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Blagdon Lake Birds

July 2023 News

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.


Monday 24th July [Mainly cloudy]

I did the stretching exercises set by the physiotherapist and went for a two mile walk over the fields and through Fuller's Hay late afternoon, before driving down to the lake in the evening. I saw 2 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis (the first for ages), 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and, finally, 7 Hobbies Falco subbuteo at 2100 hrs before heading home.


Sunday 23rd July [Showers in the morning & dry later]

I had a look at the dam mid-morning, but didn't see any waders, before going for a walk. Before I went back down in the evening, Mark, who was fishing, told me there was an Osprey Pandion haliaetus hunting over Top End. I jumped straight in the car and drove to Rainbow Point where I was able to watch it for 20 minutes or so, before going back for my evening meal which was just being served up when I'd shot out the door! Here's a couple of record shots taken from a great distance:

 Osprey, Blagdon Lake. 23rd July 2023.

Osprey, Blagdon Lake. 23rd July 2023.Osprey, Blagdon Lake. 23rd July 2023.  

After tea I went back to the lake, saw Mark again, who said he hadn't seen the Osprey since I'd left earlier but had spotted a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos along the North Shore. I birded from Rainbow Point to Top End and back, during which I noted 7 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, 1 Great White Egret Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta (although Mark had seen four of the latter before I arrived). 


Friday 21st July [Bright at first but clouding over later] 

I managed a birding walk from the Lodge to Rainbow Point and back and saw 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Great White Egret Ardea alba of note.


Thursday 20th July [Mainly sunny]

Today, I saw 7 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam and a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Rugmoor.


Wednesday 19th July [Dry with sunny spells] 

I finally got to see a physiotherapist today, who confirmed my suspicions that I didn't have plantar fasciitis. So, I'm starting an exercise schedule to try and cure the problem and get me back up and running - plus out on foot to do my birding.

Later, I got out for a short walk birding from Rainbow Point to Top End hide and back. On the way there I saw 2 Curlew Numenius arquata fly west and away over the dam, 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the water's edge at Green Lawn, plus a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Long Bay. From Rainbow, I saw 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor and another that flew in from the west to roost. There wasn't much to report on my way to the hide, although I scanned lots of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula on the way, but on the way back to the car I saw 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting insects over the east end of the lake and a second Great White Egret.


Tuesday 18th July [Pleasant enough with some drizzle in the evening]

I walked with friends this morning at Ashton Court and saw two Peregrines Falco peregrinus of note. 

In the evening I went down to the lake just as it started to rain and found a 2nd-summer and 8 adult Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralgus on the dam, along with a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. At Rainbow Point, I saw a further 2 Little Egrets and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and was surprised by the flotillas of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. I decided to get the clicker out and count them on the way back to the dam and it showed 468 when I got there (of which <2% were female). Among the other waterbirds were 4 Teal Anas crecca and 2 Pochard Aythya ferina.


Monday 17th July [A pleasant day with high cloud]

I spent some of the early afternoon at the lake with Melanie, Lionel and Chris S. then I went back again in the evening for a short walk and a look at some bat boxes. During my time at the lake I saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Hobby Falco subbuteo and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos.

Mark saw the family of 7 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca in flight while he was closing things up at the Lodge.


Sunday 16th July [Showers]

I had a look at the lake between 1945 and 2115 hrs today. I birded from the Lodge to Bell's Bush and back and saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba (non-breeding plumage), 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the family party of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca (six seven birds), and 7 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting over Top End viewed from Wood Bay. Back at the dam, I noted 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and 193 Canada Geese Branta canadensis either on the dam, or approaching, to feed and roost. 

Mark texted me later and said he'd watched a Hobby over my head as I walked back along Long Bay - doh! He was seeing the last anglers in to the quay as I headed for home - so I think its okay to assume there were 8 Hobbies this evening.


Friday 14th July [Wet early but drying out a bit later]

I went down to the lake at dusk to meet up with Daniel and Mark who wanted to video (in infra-red light) a Soprano Pipistrelle roost emergence. Mark told me he'd seen 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water, and we both saw one fly off the centre of the dam later (but it may have been one of the birds seen earlier).


Thursday 13th July [Showers]

I walked with friends from Blagdon to Wrington along the river and then along the Two Rivers Way late morning. In the evening I'd recovered enough to drive down to bird from the car, but bumped into Mark at Green Lawn, so we spent what time we had before dusk chatting and birding. I counted 6 Hobbies Falco subbuteo in the air at one point, saw one each of Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Great White Egret Ardea alba, watched a family of 6 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca fly in, saw a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus and Mark noted a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on Rainbow Point before I arrived. 


Wednesday 12th July [Mainly sunny with an odd shower]

I decided to chance my foot and walk home from the garage this evening, and bird my way back along the south side of the lake. As things turned out, I ended up on Breach Hill and came back through Nempnett Thrubwell, before making my way around Butcombe Bay. I crossed the dam at 2030 hrs where I heard the unmistakable calls of an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus that circled the dam end several times before climbing higher and flying off west still calling.


Tuesday 11th July [Sunshine & showers - some heavy]

An early evening birding walk from Green Lawn to Bell's Bush barrier and back produced a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (possibly two), 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta. I had a good look through the Aythya flock but there was nowt unusual among them again today. Back at the dam I saw a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos


Monday 10th July [An occasional light shower. Overcast & breezy.]

Phil, Rob and I did the WeBS count this morning between 0945 and 1245 hrs. The water level was approx. 85% I would say. Last nights waders had moved on, but we were treated to a nice mix of raptors viz. 4 Buzzards Buteo buteo, 2 Red Kites Milvus milvus, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, and a Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. The rest of the count was: Canada Goose 169 (probably others unseen), Mute Swan 31, Mallard 151, Gadwall 2, Tufted Duck 253, Pochard 3, Coot 454, Moorhen 9, Great Crested Grebe 23, Common Sandpiper 2, Green Sandpiper 1, Cormorant 6, Little Egret 9, Great White Egret 1, Grey Heron 4, Black-headed Gull 22, Herring Gull 17, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, and Great Black-backed Gull 1.  


Sunday 9th July [More thundery showers]

I managed to find time today (no bats) to have a walk at the lake in the evening. I saw 5 Pochard Aythya ferina way out in the middle from the Lodge, and at Green Lawn a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius and female Teal Anas crecca. From Green Lawn I could see two waders on Rainbow Point which I suspected were Greenshank Tringa nebularia and on getting nearer was able to confirm the identification, while on the other side, I could see 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Great White Egret Ardea alba and 2 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea. Back at the Lodge, as the light faded, about 15 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus were hawking insects, among which I had seen my first juvenile of the year, earlier, on the dam.

Tomorrow we have the WeBS count, and is likely to be another busy bat day.


Saturday 8th July [Some thundery showers]

There was no let up with the bat work today and I collected six that had been trapped overnight and rehydrated/fed them, roosted them, fed them again and released them back where they came from. As a result, there was little opportunity for birding, although I met Mark who came to video the bat emergence from the release site and we watched as a Tawny Owl Strix aluco turned up to see if it might grab a snack. Luckily for the bats coming out, it didn't. Mark counted 439 coming out of the roost when he reviewed it, including lots of youngsters. 


Friday 7th July [Hot]

My time is still filled with bats at present, thanks to all the young ones getting out and about and into all the places they shouldn't. Hopefully, they'll all settle down very soon and I might get some time to myself to go birding - and get out walking (at least a little). I went down to the lake twice today, first time having picked my car up from the garage, and then at dusk on the way back from Chew Stoke after releasing some bats back to their roost. As an aside, I've seen a hunting Barn Owl Tyto alba three times this week at dusk as I drove past Heron's Green on the way home after releasing bats. I hope it continues to steer clear of the road traffic.

At the lake I saw 3 Little Egretta garzetta and 1 Great White Ardea alba Egrets, and the welcome sight of a (the?) Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos back at the southern corner of the dam.


Thursday 6th July [Dry, sunny spells & breezy.]

I had a quick look mid-morning for 40 minutes and saw one each of Little Egretta garzetta and Great White Ardea alba Egrets. After spending some time doing bat work around lunchtime, I went back in the evening, checked the dam then birded from the Lodge to Top End hide and back. I saw 2 Little Egrets at Wood Bay, and logged 38 bird species in total. I've been meaning to comment on the beautiful display of Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus at Long Bay and Flower Corner for a few days, but keep forgetting until now, just when they're starting to go over - doh!


Wednesday 5th July

Mark told me he'd watched a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting at the Lodge this evening while, during a drive through at dusk, all I noted was a lot of ducks at Top End flying about that had been frightened by fireworks at Coombe Lodge (again).


Tuesday 4th July [Wet - steady rain in the afternoon & evening]

After tea I went for a look at the lake, in the steady rain, so I didn't walk. There was nothing on the dam, but I saw 3 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. The Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers are slowly building, and there was a drake Pochard Aythya ferina with them. In the still conditions, Mallards Anas platyrhynchos were surface feeding, and I spotted a small group of Gadwall Mareca strepera doing the same as well.


Sunday 2nd July [Dry & cooler with a strong breeze]

Sorry for the lack of news, I've been pretty busy with bats for the last few days and haven't really had much time to go for a look at the lake. This evening, however, I did check the dam, where I saw an adult Redshank Tringa totanus, and then birded from Wood Bay Point to Top End gate and back. I saw some egrets over on Rugmoor Point which, after careful scope viewing, turned out to be 2 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus a Grey Heron Ardea cineraria. There were lots of Swifts Apus apus up on the breeze but, as has been the case for most of this summer, very few Swallows Hirundo rustica.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.