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Blagdon Lake Birds

Review of the Year 2012


Squacco Heron, Top End. 9th May 2012.Squacco Heron, Top End. 9th May 2012.


On New Year's Day the over-wintering birds were still present and included the 1st-winter ♀ Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, the adult Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritis, 4 Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus, at least one Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis and Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii continued to come and go. The 2nd January saw an adult ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator and adult ♂ Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina visit, the latter only for a day. On the 9th Bristol Water announced that they are going to go ahead with a new reservoir at Cheddar (subject to planning permissions) and on 11th a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus put in an appearance and both over-wintering Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucosis fed together. The 12th saw the arrival and departure of an adult Western Greylag Goose Anser anser anser and the 1st-winter ♀ Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis presumably relocated to Chew Valley Lake where it was found a couple of weeks later. The second half of the month saw the focus of attention turn to gulls, with Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus continuing to come to the lake to wash and occasionally roost, and on the 18th an adult Ring-billed Gull Larus delarwarensis dropped in briefly, as did an adult Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides on 26th (the second record and 45 years since the last).

Lucy Delve spotted a Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris during the WeBS Count on 11th February which stayed until the following day. The 1st-winter ♀ Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis came back to Blagdon on the 14th February and 3 adult Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus paid a visit on 17th. The 4 Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus left on 24th of the month and were replaced by 4 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii that stayed until the 1st March. We had a long wait for the arrival of the first Sand Martins Riparia riparia which turned up on the 16th, first day of the fishing season. A ♂ Cettis Warbler Cettia cetti was singing on the North Shore on the 19th but was not heard subsequently. A red letter day for Blagdon when 2 migrant Common Cranes Grus grus flew north over the lake on 22nd and the first of 4 spring Ospreys Pandion haliaetus flew over on the 26th March.

The first spring ♂ Garganey Anas querquedula for several years flew in on the 2nd April but it was the onset of the deluge of rain at the end of the month that brought the water up to top level and flooded out many nests that was the big news. May Day saw 3 adult Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis in front of the Lodge in the evening, but it was another red letter day on the 6th May when Sue and Steve Mackie found the Chew Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides at Burmah Road. It showed really nicely during its prolonged stay until 17th of the month and attracted lots of admirers. June was quiet but Sean Davies found a moulting ♂ Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina on the 22nd that was still present on 23rd.

12th July heralded the return of the adult ♂ Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca a year and a day after it last appeared and it stayed until 19th August before relocating to Chew Valley Lake. There were hardly any shorebird visitors during the month just steady reports of Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam or by-wash.

As 'summer' rolled towards autumn a few Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis showed up, then on 14th September another Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis arrived and stayed until at least the end of the month.

During October, the BBC Radio 4 Saving Species team came to interview Daniel Hargreaves about the Nathusius' Bat research and on the 14th a Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla paid a brief visit before flying off west, Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis were present for much of the month and the Black-necked Grebe stayed until 30th before moving to Chew.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.