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Blagdon Lake Birds

February 2020 News

Saturday 29th February [Storm Jorge. Wintery showers. Windy.]

There were 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba again today (the two new ones in breeding plumage bare part colouration), the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus still on Green Lawn and just a single adult male Goosander Mergus merganser off Burmah Road. It was too cold and wet to do the gull roost.


Friday 28th February [Wet again!]

I spent an hour lakeside mid-afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to find 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba - possibly a singleton and a pair. There was also a passing Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Green Lawn. The Mute Swan Cygnus olor count was up to 6 today and there were 2 female Goosanders Mergus merganser off the dam.

I was in Clevedon again this morning, and when I got back to my car in Sunnyside Road, I heard a Blackcap singing from a garden bush close by - undoubtedly a wintering bird, but my first of the year. I wondered if we might get some early migrants this weekend with Storm Jorge due tomorrow, but possibly not if it hits Ireland first.


Thursday 27th February [A second dry, sunny, day albeit with a cold wind.]

Slim pickings I'm afraid. I saw the regular Great White Egret Ardea alba along the Indian Country bank and went through the 300+ gulls sitting on the water one by one without spotting anything exciting. Nowt else to report from me, though Mike O'Connor enjoyed a walk looking for birds this afternoon and emailed to tell me he'd seen 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Holt Bay.


Monday 24th February [Miserable. Wet & windy.]

Once again, the birding is pretty poor. I saw 13 Goosanders Mergus merganser this evening before leaving and went through the gull roost late afternoon without even finding a Mediterranean Gull. The only real difference I noted today, was that there were 5 adult Mute Swans Cygnus olor back at the lake, an increase of two...


Sunday 23rd February [Overnight gales dropped to calm by dusk]

Andy Mears reported 2 Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis and 2 Goosanders Mergus merganser this morning from the Lodge, and Mark Hynam saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba this afternoon at Top End. As dusk fell, there were 21 (4 adult males, a 1st-winter male & 16 females) Goosanders visible from the dam, and lots of bats flying around. Mark got his Echometer Touch out and recorded Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, a Common Pipistrelle P. Pipistrellus and a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros in Park Lane.


Saturday 22nd February [Pleasant early, then rain & wind later.]

Mark Hynam spent the afternoon at the lake without seeing anything new, and when I joined him later to check the gulls, we were able to combine sightings as follows: The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 13 (4 adult males, a 1st-winter male & 8 females) Goosanders Mergus merganser, 40 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula at the dam & Cheddar Water to roost together, and Mark saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba at Top End. 


Drake Goosander, Home Bay, 14th Jan. 2010.Drake Goosander, Home Bay, 14th Jan. 2010.


Thursday 20th February

I squeezed a quick visit in late this afternoon and saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, the presumed adult male Pochard x Ferruginous Aythya hybrid in Wood Bay, 10+ Teal Anas crecca at Hellfire Corner, a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Top End, and on the way back 31 (4 drakes) Goldeneye Bucephala clangula and 9 (2 adult drake, a 1st-winter drake & 6 females) Goosanders Mergus merganser.


Monday 17th February

The unpredictable nature of my caring duties meant I sadly missed the funeral of Roger Palmer. RIP Roge, old friend.


Sunday 16th February [Aftermath of Storm Dennis]

Not much change today, I saw 25 Wigeon Mareca penelope at Cheddar Water when I arrived, the Great White Egret Ardea alba along Indian Country bank, and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam later, when waiting for the 19 Goosanders Mergus merganser and 30+ Goldeneye Bucephala clangula to fly in to roost at Cheddar Water, as dusk fell.


Saturday 15th February [Storm Dennis arrived]

I spent an hour by the lake this afternoon in the half light, wind and rain. The usual Great White Egret Ardea alba was at Top End, and at the sheltered south end of the dam 19 (4 adult males, 1 1st-winter male & 14 females) Goosanders Mergus merganser and 26 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula had gathered by the time I left (there were plenty of other Goldeneye on the lake as well though).


Friday 14th February [Started bright then increasingly grey & wet by dusk]

Sorry for the lack of news this week. Caring for an elderly parent is all consuming at present. I managed half an hour or so by the lake before dark this afternoon and saw 8 (1 adult male & 7 females) Goosanders Mergus merganser on the dam, 40+ Goldeneye Bucephala clangula gathering to roost, 18+ Shovelers Spatula clypeata and a Great White Egret Ardea alba.


Monday 10th February [Storm Ciara]

It wasn't quite so wild as yesterday, but we did have one amazing shower as we finished the WeBS count. Phil,Terry, Rob and I met to the sound of a singing Mistle Thrush Turdus philomelos and the sight of the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. The Greylag Anser anser and pair of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Holt Farm, and the top counts were 344 Coots Fulica atra and 327 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, but Phil only spotted 30 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula today (full count details on the WeBS Page). I saw a couple of Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita at Bell's Bush on the way home too.


Sunday 9th February [Storm Ciara]

I didn't spot anything unusual at the lake this morning, but there had been an influx of Pochards Aythya ferina and gulls. I counted 300 Canada Geese Branta canadensis and 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca in Holt Bay and on Green Lawn and I'm hoping to get back to the lake in order to have a look through the gull roost later this afternoon - a Kittiwake or Ring-billed Gull would be nice!

In the evening, I had a look through a very large gull roost but, even with the extra number present, I didn't spot a 'white-winger', but counted 48 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 4 adult Mute Swans Cygnus olor, an adult Greylag Anser anser and a female Goosander Mergus merganser.


Friday 7th February [Mainly overcast]

My hospital visit today allowed me time for an hour at the lake as dusk fell. I saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, the Greylag Anser anser with the Canada's on Holt Farm, and the Great White Egret Ardea alba at Indian Country. Duck numbers seem to be falling this week.


Thursday 6th February [A sunny day]

All day in hospital with my mum meant I didn't visit the lake today, but Mike O'Connor texted me news of a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus around the Wood Bay area mid-afternoon. Thanks again Mike.


Wednesday 5th February [A lovely day]

Warwick White did some bird trapping this morning in the area where the wintering Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita have been feeding on a regular basis. I went down and joined him, and we had a good look at the 4 Chiffs he caught while I was there. They all appeared to be the nominate race P. c. collybita, as we'd suspected from our observations. However, one had been previously ringed so Warwick is going to share that information with the BTO to see if we can find out where it was rung. It was a British ring. Of the four birds I saw, Warwick aged them as two adults and 2 first-winters. He caught another after I had to leave, but he's just emailed to tell me that looked like a nominate race bird too. It's a shame, but we think the grey-looking bird may have moved on. Warwick also caught, 2 Treecreepers Certhia familiaris, 2 Goldcrests Regulus regulus, 3 Great Tits Parus major, 6 Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus, 2 Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes and a Robin Erithacus rubecula during the session. I had to leave in a hurry to meet friends for our weekly walk, but then had to go to hospital with my mum after I called an ambulance out to her during the afternoon, so I didn't get back to the lake before dark. 


Blue Tit, Ubley Hatchery, 28th Jan. 2006.Blue Tit, Ubley Hatchery, 28th Jan. 2006.


Tuesday 4th February [A cold wind]

A wild wind overnight gradually abated throughout the day, but it was still pretty cold. Mark spent much of the day by the lake and found the first Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarellii of the year at the dam, and a Greylag Anser anser with the large flock of Canada Geese Branta canadensis, while Warwick White told us he'd seen up to 5 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita.


Monday 3rd February [Mild]

No visit for me today, but Dr. Mike O'Connor reported an adult summer-plumage Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus on a buoy off the dam late this afternoon. Thanks Mike.


Sunday 2nd February [Mild & overcast]

The morning was spent underground counting bats and ringing a few Greater Horseshoes on the Mendips, then after a cuppa, Mark and I went down to the lake. We saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba, 3+ Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 3 Mistle Thrushes Turdus viscivorus, and were surprised to see 10 Snipe Gallinago gallinago in flight overhead while we were standing on the road bridge at Top End. We made our way back along the lakeside road and decided to have a last look from the southern corner of the dam and were amazed to see 16 (4 adult males, 2 1st-winter males, and 10 females) Goosanders Mergus merganser in front of us. I looked through the scope and began to realise there were also a good number of Goldeneye Bucephala clangula at Cheddar Water. I counted 38 from where I was standing at the dam and had just counted 7 off Bell's Bush, making a total of 45, without looking for any in between. This was probably the highest count since 55 on 7th February 2010. Not only were there all the Goldeneye, but I also counted 50 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus gathering at Cheddar Water to roost. It was a fine end to the weekend.


Saturday 1st February [A cool wind]

I enjoyed a day out with Mark Hynam today. We went to Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, early in the morning to watch the birds coming in from the estuary at high tide. The Black-tailed Godwits were quite a spectacle in flight as they wheeled around and landed on the marsh to roost. There were a couple of Knot and few Greenshanks among a good number of Redshanks. we moved on from there to visit a Train and Toy Fair, where we took lunch then drove down to Mansands, Brixham to see the Blue-winged Teal that's been around for a few weeks. Offshore there were 5 Great Crested Grebes and a probable Black-throated Diver. Then on the way back to the car we watched the birds visiting the feeders by the hide - well worth a trip for you photographers, there were Bullfinches feeding within 2 metres of us. Then, I spotted a Firecrest which gave us good views. Further up the track back to the car park we saw yet another Firecrest!

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.