BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

August 2016 News


Monday 1st August [Dry early, then wet and windy.]

It was a very wet two hours beside the lake from tea time until 1930 hrs, during which I spotted singles of Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water, Sand Martin Riparia riparia at The Lodge, and Northern Shoveler Anas clypeatus and Eurasian Teal Anas crecca at Top End. I scrutinized the Aythya ducks carefully again, and found a ♂ Lesser Scaup-like candidate near the Top End hide, of about the right size, with a plain grey back (not unlike a moulting Lesser Scaup), but the bill pattern was wrong - it appeared as if dipped in ink. I wonder if it was the bird I photographed a few years ago at Cheddar Reservoir? I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at its parentage because other than the grey back, there were no other apparent Common Pochard features. Also noted, was a Common Pochard Aythya ferina with a green nasal saddle. The centre letter was a large 'H', but it was too far away, in pouring rain, to make out the symbols on the sides, unfortunately. I presume this will be another of the French birds that turn up to moult, so would like to try and get the extra details in the next day or two.

I reckon the lake is about 75% full, and dropping quite quickly, although forecast overnight rain may slow this down.

Tuesday 2nd August [Dank and dismal all day with constant drizzle]

My evening visit produced nothing to report save for a pair of Eurasian Hobbies Falco subutteo reported at the Lodge by someone earlier in the day. Despite the rain that's fallen in the last 24 hours, the water level has continued to fall slightly.

Wednesday 3rd August [Mainly dry]

At 1700 hrs Mrs Trellis was at the dam, and pointed out a Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres to me, the first sighting for 5 years, I think. 10+ Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were also reported by the aforementioned Mrs Trellis. Later, I had another look around, but didn't see the Turnstone, just 2 Common Sandpipers also on the dam.

Thursday 4th August [Some heavy showers, but warm and breezy.]

I had a good look along the north shore at the Aythya ducks this evening, despite the breezy conditions making it difficult. Still no sign of a moulting Lesser Scaup, so I guess it isn't at Blagdon this summer. I saw 7 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos (two on the dam and 5 on Home Bay Point).

I spent much of the day with Robin Prytherch and Chantal Brown of Avon Wildlife Trust working on the Mendip Osprey Project and hope to have some good news to report very soon.

Friday 5th August [Warm and dry]

I didn't visit the lake today because much of the afternoon, evening and night was spent over at Chew Valley Lake looking for sites to put up harp traps in readiness for trapping last night as part of the National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project (see Bat News for results).

Saturday 6th August [Sunny and warm]

I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at the dam end, and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta flew west past me at Rainbow Point, that Mike O'Connor also saw fly over the dam at 2045hrs.

I also picked up a 3-4 week old Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus from Richard Mielcarek's house that was roosting out in the open. I gave it several drinks of water during the day and took it to carer Kiri Green this evening for more attention because it seemed a bit underweight to be released back on site this evening. Tomorrow morning we'll be doing bat box checks around the lake, which will probably take most of the day.

Sunday 7th August [Early mist clearing to warm sun]

I looked over the dam at 0930 hrs but didn't see any waders or other birds of note. Then, spent the rest of the day checking bat boxes whilst keeping an eye open for passing birds. There was nothing to report on the bird front, but the box checks were excellent (see Bat News).

Monday 8th August [Occasional showers]

Some signs of migration with 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 3 (2 adult and a juvenile) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, and an adult summer Dunlin Calidris alpina present this evening and, while I was scanning from Rainbow Point, 7 or 8 more Dunlin flew through to the west without stopping. I hope to have a good look around in the morning as more waterfowl appear to be arriving daily.

Tuesday 9th August [A strong breeze and sunny]

A late afternoon visit saw no new shorebirds on the dam compared with yesterday, although I did see 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, with another 3 Common Sands on Home Bay Point. I spent some time at Bell's Bush going through the waterfowl and found an adult ♂ Aythya hybrid (probably a Common Pochard x Tufted Duck) at Hellfire Corner. The wind was blowing hard up the lake towards Top End and 7 bright orange Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa battled their way down the lake past me, low over the white horses. There were good numbers of Herring Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls L. fuscus sitting on the water too.

Wednesday 10th August

I was away all day at Wytham Woods near Oxford today and didn't get back home in time to look over the lake.

Thursday 11th August [Mainly dry and breezy]

Mark Hynam texted me the following information this evening: "5 Common Sandpipers (Long Bay and dam), 1 Little Egret (Wood Bay) and 2 Green Sandpipers (Bell's Bush area)." I got 4 Common Sandpipers (Home Bay Point and the dam) and the 2 Green Sandpipers on Wookey Point from the Top End hide. I also spotted a Garganey Anas querquedula on Wookey Point too.

Friday 12th August [Warm and breezy]

Sorry, I didn't have time for a visit today.

Saturday 13th August [Wet early, sun breaking through.]

I've taken a text from Sean Davies mid-morning to say the 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and Garganey Anas querquedula are still at Wookey Point (viewable from the Top End hide). This evening, when I went down to the lake to prepare for a bat trapping session, there was an adult summer Dunlin Calidris alpina on the dam wall.

Results of the bat trapping session on the Bat News page.

Sunday 14th August [Mainly overcast and warm]

Sean Davies texted me again this morning to tell me the 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and Garganey Anas querquedula were still on Wookey Point, along with 2 juvenile Common Redshanks Tringa totanus on Rugmoor Point, and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. During my visit this evening I saw the 2 Green Sandpipers flying around while scanning from Rainbow Point. I also saw 3 Common Redshanks on Rugmoor Point and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on Home Bay Point.

Monday 15th August [Sunny and hot]

The 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus were still at Wookey Point this morning with 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor. The Common Redshanks have moved on, but there was a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis using the flooded trees at Rugmoor to fish from. At Green Lawn I heard 2 Eurasian Hobbies Falco subbuteo and looked up to see them mobbing a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo over the lake to the North Shore.

George Stacey reported 2 Common GreenshanksTringa nebularia later in the day.

We've had several young Eurasian Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula visiting the garden recently...

Juvenile Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Blagdon © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Tuesday 16th August

No news today.

Wednesday 17th August [Warm and muggy]

I spent most of the day at Chew Valley Lake with Ken Anstey and my sister checking the bat boxes. We saw a Green Sandpiper in Heron's Green Bay and 3 more on Moreton Bank while on our round. Back at Blagdon Lake on the way home, I noted 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus on Wookey Point, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Top End and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn. Later I drove to Oxfordshire to help Dani Linton bat trapping at Pinkhill Meadow NR beside the River Thames.

Thursday 18th August [Warm and muggy]

Another busy day, with a visit to Barford Park on the Quantocks looking for invertebrates with Robin Williams. In the evening, I drove down to the lake and found a Great White Egret Ardea alba in front of the Lodge, which promptly flew east and wasn't seen again. I also noted a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis flying over the dam, and the Garganey Anas querquedula still off Wookey Point.

Friday 19th August [Rain early, then some sun.]

News on Avon Birding today: 6 Little Grebe, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Common Snipe, 15 Common Sandpiper, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 200 mixed Barn Swallow/House Martin from Mrs Trellis. Many thanks.

I visited late this afternoon and saw just a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (Paul Williams reported seeing 2 earlier). I also noted a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus with a yellow ring '2KTS' on the left leg (ringed by the North Thames Group).

Saturday 20th August [A wet old day, with a storm overnight.]

I checked the lake twice today, at lunchtime and dusk, and saw a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on Home Bay Point, and 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and the Garganey Anas querquedula at Wookey Point, viewed from the Top End hide. The water level continues to fall and areas worth searching for waders include the dam, The Lodge (including the island of Tiny's Shallow), Home Bay Point, Green Lawn, Rainbow Point, Wookey Point and Rugmoor Point. The Top End is heavily weeded and there are lots of waterfowl there during the day because boat access is limited, although substantial numbers of Aythya ducks are also to be seen feeding along the north shore. I will have time for a decent look around tomorrow, I hope, and we will be carrying out the WeBS count on Monday morning.

Sunday 21st August [Breezy and damp]

A good day at the lake. A 4th year 5th/6th year Northern Gannet Morus bassanus flew in at 1240 hrs (per Karin Rhodes) from the west (9th site record). It sat on the water until about 1500 hrs, when it had moved to the dam end, but had disappeared by 1515 hrs. Also present were 5 (2 adults and 3 juvs) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a juvenile Sanderling Calidris alba, 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 5 (2 adults & 3 juvs) Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus, 3 (an adult & 2 juveniles) Common Terns Sterna hirundo, an adult Little Egret Egretta garzetta and the Garganey Anas querquedula (off Burmah Road today). Steve Hale also told me he'd seen an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and Common Gull Larus canus (first autumn bird) in Butcombe Bay, and I saw several Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the lake.

Sub-adult Northern Gannet Morus bassanus © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

3 juvenile and 2 adult Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Somehow or other, I missed the Gannet when I left this afternoon. However, I spotted it late this evening off the dam, and even then I'd missed it when I arrived, only spotting it on the way back to the Lodge (sorry Mike). I added 2 more Common Sandpipers making a total of 4, and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus on Tiny's Shallow at dusk.

Monday 22nd August [Warm and overcast]

Four of us carried out the WeBS count this morning, and among the highlights were a Great White Egret Ardea alba, an adult Little Egret Egetta garzetta, a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (returning, moulting adult?), a Garganey Anas querquedula, 11 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Eurasian Hobby Falco subutteo. The adult ♂ Aythya hybrid is still present and bears a superficial resemblance to a Lesser Scaup. New in was a ♂ Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope. Count details on the WeBS Page.

Richard Mielcarek found the Gannet at Chew today and Mike Jenkins saw few, if any, signs of immaturity in the remiges and retrices when it was plunge diving. This suggests a near-adult 5th/6th year rather than 4th year. I'll record it as a sub-adult unless flight photos or more information comes to light to age it more accurately.

Tuesday 23rd August [Warm and sunny]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still present in the large weed bed between Wood Bay and Rugmoor Points this morning, and my spirits were lifted considerably by finding a juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus in front of the Lodge when I got there, even though there was no sign of any egrets, Green Sandpipers or Garganey. There were still 11 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos ranging between the dam and Home Bay Point, and French-ringed Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus green 'L42' was on Tiny's Shallow, as was a juvenile with a yellow ring which was too messy to read - the last letter was a Y and it looked like the first letter of 4 may have been a D, but I couldn't be sure. Hopefully, it'll stick around and wash the ring off before I see it next time! At Top End, there was a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa of race islandica asleep on Wookey Point.

Wednesday 24th August [Warm with sun early, then showers]

A quiet day at the lake and I couldn't find the Black-necked Grebe. The juvenile Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa of race islandica was still around Wookey Point, where the juvenile ♂ Garganey Anas querquedula was asleep this afternoon. There were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on Home Bay Point, and I saw a single Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus across the lake feeding in Rugmoor Bay. Also noted were 2 Little Egrets Egetta garzetta, one of which was the adult with a full set of aigrettes down its back, a Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, a Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus green 'L42' again, and a juvenile gull (probably Herring) red 'C+L' in front of the Fishing Lodge on Tiny's Shallow which, with the continued draw-down, will become a point rather than an island in the next day or two. By my reckoning the lake is about 65% full now.

Thursday 25th August [Murky, misty and damp.]

I made two visits to the lake today, because in this kind of weather birds drop in and move on. This morning there were 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula in front of the Lodge with 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and an adult Common Tern Sterna hirundo on Tiny's Shallow, with another Common Sandpiper on Home Bay Point. At Top End from the hide I saw a Dunlin Calidris alpina being chased by a Peregrine Falco peregrinus (it escaped, and was in front of the Lodge this afternoon with the other waders). There were 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in view from the hide too. This afternoon, I saw the ♂ Garganey Anas querquedula in front of the hide, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and 4 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago on Wookey Point and 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa distantly at Burmah Road. Back at the Lodge I saw an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus with a black ring 'F352'. It appears that this bird was ringed by a wildlife rehabilitation outfit in southern Portugal. I'll let you know more when I hear from them.

News from Peter Rock about yesterday's ring sighting as follows:

"Many thanks for this one: Herring Gull, ringed on 23/06/2016, cohort Red4, code CL, ring no. GV03361, ringed in Bristol, and this was the first reported sighting since. Several adults carrying red rings like this one are also carrying GPS tags. All of them have codes beginning with A. What fun if you saw one at Blagdon."

Friday 26th August [Sunny and warm, almost hot.]

Not a great deal changed overnight. During my visit this morning I saw 9 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, the Garganey Anas querquedula, and 1+ Eurasian Hobbies Falco subutteo hunting Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta at Top End.

I was just about to go out the door for my second visit this evening when Sean Davies texted to say he'd found a juvenile Red Knot Calidris canutus on Wookey Point, which I assume must have arrived this afternoon. That was a nice bird to see, so thanks Sean. On the way back home I spotted what I assume was a (the) Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis off North Shore (from the Lodge) with a small group of Tufties. It was 2015 hrs so the light wasn't great, but I don't think it was a Slavonian Grebe.

Additional news from Sean included 5 Green Sandpipers in Rugmoor Bay (not additional to my 2), and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata near Top End gate.

Saturday 27th August [Overcast but warm]

Another quiet morning by the lake. I saw 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, a single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, and a single juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina. I also saw the good-looking hoverfly Chrysotoxum bicinctum along the edge of one of the meadows that's been cut for hay. I looked for, but couldn't find, the Black-necked Grebe along the North Shore. Sean sent me news later that he'd seen 9 Common Sandpipers, 6 Little Egrets, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, and 2 Black-tailed Godwits. Thanks Sean.

Tonight we will be bat trapping again as part of the National Nathusius' Project. I hope it's a bit more exciting than the birding!

Sunday 28th August [Showery, then sunny spells.]

We had, let's say, an interesting evening batting. See Bat News for details.

News from Sean Davies this morning of 2 Garganey Anas querquedula, 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, and a single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Mike O'Connor reported the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca at the Spillway early this evening. During my late evening check I saw 2 Black-tailed Godwits in front of the Lodge, a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo, just a single Garganey in the gloom, the Egyptian Goose on Wookey Point before it flew off towards Chew, and a greatly increased Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock that included 6 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis.

Monday 29th August [Sunny and warm]

Mark Hynam paid an early morning visit and saw: 3 Northern Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 1 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, 2 Garganey Anas querquedula, and 2 Northern Ravens Corvus corax. I visited later in the morning until lunchtime, and failed to find the Wheatears (boo-hoo, no patch year tick), but I counted 14 Black-tailed Godwits (12 at the Lodge which relocated to Wookey Point later), 9 Barnacle Geese among about 140 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and 4 Eurasian Wigeon. At dusk I heard the Green Sandpipers, saw 2+ Eurasian Hobbies Falco subbuteo and a Barn Owl Tyto alba briefly.

Tuesday 30th August [Sunny and warm]

I had a couple of hours by the lake this morning, and found 2 juvenile Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Green Lawn, but other than them there wasn't anything new to report that I could see. Noteables included 4 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a single Garganey Anas querquedula, and a remarkable 7 Eurasian Hobbies Falco subbuteo visible in the air together from the Top End hide.

This evening Sean Davies reported 5 Green Sandpipers together opposite Top End hide, plus an adult Ringed Plover and Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia in front of Lodge.

Wednesday 31st August [Overcast, then sunny.]

So far at Blagdon today I've seen 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and singles of Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Garganey Anas querquedula, and adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. At the Lodge there were 2 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus with rings on their legs. One was red with black letters read down the leg '261' and an unreadable last digit, and the other was white 'TOWR' read up the leg, as normal. I read a ring on a B-h Gull on Holt Farm fields on 24th Sept. 2014 as 'TDWR', so I'm assuming this is the same bird. Perhaps, it's the Polish ringing project and they might recognise it. There was just time for another quick visit at dusk and I saw yet another ringed Black-headed Gull in front of the Lodge; this time black '2AAJ' ringed by the Brewood Group, which are based at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve near Coventry. I can add 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus at Top End, and a Tawny Owl Strix aluco at Hellfire Corner to my earlier news.

I had a meeting at Heron's Green this morning with Bristol Water and as I left I saw 8 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis circle overhead then head off towards Blagdon at about 1045 hrs. I followed them part way, but didn't see them at the lake, although Steve Hale did.