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Blagdon Lake Birds

October 2023 News

Monday 30th October [A glorious, warm, afternoon.]

After my successful outing yesterday, I decided to explore the lakeside again early this afternoon. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was in Long Bay, as usual, and I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. Other than that, it was very quiet and, once again, I barely saw any passerines, although I did note a pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola at Holt Bay in the hedge and heard 2 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita.


Sunday 29th October [Cool with occasional showers]

Having enjoyed a relatively comfortable walk last Thursday, I decided to give it another go this afternoon from 1530-1700 hrs. It was nice to see some familiar faces too. The drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was in Long Bay still, and during my wandering I spied 4 Great White Ardea alba and 1 Little Egret Egretta garzettaAythya duck numbers were bouyant, but neither I or Paul W. saw any Teal - perhaps, they've moved off or were hidden in marginal vegetation now it's flooded again by the rising water level. Being quite late in the day, I saw very few passerines.

Thursday 26th October [Warm with prolonged sunny spells]

It was a sunny day, and I'd done much of what I'd been doing at home for the last few days, so I decided to try a birding walk at the lake for the first time in weeks. I drove to Rainbow Point and birded to Top End gate and back. I'd already seen a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, heard a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing at Pipe Bay and noted the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay before setting out on foot. I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 10 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus flying west, 5 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta, 3 Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta, and a Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria. I spent a while looking at a couple of roving flocks of passerines and aside from good numbers of Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus, I counted 6 Common Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita.


Monday 23rd October [A cool easterly wind, otherwise fine.]

I spent an hour to an hour and a half at the lake this afternoon, and saw the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay, and from Rainbow Point 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. There was a crowd of birds on the flooding Rugmoor Point, including circa 40 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a large flock of Canada Geese Branta canadensis in addition to another smaller flock at Green Lawn. There wasn't much else of note to relate other than a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta still on the wing.

There were reports of a Long-tailed Duck in Long Bay yesterday, but none of the locals seem to know who reported it and none of us saw it. There was no sign today to my knowledge - perhaps a mistake relating to the RND? 


Sunday 22nd October [Sunny spells with showers]

Merv P. called me this morning to say a large flock of (Red) Knot Calidris canutus were heading towards the lake from Chew but I haven't been out the house since the WeBS count. Anyway, he only had binoculars, so I went down with my scope to see if we could get a count. He'd totted up 118 at Chew, but it looked like there were between 70-80 on the dam, that was until they spread out a bit. They were standing among a flock of gulls and hard to count, but when they'd spread I got to over 80 before they all shuffled about again and thwarted my effort. I guess there were a little over 100, so perhaps the whole flock Merv had seen heading towards Blagdon were actually there after all. Merv, Dave H. and I saw a late Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum at the dam while we were there.

Just before sunset, I drove down to look at the egret roost, but came home disappointed, there were no Cattle or Little, just 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. On the way, I looked for the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris in Long Bay without seeing it, but on the way back there he was!


Wednesday 18th October [Wet]

Have been feeling under the weather the last few days and haven't been out of the house since the 'duck count', but I was pleasantly surprised to draw the bedroom curtains this morning and look out across the road to the fields and see a Red Kite Milvus milvus drifting low over the hedgerows a couple of hundred metres away.


Monday 16th October [Cold overnight with a chilly wind by day]

Phil, Rob and I were joined by Lucy M. to do the WeBS count this morning between 0930-1300 hrs. The water level has come back up a bit since the deluge at the end of last week.  Lucy spotted an Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea off Green Lawn which gave pretty good views and the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris was in Long Bay mid-morning, but had moved by the time I drove back from Top End early in the afternoon. A female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus was a pretty constant companion throughout the count, causing some unwelcome disturbance too. The totals were as follows: Coot 971, Tufted Duck 640, Shoveler 180, Mallard 161, Gadwall 156, Teal 107, Pochard 72, Moorhen 54, Great Crested Grebe 48, Canada Goose 42, Mute Swan 40 (inc. 3 juvs.), Cormorant 31, Cattle Egret c. 30 (couldn't see them all over the hedge), Wigeon 20, Pintail 12, Lapwing 12, Little Grebe 11, Great White Egret 5, Grey Heron 4, Common Sandpiper 1 (per Pete) and Little Egret 1. Other birds included: Black-headed Gull c. 60, Great Black-backed Gull 12, Lesser Black-backed Gull 4, Herring Gull 4, Buzzard 3, Jay 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Grey and Pied Wagtail and a probable Cetti's Warbler.


Saturday 14th October [Heavy rain in the last 36 hrs. Dry & sunny though cooler early.]

The Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris is reported to still be at the lake in Long Bay.


Thursday 12th October [Wet & misty all day]

I thought it was misty all day, but when I popped down to the lake at tea time I realised we had been in mist and low cloud up on the hill. I had a look for the Ring-necked Duck but didn't see it in the hour or so of poor light I had available. All I noted were 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Wednesday 11th October [Another mild day. Light rain at dusk.]

News this morning that the drake Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris is back at the lake, in Long Bay, as is a Garganey Spatula querquedula seen from Rainbow Point.

The pretty obvious Ring-necked Duck was still in Long Bay this evening at dusk. I hope it sticks - it sounded like World War Three on Holt /Lag Farm at dusk, right next to the lake, with guns being fired pretty frequently. I checked the egret roost again and counted 49 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, although not all the Little's will have arrived by the time I gave up in the steady rain. There were 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba at the lake, which were just going to their separate roost as I left.


Tuesday 10th October [A grey start, but it eventually burned off to another sunny & warm day]

I spent the late morning and lunchtime with Kirsty, BW Conservation, Access and Recreations Manager, looking at some of the issues that we as birders and the fishermen have been raising regarding management around the lake. The main concern, aside from eutrophication and resultant explosion in weed growth, is the scrubbing up of the banks by willows. Areas of particular concern from the birds point of view would be the loss of access to shallow water and exposed mud at Green Lawn, plus Wookey and Rugmoor Points. These areas are of tremendous value to passage waders and wintering dabbling ducks for feeding and resting. I don't think there is likely to be an easy solution to the problem because two of the areas have been heavily scrubbed up by willow, but Kirsty is going to see if contractors might have a solution that can be implemented. We also looked at the heronry and found three nest platforms. 

Hurrah! I got back to the lake early enough after tea to see the egret roost form this evening. A large flock of 42 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis flew in followed a little later by another 11 and another two, bringing the total to 55. I saw 5 Great Whites Ardea alba around the lake, two still feeding and three that flew to roost. It was difficult to to keep tabs on the Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, I think there were 9, but three flew past me towards Top End as I walked back to the car, and I've no idea if I'd already counted them.

Oh, nearly forgot, I saw a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus twice during the day too.


Monday 9th October [Grey to start but burning off to a warm sunny day]

I ventured out during the late afternoon sunshine and was really pleased to see a Redshank Tringa totanus, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago on Wood Bay Point. A pair of Stonechats Saxicola rubicola were patrolling the fringes of Green Lawn as well. I counted 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and 6 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, and saw a female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus at Top End from Rainbow Point - there was no access beyond Wood Bay in that direction today. However, I did go back again at the end of the day to check the roost and saw 6 Great White Egrets (they have moved away from the other egrets now), and 4 Little Egrets and 48 Cattle Egrets that I could see in the other roost.  


Sunday 8th October [Sunny & warm]

A small group of Avon Bat Group members joined Mark and I to check the bat boxes today. We found 52 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in the Schwegler boxes, plus 10 in five of the Kent boxes that we looked into. We also found a decent group of 20+ Natterer's Myotis nattereri in another of the Schwegler boxes.

I heard a Skylark Alauda arvensis call as it flew over the Lodge at lunchtime while we were batting, and it seems there has been quite a movement over the area on a wide front today with several reports made to BOC as well. After tea I went back to go and look at the egret roost and saw 5 Great Whites Ardea alba, 7 Little's Egretta garzetta, and 51 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis that were already in the roost when I arrived (there may have been more out of view).


Friday 6th October [Sunny & warm]

I had a look at the lake after tea and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, then went to look at the egret roost for the first time in a few days. It was very impressive! I counted no fewer than 60 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, I settled on 61 in the end, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a Grey Heron A. cinerea.


Thursday 5th October [Breezy, cool & cloudy]

A female/juvenile Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus reported on Avon Birds blog today. 

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark and I met up in the evening to bat trap at a friends orchard near Chew Valley Lake which Mark had had a look at earlier in the summer and reported it to be alive with bats. Well, we trapped from dusk until about 2330hrs  and caught just 4 Soprano Pipistrelles but will, hopefully, have another go earlier in the year next time and, maybe, run some moth traps as well.


Wednesday 4th October [Cool & breezy]

I had an early tea this evening and was lakeside before 1800hrs. I came across Mark on Rainbow Point and we watched together from there until dusk. I noted 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, possibly as many as 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and an amazing arrival of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis to roost, including one flock of over 30 birds, supplemented by twos and threes arriving from other directions so, probably, over 40 in total.


Tuesday 3rd October [A typical breezy autumn day with sunshine & showers] 

I had an email from Peter B. today telling me he saw 44 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis on Lag Farm at 0900 hrs this morning, in a field next to the lake with cattle.

I didn't get to the lake, but plucked up courage to walk with friends from Wrington to Congresbury and back across fields, a total of 7 miles, without too much discomfort at last. On the way home in the back of a car, I saw one or two egrets briefly over the roadside hedges at Burrington village but don't know what species. 


Sunday 1st October [Cloudy with some late sunshine & warm]

I spent the day at Chew Valley Lake today, where Mark led a small group of Avon Bat Group members for a round of bat box checks. We found an amazing 120 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a single male Noctule Nyctalus noctula. It was a pretty full-on day and I don't recall noting any other wildlife while we were there. 

On the way to Chew in the morning I saw a number of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis circling over Yeo Valley and, when we finished at Chew late afternoon, Mark and I went to Blagdon for a look. I counted 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, but the Cattle Egrets seemed to be away from the lake on the farm, although one or two did pop back to Wood Bay occasionally. I looked through the rest of the birds at Top End but couldn't find anything unusual.

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.