BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

April 2015 News


Wednesday 1st April

Message from Steve Hale: 16 Mute Swans, 17 Canada Geese, 3 Egyptian Geese, 5 Grey Herons, 2 Common Kestrels, 1 Common Sandpiper,  2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 1 Coal Tit, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Eurasian Nuthatches, 2 Grey Wagtails.

Friday 3rd April

Message from Steve Hale: 16 Mute Swans, 17 Canada Geese, 9 Northern Shovelers, 9 Common Pochards, 5 Grey Herons, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Northern Raven, 2 Barn Swallows, 4 Chiffchaffs.

Sunday 5th April

Message from Steve Hale: 11 Mute Swans, 16 Canada Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese, 11 Common Goldeneye, 6 Grey Herons, 2 Common Buzzards, 1 Little Gull (late afternoon), 2 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Grey Wagtails. Mostly Tufted Ducks and Common Coots out on the water.

Tuesday 7th April

Angler John Horsey told me he'd seen House Martin(s) Delichon urbicum at Top End while fishing today. Steve Hale sent me the following news: 10 Mute Swan Cygnus olor, 8 Canada Goose Branta canadensis, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, 6 Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, 7 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 1 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea and told me a fly-through Osprey Pandion haliaetus, was noted this morning by Simon Isgar.

Wednesday 8th April

This report from Mark Hynam: Made a quick visit to the lake this evening and saw my first Osprey Pandion haliaetus of the year. It circled round a couple of times off Wood Bay before making a half-hearted attempt at a fish and missed it, then made its way to the Top End and headed out towards Chew Valley Lake. Other birds tonight were 2 Common Buzzards Buteo buteo sharing what looked like a Common Coot Fulica atra behind Wood Bay and an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus sitting on top of the shelter at Rainbow Point.

INDIAN DIARY

We found ourselves back at Kaziranga NP (Central Range) as the sun came up, for a one hour Elephant Ride. We made our way through the elephant grass and came across several Indian One-horned Rhinos, which allowed close approach, Northern Swamp Deer (Barasingha), Indian Hog Deer and Wild Boar. After getting off the elephants rather gingerly, and putting our hips back in place, we spent our final couple of hours looking for Blue-naped Pitta again, without success. And, to rub salt into the wounds, we got soaked through to the skin half an hour before we were due to leave for Guwāhāti airport (a four hour drive away). Glad, I'd kept a clean, dry, set of clothes to travel home in!

Thursday 9th April

I arrived back in the country early this morning and despite over 30 hours travelling home, I popped down to the lake for a brief look around. I counted 17 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 13 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, and heard my first couple of Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita singing. Cowslips Primula veris, Primroses Primula vulgaris and Cuckooflowers Cardamine pratensis were all flowering.

Friday 10th April

It was my first chance to have a good look around today and although there are signs of Spring, of course, I was surprised at how little advance there's been while I've been away. Birds noted included a probable Great White Egret Ardea alba watched through the scope deep in reeds at Flower Corner from Rainbow Point. I showed Paul Williams, and then later, Mark Hynam got in touch to say he'd seen a GWE in flight at dusk from Rugmoor/Indian Country over Top End and off towards Chew Valley Lake. There were 2 pairs of Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, 8 Gadwall Anas strepera, 2♂ Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, 5 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus at Green Lawn, 3 singing Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, a singing Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris at Hellfire Corner and 19 Canada Geese Branta canadensis. Angler Jeff Hirst told me he'd seen an Osprey Pandion haliaetus hovering over Rugmoor Point earlier in the morning. I counted 56 Rook Corvus frugilegus nests around Home Bay Point and Long Bay as well as another 5 at Holt Copse. Insects on the wing included Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, Peacock Inachis io and Large (Dark-edged) Bee-fly Bombylius major.

In the evening we carried out our first National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project trapping session at Tortworth Lake catching 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and one that caused us a bit of an identification conundrum. We couldn't reach a consensus as to whether it was a Soprano or Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, but it echlocated like a Soprano when released. We took our first fur clippings for the site from the bats we caught.

Saturday 11th April

A walk to Top End and back produced 2 pairs of Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus, a sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, 11 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, a Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, a ♀ Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 2 (adult and 1st-winter) late Common Gulls Larus canus and 7 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Dunnock Prunella modularis and Goldcrest Regulus regulus were heard singing and (white) Sweet Violets Viola odorata and Wood Anemonies Anemone nemorosa were in flower.

The evening was spent near Bath bat trapping, hoping to catch some bats for ringing training, ahead of the National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project. We caught 6 species (Whiskered, Brandt's, Greater & Lesser Horseshoes, Natterer's and Daubenton's), but we didn't ring any of them.

Sunday 12th April

There were 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, a hunting Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus singing beside the Lodge while I visited the lake late morning. However, there was an unsigned note left on the Top End hide board of an Osprey sighting in early afternoon. I have no idea if the sighting was by a birder, so it ought to be treated with caution. However, the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and the ♀ Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula were also reported. Steve Hale emailed to say Larry Sweetland had seen 50 Sand Martins Riparia riparia today.

Monday 13th April [Sunny and warm]

A busy, busy day with emergency dental treatment for damage done by Indian pancakes late morning, an emergency call-out for the Bat Conservation Trust in Clevedon at lunchtime and bat box checks for YACWAG along the Strawberry Line in the afternoon before I finally got to the lake. There were at least 7 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, 10 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, 4 Gadwall Anas strepera and 3 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata.

Sadly, I have to report that the referendum failed to put an end to the spring Maltese bird hunting tradition. What a shameful outcome in this day and age!

Tuesday 14th April [Overcast, then sunny and warm.]

I have to apologise for being off-line for so long, but my computer died in India and although I arrived home last Thursday, it has taken a few days to get back on line with a replacement. I plan to populate the News page with all the information sent to me while I was away, plus add a more detailed day-by-day report of my travels, with some pictures, in due course. Bear with me though, it has been manic trying to catch up, plus I've had the added complication of two emergency call-outs for the Bat Conservation Trust in the last two days!

Anyway, I got to the lake this morning intending to have a thorough look around, but got pulled away by the emergency call-out. However, I managed to see a flock of Sand Martins Riparia riparia and Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica containing at least one House Martin Delichon urbicum among the 50-60 birds. I also caught sight of my first European Greenfinch Chloris chloris beside the lake this year. This evening I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, a ♂ Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus and a Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus nest with one egg. On the North Shore, I noted a dozen or so Green-winged Orchids Anacamptis morio in flower.

Wednesday 15th April [Foggy in the morning, warm & sunny in the afternoon]

It was a busy day writing up reports for the last two bat roost visits and, unbelievably, I got called out for yet another! I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the lake and saw the 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus (one at Green Lawn and the pair in the Spillway channel, where I found them yesterday), but I couldn't do justice to any passerines that may have dropped in on migration.

Thursday 16th April [Warm and sunny]

I managed a good look around this evening and low and behold, I'd hardly left the Lodge car park when I heard a ♂ Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix singing in the Birch trees in Lodge Copse. My iPhone won't allow me to send Twitter messages at the mo, so I rang Chris Craig with the news. He came down for a look and found another ♂ singing close by in the same copse. Aside from the warblers, a single flyover Little Egret Egretta garzetta, the 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a pair of Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna off Green Lawn, a squealing Water Rail Rallus aquaticus at Top End and the first singing ♂ Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus at Pipe Bay were the pick of the rest.

Friday 17th April [High cloud and cooler than of late]

I called in at the Lodge at 0830 hrs this morning and didn't hear any Wood Warblers singing, though there were at least 3 Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus within earshot, so there must have been an influx of them overnight. I had another at Top End this afternoon. A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on Green Lawn this morning and what was presumably the same bird was on the dam this afternoon. The usual 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus were still present, a Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus was over the dam, a White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba on the dam and there was a pair of Eurasian Teal Anas crecca at Top End. In addition, I saw 2 ♂ Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines butterflies in the sunshine.

Thanks to Mike Jenkins for texting me twice today to tell me the Great Northern Diver and Marsh Harrier were heading my way from Chew. Both times I had just left the lake! That's really annoying when you're taking part in the Patchwork Challenge I can tell you!

Mark Hynam got in touch this evening to tell me he'd seen 3 Common Swifts Apus apus, the first of the year, over the Lodge. I went to Conham, beside the Bristol Avon, to trap bats as part of the National Nathusius' Project - see Bat News.

Saturday 18th April [Sunny. A cold, stiff, easterly breeze.]

I had a surprise Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret in a flowering Ash tree at Rugmoor Gate this morning. New in were 2 singing Sedge Warblers Acrocephalus schoenobaenus at Home Bay and Rugmoor Point. Of note, was first Mallard Anas platyrhynchos brood on the lake, a ♀ with 8 ducklings, there were a handful of hirundines going through, 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus, a ♂ Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Top End and 2 Common Selducks Tadorna tadorna. Angler Jeff Hirst told me the lone Egyptian Goose on Rainbow Point had swallowed some nylon that was trailing 2 flies, but I had a good look at it at Wood Bay Point and couldn't see any nylon, so assume it's probably managed to get rid of it. If anyone sees it in trouble in the next few days please let me know and we'll try and do something about it.

Sunday 19th April [Sunny with a cool easterly breeze]

This evening there was a good-sized mixed flock of the three common hirundine species over the dam end of the lake together with 7 Common Swifts Apus apus. A Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago flushed at Long Bay as I walked by and I saw all 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus. I also saw several flowering Early Purple Orchids Orchis mascula. Tomorrow morning we'll be carrying out the WeBS count.

I heard rather appalling news this evening that the new public observation hide along the Bittern Trail at Chew Valley Lake has been vandalised. All the windows have been smashed using the benches, and floorboards ripped up in damage amounting to several thousands of pounds. What's a matter with these mindless idiots?

Monday 20th April [Sunny and warm]

The core WeBS team carried out the monthly count this morning. No real surprises other than the 362 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula still present and a ♂ Aythya hybrid that looks like a Tufted x Red-crested Pochard in Pipe Bay. There were 8 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 4 Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna, and 3 each of Common Swift Apus apus and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus. See count details on the WeBS Page.

Also picked up by the team were our first Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis (Pipe Bay), Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca (Rainbow Point) and Garden Warbler Sylvia borin (Top End) in song. Unfortunately, I didn't hear the Lesser Whitethroat, but the two I did get brings my BL year list up to 100! Butterflies included Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, Peacock Inachis io, Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines and Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria.

Tuesday 21st April [Sunny and warm]

I went walking with friends over Black Down and Dolebury Warren today, so I didn't visit the lake until this evening when I saw 2 Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna feeding in the Spillway on the algae that's grown while water was flowing down it earlier in the spring - this is something the pair of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus have also been doing. This evening all 3 Egyptian Geese were on Holt Farm, though the lone bird wasn't with the pair. There were 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 11 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca feeding at dam end and Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos were collecting invertebrates on the lawns around the Lodge for their young. All being well, it's my intention to carry out my April survey tomorrow morning.

Wednesday 22nd April [Sunny with a cool easterly breeze] Earth Day

I was at the lake by 0645 hrs this morning to carry out my April spring survey. Amazingly, I came across a Great White Egret Ardea alba sitting in a tree at Butcombe Bay at 0730 hrs. It flew towards Top End where I later saw it flying with 2 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea and perched in the top of another tree at 0820 hrs. While I was checking out the Hatchery, it took off and flew towards Chew Valley Lake at 0832 hrs. During the 2.75 hrs I counted 50 singing Winter Wrens Troglodytes torglodytes, 24 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, 20 European Robins Erithacus rubecula, 18 Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus, 16 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 8 Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos, 4 Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus, 2 each of Garden Sylvia borin and Sedge Warblers Acro. schoenobaenus and a single Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus singing around the lake, among a host of others. Notable sightings included 3 Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna, 2 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a single Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus and a Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.

Mervyn Pearce saw 3 Common Terns Sterna hirundo, which flew off at 1250 hrs, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Long Bay. Unfortunately, I missed the terns as I was at Barrow tanks from 1000 - 1700 hrs refurbishing and rehanging 23 bat boxes with Ken Anstey.

Thursday 23rd April [Sunny]

I heard a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus call at Top End this evening and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam but there was no sign of the Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus.

Friday 24th April [Overcast with a threat of rain]

I managed a brief visit to the lake this afternoon between more Voluntary Bat Roost Visitor work all morning and my BTO Rookery Survey for squares ST45 and ST55 later in the day. Luckily, I caught up with a Common Tern Sterna hirundo that was sitting on a buoy at the dam end, and a couple of Common Linnets Carduelis cannabina feeding along the edge of the road at Green Lawn. The lone Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus was in Long Bay and 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were at the north end of the dam.

Tomorrow, is bat box survey day at Blagdon, and our local Nathusius' Study team are trapping at Chew Valley Lake (weather permitting) in the evening. Busy, busy!

Saturday 25th April [Overcast with eventual showers]

I found the pair of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus again today and saw a large flock of hirundines over the lake this morning while checking the bat boxes. I don't have any other bird news I'm sorry to say.

The results of yesterdays Blagdon bat box checks and Chew trapping are given on the Bat News and the Bat Monitoring Pages.

Sunday 26th April [Sunny with a cool north-east wind]

This evening there were 2 Eurasian Hobbies Falco subbuteo hawking over the Top End (the first of the year to my knowledge), 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina calls in the hedge at Wood Bay.

Monday 27th April [Sunny with a cold wind]

I managed to catch up with a singing Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca this morning and saw singles of Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus (presumed to be one of the pair). There were lots of hirundines of all three common species over the water this evening.

Tuesday 28th April [Sunny with a cold breeze]

Nothing much to report today I'm afraid. I saw a few hirundines, including Sand Martins Riparia riparia on passage, and that was about it. On an unremarkable day bird-wise I'd normally expect to give you an update on some of the other wildlife around the lake, but I spent most of the rest of it finishing off my BTO Rookery Survey. I also managed a visit to St. Andrew's Church Blagdon to check the bat activity, where I was called in last November because urine is damaging a reredos of The Last Supper painted in 1903-4 by Oswald Moser (1874–1953).

Wednesday 29th April

I didn't have time to pay a visit today. Sorry.

Thursday 30th April [Sunny with a cool breeze]

Warwick White and I put up four bird boxes beside the lake for Spotted Flycatchers this afternoon. I also checked a couple more Bat Boxes and found a Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus sitting tight on its nest in one of the 2F boxes. We didn't see the 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo (see Tweets above) reported by Paul Williams, but there were a few hirundines including Sand Martins Riparia riparia and Common Swifts Apus apus over the lake and surrounding meadows.

Hopefully I'll get time to go and see the Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath, if it sticks around into the weekend, though I did see a few in Alaska while I was there in 2012. I also hope to spend some time around the lake looking for more migrants.