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Blagdon Lake Birds

 July 2020 News

Friday 31st July [Steamy hot]

A quick check around the site late morning turned up the 5th Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis record, an adult at Orchard Bay, 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I only saw 1 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus this morning, and none in the evening. The hay was being turned and bailed today, which caused some disturbance.


Thursday 30th July [Hot & sunny]

I was eventually able to visit the lake at lunchtime today and saw 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, and 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. In addition, there were groups of 55 Gadwall Mareca strepera and 18 Pochard Aythya ferina from the Top End hide, and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. Other news, see Twitter feed, was of my first Clouded Yellow Colias croceus butterfly of the summer at Rainbow Point just after noon.

In the evening Mark and I followed up the bat roost discovery in Butcombe, and did an emergence count. There were far fewer bats than we had seen on 26th, no doubt they have already started to disperse from the roost, but we still watched over 336 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus emerge. Mark made a video.


Wednesday 29th July [Warm & dry]

My visit had to wait until the evening, but I was pleased to see that there were 2 adult Dunlin Calidris alpina and a Redshank Tringa totanus on Tiny's Shallow at the Lodge, as well as over 400 large gulls and an equal number of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus in front of the Lodge and on nearby farmland, that was still being ploughed. There has been a start made on the hay cut in the meadows at the lake too, which will have served to attract birds looking for insects, I'm sure. I counted 76 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, but only saw 3 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus a single Hobby Falco subbuteo.


Tuesday 28th July [Warm & dry. Breezy.]

I had a look at the lake in the early afternoon, during quite a pleasant walk. I saw the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at Green Lawn, 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba,  3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a 2nd-summer Hobby Falco subbuteo. There was an adult Marbled White Melanargia galathea on the wing at Top End as well, probably attracted to all the flowering Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis.

In the evening Mark, Ken and I did a bat emergence survey at Chew Valley Lake and counted 56 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros out of a roost I've been surveying for 6 years. It was our highest count to date from that particular maternity site, and indicative of a successful breeding year. It's nice to have some good news to celebrate! After counting the bats we had a look for Comet Neowise. We found it just under the handle of the Plough, Ursa major, but it was just a faint and indistinct hazy ball. Turning around through 180 degrees we saw that Jupiter was low in the SE sky and shining brightly. Even with binoculars we had a clear view of the moons, and through the birding telescope we could even see two indistinct reddish bands in the atmosphere of the planet. Beautiful. 


Reed Warbler on Flowering Rush, Lodge, 19th July 2011.Reed Warbler on Flowering Rush, Lodge, 19th July 2011.


Monday 27th July [Showers, some heavy, & breezy]

I wasn't too surprised, given the conditions, to find an adult Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and adult male Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa at the Lodge early this afternoon. Other than them, it was business as usual. I saw 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a 2nd-calendar year Hobby Falco subbuteo of note.

While I was at the Lodge, I met Martin Cottis preparing to go out fishing and I mentioned that I had seen a few dead trout up at the dam end (I saw quite a lot more later), and we were both saddened at the loss. The downside of fish going belly-up, for whatever reason, from my perspective, is that those dead fish floating around at the lakes are attracting increasing numbers of a top bird predator, the Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus, year on year. Like our coastal race of Cormorants, they shouldn't be needing to come inland (I accept there is a race of inland continental Cormorant that has spread into the area) but they are attracted by a readily available food source that, like it or not, is a result of the actions of our society e.g., fast food littering in towns and cities has resulted in gulls nesting there. The problem with having Great Black-backed Gulls at the lake during the breeding season is that very few waterfowl are successfully rearing young at either Blagdon or Chew Valley Lakes, due to increased predation, and the gulls are a big factor.  I have been challenged about my comments yesterday because they were seen as being accusatory towards anglers and the fishery in general. They weren't, I have been an angler for most of life, but that doesn't mean we should shy away from looking at the consequences of the pastime. There are changes happening that are having a pretty catastrophic effect on the breeding success of waterfowl, and as someone who sees the lake and its environs from several perspectives, I am flagging up the issue for discussion. Angling may, or may not, be a significant factor.


Sunday 26th July [Showers]

With rain on and off through the night I went to the lake with some hope of finding new birds early this morning, but I was disappointed. No waders on Tiny's Shallow and only 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus still at Top End but sitting in the hide for a while I saw 6 adult Dunlin Calidris alpina (1 and a flock of 5) fly down the lake, but none of them apparently stopped over. The family party of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Holt Farm, and the 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba that roosted last night were present, but I didn't spot the Little Egrets during my visit from 0730-0930 hrs. 

In the evening, I met Mark and Ken to do a bit of bat detective work. I had noticed large numbers of bats flying down a lane in Butcombe on 17th July, so I wanted to know what species they were and where they were coming from. We found a large roost of several hundred Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, which is of considerable interest to our work with bats at the lake. So, an evening well spent.


Saturday 25th July [Wet, with some torrential downpours.]

I was on site by 0730 hrs this morning hoping for some migrants after last night's rain, and duly found 2 adult Dunlin Calidris alpina and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge. The family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Holt Farm and I counted 6 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta scattered about the lake on the way to Top End. There was another adult Dunlin on Wookey Point, along with 6 Teal Anas crecca, and I counted 17 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis between Hellfire Corner and Burmah Road. I left at 0900 hrs, but had time for a walk after the rain stopped this evening, and added a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Long Bay, 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wookey Point, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo having a spat with a Green Woodpecker Picus viridis in Indian Country pines, before making my way homeward at dusk.


Friday 24th July [Warm but mainly overcast]

Walking down Station Road I saw 2 Holly Blue butterflies, and along Park Lane, at Cheddar Water, I came across a pretty worn Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia. There was nothing to report in front of the Lodge, so I set off for Top End and came across a Green Woodpecker Picus viridis at Long Bay pines, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn, and counted 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba from Rainbow Point. At Bell's Bush barrier there was a freshly emerged fruiting body of a Shaggy Ink Cap Coprinus comatus beside the road, and just before I turned into the hide a pristine-looking male Brimstone butterfly Gonepteryx rhamni flew over the hedge. Amazingly, I counted no fewer than 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta from the hide, none of which had been previously visible during my walk and saw 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.  I also saw 2 Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta and spotted a family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca (pair plus 2 juvs.) on Holt Farm, that I think had flown in from elsewhere.

It was also a delight to bump into angler Mike Churn who I haven't seen for over a year. Great to see you out by the lake again Mike!


Thursday 23rd July [Warm & mainly sunny]

Another pretty warm today, and I understand the fishing has been pretty fantastic this year, albeit mainly from the boats. I saw pretty much the same notable birds that I've seen for the last few days viz. 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End. While going through the ducks, however, I spotted 16 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis asleep in the weed off Hellfire Corner, presumably newly arrived to moult as well.


Wednesday 22nd July [Warm & sunny]

I went for a walk with friends this morning, so it was late in the day when I got to the lake. I counted 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta dotted around the perimeter, an adult summer plumage Dunlin Calidris alpina on Tiny's Shallow, where there was also an adult Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus with a yellow leg ring D:AE, that is not one I've seen before, although I've little doubt it was ringed by the Goldcliffe Ringing Group. A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was pottering about on Green Lawn, and a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus was at Burmah Road where I saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo fly over. I made an incomplete count (due to the low sun) of 50 Moorhens Gallinula chloropus, and 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wookey Point from the hide.

You'd think I'd be happy with the low water conditions, but I have to say I'm actually pretty concerned about the extraordinary amount of weed that seems to be choking much of the Top End of the lake and margins. I count the rows of stones on the dam to give me an idea of the level, and as of this evening I reckon it's about 64%, but 'my patch' looks pretty awful today, and I'm sad and shocked. I think it will have a profound effect on the angling and bird watching as the year progresses. It's actually difficult to tell where the water is from the Top End hide. You have to ask yourself what's causing such rapid, and potentially damaging, change? My walk this morning happened to take in the riverside between Iwood and Congresbury, downstream of the lake, and where I used to see, and fish for, shoals of quality roach when I was young, I didn't actually see a fish at all today, although I've little doubt they are present. But, as Marcellus opined, "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."


Tuesday 21st July [Warm & sunny]

Today, there were 2 Redshanks Tringa totanus on Tiny's Shallow, and I counted 3 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in the evening. At dusk, I met up with Mark and Ken to do a bat maternity roost emergence count at a house in the village - 619 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus came out!


Monday 20th July [Hot & sunny]

What a contrast with yesterday when I went down to the lake this morning. There wasn't a breath of wind and there was only a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus of note as far as waders were concerned. Some egrets were present, but I suspect my count wasn't exhaustive because I only saw 2 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Annoyingly, while I was on my way to check the evening roost, my car had a flat tyre, so missed getting a full count today.


Sunday 19th July [Early rain drying out later]

I had arranged to meet fellow warden Mark this morning at 0700 hrs to see if we could find any birds before the anglers rolled up. Boy, was it worth getting out of bed early! We had a fall of waders in front of the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow comprising an adult summer plumage Turnstone Arenaria interpres, 9 adult summer plumage Dunlin Calidris alpina, 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos. Then, moving on, Mark spotted an adult Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, and we saw 5 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta from Rainbow Point. I scanned Top End with the scope and nearly didn't bother to go down to the Top End hide, but I'm so glad I did - there was an adult Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta on Wookey Point (3rd Blagdon record, and one of the others was a probable escape) but it seemed to have moved on, as had many of the others, before we left site at 0900 hrs. All that before breakfast!

Confession time... when I went back this evening, the Avocet was still at Top End after all. Sorry folks. The only additions this evening were a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Tiny's Shallow and a revision of the Little Egret count up to 8. I then drove to Publow to do a bat emergence count with Ken and Mark. On the way home I saw a Barn Owl Tyto alba along Bickfield Lane at the Ubley end.


Saturday 18th July [Sunny spells with rain at dusk]

I've just got back home and I'm buzzing! I've just been listening to a Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus churring in Lodge Copse at 2140-45 hrs. I heard it twice, the first time for maybe 30 seconds as I approached along the south side road on foot, and then again briefly for maybe 5-10 seconds before it stopped abruptly as I got within 50-100 metres of the wood. I rang Mark to tell him and waited for it to sing again, but no luck. So, I walked slowly through the wood along the road, looking at the dead branches, but didn't see it. I rang Mark back to tell him I hadn't heard it again and he suggested some playback. So, I stood in the middle of the green by the car park and played 30 seconds to a minute of a churring bird but got no response. I was going to wait for another 15 minutes or so, but it then started to rain, so I made a break for home and got pretty damp by the time I got up the hill! It was was a first for me at Blagdon, although they breed on top of the hill of course, and it is probably the first site record, although an angling friend was convinced he'd seen one flying around Rainbow Point years ago, but I have no recorded details about that sighting. I saw 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus  on Wookey Point, plus 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at their roost, and set off for home a little earlier than normal - how lucky was that?


Friday 17th July [Warm & sunny]

I went down to the lake in the afternoon sunshine to have a quick look for overnight arrivals that may have lingered, and to look for Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum in Home Bay to see if the recent colonisers were still hanging on at the lake. There were no waders, but it didn't take more than a few seconds to spot some mature Small Red-eyed Damselflies and a female Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator ovipositing. 


Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Home Bay, 26th July 2018.Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Home Bay, 26th July 2018.


It was difficult to be sure how many egrets were present as they were widely scattered (and is the reason I generally count them going to roost), but I saw no less than 5 Great Whites Ardea alba and 9 Little Egretta garzetta again. This evening Mark and Ken videoed another bat emergence at the lakeside as we continue to monitor some of the breeding colonies. They had 99 and 78 (cf. 89 & 58 on 21st June) Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out of the two boxes checked and reckon to have got some footage of juveniles looking out of the entrances. Meanwhile, I walked to Butcombe and came across a big movement of bats making their way towards the lake that we'll need to follow up. Numbers were impressive, but I'm not sure what species yet. When I met up with the others, after they'd finished, I was able to show them 3 adult female Glow-worms Lampyris noctiluca that I'd spotted at the lake too.


 Thursday 16th July [Warm & sunny]

As usual at the moment, my visit was another late evening walk to see if I could find anything new. Unfortunately, I saw the usual birds, although when the egrets went to roost there were 5 Great Whites Ardea alba and 9 Little Egretta garzetta. I stayed for a while, as dusk fell, but only saw a single Hobby Falco subbuteo so as a result there were no noisy interactions like last night.

I made my way home as darkness fell and although there was some cloud, I did have a nice view of Comet Neowise again in the northern sky. I recalled driving home from a twitch in London with Keith Vinicombe et al. in the 1990s, and by dint of taking the wrong turning off the M25, I brought us back across Salisbury Plain where we had a memorable view of Comet Hale-Bopp over Stonehenge as we went past. This evening was also pretty memorable for the sight of all the bats that flew across my binocular view of the new comet. Now, there's a photographic challenge!


Wednesday 15th July [Overcast & warm]

I finally felt fit enough for a walk this evening, after two days of back pain, and wanted to see the egret roost again. Eventually, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta came in. They were joined by 500+ Jackdaws Coloeus monedula that initially flew into Holt Copse in a cacophony of sound, before relocating to Hellfire Corner where they settled down in silence. I saw the adult Greylag Anser anser in Holt Bay, and 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wookey Point as I walked to Top End and, before I set off for home, 2 quite noisy Hobbies Falco subbuteo spent some time flying around the hide area providing enough entertainment to ensure it was quite dark by the time I put my feet up. I was amazed at how much the water level had gone down in the previous 24 hours, which ought to provide a draw for passage waders now, although I wonder if the incredible amount of weed around the margins might put some of the probing species off. Time will tell.


Tuesday 14th July [Overcast but dry]

I spent most of the day working on this revision of the website which will shortly be moved from one host server to another. This may result in some loss of service, although I'm hoping to get it sorted in time to provide some sort of continuity. It's very much fingers crossed! My late visit to the lake meant I only recorded 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta as the roost started to gather, plus an adult Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus on Wookey Point and an adult Greylag Anser anser at Burmah Road, before I moved on to meet with Ken and Mark to do a bat emergence count at one of our local churches.


Monday 13th July [Overcast and rain later in the day]

There has been a notable increase in the number of Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula at the lake and I also counted 17 Pochard Aythya ferina and 3 Teal Anas crecca that were new in.  There were 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wookey Point a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting before I left and 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (2 of which roosted) and 7 Little egrets Egretta garzetta.


Sunday 12th July [Another lovely day]

I made a couple of visits to the lake today and saw the usual suspects, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta when they flew into the roost, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Green Lawn, a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End, and exquisite views of Comet Neowise, easily visible to the naked eye, while walking home as dusk fell.


Saturday 11th July [Warm & sunny]

The level is just starting to get interesting in time for some migrant activity at the lake, and the birds duly obliged with an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus at the Lodge, and a Ruff Calidris pugnax and 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Wookey Point. Also noted were a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Walking some of the local lanes last night, I spotted a little group of 8 Glow-worms Lampyris noctiluca but didn't see Comet Neowise. The lights of the airport are getting more and more intrusive on the northern skyline since I moved to Blagdon 30 years ago. I shall probably have to go somewhere else to see it in the low north-western sky over the next few days, I think.


Friday 10th July [A beautiful end to a day that gradually improved]

In order to try and keep the 'lock down' exercise momentum going, I walked to Top End and back from the house this evening, birding as I went. I met Mark and Ross, saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 6 Hobbies Falco subbuteo. The sunset and subsequent twilight were simply stunning. 


Juvenile Hobby, Top End, 22nd Sept. 2019.Juvenile Hobby, Top End, 22nd Sept. 2019.


Thursday 9th July [Overcast with rain showers]

A lunchtime walk didn't turn up too much I'm afraid, I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba at Tiny's Shallow and Rainbow Point and spotted 6 scattered Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at Bell's Bush. Later in the day, I counted 2 Great White Egrets and 7 Little Egrets at the roost, before going over to Chew Valley Lake where Mark and Ken carried out a bat emergence survey. Thankfully, the rain showers abated just enough for a count to be made.


Wednesday 8th July [Light rain late in the day]

My wet evening walk was a little disappointing, as most of the Little Egrets Egretta garzetta appear to have left site, although it's possible they were feeding or roosting out of sight. I saw just the one Little, and 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Tuesday 7th July [Overcast, with drizzle sweeping through in waves in the evening.]

I drove down to the lake this afternoon and by good fortune met angling instructor and guide Martin Cottis in the car park. We had a long and interesting chat about all manner of wildlife, during which he showed me a photo of a Dark Green Fritillary Speyeria aglaja that he'd taken while out fishing at Blagdon. I told him that this is the first record I know about from the site. We have small numbers of the woodland specialist Silver-washed Fritillary noted in most years, but the grassland specialist Dark Green Fritillary is likely to have come from the top of the Mendips where it is found on reserves such as SWT Ubley Warren that I wardened for 20 years (during which time I set up and carried out many butterfly transects). Perhaps it was a happy result of the strong winds we've been experiencing this summer that blew it off the hilltop? Although the hay meadows at the lake are outstanding floristically, they are not suitable for this butterfly unfortunately, as the larval food plants are Violet spp., and those we do have on site are mainly woodland or woodland edge species.

I walked from the Lodge to the Top End gate and back, but the birding wasn't especially exciting. I saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a 2nd-calendar year Hobby Falco subbuteo and the Greylag Anser anser of note. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers are starting to build, mainly drakes, and are sitting around in the extensive weed beds as they commence their wing moult. We ought to reach peak numbers in August, with a second influx during September, unless conditions dictate otherwise. I understand the lake is still being pumped down, so fingers crossed for a good autumn's birding - it may go some way to make up for the enforced halt in bat work due to Covid-19.

By the time I got down to the lake again in the evening, it was cold and wet, and some of the Little Egrets had already gone to roost early, so I couldn't get a definitive count, but I did see 2 Great White's, one that roosted with the Little's, and one that flew off towards Chew Valley Lake.


Monday 6th July [Overcast early, sunny later, & dry.]

Rob Hargreaves and I did the WeBS count this morning, details of which are on the WeBS Page. We met at the south end of the dam as usual and were treated to a fly past by a Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia before we started the count. Coot Fulica atra numbers have climbed steeply since last month to 1132 (only 30 of which were juveniles) and while there were 12 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, we only saw a single Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End before we left, but I saw 6 hunting there at dusk. Likewise, we saw a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam this morning, but when I went back this evening there were three. Mute Swans Cygnus olor counted this evening totalled 74, including a single brood of 8 juveniles, and there were new broods of 1 juvenile Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus and 2 juvenile Mallards Anas platyrhynchos in Butcombe Bay.


Sunday 5th July [Strong winds. Changeable.]

I had a look around mid-afternoon and met Mark while I was there. Despite the conditions, it was eerily quiet from a birding in point of view. There were virtually no birds on all the exposed margins, with the exception of Rugmoor Point where all the Canada Geese Branta canadensis were huddled together in the teeth of the gale. I saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba at Indian Country but could find nothing of note until I got to the hide when I was able to tot up about 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta sheltering at Burmah Road, and the Greylag Goose Anser anser that was also feeding up the bank there. Mark went around to Rugmoor, after I had to leave, and found another 3 Little Egrets. So, there were at least 11 present on the lakeside, but neither of us did a roost count in the evening.


Saturday 4th July [Overcast with lots of drizzly showers]

I made two visits to the lake today, 1215-1415 hrs and 1915 hrs until dark. On Green Lawn during my first visit I found 6 Shelducks Tadorna tadorna and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. I walked to Top End, after parking on Rainbow Point, and counted 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba as well as seeing a Devil's coach-horse Ocypus olens on the road at Wood Bay on the way back. Mark had come down just after me, so I told him about the Shelducks, but an angler had already ventured onto Green Lawn so they were nowhere to be seen, although we did see 2 Common Sandpipers this time. He left shortly after me, but we met up again in the evening to walk to the hide and back from the Lodge. When we got out of the cars, an angling friend who lives in the village, Clive, came over to us and swore he'd seen an Ibis on Rainbow Point earlier in the day. He said there was no doubt about it, he'd seen plenty in Africa and Australia. We didn't know what to make of it, and we certainly hadn't seen it during our visits. This evening 13 Little Egrets went to roost, and we saw the Greylag Anser anser, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo.


Friday 3rd July [Changeable]

A mid-morning visit for an hour, eventually solved the mystery of a brown raptor that I'd seen briefly on both 30th June and 1st July and was unable to get any positive ID features on. I had suspected that it could only really be a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus but a friend messaged a couple of days ago saying he'd briefly seen a dark raptor at Chew that he suspected might have been something a little more exotic - so I kept my council until I was happy with what I'd been seeing. Other than the harrier, it was business as usual, with 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 2 Great Whites Ardea alba.

In the evening I saw an adult Redshank Tringa totanus at the Lodge and a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End, but I didn't stay until dusk because it was a bit too wet.

This year has seen an unprecedented growth of water weed, and the corresponding increase in hatching Damselflies has been astonishing. I was chatting with angler Jeff Hirst this morning, and he was telling me the fishing has been magic, but the weed growth has restricted the available bank space for fishermen. We've both seen shoals of small fry, and I said I had seen small Perch at the boat quay in good numbers for the first time in years - they've got plenty of cover, but the egrets will be on their case I've no doubt!


Thursday 2nd July [Changeable & windy]

At lunchtime I had a few moments to have a quick look around and saw 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in Rugmoor Bay and a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Indian Country. I took a more more leisurely walk in the evening and saw the pair of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata still apparently on territory, counted 79 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and saw 2 Great White Egrets. The new one had a bi-coloured bill; the basal third was yellow and the distal two-thirds was black. At dusk 6 Little Egrets flew in to the new roost, with another at Wookey Point, and were joined by the resident Great White, and on my walk home I saw 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting off Flower Corner/Bell's Bush.


Wednesday 1st July [Early rain, late sun, & blustery.]

There were 2 juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus on the dam this evening, the Greylag Anser anser at Wood Bay, a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus that lolloped along the road in front of me at Hellfire Corner, 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at Top End and another later at the dam end. I heard a juvenile Tawny Owl Strix aluco food begging at Pipe Bay Copse and saw an adult fly across Park Lane to it. The egret roost had 7 Little Egretta garzetta and one Great White Ardea alba this evening, plus another Great White that flew off towards Chew. Ross, who joined me at the hide as darkness set in, watched a Badger Meles meles to within a few feet, that had probably been attracted by fallen Cherries. He also told me that the Spotted Flycatcher nest in his porch was found on the ground today with the eggs smashed - he thought it was probably caused by the wind. Such a shame.

I guesstimate the water level to be around 73%, with Rugmoor Point just being exposed. If pumping continues, it won't be long before Tiny's Shallow appears in front of the Lodge, and Wookey Point appears to the left of the Top End hide.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.