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Blagdon Lake Birds

Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus (Say, 1823)

(Extremely rare Nearctic vagrant)


1st-winter Long-billed Dowitchers, Pipe Bay. 6th Dec 2011.1st-winter Long-billed Dowitchers, Pipe Bay. 6th Dec 2011.



  1. Two, 1st-winters, 7th Oct. 1977 with one to 11th Jan. 1978 & the other to 15th Jan. (K.E. Vinicombe, A.H. Davis, A. Merritt). See note 1 below.
  2. Two, juvenile/1st-winters, 9th-10th Oct. 2011 (M.I. Pearce, R. Mielcarek, K. E. Vinicombe et al), same on the following dates: two, 14th Oct. to 5th Nov. (R. Mielcarek et al. ), two, 7th Nov. (Prof. R. Byrne, N.R. Milbourne), one, 8th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne, J.P. Martin et al.), two, 9th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne), two, 14th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne), one, 15th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne et al), two, 23rd Nov. (R. Treeby?), two, 27th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne et al.), two, 29th-30th Nov. (N.R. Milbourne, R. Mielcarek et al.), two, 4th Dec. (P. Williams), two 1st-winters, 6th Dec. (N.R. Milbourne), two 1st-winters, 8th Dec. (N.R. Milbourne, S. Davies), two 1st-winters, 11th-13th Dec. (N.R. Milbourne, C.J. Stone et al.). See note 2 below.



Note 1: Even with records as recent as the first one of two birds in 1977, there is surpising confusion as to the actual dates that the birds were at the lake. My database has the following information gathered from various sources which illustrates the point:

  1. Two, CVL, Sep. 30 / Oct. 1 (K.E.V.) - seen BL early October - end of year, except for occasional appearances at the former locality in October (A.H.D., A.M., B.R., K.E.V. et al). Somerset Birds, 1977.
  2. Record given in Birds at Blagdon Lake 1963-1983 as two first-winter birds from Oct. 7, 1977 to Jan. 8 and 11, 1978 (K.E.V. et al).
  3. BL: Two noted until 11th with one until 15th (BOC News, Jan. 1978).
  4. Chew Valley Lake, two, 30th September, later moved to Blagdon Water, where one remained to 11th January and one to 21st January 1978 (K. E. Vinicombe et al). British Birds 71:11 Nov 1978.

Keith Vinicombe, the original finder at Chew, found them again on 7th October at Blagdon. Andy Davis kindly wrote and told me he'd seen them on 15th October during the duck count.

A bird noted on the 13th January at Steart by Brian Rabbits was possibly the bird that left Blagdon first, on the 11th January. Seemingly, the last date at Blagdon was 15th January and the record for 21st January referred to a sighting of what was likely to have been this bird back at Heron's Green, Chew Valley Lake.


1st-winter Long-billed Dowitcher, Pipe Bay. 6th Dec 2011.1st-winter Long-billed Dowitcher, Pipe Bay. 6th Dec 2011.


Note 2: The third and fourth birds were initially found by Mervyn Pearce late on the evening of 9th October. He suspected them to be Dowitcher Limnodromus sp. but as he was unable to visit the following day, he rang and alerted Richard Mielcarek, who visited with Keith Vinicombe and confirmed the presence of 2 Long-billed Dowitchers Limnodromus scolopaceus viewable from Bell's Bush. The birds moved freely between Blagdon and Chew Valley Lake during their stay and on one occasion (30th November) even flew off from Blagdon over the Mendip Hills and were found later in the day at Catcott Lows NR before they then flew back to Chew. On a couple of occasions the birds apparently split up, with one at BL and the other at CVL. I have, I hope, included all dates on which the birds were seen at Blagdon in the list above. Initially identified as juveniles, they had clearly moulted during their prolonged stay and were best described as 1st-winters by the time they left.


Long-billed Dowitcher, RSPB Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon. 29th Sep 2019.Long-billed Dowitcher, RSPB Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon. 29th Sep 2019.


Bibliography (sources of information):

  1. Davis, A.H. Birds at Blagdon Lake 1963-1983. Bristol Ornith. 18: 102-116. Bristol Ornithological Club.
  2. McGeoch, J.A. (ed.). Somerset Birds, 1977. Somerset Ornithological Society.
  3. Rose, Dr H.E. (ed.). Avon Bird Report, 2011. Avon Ornithological Group.
  4. Vinicombe, K.E. Two Long-billed Dowitchers at Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lakes. Bristol Ornithology, 13, 97-99, Dec. 1980.
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