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Blagdon Lake Birds

July 2022 News

Sunday 31st July [Rain overnight, drizzle early & sunny later.]

I managed to make a trip down in the car around lunchtime, but aside from the 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and a few Sand Martins Riparia riparia at the Lodge, there was little to report. However, in the evening I walked from the house to Top End hide and back, and saw a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus in front of the Lodge, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a Barn Owl Tyto alba, 6 Great White Ardea alba and 14 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.


Saturday 30th July [Overcast, occasional drizzle & increasingly breezy.]

Mark came over this afternoon to help me with a little job at home, and a quick cuppa, before we went down to the lake for a look around. We saw 3 Red Kites Milvus milvus over the village, and I had seen two mid-morning over Burrington on the way home from the Clevedon Park Run. I also saw a Peregrine Falco peregrinus over the house. Anyway, to the lake... At the Lodge there were 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, a metal-ringed adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (not sub-adult as recorded Thursday - misread my own notes), a ringed adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, the one noted as ringed on Thursday, White EH4S, and a ringed adult Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus, Yellow D:DX. We also saw 8 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 6 or 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, at least 21 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo.

I had previously seen the ringed Black-headed Gull, aged as an adult, at the Lodge on 9th Oct. 2021, but the ring detail was not conclusive so I didn't submit the record. I will see what I can find out about it now I've sorted the code out, although I thought it was white last year, so perhaps it's stained yellow now.

I first saw the ringed Great Black-backed Gull at Blagdon on 15th Sept. 2017. It was ringed on Denny Island, in the Severn Estuary, by Goldcliffe Ringing Group on 18th June 2016.


Friday 29th July [Warm & sunny]

When I got to the Lodge this evening, I was surprised how little there was to see there. The 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and a couple of Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were on Tiny's Shallow, although Mark told me later he'd spotted 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius and up to 5 Common Sandpipers there. I noted 7 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Long Bay and, at Top End, we both saw 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and at least one Hobby Falco subbuteo. But, best of all we watched an Otter Lutra lutra swim up to the feeder stream at Top End, making light work of the thick weed on the way.

 We had two Hedgehogs on the patio this evening - perhaps our regular visitor brought a friend? They seemed perfectly happy in each others company!


Thursday 28th July [Overcast, then some broken sunshine. Still & warm.]

I decided to make a change and visit around lunchtime today. I'm glad I did. I was greeted with the sight of a juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Tiny's Shallow, and the longer I stayed at the Lodge the more I saw. There were also 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, as many as 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos (moving between the Lodge and the dam), quite a lot of Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum and 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Home Bay. At Top End I think there were 8 Great White Ardea alba and 13 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta plus 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.

The Yellow-legged Gull had a metal ring on one of its legs, and I also saw an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus with a stained white or yellow darvic that was too far away to read. I was able to read a blue darvic on a 2nd/3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus as F:819 that I will share with Pete Rock to find out more details - it was ringed on Flat Holm I believe.


Wednesday 27th July [Sunny spells]

Much the same fayre as the previous few days, with 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 11 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 6 Great White Ardea alba and 18 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a single Hobby Falco subbuteo.


Tuesday 26th July [Sunny spells]

I spent from 0930-1810 hrs at Chew Valley Lake checking bat boxes with Ken and, latterly, Mark. We found 37 Soprano Pipistrelles and a Brown Long-eared bat. After a quick bite, I popped down to the lake and saw 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Black-tailed Godwit Limos limosa and 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at the Lodge, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Long Bay, plus at least 8 Great White Ardea alba and 16 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

I've been watching a Hedgehog eating and drinking on the patio while writing this, and no sooner had it left, when a young fox arrived and also had a drink from the water bowl! It just goes to show how important a source of water is to our wildlife, especially at this time of year and in the current conditions.


Monday 25th July [Mainly overcast, warm & breezy.]

I went down to the lake after tea, and walked from the Lodge to Top End and back. Most of the waders present yesterday seem to have moved on, although the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, and 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were still on Tiny's Shallow. Numbers of juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus have been increasing in the last few days, which is encouraging because I was worried a week or two back that it might have been a poor breeding season. There were 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Great White Egret Ardea alba in Long Bay, and with that Mark rang me to say he was at Top End and had counted lots of Little Egrets. When I got there, we totted up 7 Great White and 18 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta gathering pre-roost. We also saw 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting insects over the water, and I counted 11 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis, before we went our separate ways.

According to Avon Birds, a Dunlin Calidris alpina was also noted at the lake today.


Sunday 24th July

Mark and I arranged to meet at the lake at 0700 hrs this morning, as overnight rain was forecast I was hoping for a wader or two to drop in. I wasn't disappointed, an adult Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius was on Tiny's Shallow. We didn't see one at the lake last year. We noted 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, viewed distantly from the Lodge, and 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca before we left for the long drive north to RSPB Bempton Cliffs (again) in Yorkshire. I was hoping to catch up with Britain's 8th Red-tailed (aka Turkestan) Shrike, and Mark was hoping to add it to his growing list of Shrikes too (a favourite group by his own admission). After a near 5 hour drive, we walked along the clifftops, saw the Black-browed Albatross sitting on the rocks among the Gannets, bowled up in front of the hedge where the shrike was performing for a small group of admirers, and spent an hour watching it catch the occasional beetle and flying insect. By then, a cup of tea called, so we made our way back to the reception area, stopping for another quick look at the albatross, well you would wouldn't you, and a big bit of celebratory cake (St. Clement's in case you're wondering)! It started raining as we left for home, so we could hardly have been more fortunate with our timing on this twitch.

A couple of distant, but respectful, shots of the shrike taken in poor light and gusting wind:


Red-tailed Shrike, RSPB Bempton Cliffs. 24th July 2022.Red-tailed Shrike, RSPB Bempton Cliffs. 24th July 2022. 

Red-tailed Shrike, RSPB Bempton Cliffs. 24th July 2022.Red-tailed Shrike, RSPB Bempton Cliffs. 24th July 2022.


Footnote: Red-tailed Shrike (the IOC preferred name) was a fairly recent split of the 'Isabelline Shrike' complex, itself only split from the Red-backed Shrike in 1980. I have seen a number of Isabelline Shrikes, but none of those that were subsequently adjudged to have been Red-tailed, a bird that breeds in west-central Asia. The other member of the Isabelline complex that occurs in Britain is the so-called Daurian Shrike, which breeds further east in Mongolia and West China (Vinicombe, 2014). The Yorkshire bird was in breeding condition when it arrived a month or so ago, but has been moulting since then, and I will freely admit I would have found it a difficult bird to identify if I had found it, in its current state.


Saturday 23rd July [Mainly overcast with fine drizzle on & off]

I'm sitting in the lounge watching a Hedgehog eating dried meal worms and sunflower seed I put down by the water bowl for it. Anyway, to the lake. I got two patch year ticks today - an adult Turnstone Arenaria interpres and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis in front of the Lodge, with the Greenshank Tringa nebularia and a small number of Sand Martins Riparia riparia. When I got to the Top End, I saw 7 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta going to roost, plus a small group of 8 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis.


Friday 22nd July [Mainly dry & sunny]

The threat of rain didn't come to anything today, so I birded from the Lodge to Top End and back, after an early tea. There were 8 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall and another at the Lodge, where a single Greenshank Tringa nebularia and the 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were among the throng of birds. I counted 11 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Home Bay and another 4 in Holt Bay, before getting my clicker out to count the 421 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula. Around the top end of the lake there were 10 Great White Ardea alba and 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus a single Hobby Falco subbuteo, although I headed back before dusk, so may have missed their main feeding period. On the way back to the Lodge, I saw a Curlew Numenius arquata heading west, calling just once as it flew down the lake.


Thursday 21st July [Warm & pleasant]

There were 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos (one on the dam and two at the Lodge),  3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, and 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia at the Lodge this evening. I noted another increase in Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers as I walked towards Top End, and counted 6 Great White Ardea alba and 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at roost, plus 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting over the lake, when I got there.


Wednesday 20th July [Cooler with temps. back to normal]

The 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia were on Tiny's Shallow this evening, and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were on the dam wall. At Top End I saw 5 Great White Ardea alba and 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta going to roost, plus 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting for insects at dusk. 

The Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock has completed its wing moult, and most of them are flying out onto farmland to feed again now. I noted 2 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus on the fields as well.

We had a thirsty Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus on the patio this evening, it came to drink from the water bowl we keep there for visiting birds and other wildlife.


Tuesday 19th July [Hot, hot, hot!]

Not the kind of day to be out birding on foot today, so I waited until the evening. I saw 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos (3 on the dam and one at the Lodge), 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia back on Tiny's Shallow, and 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa that promptly took off and headed south from Tiny's when I arrived. There were just 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca (an adult and Juv.) on Holt Farm, plus 5 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta visible in the roost, and a single Hobby Falco subbuteo over Bell's Bush.

Chatting to Rob while we were doing the WeBS count, he said he'd seen a good number of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus early in the morning, so I counted them again as they gathered to roost this evening. I made it 43, compared to the 23 I counted late morning during the WeBS yesterday. Interesting.


Monday 18th July [Extremely hot in the burning sun]

What a day to do the WeBS count! Phil cried off, Rob did his at 0800 hrs, but Terry and I did ours between 0930-1230 hrs. There were no real surprises, apart perhaps from the female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus which was bathing on Rugmoor Point. The count was as follows: Coot 825, Mallard 341, Canada Goose 311, Tufted Duck 288, Mute Swan 46 (inc. 8 juvs.), Moorhen 24, Great Crested Grebe 23, Gadwall 19, Grey Heron 11, Little Egret 11, Lapwing 10, Cormorant 9, Little Grebe 6, Great White Egret 5, Common Sandpiper 5, Egyptian Goose 3, Buzzard 2, Hobby 2, Greenshank 1, Teal 1.

We saw a number of Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum at the Lodge and Green Lawn during the count.


Sunday 17th July [Very hot & sunny despite a nice breeze]

I waited until late evening to go for a walk at the lake due to the increasing heat. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia at the Lodge, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca (2 adults and a juvenile) on Holt Farm with 3 Canada Geese Branta canadensis that are flying again after their wing moult, and at Top End I saw 5 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at their roost. I also saw 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo as it got quite dark, and 2 young fox cubs playing at the water's edge before setting off for home. There were a couple of lightning flashes away south of the Mendip ridge, but I didn't hear any rumble of thunder afterward.


Saturday 16th July [Hot & sunny]

Apparently, there is a red weather warning for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday, but it was warm enough today for me to be honest. There were 2 Greenshank Tringa nebularia and a juvenile Garganey Spatula querquedula at the Lodge, 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Long Bay, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, plus 4 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at the roost as the sun went down.

I met Mark again at Compton Martin church where he videoed the emergence of 29 Myotis bats between 2130 and 2300 hrs.


Friday 15th July [Hot & sunny]

During the day I saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus over the village, and in the evening I saw 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia at the Lodge, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Mark and I then met up with Nigel Crocker to put up a couple of Schwegler bat boxes in Ubley churchyard, before going on to Compton Martin to check the bat emergence as part of the Bats in Churches Project.


Thursday 14th July [Warm with a cooling breeze]

A pleasant evening walk on another warm day, saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam when I got there, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia in front of the Lodge, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Long Bay, 4 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at Top End.


Wednesday 13th July [Mainly high cloud & very warm]

Today's news was a pretty similar to yesterday's. Three Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Holt Farm, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in Long Bay, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was in Holt Bay, a Nuthatch Sitta europaea was calling in Holt Copse and I saw just 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba go to roost.

We had a Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum in the garden again today in the afternoon sunshine.


Tuesday 12th July [Mainly overcast, but still warm.]

I'm assuming that our regular Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos has returned to the lake, and was on the dam today. A Leveret Lepus europaeus was along the Lodge entrance drive when I arrived for what was quite an interesting walk this evening. A female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos was in front of the Lodge with 7 ducklings, and there were just 2 juvenile Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus among the small post-breeding flock there too. I spotted 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm in one of my BBS squares, counted 248 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, of which 245 were drakes, 5 Pochard Aythya ferina, 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 3 Great White Ardea alba and 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Teal Anas crecca, and 8 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea. So, waterbird numbers are beginning to build.


Monday 11th July [Hot & sunny]

Some waders have arrived, with 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in front of the Fishing Lodge. I also estimated there to be about 200 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula back on the lake. I only saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba at dusk, and either one, or two, Hobbies Falco subbuteo.

One of the fisheries rangers told me this evening that the fishing lodge at Litton Reservoirs had been completely destroyed by, what we assume was, a deliberate act of arson. 


Sunday 10th July [Hot & sunny]

It was a bit of an egret fest this evening, with 6 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and aside from a noticeable build up of Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, there wasn't much else to report. 


Saturday 9th July [Hot & sunny]

The island is starting to show in front of the Fishing Lodge, so we can hope for some passage waders to drop in now. There were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam,and a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis flew over while I stood there too. Tonight's egret roost consisted of 4 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Friday 8th July [Hot & sunny]

This evening there were 3 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at the roost, and no sign of any Hobbies before I left. There was also a sizeable (maybe 350+) Jackdaw Coloeus monedula flock wheeling around near Hellfire Corner as I made my way home .


Thursday 7th July [Sunny spells & getting warmer]

I didn't get to the lake yesterday, but this evening I saw a new brood of 4 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos at the dam, my first juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus in a flock of 27 at the Lodge, 4 Great White Ardea alba and 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus just one Hobby Falco subbuteo well after sun down. It looked to be catching the larger caddis flies that were on the wing among the midges.


Tuesday 5th July [A bright start but increasingly changeable]

I spent the afternoon with Chris Sperring, Melanie & Lionel checking local owl boxes, then went to the lake later to see what was around. There were 5 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata of note. Another find was a Roesel's Bush-cricket Roeseliana roeselii at a new site along the North Shore.

I had the pleasant good fortune to catch up with an old friend, Bob, who told me that when he was out fishing about 3 weeks ago he had seen a Marsh Harrier, presumably the female seen here frequently in the past few years, and the same bird I saw today. She has a creamy crown and chin that has a lot of brown feathers in it.

We had a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui butterfly briefly visit the garden today.


Monday 4th July [Overcast early on, but sunny & warm later]

Another evening walk, and when I got to the Lodge there was a Redshank Tringa totanus out front on the mud that is beginning to show. As I walked along the south side road I saw a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, and when I settled in the Top End hide to watch the sun set, I counted 4 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Then, as the sun went below the horizon, I was treated to the wonderful spectacle of 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo catching insects right in front of me in the golden light. When I got back to the Lodge I saw a young Tawny Owl Strix aluco above my head to cap off a great evening.

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum put in appearance in the garden again when the sun came out.


Sunday 3rd July [Mainly overcast]

This evening I walked the south side of the lake and saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, then met Mark for a bat emergence count, this time a Soprano Pipistrelle maternity roost in a local church. In the recent past we have counted over 550 there, but this evening it was a mere 64. There was a Serotine flying around the garden next door for quite a while and, as we left, a Tawny Owl briefly perched by the church gate. As I made my way home, I heard a juvenile Tawny Owl food begging at the lake too.


Saturday 2nd July [Pretty wet, though dried up late in the day]

I walked the south side of the lake from the house to Top End gate and back before meeting Mark to video a bat emergence from two hibernation boxes we've put up at the lake a few years ago. I saw a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, Betony Betonica officinalis in flower, and I also saw a Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis flower spike where I've never seen one before.

The bat emergence saw 83 come out from one box and 78 from the other, during which Mark got some amazing slow motion footage of something we've always suspected, flying bats seemingly calling others out from the roost. It's a shame we didn't make some sound recordings at the same time to match what we were seeing. Something for another time, perhaps.


Friday 1st July [Showers & cool]

Another evening visit, but I've finished the ABR duck report now (phew), and I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I continued walking when I got to Top End gate, and made my way to Compton Martin church where Mark and I did a bat emergence survey using infra-red video. We counted only 18 Myotis bats out, but heard Lesser Horseshoe, Soprano and Common Pipistrelle, plus Noctule and Serotine on the detector. It was pretty chilly by the time we packed up at 2315 hrs though.

Oh, and another (or possibly the same) Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum was on the lavender in the garden when the sun came out briefly.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.