Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Blagdon Lake Birds

November 2023 News

Thursday 30th November [Perishing, with a stiff north-easterly breeze.]

The car told me the temperature was zero degrees Celsius when I went down to the lake at 1030hrs to fill the bird feeder. The feeder was very nearly empty and there were lots of birds in the bushes around it. Having filled it, I drove to Top End hide and back looking for birds as I went. I saw the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris from Top End hide, and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus nearby too. There was a large flock of finches in the recently cut maize field behind the hide, but I only saw Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs - a Brambling or two among them wouldn't be out of the question though. I didn't see any egrets by the water, just a single Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis in a sheep field along Blagdon Lane to the north of the dam. 

The team from Green Mantle were working on the north shore renewing the ditch that feeds the pond and, I believe, they will be removing the scrub and trees around it to open it up to more light again, as it has become completely shaded in recent years. It will hopefully prove to be popular with amphibians and dragonflies as a result of the work.


Tuesday 28th November [A beautiful, still, afternoon.]

For the first time in over six months I was able to bird from the Lodge to Top End gate and back on foot (still some discomfort, but perfectly tolerable). I logged 44 bird species including the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta that flew in at dusk.

A team from Green Mantle were clearing paths through brambles and other scrub in Lodge Copse and under the Long Bay pines to provide access in order to plant some new trees where we have lost so many in recent years. It's great to see some positive conservation steps being taken on the site. 


Monday 27th November [Sunshine & showers]

I spent an hour at the lake this afternoon. I think the water has started to go down the overspill again, so the lake must be just about full. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam and I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was still present, as were lots of Aythya ducks spread all over the lake. Increasing numbers of winter thrushes and corvids were arriving at dusk to roost as well.


Sunday 26th November [Overcast & grey. Steady rain for much of the day.].

It stopped raining around lunchtime, or just after, so I ventured out to the lake to bird on foot, as it is much improved. However, on arrival, and having seen the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, it started to rain again. I went along to Green Lawn where I spent some time scoping the many waterfowl on the dam end of the lake. Then, I set off on foot for Top End, after a chat to Mark, but I didn't get far as the rain got steadily heavier and I beat a hasty retreat to the comfort my car. I drove to Top End and back, birding as I went, and recorded the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Rainbow Point, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and watched a flock of 51 Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo fishing as a flock off the dam. I didn't see the drake Ring-necked Duck that was reported earlier in the day.


Thursday 23rd November [Cloudy with sunny spells. Cool & breezy.]

I birded on foot from Green Lawn to Top End and back this afternoon. I totted up 41 bird species including the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 13 Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (flew west) and a squealing Water Rail Rallus aquaticus. I counted 155 Canada Geese Branta canadensis and 16 Wigeon Mareca penelope. I've seen a few 'new' faces lately, so it's probably timely to put out a gentle reminder that Blagdon is a permit only site and lakeside access is restricted. Generally speaking, the RND favours areas of the lake that would require a permit to view it.


Monday 20th November [Dry & bright]

It was nice to have a day that dawned dry and bright for a change to do the WeBS count. Lucy, Matt, Phil, Rob and I carried it out between 0930-1245 hrs. The water level is up to about 95% now which has resulted in many of the dabbling ducks and Swans leaving the lake. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was still present, and we caught up with 27 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. The count was as follows: Coot 1145, Tufted Duck 313, Pochard 148, Lapwing c.115, Great Crested Grebe 55, Mallard 43, Cormorant 43, Cattle Egret 27, Teal 21, Canada Goose 18, Little Grebe 14, Mute Swan 11, Goldeneye 11, Moorhen 7, Grey Heron 3, Buzzard 3, Snipe 3, Gadwall 4, Cetti's Warbler 2, and Common Sandpiper 1. Gulls included Black-headed Gull c.95, Lesser Black-backed 12, Herring Gull 9, Common Gull 5 and Great Black-backed Gull 3.

Also noted by the group were 8 Meadow Pipits, a possible Water Pipit (not confirmed), a Siskin, late flying Common Darters (a single & a pair in cop.) and an unidentified butterfly. 


Sunday 19th November [Overcast with showers & windy]

It was a bit wild by the lake this afternoon, but I did find the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, however, the most exciting sight were the 56 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis gathered at the head of Long Bay during a heavy shower, having only seen 12 there on the way towards Top End. Also noted were 2 Great White Egrets Ardea albaTomorrow is WeBS count day.


Saturday 18th November [Overcast with showers]

I drove to the lake at 1500 hrs and checked the dam - yes, you've guessed it, and there was the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. On to the Lodge where I had a look around, before moving on to Rainbow Point. I noted 10 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis and the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola on the way. Then, I birded on foot to Top End hide and back, during which time I came across the flock of 48 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis feeding in a lakeside field around a flock of sheep again, and a small flock of 11 Fieldfares Turdus pilaris. I left at 1645 hrs having not seen the drake Ringer, but he's pretty mobile now the fishing boats are off the lake. Corvid roost numbers are building again and one flock of Jackdaws Corvus monedula I had overhead was at least 250 strong. I reckon there were probably 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba present this afternoon, although as we know from WeBS counts, they are not easy to count while feeding because they are so mobile and surprisingly difficult to see now the lakeside vegetation has been flooded.


Thursday 16th November [A wet morning dried out in the afternoon. Cool.]

I birded on foot from Green Lawn to Flower Corner and back this afternoon. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was still present and I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 7 (3 adult drakes) Goldeneye Bucephala clangula. There was no sign of any Cattle Egrets from the waterside, but I was pleased to catch up with my first Goldcrest Regulus regulus of the month feeding alongside a Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita at Rainbow Point.


Wednesday 15th November [Sunny & bright with a cold breeze.]

After another session with the physio this morning, I birded on foot at the lake from Green Lawn to Flower Corner and back this afternoon. I noted the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris near the Fishing Lodge feeding in shallow water, as usual, when scoping from Green Lawn, 2 (a pair?) Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on Green Lawn (one with a completely pale head), and a Great White Egret Ardea alba in Home Bay. When I got to Holt Bay I could see the gulls and Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis in the same field I'd noted them in on Monday, but the sheep had been moved into another field. I reckoned on a total of 14 Cattle Egrets this time, and about 50 Teal Anas crecca flew out from under the bankside trees in the bay as I walked by. I totted up 42 bird species when 2 adult drake Goldeneye Bucephala clangula flew in close to the Lodge while I was looking for the Ringer again before leaving. 


Monday 13th November [Windy with showers]

Although it wasn't too wet, I decided to bird from the car this afternoon, from 1445-1600 hrs. I got out at the dam to scan for the reported Scaup (last Friday) but despite looking through the Tufted Duck flocks Aythya fuligula there was no sign. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was pootling about on the dam wall, and I spotted the Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris as it flew into and landed in Long Bay. I noted 2 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula and a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus from Green Lawn, and saw a host of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis in Holt Bay with one of 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. I sat and spent quite a while counting and recounting the birds lakeside and those moving among the sheep on Holt Farm the other side of the hedge (partially hidden). Eventually I settled for a total of 48 when most of the birds were put up off the farm by something - those Cattle Egrets that flew up landed with the others in Holt Bay. 

I drove to Rainbow Point to scan the Top End which was pretty choppy and the water coloured. I saw 2 Wigeon Mareca penelope, 5 Teal Anas crecca and 9 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis, but there were probably more of each sheltering and hidden away from view.


Saturday 11th November [Dry. Sunny spells with high cloud. A pleasant autumnal afternoon.]

I birded on foot this afternoon, although it was still uncomfortable to do so, but enjoyed seeing some birds in the still and bright conditions. I racked up over 40 species in the couple of hours there, including the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris and a couple of Great White Egrets Ardea alba of note, and a nice selection of passerines. While entering my records, I noticed there is an anonymous record of Scaup being seen at the lake yesterday on BirdTrack but I have no further details and I didn't see any today.


Tuesday 7th November [Sunshine & showers. A cool breeze.]

I drove to the lake mid-afternoon and birded on foot from Green Lawn to Top End hide and back. It was business as usual, with the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay, the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola in the hedge at Holt Bay, and 2 foraging Great White Egrets Ardea alba. At one point I noted a flock of Teal Anas crecca fly from Top End towards Rugmoor Bay, which with the handful of others I'd already seen probably totalled around 40 - a surprise, given how few I'd spotted since the water level rose during the last week. A couple of birders I met told me they'd seen a couple of brownhead Goldeneye Bucephala clangula too.


Monday 6th November [Showers. Cool.]

I went down to the lake in the car late this afternoon from 1545-1645 hrs and birded from the car to Top End and back. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was in Long Bay, as was a female Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, and I counted 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 21 Wigeon Mareca penelope of the water birds. On the way back to the Lodge I was pleased to see winter thrushes coming in to roost in the waterside trees, both Fieldfares Turdus pilaris and Redwings Turdus iliacus.


Saturday 4th November [Mainly dry & breezy]

I had a quiet walk from Rainbow Point to Top End gate & back from 1500-1630 hrs this afternoon. I'd already noted a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay when I set off from Rainbow Point on foot. I noted 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and 2 Redwings Turdus iliacus in flight, a pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Top End, and a couple of Teal Anas crecca that flew in overhead from adjacent farmland.


Friday 3rd November [Morning showers. Sunny afternoon with strong, cool, breeze.]

I repeated Monday's birding walk from Rainbow Point to Top End gate and back with virtually the same result. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris eventually gave himself up right at the end of Long Bay in the flooded vegetation, just one Great White Egret Ardea alba was noted, first at the Lodge then in Wood Bay, and the pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola were in the hedge at Wood Bay. I heard a single Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita call during my walk and saw a Peregrine Falco peregrinus fly over at Burmah Road - a probable female. In the hour I took, I noted 34 bird species with very few of them passerines.


Thursday 2nd November [Wet & very windy] Storm Ciarán.

It seems we got off fairly lightly in this area, and that the storm went along the south coast before turning up the North Sea. It was, nevertheless, still pretty breezy throughout the day and it wasn't until late afternoon that I ventured out. I drove in at the Lodge and through to the Top End hide, birding as I went. I saw the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay, one Great White Egret Ardea alba and, as I came back, a female/immature Goldeneye Bucephala clangula fly past Green Lawn.

I would say the water level has risen to about 78% now.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.