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Blagdon Lake Birds



March (part 1) 2016 News

Tuesday 1st March [Wet then windy]

A late, late visit to the lake saw the 3 Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis roosting with a raft of Aythya ducks out of the wind behind Wood Bay Point, and I heard the call of an Egyptian Goose Alophochen aegyptiaca at Top End as I was locking the Top End gate.

 

Wednesday 2nd March [Wintery showers]

I didn't visit the lake today, I was doing bat work. Sorry, I don't have any news from anyone else who might have visited.

 

Thursday 3rd March [Sunny and cool]

There was no sign of any spring migrants yet, other than large gulls, despite the mild winter, but the 3 Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis were hanging on in there, as was the single Egyptian Goose Alophochen aegyptiaca at Top End.

We've still got Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla coming to the garden daily.

Shortly, I will be going to Trinidad on my third expedition with the Trinibats team, so I won't be visiting the lake for most of March. I will have internet access while I'm there, so if you have news or sightings at the lake, please let me know by email and I'll continue to post the blog for the regular readers. I'd be especially interested in earliest dates of migrants, of course. I will also post news from Trinidad, so please continue to watch this space!

 

Friday 4th March [Sunny with a cold breeze]

It took a little while, but I spotted all 3 Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis at lunchtime. They were all feeding on their own, so it was a while before I could be sure I'd seen all of them. The single Egyptian Goose Alophochen aegyptiaca remains at Top End. There was also quite a gathering of gulls, including a couple of hundred Common Gulls Larus canus, but I didn't spot anything exciting among them.

 

Sunday 6th March [Mainly sunny but still cool]

No sign of any Sand Martins, but the 3 Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricollis were all visible from the Top end hide. The lone Egyptian Goose Alophochen aegyptiaca was at Top End, and I saw at least a single Brambling Fringilla montifringilla among a finch flock feeding in the big field behind the hide. Then, before leaving site by the Ubley gate I watched a Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret feeding on some weed seeds beside the road.

 

Tuesday 8th March

It is pre-opening day for the fishing season ticket holders at Blagdon today, so birders will find the gates open. Wednesday there will be no fishing, so I'm not sure if you will find the gates open, and then the angling season starts in earnest on Thursday 10th March, so it will be open for permit holders (angling and birding) from then onwards. I am on the plane to Trinidad today, so expect updates from there from Wednesday, plus any news I'm sent from the lake. Looking forward to some warmth, sunshine and photographing hummingbirds on the balcony!

 

Wednesday 9th March

TRINIDAD DIARY

I was sitting on the verandah watching 3 species of hummingbirds (Black-throated Mango, Blue-chinned Sapphire and White-necked Jacobin) come to the feeders this morning, then took a walk around the gardens and saw a couple more (Tufted Coquette and Ruby-topaz). Overhead there were Black and Turkey Vultures, and a single Plumbeous Kite. Bananaquits and Ruddy Ground Doves were nesting beside the cabin and there was a steady stream of tanagers including Palm, Blue-grey, Silver-beaked and White-lined moving through the trees. A Great Kiskadee was hawking insects around the lake, briefly joined by a Black-tailed Tityra, and the Wattled Jacanas were ever-present as you'd expect at a place called Hacienda Jacana! A Purple Gallinule put in an appearance as did a Green Heron before people were up and about. It was nice to see a pair of Southern Lapwings in the grounds and the Crested Oropendolas tending their huge hanging nests, just as they were on my last visit in 2014. It was getting steamy hot, as the humidity went up, and even the House Wrens went quiet. It's just a question of getting acclimatised at the moment rather than spending too much time in the sun! Mad dogs and Englishmen, and all that jazz...

 

Green Heron, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.Green Heron, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.

 Male Black-throated Mango, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.Male Black-throated Mango, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zandolie, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.Zandolie, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.

Spectacled Thrush, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.Spectacled Thrush, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 9th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the evening drew in I added Green Hermit and White-chested Emerald to the hummer list, and Spectacled and Cocoa Thrushes came out of hiding and were feeding around the shrubs. As it got dark the frog chorus started up and a few bats appeared on the wing. I went looking for bats and insects after dark around the grounds and was surprised at how few moths there were around the lights - I saw one! Scanning the surface of the lake and ponds I saw several sets of eyes shining back at me. These were Spectacled Caiman.

 

Thursday 10th March

Steve Hale posted the following on the Avon Birds blog today: 22 Mute Swans, 41 Canada Geese, 1 Egyptian Goose still, 15 Eurasian Wigeon, 4 Eurasian Teal, 12 Northern Shovelers, 35 Common Pochards, 185 Tufted Ducks, 6 Common Goldeneyes, 5 Great Cormorants, 4 Grey Herons, 3 Black-necked Grebes still, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 10 Redwings, and 1 Reed Bunting. Nice to read the Black-necked Grebes are hanging in there. Thanks Steve.

TRINIDAD DIARY

I got up before the sun came up this morning for a trundle around the grounds. There was lots of bird song and a few new species for the trip including a juvenile Green Kingfisher, 2 Northern Waterthrushes, a Lineated Woodpecker (I think), some Violaceous Euphonias and good views of many of the species seen yesterday.

 

Southern Lapwing, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Southern Lapwing, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

 Green Heron, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Green Heron, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver-beaked Tanager, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Silver-beaked Tanager, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

Blue-grey Tanager, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Blue-grey Tanager, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Purple Gallinule, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Purple Gallinule, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

Cocoa Thrush, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Cocoa Thrush, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectacled Caiman, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.Spectacled Caiman, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

 

 

After a brief shopping expedition with owner Helen Quesnel, I resorted to the verandah for the afternoon, during which there were a few light showers. Amazingly, during one of these a caiman swam along the pond. It was probably between 1.5 - 2.0 metres long and was the first I've ever seen during the day at the Hacienda. They normally retire to the depths during the day and come out at night. Since this morning I've added Squirrel Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani and another hummer, a Little Hermit, which came to the feeders.

This evening Jesse our host took me along the drive to see the White Hawk pictured below, and during the afternoon I saw a Great Black Hawk, which he tells me is seen fairly frequently around here.

 

White Hawk, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.White Hawk, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 10th March 2016.

Golden-headed Manakin. 10th March 2016.Golden-headed Manakin. 10th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 11th March

No news from Blagdon Lake today.

TRINIDAD DIARY

Once again I was out of bed nice and early to take a walk down the road through an area of secondary forest. I spotted a ♂ Guianan Trogon sitting quietly in a tree, a lifer, and was serenaded by a very vocal Rufous-breasted Wren. In an area where some clearance had taken place I saw Piratic Flycatcher and Tropical Pewee.

 

Tropical Pewee, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Tropical Pewee, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

Great Kiskadee, Hacienda jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Great Kiskadee, Hacienda jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other than that there was very little else new (that I could identify anyway), and when I got back to the gate Simon called me over and said there was a large Spectacled Caiman on the edge of the pond trying to swallow a Tilapia. Sadly, by the time I got there he was back in the pond. As I walked back to get some breakfast a Grey-headed Kite (to be confirmed from my pictures by Geoffrey) was soaring high above and a pair of Plumbeous Kites were close by. Thunder and lightning is forecast for later, I think I brought the wet weather with me! We certainly had some rain last night, which won't be welcome next week when the bat team arrive.

This afternoon, when the heat had gone off the day (more rain, but no electric storms), I ventured out around the grounds with my camera again and enjoyed myself immensely. I started with a shot of a Wattled Jacana that's sitting on, but not incubating this nest at the water's edge below the verandah. I came a cross this Caribbean Treerunner - on the road near the gate! Spotted a Yellow-breasted Flycatcher when wandering through the vegetable garden and stopped by the fish pond for a while and saw this Grey-necked Wood Rail. Finally, I plonked myself in a chair by the plunge pool and got this shot of a Crested Oropendola leaving it's nest in an Immortelle Erythrina poeppigiana. Then it was back for dinner, and to record bats emerging from underneath the cabin.

 

Wattled Jacana, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Wattled Jacana, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

Grey-necked Wood Rail, Hacienda Jacacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Grey-necked Wood Rail, Hacienda Jacacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Treerunner, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Caribbean Treerunner, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

 

Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

Crested Oropendola leaving nest, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.Crested Oropendola leaving nest, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 11th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 12th March

This from Steve Hales' Avon Birds Blog today: 27 Mute Swans, 1 Greylag Goose, 45 Canada Geese, 8 Eurasian Wigeon, 21 Common Pochards, 6 Common Goldeneye, 5 Grey Herons, 3 Little Grebes, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Common Buzzards, 1 Water Rail (Top End hide), 16 Common Snipe, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Reed Bunting. Thanks Steve.

TRINIDAD DIARY

I spent the day pottering around the grounds again today and didn't really see too many new birds and neither did I have one of my more successful days with the camera. That's just the way it pans out sometimes. New birds for the trip included, Ringed Kingfisher, Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow Oriole, Golden-crowned Warbler, a pair of Channel-billed Toucans and either White-tailed Nightjar or Common Pauraque (I couldn't decide).

 

Ringed Kingfisher, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Ringed Kingfisher, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

Crested Oropendola, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Crested Oropendola, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-black Grassquit, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Blue-black Grassquit, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

Knock-kneed Wattled Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Knock-kneed Wattled Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbeous Kite, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Plumbeous Kite, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

Black-throated Mango and Green Kingfisher having a difference of opinion - the kingfisher is too near the hummingbirds nest (to the right on top of the branch), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Black-throated Mango and Green Kingfisher having a difference of opinion - the kingfisher is too near the hummingbirds nest (to the right on top of the branch), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-throated Mango and Green Kingfisher having a difference of opinion - the kingfisher is too near the hummingbirds nest (to the right on top of the branch), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.Black-throated Mango and Green Kingfisher having a difference of opinion - the kingfisher is too near the hummingbirds nest (to the right on top of the branch), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 12th March 2016.

 

 

I totted-up my bird list for the Hacienda grounds this evening, and reckon I've seen at least 60 species while just bumbling around with my camera!

 

Sunday 13th March

No news from Blagdon.

TRINIDAD DIARY

I was up before the sun this morning, and had an enjoyable time around the grounds again - before it got too hot. I added Turquoise Tanager, Greyish Saltator and Copper-rumped Hummingbird to the growing list, and spent quite a bit of time trying to photograph hummers at the bushes near the entrance gate. When I got back to the cabin I surprised a Golden Tegu on the path to the door. It's a big, good-looking, lizard that wasn't at all bothered by me.

 

Lineated Woodpecker, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Lineated Woodpecker, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.

Orange-winged Parrots, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Orange-winged Parrots, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-chested Emerald, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.White-chested Emerald, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.

Blue-chinned Sapphire, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Blue-chinned Sapphire, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

  

 

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.

Tufted Coquette, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Tufted Coquette, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Tegu, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Golden Tegu, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.

 

Not much to add to my news from here except getting this pleasing image when I'd finished writing my last update. I went out onto the balcony and there he was on the bank opposite! In a few minutes Daniel Hargreaves should be arriving, Geoffrey and Stephanie will be picking him up from the airport, so that will probably mean the end of my birding and on with the batting - we'll see. Dr Merlin Tuttle and his wife Paula should also be arriving later this evening. He's bringing 300lbs of photographic equipment with him apparently! Makes my three bags of photo and batting equipment seem a bit pathetic!

 

Spectacled Caiman (aka Uncle Wally), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.Spectacled Caiman (aka Uncle Wally), Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 13th March 2016.

 

 

Monday 14th March [Cold, ENE wind]

Thanks to Terry, Phil, Lucy and Roy, the WeBS count was done today, and the totals were as follows:

61 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 1 Northern Shoveler, 3 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Eurasian Teal, 293 Tufted Duck, 14 Common Pochard, 9 (5♂♂ and 4♀♀) Common Goldeneye, 4 Little Grebe, 15 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Great Cormorant, 8 Grey Heron, 43 Canada Goose, 1 Egyptian Goose, 1 Greylag Goose, 23 Mute Swan, 22 Common Moorhen, 149 Common Coot. Day-time gulls: 25 Black-headed Gull, 50 Common Gull, 30 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Greater Black-backed Gull. Raptors: 2 Common Buzzard.

I also received the following from Steve Hale of Avon Birds (thanks Steve):

23 Mute Swan, 1 Greylag Goose, 52 Canada Goose, 1 Egyptian Goose (Top End jungle), 8 Grey Heron, 3 Buzzard, 5 Common Snipe, 2 Coal Tit, 1 Eurasian Nuthatch of note. Plenty of Tufted Duck present but few other duck species showing themselves today. The lake was like the North Atlantic in today's brisk northerly wind.

 

Black-tailed Tityra, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 14th March 2016.Black-tailed Tityra, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 14th March 2016.

 

 

 

TRINIDAD DIARY

A quick walk to check out a probable Black-tailed Tityra's nest site that I'd spotted a couple of days ago on the island in the fish pond, saw the ♀ come out before I was ready, but I got this nice shot of the ♂ returning with what looks like a Katydid. I also saw a Cocoa Woodcreeper. When I got back to the cabin to have some breakfast I found 10 Proboscis Bats Rhynchonycteris naso underneath the eaves.

A search around the estate with Daniel, Merlin and Dallas this afternoon turned up the following bats: Lesser White-lined Bat Saccopteryx leptura, Common Long-tongued Bat Glossophaga soricina, Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat Carollia perspicillata, Little Mastiff Bat Molossus molossus, and the Rhynchonycteris naso noted earlier. Sounds like we're doing some netting tonight!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 15th March

News from Mark Hynam as follows: A quick look tonight 17.00-18.00 hrs. 2 Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis flew past Top End hide, a Tawny Owl Strix aluco behind the hide and 5 Sand Martins Riparia riparia at Top End. Thanks Mark, quite a late date for the first Sand Martins this year.

TRINIDAD DIARY

Last night Daniel and I spent some time photographing bats (see Bat News) after we'd had a good hunt around the grounds looking for invertebrates. I came across a Leaf-cutter Ant trying to climb a vertical step with an impossibly large flower, with some measure of success it must be said, and a nice little Clearwing moth. I also found a little Tree Frog that contrasted rather with the colour of the leaf it had chosen.

 

Leaf-cutter Ant, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.Leaf-cutter Ant, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.

Clearwing Moth sp., Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.Clearwing Moth sp., Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tree Frog sp., Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.Tree Frog sp., Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.

 

Melissa, from Canada, and I ran two nets and a triple high at dusk by one of the lodges in the grounds this evening waiting for the others to arrive, and caught a number of bats that Daniel was able to show the new team in after the evening meal. We continued after dinner until about midnight before heading for bed.

Nigel Milbourne © 2022. All Rights Reserved.