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.

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).