Monday, 26 April 2010

Calverton Today.

This Barn Swallow has returned to the Shed where it bred last year. Unfortunately the first brood failed when the young seemed to die from the heat, but a second brood fledged successfully.

This Collared Dove was in the nearby Orchard.

A regular visitor to the garden is this semi-tame Brown Hare, he was fairly cautious today, but in the past he has allowed me to approach to within 2 or 3 yards.

Unfortunately while weeding around some freshly planted hedging I discovered
this Pheasants nest. I have replaced a lot grass around the nest, but I do wonder if the hen bird will come back. I would imagine she has a fair few eggs still to lay so maybe she will move elsewhere.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Spring springing

A trip to Gayhurst Quarry at first light didn't produce the summer migrants I hoped it would. Sure there were good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and a couple of Reed Warblers were new in. Five Common Terns had returned, but as far as Summer visitors are concerned that was it.
88 Mute Swans remained in the field, but the Bewicks had departed, - to Bedfordshire it appears. Only two drake Wigeon are still present as is a drake Shoveler. The pair of Oystercatcher were still about and a Grey Wagtail flew around.

Linford, however was shouting out Spring from every angle. A Cuckoo was calling and showing well near the centre, a 'rattling' Lesser Whitethroat worked it's way down the perimeter hedge and a Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' away. A bit of patience here and this beauty showed very well, it's whole body trembling as it sang. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow, Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warblers sang around the reserve.
From the hide a couple of Common Terns perched on the posts and the 'gurgling' sounds of breeding Little Egrets filled the air.
Peeping under the corrugated iron sheets on the reserve revealed 3 Grass Snakes, the first I have seen this year.

Friday, 23 April 2010


Pairs were definitely the theme of today's lunchtime visit to Willen North Lake.
Two Little Egrets flew from the spit up to their nest on the island, a couple of Little Ringed Plover ran around the spit and a pair of Shelduck were swimming straight out from the hide.
Pinky Pinkfoot was near the island and 5 Common Tern were present with 2 of them looking like they are setting up home on one of the rafts.
I've still yet to see a Sedge Warbler this year despite several of them singing in the reeds. Other Warblers heard were Chiffchaff, Blackcap and the regular Cetti's.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Another Start

An after work dash up to the bird hotspot of Central Milton Keynes tonight.
Simon Nicholls had discovered a female type Black Redstart along with 2 Wheatears first thing this morning and with Paul giving me updates through the day, I thought I should go for it.
Arriving on site there was no sign. In fact the only bird seen was a Stock Dove.
I was speaking on the phone to Paul to bemoan my luck, when a bird flew in from the rough grassand and landed by the big red metal crate. This was indeed the bird I was here for.
Once I had found it the Redstart showed very well, for quite some time feeding around the metalwork that was littered around the building site.
A very good Bucks bird.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Our latest RSPB trip was to Rutland Water.
The relatively short journey up to Rutland came up trumps with my first Red Kite of the year right on the Nortants/Rutland border.
Our first stop was at MantonBridge where a pair of Ospreys were in courtship on the Manton Bay nest.
Several Shelduck were seen here as well as a duck with a 'stiff tail' that turned out to be a first summer male Goldeneye.
We then moved up to the Eagleton Reserve where a Tree Sparrow accompanied a few Chaffinch and Greenfinch on the feeders.
Walking around to Harrier Hide, Geese were seen in the form of Greylag, Canada, Egyptian and 2 Pinkfeet.


Waders present were Oystercatchers, Lapwings and a single male Ruff. A few Common Terns flew over the lagoon as well as a flock of Sand Martins.
Working our way around to the Fieldfare Hide, we were serenaded by Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, some showy Willow Warblers and a couple of 'reeling Grasshopper Warblers. I staked out one of the latter and was eventually rewarded with a long flight view.
The short path down to the hide also gave us a singing Sedge Warbler and also the sub-song of a Nightingale.

After lunch back at the mini-bus we set off to look at lagoon 2. On here it was interesting to see a pair of Stock Doves prospecting all of the duck nesting boxes, a group of Shelduck having a fall-out, a large flock of Sand Martins flying over the purpose built nesting colony and a Snipe that jumped up briefly.
The newly constructed lagoon 4 was next, and the specially made islands held waders in the form of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Ruff, Lapwings, Oystercatchers and quite a few Redshank. There were also 5 Yellow Wagtails and a small flock of Linnets, but best of all was the Osprey that appeared and landed on the nest out in the middle.
I saw my first Orange Tip butterflies of the year today as well as Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones and Peacocks.

On the journey back 3 more Red Kites were seen, before we called in at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.
Surprisingly we failed to see or hear any Nightingales.
The Heronry Pit as it's name suggests holds quite a large Heronry, and from the hide it was possible to see several youngsters in their nests. This Pit also held two handsome drake Red crested Pochard, but that really was as good as it got.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Working in around a dozen different gardens every week, I enjoy the close proximity of at least one Robin in each of them. This chap kept me company on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Fine 'Start'

At first I thought I'd made a bad decision to visit Ravenstone Sewage Works this lunchtime.
First off the tanker arrived to take away some of the sludge - that's sure to scare off the birds!
Then I got to the Wheatear Bank to see a guy setting up a Long Net to catch Rabbits on the left of the track- well that'll scare off the birds!
I looked to the right of the track. Well it's quiet here.... Oh hang on what's that chasing that Rabbit? Oh flip, it's a Stoat. The Rabbit disappeared down a hole, followed by the Stoat. A couple of other Rabbits chased the Stoat but didn't go down the hole. Well that's probably scared off any birds on this side.
I carried on down to the works where there was predictably very little to be seen other than a Grey Wagtail, a Pied Wagtail a few Reed Buntings and a few more Swallows than of late.
Feeling that was a waste of a visit I walked back up the track, but decided to take one last look across the bank to the right. It was then that I noticed a bird on the side of the furthest bush. It flew down and picked up an insect and went back to the same perch. I quickly put my scope onto it and was delighted to see a splendid male Redstart as it made several flycatching flights up into the air from the bush and a nearby fencepost. I left when it retreated under the bush where I had initially seen it.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

As you were.

A return visit to Gayhurst Quarry early morning was pretty much the same as last week.
The Bewick's Swan -now officially a first summer bird - was still there keeping the company of a whopping 103 Mutes. Wigeon numbers were down to about 50 and there were lesser numbers of Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler. However Mallard and Tufteds seemed to have increased and the lady Goosander had found herself a mate. Singles were seen of both Little Egret and Grebe.
2 Oystercatchers were still on Motorway Pit as were several Great crested Grebes.
Over near the weir on the second river a Grey Wagtail and a Yellow Wagtail were seen within 50 yards of each other.
On to Quarryhall where a Green Woodpecker had excavated a new nest chamber and was having a well earned rest, a small flock of Linnets looking smart in their summer plumage flew around and a pair of Red-legged Partridge were put up.
On the walk back a Buzzard flew over and was promptly attacked by an angry Lapwing, 50 odd Sand Martins were over the pits and the lone Swallow was still at the Stables.

Calling in at the New Gravel Extraction Works near Newport, 4 Green Sandpipers were seen and a Little Ringed Plover was in display flight mode.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Olney Barnacles

A walk from Clifton Pastures down to Olney Mill today.Very little seen other than a flock of mixed Geese. Canada, Greylag, and Barnacles. Barnacle doing the 'Goose Step'

Having a flap

Barnie going for a swim.

A pair.

Barnacle Goose

An unconventional pair. Barnacle Goose and Small race Canada Goose, presumably the parents of the hybrid I saw back in January

Friday, 9 April 2010

First Tern

I saw my first Common Tern of the year tonight on a visit to Linford Reserve.It didn't stick around too long, just checked whether any of his mates were around and as they weren't just carried on.
The walk down to near hide was filled with the songs of several Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler, and the occasional burst of a Cetti's warbler.
From the hide a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Ringed Plover were on the bund and an Oystercatcher flew across the lake.
Ducks included around 25 Teal, 5 Gadwall, 3 male Wigeon, 11 boisterous Shoveler, 15 Tufted and a few Mallard.
Over at the Heronry at least 2 Herons sat on nests, and 7 Little Egrets and 17 Cormorants were in the trees.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Where there's Muck....

......there should be birds.
A quick visit to Ravenstone Sewage Works on the way home tonight.
A scan of the banks on the walk down failed to produce any of the hoped for Wheatears, but as I approached the works I noticed the familiar hop and skip of what turned out to be a female of this species alongside the track.
At the works itself the usual suspects were present : a pair of Grey and a single Pied Wagtail, 8 Reed Buntings, some Chaffinch and a Dunnock were all finding some tasty tit-bits amongst the gunge. A couple of Chiffchaffs and 2 singing male Yellowhammers were in the surrounding bushes.
As I walked back a flock of 8 Stock Doves flew across, and I then noticed a smallish bird in the cereal field which I presumed would be the female Wheatear, - not so as this one was a male, so 2 birds present.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Bewick's Surprise

Finally all my stopping and scanning through all the large flocks of Swans I see paid off. Ninety nine times out of a hundred they are all Mutes ( although recently there has been a Black one around).
Today at Quarryhall near Gayhurst Quarry I was going through a flock of some ninety birds, Mute, Mute, Mute, Mute, ..hey hang on that one looks odd and a bit small!. Flipping heck it's a first winter Bewick's!!... No this is Buckinghamshire we just don't get them!
But sure enough it was and it seemed quite happy dozing away amongst it's larger orange-beaked cousins. I put the news out but as yet I don't know if anyone else got to see it.

Elsewhere around Gayhurst Quarry, there were still around a hundred Wigeon, a dozen Teal, 15 Shoveler and 7 Gadwall plus the usual Mallards and Tufteds, 2 Little Grebe and a single Little Egret.
Waders present were the 2 Oystercatchers, one Redshank and a pair of displaying Lapwings.
Hirundines showed in the form of about 20 Swallows and my first House Martin of the year.
A Willow Warbler sang right where I parked the car, Chiffchaffs were quite numerous and a Blackcap showed as it sang in the spinney.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Caldecotte Lake

A trip to Caldecotte Lake this afternoon to check out what summer migrants may have arrived. Mallard (not a summer migrant but one of the regular crew)

Most of the winter ducks seemed to have gone, as other than Mallards and a few Tufteds, just one female Goldeneye was present.

Several Chiffchaffs were singing around the lakes and probably 50 Swallows and slightly less Sand Martins fed over it.
On the dam a flock of Wagtails consisted of 13 Pieds and a very dapper male Yellow. The photo below is not the best, but as usual if you click on it, it comes up better.( and just look at all the flies that they are feeding on)

Several Great crested Grebes were around, most of which had paired up.

Mute Swans and Coots were already on nests in several spots around the lake.

This Australian Black Swan has been travelling around Milton Keynes quite a bit just recently.
I have noted it at Gayhurst Quarry and Sherington in the last month or so.