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Blagdon Lake Birds

November 2022 News

Wednesday 30th November [Dry. Cool. Overcast.] 

We had a visit from a plumber, thankfully, today but it meant that I couldn't get out for a walk until late afternoon. BY the time I got to the Top End gate it was too dark to bird, so I had to make do with the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Wood Bay and a single Great White Egret Ardea alba at Top End. I also heard 4 singing male Tawny Owls Strix aluco on my way back to the dam. I also heard the curious bubbling call in response to one of them. I've heard it a few times in the last few years at both ends of the lake.


Monday 28th November [Sunny all day. Cool.]

I enjoyed a walk at the lake in the sunshine this afternoon as I had some time on my hands again. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at the southern corner of the dam, where it likes to 'hang out', there was a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus at The Island, about 150-200 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End, where a Great White Egret Ardea alba seemed to appear out of nowhere too, the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola were at Wood Bay, 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were feeding in Home Bay and I saw two Kestrels Falco tinnunculus (an unusual occurence at the lake these days).

The water level is approx 64% by my reckoning.


Sunday 27th November [Overcast & grey]

I took my sister and brother-in-law for a walk on the Somerset Levels this morning and saw a number of Marsh Harriers, wildfowl, egrets and Snipe to name a few. We also saw the drake Amercian Wigeon at the scrape on Meare Heath.

In the afternoon I took a walk at the lake and saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa at Long Bay, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 3 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula (2 drakes) at Top End. Andy M. reported an adult Mediterranean Gull Ichythatus melanocephalus in front of the Lodge a couple of hours earlier.


Saturday 26th November [Grey & wet. Windy.]

A late afternoon trip down to the lake produced about 50 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 1 Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, 1 Great White Egret Ardea alba and 2 Goldeneye,Bucephala clangula, one of which was an adult drake.


Thursday 24th November [Showers - some heavy]

Very little to report from a short visit this afternoon. I saw 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in Long Bay and circa 100 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus dotted around the rapidly filling Top End. No egrets!


Wednesday 23rd November [Wintery showers]

I walked from the Lodge to the Top End hide and back this afternoon. I heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing from Pipe Bay reeds (he was in Home Bay last Sunday), and I saw 11 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, although it was hard to be sure just how many there were really, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Pintail Anas acuta, 2 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, and I would guess at between 100-150 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.


Monday 21st November [Torrential rain this morning. Drying before dark.]

I didn't venture out in the deluge this morning and it wasn't until late afternoon I had the chance to get down to the lake. I did get up and down the south side from Lodge to Ubley gate with my binoculars and saw a couple of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, but all the Lapwings, Golden Plover and Dunlin seem to have moved on with the water rising very quickly. Most of the hundreds of Teal have moved up towards the dam end as a result of the level change as well. At the Lodge I was really pleased to see a Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus out on the grass, a sight I haven't seen in years, and a huge throng of gulls out on the bank. I opted not to go through them using my scope owing to the late hour and failing light. Perhaps tomorrow.

Water level approx. 56%


Sunday 20th November [Sunshine & showers. Chilly wind.]

With overnight rain, Mark and I met mid-morning to look for new arrivals. He was checking Top End while I was checking in front of the Lodge when I found what I thought might be a 1st-winter Ring-billed Gull. We spent ages watching it at some distance before it finally flew in to bathe and preen in front of the Lodge. Sadly for me, it turned out to be a Common Gull. Doh! We both went to Bell's Bush as the gathering rain clouds came in and I counted 41 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 24 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 20 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa (Mark had seen at least 47 earlier), 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta and one of the Stonechat Saxicola rubicola pair at Wood Bay.


Saturday 19th November [Sunny, but chillier than of late.]

I headed down to the lake around midday and saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water, a ringed Black -headed gull in the throng at the Lodge, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 21 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 30 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 12 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus from Bell's Bush, and 3 Stonechats (2 males) Saxicola rubicola at Rainbow Point.

  • Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Yellow 2A73, left leg, at The Lodge. Seen previously in 2020 & 2021 at the lake.

Mark had a look around later in the afternoon and saw 18 Dunlin, 55 Black-wits and 34 Golden Plover.


I was amused to hear the last part of the interview that BBC Radio Bristol's Steve Yabsley did with me a few years ago at the lake as I pulled up in my drive. He's run it again over the last three weekends. He signed it off with - "there we are, the wonderful old Nigel Milbourne." Cheeky young monkey lol!


Friday 18th November [A bit chilly but pleasantly sunny.]

Yesterday's Dunlin Calidris alpina flock of 19 were still present this afternoon, but had split into 8 at the Lodge and 11 at Bell's Bush. The best sighting was a Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta sunning itself at Home Bay Point. My walk produced the usual Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at the dam, 28 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 266 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Wood Bay.

 Water level approx. 52%


Thursday 17th November [Cooler, but mainly sunny.]

I enjoyed a pleasant walk along part of the Strawberry Line from Winscombe to Congresbury with friends this morning. Later, in the afternoon I spent an hour or so at the lake and noted a Common Sandpiper Actitis hyopleucos, 13 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 19 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 56 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. I'm hoping to spend more time there tomorrow.


Wednesday 16th November [A fine morning]

I birded the lake from 1100 to 1415 hrs today and met Martin who was just leaving when I was approaching Bell's Bush on foot. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at Cheddar Water preening when I checked the dam first thing, after a careful look through everything at the Lodge I walked to Top End and back birding as I went. I saw 35 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 24 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 4 Dunlin Calidris alpina, lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Goldeneye Bucephalus clangula, and a pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola of note.

There was a Smew at Chew this morning, and a lot of confusion ensued about whether it was at CVL or BL, then a message about a Red-breasted Merganser from the dam at BL, so I spent half an hour at the dam before I went home re-checking in case I'd missed a sawbill - I didn't see any...


Tuesday 15th November [Heavy rain overnight, mainly wet, with a nice spell mid-afternoon.]

Well, well, a family of three Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus bewickii were at Top End from the hide when I got there with Martin this afternoon. Sadly, before Mark arrived, they mysteriously disappeared while we were going through the waders out of sight at Bell's Bush. They may have gone east to Chew, as we didn't see them leave. The water level is coming up fast, but I counted 284 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, excluding 5 we saw at the Lodge and 14 in flight there, 10 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 22 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, and a single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. I saw groups of 8 and 13 Pintail Anas acuta at opposite ends of the lake, but can't rule out duplication, 3 Great White Ardea alba and 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing by Top End hide. I looked for the Ring-necked Duck again, without success, but rain stopped play.


Monday 14th November [Mild & dry in the morning, then steadily deteriorated.]

Phil and Colin Delve joined me to do the WeBS count this morning and from my point of view, it was one of the best birding trips to the lake this year. We added four new species to the site year list, bringing my total to 140. Hightlights included twelve species of wader and a Noctule bat taking insects over Rainbow Point. The only downside was no sign of the Ring-necked Duck, that I could see, today - probably because I took my camera with me to photograph it!

WeBS totals: Coot 2596, Teal 1091, Tufted Duck 614, Mallard 295, Wigeon 142, Canada Goose 123, Pochard 112, Shoveler 62*, Mute Swan 53, Moorhen 53, Gadwall 53*, Great Crested Grebe 43, Cormorant 19, Little Grebe 17, Pintail 10, Grey Heron 8, Great White Egret 3 and Little Egret 2. Wader counts were: Lapwing 291, Golden Plover 56, Black-tailed Godwit 15*, Dunlin 11, Bar-tailed Godwit 1, Curlew 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Snipe 1, Little Stint 1, Sanderling 1 and Grey Plover 1. Additional birds noted included the singing Cettis Warbler, 90+ Linnets, and reasonable numbers of Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Redwing and Fieldfare.

Species marked with an asterisk were incomplete counts because a yellow Electricity helicopter came along the south side of the lake, one field away, at a height of 50-150 feet inspecting the supply wires and put everything to flight on the lake! The only waders I subsequently saw were the Grey Plover and most, but not all, the Lapwings. I have added links to the Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover in the list above so that you can get some sense of just how rare these two species are at the lake.

Water level approx. 47%


Sunday 13th November [More sunshine & 17 Celsius]

The drake RIng-necked Duck Aythya collaris was still present today, and I've created a link to the Ring-necked Duck records that I have for the lake, but there was clearly quite a lot of disturbance going on when I visited this afternoon. I saw a Sparrowhawk Accipter nisus on a couple of occasions, but am not sure if this was the reason for the ducks and waders being continually put to flight. Anyway, when I got to Top End there were hardly any birds there, the Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and one Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa I saw in flight with them, chose to settle at Rugmoor out of my view.  I noted 3 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita at Holt Bay, a flock of 28 Lapwings high over heading south, a 1st-calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyatus melanocephalus at the Lodge, and the singing Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti still at Pipe Bay.


Saturday 12th November [A beautiful warm & sunny day]

A drake RIng-necked Duck Aythya collaris was found by Andy M. today, which he suspected was the bird that has been at Chew for the last few days. I saw it this afternoon and Mark turned up while I was looking at it from Wood Bay. Other than that bit of excitement and the beautiful weather, the bird report has a familiar ring to it - I counted 262 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, 38 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, one each of Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria and Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 3 (possibly 4) Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egrettaa garzetta. Oh, and the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola were at Wood Bay and the male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti was singing from Pipie Bay reeds.


Friday 11th November [Mild with sunny spells]

This afternoon, the water level appeared to have gone up again, and I met a couple of young students who were watching gull behaviour in front of the Lodge, while another couple of students/ecologists were out in a boat off the dam. I spent some time looking at the gulls myself and, of the first group of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus I looked at, two had rings on:

  • Black-headed Gull, adult, White EH4S, left leg, previously seen by me at Polish Water on 9th October 2021.
  • Black-headed Gull, adult, Orange, 2xxx, right leg. I haven't seen this bird before, so will try and nail the code in the coming days.

I heard a Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita calling from an oak tree at Home Bay, but couldn't spot it, and saw a pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Holt Bay then what I think was another pair at Wood Bay. At Bell's Bush, I counted 56 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 drake Pintail Anas acuta and 500+ Woodpigeons Columba palumbus that flew in from the east.


Thursday 10th November [A grey but mild & breezy day]

I pulled up at the corner of the dam this afternoon and there was the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos as usual. I spent quite a time looking at the gulls at the Lodge, but I couldn't find anything interesting there to report. I walked up to Bell's Bush where I counted 212 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 55 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 3 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. If I'm honest, the birding continues to disappoint, especially given the time of year and low water conditions.


Wednesday 9th November [More sunshine than rain]

I got to the lake a little bit earlier this afternoon and had more time to look at the gulls, and whilst I didn't spot any that were ringed, I did pick out a 1st-calendar year Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus at Polish Water in front of the Lodge. I heard the male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Pipe Bay, then it was a walk, birding on the way, to Bell's Bush to look through the birds there. I counted 53 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa again, 5 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 7 Little Egretta garzetta and 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Tuesday 8th November [Heavy showers]

I walked the same route this afternoon as I did yesterday and unsurprisingly saw pretty much the same birds. A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water was the first time I'd seen it for some while, but the Cettis Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Pipe Bay was a regular. Again, there was no sign of the Black-necked Grebe, which was disappointing, but the 53 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa where still at Top End. I counted 203 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a single Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and saw 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on Lag/Holt Farm.

 Water level approx. 42%


Monday 7th November [Grey with heavy showers]

I got to the lake in time to spend the last hour and a half of daylight having a rather too brief look around. I wasn't able to spot the Black-necked Grebe that Mark and I saw at the Lodge yesterday, so I decided to move on for fear of losing the light before checking the Top End. The water level continues to rise, albeit slowly, but today's rain will certainly be welcomed by Bristol Water. There were 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on the fields of Holt Farm, where they seem to spend most of their time lately, and I saw 7 Great White's Ardea alba scattered around the lake. Viewed from Bell's Bush, most of the waterfowl were further down the lake at Burmah Road, but they were close enough for me to be able to count 53 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and 6 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria among the more numerous Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.


Sunday 6th November [Sunshine & showers. Mild.]

Mark and I had a look at some trees for bat roost potential at lunchtime and got soaked! However, the sun did eventually come out so we decided to bird the south side of the lake on foot. At the Lodge I spotted a rings on a Black-headed Gull and Great White Egret:

  • Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, adult, Yellow 2D46.
  • Great White Egret Ardea alba, Red A something 1 or T. The ring was dirty, unfortunately. Anyone seen this bird at CVL and read the ring?

The Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti was singing from Pipe Bay reeds and while checking the birds in the mouth of Long/Home Bays, I spotted a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis - I wonder if its the same one that visited last winter? That one turned up on 12th December. This one was in nice crisp plumage and had a bright red eye so was, presumably, an adult. We didn't see anything more of note until we reached Rainbow Point, where it's possible to scope the waterfowl in Top End quite comfortably. We continued on to Bell's Bush where I scoped the birds again and counted 8 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a single Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, saw lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Peregrine Falco peregrinus, and Mark spotted the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola in front of the Top End hide where we took shelter from yet another heavy downpour.


Saturday 5th November [Dismal, grey, & at times, wet.]

I took time out to spend a damp and dreary afternoon bird watching at the lake today, albeit with my waterproofs on. At the dam and Lodge there were Linnets Linaria cannabina and Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis feeding on the foreshore. However, it wasn't until I got to Rainbow Point that I saw anything worth reporting. I counted 13 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, found an adult winter Dunlin Calidris alpina, a brownhead Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 9 Pintail Anas acuta, 6 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzettaGeneralizing a little, it appears that Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers are on the rise, while Shoveler Spatula clypeata numbers are falling, as the lake starts to fill. There were probably 50-100 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba working the margins too.


Friday 4th November [Plenty of sunshine]

A late afternoon visit was notable for the slight rise in water level, which made the Top End look especially interesting, but the only new birds I saw were 14 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria with good numbers of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. While I was scanning from Rainbow Point, I could hear the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus calling in flight for a good 20 minutes or so, but I didn't manage to see it. I counted 7 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the latter spending much of their time feeding around the cattle on Holt Farm.


Thursday 3rd November [Sunshine & showers, some heavy.]

There wasn't much change in the news today. I saw just the one Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula in front of the Lodge, heard the male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing from Pipe Bay reeds, saw the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus still at Wood Bay Point, and counted 13 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on a short walk from the Lodge to Rainbow Point and back. There were still lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, mainly at Burmah Road, and the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola were at Holt Bay where, as it got dark, a group of 10+ Fieldfares Turdus pilaris came in to roost in the waterside willows where they have for many years.


Wednesday 2nd November [Morning sun & afternoon rain]

I met Martin at the lake at lunchtime today and he told me he'd seen the 4 Common Cranes Grus grus that flew west from Chew Valley Lake over Blagdon Lake last Monday 24th October. He first saw them with his naked eye and because they circled a couple of times, looking as if they might drop down, he had time to get them in his scope before they drifted off towards the village. A great record Martin! I was at the Lodge when we met, and he told me he'd seen the Curlew Numenius arquata I was watching earlier, as well as a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus at Wood Bay Point. I pointed out 2 Juvenile Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula before we parted ways. I spent a couple of hours going through the waterfowl without out seeing anything unusual, and counted 105 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 18 Pintail Anas acuta, 17 Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I saw a female Stonechat Saxicola rubicola at Flower Corner and heard Skylark Alauda arvensis calls overhead, twice, while I was at Rainbow Point.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-23. All Rights Reserved.