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

Blagdon Lake Birds

September 2023 News

Saturday 30th September [Mainly dry & breezy with sunny spells]

I spent some time during the afternoon at the lake today and saw a site record 44 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis swirl out of the sky onto Rainbow Point like giant snowflakes (I was viewing from Bell's Bush at the time). They had 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta with them and I saw a third in a tree nearby. I noted 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a handful of Swallows Hirundo rustica feeding near the dam, a 1st-winter Common Gull Larus canus at the Lodge, 6 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point, and 46 Canada Geese Branta canadensis scattered around the lake. 


44 Cattle Egrets and 2 Little Egrets on Rainbow Point. 30th Sept. 2023.44 Cattle Egrets and 2 Little Egrets on Rainbow Point. 30th Sept. 2023.


Friday 29th September [Quite a pleasant autumn day]

I walked out the back door this morning and heard a Frog Rana temporaria croaking from the back garden pond - global warming?????

I spent the morning working with Mark at Chew Valley Lake doing some bat box maintenance. Then, after a cuppa and some very nice cider apple cake, we went to check the boxes we put up in a local churchyard last year, but there was no sign of any bat activity in them yet. Finally, we went for a look at the lake. There was a gathering of egrets on Wood Bay Point and by the time I had the opportunity for a closer look I counted 16 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. There were also 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. I looked through the wildfowl, but didn't pick out anything unusual, although I have to admit I wasn't as thorough as usual.

During the day, Mark and I came across an absolute belter of a fungus. It appears to be Cauliflower Fungus Sparassis crispa and he got some shots on his phone - I'm hoping he'll let me share one on here...


Thursday 28th September

I did visit the lake last night but was just in time to see some egrets flying into roost and a Great White Ardea alba at Top End. Today, I had an away day and went to see the Magnolia Warbler in Port Talbot with Sue C. and Rob H.  It took 3 hours for a decent view but we all came away happy.


Tuesday 26th September [Sunshine & showers]

An hour by the lake late afternoon was quite interesting today, with a juvenile Garganey Spatula querquedula at Green Lawn the pick of the wildfowl. Other counts included 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 4 Great White Ardea alba, 9 Little Egretta garzetta and 3 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, 43 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus, and 28 Canada Geese Branta canadensis. I saw some loose flocks of hirundines heading south over the lake and house today, and there has been a marked arrival of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus at the lake in the last few days as well.


Monday 25th September [Sunny and warm]

I went to the lake late afternoon, as the light was okay, to look through the wildfowl, but didn't find anything of note before having to go home for tea.  I saw 2 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Mark happpened along while I was there and stayed until dusk. He texted me later that he'd seen 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo behind Top End hide over the meadows, but couldn't make out anything in the egret roost from the hide - Wookey Point has become overgrown with Willows in the last couple of years, and despite asking if we could deal with them to maintain the area for birds to feed and roost we've met with little response from BW. Now, the bushes are blocking the view to the left of the hide, which is about the only area you could see water from the hide during the summer. The changes have all but made the hide useless for birding now, save for limited visibility in the winter. The SSSI designation requires BW to keep areas of the lake in suitable condition for Teal and other dabbling duck to be able to roost and feed, and the area around Wookey Point was important for this. In addition, the hay meadows on the north shore have yet to be cut - another failure to meet the terms of the SSSI designation. It's become a sorry state of affairs!


Sunday 24th September

Mark told me that he saw a couple of Hobbies Falco subbuteo at Top End and 15 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis go to roost.


Saturday 23rd September [Pleasant enough]

Ross F. texted me to say he'd been watching a Hobby Falco subbuteo hunting over the Inspection House just after midday.


Thursday 21st September [Drying out but cool in the evening]

This evening we ran a second bat trapping exercise in conjunction with Jim and Sean who brought their trainees to the lake for handling experience. While getting ready for the evening I saw a Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in a tree at Holt Bay, and one of the trainees reported hearing a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos calling from the direction of the dam.

Jim and Sean's group got off to a good start by catching a small number of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, followed by a male Nathusius' Pipistrelle P. nathusii, but we caught nothing at the other end of the lake. Later, as things slowed for the other other group and we were all thinking of packing in due to the heavy dew making the exposed traps sopping wet, we caught a female Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus, and when we went to take the traps down at half past midnight we found a female Greater Horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum had dropped in. A nice finish to reward our vigil. 


Monday 18th September [Wet early, drying to sunny spells & a stiff breeze]

Today was WeBS Count day, with Phil D., Rob H. and myself completing our survey between 0930 and 1230 hrs. The water level was approx. 70% and tantalisingly close to exposing enough bank for waders to use. We didn't stumble across anything to set the pulses racing, but there was a good mix of wildfowl, if not big numbers.

Count details as follows: Coot 995, Tufted Duck 630, Mallard 284, Shoveler 268, Teal 116 (a likely undercount due to marginal cover), Gadwall 109, Pochard 62, Mute Swan 42 (inc. 8 juvs from 3 broods), Moorhen 29, Great Crested Grebe 25, Cormorant 25, Wigeon 15, Little Grebe 14, Pintail 8, Little Egret 7, Great White Egret 6, Grey Heron 4, Egyptian Goose 3, Common Sandpiper 3, Canada Goose 1, Buzzard 1, Hobby (juv.) 1, and a singing Cetti's Warbler. Other counts included Black-headed Gull 110, Great Black-backed Gull 9, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, and Herring Gull 2. There was a small, but noticeable, passage of Swallows and House Martins noted by all of us too.


Saturday 16th September [A warm day with drizzle & barely a puff of wind]

Still much the same fayre, with 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 3 Great White Ardea alba and one Little Egret Egretta garzetta.


Friday 15th September 

An evening visit produced a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 4 Great White Ardea alba, 3 Little Egretta garzetta and 1 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, and the first 2 Pintail Anas acuta of the autumn of note.


Thursday 14th September [A dry evening with a light breeze]

Mark and I, together with some members of Avon Bat Group, ran three harp traps this evening at the lake, to compliment friends Jim and Sean who brought their latest bat worker trainees to the lake for an evening of trapping. We were a bit rusty, and some of the electronic equipment didn't behave, so it could have been more productive for us, nevertheless, we caught:

  • Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii  4 males (including one ringed in 2018 in the same area of the lake)
  • Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus 2 males & 2 females.

When I receive the other groups results, I'll include them here. I know they caught 4 Nathusius' Pipistrelles too, including one that was ringed, plus a Serotine Eptesicus serotinus, a Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus, and a number of Soprano and one Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipstrellus. Our group also spotted 4 Glow-worms Lampyris noctiluca, 3 Common Toads Bufo bufo and a Common Frog Rana temporaria.


Tuesday 12th September [Drizzle & cloud much of the day]

I got to the lake a little earlier this evening hoping to see the egrets go to roost. I birded my way towards Top End and was in position by 1900hrs, but 9 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis were already in. There were 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in very quickly thereafter, and another 4 flew in much later too. I counted 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba on the way to Top End and there may have been a fourth, or one of the same, that was hidden along Burmah Road that flew out sometime later. I'll settle for 3 to be sure. Late on, with Martin K. and I in the hide, a Hobby Falco subbuteo was hunting over Flower Corner and Top End as darkness fell and the bats came out. 


Monday 11th September [Cloudy & cooler]

Mark and I spent the afternoon at the lake in preparation for some bat work and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos fly off Butcombe Bank and I counted 4 Great White Ardea alba, 2 Little Egretta garzetta and 9+ Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis. After tea, I went back down hoping to see the egrets go into roost, but was too late again! I managed to count 18 Cattle Egrets, but I'm sure there will have been more.

Yesterday, I would be very surprised if there weren't over 1000 Tufties on the lake, but today, by comparison, there were hardly any!


Sunday 10th September [Morning thunder & afternoon sunshine. Warm.]

Another late evening trip down the hill to the lake saw me count a gathering roost of 73 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus from the Lodge, and a look through a greatly increased number of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (many females have arrived now), before moving on towards Top End to count egrets in to roost. I made it 9 Great White Ardea alba, 2 Little Egretta garzetta and 22+ Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis most of which were already at roost before I got into position, so no doubt others were probably out of view.

Mark told me he'd seen a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus while working at the Pumping Station.


Saturday 9th September [Hot]

It was a long day out and about, visiting Warmley signal box, watching the Tour of Britain cycle race go by and catching an FA Trophy football match at Yate. But, I snatched a few moments by the lake at dusk and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and no fewer than 30 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis at roost. Update: Alan counted 31 Cattle Egrets after he phoned me (which equals the site record), and saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus on one of the hay bales.


Friday 8th September [Hot]

Alan B. phoned me during the day to say he was about to visit Blagdon and asked what there was to look out for. He rang me from Green Lawn again to say he was watching a flock of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis at Green Lawn that suddenly took off while we were chatting. There were many more than he could see up to that point and he estimated there to have been nearly 30 present.


Thursday 7th September [Hot] 

The water level is at about 73% and still quite high for the time of year. At long last, and somewhat overdue, the meadows on the south side of the lake have been hay cut. This has improved viewing no end. At the dam I saw adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Black or Dark Blue ABLJ, and two juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus, Yellow D:LB and D:LD, presumably from the same brood. Also there were a single Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos. Moving on down the lake, I counted 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 2 more Egyptian Geese, 14 Wigeon Mareca penelope, 34 Pochard Aythya ferina, 7 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis, and 10 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis at roost.

I've lost some of my birding enthusiasm over the last few months, but this trip out pricked my interest again somewhat. This has, without doubt, been due to my foot injury and inability to walk more than a mile or two but, hopefully, this will turn around over the coming months.


Wednesday 6th September

Dave A. emailed me with news of his visit to the lake today: Quick look at lunchtime - not much about, but highlights were an Osprey Pandion haliaetus perched in a dead tree, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 6 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca. Thanks for the new Dave. I understand that the Garganey Spatula querquedula, 9 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were also seen (Andy M.) according to the Avon Birds blog. 


Friday 1st September

This evening, during a brief visit, I noted 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 5 small egrets in the roost that looked like 4 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. As I drove back to the Lodge from Top end I spotted a group of small ducks in flight that included a male Garganey Spatula querquedula from Green Lawn. 

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.