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Blagdon Lake Birds



April 2022 News

Saturday 30th April [A nice day, but turning cool & cloudy in the evening]

I made a brief visit at lunchtime and saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba (a different bird to that seen on Wednesday), a Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis feeding around the cattle on Holt Farm, and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. I went back in the evening and saw the brood of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos first noted in Long Bay on the 23rd, and counted 10 juveniles not the 8+ previously noted. Three Cattle Egrets flew off east, a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus was heard squealing, and a just one Hobby Falco subbuteo was out catching insects at dusk.

 

Friday 29th April [Cold at night & a cool breeze by day]

Another evening visit produced 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam for me, though Mark who spent much of the afternoon and evening at the lake saw 5, and Jane, Mark and I saw 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo feeding, presumably on midges, from the Top End hide as dusk fell.

 

Thursday 28th April [A could breeze]

I only had time for a lunchtime drive through looking for Swifts, without luck, during the main part of the day, but did get back to the lake in the evening for a walk from the Lodge to the Top End hide and back. I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, and heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti in song at Home Bay. No Hobbies showed in the evening.

 

Wednesday 27th April [A cold breeze]

I walked the south side of the lake this afternoon and saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in flight at Burmah Road, and a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Top End, but the cold breeze was suppressing bird song again. I noticed the first of the Southern Marsh or Southern Marsh x Common Spotted Orchids are coming into flower now.

 

Tuesday 26th April [Still cold for the time of year]

The usual Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam wall during my visit today. Mark texted me later to say he'd seen a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus in the evening and suggested that Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus are arriving and starting to spread into potential breeding habitat.

 

Monday 25th April [A cold start, but warming up nicely later.]

I took a trundle around the lake from mid-morning to mid-afternoon and saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, came across 5 singing Garden Warblers Sylvia borin, 3 singing Whitethroats Curruca communis and the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti. I counted 68 Rook Corvus frugilegus nests, many of which had young calling from them, saw pairs of Teal Anas crecca, Gadwall Mareca strepera and Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, and the first brood of 4 juvenile Coots Fulica atra. Other notes included a male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus over Long Bay, a single Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis on Holt Farm with the cattle, a fourth Common Sandpiper at Peg's Point, and a Holly Blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus in All Saint's Meadow.

 

Sunday 24th April [A fine day]

I got out early evening for a walk from the Lodge to Top End and back. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the south end of the dam, heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sing at Home Bay, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Peg's Point. Looking towards Top End from Rainbow Point I could see a number of egrets in a tree, and when I got there I was able to count 7 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis. I added a new bird to the year list, Garden Warbler Sylvia borin, with two heard (one at Bell's Bush barrier and the other towards Top End in the roadside hedge). So, quite a pleasant couple of hours and a gorgeous sunset to cap it off.

 

Saturday 23rd April [Cool & breezy at dusk after a warm sunny day]

I had a quick walk late in the day, from the Lodge to Rainbow Point and back, and saw a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 8 juveniles (I think) at Home Bay Point (the 2nd brood noted this year).

 

Friday 22nd April [Mainly overcast & dry]

I arranged to meet Mark at the Lodge at 0800 hrs, and when I got to the dam I spotted a Greenshank Tringa nebularia and 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos feeding along the wall. We started our survey from the Lodge but there wasn't much birdsong in the cold breeze. However, we did notch up a second patch year tick when we spotted 6 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis among the cattle at Holt/Lag Farm. We heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing, saw a couple of Brown Hares Lepus europaeus chasing each other around, and Mark saw a Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Top End hide while I was checking through the decent flock of hirundines for anything unusual.

 

Thursday 21st April

I was busy all day today, firstly walking with friends along the coast path from Portishead to Clevedon (several Whitethroats and Holly Blues noted), and secondly caring for my mother. In the evening  I drove down to the lake and saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and 2 Otters Lutra lutra at Top End.

 

Wednesday 20th April

I only looked along the south side of the lake today, and frankly, it was pretty quiet. I saw 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a new Whitethroat Curruca communis at Rainbow Point in the roadside hedge. It continues to be difficult to see waterfowl from the Top End hide, this afternoon there were 16 fishing boats out front!

 

Tuesday 19th April [It clouded over this afternoon & we had some light rain]

I walked at the lake this afternoon which, unfortunately, meant it was in increasingly overcast conditions and ended in light rain. The birdsong around the Lodge area was about all I heard, as they gradually became quieter in the gloomy conditions. Nevertheless, on hearing my first Cuckoo Cuculus canorus this spring somewhere up the hill on the north side of the lake, I was reminded of the wonderful orchestral piece 'On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring' by Frederick Delius, which I shall listen to later this evening to celebrate a very welcome year tick. Another indication of at least some migration was an apparent movement of Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, I saw seven, six of which were on the dam wall. The ploughed field opposite the Lodge entrance had 40 Stock Doves Columba oenas in it, the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti was singing at Home Bay, and I found 2 predated Coot Fulica atra eggs on the road at Bell's Bush barrier. At Top End, I surprised a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with a brood of tiny black 'fluff balls' that quickly disappeared into cover before I could count them.

Later, if I can work out how to download photos off my phone (so record shots rather than top quality) to upload here, I will add images of a beautiful white flower spike of Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio and the amazing sunset.

 

Green-winged Orchid, Blagdon Lake. 19th April 2022.Green-winged Orchid, Blagdon Lake. 19th April 2022.

 

 

Sunset from Top End. 19th April 2022.Sunset from Top End. 19th April 2022.

  

Monday 18th April [Sun then clouded over. Dry.]

Phil, Terry, Rob and I did the WeBS count this morning from 0930-1250 hrs:  Coot 173, Tufted Duck 102, Mallard 36, Mute Swan 28, Great Crested Grebe 11, Canada Goose 10, Gadwall 8, Moorhen 8, Cormorant 4, Common Sandpiper 3, Buzzard 3, Grey Heron 2, Shoveler 1, Little Egret 1. Also noted were a Whitethroat Curruca communis and a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti. Lake level 88%.

In the evening Mark texted to tell me he'd seen an Otter Lutra lutra at Top End, just as I was putting my coat on do go back down myself. We were both hoping to see the Hobby that I'd seen on 16th, but it didn't put in an appearance today, or yesterday (per Mark). I saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in Long Bay, and we both listened to a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus  'calling' at dusk - not the usual squeal, although it did that a couple of times too.

 

Sunday 17th April [Warm & sunny]

I didn't have much time for birding today due to other commitments, but did have a 2 hour walk from the Lodge to Top End and back starting out at 0700 hrs with Mark. There were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar water on arrival, and we heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Home Bay. At Green Lawn we came upon yet another flock of Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla, 12 this time, and saw 3 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus at Wood Bay.

Tomorrow morning we do the monthly WeBS count.

 

Saturday 16th April [A warm & dry day with sunny spells]

I was out and about today, so didn't get down to the lake until the evening for a walk from the Lodge to Top End and back. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam, and the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti still singing around the Home Bay reedbed, while overhead I saw 4 Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla in the trees. At Top End I heard a Snipe Gallinago gallinago give its flight call, heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal near the bird hide and, as darkness fell, a Hobby Falco subbuteo came out to feed on insects over the water and Flower Corner.

 

Friday 15th April [A clear, sunny & warm day.]

I was back on site this morning for another early survey, as was Mark, we were hoping to find more new migrants, but it was pretty quiet from that point of view. I counted 33 singing Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 31 singing Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, 3 Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus and 2 Willow Warblers P. trochilus. Other birds noted included 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, 3 pairs of Teal Anas crecca, and 23 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. I saw my first Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines and Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus butterflies of the year, both males, and several Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni and Peacock Inachis io butterflies.

I spent another hour at the Lodge and Top End before dark, but didn't record any new birds - the sunset, on the other hand, was delightful.

 

Thursday 14th April [Warm with little wind]

I was busy again today so didn't get down to the lake until 1815 hrs for a walk. I'm glad I did because I found a male Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus at Holt Bay, as well as the usual Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Great White Egret Ardea alba in flight at Bell's Bush, and most surprisingly of all, a male Wigeon Mareca penelope in Butcombe Bay at dusk. It's an early start tomorrow morning - more migrants to find!

 

Wednesday 13th April [Early rain then sunny spells]

Another morning on the lookout for migrants at the lake came up trumps - to a degree. Mark and I added a Whitethroat Curruca communis and Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (2) to the 2022 site list, but there weren't the numbers of new birds that we were hoping for.  Today's other notable birds included the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, the singing Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, 2 singing Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus, a Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, a Great White Egret Ardea alba, a 2nd-calendar year Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, and a flock of no less than 10 Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla at Holt Copse, with another 2 at Bell's Bush barrier. Finally, as we made our way back to the Lodge, Mark spotted a Slow-worm Anguis fragilis, the first I've ever seen on the site.

 

In the evening, I had a look around at Top End, and Mark came back as well. He saw 4 Shelducks Tadorna tadorna fly west down the lake, and we both saw a Fox Vulpes vulpes and heard a Snipe Gallinago gallinago take off at dusk.

 

Tuesday 12th April [A fairly strong south easterly breeze. Warmer than of late.]

I made my 12th survey around the lake in 14 days today (70 miles on foot), albeit during the afternoon. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall, heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Home Bay, found a female Brambling Fringilla montifringilla at Home Bay Point and a male at Bell's Bush Barrier, saw a 2nd-calendar year Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus at Burmah Road, and a Red Kite Milvus milvus flying east along the north side of the lake. No new species today, but I'm meeting Mark at first light tomorrow morning to see if we can add to the list, with many new species heading northward through the area with the change in wind direction. Fingers crossed.

Probably for the first time in 32 years, I heard a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus singing outside the back door (in the middle of Blagdon) when I went out to meet friends in the morning, and it was still there singing when I got back home at lunchtime.

 

Monday 11th April [A strong easterly breeze that gradually fizzled out by dusk. Dry.]

There was quite a bit of excitement among the Bristol Channel coast birders this morning as migrants dropped in, and Ospreys were reported at Chew, over Bristol, and the Severn. So I decided I'd better get down to the lake and made it by 1030 hrs. I saw a 2nd-calendar year Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus in front of the Lodge, probably a different bird to that seen on the 9th because this one had started moulting out its black tail band. 

 

2nd-cal. year Little Gull. 11th April 2022.2nd-cal. year Little Gull. 11th April 2022.

 

I made a couple of false starts from the Lodge, but at Home Bay I heard a Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus singing (#101 spp. in 101 days), as well as the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti. This was a promising start, so I decided I'd spend the rest of the day at the lake, and would bird my way slowly and thoroughly, looking for passerines in particular. I came across a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus at the corner of Long Bay and Green Lawn, and found some Adder's-tongue Fern Ophioglossum reticulatum on the lawn while looking for waders along the hidden edge. A huge throng of large gulls was following a tractor ploughing a field next to Dark Lane, and I saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta fly over the field while scanning it from afar. At Top End I saw a single Swallow Hirundo rustica early in my day, but later a flock of at least 200 hirundines including many Sand Martins Riparia riparia and a single House Martin Delichon urbicum. A single Snipe Gallinago gallinago eventually gave itself up to my gaze in front of the hide as well. During the afternoon, I added Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria and Green-veined White Pieris napi butterflies to my notebook, but eventually gave in to the need for sustenance and went home for tea at 1845 hrs.

 

 2nd-cal. year Little Gull. 11th April 2022.2nd-cal. year Little Gull. 11th April 2022.  

 

Sunday 10th April [Another sunny day following a frosty start]

I surveyed on my own this morning (0730-1020 hrs) and came up with the following counts of birds apparently on territory (singing individuals or pairs noted in suitable habitat): Wren 43, Chiffchaff 35, Robin 33, Blackcap 32, Chaffinch 21, Woodpigeon 19, Blackbird 13, Great Tit 12,  Blue Tit 10, Crow 10, Pheasant 10, Dunnock 6, Nuthatch 5, Song Thrush 5, Great Spotted Woodpecker 4, Long-tailed Tit 4, Green Woodpecker 3, Jackdaw 3, Reed Bunting 3, Willow Warbler 2, Buzzard 2, Stock Dove 2, Magpie 2, Goldfinch 2, Collared Dove 1, Coal Tit 1, Cetti's Warbler 1, Greenfinch 1, Grey Wagtail 1, Mistle Thrush 1. 

Also noted were the 2nd-cal. yr. Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Red-legged Partridges Alectoris rufa, a pair of Teal Anas crecca, a Great White Egret Ardea alba and 10 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus.

Ross texted me to say there was a Red Kite Milvus milvus over the Inspection House at 1338 hrs heading towards the village. I stepped out of the house and saw it as it turned and headed towards The Coombe and was lost to sight. Nice one Ross.

 

Saturday 9th April [A sunny day with a frosty start]

I was at the lake by 0650 hrs and met Mark in order to survey the lakeside. The sun was up but the grass was white underfoot, nevertheless the birds were singing so we set out straight away. It became obvious fairly early on that there had been a small fall of Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus, we counted 6, plus 34 Chiffchaffs P. collybita and 29 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla. During the walk we saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 2 Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla and a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Indian Country, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago and a 2nd-calendar year Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus from Top End hide, and the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Home Bay. So, I made it by the skin of my teeth, 100 spp. in 99 days.

 

Friday 8th April [A calmer day, though there were still some showers about.]

The quest for 100 spp. in 100 days took a back seat to a visit to Bath & West Showground where Ce and I went to see the largest model railway in the country (showing over the weekend) , followed by a fish and chip lunch at Whitstone's. This set me up for a walk at the lake this afternoon, to try and find some more new migrants. I managed to dodge all the showers in a three hour visit, but intermittent sunshine kept the songsters quiet at times. There was a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on the water's edge at Green Lawn, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Top End hide, and I heard a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus at Butcombe Bay. Heading back over the dam I spotted the wintering Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the north end for a change.

 

Thursday 7th April [Gales & wintry showers]

With overnight gales continuing through the day, I decided to pop down to the lake in my car for a look around before going to Clevedon to see my mum. It was the first day with fair numbers of hirundines over the lake, of all three common species. Once again a flock of small gulls out in the white horses turned out to be part of a flock of about 75 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus feeding on adjacent fields. A Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa was roadside by the hedge at Pipe Bay, and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta were with the cattle at Holt/Lag Farms.

At tea time, Ross texted me to say he'd seen a Red Kite Milvus milvus over the Inspection House at 1500 hrs. Cheers for that.

In the evening I had another look around, on foot, and saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and just when I caught in another shower, I came across a Redshank Tringa totanus standing on the wooden pilings along the bank at Holt Bay. Yay! #99 for the year.

 

Wednesday 6th April [Strong wind & rain showers]

I walked from Green Lawn to Top End gate and back today and saw a Shelduck Tadorna tadorna at Green Lawn as I set off, at Flower Corner I heard a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus in song, and saw a Snipe Gallinago gallinago at the hide. There was a mobile, mixed, flock of about 20 hirundines over the water, and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on Holt/Lag Farms.

After tea, I met up with Ken at Chew Valley Lake to finish checking and cleaning the bat boxes we started on 20th March. We did boxes on the east and north sides of the lake and found 57 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 26 boxes and cleared up a significant amount of fresh Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros droppings in one of the bird hides (a regular night/feeding roost).

 

Tuesday 5th April [Dry, but very breezy.]

I spent the afternoon at the lake, but there isn't much to tell you about. The westerly wind was driving white horses down the lake and it was pretty quiet in the woodland patches. A Snipe Gallinago gallinago flew up at Long Bay as I walked past again, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta was doing an impression of a Cattle Egret among the cattle on Lag/Holt Farm. A small flock of hirundines around Burmah Road contained at least a couple of House Martins Delichon urbicum, and for what it's worth, given the conditions, I counted 16 singing Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and 10 singing Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla.

 

Monday 4th April [Early rain, then drying, before more rain at tea time.]

I arrived at the Lodge early afternoon and saw three small gulls hawking insects out in the middle of the lake. Finally, I thought, I've got my Little Gull tick at last, but no matter how hard I tried to convince myself, after watching them through the bins, I had to write 3 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus in my notebook. I set out for my walk and heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sing at Home Bay, saw a Snipe Gallinago gallinago fly up at Long Bay as I crossed the bridge, noted 5 Teal Anas crecca and 5 Swallows Hirundo rustica at Top End, photographed my first Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula spike of the year, and saw a Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata at Spinney Copse. As I headed back around Butcombe Bay thinking I hadn't got any new birds today, low and behold what should I see but a lone drake Garganey Spatula querquedula! I'd got site tick #98 after all. As I made my way across the dam I saw another flock of hirundines at Cheddar Water/Pipe Bay which included Swallows, but when I looked over the gate at Pipe Bay a few minutes later, there was no sign of them.

 ... there were 6 Swallows in front of the Lodge at last light.

 

Sunday 3rd April [An early morning frost followed by sunshine]

With a frost forecast overnight, Mark and I decided to meet just after sunrise, in order to allow some warmth to encourage the birds to start singing before we started a survey at 0730 hrs. I walked the north side and Mark did the south side. We totted up 40 singing Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and 22 singing Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla. Once again, there were no Willow Warblers. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at Cheddar Water, and the Little Egret Egretta garzetta seen last night was feeding along Butcombe Bank. I saw a single Swallow Hirundo rustica over Rugmoor Farm,  14 Gadwall Mareca strepera in Long Bay and we both heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti burst forth at Home Bay reeds as we walked back to the Lodge. We spent some time looking skyward for passing raptors while enjoying a cuppa, but apart from Buzzards Buteo buteo, a brief glimpse of a Red Kite Milvus milvus behind the Pumping Station, and a Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus over Pipe Bay, there was little to excite, just lots of large gulls. There was a flock of 500-800 Herring Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls L. fuscus off the dam, as they came and went during the late morning.

 

Saturday 2nd April [Sunny spells with cold wind]

The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at Cheddar Water this evening, and during a walk to Top End hide and back I heard a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Home Bay reeds, and saw a Tawny Owl Strix aluco at Bell's Bush. I came across Mark at the hide, he'd seen some Swallows Hirundo rustica and was videoing a Snipe Gallinago gallinago when I arrived. Bizarrely, this was interrupted by two teenage girls in pink teddy bear onesies who appeared by the bird hide taking selfies!!

 

Friday 1st April [A sunny day with a biting northerly wind]

I had a trundle around this morning looking/listening for migrants and saw a small flock of hirundines at Top End that included my first House Martin Delichon urbicum, bringing my personal site total to 97 species so far this year. Can I get to 100 spp. in the first 100 days of the year for the first time? It's a definite possibility. Birdsong was somewhat subdued by the bitterly cold wind, although it was quite pleasant in the sun if you found a sheltered spot. I counted 19 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and 8 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla. The wintering Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on Butcombe Bank near the dam, and I saw my first flowering Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio of the year too (an early date, only bettered by 29th March 2012).

In the evening the hirundines seemed to have moved on, but I did see a Little Egret Egretta garzetta that came in to The Island at dusk.

Nigel Milbourne © 2022. All Rights Reserved.