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Blagdon Lake Birds



March (part 2) 2016 News

Wednesday 16th March

News from Steve Hale of Avon Birding: 21 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 2 Gadwall Anas strepera, 3 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, 11 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 35 Eurasian Starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Thanks again Steve.

 

Lodges at Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad.Lodges at Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad.

 

Seba's Short-tailed Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.Seba's Short-tailed Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 15th March 2016.

 

TRINIDAD DIARY

We had a busy day, starting with a long boat trip around Caroni Swamp where we saw the usual birds I've seen on my previous 4 trips there, but a Red-capped Cardinal was probably new for me. One of the special species to see are the Silky Anteaters and we saw 3 today, but none of the views made for good pictures - they rarely do anyway, rolled tightly into a sleeping ball. There were lots of Scarlet Ibises, the national bird, Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons, a Pygmy Kingfisher, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Green-throated Mango, Bicoloured Conebills, Common Black Hawk, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon among many more. I'm already tired and it's past midnight, so I won't post any pictures tonight but will, hopefully, have time tomorrow. This afternoon and evening were spent in Arena Forest Reserve catching bats, and the Trinibats team were doing a piece with a reporter from the Trinidad Guardian about our work. All good bat publicity, in a land where they're are still not protected. We caught surprisingly few bats tonight, but I should have more details after we do the day list tomorrow morning.

 

Yellow-headed Caracara, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad. 16th March 2016.Yellow-headed Caracara, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad. 16th March 2016.

Scarlet Ibis, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad. 16th March 2016.Scarlet Ibis, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad. 16th March 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 17th March [The wind was lighter & the sun was out - per Ian Stapp]

Once again thanks to Mark Hynam, Mike O'Connor, Steve Hale, Ian Stapp and Chris Stone for news from Blagdon as follows: 1 Egyptian Goose Alophochen aegyptiaca (Top End gate), 6 Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula, 1 Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (Top End, distant), 4 Common Buzzards Buteo buteo, 250 mixed Gulls, 1 Northern Raven Corvus corax, 40 Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris, 2 Redwings Turdus iliacus, and 2 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus. Also 1 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus, a Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea, but no Sand Martins reported. Mike saw 2 Egyptian Geese fly over the dam away from the lake at 17.45 hrs today. Mark reported seeing the Black-necked Grebe, 2 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, and 63 Redwings in the wood and field behind Top End hide between 1700 and 1800 hrs.

TRINIDAD DIARY

I cannot update you at the moment because its 0100 hrs, and we're off for the 3 hour drive to Nariva Swamp at 0800 hrs in the morning. Suffice to say, we walked in Arena Forest this morning looking for bat tents and other potential roosts. Then after lunch, and a 40 minute break, we were back out there again trapping in two teams. We had a pretty quiet time of it in the team I was in, but stayed out in the hope of something turning up. I haven't been back to the Hacienda long and it's time for some shut-eye before a long day tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll try and update more fully in the next day or two with some photos - if Daniel gives us some time off!

 

Silky (aka Pygmy) Anteaters, Arena Forest, Trinidad. 17th March 2016.Silky (aka Pygmy) Anteaters, Arena Forest, Trinidad. 17th March 2016.

Friday 18th March

John Thorogood sent me this lovely account of a visit to the lake today, having not long got home from, you guessed it, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago (including a short stay at Hacienda Jacana and a visit to Asa Wright Nature Centre where he bumped into Ed Drewitt - small world)! Anyway, to his news: I spent the latter part of this morning (from 10.00hrs) at the lake which was pretty misty and seriously cold; temperature on car still only showing 6 Celsius when I drove home. Boy, was I yearning to be back in temperatures of 30 Celsius again! I found the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis out in the middle, off Burmah Road. Probably around half-a-dozen Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula but the most seen together was three. Around six sightings of Grey Heron Ardea cinereus at different locations. Two spots where Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii had gathered: just round the corner from Green Lawn a group of ten to twelve were on the road with a single Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus and on the road and lakeside at Wood Bay, where I parked and had lunch at the end, I counted twenty. The large, open field between Top End Hide and Ubley village falls outside the lake enclosure so any birds there may not be included in your records but there was a mixed flock of Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris and Redwings Turdus iliacus – had to be at least 60 – 70 of each and I found a single FieldfareTurdus pilaris. On the flood as I approached Top End gate there was an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and as I got closer about 8 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago flew off. Possibly a second Egyptian Goose flew up the lake past Rainbow Point as I drove back towards the Fishing Lodge. I only walked the stretch from Wood Bay to Top End and the Hatchery (and back) but saw or heard quite a few land birds: 1 Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita, Goldcrest Regulus regulus (heard), 2+ Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major including drumming, Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea (calling at the Hatchery), Song Thrush Turdus philomelos (at least 2 singing) but no sign of Sand Martins. Don’t blame them given the temperature this morning! Best wishes, John.

It's been a struggle working out here John, in the heat, but someone's got to do it! Thanks for the news.

TRINIDAD DIARY

It was a long day in the field today, leaving at 0800 hrs and not getting back until 0100 hrs, but we had a great time. A local guide joined us from the Bush Bush Sanctuary (Nariva Swamp) team for a long , long field walk before we set up nets and trapped. Here are a selection of pictures. not all bat related, from the day. I saw two new birds for me, the Yellow-crowned Parrot and Red-bellied Macaw, thanks to Geoffery.

 

Great Fruit-eating Bat in a leaf tent, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.Great Fruit-eating Bat in a leaf tent, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.

 Tent-making Bat, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.Tent-making Bat, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinidad Pink Toe Tarantula, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.Trinidad Pink Toe Tarantula, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.

Wrinkle-faced Bat, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.Wrinkle-faced Bat, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 18th March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 19th March

News from the ever-dependable Steve Hale of Avon Birds as follows: 24 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 2 Greylag Geese Anser anser, 58 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 1 Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, 18 Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo, 5 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, 1 Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, 1 Water Rail Rallus aquaticus (Top End), 9 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 160 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, 20 Common Gulls Larus canus, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major, 2 singing Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 1 Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea, 2 Redwings Turdus iliacus, 67 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii (mini-fall, Rainbow Point). Thanks Steve. At this rate, I won't need to come back...

TRINIDAD DIARY

We visited Aripo Savannah this evening, which was a bit quiet. We only caught 27 bats of 8 spp. I'm guessing this is probably due to the fact that it has been so dry and because there is almost a full moon which has been lighting up the evenings making it difficult to hide the traps.

 

 

Sunday 20th March

News from Sean Davies today as follows: "Quick look on the way back from CVL. Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis still from Top End hide. Dunlin Calidris alpina and Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. Thanks Sean.

TRINIDAD DIARY

We trapped at Asa Wright Nature Centre this evening. We had some time for a quick look off the verandah at the birds and Agouti's before a walk down the Discovery Trail to look for netting positions in the evening. We caught 96 bats of 13 spp. and got some nice flight shots (again with special thanks to Daniel Hargreaves).

 

Tent-making Bat, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad. Tent-making Bat, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad.

 

Seba's Short-tailed Bat, Asa Wright Centre, Trinidad. 20th March 2016.Seba's Short-tailed Bat, Asa Wright Centre, Trinidad. 20th March 2016.

 

Adult Male White-necked Jacobin, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad. 20th March 2016.Adult Male White-necked Jacobin, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad. 20th March 2016.

 

Monday 21st March

Steve Hale kindly sent me the following news from Blagdon: 20 Mute Swans, 38 Canada Geese, 1 Egyptian Goose (Top End near the gate), 11 Common Goldeneyes, 9 Great Cormorants, 6 Grey Herons, 2 Little Grebes, 13 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Water Rail, 1 Jack Snipe, 15 Common Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper (dam), 27 Common Gulls, 83 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 15 Herring Gulls, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 4 Eurasian Jays, 1 Barn Swallow (Top End 1400 hrs), 5 Eurasian Nuthatches, 1 Eurasian Treecreeper, 1 Song Thrush. Thanks Steve - well gripped by the Jack Snipe - it's still not on my Blagdon list!

TRINIDAD DIARY

We paid a visit to an old WW2 American ice house this morning to have a look at the bats roosting there. There were many hundreds. At lunchtime, I noticed that the Wattled Jacana nest I showed with 3 eggs on 11th March has just a single egg left in it, and the adults are guarding 2 newly hatched young with great vigour at lunchtime.

 

Wattled Jacana with chicks, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 21st March 2016.Wattled Jacana with chicks, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 21st March 2016.

In the evening we went back to Arena Forest and trapped along a ridge, with a bit more success than we had previously. We caught 53 bats of 19 spp. including a White-winged Vampire Diaemus youngi, which was radio-tagged, and a Little Big-eyed Bat Chiroderma trinitatum. I even had the chance to remove my first, delightfully calm, Greater Spear-nosed Bat Phyllostomus hastatus from the nets. It's Trini's second largest bat, weighing around 80-110 grams, and can be quite a handful.

 

Little Big-eyed Bat, Arena Forest, Trinidad. 21st March 2016.Little Big-eyed Bat, Arena Forest, Trinidad. 21st March 2016.

 

Tuesday 22nd March

Sorry I haven't been able to pass on news for a day or so, we've had no internet connectivity. As ever, I'm grateful to Steve Hale for the following news: 17 Mute Swans, 45 Canada Geese, 1 Egyptian Goose, 5 Northern Shovelers, 7 Grey Herons, 3 Little Grebes, 2 Common Buzzards, 20 Common Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Coal Tits, 4 Long-tailed Tits, 3 Eurasian Nuthatches, 1 Eurasian Treecreeper, 110+ Redwings, 20+ Chaffinches (dam spillway).

TRINIDAD DIARY

This morning we took a trip to Tabaquite to visit Knolly's Tunnel. It's an old railway tunnel that is home to large numbers of bats. I didn't take many pictures because I was trying to charge batteries in time for a photographic session in the evening, during which I was trying to get pictures of bats coming to bananas I'd been leaving out each evening at the Hacienda. As a result, I didn't join the team for their last trip to Arena Forest, and missed the Mimon crenulatum that they caught, although it's a species I've seen in the past.

 

Knolly's Tunnel, Tabaquite, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.Knolly's Tunnel, Tabaquite, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.

 Leucistic Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Knolly's Tunnel. 22nd March 2016.Leucistic Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Knolly's Tunnel. 22nd March 2016.

 

Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat gorging on Banana, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat gorging on Banana, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.

Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 22nd March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 23rd March

TRINIDAD DIARY

We had a reasonably lazy morning before being driven to Tamana Hill Cave to see the roosting bts and their emergence at dusk. Although we'd previously trapped here using a single harp trap near the entrance, we were able to just enjoy the spectacle on this occasion, as thousands of bats swirled out of the chimney and away into the forest. I saw an albino Geoffroy's Hairy-legged Bat Anoura geoffroyi for the third time in four years, perhaps the same individual, which I got a flight shot of, but it was slightly over-exposed unfortunately (we only had the one chance on release). Then, when I got back to the Hacienda I spent more time videoing and photographing Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bats Carollia perspicillata feeding on bananas Graeme Smart and I had put out as bait to lure them in.

 

Albino Geoffroy's Hairy-legged Bat, Tamana Hill Cave, Trinidad. 23rd March 2016.Albino Geoffroy's Hairy-legged Bat, Tamana Hill Cave, Trinidad. 23rd March 2016.

Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 23rd March 2016.Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat, Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad. 23rd March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 24th March

News from Steve Hale as follows: 18 Mute Swans, 3 Canada Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese (field by Top End gate), 5 Northern Shovelers, 3 Common Goldeneye, 4 Grey Herons, 4 Common Snipe, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Barn Swallow, 12 Common Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 30+ Chaffinches, and 2 Reed Buntings.

TRINIDAD DIARY

We all packed for the long trip home this morning, before enjoying a talk by Dr Merlin Tuttle, which included some of the superb images he'd taken during our trip. He was primarily working with a Little Big-eared Bat Micronycteris megalotis we'd caught, and been training it in order to get photos of the approach and catching of insects. His talk was inspirational, and re-affirmed the need for the protection of bats worldwide thanks to their insect, flower pollination and seed dispersal habits, especially in tropical climes. See Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation website to view some of his wonderful images.

After I'd packed my photographic gear, I spotted a new woodpecker for me, the Crimson-crested, excavating a hole in the grounds of the Hacienda. It's very similar to the Lineated Woodpecker in appearance, but the head and lines on the back help to distinguish it.

 

Friday 25th March [Mainly sunny]

Home again! I didn't visit the lake after the long overnight flight and 4 hour drive home through the holiday traffic. Sean Davies saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Top End.

 

Saturday 26th March [Wintery squalls]

News from Sean Davies of 1 House Martin Delichon urbicum, 3 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, and circa 50 Sand Martins Riparia riparia this morning. Chris Stone visited in the afternoon and saw circa 40 Sand Martins around the lodge and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the Spillway.

 

Sunday 27th March [Wintery squalls]

My first visit since I got back from Trinidad, and I saw Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica and Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the lake. I counted 20 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 6 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 5 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca and saw a pair of Northern Shovelers Anas clypeata at Top End.

Steve Hale also reported the following: At least 300 Sand Martins this morning, mainly at the Lodge area. Other stuff, 21 Mute Swans, 21 Canada Geese, 219 Tufted Ducks, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Little Grebe, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Common Sandpiper, 10 Common Snipe, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Eurasian Jay, 2 Coal Tits, 3 Long-tailed Tits, 6 Chiffchaffs, 1 Eurasian Nuthatch, and 1 Reed Bunting. Thanks Steve.

 

Monday 28th March [A few wintery squalls]

I drove through late afternoon, but didn't spot anything out of the ordinary. Laurence, one of the Bristol Water rangers, rang to tell me an angler had spotted an Osprey Pandion haliaetus over Butcombe (Bay?), during the day, but I have no more details as yet.

 

Tuesday 29th March [Wintery squalls]

It's nice to be back, but the weather...! I enjoyed a wet walk from the Lodge to the Top End hide and back this afternoon and saw 2 House Martins Delichon urbicum, 6 Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica and about 30 Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the lake. I heard 3 singing Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and saw another, spotted a Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis among a sizeable group of Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii feeding on Green Lawn, and counted 23 Mute Swans Cygnus olor and 3 Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula.

 

Wednesday 30th March [A lovely sunny day with a cold wind]

I enjoyed a lovely afternoon lakeside. I heard my first Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus of the year singing at Long Bay, and there were 11 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita dotted around the lake, with all three regular hirundine species hawking overhead. Last year a pair of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea bred for the first time in years at the lake, and I saw a bird sitting on the same nest today, which is quite exciting. The sunshine brought out a Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae and Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major. My prowl also revealed flowering Moschatel Adoxa moschatellina, Early Dog-violet Viola reichenbachiana, Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, Cowslip Primula veris and Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. At All Saints Wood, I heard Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus calling and saw Scarlet Elf Cups Sarcoscypha sp. on the woodland floor. So Spring isn't too far away, we just need more warm sun!

In the evening I saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam.

 

Thursday 31st March [Another sunny, and milder, day]

There's not too much to report today. A (or, the) Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was present from the Top End hide, and 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Holt Farm fields. I didn't see any hirundines while I was at the lakeside but the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam again. I saw a ♂ Brimstone Butterfly Gonepteryx rhamni along the footpath through All Saint's Wood this afternoon, when walking with friends. We also came across the most amazing viewpoint over the lake today, along a path I've not walked previously; I shall go back early one sunny morning with my camera and tripod to take a panorama.

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