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Blagdon Lake Birds

June 2018 News

Saturday 2nd June [Hot & sunny]

Paul, one of the Fishery Rangers, told me someone had reported seeing an Osprey dive into the water at Chew today.

Warwick White told me that Secret World have been feeding the young Rook, so hopefully it'll be fine and we will be able to release it back at the rookery in a few days, when the wing feathers are all out of pin and it can fly.

It was nice to see that biologist, zoologist, wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker, Heinz Sielmann, was honoured by Google today. Apparently, it would have been his 101st birthday, were he still alive. His wonderful films were shown on TV when I was young, and were a great source of interest and inspiration for a fledgling naturalist.


Sunday 3rd June [Very hot & sunny]

I didn't bother to go down to the lake during the sweltering day, but met Mark at dusk to check out a couple of bat boxes to see if there were any Soprano Pipistrelles in prospective maternity roosts. We didn't see any bats come out of the boxes, which is amazing because it was a year ago to the day that we counted 245 out of one of the boxes we checked this evening! Perhaps the bats haven't moved in to their roosts yet. While we were waiting for bats, we were really pleased to hear a singing ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus somewhere at the dam end. I'll have a look around tomorrow.


Monday 4th June [Cloudy & thankfully cooler than yesterday]

Another day visiting hospital with Celia, but hopefully we're getting a bit closer to understanding what's going on, so well worth it. I got to the lake this evening where I counted 121 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 17 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and 9 Gadwall Mareca strepera. The level is starting to drop and is currently around 94%.


Tuesday 5th June [Cloudy & cool again with a NE breeze]

Back to hospital again today, but I did at least get to the lake again, where I saw 2 broods of Mute Swan Cygnus olor (4 and 5 cygnets) at the Lodge and Long Bay. I also noted a ♂ Shoveler Spatula clypeata without any sign of his mate - perhaps she's sitting? The Cuckoo Cuculus canorus I heard on Sunday evening, is still singing at Butcombe Bay (thanks to Martin Cottis and John Thorogood for letting me know).


Wednesday 6th June [Sunny and warm]

A quick visit to the lake in the evening, on the way to Chew Valley Lake to carry out a bat survey, didn't turn up anything new.

The bat survey will be reported on the Bat News page in due course, when Ken Anstey and I have reviewed our videos.


Friday 8th June [Cloudy but warm]

Just as I finished working in the garden this afternoon, I saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus glide low over the house. It drifted east along the Mendip escarpment. Then, in the next 30 mins. or so, 3 more flew over the village, all of which headed north over the lake. I noted the time as 1520-1550 hrs.

At the lake this evening I spotted 2 more broods of Mute Swan Cygnus olor, one with a single juv. at Orchard Bay, and the other with 3 juvs., so far as I could tell, on the back of the pen at Burmah Road.


Sunday 10th June [Warm & sunny]

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers have started to rise, with c. 40 present this evening, and the Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was still singing his heart out as the sun went down. Mute Swans Cygnus olor appear to have had a mixed breeding season with two broods of 5, and others with just 1 and 2 cygnets. I know of at least two other possible broods that I have yet to count.


Monday 11th June [Warm & sunny]

Mark Hynam and I had a quick look around the lake before dusk, but there wasn't anything new to report apart from 2 Pochards Aythya ferina. We carried out a bat exit survey of the Lodge at dusk, but only saw 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus come out, although there were good numbers foraging around the car park after dark.


Tuesday 12th June [A cool breeze with cloud]

I had a look at the lake late morning, but don't have anything to report, other than I didn't hear the Cuckoo.

During the afternoon I was called out by Kiri at Bristol Bat Rescue to check out and pick up a bat brought in by a cat at Bishop Sutton. It was a ♂ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, that apart from a wing tear and small hole, didn't appear to have suffered too much damage. Ken took it over to Kiri after our survey, where she gave it some antibiotics in case it had suffered tooth puncture wounds to the body. Hopefully it'll get over the trauma and we will be able to release it back where it was found very soon.


Wednesday 13th June [Cloudy]

I met Mark at the lake this evening, and neither of us had seen anything new until he spotted a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis in flight at Holt Bay. We then checked the box that we saw 245 Soprano Pipistrelles emerge from one evening last summer. Tonight it was just one!


Thursday 14th June [Tail end of a storm that eased during the day. Windy.]

I didn't manage a visit to the lake today.


Friday 15th June [Sunny early on]

I was up at 0530 hrs to do my late ST5159 BBS survey this morning, and it was well worth it, as I found a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm and heard the ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing on North Shore. I also heard 3 ♂ Garden Warblers Sylvia borin singing, which was a nice surprise. The disappointing thing was that I saw no Swallows at all around Holt Farm. I wonder if they no longer breed there as modern industrial farming takes over, albeit organic? There has certainly been a steady decline in Swallow sightings over the 20 years I've been doing the survey in this square.


Saturday 16th June [Changeable]

I spent a good portion of the day at the lake today with the Somerset Rare Plants Group, thanks to leaders Liz McDonnell and Clive Lovatt. We spent about five hours along the north side of the lake, where group members were amazed by the glorious meadows. Liz and Clive showed us many plants, especially grasses, rushes and sedges which are a bit of a blind spot for me, and explained how to identify them. Bristol Water have given permission for a survey of the meadows around the lake to inform management, and with the proposed update of the Bristol Regional Flora in mind. I saw lots of new rushes and sedges, which are particularly well represented at Blagdon. Suffice to say, apart from a lone ♂ Pochard Aythya ferina on the dam, there wasn't much to add about the birds despite the long time on site. I did, however, see a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui at Rugmoor Bay, my first of the year.

Some of the plants I noted today:

  • Rough Hawk's-beard Crepis biennis
  • Lesser Hawkbit Leontodon saxatilis [new]
  • Marsh Valerian Valeriana dioica [new]
  • Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris [new]
  • Hoary Ragwort Senecio erucifolius [new]
  • Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus [new]
  • Round-fruited Rush Juncus compressus
  • Compact Rush Juncus conglomeratus [new]
  • Hard Rush Juncus inflexus
  • Soft-rush Juncus effusus
  • Jointed Rush Juncus articulatus [new]
  • Sea Club-rush Bulboschoenus maritimus
  • Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca
  • Greater Pond-sedge Carex riparia [new]
  • Tawny Sedge Carex hostiana
  • Flea Sedge Carex pulicaris [new]
  • Hairy Sedge Carex hirta [new]
  • False Fox-sedge Carex otrubae
  • Meadow Barley Hordeum secalinum [new]
  • Meadow Foxtail Alopecurus pratensis
  • Tufted Hair-grass Deschampsia cespitosa [new]
  • Erect brome Bromopsis erecta
  • Smooth Brome Bromus racemosus [new]
  • Meadow Fescue Schedonorus pratensis [new]
  • Tall Fescue Schedonorus arundinaceus
  • Downy Oat-grass Helictotrichon pubescens [new]
  • Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea [new]
  • Fennel Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus
  • Nuttall's Water Weed Elodea nuttallii [new]


Sunday 17th June [Changeable]

I didn't visit the lake today and don't have any news to share. We will be carrying out the monthly WeBS tomorrow morning.


Monday 18th June [Warm & dry]

Phillip Delve, Rob Hargreaves and I carried out the WeBS this morning from 0945-1230 hrs (see WeBS Counts). It was remarkable only for the lack of water birds, although we did spot 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Peg's Point. By my reckoning, the water level has dropped to about 84% and there are some margins beginning to appear e.g. Green Lawn. Early days for migrant waders yet, but here's hoping!

Other sightings made during the count included 2 new broods of Coot Fulica atra (2 & 4 juvs.), Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum and a ♂ Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum.


Tuesday 19th June [Warm but overcast]

I went to the lake twice today. I didn't see anything new to report bird-wise. Ken Anstey, Georgie Hayworth and I checked some bat boxes for roosts (see Bat News), and in the evening I made a video of their emergence from a box containing a maternity group of Natterer's Bats Myotis nattereri in order to see how many were present without opening the box and disturbing them during the day.

Sadly, I have to report that the Rook Corvus frugilegus I took to Secret World on 31st May was euthanized. No explanation was given.


Thursday 21st June [Warm & sunny]

I went out in the evening with Mark Hynam looking for Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus on the Mendips (North Somerset side). We didn't see or hear any unfortunately.


Friday 22nd June [Hot & sunny]

I went down to the lake twice today, early in the morning, and again during the afternoon. I don't have any birds to report, but Robin Williams and I went looking at invertebrates and photographing some of them:

 Male Black-tailed Skimmer, Paradise. 22nd June 2018.Male Black-tailed Skimmer, Paradise. 22nd June 2018.


Common Blue Damselfly, Paradise. 22nd June 2018.Common Blue Damselfly, Paradise. 22nd June 2018.


Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum, Top End. 22nd June 2018Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum, Top End. 22nd June 2018


Mark Hynam and I met up in the evening and went looking for Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus on the Mendips (Somerset side). We heard one churring and saw a probable female.


Saturday 23rd June [Hot & sunny]

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark Hynam did in the evening, and texted me news of a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos in Long Bay and 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Green Lawn. He also saw a newish brood of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos near the dam.

Later, we met up and went up on the Mendips (Somerset side) and saw 2 pairs of Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus.


Monday 25th June [Steamy hot]

I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water this afternoon when I went down to the lake with my camera to try and photograph some new invertebrates. Like the birds, the inverts were keeping a low profile in the heat of the day - it was just this Mad Englishman who was out there!! As well as the sandpiper, there was quite a gathering of large gulls at the dam end, mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus.


Tuesday 26th June [Even steamier than yesterday]

I spent the day at the lake with Liz McDonnell and Clive Lovatt while they did their botanical survey of the Top End (south side) meadows until we took a late lunch, before we went to the Pumping Station in the afternoon to look at the under-recorded ST5059 square. This evening Nigel Crocker emailed news of a Red Kite Milvus milvus over Ubley village between 1430-1530 hrs, which went first to the west and then back to the east. I saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water mid-morning, and a number of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus which have been back at the lake for the last week or so. Once again there were a number of large gulls at the dam end for much of the day. I also saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta fly east along the north shore of the lake.


Hoverfly Eristalis nemorum male 'dancing' over female, Top End. 26th June 2022.Hoverfly Eristalis nemorum male 'dancing' over female, Top End. 26th June 2022.


I saw lots more new plants, pointed out by Liz and Clive. It was a real privilege to spend the day with them.


Thursday 28th June [Cloudy and cool to start, but it soon warmed up.]

I spent much of the day at Priddy Mineries and Stockhill Plantation photographing invertebrates with Robin Williams and Chris Hooper today. I was really pleased to spot a ♂ Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens at Waldegrave Pool, the first one I've ever seen there. Here are some portraits of some of the more unusual things seen during the day:


Keeled Skimmer, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy Mineries. 28th June 2018.Keeled Skimmer, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy Mineries. 28th June 2018.


Mother-of-Pearl, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy Mineries. 28th June 2018.Mother-of-Pearl, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy Mineries. 28th June 2018. 

 Friday 29th June [Pleasantly warm with a cooling breeze]

I had a look at the lake this evening, and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis fly past me towards the Lodge then, at Green Lawn, I found an adult and 3 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, and a juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus with around 12 adults and 1st-summers. At Rainbow Point a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus showed briefly and, what I assume was the same Kingfisher seen earlier, flew back across Holt Bay towards the dam as I headed home. I would say the water level is probably around 79% now and falling reasonably quickly.


Saturday 30th June [Hot & sunny]

This evening a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam, and I saw just one juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn. There was a late Mallard Anas platyrhynchos brood of 5 juveniles off Ash Tree and 2 ♂ Pochards Aythya ferina in Wood Bay too.

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