June 2009 News


Monday 1st June

A Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis was with the Canada Geese Branta candaensis.

I saw a Hornet Vespa crabro along the Butcombe shore footpath and later apparently going in under the roof tiles of Jessamine Cottage in Nempnett Thrubwell. As I walked between Nempnett and Breach I saw at least 3 Spindle Euonymus europaeus trees that had larval webs in them and most of the leaves stripped from the twigs. This was the work of the Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella moth larvae, something I've never seen before.

Tuesday 2nd June

No visit to the lake today, but during a walk from Churchill back to Blagdon across the hills I saw a Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus and a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui on Dolebury Warren AWT reserve, a male Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus and Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis singing near Mendip Lodge Wood, and male European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus heard singing on Burrington Ham and the east side of Beacon Batch on Black Down.

Wednesday 3rd June

2 male European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus watched displaying on Burrington Ham this evening.

Thursday 4th June

4 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus were visible on Holt Farm fields, where they are more or less captive due to the badger-proof fencing all around the farm boundary. A Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major was in the Long Bay pines, there were 132 Canada Geese Branta canadensis noted, a Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna flew west and a returning migrant Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus was on Rainbow Point. The Mute Swan Cygnus olor pair that nested in Butcombe Bay appear to be the only successful breeders this year with 2 juveniles. A juvenile Tawny Owl Strix aluco was heard food begging along the Butcombe Shore and others were heard from the Pumping Station grounds behind the dam.

Following on from the observations of Monday, I noted Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella larval webs at several points along the North Shore hedges.

Friday 5th June

No visit to the lake today, instead I walked from Blagdon to Stock Hill. Among my observations were a singing Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and larval webs of Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella at the south end of Ubley Drove, a Stoat Mustela erminea at Yoxter (ST5154), a male European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus churring on the western boundary fence of Priddy Mineries and 4 on the ridge in Stock Hill Plantation (3 males & a female).

Saturday 6th June

The Canada Goose Branta canadensis family has been reduced by one as there were only four juveniles with mum and dad at the Lodge today. There were 113 other Canada Geese at the lake with 5 feral Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis and a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was going about its business along the Butcombe Shore.

Sunday 7th June

A quick visit to the lake in the morning before I walked from home to Uphill along the West Mendip Way in the afternoon.

The drake 'scaup-a-like' hybrid Aythya duck, as Richard Mielcarek had christened it, was in Long Bay, a migrant Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia was poking around on Rugmoor Point and new brood of 3 juvenile Mallards Anas platyrhynchos were with mum at Ash Trees. Sean Davies reported hearing a Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia reeling on Rugmoor Bank, perhaps the same bird heard on the south side of Top End earlier.

Monday 8th June

A Red Letter Day with a first for the lake, when Roy Curber found an adult CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis sitting in a tree at 1610 hrs along the Burmah Road shoreline. He very kindly drove up to my house and Celia called me at work. I high-tailed it to the lake and met Roy, but despite searching for an hour we could not relocate the bird. I went home, rather disconsolently for my evening meal and then back to the lake for another look. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when as I was looking through a herd of cattle on the farm at Long Bay it flew in over my head and landed among the grazing cows at 2005 hrs. However, I couldn't see it on the ground and as I moved to try and get a better view, it flew up and over the farm buildings and out of sight. As I got further along the south side road to Hellfire Corner I spotted the bird again, sitting among the flooded branches of the Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo roost preening itself. I rang around the local birders and several made it to the lake before it flew into the willows and out of sight, presumably to roost. The drake scaup-a-like Aythya hybrid was in Home Bay this evening.

Tuesday 9th June

A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major was in Lodge Copse, the drake scaup-a-like Aythya hybrid was at Green Lawn, the Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock numbered 128 and the family of 6 was still intact. There were 6 summer-plumaged Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus back from their breeding grounds and a Badger Meles meles shuffled across the road at Bell's Bush.

Wednesday 10th June

3 Badgers Meles meles up the Butcombe Bay feeder stream on a walk back along the River Yeo from Congresbury to Blagdon.

Thursday 11th June

Only 13 Canada Geese Branta canadensis were present aside from the locally bred family. Numbers usually build up in June as birds come north from Somerset, Devon and Dorset to check and see if conditions are suitable for them to moult in late June and July at the lake. It would appear on this occasion that Chew is preferred as has been the case for the last few years.

Saturday 13th June

WeBS Count Day; A traditionally quiet month and no unusual birds were seen on the count other than a Western Greylag Anser anser. However, a Grass Snake Natrix natrix was sunning itself on the concrete landing stage by the Lodge. Meadow Browns Maniola jurtina were seen at Long Bay and Bell's Bush, lots of Small Tortoiseshells Aglais urticae were on the wing, Large Skippers Ochlodes fauna were at Burmah Road and Bell's Bush, Six-spot Burnets Zygaena filipendulae were flying in the long grass at Bell's Bush and 2 male and an ovipositing female Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum were at the waters edge there.

Sunday 14th June

A busy day doing my ST55K BTO Atlas Survey early in the morning, a Somerset Invertebrates Group meeting at SWT Harridge Wood in the afternoon and a walk back from Churchill to Blagdon in the evening.

4 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries Boloria selene, 2 Chimney Sweepers Odezia atrata and 3 Painted Lady's Vanessa cardui were the pick of the bunch at Priddy Mineries, while 2 Downy Emeralds Cordulia aenea were flying at Waldegrave Pool.

A Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia was singing 500 metres west of Beacon Batch and single European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus were churring at Rowberrow Warren and on the north-east slope of Black Down.

Sean Davies reported 6 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis at the lake today.

Monday 15th June

Among birds noted were 21 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, including the family party, a single Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, drake scaup-a-like and a roost of circa 500 Western Jackdaws Corvus monedula in Home Bay Point rookery. Mammals included a Field Vole Microtus agrestis at Bell's Bush and more surprisingly an OTTER Lutra lutra that swam up the feeder stream under the road bridge that I was watching from and into Ubley Hatchery.

Tuesday 16th June

No visit to the lake, but a local walk during which I saw a Barn Owl Tyto alba hunting over Blackmoor Nature Reserve at Charterhouse and a churring European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus on the north-east slope of Black Down again.

Wednesday 17th June

Gadwall Anas strepera and Common Pochard Aythya ferina numbers are starting to increase. 6 Ruddy Ducks Oxyura jamaicensis and the adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis were the only birds worthy of note.

Thursday 18th June

The adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus were cruising purposefully around the lake margins looking for an opportunistic meal. The drake scaup-a-like Aythya hybrid was off the dam and a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes was seen at Burmah Road.

Saturday 20th June

A Common Redshank Tringa totanus was feeding in front of the Lodge and I saw the adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. Pyramidal Orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis were flowering in greater profusion than I've seen before on Green Lawn and I found 10 spikes at Holt Bay too. A male Reed Bunting Emeriza schoeniclus was carrying food, presumably, to a nest at Wood Bay.

Sunday 21st June

2 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus on the dam, the usual adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and a Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris in Long Bay pines, 28 Common Pochard Aythya ferina, the drake scaup-a-like Aythya hybrid in Holt Bay, 2 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, 10 Canada Geese Branta canadensis and a Great Tit Parus major family at Wood Bay. Also noted were Pyramidal Anacamptis pyramidalis and Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera at Bell's Bush.

In the evening, 2 male and a female European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus were seen at Stock Hill and another male was on Priddy Mineries.

Monday 22nd June

I counted 50 Common Pochard Aythya ferina at the lake.

Tuesday 23rd June

No visit to the lake as I led a walk to see Nightjars at Stock Hill for the Somerset Wildlife Trust Wells Group.

Wednesday 24th June

I walked the Two Rivers Way from Congresbury to Keynsham including a brief visit to Butcombe Bay.

Thursday 25th June

8 adults and a juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus and an adult Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus were noted along with 8 Canada Geese Branta canadensis (including 4 juveniles).

Sunday 28th June

4 adult and a juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus and 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus provided some symmetry with my previous visit. A family of 3 juvenile Mallards Anas platyrhynchos with mum were at the north end of the dam and a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis was up the Butcombe Bay feeder stream. There were lots of tiny Common Frogs Rana temporaria on paths by the lake. A juvenile Tawny Owl Strix aluco was food begging in Holt Copse and an adult was seen in flight at Rainbow Point.

A Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca was heard singing at Henmarsh Farm.

Tuesday 30th June

2 returning migrant Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos were on the north end of the dam, 5 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis were in Home Bay, 2 adult Common Redshanks Tringa totanus were on Rainbow Point, a juvenile Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo was at Wood Bay and 33+ Gadwall Anas strepera were at Burmah Road. A female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 5 juveniles was off Home Bay Point and the adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis was present.

2 Red Fox Vulpes vulpes cubs were seen at Home Bay and another 2 were seen at Long Bay.