We are the Local Environment Group for the area around Prestwood in Buckinghamshire, including Great Missenden,
The Hampdens, The Kingshills, North Dean and Speen

Our Aims

We aim to protect and enhance the quality of the natural environment through the involvement of local people.

Coming Events

Protecting Our Environment Registered charity No. 1114685

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Prestwood Nature The Local Environment Group for the Prestwood Area

Birds

Green Woodpecker on garden lawn (photo by Sylvia Bennett)One of the remarkable success stories of the last decade has been the return of the raptors.  Red Kites were deliberately introduced at selected sites along the Chiltern escarpment in 1989 (after an absence of a hundred years since they were wiped out by persecution) and they first bred there in 1992.  By 1995 they could already be seen over Prestwood and they have now become one of the most familiar wildlife sights in the area.  It would now be rare to go for a walk, whether in the country or the town, and not see one of these magnificent birds soaring overhead with its distinctive forked tail.  They are very popular with the general public and many people put out carcases for them in their gardens.  A few years earlier, the first Buzzards for a long time were seen visiting the area and have similarly increased in numbers, perhaps encouraged by the sight of the kites, until they have become almost as common.  Both now breed in the area.  The buzzards largely feed on rabbits, but the kites are more general in their diet, preferring carrion, but also catching the odd live animal.  Sparrowhawks and Kestrels are also common, although the former are less often seen outside gardens because of their more secretive habits.

Waterbirds are not well-served with large bodies of water in this area, although Shardeloes, near Amersham, lies not very far outside our boundary and has a wealth of birds.  The main interest in our area is situated along the series of lakes formed out of the River Misbourne as it wends through Abbey Park and on to Deep Mill.  A Little Egret was seen here in 2009, and a Little Grebe in 2008, but it is 40 years since the last Pochard was reported.  Regularly inhabitants of these lakes include Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck and Coot.  Grey Wagtails can be seen along the stream itself in Abbey Park.  The smaller ponds of the rest of our area commonly host Mallard and Moorhen, while the recently restored Sheepwash witnessed a pair of Mandarin Ducks in 2008.

Birds of open farmland have notoriously declined nationwide in the last few decades and this area has not been immune.  However, Lapwings returned to breed in 2007 north of Prestwood; the song of the Skylark was heard regularly again from about 2004; Barn Owls are seen occasionally and have certainly nested, including in an old tree near the River Misbourne in 2009.  Another returning bird is the Raven, now being seen increasingly often flying over, and it may only be a matter of time before it also starts to breed here.  Rooks had also declined seriously in the 1960s, but started becoming more plentiful in the 1980s and now have substantial colonies at Great Missenden and Hughenden.  While Red-legged Partridges, an escape from game-rearing like the ubiquitous Pheasant, are seen more and more, the native Grey Partridge is no longer seen regularly and probably does not breed here any more.  The Woodcock that was a common game bird in Prestwood in the 19th century is now seldom seen, although it may still be present in the Nanfan Wood area where it was reported several times in the 1990s and was definitely observed at Longfield Wood in 2009.  The hedge-birds Yellowhammer and Linnet are breeding residents in reasonable numbers, while the Little Owl is regularly seen and Mistle Thrush are quite numerous.  The only Stock Dove reported recently was in 2006 at Stockings Wood.

Woodlands frequently harbour the two common Woodpeckers, Green and Greater Spotted, but the Lesser Spotted is probably not resident, despite numerous sightings scattered over the area in 2006.  Tawny Owl, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Jay are quite common, but the Wood Warbler had long been absent until one was seen in Angling Spring Wood in 2007.

When orchards covered much of the area around the villages, Bullfinches were probably very common, and they still survive today in numbers that are probably higher than many other areas and they regularly frequent gardens.  Also quite common in winter, although variable in numbers, are Brambling and Siskin, joined increasingly nowadays by over-wintering Blackcaps and Chiffchaff, now that there are fewer winter days severe enough to restrict their insect diet.  Rare garden visitors recently have included Wryneck (2006, 2008), Waxwing (2004-05), Spotted Flycatcher (2006), Willow Tit (2004-05), and Marsh Tit (2006).  The success story of the residential areas, however, has been the Collared Dove that first immigrated here in about 1967 and whose populations have grown from year to year to become one of the most familiar street and garden birds of all.

116 different species have been recorded in our area in recent times.