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Blagdon Lake Birds


September 2021 News 

Tuesday 21st September [Sunny & warm]

I walked with friends around Chew Stoke, Chew Magna, Winford and Regil this morning and stopped by the lake on the way home. At Top End there were 46 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 6 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Before tea I went back down and there was nothing at Top End except an adult Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus eating a prey item surrounded by Crows Corvus corone! Most of the godwits were on Rugmoor Point with the other flushed birds, and I briefly saw a Greenshank Tringa nebularia in flight. After tea I went back again and met Mark at Holt Bay. We parked on Rainbow Point to scan Top End and almost immediately 3 Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia, that were previously at Chew, flew west down the lake and away off into the sunset. I noted the time as 1855 hrs. This was the 7th site record, all of which have occurred since 2010 . Graham, one of the rangers, came over while we checked out Top End again, and said he thought he'd just seen a Muntjac run across the south side road being chased by a Fox. Strangely, Mark and I thought we might have seen a Muntjac run across the road on Saturday evening nearby too.

 

Monday 20th September [Sunny]

I've just posted some interesting news from angler Jon Mattick for the 16th September. Thanks Jon.

I had a walk this afternoon and saw the same 3 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis with cattle on Holt Farm that I saw last week, until the cattle were called in for milking, at which point the egrets flew over Long Bay and I lost them to view. While on the subject of egrets, there were an impressive 8 Great White Ardea alba and 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta around the dwindling lake too. Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe were noted at Green Lawn and Rainbow Point, 22 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, some Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and a single Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Top End, plus a Hare Lepus europaeus.

 

Sunday 19th September [Warm & sunny]

I went to the lake in the morning and saw a 37 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 17 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 6 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. One of the juvenile Hobbies Falco subbuteo was demonstrating its prowess at catching dragonflies at Top End too.

At lunchtime, Mark and I decided to head down to Dawlish Warren where a juvenile Dotterel had been seen on The Bight at high tide the previous evening and again during the morning. We arrived and sat for a few hours watching the tide come back in, driving the waders back off the flats towards us, and sure enough, the Dotterel came with them. Mission accomplished!

 

Saturday 18th September [Warm & muggy]

I arrived at the lake in the morning and met Andy who had birded his way from Top End. He had seen a few waders but nothing special, and after we both looked through the gulls at the Lodge, where there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, I met up with Ken and Mark to check around bat boxes to see that they were still hanging safely and usable by the bats. Ken also collected some Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros droppings for a research project looking to see if the Covid virus has been passed onto the bats anywhere in the country.

Mark and I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 29 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, he found a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Rugmoor, and we counted 4 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. What are the godwits doing? Where are they going when they apparently fly off?

 

Friday 17th September [Warm & dry]

This evening, in front of the Lodge, there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and a drake Pochard with a nose clip, turquoise LA, which I'd imagine makes it a French bird. I'll contact Alain Caizergues to find out. As I walked towards Top End, I saw a flock of 20+ Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa fly west, and counted 5 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta scattered about the lakeside. At Top End there were still 2 Black-tailed Godwits, I guess the two that arrived recently stuck, and the twenty-seven that arrived earlier, were probably the ones that moved on. The only other notable bird I saw was a single Greenshank Tringa nebularia.

 

Thursday 16th September [Sunny spells & warm]

'Normal' service was resumed today, although it is the 'new normal' - the reservoir looks a far different place to that which I first grew to know and love so many years ago. Wildfowl numbers were still well down on those counted on Monday, but there were some waders at Top End again at lunchtime. I counted 29 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 1 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 1 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 15 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. As I made my way back to the Lodge I saw a Peregrine Falco peregrinus over Long Bay and I heard Hobbies Falco subbuteo calling at Flower Corner.

I gratefully received the following emailed sightings from angler Jon Mattick as follows: "Just seen your report for the 16th. Thought you would be interested to know that I was out in a boat fishing the lake - at about 0915 saw an Osprey carrying a Trout, flying low across the lake (N - S) from the North Shore, I didn't see it catch the fish. It was being mobbed by two gulls, landed briefly on the beach at Green Lawn then took off and headed back to the North shore where it again landed on the Beach (I was near Rainbow Point), about an hour later I went to the Dam and the Osprey was still on the beach. Didn't see it depart, but it wasn't there when I passed that area later at about 4pm. Also, a flyover Peregrine at about 1300 hrs (north to south over the Dam) and a fly by Greenshank, must have originated from Butcombe Bay, Spinney Point area and pitched down at the south end of the Dam at about 1500hrs."

 

Wednesday 15th September [Sunny & warm]

I don't know what had happened, but there had evidently been some sort of disturbance at Top End because this evening, before all the Coots Fulica atra gathered there to roost, there was barely a bird in the whole of that part of the lake! I did see 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, but they were the only waders, and the hundreds of Shoveler and Teal had just about cleared out altogether. The only other birds of note were 3 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

 

Tuesday 14th September [Overcast, muggy & damp]

An afternoon trip down to the lake with my camera proved worthwhile:

 

Cattle Egrets, Holt Bay. 14th September 2021.Cattle Egrets, Holt Bay. 14th September 2021.

 Juvenile Cattle Egret, Holt Bay. 14th September 2021.Juvenile Cattle Egret, Holt Bay. 14th September 2021.

 

Aside from the 3 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, I saw 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula, 27 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 1 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 1 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 1 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 4 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

 

Monday 13th September [Cloudy but warm]

It was back to patch birding again today, with Phil, Rob and I carrying out the WeBS count. Best bird was undoubtedly the juvenile Knot Calidris canutus we saw on Tiny's Shallow, but 3 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and 3 juvenile Hobbies Falco subbuteo were also nice. Full count details were as follows:

Mute Swan 70 adults and 7 juvs., Canada Goose 72, Teal 474, Mallard 394, Shoveler 257, Gadwall 136, Wigeon 28 (plus the hybrid), Tufted Duck 152, Pochard 3, Cormorant 20, Grey Heron 10, Great White Egret 3, Little Egret 7, Cattle Egret 3, Great Crested Grebe 47, Little Grebe 34, Knot 1 juv., Lapwing 11, Snipe 6, Black-tailed Godwit 26, Greenshank 1, Ruff 3, Common Sandpiper 1, Green Sandpiper 2, Yellow-legged Gull 2 adults, Buzzard 3, and Hobby 4.

 

Sunday 12th September

I didn't go to the lake today, I drove back to Bempton Cliffs RSPB again to see the Green Warbler which was a short walk away from the car park, although not strictly on the reserve. Mark eventually spotted it, and although the view was brief, it was beautifully clear in the scope, after a two hour wait and two missed opportunities when I didn't get on it. I have seen Green Warbler in India, but this was my 470th UK species (BOU list). 

 

Saturday 11th September [A fine day]

A late afternoon visit turned up more Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, twenty-seven of them! I suppose the best bird I saw was a Garganey Spatula querquedula, but it was backed up by 14 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a Pintail Anas acuta.

I also heard Hobbies Falco subbuteo calling, and I can reveal that a pair bred at the lake this year and have at least two fledged juveniles learning the ropes.

 

Friday 10th September [Showers]

I walked to Ubley to pick my car up after its service, birding my way along the lakeside as I went. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Green Lawn, a single Great White Egret Ardea alba, at least 11 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa (there were probably still the 19 from yesterday), 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago and an adult Hobby Falco subbuteo. I went back with my scope after tea and met Mark while looking through the gulls, we went down to Top End but it was too dark to count true number of Godwits among the gathering wildfowl and Coots Fulica atra.

 

Thursday 9th September [Wet. Heavy showers.]

The change of weather did bring a change in the birds at the lake, but its not exactly jumping - yet! There was an adult winter Common Tern Sterna hirundo on Tiny's Shallow with all the gulls, including an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, yellow ZAT3, and a 3rd/4th-calendar year Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. At Top End, 19 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa had dropped in, and the 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, and 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago were still present. I saw a single Great White Egret Ardea alba, but Mark saw two, and we agreed on 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. As I arrived back in Blagdon from a trip to Clevedon in the afternoon, Mark texted to tell me an Osprey Pandion haliaetus had arrived (from Chew?) and was eating a fish on the ground at Peg's Point. Unfortunately, as I drove along to join him, the Osprey took off and flew west and disappeared over the trees on Butcombe Bank as I lifted my bins!

 

Wednesday 8th September [Warm & muggy]

This evening, under a threatening sky, I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and while walking along Green Lawn, 10 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa flew west down the lake. At Top End I saw 8 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax and a Greenshank Tringa nebularia.

 

Tuesday 7th September [Hot & breezy]

I think all the migrants are flying straight over in the fine settled weather we've been having - there's no real change at the lake to excite! This afternoon I noted 1 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 5 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 7 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Pintail Anas acuta and 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo. The regular wintering Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, white TOWR (a Polish bird), was in front of the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow, and I saw a male Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum at Bell's Bush, one of my latest records for this species.

 

Monday 6th September [A beautiful sunny day with blue skies]

Although I made two visits to the lake, I only carried my scope with me this morning. I saw the Wigeon hybrid at the Lodge, a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Green Lawn, one Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Ruff Calidris pugnax, and I heard a Hobby Falco subbuteo calling. There were at least 7 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus scattered around the shoreline too. I met Mark in the evening as he was having a look around, and he told me he'd heard a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos calling from the Lodge at dusk.

 

Sunday 5th September [Warm & muggy]

This evening there was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and at Green Lawn I saw a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe on one of the hay bales. At the Top End a careful scan from Bell's Bush revealed 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 3 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus. As is usual these days, there were some egrets, and I counted 3 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

 

Saturday 4th September [A cool start but warm & sunny later]

With the angling competition set to take over at Blagdon for the weekend, Mark suggested we have a day out at the Isle of Portland in Dorset, to enjoy some migration action. He picked me up at 0400 hrs and we were in the car park at Portland Bill before 0600 hrs as it got light. After making our way through 50+ Wheatears from the car park to the Bill, we did a short sea watch and enjoyed watching 30-40 Balearic Shearwaters out among the Gannets and gulls. It quickly became evident that there were reasonable numbers of birds around, with Yellow Wagtails, Linnets and Willow Warblers in especially good numbers. We then made our way to the bird observatory, and met Martin Cade coming out of the Crown Fields with bags of trapped birds around his neck. He showed us a Redstart in the hand, and we enjoyed an hour or so on the terrace watching the birds in the obs garden including more Willow Warblers, and 2 Spotted Flycatchers, plus Tree Pipits and a Swift overhead, and an Arctic Skua briefly harassing the terns off the Bill. Dean and Karen arrived from Weston-Super-Mare and after a while we all went for breakfast at the Lobster Pot. After a welcome pot of Earl Grey and a veggie special, we all made our way to the Obs. Quarry where we found a Wryneck showing nicely. After watching this for a while, Mark and I went back to the Bill and happened into a second Wryneck, which gave extraordinarily good views as it fed hard ready for the channel crossing. They are so cryptic, most of the public didn't even notice the bird, although a few curiously asked what we were photographing.

  

Wheatear, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.Wheatear, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.

Wryneck, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.Wryneck, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.

Willow Warbler, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.Willow Warbler, Portland Bill. 4th September 2021.

 

Having enjoyed the morning at the Bill, we decided to head down to Ferrybridge to see what waders were about. With the low tides at present, most birds were fairly distant, although a Dunlin and juvenile Ringed Plover indulged our attention while they fed beside the car park. I got a couple of fun behavioral shots, one of the Dunlin with lunch, and the other of the Ringed Plover hunkering down in response to a flyover Kestrel. 

 

Dunlin, Ferrybridge, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.Dunlin, Ferrybridge, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.

Juvenile Ringed Plover, Ferrybridge, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.Juvenile Ringed Plover, Ferrybridge, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.

 

After an hour at Ferrybridge, I suggested we went along to Lodmoor RSPB reserve, on the other side of Weymouth, to see what was there. We walked down the path along the west side and enjoyed close views of Lapwing, Teal, Moorhen, and came across a roost of gulls that contained increasing numbers of Mediterranean Gulls while we watched, to the point that there were over 100 by the time our parking ticket ran out and we had to head home.

 

Black-tailed Godwit, Lodmoor RSPM, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.Black-tailed Godwit, Lodmoor RSPM, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.

1st-calendar year Mediterranean Gull, Lodmoor RSPB, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.1st-calendar year Mediterranean Gull, Lodmoor RSPB, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Lodmoor RSPB, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.Adult Mediterranean Gull, Lodmoor RSPB, Weymouth. 4th September 2021.

 

After arriving back in Blagdon at tea time, Mark went straight to the lake, and I had dinner before going down to see what was around. I arrived just as two balloons went over Top End, and Mark 'doing his nut', with birds flying everywhere! Those birds that chose to stay eventually settled down, and we counted 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 8 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and singles of Garganey Spatula querquedula, Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Snipe Gallinago gallinago. At the Lodge, before leaving, I briefly saw the 1st-calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus again. It was a pretty good day!

 

Friday 3rd September [A warm, sunny, afternoon.]

I spent a lovely afternoon beside the lake, going through the gulls in front of the Lodge, then at Top End looking for migrants. The 2nd-calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus was in front of the Lodge with lots of large gulls, and there was a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Cheddar Water. At Top End, I saw 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 8 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra and Hobby Falco subbuteo. I also saw my first Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni of the autumn.

 

There is going to be a boat fishing competition on over the weekend, so there is likely to be quite a bit of disturbance.

 

Thursday 2nd September [Overcast  & breezy]

My late morning look around saw the 2nd-calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus in front of the Lodge again, but at the Top End there had been something of a clear-out. I saw just one Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, 3 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, and a Garganey Spatula querquedula. There was a single Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and in the evening I heard a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus calling as it may have flown in from Ubley Sewage Treatment Works, and saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo and male Tawny Owl Strix aluco.

 

Wednesday 1st September [Mainly overcast & breezy]

A late morning/lunchtime visit was notable for meeting Ken Hall! We found a good selection of birds between us, including a Garganey Spatula querquedula, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a 2nd calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus, a Sand Martin Riparia riparia, a Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus the hybrid Wigeon. 

The remaining uncut hay meadows on the south shore were shorn this morning so, hopefully, the north shore meadows will also get done - I had another look in the evening and sure enough the meadows from All Saints to Orchard Bay have been cut. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata on the dead tree at Paradise.