BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

December 2013 News


Sunday 1st December [Grey and overcast]

The still conditions meant the lake was mirror-like at the dam where the ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator and 8 adult (3♂, 5♀) Goosanders Mergus merganser were tantalisingly close, unless you popped your head over the wall nearby. The 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina had moved in front of the Lodge when I arrived early afternoon but the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still off Peg's Point. There were at least 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on show again today.

Jean and Roger Staples reported seeing a Common Redshank Tringa totanus and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos this morning (thanks for the news guys). I wonder if the Common Sand is going to over-winter again?

This morning I met Irene Mills, who showed me how to survey for Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus nests. We found two at an undisclosed site, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to find some beside the lake, now that I know what to look for. There's plenty of suitable-looking habitat, so I'm hopeful. I believe there was a survey carried out a few years ago which failed to locate any at Blagdon, though they have been recorded at Chew.

Monday 2nd December [Overcast and milder]

It was very still again this morning during my visit. The ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator and his adult ♀ Goosander Mergus merganser friend were asleep on the bank at The Island. There were 3 adult ♂♂ Goosanders and at least one other adult ♀ at the end of Butcombe Bay too. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Peg's Point and the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was intially in front of the Lodge but was driven off by a motor boat. I re-found it when scanning from Rainbow Point looking towards Top End. The Common Redshank Tringa totanus was feeding at Polish Water and I saw 11 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta (a site record) by making an effort to do a rapid count to ensure there was no duplication due to movement.

There was a congregation of large gulls in front of the Lodge when I arrived, so I checked through them and found three with rings as follows:

Tuesday 3rd December [Overcast but a little cooler again]

Not much change to report today, with the ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator and his adult ♀ Goosander Mergus merganser asleep on The Island, and 2 adult ♂♂ and 4 adult ♀♀ Goosanders displaying and feeding at the end of Butcombe Bay. The 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was back in front of the Lodge and the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was in Long Bay with the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Peg's Point again, and I counted both flocks of Canada Geese Branta canadensis giving a total of 383, and 16 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis. I only saw 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Wednesday 4th December [Overcast but brightening up]

Again, not a great deal has changed today. The ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator and his adult ♀ Goosander Mergus merganser were together with 3 adult ♂♂ and 3 adult ♀♀ Goosanders feeding at the end of Butcombe Bay. The 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was in front of the Lodge, where I also saw a Dunlin Calidris alpina on Tiny's Shallow and the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was in Long Bay as usual. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Peg's Point again and best viewed from Rugmoor Gate. I only managed to count 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and saw a single Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Top End.

This afternoon I went down to the Somerset Levels with Sue Caola to see the Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris roost at Ashcott Corner. It was a beautiful sunset and there were l-o-t-s of Starlings. Sadly, given the light conditions, they came in and more or less dropped straight in rather than giving a prolonged aerial display, but it was still pretty spectacular. We saw 8 Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba from the track as well.

Thursday 5th December [Wild and mild]

The gale force winds were sweeping down the lake this morning which meant I couldn't spot the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, neither was the ♂ Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator apparently at the lake (Rich Mielcarek rang to say there was one at Chew, so perhaps he's gone back over there). The 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was, however, out in front of the Lodge off Tiny's Shallow and the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was also in front of the Lodge among the gulls. I spotted 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta around the lake, mostly sheltering from the wind, and I counted 3 adult ♂♂ and 3 adult ♀♀ Goosanders Mergus merganser.

There was a gull at the Lodge with a ring as follows:

Friday 6th December [Mainly sunny but cold]

Unfortunately I wasn't able to visit until mid-afternoon, but I saw 9 (4 adult ♂♂, 4 adult ♀♀ and one not aged /sexed) Goosanders Mergus merganser mostly in Butcombe Bay, the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina in Long Bay, where the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was feeding again, and I counted 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I didn't have too much time, but had a look out for the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis in the usual places without success. It may have relocated to somewhere a bit more sheltered where the water wasn't so coloured during yesterdays storm.

Saturday 7th December [Wet and misty]

As I suspected, I didn't have time to visit today due to my being on the 3rd of my Voluntary Bat Roost Visitor training days at Wells. I don't have news from anyone else.

Sunday 8th December [Mainly sunny]

A visit at lunchtime saw the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina in Home Bay and 4 pairs of adult Goosanders Mergus merganser, two each in Butcombe and Long Bays, with 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta around the edge. As noted on previous weekends, there has been an increase in the number of Common Pochards Aythya ferina presumably from Cheddar seeking somewhere to sleep quietly during the day. I counted 412, having carried out an incomplete count of 119 early in the week after the last large influx, so I'm sure they're coming and going using Blagdon as a weekend refuge from leisure activities. The adult ♂ Aythya was still present in the Top End among the Pochards too.

Monday 9th December [Mainly sunny]

It was a good catch-up with some of the more elusive visitors today. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding off Rainbow Point, the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was in Long Bay, the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was mobile around the Lodge area, the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was still in Home Bay, the adult ♂ Aythya off Rugmoor Point and there were up to 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at their usual stake-outs. I saw 5 adult ♀♀ Goosanders Mergus merganser at Top End and later there were 3 adult ♂♂ and 8 adult ♀♀ in a feeding frenzy at Butcombe Bay where they were catching lots of small fish, presumably Perch Perca fluviatilis. There were certainly 11 Goosanders present, which is what I reckon, but there may have been up to 16. A short walk at Top End produced a single European Greenfinch Chloris chloris (unusual these days) and a flyover, calling, Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus.

I spent some time going through the gulls at the Lodge and found a fine adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus preening in the throng, and a ringed adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus:

There were lots of Common Pochards Aythya ferina still today, most of which were in the Top End, as were the majority of the 341 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, that I counted.

Tuesday 10th December

Paul Williams paid a brief visit today and reported the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina in Home Bay.

I was away walking the South West Coast Path around Wembury Point in Devon where we saw some Cirl Buntings Emberiza cirlus and a Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita on the beach.

Wednesday 11th December

There was no news from the lake today, but I will be there tomorrow.

I was still in Devon today, walking from Mountbatten to Cremyll Ferry in Plymouth. At Hooe Lake we saw 2 Common Redshanks Tringa totanus, a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. At various places around Plymouth Sound we saw a few Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres.

Blagdon is 62% full according to Bristol Water - no change from the 26th November.

Thursday 12th December [Mild and dry]

The fisheries team were netting with students from Bridgwater College today, to try and establish which species of fish are in the lake. I've been with them most of the day and saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis a couple of times, and late this afternoon I counted 11 (5 adult ♂♂ and 5 adult ♀♀ plus a ♀/juv) Goosanders Mergus merganser at Top End. There were 9+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in various places and the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus flew out of Long Bay and into Home Bay when the team netted there. Adult ♀ Common Gull Larus canus, white 'P2P3' ringed in Estonia, was on Tiny's Shallow again this morning and this afternoon 2 Northern Ravens Corvus corax flew over the Pumping Station.

At lunchtime just as I was heading back down to the lake, Paul Williams rang to tell me there were 9 (6 ♂♂) Red-Crested Pochards Netta rufina off the dam, where I watched them with him. Later this afternoon, they'd moved to Holt Bay and joined the ♂ that has been present for a while, bringing the total to a record 10 birds. I think they're 4 adult and 2 1st-winter ♂♂, note one ♂ has a very pale eclipse-coloured back, and 2 of the 3 ♀♀ have quite dark bills so they could be an adult and 2 1st-winters.

Red-crested Pochards Netta rufina off the dam © Nigel Milbourne, 2013

Friday 13th December [Damp and breezy]

The long-staying 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was on his own in Holt Bay again today and there was no sign of the others, which is strange because they were all feeding together yesterday afternoon. I'm not surprised 'the nine' have gone, but I am left wondering why the lone drake didn't go with them. Still present were the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis off Rainbow Point, 8 Goosanders Mergus merganser, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and the adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus, dark blue 'EZA', by the Lodge. There seemed to be far fewer Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula than of late, just a fraction of the number counted last month.

Saturday 14th December [Sunny and windy]

I spent most of the day in Bath with fellow WeBS counters Phil Delve and Terry Doman on a Bath Nats geology walk at Brown's Folly led by Elizabeth Devon. It was excellent. Just as I was about to come home Chris Stone rang (thanks) to say the Black-throated Diver at Chew had gone missing and might have flown to Blagdon. I spent 45 minutes looking for it until dark, but there was no sign in the windy conditions. I did see the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina off Holt Bay, 4 (2 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. We will be doing the WeBS count tomorrow.

Steve Hale emailed me this evening to tell me he'd seen the Red-crested Pochard, 6 Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula, 11 Goosanders (6 ♂♂), 7 Little Egrets, 5 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, 30 flyover Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus. See Steve's blogspot and his Little Egret picture in the Guests Gallery.

Sunday 15th December [Strong SE wind]

The WeBS team did the December count today, despite the windy conditions, recording a total of 2898 individuals of 31 spp. Pick of the birds were the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina in Long Bay, 10 (5 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis off Peg's Point, and the adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus and adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus in front of the Lodge again. The adult ♂ Aythya was also present in the Top End among the Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and large number of Common Pochards Aythya ferina.

Monday 16th December [Still and wet]

The lake was very turbid, no doubt due to the rain and wind in the last 24 hrs. However, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still off Peg's Point, the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina was in Home Bay, 4 (2 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser were in Long Bay, 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta were mainly in the east half of the lake and I counted 454 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wookey Point, with 2 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago among them. There were 106 Canada Geese Branta canadensis on Holt Farm with 6 at Green Lawn, so I assume the larger part of the flock was out of sight when we did the count yesterday. They were certainly around last week before the count, so I'm going to add them in belatedly with an explanation.

Tuesday 17th December [Sunny with a cold easterly wind]

I paid a visit this morning and saw 8 (4 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser in Butcombe Bay, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis off Peg's Point as usual, the 1st-winter ♂ Red-Crested Pochard Netta rufina which had moved to Indian Country and didn't seem particularly settled and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. I looked through the gulls at the Lodge, but didn't see anything significant, and it looks like Tiny's Shallow will shortly revert to being an island as the water level continues to slowly rise, then it'll become difficult to read any rings at all.

Wednesday 18th December [Wet and windy]

Late news from Gareth Jones: Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis off Wood Bay, Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina in Home Bay and Common RedshankTringa totanus Long Bay.

I didn't visit the lake today because I went into Bristol Museum to do some more research on Stanley Lewis and his egg collecting at Blagdon Lake, and to look through the annals of the Bristol Naturalists Society for references to the lake. Thanks to Ray Barnett and especially Rhian Rowson for giving me access to the collection.

It was an amazing privilege to handle and photograph the Common Pochard Aythya ferina nest and 8 eggs which Lewis comments on as follows: "Set 2052 Common Pochard. The full nest and 8 eggs of the above species taken at Blagdon res, Somerset on July 9th, 1936. The late date together with the fact that I had sometime previously found a destroyed nest points to a second laying. WA Wall of Cheddar accompanied me in several visits to the reservoir during the summer when we identified a male and female Pochard swimming together and once seemingly with a pair of Tufted Ducks at the north end. After much searching during several visits I found a single egg laid on the ground amongst the stems of a tall dropwort plant in flower on June 28th on the north side, Wall was working a few yards away near the egg was a little wet moss and one or two pieces of thickish dead iris stems situated about two yards from the water of a creek on the north side some distance down from the Ubley end both of the adult birds were on the water of the reservoir. I seemed quite sure of the egg being Pochard. I gave her ample time to lay a very full set, but she only laid eight, these I took with the nest on July 9th when I clearly saw the female and the male as she joined him on the water. The nest was large composed of very coarse materials such as Bull-rush stems and flags also iris flags, moss, with some leaves of the dropwort at the base. Down was fairly abundant and some feathers were present. I lifted the whole nest out bodily. I may here remark that having watched the male and female, Wall and I feel sure that neither bird suffered from an injury by gunshot or otherwise, and that this record forms the first instance of the taking of the nest and eggs of Pochard in Somerset. “Pinked” birds have been known to remain through spring but nest or eggs have not been identified. WA Wall, Stanley Lewis. Attached note which states: In the reports of the Wells Arch and Nat Hist Society for 1931 and 1933 Mr Donald Carr states that Pochard bred at Blagdon in both years.

H.J. Charbonnier reported Chironomus virescens (now Cladopelma virescens) at Nempnett by the lake in immense swarms (Diptera of the Bristol District, pps 51-75, BNS 4th series, vol. 3, pt. 2, 1912, issued for 1911).

Bristol Water give the water level as 64 % today.

Thursday 19th December [Sunny morning but cold]

After the rain and wind last night, it wasn't entirely surprising to find something unusual at the lake today, but I wouldn't have predicted the first ever, December, juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. It gave me quite a start when I first scoped it on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge. Before I left, a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea flew onto the island and put all the Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and the Bar-wit up, and that was the last I saw of it. My records show this was the 10th site record and the first since 2004 (although I thought I heard one fly over when I was batting one evening, that I didn't submit). I also make it the 145th bird species this year.

The lake has been seriously coloured-up again and this has caused the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis to forsake its usual station. I eventually refound it in Holt Bay. I didn't see the Red-crested Pochard at all, even though I counted 388 Common Pochards Aythya ferina. There were also 5 (3 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser, 167 Northern Lapwings and 6+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta around the lake.

Friday 20th December [Sunny becoming overcast]

Again, there was no sign of the ♂ Red-crested Pochard today, but the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Rainbow Point. The adult Common RedshankTringa totanus was in Long Bay and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was feeding in Home Bay. I also saw 6 (3 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta as well as the ♂ Aythya hybrid.

Saturday 21st December [Sunny spells] Winter Solstice

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was back in Butcombe Bay again today, making me wonder if there were actually two, but careful checking of the usual spots didn't turn up anything, so I assume it was just the usual bird. The water level is rising fast and the island in front of the Lodge has all but gone already. The adult Common RedshankTringa totanus was in Long Bay and I saw 4 (1 ♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 10 (4 ♂♂) Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula, 14 (2 juvs) Mute Swans Cygnus olor and the ♂ Aythya hybrid among the usual wintering wildfowl.

Sunday 22nd December [A keen wind and wintery showers]

Today is very special, because it was 50 years ago to the day that Harry Thornhill and Robin Prytherch spotted and filmed a grebe in a small patch of open water in icy conditions that proved to be the first acceptable British record of Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps and which, in 1966, was subsequently chosen as the logo of Bristol Ornithological Club. I think it's time we had another 'Pied-bill'. Mind you, I'd settle for a Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena to be going on with... it's 21 years since we had one of them!

Pied-billed Grebe © Nigel Milbourne, 2010

The lake didn't have much to excite and quicken the pulse today. I couldn't find the Black-necked Grebe, so we're left with a diminishing number of 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 4 (2 ♂♂) Goosanders Mergus merganser as the birds leave due to the rising water. There was one plus note and that was the count of 586 Common Pochards Aythya ferina made as I monitor their weekend comings-and-goings.

The gull roost was pretty large by Blagdon standards, so using the counter I estimated that there were at least 2250 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus, an adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus and enough Common Larus canus, Herring Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus to bring the total to around 3000. I saw the Little Egrets gathered in Butcombe Bay as it go dark so amended my earlier total, and counted 49 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus gathering to roost near the dam.

Monday 23rd December [Rain on a southerly gale]

It was pretty wild beside the lake this lunchtime. Luckily, with the wind in the south we are protected, to some extent, from the full force of the storm by the Mendips. I spotted the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis sheltering off Home Bay Point and saw a pretty bedraggled looking Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Long Bay. There was a pair of Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna and a Common Redshank Tringa totanus in front of the Fishing Lodge, and a pair of adult Goosanders Mergus merganser by the boat quay. The real change compared with yesterday, however, was the low count of 131 Common Pochards Aythya ferina.

Tuesday 24th December [Sunny, but the chilly wind is back]

The water level has reached the tipping point, where there are insufficient margins available for dabbling ducks to be able to feed in any numbers - we had an inch of rain yesterday. The Common Redshank Tringa totanus is doggedly hanging on in Long Bay and I saw 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta scattered around, also a single ♀ adult Goosander Mergus merganser by the valve tower, but there was no sign of the mobile Black-necked Grebe. The elusive, wintering, Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos is also back on the dam today and the Common Pochard Aythya ferina count was back up to 325.

While checking the gull roost I spotted the pair of adult Goosanders Mergus merganser in Home Bay (making 3 for the day), and I counted 67 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus gathered in two groups to roost. There were either very few large gulls in the roost this evening, or, they hadn't come in by 1630 hrs because it was light much later this evening than yesterday.

Wednesday 25th December [Sunny but with a cold SE breeze] Christmas Day

Red-crowned Crane, Yancheng, China © Nigel Milbourne, 2009

I've just received astounding news from Daniel Hargreaves that a ♂ Nathusius's Pipistrelle Pipstrellus nathusii rung by him at Pipe Bay in October 2012, has been found dead in the Netherlands. Hopefully, more details will follow as the implications of the (sad) news sinks in.

The birding was quiet at the lake with just the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 3 adult Goosanders Mergus merganser and 4+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta of note. Later, Mike and Christine O'Connor emailed to say they'd seen the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis in Wood Bay at lunchtime.

I did notice a familiar ringed gull off the dam on a buoy as well:

Thursday 26th December Boxing Day [Sunny and cool]

Standard Christmas fayre at the lake today, with the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis over at Rugmoor this afternoon, the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos still on the dam, 6 (3 ♂♂) mobile adult Goosanders Mergus merganser and 4+ Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

News from Steve Hale who saw 200+ Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 8 Goosanders, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus.

The excitement appears to be on the south coast, with a Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-billed Murre) at Portland Harbour in the company of a fair supporting cast including Black Guillemot, and a White-billed Diver and Black Guillemot at Brixham. The storm forecast for later tonight could bring yet more Christmas presents for coastal patch workers.

Friday 27th December [Windy with showers]

I made an early visit and saw 5 Goosanders Mergus merganser and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. There didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary about, though I couldn't find either the Common Sand or the Black-necked Grebe, so who knows, I might have missed something!

Late this afternoon I checked the gull roost, ever hopeful of something good, but there were fewer gulls than recent days and the only goody was a single adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus.

Saturday 28th December

I'm sorry, no news from the lake today, I abdicated my responsibilities in favour of a social trip to Weymouth to see the Brunnich's Guillemot. It wasn't as if I've never seen one, I've seen thousands, but it was nice to have a day out by the sea. We also saw a flock of 13 Black-necked Grebes, a Red-necked Grebe, 3+ Slavonian Grebes, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2+ Black-throated Divers, a Common Scoter, a Glossy Ibis, 2 Mediterranean Gulls (adult and 1st-winter), an Iceland Gull and the Hooded Merganser. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Sunday 29th December [Sunny but cool]

The wintering Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Rainbow Point at lunchtime and the goose flock comprised 2 Pink-footed Anser brachyrhynchus (5th lake record), 8 Barnacle Branta leucopsis and circa 250 Canada Geese Branta canadensis. They were getting disturbed quite frequently by the numerous walkers who chose to ignore the 'private property' signs unfortunatley. I wonder if the Pinkfeet are either the returning adult or young birds that wintered in 2011-12? I guess we can only speculate for now. There was just a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Long Bay and no sign of any Goosanders (though I didn't check Butcombe Bay). Steve Hale emailed later to tell me he'd seen 5 Goosanders Mergus merganser. Thanks Steve.

Away from the lake, a small party of Redwings Turdus iliacus have been feeding on the berries of the Holly Ilex sp. tree outside the back door for the last 2-3 days and I briefly saw an unidentified bunting on the sunflower seed I put on the ground there too. I'm assuming it'll be a Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus but would like another view!

Monday 30th December [Wintery showers, with sunshine in the afternoon]

The 2 Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus flew west over Rainbow Point at 1610 hrs and appeared to whiffle down onto Holt Farm, but I couldn't relocate them subsequently. Canada Geese Branta canadensis were widely spread around the lake and I did count 8 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis with them but hadn't seen the Pinkfeet until they flew over calling. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was in Holt Bay late in the afternoon and I'd only seen a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta on Home Bay Point, until a second flew in from the west over the dam while I was checking the gull roost.

On a sad note, I attended the funeral of Peter James at Haycombe Crematorium, Bath today. Peter was one of the stalwarts of the Bath RSPB group who came out to do the WeBS count at Blagdon (and Chew before that) for 25-30 years until a fall at home, a little while ago, restricted his activities. He was a most charming man, is sorely missed, and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to Valerie his wife and two daughters at this difficult time.

Tuesday 31st December [Dry and milder]

The 2 Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus were still around the lake but extremely mobile, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was off Rainbow Point again, and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. I haven't seen the ♂ Aythya hybrid for a while, and when I spotted it at Burmah Road on its own it gave me an exciting few minutes, until I was able to scope it and compare it with the other Aythyas present.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who've sent me sightings, information about ringing recoveries, Bristol Water staff, YACWAGers, the regular WeBS counters, birders and anglers for contributing to another enjoyable year reporting from the lakeside in 2013.