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.

Thursday, March 10

Moth ID

Whilst putting the dustbins out this evening a moth flew into the garage and started flying around the internal light. I gave it a quick look over and thought I'd be able to 'ID' it from my books. I could not. So I went back into the garage and luckily the moth was still inside. After 5 minutes of getting it into a pot and bringing it inside. I'm was still none the wiser.
Guesses include a White-point!? So before I emailed a few experts I tried one last flick through the books when I came upon a 'Satellite' Eupsilia transversa, I think it's this because of the two dots adjacent to the small white 'kidney' shape. It flies September to May in urban habitats.
A first for me I think.

Satellite Eupsilia transversa

Mr Sprawky

Making the girls school lunches this morning, I looked out the kitchen window and Mr Sparrowhawk was back. Perched on the fence not 7 metres from me. I did the classic, 'put my hand in my pocket to use the camera on my mobile' and he was off in attack mode, he dashed off under the bird table and behind the garden shed. I waited half a minute to see if he was unsuccessful and would sit back on a fence. But all that happened next was a Blackbird was flushed from next doors and flew off.
I had noticed some larger droppings on the roof of the bird table and now predict he's been feeding in the garden for sometime.

Tuesday, March 8

Linford Lakes at lunch time

A rare lunch time trip out today and although very nice with the clear blue skies and plenty of sun shine. The best Ray Stroud and I could muster from Near Hide were 3 Snipe. Earlier I'd seen a female Bullfinch and could hear the Siskins further into the reserve. On the walk back an Early Bumble bee buzzed along one of the paths.

Thursday, March 3

Lesser Horseshoe Hunt

Two years after our failed attempt to locate 3 Lesser Horseshoe Bats at a farm in mid bucks, Laura and I returned yesterday evening to do a ‘winter reccy’ of the garage that previously housed the Lessers, plus a Brown Long-eared maternity roost. With permission from, the very helpful, Sue and the tenants and neighbour who share the loft space. This is what we found. Double click on the photo's for a closer look.
The first picture just goes to show the size if the 'loft' space basically it's above 3 large garages.

These bricks with slits are positioned at both ends of the loft and allow the bats access into the space

Also below these are smaller bricks that have a special cavity to house bats

Here's the view of these from the outside, with the shot on the right a close up of the smaller access point / hidden cavity. Also note the droppings.

Throughout the very clean loft we witness about 7 piles of bat droppings neatly deposited in a small area's. What was hard to work out was the fact that the bats didn't leave any signs of there presents on the actual roof space?

Another such area showing droppings but no signs of bats ever being present above

Then Laura finally spotted a much smaller pile of droppings with some staining on the roof above

Also built into the roof tiles are special bat tiles with an access slit, this is what they look like from the inside. So it's possible bats could use the area between the tiles and the roof lining? Again weird how there are not many droppings on the floor around these?

We also found a few Small Tortoiseshell butterfly wings scattered about which must have been eaten by the bats.

Finally at one end of the loft is a huge wasps nest. The second photo also shows another pile of bat droppings near to it. About 50 dead wasps were also scattered around this end

This last picture shows how the wasps are entering the loft.

Laura and I plan to return to find out what's using the space and whether the very rare Lesser Horseshoe bats will return. (the original findings were a first for Bucks, this species of bat is normally confined to Wales and the west country).

Monday, February 28

Medbourne and school run

Walked the girls to school today and then got a lift into work. So we walked down the side of Shenley Wood. The Parks Trust have been doing a lot of coppicing work recently and I predict the Bluebell explosion is going to be particularly spectacularly this spring. Highlights of the walk in (and reason for this post), firstly a Nuthatch flew from a small stand alone tree next to the houses and into the wood, nice year tick. Then near the play park I could hear "chirping"? Thought it sounded strange/unfamiliar and thought it sound like a Sparrow! So I stopped and tracked the "chirping" and there next to us in the bare hedge were a male and female House Sparrow!!!!! Medbourne Mega!!!!. In our four plus years of living on this estate I've only seen one other House Sparrow, a female briefly in our back garden on the bird table about 2 years ago. Nice start to the day.

Monday, February 21

Medbourne Waxwings

15:00 on Sunday I was playing football with the lad next door in our cul-de-sac whilst my daughters were playing outside. I looked up to see a large flock of about 40 plus birds flying roof height down Vernier Crescent. I could hear a faint 'trilling' sound which made to pay more attention to the birds. Accompanying this noise as an ID feature I also noted shorter/stubbier head profiles (i.e. no long beak as on a Starling). Also they appeared lighter in colour in the dull grey of the afternoon skyline. Plus the flight just seemed more 'jerky'.
The continued on their journey over the roof tops and towards Grange Farm.

Monday, February 14

Probably a Ferret..........

Coming back from a night out in Stony Stratford on Friday, we were on route past Hazeley Wood to drop one of the party off in Grange Farm. As we travelled along the end of the H4 (sat in the back) I spotted something moving across the road. It looked weird because it blended in with the orangy/yellow street lights as it crossed the road. We slowed down and actually started to reverse back up the road to get a better look (now all 5 of us were straining to get a look). I can only say it was probably a Ferret.
Description: Bigger than Weasel and Stoat. Long low and stretched out body (classic mustelid shape), white/pale/yellow fur with possibly darker colouring towards the tips of the hair? Didn't get a view of the face and can't remember anything about the colouration on the tail. It was not bothered by us and happily bounded off towards the houses.

Thursday, January 27

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Another lunch time trip to see what was about, the paths were alive with birds compared to recent visits, well I say alive, a female Chaffinch, Wren and 3 Blackbirds were better than nothing.
From Near Hide in a freezing north east wind, the best I could muster were 6 Little Egrets dotted around trying to keep out the wind.

Monday, January 24

Linford Lakes at lunch time

Driving down next to the Blackhorse Pub I spotted 4 thermalling Buzzards over the road, two of these were displaying as I took the road inside the reserve. And that was about as good as it got. Paths still quiet. From Near Hide, 3 Little Egrets and 8 Grey Herons. Lots of Crows stood on the bund (or what's left of it). Also loads of wildfowl in every corner of the reserve but nothing above the usual.

Lodge Lake yesterday morning

I've been asked to carry out some urban bird survey's for a local ecologists. Yesterday was my first at Lodge Lake. Nothing earth shattering as this was the initial "what's actually there" survey. Highlights were a male Sparrow Hawk whizzing through with a couple of Greenfinch as his wing men. But the best surprise was a female Goosander which circled my position and appeared to land on the main lake, out of my view. Around 5 minutes later the bird circled above again and flew off towards CMK. (Disappointingly this being my second visit in a week and still no sign of the normally regular Little Grebes!)

Friday, January 21

Lodge Lake

With two lunch hours missed this week I was determined to get my bins on and get out for today's.
Where to go.............thought Lodge Lake might be productive, possibles - Bittern, Beardies, returning Cettis Warbler, even Grey Wag or Kingfisher would have been a nice year tick. I'd not been to Lodge Lake for a long time but the habitat still looks good for all of the above. Didn't do a full lap, mainly concentrating on the main reed beds.
Best spots were a male and 3 female Reed Buntings feeding on the reed mace heads. A noisy charm of Goldfinch's feeding in the Alders didn't produce any Redpolls or Siskins. Nearly every other bird was a Robin, seemed to be all over the place. Disappointed not to see any Little Grebe either.
Cold but nice in the sun shine.

Tuesday, January 18

Walton Balancing Lakes

Cold, but sunny with a light breeze seemed like a good idea to visit Walton today. Also to witness the vandalism that's recently taken place with both the screens now ripped down. A couple of other birders were already on site and had not seen anything special. All I saw were about 10 feeding Siskins, a couple of Reed Buntings, a Buzzard mobbed by about 10 Crows and finally a Sparrowhawk flew over. Nice in the sunshine though.

This morning

Whilst collecting the milk of the doorstep this morning I noticed Shenley Wood alive with bird song. After I few moments I picked out a Song Thrush towards the top of the wood, a bit further away than last years bird. So imagine this could have been in song for a few days/weeks now.

With an appointment before work I didn't do the school run so found myself with 10 minutes spare. So after fighting through the rush hour I decided to stop off at Lloyds Court in Central Milton Keynes to see if the Waxwings were still hanging on. I estimated around 200 sat between the row of trees along the car parking spaces and birds actually feeding on the red berries alongside the grid road. An amazing noise was coming from all quarters. Even a few members of the general public were stopping by and taking photo's on their mobile phones. Not many berries left as far as I could see. Also, note to self - never stand underneath a flock of Waxwings in a tree, the amount of droppings was like rain coming down!

Monday, January 17

Lunch time birding

On an earlier lunch slot today and not helped by it raining until the last 15 minutes of it. So I stayed closer to the car today - well actually in it, until the last stop.
First up CMK and the wasteland opposite Argos. One Common Gull and lots of Black-headed on the wet section. 10+ Magpies all of note on the scrubby area.
Then onto Furzton Lake, my first visit of the year, 3 Grey Herons, 3 Lapwing (the only waders), 1 Lesser Black-backed, 13 Common Gulls and numerous Black Headed Gulls, 2 Cormorants with very white heads looked pretty weird. Hardly any Great Crested Grebes and only Mallards the ducks of note.
Last stop with the rain finally easing. I pulled into Teardrop Lakes near Knowhill. Hoping the numerous Alders might hold some Siskins or Redpolls, but no joy. Very quiet except for my first singing Song Thrush of the year. Has anyone else heard one this year? I normally hear one in Shenley Wood from first light around now, but not so far.

Saturday, January 15

College Lake Friday not birding and too early for batting?

Friday evening saw my first (purposeful) 'mammal in headlights' drive of the year with a trip to mid Bucks and College Lake. The reason for the trip was the North Bucks Bat Group had very luckily secured Patty and Brian Briggs to come and talk to us about British Bat Identification. Patty and Brian are 'Bat Royalty' and there knowledge and passion is second to none. Brian first went through all the main ID features to separate our 17 or so species, he made it so clear and simple that I hope I've taken it all in! Then, we split into groups and took turns to identify (stuffed) bat specimens using our skills and accompanying literature. It was the first time I'd ever seen a Greater Horse Bat and a Serotine (in the hand) and my they were impressive creatures. I'm looking forward to returning to Cheddar Gorge in May to reconnect with these two species, first encounter only last year with my Father, great memories.
As for 'bunnies in headlights' my only mammal encounters on the way down were two different Red Foxes not 100 yards apart on the grid roads near my estate at 7pm! On the return (with Badger in mind, or actually any deer as I've seen none yet) I only saw my 3rd Fox near Water Eaton in the bushes near the Stoke Hammond bypass. I couldn't even find the Barn Owl hunting along the main bypass towards Linslade. Oh well Barn Owl will have to wait.

Friday, January 14

Out and about at lunch time

In an effort to avoid the showers I stayed close to the car this lunch time.
First stop Central Milton Keynes (opposite Argos) to see how the development is coming along. Still some birds with 5 Linnet flying around, a Crow, a few Black-headed and Common Gull's on the sandy wet section alongside the H6 (this must surely hold a Snipe or two?).
Then onto South Willen, like Linford yesterday this held masses of wildfowl. All the usual ducks, with 2 Goosander and 15 plus Goldeneye the best spots. (Surely something rarer must be amongst these two sights?) But I soon left as the heavens opened.
Then onto Lloyd's Court, Central Milton Keynes, to see if yesterday's Waxwings were still around. I'd also received a text of Mick Shepard who advised 50+ were still around some 20 minutes earlier. All I could see were a small flock of Starlings and the odd Redwing added in. The berries along the side of the Library have already been stripped.
Rob then text as I leaving Lloyd's Court to advise the Bearded Tits were not showing at Walton Balancing Lake but a Bittern flew in and landed in the reeds!
Looking forward to the photo's on your blog Rob :-)

Thursday, January 13

Linford Lakes at lunch time - Wigeon anyone!

10 oC ! Mild today, still cloudy and with a slight breeze. Water levels still rising and the mud all but gone from the bund, so wet feet all round for the Lapwings and gulls.
Amazingly the whole reserve was filled with Wigeon, I would estimate 400+, the Near Hide log book says there were around 600 on the 11th! Presume these are some birds from Gayhurst Quarry, perhaps they had a 'shoot' on and these relocated to Linford. Good numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck and a few others species, but I couldn't pick out anything rarer in my brief time in the hide. 6 Grey Herons were dotted about as well. The footpaths nearly came to life with Great and Blue Tit calling from within and the odd Wren making a racket.

Two mounted Police were along Swan's Way and a police car was in the reserve car park. Sue & Steph, the reserve staff, mentioned a missing person has been reported to them since the 9th Jan from the Giffard Park area. There was even a poster on the Near Hide door. Fingers crossed he turns up.

Tuesday, January 11

Linford Lakes at lunch time

A blustery WNW greeted me in the car park this lunch time. Thus no birds were seen along the paths to the hide. I did walk round to the boardwalks and I saw 50+ Siskin flying around in a flock and landing in the tops of Alders briefly before taking off again.
From Near Hide, the water levels are starting to rise, but small patches of earth still remain. These held a few Lapwing and wildfowl. A Little Egret sheltered out of the wind next to a Grey Heron and a male Goldeneye made up the best of the rest. Very quiet. On the walk back a Treecreeper showed really well working it's way up a trunk, but other than a Chaffinch that was it.

Sunday, January 9

Rutland Water - Saturday afternoon

As mentioned in an earlier post, 2011 is about seeing and adding new birds/wildlife to my 'life' lists. So with the drake American Wigeon reported all week (up to Thursday) at Rutland Water it had been 'flashing' on my radar. I took the gamble of going for this bird with the full knowledge that "this was going to be your only weekend pass until February!" per the wife. So Rob and I set off at One and headed the hour and 15 minute jaunt up the A1. We arrived in Whitwell Car park and meet the only other birders we saw all afternoon, who'd given the 300 plus Wigeon flock (feeding on the grass in the creek) a grilling but could not locate the American bird. So we then set about working are way through them. We'd managed about 3 scans each when a Crow spooked the whole flock and were then helped by a Black-headed Gull, all the birds flew out the creek and onto the main water. Rats. So we started to head towards the ferry terminal to try for another look. As we walked through part of the boat yard. Rob shouts "do you still need Siskin for the year?" I replied, not stopping "yes but I'll wait and tick if off back in MK" and carried on. Rob stopped to grill the Siskins (quite rightly). So I finally stopped and raised my bins to have a quick look. He said "about 15 to 20 but no Redpolls". But from my position further up the path ahead of him I picked out a larger paler/whiter bird.....heart beat now raising....the bird finally showed the classic 'Redpoll' on it's forehead. I said "I've found a Redpoll but it ain't ginger!" Rob caught up and we grilled the larger/paler/whiter Redpoll. We were hoping to see a 'ginger' Redpoll (Lesser) alongside for comparison but none were seen but another 2!!! 'whiter/paler/larger Redpolls. We worked our way through the differences, took some photo's and I even digiscoped some footage via my mobile phone. Everything was spot on for classic Common 'Mealy' Redpoll (a lifer for me :) (later that night we sent all the evidence to Si to get verified and he was more than happy with the i.d. ((even if my mobile video footage was pants!)) - result!) By now we'd spent 30 minutes looking at the Mealies, the Wigeon flock had moved back onto the grass to feed but a long way off on the other side of the creek. With time and light running out and happy with the lifer I was happy to let the yank Wigeon go. We headed off up the road to Barnsdale and after about 10 minutes scanning the water Rob picked out the 3 reported Slavonian Grebes in deep water and diving a lot. I then picked out a drake Red-crested Pochard. We didn't see the long staying Long-tailed Duck which was later reported on Bird Guides at the same time we were there?!? With sunset gone we headed off, chuffed with finally bagging Common Redpoll - just need to get one in Bucks now ;-). The yank Wigeon can wait and now goes on my 'dip' list.

Thursday, January 6

Caldecotte Lake at lunch time

Quick blast down the A5 at lunch time and I soon arrived at the middle car park of Caldecotte Lake. Quick scope of the South lake where 80+ large gulls were standing on the ice. Surely with a closer view it must have held a Yellow-legged or two. Then onto the wooden bridge (where Keith's ((see his blog been putting seed down) and 3 Reed Buntings were the best spot amongst a lot of finch's. On my way back the number of Chaffinch's had increased to 8 so not long now before a Brambling's going to pop up here. Also liked the look of the Ash trees full of 'keys' that the Greenfinch were feeding on - could get a Hawfinch here also!). Onto the North Lake I picked out a drake Goldeneye amongst good numbers of ducks. Walked back under the bridge I spotted a female Goosander near the reeds on the South Lake. Lots of birds on offer and lots of good habitat but lunch time was like pedestrian rush hour! With joggers/push bikes/office walkers all over the place. I can see why I like having Linford to myself at lunch times!

Wednesday, January 5

Linford Lakes at lunch time

I nearly decided against going to check if the previous weeks Bittern was still on site, as the sleet and rain pounded the car on the journey over. Luckily is paused enough for me to get my boots on and to Near Hide. All that was noted on the walk/dash down was a flock of 10 Long Tailed Tit. From Near Hide, no joy on the Bittern and little else of note. Mainly still all frozen except the patch in front of Far Hide and difficult to view from Near Hide. The bund did have sections unfrozen and these held most of the commoner duck species (all year ticks) but no more than 50 in number, with Teal the most numerous. On the dash back just the Long Tailed Tits still on the foot path.

Waxwings - Grange Farm

27 sat in the Oak of my daughters school this morning. They then flew off towards Budgens around 08:26. Well chuffed with an estate/school run tick - so close to my own estate.

Rob what was the name of the Rowans/berries on the two trees as you drive out of Medbourne. The top third of both of these has been eaten. Could be the Waxwings or could be Redwings? Fingers crossed they return.

Tuesday, January 4

Walton Balancing Lakes

The good thing about being back at work is having a lunch hour to myself to do some wildlife watching.
The car temperature gauge said 2 oC, it felt more like minus 2! I took a trip to Walton Balancing Lakes to see if the Bearded Tits were still hanging on. Through my 30 minutes on the platform I could hear the soft contact calls (almost like Long Tailed Tit) coming from within the reeds but never any classic 'ping ping' calls or views either. I did notch up a few year ticks with Fieldfare over, 2 Water Rails squealling then another bird flushed which flew up and out of the reeds and dropped into another section (bet it was a Bittern which flushed it), 2 Greater Black Backed Gulls were flying with 2 Lesser Black Backed and a Herring Gull. Finally a distant Buzzard was thermalling a long way away.

Slow start 2011....

Every year I keep a list of the birds I record in MKUA, Bucks and the UK (which is normally always England) and obviously a life list. I also keep a list of mammals and butterflies. So having spent most of the new year holidays in Hampshire I'm off to a slow start with the Oldbrook Waxwings on New Years Day probably the best tick so far (these were ticked on route to travelling to Hants).
This years natural history goals are to see all the bits I've never seen before like Marsh Fritillary, Smooth Snake, Otter etc and any new birds to my life list. So posts might be many or thin on the ground.