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Blagdon Lake Birds

June 2020 News

Tuesday 30th June [Overcast]

I had an interesting evening walk, during which I heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Top End and saw 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at dusk. But the real eye-opener was the egrets coming in to roost; 4 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Earlier in the walk, I'd spotted 2 female Mallards Anas platyrhynchos with new broods of 1 and 4 juveniles, but both sitting Great Crested Grebes have gone from in front of the Lodge in the last few days. I couldn't see any with young so, perhaps, they were predated. A fisheries ranger told me he'd seen a family of American Mink Neovison vison nearby in the last few days!


Monday 29th June [Blustery with showers]

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus numbers have been building in the last week or two, and today, I saw the first juvenile among them on the dam wall. On the subject of juvenile birds, there were 2 sizeable juvenile Moorhens Gallinula chloropus in front of the Lodge that may have hatched here, although it's difficult to be sure. I counted 77 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, and 87 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, and spotted a Hobby Falco subbuteo and Greylag Anser anser at Holt Bay. The non-breeding Great White Egret Ardea alba was in Long Bay, and I saw 4, possibly more, Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in the base of a Willow tree out of the wind.


Sunday 28th June [Showers]

I wanted to leave my evening free, so I had a look around quickly at lunchtime. I saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Saturday 27th June [Sunshine & showers]

There was an influx of Little Egrets Egretta garzetta with 5, or possibly 6 going to roost, as well as the usual non-breeding Great White Egret Ardea alba. Also noted, were the Greylag Anser anser, the pair of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata, and 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at dusk.


Friday 26th June [Sunny, so far!]

I visited the lake between 0415 and 0715 hrs this morning. I got two patch year ticks which made it worthwhile. Three male Common Scoters Melanitta nigra at 0625 hrs between Rainbow and Rugmoor Points that were definitely not social distancing. Eventually they moved far enough apart to flap their quite brown looking flight feathers before splashing themselves a couple of times and heading off west at 0635 hrs. Earlier, I had put up a very vocal Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus as I crossed the bridge at Long Bay. It flew to Home Bay Point still protesting for a while, before towering up and heading off south over the Mendips. The Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti was singing at Top End when I got there, and on the way back home I heard, then saw, 2 Redshanks Tringa totanus on the dam wall.

In the evening I went back to the lake and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a flock of 25 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula at the dam end and a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 9 juveniles off the Spillway.


Common Sandpiper, Dam wall, 9th July 2007.Common Sandpiper, Dam wall, 9th July 2007.


Tuesday 23rd June [Sunny & hot]

Once again there were 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, albeit briefly, the Greylag Anser anser, and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata - good to know they are still hanging on as a breeding species. At Top End a male Pochard Aythya ferina was a surprise while watching 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.


Monday 22nd June [Sunny & warm]

Sorry for late news, computer at menders not being mended! I have it back temporarily, so will update before it goes away again for the weekend.

I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and a single Hobby Falco subbuteo today. I also noted a male Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum and Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum.


Sunday 21st June [Sunny spells & breezy]

Mark found what was presumably the same juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on the dam this afternoon and saw an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus there briefly before it flew. He later relocated it on Green Lawn but it flew again. Meantime, I missed it on both occasions! However, I caught up with it on Green Lawn later, thank goodness. There was a single Great White Egret Ardea alba feeding along the Indian Country bank in the evening, before we went to look at our two bat hibernation boxes, to see if any bats emerged at dusk, bearing in mind the previous check on 22nd May showed none were present. Given that Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus are usually among the first species to give birth, around the beginning of June, we weren't hopeful, but in the end were pleasantly surprised to find that 89 emerged from one box, and 58 from the other. In the past, they have usually established their group in one or other box, so we decided to fit data loggers in both to enable us to see what differences there might be in temperature and humidity during occupation. It looks like they have scuppered that plan by occupying both this summer!


Saturday 20th June [Showers]

I had a quick look at lunchtime, but it was already starting to get way too busy on the dam and along Park Lane to stick around, despite the drizzle. There were 3 adult Redshanks Tringa totanus and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on the south end of the dam, and I counted circa 225 moulting Canada Geese Branta canadensis and 1 Greylag Anser anser, during which I also spotted a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Rugmoor Point.

Later in the evening, Mark and I counted 7 Hobbies at Top End.


Friday 19th June [Early rain]

Despite looking from the dam to the Top End gate I didn't see any birds worthy of note except the Greylag Anser anser. However, when I got back to the dam, before the climb back up the hill into the village, I spotted a Charadrius sp. plover on the dam. It was too far away to positively identify through my binoculars. Mark drove back to the dam to see if he could name it, but he couldn't find it. I drove back down with my scope too but, like Mark, I couldn't relocate it either. The most likely candidate would be a Little Ringed Plover at this time of year, but this was one that, unfortunately, got away.

Mark, Ken and I carried out a bat emergence survey at Chew Valley Lake at dusk (following current Covid-19 guidelines) and counted 34 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros. This is a good count for the roost at this time of year, and equals a count I made on 26th June 2015, albeit with less sophisticated kit than Mark and Ken were using last night.


Thursday 18th June [The rain was persistent all day]

I elected to drive down to the lake today, it was way too wet for a prolonged walk. It was worth it, because I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a 2nd calendar year female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, and 2 Sand Martins Riparia riparia among the host of hirundines and Swifts at Top End. Mark arrived in time to see the harrier through the murk too, and after I'd gone home, he also heard the male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Top End near the gate.


Wednesday 17th June [Thunderstorm in the afternoon]

It's that quiet time of year on the birding front. I saw the Greylag Anser anser again, this time in the company of one of the Canada Goose flocks, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo over Top End, but it wasn't until I was on my way back to the Lodge that I saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba fly along the North Shore, presumably from Butcombe Bay.

There was a nice display of Betony Stachys officinalis in a few patches towards Top End, and even a patch of Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis starting to flower, a plant I usually regard as a late summer nectar source for insects.


Devil's-bit Scabious, Top End, 22nd July 2013.Devil's-bit Scabious, Top End, 22nd July 2013.


Tuesday 16th June [Warm with some thunderstorm activity]

It was quiet at the lake, and I was sitting in the hide when I received a call from an excited friend, Mervyn Pearce, who had just seen and photographed a Rosy Starling in his garden in Whitchurch. There has been a bit of an influx of this good-looking bird in the last few weeks, so it wasn't a total surprise that one was found locally. I'm really happy for Merv though, because he has been confined to barracks during the pandemic, so has been making the most of his garden wildlife watching.

On 'my patch', I saw one each of Little Egretta garzetta and Great White Egret Ardea alba, and the Greylag Anser anser was on its own again feeding in Holt Bay, instead of on the dam where most of the 100+ Canada Geese Branta canadensis had gathered to feed during their moult. As I walked back towards the Lodge, I heard a male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Top End, and an adult Hobby Falco subbuteo flew past me at Burmah Road, but I didn't stay long enough to count those still present as dusk fell.


Monday 15th June [Sunny & warm]

Not much to report today. I saw the Great White Egret Ardea alba and Mark counted 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo from the hide at dusk.


Sunday 14th June [A damp start turning into a warm, sunny, day.]

The Greylag Anser anser was feeding on its own in Holt Bay when I got there during my walk, but Mark had spent most of the afternoon and evening at the lake, and I met him mid-evening on Rainbow Point. We could see the usual Great White Ardea alba and Little Egret Egretta garzetta, but he said there had been two other Great Whites earlier, that had probably flown off before I arrived. We spent half an hour in the hide watching the sun go down, Mark heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal, and we counted at least 8 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting insects before we went our respective ways. Nigel Crocker texted me to say he'd seen 3 Red Kites over his Ubley garden during the afternoon, which upset Mark when I told him, because he'd been especially looking out for Red Kite, needing it for his patch year list! Oops!


Saturday 13th June [Changeable with rain]

I went to the lake for a look around early this evening and saw a non-breeding Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in breeding plumage, and the lone Greylag Anser anser with the moulting Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock. I bumped into Mark at Rainbow Point and he stayed on after I'd left to go out for a jog and added 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.


Friday 12th June [Changeable with some heavy showers]

Sorry for the lack of news, I've been busy, and a cup of tea toppling off a book all over my laptop keyboard has made life difficult for the last few days! Anyway, Carol and Steve had a look for the Caspian Tern, that had been seen at Chew earlier, without luck around lunchtime. They reported 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, Pyramidal Orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis flowering and saw their first Marbled Whites Melanargia galathea of the year. I did my usual (at the moment) evening visit, and saw 6 Hobbies over the water, it's by far the best time of day to look for them, saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Greylag Anser anser, and counted 64 Mute Swans Cygnus olor. As I walked back into the village up Station Road a Barn Owl flew across the road in front of me, before a Hobby did the same about 200 metres further up the hill.

The two Soprano Pipistrelles were both returned to the surgery last night, after their short period of rehabilitation. Both were well-fed and watered, and flying strongly.


Tuesday 9th June

I was very late on site this evening, because I was busy feeding the Soprano Pipistrelles rescued yesterday, but I was in time to see 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at Top End as dusk fell.

Both Soprano Pipistrelles are doing fine and are eating and drinking very well. I'm hoping to release them back into a roost in the building they came from tomorrow, if the weather holds. If it doesn't, then they can continue to feed-up on meal worms and re-hydrate, plus get an extra day's rest; it won't do them any harm.


Monday 8th June

Rob Hargreaves and I carried out the WeBS count this morning, albeit with low numbers of waterfowl present. Top count was 484 Coots Fulica atra. There were good numbers of Mute Swan Cygnus olor with 69 adults, 1 1st-summer and the brood of 8 juveniles, 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, and only 10 Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. Rob and I missed the Great White Egret Ardea alba, seen by another observer, but I saw it in the evening when birding with Mark, along with 9 Hobbies.

During the afternoon I picked up two grounded ♀ Soprano Pipistrelles from a local surgery, where they'd become trapped in the services room. Both were looking in a very sorry state, where they'd been crawling around on the dusty floor, but readily took water. I hope they pull through overnight, and I will get them some mealworms tomorrow.


Saturday 6th June [Cool & windy]

Mark and I arranged to meet at the lake to take another look at the Hobbies, hopefully in better light. Sadly, and probably due to the blustery conditions, viewing was somewhat curtailed because we both got pretty cold as dusk fell! At least two of the birds seen last night were 1st-summer birds that hunted together, and we wanted to be sure that they weren't the similar-looking Red-footed Falcon. I did see one perch briefly this evening, albeit a long way off, and was happy enough that it had yellow legs (before you flame me, I couldn't see the whole bird, just its wings, tail and legs). We saw 7 in the air on one occasion, but there may have been more present.


Friday 5th June [Cool]

A walk to Top End and back produced the male Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca singing at Long Bay, the male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing in the Butcombe Bay area, and an amazing and, possibly record-breaking, 10 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting insects over the water together at Top End. I saw 7 in the air from the Top End hide in 2016, but this evening was exceptional.


Thursday 4th June [Overcast & breezy]

There was, apparently, a single Greylag Anser anser on Holt Farm in long grass this evening, but there may have been another hidden bird. A pair of Gadwall Mareca strepera were in Holt Bay but aren't showing any sign of nesting, unfortunately. A male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was singing from somewhere around Butcombe Bay, and a Great White Egret Ardea alba was on Rugmoor Point. At Top End we saw a single Hobby Falco subbuteo before going to look at a Soprano Pipistrelle roost in the village in the light rain that set in at dusk.


Wednesday 3rd June [Damp, mainly spits & spots.]

This evening, as I walked the last few yards down Station Road to the dam, we had the first real rain of the day! After sheltering under some trees for a while, I decided to go ahead and bird my way to Top End and back. The fayre was much the same as yesterday, with a Great White Egret Ardea alba stalking the North Shore, and 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo and a squealing Water Rail Rallus aquaticus at Top End. However, I also saw 2 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus on the dam, one of which was certainly a 1st-summer, but I couldn't age the other with the poor view that I had of it. In addition, there were 2 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus broods (each with a single juvenile) in Wood Bay.

I would say the water level is around 82% at present.


Tuesday 2nd June [Hot & sunny]

Another hot day and mad antics of the general public, so I chose to take my walk in the evening. There wasn't a great deal to report I'm afraid. Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus is starting to flower, which is nice feature of the flora of the lake, and Mark and I saw 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo. We also heard Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing from the same area for the second consecutive evening, although I've not heard any song this year.

Tomorrow, we are promised the weather will turn and that we might get some rain - the ground does really need it. No doubt many mammals will be struggling to find food with the ground so hard, and some rain will be really welcomed by them, especially with young to feed.


Monday 1st June [Hot & sunny]

Some of the behaviour by the public visiting the lake continues to outrageous and frankly, I don't want to be there at the moment. So, apologies for the intermittent news but I want to keep myself and family safe. Anyway, on to today's sightings. The Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca continues to sing in the hedge at Long Bay, and a male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was singing around Holt Copse area. A Great White Egret Ardea alba (non-breeding bill colour and plumage) was stalking along the bank at Paradise, Peg's Point and Rugmoor Bay and there were 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo still present. I also saw my first Six-spot Burnet Moth Zygaena filipendulae and Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina of the year during the afternoon. Ah, and nearly forgot, there were no fewer than 12 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus on the lake today as well.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.