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Blagdon Lake Birds

June 2019 News

Saturday 1st June [Sunny & warm]

I was at the lakeside at 0545hrs to carry out one of my late BBS surveys. Despite having a look around before I went home for breakfast, I don't have anything to report save for seeing an adult Fox Vulpes vulpes on its way home with prey.

Mark Hynam spent some time at the lake later in the day and heard a ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing somewhere at the Top End, he thought it was probably on the Ubley side.


Sunday 2nd June [Mainly cloudy, with some rain.]

I went to East Dartmoor NNR with Mark early this morning, hoping to see some of the regular breeding birds there. We enjoyed great views of Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart and Marsh Tit at this fabulous site, but didn't see Wood Warbler. I spoke to a guy there who told me there were record numbers of Pied Flycatchers this year but no Wood Warblers. In fact, he said there were very few on Dartmoor at all this year, probably due weather affecting their Spring migration. A real shame let's hope they fare better next year. On the way back home, we stopped off at Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, and had a look over the estuary. I was more than a little surprised to see a Black Swan swimming down the Exe on the falling tide from the Goat Walk, to say the least. We also saw 2 Greenshanks and 7 Black-tailed Godwits on the marsh.

Back at the lake this evening, I saw all 3 broods of Canada Goose Branta canadensis (1, 3 & 4 juveniles) on the dam. but that was it I'm afraid.


Monday 3rd June [Some light showers. Warm.]

Yesterday's comment about seeing a Black Swan on the Exe Estuary prompted a response from Nigel Crocker who reminded me there used to be Black Swans in Dawlish town centre park. I'm not sure if they're still there and if this was one of them though. Does anyone out there know?

The only Mute Swan Cygnus olor brood of 3 cygnets is still okay, no doubt thanks to the experience of their parents who are regular breeders at Top End. If there are any other successful broods of water birds, they are keeping a very low profile in the marginal vegetation.

Anyway, I have been sent some invertebrate records of interest by Rupert Higgins, which include a record of Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae, the first I've heard about here, the tree hopper Centrotus cornutus, and weevil Apoderus coryli, all recorded on 25th May. I will post the findings of our Moth Group meeting in the next day or two.


Tuesday 4th June [Cloudy, then clearing to sunshine in the evening]

I saw a Badger Meles meles cub at the lake today, but I've nothing to report on the bird front.


Wednesday 5th June [Mainly cloudy and warm]

I was enjoying a cuppa with Ce on the patio this morning when a splendid, pristine looking, Painted Lady Vanessa cardui dropped in to feed on the Red Valerian outside our back door.


Thursday 6th June [Stormy]

I had a look at the lake late this morning, but aside from lots of Swifts Apus apus and House Martins Delichon urbicum over the water, I didn't see much else to report.


Friday 7th June [Rain in the morning, drying out later]

I saw 3 pairs of Gadwall Mareca strepera today, but there was no sign of any young, and a total of 23 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula.

At home I watched a Humming-bird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum feeding on Red Valerian by our back door for a while this afternoon, my first of the year.


Saturday 8th June [Heavy overnight rain and strong wind for most of the day]

Mark Hynam and I were surprised by a ♂ Water Rail Rallus aquaticus singing at Top End this evening, not something you hear very often, saw 2 pairs of Mute Swans Cygnus olor with 1 and 2 cygnets, and a pair of Coots Fulica atra with 2 juveniles in Home Bay. That's 3 broods of Mute Swan (only 6 juveniles though), and just 2 of Coot, so far.


Sunday 9th June [Some heavy showers]

A quick whizz around this evening was of some interest in that there was a ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing on the North Shore, a pair of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus with a juvenile at Burmah Road (first of the year), and a ♀ Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 7 juveniles in Rugmoor Bay. Duck numbers had increased a little with 30 Pochard Aythya ferina and 27 Tufted Duck A. fuligula at the Ubley end of the lake.


Monday 10th June [Wet, wet, wet.]

I spent the day finishing off the ABR duck section and putting off going to the lake as the weather got worse and worse - lovely weather for ducks, unless they're still in down, I'd imagine. I did venture out in the car at dusk but there wasn't much to see; anything with any sense was under cover!


Wednesday 12th June

News from Rupert Higgins today of a Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca at Holt Bay (first of the year) and the ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus still singing on the North Shore.


Thursday 13th June

I'm back from a couple of days in Cornwall, and I reckon there were 1000+ Swifts Apus apus over the lake this evening.

Celia and I took a ride on the South Devon Railway from Buckfastleigh to Totnes and back, on the way home from Cornwall this afternoon, and I saw a brood each of Mandarin Duck and Goosander on the River Dart from the train. I reckon the last time I was on that line was 1973, some 3 years after it had re-opened, while I was a summer student at Seale-Hayne Agricultural College. It's celebrating 50 years in preservation this year!

Further to my comment on the 2nd of June about seeing a Black Swan on the Exe at Topsham, Paul Williams contacted me from the Spanish Pyrenees to say he'd seen Black Swans on the Exe earlier in the year too.


Friday 14th June

Mark Hynam visited the lake early evening but didn't have much to report. We went to have a look at one of the hibernation bat boxes at dusk that had lots of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus roosting in it during June 2017 (but none in the hot summer of 2018). We counted between 60 and 70 out during a 10–15-minute spell, so have decided to go back and do a proper emergence survey on another evening.


Sunday 16th June [Early rain, then some showers during the day.]

I carried out the WeBS count with Phil Delve, Terry Doman and Rob Hargreaves this morning. There wasn't anything very exciting to report, but we did count juvenile waterfowl and reckon there were 3 Mute Swan Cygnus olor, 3 Canada Goose Branta canadensis and about 8 Coot Fulica atra broods. We also saw a new Mallard Anas platyrhynchos brood of 9 ducklings, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo. The Pyramidal Orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis have started to flower on Green Lawn and I noticed a pale pink one among them. In the evening Mark Hynam, Ken Anstey and I did an emergence survey of the 1FW bat box we looked at on Friday (see Bat News).


Monday 17th June [Mainy dry]

I didn't visit the lake until the evening and saw two broods of Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (4 and 2) with their mums at Cheddar Water. It was curious to see the brood of 4 young diving for food, an unusual sight for dabbling ducks. Their mum didn't seem to be interested in whatever food the young were exploiting, and neither did the other brood close by. It's usual to see the young Mallards feeding on caddis flies and midges by snapping at them out of the air at that time of the evening. The young were quite big but hadn't fledged yet. In fact, their wing feathers had barely developed at all, but they were using them to help propel themselves as they dived.

I bumped into Nick Wilcox-Brown and spent time chatting with him. We saw several small flocks of Starlings Sturnus vulgaris flying around at dusk, presumably looking for somewhere safe to roost, and went to see if we could hear the Water Rail singing that Mark I had heard on 8th June. No luck tonight though.


Tuesday 18th June

I paid two visits to the lake today, but don't have anything to report.


Wednesday 19th June [Dry & warming up]

I went to the lake this morning and saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Peg's Point and heard the ♂ Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti still singing at Top End, albeit for the first time in a while.


Thursday 20th June [Some quite warm sunny spells]

I spent the day with John and Ron looking at the North Shore fields and met Rupert Higgins who was carrying out some survey work for the management plan. The flowers in the meadows are absolutely stunning just now. We saw a good selection of insects, as well as a 'poser' of a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata at the entrance to the Pumping Station, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting at Long Bay. Rupert told me he'd heard another Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca singing before we'd arrived.

Before I left the lake late in the afternoon, I saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta fly west over the dam, and a saw a tiny Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus with a parent in Wood Bay (2nd brood of the year).


Friday 21st June [Warm]

Georgie Hayworth, Ken Anstey and I checked a dormouse box scheme on the Mendips this morning but didn't find any 'mice' this time around. In the evening Ken, Mark Hynam and I did a church roost emergence survey and counted about 275 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out. There was probably at least one Myotis sp. inside the church too. We set up infra-red video cameras inside and outside to try and get a feel for how the bats are using the building, but there's more to do yet. I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark and I plan to survey it in the morning.


Saturday 22nd June [Warm and sunny]

Mark and I had a long look at the lake this morning and saw 3, probably 4, Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam early on, but by midday we had very little else to report on the bird front apart from the ♂ Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti still singing at Top End. We saw a ♀ Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo at the head of Butcombe Bay, a first Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator of the year at Wood Bay, and quite a few darters at Top End, again the first of the year. They were curious because they had the abdominal shape of Common Darters, but the legs were all black, so the ones I looked at were apparently Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum. I think I need to catch a few to have a closer look. We also saw a few Large Skippers Ochlodes sylvanus around the lake too.


Sunday 23rd June [Heavy & humid. Overcast.]

I met Mark Hynam at the lake this evening. He was on his was back home from a trip up t'North - to see the Little Bustard's head at Slimbridge! There were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting at Burmah Road, and a Great White Egret Ardea alba in full breeding garb at Rugmoor Point, that was joined by an adult Little Egret Egretta garzetta before we left. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers are starting to build with 93 counted this evening. The first returning Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, an adult, also turned up during our visit.


Monday 24th June [Mainly overcast & muggy but getting warmer.]

I made a quick visit to the lake this morning and saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting at Top End, 5 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, and a ♂ Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens at the south end of the dam.


Tuesday 25th June [Early rain, overcast, muggy and warm.]

Not too much to report from an evening visit. I saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba on Rugmoor Point again, saw a dead Mute Swan Cygnus olor (the third this summer), and both Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus juveniles (2 broods) are still alive and well, which is a relief, because I hadn't seen the more recent of the two since spotting it for the first-time last Thursday.


 Roesel's Bush-cricket Metrioptera roesellii nymph, North Shore Car Park.Roesel's Bush-cricket Metrioptera roesellii nymph, North Shore Car Park.


Thursday 27th June [Hot & sunny. Breezy.]

For the second day I didn't make it down to the lake. I spent the day up at Priddy Mineries with my invertebrate group friends, and in the evening I joined Ken Anstey and Mark Hynam to do a bat roost emergence count at Chew Valley Lake.


Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy.Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy.


Waldegrave Pool at Priddy was looking nice and there was a good selection of dragonflies to be seen. There were several Downy Emeralds, Emperors, Four-spotted Chasers, a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers and a Broad-bodied Chaser. Damselfies were well represented too and included Emerald and Large Reds among the more familiar blues. Amazingly, I also saw a ♂ demoiselle fly quickly past me on the breeze - a Banded, I think. On the mineries we saw Burnet Companion, Red-necked Footman and Chimney Sweeper Moths, as well as the usual burnet spp. There were a few Small Pearl-bordered, Painted Lady, Green Hairstreak, and Common Blue butterflies, plus lots of Small Heath. Birds included Tree Pipit, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler (Mineries Pond only), while a pair of Ravens 'cronked' overhead and a Siskin flew over calling. John Mason and I found 4 Moonwort ferns and saw the other specialities: Alpine Penny-cress and Sea Campion. A good day out in the field.


Sunday 30th June [Cooler & cloudier than yesterday]

An evening visit turned up 2 Painted Lady's Vanessa cardui and 2 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta, and Mark Hynam told me he'd seen a new brood of Coot Fulica atra (2 juveniles) at the south end of the dam.

As promised, here is Ray Barnett's report from the visit made by Bristol and District Moth Group on Sunday 26th May. After a beautiful and warm day on the Saturday, Sunday was cloudy with almost constant drizzle and a strong gusty wind keeping temperatures down. Despite the weather, Nigel Milbourne, Rupert Higgins, Jean Oliver, Martin Evans and Ray Barnett surveyed the site for a couple of hours and recorded the following: 

Lepidoptera checklist numbers are from Agassiz, D.J.L., Beavan, S.D. & Heckford, R.J (2013) A checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles. Field Studies Council, Telford.

01.005 Micropterix calthella (Linnaeus)
03.002 Korscheltellus lupulina (Linnaeus) Common Swift
07.006 Adela reaumurella (L.) 
16.002 Yponomeuta padella (Linnaeus) larvae
16.004 Yponomeuta cagnagella (Hübner) larvae
19.007 Glyphipterix simpliciella (Stephens) Cocksfoot Moth
28.022 Alabonia geoffrella (L.)
49.157 Hedya pruniana (Hübner) Plum Tortrix
54.008 Zygaena filipendulae (Linnaeus) Six-Spot Burnet larva
63.016 Anania fuscalis (Denis & Schiffermüller) Cinerous Pearl New site record. 
63.086 Crambus lathoniellus (Zincken)
70.054 Xanthorhoe montanata (Denis & Schiffermüller) Silver-ground Carpet
70.059 Camptogramma bilineata (Linnaeus) Yellow Shell
70.100 Colostygia pectinataria (Knoch) Green Carpet
70.256 Erannis defoliaria (Clerck) Mottled Umber larva New site record.
72.013 Euproctis similis (Fuessly) Yellow-tail larva
72.083 Euclidia glyphica (Linnaeus) Burnet Companion
73.058 Cucullia verbasci (Linnaeus) The Mullein larvae New site record.

Polyommatus icarus (Rottemburg) Common Blue
Lycaena phlaeas (Linnaeus) Small Copper
Maniola jurtina (Linnaeus) Meadow Brown

Other orders
Ischnura elegans (Vander Linden) Blue-tailed Damselfly
Coenagrion puella (Linnaeus) Azure Damselfly

Leptophyes punctatissima (Bosc) Speckled Bush-cricket larvae
Pholidoptera griseoaptera (DeG.) Dark Bush-cricket larvae

Palomena prasina (L.) Green Shieldbug
Dolycoris baccarum (L.) Sloe Bug
Anthocoris confusus Reuter 1884 New site record.
Heterocordylus genistae (Scopoli) 
Cymus glandicolor Hahn, 1832 New site record. 
Miris striatus (L.) 
Liocoris tripustulatus (Fabricius, 1781) New site record. 
Stenodema laevigata (L.) 
Cercopis vulnerata Ill. 
Philaenus spumarius (Linnaeus) Spittle Bug larvae - cuckoo spit

Rhagonycha lignosa (Müll.) New site record. 
Cantharis rustica Fall. 
Cantharis nigra (De Geer) 
Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) Harlequin Ladybird
Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus Seven-spot Ladybird
Malachius bipustulatus (Linnaeus) 
Athous haemorrhoidalis (Fabr.) New site record.
Denticollis linearis (Linnaeus) New site record.
Agriotes pallidulus (Illiger) 
Agriotes lineatus (Linnaeus) 
Oedemera nobilis (Scopoli) Thick-kneed Flower Beetle
Pyrochroa serraticornis (Scopoli) Cardinal Beetle
Grammoptera ruficorrnis (Fabricius) 
Donacia clavipes Fabricius New site record. 
Gastrophysa viridula (De Geer) adults and larvae
Chrysolina oricalcia (Müller) Nationally Notable-B New site record.
Bruchus rufimanus Boheman New site record. 
Trichosirocalus troglodytes (Fabricius) 
Mecinus pyraster (Herbst) 

Cephus pygmeus (Linnaeus) European Wheat Stem Sawfly New site record. 
Allantus calceatus (Klug) New site record. 
Tenthredo arcuata/brevicornis/notha/schaefferi agg. 
Vespula vulgaris (Linnaeus) Common Wasp queen
Bombus lapidarius (Linnaeus) Red-tailed Bumble Bee

Empis tessellata Fabr. New site record. 
Leucozona lucorum (Linnaeus) 

Araniella cucurbitina/opisthographa agg.
Larinioides cornutus (Clerck) New site record. 
Tetragnatha ?extensa (Linnaeus)
Ixodes (Ixodes) ricinus (Linnaeus, 1758) Castor Bean Tick larvae

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