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Blagdon Lake Birds

August 2022 News

Wednesday 31st August [Warm & dry, although threatening rain at times. Breezy.]

I had the luxury of being able to spend the afternoon at the lake for a change, and it didn't disappoint. Although there had been a bit of a clear-out of waders, I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 9 Snipe Gallinago gallinago at the Lodge, plus at least two others elsewhere, and 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia at Top End. As I set out through Lodge Copse, I could hear both Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla and Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita song, and came across at least 2 Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata at Home Bay. There may have been up to two more, so possibly a recently fledged family? At Bell's Bush I spent some time going through the birds at Top End, and saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, 10+ Wigeon Mareca penelope, and 2 Pintail Anas acuta. From the hide I did a count of visible egrets and made it 18 Great White Ardea alba and 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, although I knew there were others on the lakeside, out of view. 

At Peg's Point, I sat and scoped Rugmoor Point and Bay and was pleased to see a juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe on the old stone bridge in Rugmoor Bay, but couldn't make out any Garganey among the growing numbers of Teal Anas crecca (easily 200+). At All Saint's Wood I came across another group of Spotted Flycatchers, definitely four in this instance, and possibly five. A second brood? When I got back to the Lodge I bumped into Paul Williams and his wife, who said he'd seen a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, and reckoned that there may have been as many as 26 Great White Egrets present. After a chat, I went home and had some tea, before going back down to Top End to watch the egrets go into roost at dusk. Amazingly, there were 24 Great White's and 19 Little Egrets, plus 9 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea that continued to fish on as darkness fell.

I reckon the lake to be a little over 50% full now, and the level has been dropping fairly rapidly in the last few weeks.


Tuesday 30th August [Mainly overcast & cooler than of late]

Mark and I met up at 0700 hrs this morning and had planned to go for the Steppe Grey Shrike found at Chipping Sodbury Common yesterday evening - the traffic was too bad to make an effort for it at the time. Unfortunately it had gone AWOL, so it was down to the lake instead. We saw 7 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, 20 Great White Ardea alba and 14 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Everything at Top End was very flighty though. In the evening I counted 17 Little Egrets.


Monday 29th August [Warm & sunny]

I was up relatively early, after last nights batting session, to go to Chew Magna mid-morning and join a friend, Jane, who was carrying out a Voluntary Bat Roost Visit. Then, late afternoon, and as a bat handler, I went to see if I could help with a bat issue air-side at Bristol Airport. A Brown Long-eared has been in the ventilation system of minibus for two days! Finally, this evening, I had a short walk during which I saw 17 Great White Ardea alba and 20 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and 5+ Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. Fellow WeBS counter, Rob, had been at the lake earlier and saw 9 Greenshanks and the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis.


Sunday 28th August [Warm & sunny]

I managed a short visit to the lake today and saw a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and 2 Pintail Anas acuta at Top End. A Garganey Spatula querquedula was also reported.

At tea time I met with Mark and Daniel, and we went off to a local site to see if there were any swarming bats there. We caught:

  • 5 Greater Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, 4 adult males & a parous female, including ringed bats B8037 & X4130;
  • 2 Lesser Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophus hipposideros, 1 each juvenile & adult males;
  • 2 Brown Long-eared Bats Plecotus auritus, 1 adult male & a parous female;
  • 1 Whiskered Bat Mystacinus mystacinus, a juvenile male;
  • 2 Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii, a juvenile male and an adult female;
  • 2 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, both adult females;
  • 1 Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, a juvenile male.

I got home at 0300 hrs.


Saturday 27th August [Warm and mainly sunny]

Mark was on site at 0630 hrs and scanning the waders when I rolled up at 0715 hrs! I saw 13 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa on my way to Top End, where there was another, and Mark had seen a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus that I didn't. Together, we saw 11 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, 20 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and when I went back in the evening, I counted 17 Great White Egrets Ardea alba at roost.


Friday 26th August [Mainly overcast, but warm for all that.]

Two new birds for the patch year list today! A Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and a Ruff (juv. Reeve) Calidris pugnax at Top End where there were also 9 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and, at roost, just 12 visible Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Thursday 25th August [A day that started grey & steadily improved]

I had a little more time this evening, so the visit was more leisurely than of late. The usual 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were in front of the Lodge, and so were 25 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa! There was also an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis among the many large gulls on Tiny's Shallow. I picked out adult Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus, Yellow D:EK, again, and a yellow-ringed juvenile that I just couldn't read, unfortunately. At Burmah Road I spotted the 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula, and a total of 80, mainly sleeping, Pochard Aythya ferina, among lots of dabbling duck, mainly Gadwall Mareca strepera. A Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata flitted out over the road at Hellfire Corner, as I approached Bell's Bush meadow, and from there I counted 9 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 15 Great White Ardea alba and 17 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, another adult Yellow-legged Gull, and the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis feeding in the weed near the gathering of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis. On the way back home I saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo drive a Buzzard Buteo buteo off, and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus have a go at a Barn Owl Tyto alba.


Wednesday 24th August [Rain, drizzle, cloud & a little sun.]

I only had time for a drive through with a few strategic stops today. Nevertheless, I saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 6 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at the Lodge with a lot of large gulls, either one, or two, Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata in the Lodge car park, 5 Common Terns Hirundo rustica fly through to the west, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 more Black-wits, 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula and the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Top End.  That's 123 spp. for me at the lake so far this year.


Tuesday 23rd August [Warm, & muggy late in the day.]

Another evening visit after a busy day but, again, there had evidently been some change among the migrants. The 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were still by the Lodge, and 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were also there feeding along the water's edge (I saw 2 at Top End too, so there may have been 4 again). Egret numbers are climbing steadily with 15 Great White Ardea alba and 17 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta each going to their respective roosts. At Top End, I counted 9 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, and found the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis with the raft of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis off Hellfire Corner. Most of the small dabbling ducks present on the lake seemed to be over at Rugmoor so, perhaps, the Garganey were over there this evening - I didn't have time to walk round and look with the nights starting to draw in.

Not too far away from home, there was news of  Wryneck on Burrington Ham. They're cracking birds, and well worth a look if you've never seen one - I might even be tempted myself, if it's there again tomorrow.


Monday 22nd August [Mainly overcast with a few spells of drizzle]

I was busy writing all day, so quite glad to get out for a walk at the lake after tea. I'm glad I did because the birding is beginning to get interesting at last. The water level is about 57%, and at least some waders are starting to drop in. At the Lodge I saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, heard a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Home Bay reeds, spotted a female Kestrel Falco tinnunculus at Long Bay, 15 Great White Ardea alba and 12 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 9 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 1 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula, 41 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis, and, eventually, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis again.


Sunday 21st August [Warm & sunny]

I met up with Daniel and Mark at midday, and after a cuppa, we headed off to look at a potential bat swarming site where we hope to find some small Myotis bats in an area we've not explored previously. It looked to have all the right attributes so we've devised a plan to have a look next weekend - weather permitting. From there we decamped to a familiar refreshment stop and enjoyed an excellent cream tea (as did the wasps), before we put together Mark's Natural England registration for a Bat Class Licence (Level 2). He's worked with us with impressive enthusiasm and diligence for 6 years in pursuit of a bat licence, so now it's fingers crossed for him. When Daniel went home, the two of us went birding on 'the patch'. I was really pleased to find a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, quite an early arrival, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, 13 Great White Ardea alba and 13 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 6 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Wigeon Mareca penelope, and 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula.


Saturday 20th August [Sunny spells. Pleasant.]

This evening Mark and I had a quick look around the lake before dark. There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis on Tiny's Shallow, at least one Sand Martin Riparia riparia flying in front of the Lodge, 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Long Bay, 8 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a Greenshank Tringa nebularia (heard calling after dark).

We spent the rest of the evening until midnight running 2 Harp Traps (only one with a lure), and caught:

  • Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, 2 adult males & 15 adult females,
  • Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii, 1 adult male,
  • Natterer's Bat Myotis nattereri, 1 adult female,
  • Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii, 1 adult male, which Mark ringed as J13589.


Friday 19th August [Mainly sunny & warm]

The 3 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula were still enjoying their sojourn on Tiny's Shallow this evening, and the 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were also there, although their stay has been more protracted than the plovers. There wasn't much else to write about other than the roosts of 13 Great White Ardea alba and 13 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End.


Thursday 18th August [Mainly dry & mild until evening, when drizzle set in.]

There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall on arrival this evening in the steady drizzle, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 3 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at the Lodge, plus a ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, white N:CXA, a bird ringed by a Spanish Project. During my walk, I saw 3 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus, 10 Great White Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Wednesday  17th August

There were 3 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow, 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Long Bay, 13 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at roost, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus at Flower Corner, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, and a brief view of a flock of around 8 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in flight at Top End while scanning from Rainbow Point, but no sign of them when I got there.

Jeff rang me to say that he and Tony had found another dead Barn Owl Tyto alba, also ringed, and almost certainly from the brood hit so badly by the loss of a parent.


Tuesday 16th August [Muggy with a heavy downpour in the afternoon]

Proper rain at last, but not for long enough. I took a walk late morning for a change, and picked out 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus at Long Bay, a Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus at Bell's Bush, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 12 Great White Ardea alba and 9+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, circa 150 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, and 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula at Wookey Point.


Monday 15th August [Cooler, with some drizzle in the morning, & brighter later.]

Phil, Rob and I did the WeBS count this morning, between 0900-1300 hrs. The water level was about 60%. Top line was two Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis, an adult and sub-adult, neither ringed, a flyover Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, 2 drake Garganey Spatula querquedula, and a few waders. Full count details as follows: Coot 1185, Mallard 424, Tufted Duck 370, Canada Goose 246, Gadwall 173, Great Crested Grebe 111, Moorhen 92, Teal 65, Mute Swan 55 (inc. 8 juvs), Shoveler 45, Lesser Black-backed Gull 43, Little Grebe 22, Pochard 21, Little Egret 14, Great White Egret 12, Cormorant 12, Common Sandpiper 12, Grey Heron 11, Herring Gull 6, Great Black-backed Gull 6, Green Sandpiper 5, Snipe 5, Lapwing 5, Egyptian Goose 3, Greenshank 3, Wigeon 3, Garganey 2, Wigeon hybrid 1, Kingfisher 1. Others noted: Grey Wagtail 4, Sparrowhawk 2, Buzzard 2, Kestrel 2, Cuckoo 1, and Mute Swan Yellow BJB (a pen, I think). I didn't count Black-headed Gulls at the time, and planned to count them in the evening. However events overtook me. I will count them tomorrow.


Sunday 14th August [Very hot & sunny]

I did get to the lake at dusk today, and counted 12 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at roost. However, Mark spent the early morning at the lake, a more productive time usually, and reported 12 Great White and 14 Little Egrets, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, and heard and recorded the Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca again. There was a report of 3 Garganey being present too.


Saturday 13th August [Very hot & sunny]

I didn't get to the lake today, although I saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus up the hill at the top of Two Trees. Mark, on the other hand, did venture out to the lake, and reported a Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca  at Top End hide, 12 Great White Ardea alba and 8+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at roost, and heard a Snipe Gallinago gallinago call.


Friday 12th August [Very hot & sunny]

It was way too hot to go for a look before the cool of the evening!  I saw my first Common Gull Larus canus, an adult, of the autumn, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 11 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at roost, and heard at least 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Snipe Gallinago gallinago calling after sundown.


Thursday 11th August [Hot & sunny]

The weather and the avifauna plus the rapidly dwindling lake give a real sense of things to come in the years ahead. It was over 30 Celsius today, and is set to be hotter still for the next two days at least. I didn't see any waders other than the odd Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, but it is beginning to turn into a bit of an 'egret fest' hereabouts. This evening, 12 Great White Egrets Ardea alba went to roost together in the pines, and 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta went to roost in what was, until this week, the combined roost. Yesterday, while I was trying to decide if the plover was a Ringed or Little Ringed, I noticed there were lots of fish fry topping off Green Lawn. If this is a good year for the fry then it is likely we may get yet more egrets dropping in. Aside from the egrets I saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca in front of the Lodge, where gull numbers are starting to build again, after events earlier in the week.


Wednesday 10th August [Hot & sunny]

There were 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca in front of the Lodge this evening, and a juvenile Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula on the shore at Green Lawn, where I also saw a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (as I did yesterday). At Top End I saw a Snipe Gallinago gallinago on Wookey Point, and an amazing 10 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta settling down to their respective roosts.


Tuesday 9th August [Hot & sunny]

Mark, Ken and I carried out bat box checks around the lake today, an 8 hour exercise, if you include the leisurely hour long lunch break! We saw approaching 100 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, our regular group of 15, or so, Natterer's Myotis nattereri and, in the penultimate box, a second, and new group of 9, or so, Natterer's. This made three tired lads very happy! In case you're wondering, we can't always give precise numbers of bats in boxes because we are just opening them to look for presence, and if there is a large group crammed together in a box we can't always count all the individuals without taking them out. Currently, we are just monitoring boxes and not handling bats during the checks. During the bat box checks I, sadly, came across a dead, recently ringed, juvenile Barn Owl Tyto alba, which I think was one of the progeny of the dead adult I found on the 4th August. I also saw 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries Argynnis paphia.

After tea, I went back to the lake and saw 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, before meeting Martin in the Top End hide, where I counted 8 Great White Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta visible in the roost.


Monday 8th August [Warm & sunny]

When I went to the Lodge today there were, understandably, very few Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus loafing on the bank. There were, however, 8 adult/sub-adult and 3 juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus on Tiny's Shallow. I was able to read the rings on two of them, and I believe these will be birds that were ringed on Denny Island in the Bristol Channel (subject to confirmation):

  • Great Black-backed Gull, adult, Yellow D:EK, and
  • Great Black-backed gull, juvenile, Yellow D:JS.

During my walk I counted 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Great White Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Sunday 7th August [Warm & sunny]

This evening, I walked from the Lodge to Top End and back and saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at the Lodge, the dramatic capture of a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus by a Peregrine Falco peregrinus right in front of me, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Great White Ardea alba and 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and heard a couple of Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos calling in the gloaming as I got back to the Lodge.


Saturday 6th August [Warm & sunny]

I did go down to the lake today, but it wasn't until the evening. We were looking for sites to put bat traps out to help Jim Mulholland, who was running a training exercise for some bat workers from around the country. Of note, I saw a Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus at Home Bay Point early on, and a Barn Owl Tyto alba after dark.

We had a reasonable trapping session, with four harp traps, catching 2 Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii, 2 Lesser Horseshoe's Rhinolophus hipposideros, and a number of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. The Nathusius' Pipistrelles were both males, one of which we'd ringed on the 12th April 2019 at Top End, while running a training event for Welsh bat workers who were joining the National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, before covid overtook our lives.


Friday 5th August

I didn't visit the lake today, so apologies for no news. Whilst in the garage at home I heard a Willow Warbler calling, so I went out to see if I could spot it. While I was looking for the bird, a large orange butterfly landed on a buddleia in front of me - it was a Dark Green Fritillary, a garden first, and a presumed wanderer from the top of the Mendip Hills above the village. 

In the evening I joined friends Stephen and Linda, who had kindly invited me to go bat trapping in the Wye Valley. We had a good night, with Bechstein's, Daubenton's, Brandt's, Natterer's, and Brown Long-eared all caught at a site where they are trying to prove that files from static recorders which are showing signs of swarming activity, are backed up by a limited trapping effort to prove the, notoriously difficult, Myotis calls are identified correctly. It was my first trapping session since the outbreak of covid.


Thursday 4th August [Warm with a fresh breeze] International Owl Awareness Day

Of all the days for it to happen, I found a dead Barn Owl Tyto alba at Long Bay this evening. It looked like it was recent and, I'm sad to say, it had probably been hit by a vehicle. Melanie, who keeps an eye on the owls hereabouts, has taken the body and is going to send it off to find out what caused its death. I suspect it's one of the adults from a nest we monitor, although another one nearby is being checked, and either way could result in the loss of young that are just on the point of fledging. If the weather stays fine, they might survive provided one adult can find enough voles. Fingers crossed.

This evening, at the Lodge, I saw 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca. Elsewhere around the lake, I saw a Tawny Owl Strix aluco, a Barn Owl, and 7 Glow-worms Lampyris noctiluca. Melanie saw another one, and I saw yet another along one of the lanes around the lake on the way home.


Wednesday 3rd August [Wet, warm, & very muggy in the morning. Dry in the afternoon.]

Another couple of visits today, hoping for migrants given the conditions, saw the Dunlin Calidris alpina still at the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow, with 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Polish Water. In the evening I walked back from Ubley and counted 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 16 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. Before climbing back up the hill, I checked the dam wall and saw 4 Common Sandpipers, which presumably included the two I saw earlier.


Tuesday 2nd August [A wet morning & drying afternoon]

I made a couple of quick visits to the lake today, seeing my first Dunlin Calidris alpina, an adult, at the Lodge along with the ringed adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. Then, in the evening, I counted 4 Great White Ardea alba and 16 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I also met Jane, who told me she'd seen a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus and a very ragged-looking Red Kite Milvus milvus at Top End. The Red Kite has been around for a few days, attracted by grass and crop cutting on local farms.


Monday 1st August [Warm with sunny spells]

It's the start of a new month, and a quick check of the water level at lunchtime gave me 64% on my ready reckoner.

It was another warm afternoon and the lake was virtually devoid of anglers and, unfortunately, newly arrived migrant waterfowl. During a drive-through I saw 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a female Pheasant Phasianus colchicus with 6 well-grown juveniles. I walked down to the lake again in the evening, and this time I was able to add 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at the Lodge, and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn. I didn't go as far as the Top End hide so I wasn't able to count the egrets going to roost, but it looked like there were around the usual number scattered around the lake when I was there earlier in the day.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.