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Blagdon Lake Birds

August 2023 News

Tuesday 29th August [Wet]

I went to the lake this evening after an absence of several days and found a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a small flock of 5 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis. There were reasonable numbers of Shoveler Spatula clypeata and Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, but the water level remains pretty high for the time of year.


Wednesday 23rd August

Melanie P. texted me to say she'd seen 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo high over the lake this evening. Thanks Melanie.


Monday 21st August [Warm & dry]

The water level remains around 78% or so, and the number of water birds was well down on what we might expect as the water level drops through the summer/autumn. However, some compensation water was being run down the spillway today so we may yet see it drop low enough to attract migrating waders.

Rob Hargreaves, Matt Hull and I did the WeBS count, and were very happy to see an Osprey Pandion haliaetus, a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, 7 Common Terns Sterna hirundo flying west (Matt and Rob only), and what is probably a site record count of 14 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam. The rest of the count was as follows: Coot 997, Tufted Duck 250, Mallard 212, Shoveler 109, Great Crested Grebe 55, Gadwall 49, Mute Swan 36, Cormorant 33, Pochard 30, Moorhen 28, Teal 16, Little Grebe 13, Little Egret 13, Great White Egret 3, Buzzard 2, Common Sandpiper 2, Grey Wagtail 2, and a Grey Heron. I also noted circa 110 Black-headed Gulls, 34 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and 9 Great Black-backed Gulls including a ringed juvenile, yellow D:LD, probably ringed on Denny Island (Bristol Channel).

I also noted Emperor Dragonfly, Migrant Hawker, Ruddy and Common Darter, Azure and Common Blue Damselfly, and at least 10 Small Red-eyed Damselflies, including a pair in cop. at Green Lawn. Butterflies included Red Admiral, Common and Holly Blue, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and Rob saw Speckled Wood.


Sunday 20th August

I was supposed to lead a walk for Bristol Ornithological Club at the lake today, but had to pull out owing to my foot problem. However, Rob stood in and led it,  and I drove down early for a look around to try and help Rob out. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, heard a Raven Corvus corax calling, saw a Nuthatch Sitta europaea at the Lodge, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, a Juvenile Hobby Falco subbuteo, and one each of Great White Ardea alba and Little Egret Egretta garzetta of note.


Thursday 17th August

A brief visit today yielded a Redshank Tringa totanus, 4 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, plus a Great White Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.


Wednesday 16th August [Warm & sunny]

My fifth week of physiotherapy and exercises, aimed at trying to sort my foot out, started today and meant I didn't get to the lake until this evening in the car. There were 4 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and from Rainbow Point I saw 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and one Great White Egret Ardea alba fly to roost, plus a single Hobby Falco subbuteo hawking insects high over Top End after the sun had dropped below the western horizon in a blaze of gold. 


Tuesday 15th August [Warm & sunny]

As I went out to the car to drive to the lake in the evening, I spotted a rather beautiful and pristine-looking Jersey Tiger moth Euplagia quadripunctaria on the patio, and on arrival at the dam saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water, counted no fewer than 60 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus gathering together, and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta flying to roost.


Sunday 13th August

I spent a large portion of the day at Chew Valley Lake with Daniel, Mark and Charlie checking bat boxes. We found quite a few Soprano Pipistrelles, but the big surprise was finding 3 male Nathusius' Pipistrelles, which we were able to ring. I saw a Marsh Harrier fly over the road at Heron's Green which looked as if it was heading over to Blagdon, but saw it, or another, later over Stratford Bay as well. At Picnic Site One, I spotted a Common Sandpiper which flew over to the dam, and saw the hybrid duck that has been claimed at various times to be a female Red-crested Pochard.


Friday 11th August [Dry, sunny & warm.]

There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 4 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 9 Teal Anas crecca, 5 Shoveler Spatula clypeata, and coming in to roost I noted 3 Great White Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta


Thursday 10th August [Warm, dry & mainly sunny.]

I had a call from Mark today to tell me he and Sean had just seen a Bittern Botaurus stellaris beside the south road which flew over to the lakeside from the meadow - probably the same one Mark saw on 25th July. I didn't see it despite going down immediately, but I did see a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus which hunted around Top End, putting up a Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and there was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam when I drove home. I went back in the evening, saw a single Hobby Falco subbuteo and one, probably two, Great White Egrets.


Tuesday 8th August

I had a fairly full day, visiting Dr. Mike and Christine's house to inspect their bat loft and boxes for them, during which I had another call to collect two Soprano Pipistrelles from Chew Stoke that had been trapped in a building. I checked them over, hydrated and fed them a couple of times before taking them back to their roost site for release at dusk. I ventured down to the dam briefly, and saw a single Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the wall.


Monday 7th August [Dry & sunny]

I was only able to drive through slowly on one occasion during the day, but I noted 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo.


Sunday 6th August [Mainly dry]

I spent the whole day at the lake from 0930 to 1700 hrs with Mark, Danielle and Jane checking the bat boxes. I saw a Redshank Tringa totanus on the dam when I got there (Andy M. saw 3 on North Shore later in the day), 4 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo (Steve and Sue M. saw 3 Hobbies). We saw at least 50 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and 23 Natterer's Bats Myotis nattereri during the checks. Two of the Natterer's were ringed in one of the two groups we saw, so we removed it from the box to read the ring before putting it straight back. It was A7367, a post-lactating female, ringed in 2010 or 2011 (to be confirmed), processed by me in 2013, seen again in 2014, processed by Georgie H. in 2015, and still alive and having pups in 2023! 


Saturday 5th August [Showers]

On the dam I saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and what I think was a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, and 8 Hobbies Falco subbuteo over Top End. I also saw a Hummingbird Hawk-moth feeding at one of the Buddleia bushes in the garden.


Friday 4th August [A pleasant, occasionally sunny, day.]

Dr. Mike texted me at 1400 hrs to say he was watching a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus in front of the hide but, predictably, I didn't see it during the hour and a quarter I spent at the lake in the evening. I counted 8 Hobbies Falco subbuteo over Top End, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta. I also spotted a Swift Apus apus over Holt Copse.  


Thursday 3rd August [A much nicer day than yesterday]

After yesterdays deluge I expected the feeder streams to be running hard into the lake, but although they carried some colour, they didn't seem to be about to push the water level up much. I had a slow drive through this afternoon on the way back from seeing a man about the Barn Owls in his garden box. A Hobby Falco subbuteo flew off a gate calling in front of the car, and I noted a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus (an adult and a juvenile), the pair of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca (plus another that was just a little too far away to identify certainly), and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

I went back to the lake in the evening, and discovered that there were actually 5 Oystercatchers on the dam, all of which were adults as it turned out, and there were 3 Egyptian Geese, 2 Great White Egrets and 2 Common Sandpipers. I didn't get a chance to count Hobbies this evening.


Tuesday 1st August [Sunny spells]

This evening I went to the lake just as drizzle set in (as usual - lol), and saw the pair of moulting adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam again. At Green Lawn I saw 4 Teal Anas crecca, and at Rainbow Point I saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta of note. I didn't stay until dusk.


Monday 31st July [Sunshine & showers]

More work at home today meant I didn't get to the lake until this evening. As I counted Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula from Green Lawn, I noticed Mark on the North Shore. I saw 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall and counted 457 Tufties (seven of which were female) before Mark came around to Rainbow Point. We've seen nothing more of the Bittern he saw last Tuesday, although with all the marginal cover it could still be present I suppose. I noted 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta flying in to roost, and 9 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting over Top End at dusk before leaving for home. 


Sunday 30th July [Wet all day]

I have been working on a DIY project for the past few days, hence my lack of news. However, Melanie P. texted me today to tell me she'd seen a couple of Little Egrets Egretta garzetta during an evening visit yesterday.

After I'd completed the biggest part of my project, I drove to the lake this evening and noted 2 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus with darvic rings on their legs, 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and a pair of moulting adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegytiaca on the dam wall. While there, I counted 45 Black-headed Gulls, only one of which was a 1st-calendar year bird, so perhaps they had a poor breeding season? A count of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus from Green Lawn totalled 42, although this may not have been all of those present on the lake. I also spotted 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Great White Egret Ardea alba on the north side of the lake from Rainbow Point.

I should have taken a photograph with my phone, but didn't, of the mess that greets visitors at the entrance gate to the Fishing Lodge these days. There were 9 signs attached to the gate and fence beside it, another 6 signs just inside the gate, and a new sign outside the gate to warn of road works along the driveway! It's no wonder no-one reads them... Time for a rethink Bristol Water - it looks dreadful.


Tuesday 25th July [A pleasant day]

I walked with friends during the day around Monkton Combe, Midford and South Stoke and, thankfully, because we were off road my foot was okay. I saw 2 Kingfishers along the Midford Brook and a Swift going under the eaves of a house in South Stoke.

Mark texted me at 1720 hrs to say he'd just seen a Bittern Botaurus stellaris at Holt Bay, which flew to the other side of the lake after he'd driven past. I made a very brief visit to see if I could see it on the way out for the evening, without luck, but did see 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-23. All Rights Reserved.