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Blagdon Lake Birds

August 2021 News

Tuesday 31st August [Overcast with occasional drizzle]

I walked with friends Ann and Colin from Portishead to Clevedon along the coast path (apart from where we were diverted due to upgrading works at Walton Bay) this morning. I carried my binoculars but the only interesting bird I saw was a Wheatear at Nore Point.

After a cuppa when I got home, I had a look around at the lake late in the afternoon. One of the first birds I saw from the Lodge was a site year tick, a Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima feeding with Pied Wagtails M. alba yarrellii. I can't hear their flight calls anymore, so to see one on the deck was a real bonus. At Top End I saw the same birds that have been present for a few days, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 1 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a number of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus that I didn't count. Other birds included the Wigeon hybrid and a Sand Martin Riparia riparia from the Lodge


Yellow Wagtail, Lodge. 31st August 2021.Yellow Wagtail, Lodge. 31st August 2021.   

Mediterranean & Black-headed Gulls, Lodge. 29th August 2021.Mediterranean & Black-headed Gulls, Lodge. 29th August 2021.


Monday 30th August [A coolish breeze & overcast]

Today's visit was in the morning in the hope of some more migrants, but it was pretty much cut and paste yesterday's news. There were 2 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 14 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula, 14 Wigeon Mareca penelope, and a Whitethroat Sylvia communis. The Pintail appear to have moved on, but have been replaced by 6 Pochard Aythya ferina, and the Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula brood of three appears to be down to two.


Sunday 29th August [Cooler with a north-easterly breeze. Dry.]

The first signs of autumn were reflected in the birds at the lake today. There was a good selection, with 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, 12 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 4 Pintails Anas acuta, 14 Wigeon Mareca penelope, and in front of the Lodge at dusk, a Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, 2 Mediterranean Gulls Ichthyaetus melanocephalus (adult and 2nd cal. yr.) and a Common Gull Larus canus in the growing gull roost. I found a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra at Bell's Bush, and Mark found another at Peg's Point.


Saturday 28th August [Warm & dry]

Back on the home patch today, I made two trips down to the lake, one at lunchtime and one in the evening when I met Mark. In between my visits Andy Mears had a look too. Combining our notes, we saw 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, 3, possibly 4, Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo of note. On Bell's Bush meadow I saw a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas butterfly.


Friday 27th August [Overcast with a coolish breeze]

I had another away day courtesy of Mark, who drove us back to Yorkshire to RSPB Blacktoft Sands to see the White-tailed Plover (more recently referred to as White-tailed Lapwing), our third British tick in six days! It's a great reserve, and the staff had everything perfectly organised, so many thanks to them for an excellent visit. I feel compelled to say that I thought that most birders going in and out of the hides were poor when it came to hide etiquette - doors were slammed, and the noise inside was pretty hopeless at times. When someone came in and started banging me about while I was trying to photograph the bird I'd had enough! We saw lots of nice birds including Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Tree Sparrow, Bearded Reedling, Water Rail, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit and many more.


White-tailed Plover, RSPB Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks. 27th August 2021.White-tailed Plover, RSPB Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks. 27th August 2021.


Thursday 26th August [Warm & sunny]

I had a walk after tea from the Lodge to Top End hide and back. I came across a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata at Home Bay, and counted 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 5 Little Egretta garzetta and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba from Rainbow Point. At Top End I saw 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 11 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, and the Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, but I didn't have time to go through the Teal Anas crecca for Garganey before it got too dark.


Wednesday 25th August [Warm & dry]

I spent the morning walking with friends along the old railway line from the Avalon Marshes Centre to RSPB Ham Wall and back. However, in the afternoon I went down to the lake as there had been a report of an Osprey in front of the Lodge during the morning on Birdguides. I didn't see the Osprey, but saw the Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola again, 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula, and 2 juvenile Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Top End. I went home for some tea and went back and met Mark. We counted 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 6 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and 3 Wigeon Mareca penelope, before it got too dark to continue.

Angler Edward Cooke contacted me by email to say he and his boat partner saw an Osprey Pandion haliaetus hunting at Top End between 1500-1600 hrs and again at Butcombe where it settled on the Pine trees. Many thanks for the news, Edward, it's really appreciated.


Tuesday 24th August [Warm & dry]

We were supposed to do the WeBS count yesterday, but the 'twitch' meant I had to do it on my own today during the afternoon. I counted: Coot 1163, Mallard 330, Tufted Duck 248, Gadwall 171, Teal 160, Shoveler 153, Moorhen 143, Canada Goose 131, Mute Swan 75, Little Grebe 25, Great Crested Grebe 22, Cormorant 16, Grey Heron 10, Wigeon 5, Little Egret 5, Greenshank 4, Great White Egret 2, Common Sandpiper 1, Wood Sandpiper 1, Buzzard 1, and Hobby 1. The gull counts were Black-headed circa 460, Lesser Black-backed 87, Herring Gull 43 and Great Black-backed 15. I saw two ringed gulls: Adult Lesser Black-backed, red F+N, and adult Herring Gull, blue G:P (ringed in 2004 in Bristol per Pete Rock). 


Monday 23rd August [Warm & dry]

News broke of the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin on The Lizard near Coverack as we drove down the M5 past Gloucester yesterday, so we decided to have a leisurely drive down for the bird if it was showing first thing. Rob Hargreaves joined us for the outing, and after a trek along the SW coast path, during which we saw a pair of Choughs, we rolled up as the robin was sitting in a hedge sunning itself just a few metres away, with only 5 or 6 people watching it. We stayed for quite a while as this was a tick for Mark, Rob and I, although I've seen and photographed the species abroad in the past. I'm so pleased we went because the bird wasn't seen the following day.


Sunday 22nd August

I drove Mark and I up to RSPB Bempton Cliffs again, setting off at 0215 hrs and arriving at 0700 hrs although the last few miles were driving through thick fog. By 0815 hrs we'd caught up with the Black-browed Albatross, which gave us prolonged views in flight, on the cliffs and on the sea, albeit conditions weren't great for photography. We weren't especially close to it, but because we stayed back, we were able to watch it for more of the time than those on the cliff above it. A tick for both of us. We were back in Blagdon at 1625 hrs, so went down to the lake for a look around but I didn't make any notes!


Black-browed Albatross, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 22nd Aug. 2021.Black-browed Albatross, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 22nd Aug. 2021.


Black-browed Albatross, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 22nd Aug. 2021.Black-browed Albatross, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 22nd Aug. 2021.


Saturday 21st August

We saw the first of the ringed gulls in front of the Lodge today and I recorded a Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus, yellow D:EK (first recorded at Blagdon in 2020), and Mark spotted Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, white TOWR (ringed in Poland in 2013, and first noted at Blagdon by me in 2014). There were 3 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. At the quay I spotted 2 Moorhen Gallinula chloropus chicks, one tiny and the other almost full grown, and at Top End there were 2 eclipse adult drake Garganey Spatula querquedula.


Friday 20th August [Mainly dry, warm & overcast.]

I actually had time to enjoy a birding walk this afternoon, and the first bird of note that I saw was the curious Wigeon hybrid that we've seen previously, sleeping in front of the Lodge. I counted 4 Great White Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at various points around the lake, and at Top End saw the Garganey Spatula querquedula, 7+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. There was also a Fox Vulpes vulpes asleep on the foreshore, although it may have just been pretending! A sweep with the scope revealed a brood of 3 juvenile Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula with mum, which came as a shock, and on the way back to the Lodge I counted 68 Canada Geese Branta canadensis. Why was the Tufted brood a shock? Well, the last one I saw here was in 2014. I hope they have a better outcome this time because the last brood was predated by gulls.


Thursday 19th August [A few light rain showers. Changeable.]

The usual egrets were present late this evening, although I only counted 2 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta by the time I arrived on site. There were 10 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus on Tiny's Shallow (with others undoubtedly elsewhere on the lake), the Garganey Spatula querquedula at Top End still, and just after Mark arrived, we had the most extraordinary views of an Otter Lutra lutra.


Wednesday 18th August [Breezy & overcast]

I managed to get to the lake a little earlier today and saw 5 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo. While I was checking gulls at the Lodge, I noticed a Sand Martin Riparia riparia in the small hirundine flock, but no gulls with rings on yet.


Tuesday 17th August

I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water this evening, as well as 3 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus.


Monday 16th August

Mark told me he spent the evening at the lake and heard Greenshank(s) Tringa nebularia calling in front of the Top End hide. He also saw a number of egrets (details to follow).


Sunday 15th August [Mainly overcast with some drizzle, but also some brighter spells]

An evening visit proved to be quite interesting, not so much for the birds I saw, but for the tiny newts migrating across the road away from the lake (possibly Palmate), and the 2 Otters Lutra lutra playing at dusk. The only birds of note were the usual 3 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and the Greenshank Tringa nebularia flying around calling in the darkness.


Saturday 14th August

Neither Mark nor I went to the lake today, but I understand that Andy Mears did, and saw the Greenshank Tringa nebularia.


Friday 13th August

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark did, and he reported the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 2 Great White Ardea alba and 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Thursday 12th August

I walked from the Lodge to Top End and back and saw 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 3 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a roving flock of at least 12 Mistle Thrushes Turdus viscivorus at Top End.


Wednesday 11th August [Mainly sunny & warm]

Mark arrived at the lake just before lunchtime but didn't have anything to report when he came up the hill for a cuppa. We went back down in the afternoon, and on arrival at the Fishing Lodge saw 7 Shelducks Tadorna tadorna on Tiny's Shallow. There were 2 adult drakes, 3 adult ducks and 2 juveniles. We walked from Rainbow Point to Top End and back looking at insects as well as birds. I counted 4 Great White Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus flock appeared to be at Rugmoor still. I carried my scope to Bell's Bush, and Mark managed to spot an adult drake Garganey Spatula querquedula in eclipse plumage at Wookey Point through it, while I walked along to the Top End gate and back looking for passerines.


Tuesday 10th August [Sunny & breezy]

My, what a difference a day makes! I spent much of the afternoon at the lake and saw 2 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, an immature female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, a female Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, a male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo. Mark arrived just before I went home for tea, and went around to Rugmoor, where he found the Greenshank Tringa nebularia and counted 9 Lapwings. After tea, I walked the south side but didn't find anything new.


 Greenshank, Wood Bay. 7th August 2021 Mark Hynam © 2021.Greenshank, Wood Bay. 7th August 2021 Mark Hynam © 2021.


Monday 9th August [Some heavy showers & warm sunny spells]

I trundled down to the lake late in the morning and spent about 2 hours chatting to anglers Jeff and Malcolm whilst standing birding on Rainbow Point. I'd seen the pair of adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa still in front of the Lodge on my way to Rainbow, and while I was there, I saw 3 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Mark arrived, and so did the rain! I counted 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 9 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus at Rugmoor and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis off Rainbow, before popping home. I went back at teatime and found Mark with his camera in front of the Lodge photographing the Godwit. He'd gone round to Rugmoor after I'd left earlier, and found the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, which had relocated from Wood Bay. We spent a bit of time with our cameras watching the Godwit, before I set off for Top End on foot. Mark also made his way along in his van and noted an adult Redshank Tringa totanus that had appeared on Wood Bay Point. I counted 192 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, found a juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, and saw a couple of Hobbies Falco subbuteo, but neither of us saw any Marsh Harriers today - cameras have that effect!


Black-tailed Godwit in evening sun, Fishing Lodge. 9th August 2021.Black-tailed Godwit in evening sun, Fishing Lodge. 9th August 2021.


On my way to Top End on foot, I saw two tiny newts crossing the road and helped them on their way before they became casualties. I have seen this migration during August for many years, but wonder how many of this year's young will actually make it away from the water across the exposed margins to safety, before being predated by the many Crows, Herons, Egrets, and Gulls, and then across the road without being run over? I expect it's a small fraction of those that set foot on terra firma.


Sunday 8th August [A dry, sunny, afternoon.]

Mark and I met at the Fishing Lodge this afternoon, where there were a pair of adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and an adult Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. The usual pair of adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on the dam, and we counted 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, plus 3 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta during our walk. When we got to Wood Bay, we saw the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, and with that a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus flew up from almost under our feet and flew towards Top End. At the Top End hide later in the afternoon we watched 2 Marsh Harriers, one undoubtedly an adult female that don't think I've seen this year, but probably did last year, and an immature female with white on the upper left wing and white in the tail. Then, rather strangely, we watched another Marsh Harrier that looked like an immature female but had no white in the wing or tail. So, I can only conclude that we actually saw 3 Marsh Harriers this afternoon. We also noted that Sand Martins Riparia riparia and Swifts Apus apus were migrating through, and saw 2 Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata together at Long Bay


Saturday 7th August [Showers]

I went for a look around at midday but had to leave in pouring rain after having seen 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, and a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. Mark spent the afternoon at the lake, and additionally reported 3 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, which I also saw during my evening visit. Having seen 5 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis one day last week, I counted 14 of mixed ages this evening. They have been notable by their near absence since earlier in the year.


Friday 6th August [Mainly dry & breezy]

This evening I saw 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 3 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and while I was looking for the Greenshank, which appears to have moved on, I spotted 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago. I also saw 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus hiding in the vegetation on Rugmoor Point.


Thursday 5th August [Showers]

This evening the rain set in, and I cut my visit short by using the car to bird from rather than walking. As usual the 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on the dam, and had been joined by 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos. The Greenshank Tringa nebularia was still at Wood Bay where it was last night, there were 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point, and I counted 2 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. The first two returning Shovelers Spatula clypeata were on Wookey Point, where there also a few Teal Anas crecca.


Wednesday 4th August [Warm with some sunny spells]

This afternoon a shortish visit yielded the first Greenshank Tringa nebularia of the autumn, and the 'egret fest' may be starting to get underway with 2 Great Whites Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta dotted around the shoreline. I went back to the lake in the evening and and saw the Greenshank again with Mark. It was interesting that when it flew it gave a rasping double 'creak' call rather than the usual ringing triple 'teu' call. It was an adult Greenshank though.

Later I saw 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, and the Great Crested Grebe nest that I wrote about yesterday appears to have been abandoned because the eggs were sitting on the raft but not covered, as they would be if the grebe had just moved off the nest. As I walked back from Top End, I heard a Curlew Numenius arquata calling 8-10 times in flight as it winged its way down the lake and away out to the west.


Monday 2nd August [Warm with a thunderstorm & some rain]

There were 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus made a dart at a Mallard Anas platyrhynchos in front of me at The Lodge. The Mallard flew, ditched into the water, and escaped. I didn't see much of the Peregrine other than it was a big 'un, so probably a female. There was a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Holt Bay, and another at Top End, where I also saw 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in the evening. Of interest, while looking out of the hide with Mark at dusk I spotted 3 juvenile Gadwall Mareca strepera with a group of females. I don't know if they've fledged, so don't yet know if they bred at Blagdon or flew in. As well as the Gadwall, we have a developing situation with a pair of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus that were nest building last week, and I noted today that there are two eggs in the nest, which I find amazing at this late stage of the year, although Great Crests have long been known to nest in July at Blagdon.


Sunday 1st August

On Friday night Mark and I set off for East Yorkshire but late news from RSPB Bempton that the Black-browed Albatross had flown out to sea meant that we turned around at Rickford and came home! So, after the bird was confirmed as present all day on Saturday, we elected to try again this morning, with the early news promising. However, after the 5-hour drive, we found out that the bird had flown out to sea again an hour before we arrived. We stayed all afternoon, hoping the bird would return, but gave up at 1800 hrs and went for fish and chips in Bridlington before the long drive home. A dip...

Nevertheless, we spent some of the waiting time with our cameras making the most of the wonderful seabird spectacle:


Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Gannet, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


Fulmar, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Fulmar, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


Kittiwake, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Kittiwake, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


Tree Sparrow, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.Tree Sparrow, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. 1st August 2021.


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