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Blagdon Lake Birds

June 2023 News

Thursday 29th June [Sunny spells. Warm.]

Another visit to Chew Stoke at lunchtime meant I didn't get out for a walk at the lake until this evening. However, on arriving at the dam, I was pleased to see 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and an adult Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, plus 60 male Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula. In front of the Lodge, where I parked, I saw a Sand Martin Riparia riparia with a number of House Martins and Swifts. Then, at Long Bay, I saw another Common Sandpiper in flight, and at Green Lawn I watched about 30 more Tufted Ducks flying down the lake towards the dam. I birded as far as Holt Copse, where I turned around due to more foot pain.


Tuesday 27th June [Overcast & cooler than of late]

I've been visiting a site in Chew Stoke for the last few days to help with the bats, and this evening I had a look at the lake on the way back there for the second time today in order to join Mark for an emergence count. At the dam, I spotted a pair of adult Redshank Tringa totanus, and from the hide I saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo in direct flight across the middle of the lake. 

This evening's bat emergence count was of 381 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, with some of the young obviously out and on the wing already.


Sunday 25th June [Warm and dry with a strong breeze driving 'white horses' down the lake in the evening.]

The only notes in my book today were of the flowering Pyramidal Orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis at Green Lawn, and a Marbled White Melanargia galathea butterfly at Bell's Bush. I'm not minded to go searching for invertebrates through the meadow grass at present due to the number of ticks this year. I've picked up over half a dozen so far, even though I've been avoiding long grass as much as possible, and really don't want to get Lyme disease.


Friday 23rd June [Warm]

I was up at 0440 hrs in order to do my very last Breeding Bird Survey this morning - I'm calling it a day after over 20 years and nearly 80 surveys. I recognise that my hearing is no longer really up to the job, so its time for a younger person to take my squares on. I'll keep going with the WeBS counts though.

The only bird of note that I saw during my walk was a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Cheddar Water, there were none of the returning waders that are appearing at other local sites to add to the year list. The way things are shaping up, it's going to be a poor autumn for birding at the lake, with the water level still over 90% and no sign of it being pumped down at present.


Thursday 22nd June [Warm & sunny]

This evening there were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall when I checked there before birding from Rainbow Point to Top End gate and back. At Top End, I saw a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis killing and carrying a fish off, and at Bell's Bush, I saw a family party of Treecreepers Certhia familiaris. Mark happened past and told me he'd seen a family party of Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula at the Pumping Station too.


Wednesday 21st June [Hot and thundery - some showers]

I walked with friends just south of Keynsham today, along the River Chew, up to Burnett and back via Saltford. I didn't see too much of interest regarding birds other than a Yellowhammer along Gypsy Lane, but there were lots of demoiselles along the Chew, mainly Beautiful with a smattering of Bandeds. It was nice to see a few Marbled White butterflies along Gypsy Lane too. The highlight for me though was a Little Owl Athene noctua perched on roadside wires along the A368 opposite Stanton Wick Farm as I went past. That's another species I used to see around Blagdon village and the lake 20-30 years ago but, sadly, no more.


Tuesday 20th June [Warm] 

Mark and I did another IR video bat emergence survey this evening, this time at Compton Martin church. It was, however, disappointing with just nine bats seen coming out. I found a Lesser Horseshoe night roosting while we were there, and we heard and saw Soprano and Common Pipistrelles, Noctule, LH and Myotis sp.


Monday 19th June [Warm. Some overnight thundery rain.]

Phil, Rob and I did the monthly WeBS count today. The lake is near top level despite the hot weather. Time: 1030-1300 hrs.

The full count was as follows: Coot 271 adults & 20 juveniles, Canada Goose 179 adults & 14 juveniles (3 broods), Mallard 87 adults & 4 new juveniles, Mute Swan 34 adults & 20 juveniles (5 broods), Tufted Duck 16, Great Crested Grebe 14, Cormorant 3, Moorhen 2, Grey Heron 2, Great White Egret 2, Kingfisher 1, Little Grebe 1, Cetti's Warbler 1 and Buzzard 2. The count will go down as not especially accurate because the water level meant that there was a real possibility several species counts were low due to their being hidden from view in emergent vegetation. We estimated there were also 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Herring Gulls, 2 adult Black-backed Gulls, and also noted 1 Nuthatch (calling), Emperor Dragonfly, Black-tailed Skimmer (one with a Ringlet as prey), Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Red Admiral, Ringlet and Meadow Brown. 


Sunday 18th June [Warm]

I went to the lake at 0530 to do a Breeding Bird Survey in ST5159. Surprisingly, I saw no hirundines and Swifts Apus apus, but I did record an unseen Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata in an area where I'd hoped to see one this year. I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba that appeared to be at roost (before two left), and a Weasel Mustela nivalis at the Lodge entrance gate as I left at 0745 hrs.


Saturday 17th June [Dry & a bit cooler than of late]

I went down to the lake at 1915 hrs. I didn't have any bird sightings to report on the blog, but counted 9 Meadow Browns, 1 male Black-tailed Skimmer, 1 Ruddy Darter, and thousands of Common Blue Damselfly.


Friday 16th June [Hot]

I'm still working hard on the ABR duck section by day and staying out of the sun, but ventured down to the lake in the evening on the way to meet Mark to do another bat emergence survey. He'd seen a couple of broods of Pheasant Phasianus colchicus while working at the lake this week, but my visit was pretty quiet with a Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Cuckoo Cuculus canorus in flight, plus a couple of new broods of Mallard Anas platyrhynchos the birdy 'highlights', until I got lucky with some lovely close views of an Otter Lutra lutra before I left for Chew.

The emergence count was the lowest we've ever had at that particular site, so unless they've moved out, we we're wondering if they're currently giving birth. There's another count to be done there yet, and perhaps that will give us a bit more of an insight. Another site we check is a roost of Soprano Pipistrelles, and it seems they've given birth with young on the move already.


Thursday 15th June [Hot]

I walked with friends from Clevedon to Portishead along the coast path this morning. It was probably a step, or two, too far for my foot though. We stumbled upon the arrival of the paddlesteamer 'The Waverley' at Clevedon Pier which was an amazing sight. She's back tomorrow and Saturday before sailing off to the West Coast of Scotland through July and August, then back to the South Coast of England in September. I saw a few birds on the walk, but nothing out of the ordinary apart from a confiding Raven Corvus corax at Redcliffe Bay.


The Waverley at Clevedon Pier, 15th June 2023.The Waverley at Clevedon Pier, 15th June 2023.


When I got home I recovered the Wallaby from the BW freezer and took it to Langford Vets where they checked it for a chip. It hadn't been chipped unfortunately, so unless someone can throw any light on where it escaped or was released from, it'll remain a mystery for now. Such a shame for the little guy though. Thanks to Ross for the call, Bristol Water Fisheries team, Langford Vets and Prof. Fiona Mathews for their help and input. Hopefully, we'll find out more about how he came to be in Blagdon sometime in the future.


Wednesday 14th June [Hot and oppressive]

I'd just parked at Rainbow Point this evening when Ross F. called me and told me he'd found a dead wallaby in the road at the north end of the dam! I drove straight there to meet him and sadly there indeed was a dead wallaby lying in the road, with skid marks which the car that hit it must have left in trying to avoid it. It appeared to be a male Red-necked Wallaby Notamacropus rufogriseus which has been introduced in the UK in several places, but not locally to my knowledge, although I'm probably wrong! There are extant populations on the Isle of Man, in Scotland and previously in the Peak District (declared extinct in 2000). Looking at the NBN Gateway Atlas there are also records from Sussex and the Chilterns in Southern England, but there is some reason to believe the local sightings might refer to a local release/escape. I spoke to someone this evening who told me he'd seen a wallaby in fields at Aldwick this afternoon, and I believe there was a sighting in Blagdon Coombe within the last few days, and of course, the sighting reported on Black Down in the papers last week. The guy said there had been other sightings previously on Axbridge Moor too. I'm hoping to get it checked to see if has been microchipped tomorrow.


Male Red-necked Wallaby, RTA in Blagdon Lane. 14th June 2023.Male Red-necked Wallaby, RTA in Blagdon Lane. 14th June 2023.


Sunday 11th June [Warm & oppressive - some rain in the offing I suspect.]

The Canada Geese Branta canadensis are in moult already with 120 on the dam this evening, although 63 were still able to fly out to the adjacent fields. Along with fledged Canada's there were also young Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba, Blackbirds Turdus merula, and Woodpigeons Columba palumbus. There were either one or two Cetti's Warblers Cettia cetti at Lodge Copse, and I saw two broods of Mute Swan Cygnus olor, with 4 and 5 cygnets, heard a male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing over somewhere behind the north shore, noted the adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus again and saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Thursday 8th June [Dry, sunny, & warm.]

I only had time for an hour at Top End hide, early evening, before doing another bat emergence count with Mark. I noted 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and a small flock of 25 drake Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula that appeared to be early moult arrivals, plus the first of the post-breeding Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus to arrive back at the lake. Interestingly, the gull was wearing a darvic ring that I was able to read as Yellow 2A73, a bird ringed at Fishers Green, Essex, in 2018. I have seen it for the last three autumns at Blagdon Lake where it, presumably, winters.

Mark told me he'd been on the north shore before meeting up for the bat emergence count and had heard a Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing up the hill in Nempnett Thrubwell.


Wednesday 7th June [Dry, sunny & warm]

Another drive along the south side road, birding as I went, before heading over to Chew to repeat the bat emergence count of last Friday. All I noted at Blagdon was a single Great White Egret Ardea alba.


Monday 5th June [Dry & warm]

A birding walk from the Lodge to Top End gate and back brought my first 'new' species for nearly a month in the form of a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata in the copse by the Lodge and, because I didn't have my camera, it posed beautifully and at one point almost landed on my cap! There was also a family (first brood of the year) of Mute Swans Cygnus olor in Butcombe Bay that included 5 cygnets that were on the water, although there may have been others on mum/dad's back.


Saturday 3rd June [Dry & warm]

I birded my way from the Lodge to Top End this evening and was very happy to see 5 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting in the still conditions at sunset. A Cuckoo Cuculus canorus flew overhead at Wood Bay and into Holt Copse, although I didn't see it subsequently, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba were at Flower Corner, and I noted three pairs of Canada Geese Branta canadensis with six, five and three goslings.


Friday 2nd June [Dry & sunny with a cool breeze]

I drove along the south side of the lake on the way to Chew Valley Lake to do an emergence survey with Mark this evening. All I noted at Blagdon were 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and the survey turned out to be very confusing. I recorded Common and Soprano Pipistrelles, Lesser and Greater Horseshoes, Serotine and a Myotis sp. in flight during the survey.


Thursday 1st June [Overcast then sunny in the afternoon & evening. A stiff breeze that died away at sunset.]

I birded my way from the Lodge to Top End gate mid-evening, and got a lift back to my car at sunset. I noted 41 bird spp. during my slow walk, including 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, just 4 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, a male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing on the North Shore again (although Ross F. texted to say he'd heard one in the vicinity of Dark Lane earlier in the day - thanks Ross), a singing male Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, a brood of 5 goslings with a pair of Canada Geese Branta canadensis at the Lodge and another new brood of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos at Top End.

The passage of Hobbies Falco subbuteo during May was very disappointing this year, given that we've had double figure counts at dusk for the last few years. There have been some good records posted from Chew Valley Lake though (although it's always hard to interpret possible record duplication there), so perhaps the gathering at t'other place was to the detriment of Blagdon? I noted a very obvious change in dusk feeding strategy at Blagdon last year, with birds feeding high over the centre of the lake, rather than low over Top End, so perhaps they had changed to feeding on different insects? The few daytime records, however, were of birds feeding at about tree-top height as normal both this year and last.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.