BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

July 2017 News


Saturday 1st July [A real mixture of sunshine and showers]

This evening I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, plus a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis that flew past me at Flower Corner. Mark Hynam checked Rugmoor and saw a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Then we met up and checked a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus roost that has formed in the Fishing Lodge roof. We counted about 100 bats out before they started to come back after about 90 minutes. I don't think there were any Nathusius' Pipistrelles in the roost, but I have yet to check all our recordings and review the videoed emergence.

Among the invertebrates I recorded yesterday were:

Sunday 2nd July [Sunny & breezy]

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and Little Egret Egretta garzetta still present. Also, the first brood (2 juveniles with one adult) of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis that I've seen at the lake this year were in front of the Lodge at Polish Water. There was no sign of the Caspian Tern seen earlier at Chew unfortunately. Mark Hynam was already at the lake and I was on my way down when Simon Isgar (the finder) rang me to say it had just flown off from Herriott's Pool towards West Harptree. Congratulations on a nice find Simon!

I have reviewed all the sonograms I recorded close to the Fishing Lodge roost entrance last night and have, reluctantly, to conclude that Nathusius' Pipistrelle calls were notable by the absence! Lots of Soprano and, rather surprisingly, Common Pipistrelles. I do have some cracking video sequences of the bats emerging from their roost though, which is some consolation I suppose.

Monday 3rd July [Some drizzle, then brightening up with a strong breeze.]

Thanks to Keith Vinicombe, who called me, I managed to connect with 9 (8♂ & 1♀) Common Scoters Melanitta nigra that flew off from Chew and landed at Blagdon late this morning. They were still off the dam, trying to sleep, when I left at about 1230 hrs. They're my first new species at the lake since 23rd May - it's been tough! Robert Hargreaves arrived at the lake just before I left at lunchtime, and got these great shots of the Scoters. Thanks for sharing them Rob.

Common Scoters Melanitta nigra © Robert Hargreaves, 2017

I did go back to the lake, but had forgotten a battery I needed to film a bat roost emergence afterwards, so had to go back home without adding any more news. Mark Hynam and I videoed and recorded an emergence of Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii from a local church.

Tuesday 4th July [Overcast]

Mike O'Connor emailed news of a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and a Green Woodpecker Picus viridis on the dam earlier this morning. Later, I saw a Little Egret at Rugmoor Bay, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis that flew past me at Cheddar Water and a flock of circa 20 Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris of mixed ages flying around at dusk. Starlings are a really unusual bird to see at the lake at this time of year, since the catastrophic decline in local breeders.

Wednesday 5th July [Scorchio]

There was a big Yeo Valley corporate event at the lake today, and I got called down because a grounded bat was crawling around on the ground at the Lodge. It was a young Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus that, because it looked active, I popped back into the roost with all the others. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam while I was there.

In the evening I visited the garden of friends in Bishop Sutton who wanted to know what bats they were seeing in their garden. There were, of course, the usual Soprano and Common Pipistrelles, with Noctules flying high overhead, but the pleasant surprise was to see at least 12 Serotines Eptesicus serotinus heading out across the garden from a probable maternity roost close by.

Thursday 6th July [Warm]

I didn't visit the lake today.

Friday 7th July [Warm but overcast much of the day]

I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water this evening, a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata at The Lodge car park, 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on the shore at Green Lawn and counted 20 Common Pochards Aythya ferina at Burmah Road.

Later, I popped down to Burtle to return some kit to Daniel Hargreaves and went for a walk with him and their dog Poppy. We heard 2 Grasshopper Warblers reeling, saw a Barn Owl, and heard a couple of young Tawny Owls.

Saturday 8th July [Sunny and warm]

At long last, real signs that migration is underway. This evening I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a bird I didn't see last year at the lake a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, with a Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, and 4 (3 prob. juvs.) Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay. I met Mark Hynam at Flower Corner and he told me he'd counted 11 Lapwings on Rugmoor Point and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal at Pipe Bay.

Sunday 9th July [Sunny and breezy]

Not much change today, there were 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, 12 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Late news from Christine and Mike O'Connor of a Common Redshank Tringa totanus on the dam at dusk while I was at the other end of the lake. Thanks.

Yesterday evening, Mark Hynam pointed out a roosting dragonfly to me at Flower Corner that puzzled me, but I'm pretty sure it was a ♀ Yellow-winged Darter Sympetrum flaveolum. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me and have no photographic record. We had another look for it this evening, but didn't see it. I'll have another look around the middle of the day tomorrow, when it's more likely to be flying. A few migrant dragons have been found around the country in recent days, so it's worth keeping an eye open for the unusual.

Monday 10th July [Overcast in the morning & brighter later. Breezy.]

Mike O'Connor spotted a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo over the dam early this morning. I had a look this afternoon and noted several Sand Martins Riparia riparia, my first juvenile Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos before I had to leave. I also took some pictures of a Large Skipper Ochlodes faunus and saw an Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola, as well as getting shots of Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum (which seems to be having a good year), but the wind was howling along the lake making photography very difficult.

This evening I saw the Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, and 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Rugmoor before going to video the emergence from the 1FW box. There were probably in excess of 140 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out, but I will have to review the video to get a firm count.

I reckon the lake is about 78% full at present, so there are a few areas with margins for passage waders to feed, but they will be subject to angling disturbance.

Tuesday 11th July [Wet]

This evenings visit was a bit damp! I saw singles of Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point.

Earlier in the day, despite the weather forecast, Robin Williams and I met at the Millfield School Worley Hill nature reserve. However, after half an hour of photography under an umbrella, we decided to call it a day.

♂ Osprey white 'YA', who visited Blagdon Lake in March 2013, has raised 3 youngsters (a ♂ and 2♀) at Kielder Water this year. They were ringed on 26th June and are not far off fledging.

Wednesday 12th July [Cool & overcast, then warm & sunny]

I only went to the lake briefly this afternoon to rescue a couple of grounded birds with Warwick White.

Thursday 13th July [Warm & sunny]

This evening I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on the dam, and a Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point. Earlier, I walked a 9 mile circuit from Stanton Wick, via Stanton Drew to Chew Magna, over Knowle Hill and return. It was good to see there was a population of Yellowhammers at Roundhill and Pitt's Farm, north-east of Chew Valley Lake.

Friday 14th July [Sunny & breezy]

There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm and a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point this evening. Some of the Canada Geese Branta canadensis appear to regaining their powers of flight, post-moult, but wildfowl numbers have yet to start increasing.

Saturday 15th July [Mainly overcast]

There were 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius on Green Lawn early this morning according to Mark Hynam, and when we met this evening we saw 2 adult Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and at least one Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. The water level has dropped noticeably in the last couple of days, and Common Coot Fulica atra numbers appear to be increasing as weed becomes more accessible for them to feed on.

Sunday 16th July [Mainly overcast]

I made a brief visit this evening before going out surveying with the YACWAG Batmap Project. I saw just 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. I looked over to Rugmoor Point and although the level has exposed a good marginal area for birds to feed, I didn't see any migrants feeding there.

Monday 17th July [Mainly warm & sunny]

Another day when I should have got out early, but didn't get to the lake until the evening! Anyway, I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Top End. There is now an exposed point at Rugmoor as the water level continues to drop.

Tuesday 18th July [Thundery]

Sorry for posting this late, I forgot to press the upload button! There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm. Most exciting for me was the singing European Greenfinch Chloris chloris at the Lodge car park. Greenfinches have been a difficult species to catch up with at the lake for a few years, with the best spot usually being around Cheddar Water/the Inspection House.

Wednesday 19th July [Thundery]

After last nights thunder storms, I had a look around between mid and late morning but didn't find any new birds. I saw 4 or 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Wookey Point. I also saw a Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus carrying prey over the dam. The water level has dropped fast to about 72% by my reckoning (some 6% in 9 days).

John Horsey was fishing at the lake today and told me he'd seen an Osprey over Chew a couple of weeks ago, presumably a wandering immature looking for its own territory.

I was dismayed to find a dead Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus in the garden this morning. It had probably been caught by one of the neighbourhood cats.

Friday 21st July [Overcast and miserable]

Just 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos this evening.

Saturday 22nd July [Changeable]

It was a bit of a mixed day weatherwise and I didn't go birding until early evening before we were due to do some bat trapping. I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Rugmoor Bay, a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo over Ash Tree, 1 of 2 Eurasian Stonechats Saxicola torquata found by Mark Hynam, and a family of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis (4 juveniles) and Common Coots Fulica atra (1+ juvenile) in Long Bay. Mark also saw 2 juvenile Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropus in Long Bay.

We ran a bat trapping session centred at Ash Tree later to try and catch a Nathusius Pipistrelle to radio tag (see Bat News).

Sunday 23rd July [Changeable with heavy showers]

An adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was a welcome addition to my site year list today. Steve Hale sent me a lovely shot of it - thanks Steve.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus, Green Lawn © Steve Hale, 2017

There was an additional juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn bringing the total to 3, where a juvenile Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos kept them company. I also saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, another Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus on a day when the weather appears to have brought some new birds in. We will be carrying out the WeBS count tomorrow morning.

Monday 24th July [Mainly sunny and warm]

The WeBS team carried out the monthly count this morning and saw a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Peak counts were 926 Common Coots Fulica atra and 393 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula (see WeBS Page for full count). I saw a new Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus brood (2 juveniles), a Common Coot brood (1 juvenile), a 3rd brood of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus (1 juvenile), and an adult Mute Swan Cygnus olor with a yellow darvic ring 'CTN' that I don't think I've recorded at the lake previously. Insects noted included a ♀ Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens and a few ♂ Black-tailed Skimmers Orthetrum cancellatum.

Tuesday 25th July [Warm and sunny]

I spent nearly 2 hrs at the lake during the late afternoon looking for waterbirds, but the only bird of note to report was the regular Little Egret Egretta garzetta. I wonder how long it'll be before its joined by its bigger cousins? After that I went to meet friends to catch bats near Chepstow, where they had recorded some pipistrelles echolocating at around 39 kHz, so potentially Nathusius'. We caught 5 species including Soprano and Common Pipistrelles but no Nathusius' last night.

Wednesday 26th July [Windy with showers]

I saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay and some Sand Martins Riparia riparia at Top End, and Mark Hynam spotted a Eurasian Stonechat Saxicola torquata at Long Bay.

We videoed (with IR lights) a Lesser Horseshoe emergence at Chew Valley Lake at dusk which I'll review later, but there were many more than before they gave birth, so it would seem to have been a good breeding season.

Thursday 27th July [Sunshine & showers]

I was over in the Chew Valley for much of the day, but did have a brief look at Blagdon Lake on the way back. I saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Hellfire Corner and that was about it. Later, I was shown two pictures of a cinnamon-coloured raptor that was photographed at the lake, and later still I recieved a short video of it. It is certainly curious and has got a number of people excited that it might have been a harrier, but I don't necessarily share that opinion at the moment. I have sent the photos to Robin Prytherch for comment.

In the evening I was asked to join Adrian Woodhall to help him carry out a bat emergence survey in Brean, of all places. Needless to say, no bats emerged, although I was able to identify a juvenile that was found barely alive in the garden earlier in the week, and which subsequently died, as a Common Pipistrelle by its wing venation (with suitable caveats).

Friday 28th July [Mainly overcast]

Once again, I was working in the Chew Valley for much of the day, and only had a time for a brief visit to the lake. I met Steve Hale who told me he'd seen nothing of note. So me nothing + Steve nothing = nothing to report!

Steve sent me a picture of the larva of an Orange Footman Eilema sororcula that he found recently at the lake. I've checked my records and think this is the 2nd site record, the other being an adult caught in 2011 by Alan Bone and I when light trapping. Nice find Steve, and thanks for sharing.

Back to the mystery raptor. I believe the bird was a young Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, albeit a strange colour form that I've never seen previously. At least three correspondents agree with me, although I await a couple more contributions.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo © unknown photographer, 2017

Saturday 29th July [Mainly overcast with rain in the evening]

This evening I met Mark Hynam who was also having a look around. We saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Hellfire Corner, and I spotted a brood of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus with 2 juveniles, that I assume to be the same one I saw for the first time on the WeBS count with just a single juvenile.

Our bat trapping at Chew Valley Lake was postponed for the second successive evening.

Sunday 30th July [Showers]

A mixed day didn't bring any new birds in other than, perhaps, a few Sand Martins Riparia riparia. A single Little Egret Egretta garzetta flew along Indian Country bank and into Rugmoor Bay and a pair of Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus fed beside the hide within a few feet of my viewing position in the rain.

In the evening a small group of us gathered to do some bat trapping along Woodford Bank at Chew Valley Lake despite the unfavourable onshore breeze. We didn't do particularly well!

Monday 31st July [Mainly sunny]

My half-sister and I made a couple of visits to the lake today and saw 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. There also appears to be a pair of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus building a nest platform in the middle of Long Bay.

The highlight of the day was a Weasel Musela nivalis that ran up to the patio doors and scratched on them before going back to working its way along the garden wall. I went out, and it came back along the wall and ran almost right up to my feet before disappearing back into a hole in the wall. Extraordinary!