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Blagdon Lake Birds

June 2022 News

Thursday 30th June [Changeable]

Not much to report on my evening visit, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (how blasé is that), and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Wednesday 29th June [Cool & showery]

During the afternoon we had a visit from a Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum to the lavender in the garden which was rather special.

Down at the lake I saw a Tawny Owl Strix aluco fly across Station Road by the Inspection House, and then another (a juvenile this time) along the entrance drive to the Fishing Lodge.


Tuesday 28th June [Sunny early, but gradually clouding over. Blustery wind brought light rain before dark.]

I did my last BBS survey this morning, which meant an 0530 hrs start. I saw a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus below the Spillway, a Great White Egret Ardea alba on The Island and, on my way home, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Cheddar Water.

During the bird survey, I had a call to rescue some baby bats, so went and attended to them before spending the rest of the day on the Mallard species account for the ABR - just 4100 reported sightings to sift through and make some sense of...

As the rain came on in the evening, I drove down to the lake for a late peek at things, and counted 17 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula in front of the Lodge, saw a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 3 tiny chicks, and noted 3 Great White Egrets and 3 Little Egrets (with, perhaps, another Little already hidden?) going to roost.


Monday 27th June [Early rain, then dry & sunny.]

On arrival at the Lodge, I spotted 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta just in front. At Holt Bay a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui flew up off the road as I approached on foot, and when I got to Wood Bay there were 2 Little Egrets on the point. From the Top End hide I was also able to see 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Sunday 26th June [Pretty breezy, but warm enough.]

I didn't get to the lake until late afternoon/early evening, but saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Hobby Falco subbuteo in Long Bay, and 2 Great White Egrets at Rugmoor Bay, as I made my way to Top End. Instead of turning back for home, I made my way along Bickfield Lane on the way to a rendezvous with Mark at Chew Valley Lake, to do a bat maternity roost exit count. This particular roost is of Lesser Horseshoe bats Rhinolophus hipposideros and it seems to be quite small this year, with just 15 individuals counted out and back in 49 minutes. I noted my first juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus of the year while at Chew.


Saturday 25th June [Blustery, with some showers.]

I made an early start to do a second BTO Breeding Bird Survey on the south side of the lake, spent the rest of the day writing for the Avon Bird Report, and went back in the evening and saw what I took to be 2 new Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata in different areas to those reported previously. I met Mark, who was in the Top End hide when I got there, and we saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal, and I heard a young Tawny Owl Strix aluco food-begging near the Lodge on the way back home.


Friday 24th June [Mainly dry with occasional showers]

Another early call-out to a Soprano Pipistrelle roost site to rescue 3 young (inexperienced) Soprano Pipistrelles that didn't quite make it back into their natal roost site. I popped them up to the entrance and they quickly disappeared back inside.

In the evening I walked from the house to Bell's Bush barrier and back, during which I saw the first returning Sand Martins Riparia riparia in front of the Lodge, and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba in flight. At the bottom of Station Road I came across a dead Lesser Stag Beetle on the road outside Little Halt, the second one I've seen recently.


Thursday 23rd June [Overcast & muggy]

I didn't spend much time at the lake this evening, turning around at Holt Copse, and only saw a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata of note. I was called to rescue 4 young Soprano Pipistrelles today, which I duly returned to their maternity roost.

We discovered that we had become the latest victims of a spate of car crime in the village when Celia started her car, only to find the catalytic converter had been cut out.


Wednesday 22nd June [Hot & sunny]

I walked from the house to Bell's Bush barrier and back this evening, and saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and what I thought were 2 Silver-washed Fritillaries briefly, but I'll have to confirm these are around on another day.


Tuesday 21st June [Hot & sunny]

I met Ken at Nunnery Point, Chew Valley Lake, this morning to check and clean the bat boxes there. It didn't end too well because I dropped my reading glasses somewhere along the way, and Ken lost a small pocketknife! While I was there I saw and heard a Redshank flying around Moreton Point, and when I went back to search for my glasses at Nunnery, I saw a Grass Snake.

In the evening I walked from the Fishing Lodge to Top End hide and back at Blagdon. I saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, and a Moorhen Gallinula chloropus with a chick (the 1st brood I've seen this year).


Monday 20th June [Breezy early, but when it died down the day warmed up]

Phil, Terry, Rob and I did the monthly WeBS count this morning from 0940-1330 hrs. The level was about 71%. Coot 369 (inc. 16 juvs.), Canada Goose 286, Mallard 71, Mute Swan 55 (inc. 9 juvs.), Great Crested Grebe 25, Tufted Duck 10, Black-headed Gull 8, Hobby 5, Cormorant 5, Buzzard 4, Grey Heron 3, Redshank 2, Lapwing 2, Little Egret 2, Great White Egret 2, Moorhen 2, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Gadwall 2, and Herring Gull 1. The Spotted Flycatcher pair were still present.


Sunday 19th June [Rain showers]

More writing this morning, and with an occasional look out the window onto the patio I spotted a juvenile Starling, the first in the garden for years! Anyway, I walked down to the lake after tea and saw a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, the Mute Swan Cygnus olor brood from the dam end, now reduced from 7 to 6 cygnets, a Great White Ardea alba and Little Egret Egretta garzetta. 

On the way back home I went to check out and count a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus roost in the village, and counted 210 out despite the ongoing showers.


Saturday 18th June [Cooler than of late. Overcast with spells of rain.]

Today was a bit of a contrast to yesterdays weather, and just as I arrived at the dam this evening, down came the rain. I waited at the Lodge until the rain stopped watching the House Martins Delichon urbicum and Swallows Hirundo rustica feeding low over the water. I made my way to the Top End hide and back, hearing the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti on the way at Home Bay, and saw a Tawny Owl Strix aluco in flight, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a Hobby Falco subbuteo. Having dried out during my walk, I got drowned again, as it started pouring down when I got back to the Lodge and all the way back up the hill.


Friday 17th June [Hot, hot, hot!]

I did preparatory work on some more bat boxes which I took over to Farrington Park Golf Club and, with Mark's help, hung the remainder of the boxes they'd bought.  Sue wrote to me afterwards - "Your enthusiasm for the bats is rubbing off on FLORA and we are like expectant mothers waiting for the bats to arrive." Now, it's just a waiting game! We'll check in a couple of months. I really hope their latest initiative pays off, both for them and the bats.

In the evening Mark and I had a brief look at the lake, and saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, two small flocks of Starlings Sturnus vulgaris over heading west,  and a pair of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata on the way to meeting up with Ken, to count a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus maternity roost emergence. We manually counted over 350 out, and when Mark reviewed the video later he totted-up 375.


Thursday 16th June [Hot & sunny. Warmest day of the year.]

Another species account written up this morning for the Avon Bird Report - phew! Then, in the evening, I went down to the lake in the car and counted 286 Canada Geese Branta canadensis (most of which are on the lake now - to moult). There were Great White Egrets Ardea alba (both in non-breeding plumage) at Top End and Holt Bay, plus a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 2 juveniles, and 3 moulting drake Shoveler Spatula clypeata on Rugmoor Point. I didn't stay to watch for Hobbies at dusk, because I went to check a Soprano Pipistrelle roost we're planning to count tomorrow evening - there were lots!


Wednesday 15th June [Hot & sunny. Breezy.]

It was another day spent writing my section of the forthcoming Avon Bird Report, but I went out early in the evening to the lake, to attend to the feeder and take a walk. It was a very leisurely and fruitful affair, in that I saw a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata in potential breeding habitat, an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus on Rainbow Point, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba at Top End, counted 11 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus flying west (no juveniles yet), and watched 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at dusk. I counted 50 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, but think there are more. I also saw Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator and Meadow Brown butterfly Maniola jurtina on the wing. The water level is dropping slowly and is roughly 73% at present.


Tuesday 14th June [Hot & sunny]

Today, I spent most of my time working on the Farrington Park Golf Club bat box scheme. I collected the boxes, painted numbers on them, modified them slightly so we could hang them on the nails I'd bought, and met Elaine and Sue to put the first five boxes up on the course.

Later, I walked part way to Chew Valley Lake to carry out another bat emergence survey, this time Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros. I heard some Redshank Tringa totanus calls as I walked past Heron's Green. The bat roost had built up in numbers since our last check on 31st May, which is encouraging. As I left I saw the Strawberry Moon rising - what a sight it was over the lake!

There was a report on the Avon Birds blog that singles of Great White Ardea alba and Little Egret Egretta garzetta were at Blagdon Lake today.


Monday 13th June [Warm]

I spent most of the morning at Chew Valley Lake cleaning and checking bat boxes with Ken. We did 22 boxes and came across Hornets Vespa crabro (always a bit disconcerting when you open a box), 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and, with utter amazement, a box full of Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii with pups! Ken checked that box, and thought there were no fewer than 15 adults in the box - a first for the schemes at either Chew or Blagdon - but obviously shut it again immediately to minimise disturbance. We rehung one and renumbered some other of the empty boxes, after cleaning them out.

I went to the lake briefly afterwards and heard the male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti still singing at Home Bay, and during the late afternoon I saw a Hummingbird Hawk-moth Macroglossum stellatarum in the garden.

In the evening I met with Mark, to help Jean and a few villagers of Compton Martin to do a bat emergence count from the church. Mark made a video, and told me later (after he'd reviewed the video) that 18 Myotis bats had come out during our survey from 2127-2252 hrs. They were still coming out in dribs and drabs when we called the survey to an end.


Sunday 12th June [It was warm in the sheltered sunny spots away from the stiff cool breeze]

I spent much of the morning working on the ducks section of the Avon Bird Report, before going over to Barrow Tanks to check the four bat boxes we put up there a few years ago. We found three of the four immediately, but they didn't appear to have been used by bats at all, just nesting birds. The one box, that we had bats in on one occasion, was on a chestnut tree that has been drastically reduced and it took us two attempts to find it among the foliage. It had been used by nesting birds in the interim since our last check, but was now rendered totally unsuitable as a bat roost site, so we took it and the others down. We will deploy  them somewhere else, after Ken has upgraded the 2F design to 2F DFP. He and I are going to do some box checks at Chew Valley Lake tomorrow, and Mark and I will be doing a church emergence count in the evening. At some point in between, I'm meeting with Simon and the tree surgeons at Blagdon to see what habitat creation they might be able to provide in an Ash tree that has to be cut back in the 4th stage of Ash Dieback. 

This evening I walked from home to the far end of the lake and back, and saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo, the female Pheasant Phasianus colchicus with 3 juveniles again, and heard the male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing. I got back home before sunset in order to feed the bat in care, then met with Georgie at dusk to release it back into the wild. I'm happy to report it flew off strongly.


Saturday 11th June [Mainly warm & sunny. A few spots of rain.]

I had a male Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus brought to me by friend Georgie a day or two ago, that was found grounded on a local doorstep. It was entangled in some kind of material that she thought might be a roofing membrane. She did an excellent job of removing that, and after rehydrating and roosting it, I've got it to start to feed and fly, to the point where it looks like it's ready to go back out to the wild tomorrow.

Late afternoon, I walked from the house to Rainbow Point, where I met Mark. On the way I saw a male Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum. After some tea, Mark and I drove back along the lakeside where we saw a female Pheasant Phasianus colchicus with 3 juveniles. 

We then moved on to meet up with Jean and Peter at a local church, in order to recce the bat emergence which the locals were hoping to do for the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP). The church has an important bat population including Myotis species, Natterer's and/or Daubenton's, which Jean and Mark monitored, while Peter and I wandered the churchyard with detectors. Jean was doing a naked eye count, and Mark set up his video equipment to record the emergence. Bats didn't start to exit until 48 minutes after sunset, which made accurate counting by naked eye almost impossible, as Jean found out, although she was impressively tenacious and, it has to be said, remarkably accurate until complete darkness fell. Over the next hour, just 14 came out, which Mark remarked also made for a difficult playback count! Mark, Ken and I had already done some counts, pre-Covid, at the church, so we think video recording will be the way forward to monitor the bats, with the added benefit that we can share this with the villagers. Jean was keen for us to build on this first meeting, and on Monday evening we will show some more of the villagers their church bats. Over the coming weeks we are hoping we can show the local school children too, using detectors provided by the Bats In Churches Project, and Mark's video cameras, before the BIC project team come along to do some more interactive work with them. 


Friday 10th June [Sunny & warm]

I walked from the house to Top End gate and back this evening. I cleared the path through to the hide a bit because I have managed to pick up 6 ticks so far this year. Hopefully, I caught all them in time to avoid the possibility of picking up Lyme Disease, but I'd rather not have them feeding on me at all thanks. Anyway, there was nothing on the dam again, but I did come across a family of Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii along the way. The Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was singing at Hellfire Corner, and as I walked past Bell's Bush, I saw 2 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus fly through west. I watched the sun go down, and shortly after it dipped over the horizon, I counted 9 Hobbies Falco subbuteo over the centre of the lake feeding on insects.


Thursday 9th June [Overcast with some rain]

I drove through around lunchtime and stopped for a long chat with a couple of anglers, Jeff and Malcolm, watching out for birds all the time, but have nothing to report today.


Wednesday 8th June [A strong SW breeze with sunshine & cloud]

There were two Canada Goose Branta canadensis broods (4 well grown and 5 downy) in Long Bay, along with one of the Mute Swan Cygnus olor broods (7 cygnets). It was pretty quiet from a birding point of view with white horses being whipped up by the breeze, although there were plenty of House Martins Delichon urbicum over the water at the Lodge, and hundreds of Swifts Apus apus over Top End. I heard the Cuckoo Cuculus canorus still singing at Hellfire Corner and saw just a single Hobby Falco subbuteo, but I got home as the sun went down so missed the main feeding period.


Tuesday 7th June [Warm with sunny spells]

On arrival at the dam, I was pleased to see the first Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea family of the year on the dam wall. I think there were 3 juveniles, but they were right along by the tower, so hard to count. As I walked along the road at Green Lawn, I inadvertently disturbed a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui butterfly (I'd already seen one as I walked down Station Road), and at Holt Copse I saw my first tiny Frog Rana temporaria of the year crossing the road. The male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was singing again at Hellfire Corner and on the road behind the hide I spotted a Drinker Moth Euthrix potatoria caterpillar (moved to the side out of harms way). It's a big beast and probably what the Cuckoo would be feeding on. I didn't stick around until dusk to watch the Hobbies this evening, and as I made my way back I found another impressive insect on the road at Home Bay - a Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus. I took some photos with my phone (I'll post one here in due course) and looked up local records on the NBN Atlas. This would appear to be the first record for the site, although with Ash Dieback Hymenoscyphus fraxineus taking a firm grip on our local woodlands, I guess we're going to see a lot more of this dead wood specialist in future.


Monday 6th June [Mainly overcast - but a stunning sunset]

We seem to be blessed with two Mute Swan Cygnus olor families this year, one of 7 cygnets and the other with 3 cygnets. I saw both this evening. As I walked towards the Top End hide I spotted a Cuckoo Cuculus canorus in flight at Hellfire Corner, and after I'd walked past, it duly started to sing. However, the highlight of the visit was without any doubt the sunset, which set the sky on fire over Butcombe Bank as I watched 9 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hawking insects against the deep orange glow, which gradually changed to salmon pink as the sun got lower behind the hill. It was a stunning sight.


Sunday 5th June [Overcast & still. Rain late in the day.]

The 'bat team' met together for a breakfast (and elevenses) at Farrington's this morning to discuss our batting plans, after which Mark, Ken and I spent the rest of the day checking bat boxes at Chew Valley Lake. We found a few Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, as expected, but cut the work short at teatime as the rain set in.


Saturday 4th June 

I don't have any news from yesterday, and I didn't visit the lake again until this evening when I walked from home to Top End and back, birding as I went. I heard the Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing again, saw 4 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal, and probably get answered, from the hide.


Thursday 2nd June [Warm & sunny]

I didn't go birding at the lake today because Mark and I went to Kent to see the Eleanora's Falcon Falco eleonorae at Worth Marshes, near Sandwich. I got a surprise when Roger Staples came up and said hello as we drew up at the gate of the allotted field for parking. Nice to see you Roger. The local team had done a great job in organising the twitch for the steady comings and goings of admiring birders, and the bird put on a pretty good show too. According to BBRC statistics (to 2018) there have only been 7 records in Britain up to that point in time.


Wednesday 1st June [A mainly sunny & warm day]

I had a 4 mile walk with friends Ann and Colin this morning at Chew Valley Lake, during which we saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus over Picnic Site 2. In the evening I drove down to Blagdon Lake and walked the top half to the hide. Jane and Adam were there first and saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba in flight plus a Little Egret Egretta garzetta feeding at Indian Country (which I saw later on Rugmoor Point), then Mark arrived and spotted a pair of Shelduck Tadorna tadorna flying down the lake. When I got to the hide, I joined Mark, Ross and his mum, in time to watch the sun go down and count the Hobbies Falco subbuteo. I made it 8 on several occasions and 9 on one count. So, I'll settle for 8, and assume the extra was a one that got counted twice while they fed in a group. The Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was still singing from the north shore.

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