recorded.
We then reached Mill Farm bridge near Chenies Bottom

After a two minute scan Rob whispered 'there's one !'
I then put my bins onto my first ever Water Vole! It had come out of the reed line about 30 yards downstream from us and started to feed out in the open. We were both surprised how big it was. Started checking the well rehearsed ID features in my head - nice blunt nose, no sign of any ears, chesnut brown fur, union jack underpants. I managed to get these 'record' shots off before it popped back into the reeds. (note this is my pocket camera on full zoom!)

Ok I know...... they get better (a bit)

Trust it to feed behind the only clump of vegetation

Think at this point it got wind of us as we were up wind of it

The last and the best as it set off for the cover of the reeds, don't forget to click twice on the image for a (slightly) better view.
A few moments later Rob thought he saw the backside of an animal swimming away downstream, I then thought I saw a nose out of water. But alas that was it my first and only encounter with a Water Vole that evening - all done in under 2 minutes. (I've seen lifer birds for less!) What was also nice was the vole was firmly in Buckinghamshire.
We continued on heading east and into Hertfordshire. We finally reached the Water Vole watch point at Frogmore Meadow Nature Reserve, but another mammal was on view -

So we left and both decided there were better places to watch for voles than here.
We finished up at the Ford near Valley Farm at 20:45 and decided to head back. On our return we added four Little Owls on various fence posts and at least two Tawny's calling from the woods above Latimer.
With it nearly dark we decided to try our luck round at Sarratt Mill Bridge and the water works. Again even in the dark this section looked like classic Water Vole territory. But we couldn't pick anything up with the infra-red torch. A few bats were on the wing and this time I had my detector. Soprano Pipistrelles were about the best on offer.
After some weird slip road/access road closures at juntion 18, we finally managed to get onto the M25 for the hour long journey north. A great evenings wildlife watching. The Water Vole took my English mammal list to 33.

Wednesday, July 21

Last night

Watering the plants last night saw at least 2 Noctules leaving around 21:35.
Sadly still no sign of local Brown Long-eared roost.
A Small Skipper in the front garden lavender was a nice find.

Spoke with Rob and he too had a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on Tuesday - http://birdingnorthbucksandbeyo - nice one.

Tuesday, July 20

Batalogue !

This morning I received my free copy of Alana Ecology's 'Batalogue'
Cut and paste this link for details-

Milton Keynes Noctule Roost

Yesterday evening at 19:25 I was delighted to find a Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding on our lavender in the front garden. Alas I dashed for the camera but it had flown by the time I got back. This is only our second Hummingbird Hawk-moth record, with our previous record also in mid July 2006.

Chris Coppock surveyed the Noctule roost last night. I joined a little later but he advised the first bat out was 21:03 and over 44 had emerged by the time I arrived.

The usual Common Pipistrelle was then seen feeding over the back garden after 22:00.

Monday, July 19

Linford Lakes at lunch time

A lovely day with temperatures reaching 25c, sunny and with light winds from the south west.
Not much on the bird front. A juvenile Hobby hawking insects over the main path was the best bird of note. The only waders seen from Near Hide were Lapwings.
Lots of butterflies on the wing with 1 Peacock, 1 Comma, 1 Common Blue, 1 Brimstone, Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Small and Large Whites and Meadow Browns. Not enough time to check for Skippers. Also lots of hawker dragonflies around the rides.

Friday, July 16

Milton Keynes Noctule roost this evening

As I'd not surveyed the roost for over a week I thought I would tonight. So I checked it after work and could still hear bats inside, although quieter than usual.
With sunset at 21:16 I arrived at 21:07. The first bat left at 21:19 and by 21:30 I'd had 30 out and thought that was it. But they just kept popping out, so I stayed on. By 22:23 - 75 ! (SEVENTY FIVE!) had left the roost and still noises were coming from the roost.
At 21:55 one bat flew back to the mouth of the roost, then dropped away, seconds later another or the same bat then re-entered the roost and moments later it or another left the roost (I did not count this second exit).
I could also clearly see 2 'myotis' bats feeding above and in the canopy. Strangely though I didn't detect any pipistrelles?
My highest ever count of the roost was 57 on the 1st of June, with the average count being under 30. So does this mean the 30 ish have all had a pup each? Or, I've not stayed at the roost long enough to count the bats out after the first main batch has left? Answer on a postcard please.

Lunch hour at Broughton Grounds

Not sure where my lunch hours have gone this week, today was the first time I'd got my bins out in ages.
I decided to check Broughton Grounds and complete my reptile survey for the Parks Trust as I'd not been for over a month. With the temperature at 19 c and overcast conditions I thought I might be in with a chance of finding my first reptiles at the site. Luckily all the ACO's were still in place but alas still no reptiles, just a few large ants nests with lots of pupa and eggs on show. Even with the strong SSW winds I encountered lots of butterflies on the wing. 10+ Gatekeepers and 1 Small Skipper were my firsts of the year, 8+ Marbled Whites, 10+ Ringlets and 8+ Small Whites. Best bird was a Kestrel and no mammals seen.
Not checked the Noctule roost for a while, will do this evening.

Friday, July 9

Milton Keynes Noctule roost

A little DIY in the back garden tonight and around 21:35 and 21:40 I still observed a minimum of 14 Noctules leaving the roost. Plus a Common Pipistrelle started feeding above the back garden. A little later a large toad started moving across one of my flower beds and rustled off into cover. Perhaps it was 'Toadie the Toad' that my eldest had named who we'd not seem in are 'rockery' recently. Alas I cant locate any of the photo's of Toadie. If i do I'll post. But I hope he or his new friend continue eating our slugs.

Thursday, July 8

Milton Keynes Noctule roost

This evening the first Noctule appeared from the roost around 21:25 with probably 15 plus emerging tonight.
Thanks to everyone who turned up t
o gain some valuable handling experience of these impressive bats.

Tuesday, July 6

Emperor Moths

Just to update 3 of my 7 Emperor Moth caterpillars have formed into pupa/cocoon's.

Milton Keynes Noctule Roost

This evening from 21:37 until 21:47 a total of 25 Noctule bats emerged. With no more emerging by 21:57, but noises still heard from within the roost.

Lunchtime at Linford Lakes

A typically quiet Linford today with the highlights being - 2 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 2 Little Egrets, 8+ Common Terns. Singing Chiff Chaff, Blackcap and Cettis Warbler all heard.
Butterflies aplenty with 7 species seen.

Friday, July 2

Thursday, July 1

Milton Keynes Noctule Roost

Tonight from 21:31 to 21:44 a total of 31 Noctules emerged, with adult bats still in the roost. A regular Common Pipistrelle started to feed along the ride also.

Lunch time visit to Shenley Wood

I met Nik in Shenley Wood today after a tip off from Martin that White Admirals were already on the wing.
Within minutes of walking up a ride we had brief views of one flying above our heads. The weather was not that sunny and quite breezy so we struggled to find any settled but did clock up another 2 around the wood. Also noted lots of Large Skippers but could n't make any into Small or Essex. Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods made up the numbers.

Evening June 30th - Garden tick - QUAIL

Last night at 22:48, a few minutes after I'd got into bed and with the bedroom window wide open, I heard a QUAIL calling in it's typical song as it flew over our house. I'm guessing it was flying East to West. Not had a chance to check BWP to check if Quails call in flight.
Also note, I live about half a mile away (as the Quail flies) from farmland and the spot where a Quail was singing near the North Bucks Way a few years ago. Nice garden tick.