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Blagdon Lake Birds

April 2024 News

Saturday 20th April [Sunny]

A pleasant day resulted in me not visiting the lake until early evening for a brief look around. I birded on foot from Bell's Bush barrier to Top End gate and back, then used my car, before going for a run through the woods when I got home.

I only saw the usual birds in the hour I spent at the lake in a list of 35 species.


Friday 19th April [Sunshine was followed by cloud/showers on a strong NW breeze]

A mid afternoon walk from the Top End hide to Wood Bay Point and back in the strong wind and overcast conditions wasn't very condusive to finding passerines, and the best were a Greenfinch Chloris chloris and pair of Jays Garrulus glandarius. There were 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam.


Thursday 18th April [Early sun, clouding over with a cold wind.] 

I saw a couple of Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and heard a couple of Cetti's Warblers Cettia cetti of note in a list of 38 species late afternoon. However, my most pleasing find were Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula  in the cherry trees behind Top End hide - they've been hard to come by over winter and into the Spring.


Wednesday 17th April [Sunshine & showers, turning cold.]

I only had the time (and will) to check the lake from my car late this afternoon having been out with friends for much of the day. I managed to spot 37 species, including 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, saw all three common hirundine species over the lake, and heard a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sing as I drove past Home Bay reeds.


Tuesday 16th April [Sunshine & showers. Breezy]

A small fall of waders meant I saw 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos (although 7 were also reported) on the dam wall, and there was a good flock of hirundines feeding high over Butcombe Bay, but I couldn't find that elusive first Swift of the year. I forgot to report that angler Jeff H. reported seeing a Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and 2 juveniles yesterday (which may have been the same brood seen the previous day with more young). Aside from there being more singing Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus in the reed beds and hedges today, I didn't see anything else of particular note, other than my first Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major and the first flowering spikes of Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa raising their heads. I logged 44 bird species during my visit.


Monday 15th April [A gale, with four seasons in a day.]

I checked the dam, drove to Rainbow Point where I parked, chatted to angler Jeff. H., then birded on foot to the Hatchery and back. I saw 6 Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea from the dam, and closer from Green Lawn. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam as usual, but I saw little else until Steve C. and Carol R. pulled up beside me. We had a lovely chinwag until the hail started in earnest. I made my way back to my car, but had to pull up behind Steve and Carol who I assumed were watching the terns, which they were, but they had also spotted a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus on the edge of Green Lawn. Yay! Year tick! Which reminds me - if you are out around the lakes, be mindful of the risk of tick bites. I've picked up three already this year... 


Sunday 14th April [A warm sunny day]

I spent most of the day at t'other place checking bat boxes with Mark, and a small group from Avon Bat Group who were helping us. We found 113 Soprano Pipistrelles and a single Natterer's. We saw a few Cattle Egrets and 2 Egyptian Geese, plus my first Speckled Wood of the year.

I popped down to the lake after tea and had a quick look around before darkness fell. The usual Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was joined on the dam by a sleeping Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, and I counted 5 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus in a list of just 29 species in the hour.  


Saturday 13th April [Early cloud breaking to give a warm sunny day.]

I carried out a BBS-style survey at the lake this morning between 0700-0930hrs. I've given up doing the official BTO surveys after 25 years due to a deterioration with my hearing, which means I inevitably miss certain species unless I see them. Highlights were 4 singing Cetti's Warblers, and my first Reed Warbler and Whitethroats of the year. Results were as follows -

Singing birds (s) or pairs (p) on territory: Wren (s) 48, Robin 24 (s), Blackcap 23 (s), Chaffinch 22 (s), Chiffchaff 20 (s), Blackbird 16 (s), Crow 14 (p), Blue Tit 12 (p), Woodpigeon 11 (s), Song Thrush 11 (s), Great Tit 11 (p), Pheasant 8 (s), Dunnock 6 (s), Cetti's Warbler 4 (s), Goldfinch 4 (s), Green Woodpecker 4 (s), Great Spotted Woodpecker 4 (p), Magpie 3 (p), Nuthatch 2 (s), Reed Bunting 2 (s), Coal Tit 2 (s), Collared Dove 2 (s), Whitethroat 2 (s), Reed Warbler 1 (s), Greenfinch 1(s), Jay 1 (p), Stock Dove 1 (s), and Shoveler 1 (p).

Others of note: Great White Egret 1, Common Sandpiper 1.


Friday 12th April [Hooray! A beautiful day.]

I birded from the Lodge to Bell's Bush barrier and back this afternoon. It was great to meet long time birding friend Pete (aka Sid) and partner Jean, but we spent too long catching-up, so I only got as far as Flower Corner before having to turn back for the Lodge. Best birds were 2 Common Sandpipers Acitis hypoleucos, 2 Cetti's Warblers Cettia cetti and 2 Siskins Spinus spinus. But, the sunshine sure brought the butterflies out, and I saw no less then 5 species: Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Green-veined White, and Orange-tip - the last of which were in quite good numbers.

I spent the evening at SWT Hollow Marsh with Mark and warden Andrew looking at the reserve with a view to putting up some bat boxes. Mark ran his detector at dusk and picked up Soprano Pipistrelle and a probable Serotine before we left. 


Thursday 11th April [Some rain but mainly dry. Warming up.]

There was no sign of the Arctic Tern today, so it was back to the usual contenders - the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall, a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 9 Buzzards Buteo buteo, and a singing Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti in a list of 38 bird species between 1600-1800 hrs.


Wednesday 10th April [Another miserable day in Paradise]

The Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea was still present today, but I couldn't find the drake Scaup Aythya marila, as I couldn't yesterday evening when I went back to the lake with my camera. There were probably 200 or so hirundines over the lake and adjacent fields, and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam. As I drove back along the lakeside, I spotted a Peregrine Falco peregrinus hunting over Hellfire Corner which made a pass at a bird on Ubley Farm. It was pretty quiet with very little bird song in the drizzly conditions. Just when are we going to get a nice sunny, dry, day?


Tuesday 9th April [Very windy but dry with sunny spells]

I waited until the sun came out a bit before heading to the lake today, just after lunch. I parked at the south end of the dam, poked my head over the wall and saw a drake Aythya with a grey back only a few metres away! As it turned out, it was an adult drake Scaup A. marila, and I didn't have my camera with me. Ugh! Also close by, was the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. I looked out over the lake and way across towards North Shore was a tern feeding over the waves and white horses driving up the lake. Careful scrutiny led me to conclude it was an Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea, which I confirmed later when I saw it closer at Green Lawn among the large number of hirundines. I birded Top End on foot but it was pretty wild and seeing or hearing any birds was far from easy. 


Monday 8th April [Overcast with rain showers in the afternoon.]

Phil, Rob and I did the WeBS count this morning from 0930 - 1315hrs, then I stayed on for a while looking for a couple of birds that had been reported to me (no sign though). The lake is still full, with water going down the spillway. Bird of the day was a first-winter Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus which was still present when I left site at 1530 hrs. The count numbers were as follows: Canada Goose 22, Mute Swan 13, Shoveler 4, Gadwall 5, Mallard 23, Tufted Duck 180, Goldeneye 1, Moorhen 8, Coot 100, Great Crested Grebe 34, Snipe 9, Common Sandpiper 4, Black-headed Gull 2, Little Gull 1, Great Black-backed Gull 5, Herring Gull 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 8, Cormorant 13, Grey Heron 4, Great White Egret 1, Red Kite 1, Buzzard 10+, Cetti's Warbler 1. Of note, I also counted 4 Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus, 3 House Martins Delichon urbicum, and 4 Ravens Corvus coraxWith my WeBS counts, I listed 55 species today. Phil and Rob also saw an Orange-tip and 2 Brimstone butterflies during a brief sunny spell.


Sunday 7th April [Windy & mild. Some showers.]

Another wet & windy afternoon as soon as I arrived at the lake! I birded on foot from the Lodge to Top End and back but didn't do very well, recording just 38 species. It was the same old, same old, although there was a decent flock of 300+ Swallows Hirundo rustica and Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the lake. The 2 female Goldeneye Bucephala clangula are hanging on too. Tomorrow morning, we will be doing the monthly WeBS count - it shouldn't take too long, but probably will, lol.


Saturday 6th April [Windy & mild. Dry.]

Whilst it's all happening along the coast (and at t'other place apparently), it was very quiet at Blagdon this afternoon. I saw no fishermen, just two other birders, and no new birds that may have arrived overnight on the southerly winds from the tropics. The Common Sandpipier Actitis hypoleucos was back on the dam, a small mixed flock of Sand Martins Riparia riparia and Swallows Hirundo rustica were noted at both ends of the lake, a single Great White Egret Ardea alba is lingering, and a pair of Siskins Spinus spinus were on the feeder. I totted up 47 bird species during my visit. 


Friday 5th April [Mild, mainly dry, but some occasional drizzle on the breeze.]

With the appalling weather we've had for the last few months/weeks/days, it has been hard to plan one of my usual BBS-style lakeside surveys in ideal conditions, so after looking at the forecast last night I decided to give it a go this morning, albeit later than I wanted to (0845-1123hrs). I counted 34 singing Wrens, 30 Chiffchaffs, 25 Robins, 18 Blackcaps, 13 Chaffinches, 12 Great Tits, 10 Blue Tits, 8 Dunnocks, 5 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds, 5 Pheasants, 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Nuthatches, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Woodpigeons, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Long-tailed Tit, and 1 Greenfinch. Also noted were 5 Buzzards, 1 Great White Egret, 3 Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, and the first flowering Green-winged and Early Purple Orchids (which look like they will have been out since the beginning of the month, at least). 


Thursday 4th April [Mainly overcast with showers]

I spent two hours late afternoon birding at the lake, mainly on foot between Rainbow Point and Top End gate. I didn't see any egrets or hirundones today, and the day list wasn't very good at 40 species because the passerines were keeping their heads down in the unpleasant conditions. There were still 2 female Goldeneye Bucephala clangula present, and at least 7 Great Black-becked Gulls Larus marinus were at Top End, with small numbers of passage Lesser Black-backeds L. fuscus and a handful of Herring Gulls L. argentatus on passage.


Wednesday 3rd April [Rain early on, but drying up around lunchtime.]

There was a 10 minute spell of sunshine during todays lunchtime visit, during which I saw my first male Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines of the year. Happy days! The birding also turned up a first of the year, a single House Martin Delichon urbicum in a flock of Sand Martins Riparia riparia and Swallows Hirundo rustica off the dam before I left for home. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam wall in the strong westerly wind, and I saw a 1st-calendar year Common Gull Larus canus among the larger Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls. There were 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula and a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti in a list of 44 bird species.


Tuesday 2nd April [A dry morning & wet afternoon & evening]

We took delivery of some furniture this morning so, unfortunately, I had to stay in during the dry part of the day. As I arrived at the lake, the rain started. I wanted to walk, but by the time I'd checked the dam and the feeder, driven along to Top End hide, the rain was too heavy to make that a pleasant option. So I spent a while in the hide before giving up and going home. I noted the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a flock of about 20 each of Swallow Hirundo rustica and Sand Martin Riparia riparia and, most exciting of all, a Nuthatch Sitta europaea visiting the feeder. The wait for my first House Martin goes on...


Monday 1st April [Sunshine & showers]

I decided to go to the lake after an early tea this evening. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam,  and there were about 20 Sand Martins Riparia riparia high over Top End. There were still 2 (at least) Goldeneye Bucephala clangula at the lake, and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba were in evidence as well, after I missed both species yesterday, and I counted 7 Pochard Aythya ferina - two more than yesterday.


Sunday 31st March [Dry and mainly sunny]

I birded from the Lodge to Top End gate and back this afternoon. Aside from the usual suspects, I saw 5 Pochard Aythya ferina, 2 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti at Top End, plus heard another at Home Bay, counted 5 singing Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, and 7 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita (there were many others calling). A handful of Sand Martins Riparia riparia were feeding high above the lake, but I didn't see any House Martins, Swallows, Goldeneye, Great White Egrets or Ospreys, unfortunately. Still, with heavy rain forecast for part of the night tonight, maybe something new will drop in to be found tomorrow.


Wednesday 27th March [Sunshine & showers]

It was a very busy day today, but I managed a quick look along the south side of the lake from my car. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was back on the dam, and I counted 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Gadwall Mareca strepera, 4 Buzzards Buteo buteo and saw a few Sand Martins Riparia riparia.


Tuesday 26th March [Dry with high cloud & a watery sun]

I spent a couple of hours or more birding between the Lodge and Top End on foot after checking the dam area. There were a few birds singing, including 13 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 4 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapillis, and 2 Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus. I saw about 20 Sand Martins Riparia riparia at Top End, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 8 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, plus one each of Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Snipe Gallinago gallinago, of note, in a list of 45 species.


Nigel Milbourne © 2009-23. All Rights Reserved.