BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

June 2016 News


Wednesday 1st June [Overcast with some showers]

This evening's visit turned up 5 ♂ Common Pochards Aythya ferina in front of the Lodge, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, 2 Eurasian Hobbies Falco subbuteo (Green Lawn and Top End) and a singing ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus at Top End.

Thursday 2nd June [Sunny]

Having spent much of the day checking the last bat box scheme (YACWAG) of spring with Ken Anstey, I went down to the lake for a look around after tea. I saw the first Mute Swan Cygnus olor brood of the year (6 juvs.) probably from the nest on The Island. At Holt Bay I saw a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo fly off across the lake to a copse on the North side, and I watched a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata again at Hellfire Corner. Then a friend rang me to say he was on his way over, so I had to leave. I was told a ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was heard singing again at Top End.

Friday 3rd June [Warm and sunny]

Another evening visit, and a bonus fly through to the east by a calling Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata as the sun went down. There was a second brood (4 juvs.) of Mute Swan Cygnus olor at Flower Corner, the pair of Gadwall Anas strepara were still hanging around the feeder stream at Long Bay, 7 (6♂ and a ♀) Common Pochards Aythya ferina were off the Lodge, and I heard 2 ♂ Common Cuckoos Cuculus canorus at Top End. There are signs of breeding success among the woodland birds with an adult and juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major feeding on the ground around the Lodge car park, Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs feeding young at Lodge Copse, a family of Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus at Bell's Bush Barrier, and a couple of ♂ Goldcrests Regulus regulus singing at Lodge Copse and Long Bay pines. I was also pleased to see 3 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus on Holt Farm, and the 3 Red Fox Vulpes vulpes cubs that I saw the other day, once again.

Saturday 4th June [Overcast and increasingly muggy]

I paid a brief visit early this evening on the way to Chew Valley Lake to do some bat trapping (see Bat News). The only bird of note that I saw, or in this case heard, was a ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus at Top End.

Sunday 5th June [Early mist burned off to a sunny day]

I had a look around in the early evening and the biggest surprise was finding 2 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, one a breeding adult ♂ and the other probably a ♀, but I couldn't be sure given the distance and angle of viewing. We will be doing the WeBS count in the morning so, perhaps, we'll get another look at them. The ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was still singing at Top End and 3 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus flew through to the west.

Monday 6th June [Sunny and warm]

The team carried out the WeBS count this morning and to be honest there were very small counts of most species, with the exception of Mute Swans Cygnus olor, of which there were 38 (including the two broods of 5 and 3). Canada Goose Branta canadensis numbers continue to build but I need a re-check of the count before publishing it. There were no unusual birds save for the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, however, while we were looking at some of the plants I found two examples of Celery-leaved Buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus at Top End which are new for the site plant list, and possibly the first site record.

Tuesday 7th June [Sunny and warm]

I was at the lake at 0530 hrs this morning to carry out one of my BBS squares (ST5060). Nothing unusual showed up during the survey apart from a couple more Common Coot Fulica atra broods to add to the lake total for the year, and when I had a look around the lake afterwards the only bird of note once again was the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus (one, or two, birds heard). It's like a scratched record at the moment (if you can remember them)!

Wednesday 8th June [Sunny and warm]

I had a look around this evening, but just for once I have nothing to report - apart from the cyclists!

Thursday 9th June [Overcast then sunny. Warm.]

I was in Devon most of the day with our invertebrate group along the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton. This evening, the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus sang occasionally at Top End, and there may have been a third brood (of four juvenile) Mute Swans Cygnus olor in front of the Lodge. It's possible Bristol Water have started to pump water from the lake as the level has dropped a few inches.

Friday 10th June [Overcast then rain showers]

Another day that was turned upside down by bats I'm afraid. We were due to do some bat trapping at Chew Valley Lake this evening, but the weather forecast put paid to that. So, I planned my Blagdon birding visit for this evening instead. Then at tea time I took an emergency call-out to pick up a bat in Bishop Sutton, brought in by a cat, that promptly gave birth! So, sorry, but no bird news today. The Chew Valley trapping session postponed until Sunday has now been cancelled thanks to the start of the bat birthing season.

I shall be on site early tomorrow morning to carry out my BBS survey of ST5159 beside the lake. I hope to find time to update the blog afterwards. Then I'm off to Barnstaple to North Devon Bat Care with our remaining bat, the Whiskered, to get him some more flight practice before his release back in Claverham (I hope) in a few days time.

Saturday 11th June [Still and overcast]

The lake was like a mirror this morning with just a few rising trout and waterfowl making ripples. I heard what I reckon were fledged juvenile Common Buzzards Buteo buteo at Top End. I also saw two summer-plumaged Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, that I presume must be either failed or non-breeders. I have to report that you can barely see any water from the Top End hide now. It makes birding more difficult at this time of year. I'll try and give you a sense of the view in the next day or two.

Sunday 12th June [Showers]

There was nothing much to report this evening, just the pair of Gadwall Anas strepara in Long Bay. I haven't had the spare time to look at the invertebrates this year, though I hope to at some point soon before the hay meadows are cut.

Monday 13th June

I didn't have time to visit the lake today.

Tuesday 14th June [Mainly overcast]

Mike Gillett went to the lake this afternoon and told me he heard a Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, saw a family of Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea (2 juveniles), and got this picture of an adult Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major feeding one of its young by the Lodge:

Great Spotted Woodpeckers © Mike Gillett, 2016

Wednesday 15th June [Showers this afternoon]

This evening I saw three Mute Swan Cygnus olor broods again, with 5 (Overspill), 4 (Lodge) and 3 (Bell's Bush) cygnets. There didn't appear to be any new waterfowl broods that I could see. John Thorogood emailed to say he'd seen a Common Redshank Tringa totanus on the dam around midday (the first of the year to my knowledge).

Thursday 16th June

I didn't visit the lake today so don't have any news I'm afraid.

Friday 17th June [Fairly warm and mainly dry]

This evening I heard 2 ♂ Common Cuckoos Cuculus canorus singing, one of which was especially mobile, being seen flying several times between Burmah Road along the south shore to Home Bay Point. The other bird sounded like it was at Top End/Indian Country. There were 2 Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata reported by Steve Hale this afternoon, on Holt Farm fields. I didn't see them when I was able to go for a look some time later, unfortunately. It's a really nice record, and begs the question as to whether they're local breeders.

Saturday 18th June [Warm]

I didn't visit the lake today and have no news to report.

Sunday 19th June [Dry morning then rain set in]

I spent the morning and early afternoon with Chris Barrington putting up new bat boxes in a private woodland at Tickenham, that will be host of this years Avon Bat Group 'Big Bat Bonanza' in August. So, I didn't get down to the lake until steady rain had set in. There were quite a few Common Swifts Apus apus and House Martins Delichon urbicum feeding low over the water but precious little else to share with you. The Mallards Anas platyrhynchos are looking very tatty now, as they undergo their moult, and many waterfowl are starting to haul out of the water and rest, especially on the dam, at this difficult time of the year.

Monday 20th June [Rain all morning, clearing to sunshine later.]

There was a new brood of Common Coots Fulica atra (3 juveniles) in Long Bay, but that was about the limit of the bird news. I found a couple of Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera spikes at a new spot lakeside and saw some Pyramidal Orchids Anacamptis pyramidalis at Green Lawn. There was also a Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina on the wing in the evening sunshine.

Tuesday 21st June [Mainly dry and warm]

I paid an evening visit but the only bird news was that I heard a lot of kerfuffle from the marginal vegetation at Burmah Road involving Water Rails Rallus aquaticus, which given where they were, could be regarded as birds in breeding habitat. I photographed the Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera I found yesterday (5 spikes today) and took a few other macro shots including some of the larva of the micro-moth, Dingy Flat-body Depressaria daucella, and what appears to be a gall on Lime Tilia sp. petioles that I think were caused by the midge Contarinia tiliarum.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera and larva of Depressaria daucella, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

♂ Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Lime petiole gall, Holt Copse, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Wednesday 22nd June

No news from the lake today, I'm in Northumberland again. I had a walk along the River Wansbeck in Carlisle Park, Morpeth at dusk, and watched the Swifts and a single Noctule catching insects high over the water.

Thursday 23 June

Again, no news as I'm still in Morpeth.

Friday 24th June

No news today, although I'm back from Northumberland. There was a ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus reported to be still present.

Saturday 25th June (Sunny morning, clouding over at midday.)

Sean Davies saw a small flock of 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos fly past Rainbow Point and 2 Common Redhsanks Tringa totanus on the dam this morning. The water level is down about a foot, but there's no real margins for the returning waders to feed on yet, so the dam is the best place to look for them for the time being.

Sunday 26th June [Sunshine turning to rain]

I carried out a late BTO BBS survey in ST5159 this morning at 0530 hrs and saw a ♀ Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 6 new ducklings in Holt Bay.

Monday 27th June [Dry and warm]

There wasn't much to report today. There is a slow build-up of, mainly drake, Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and I saw a distant group of circa 20 Common Pochards Aythya ferina at Top End too.

Tuesday 28th June [Dry, then rain.]

A walk in the afternoon rain was remarkable for the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus still singing at Top End, a late date for a species that often leaves our shores again as early as May. There was a family of Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata in Lodge Copse, 21 Common Pochards Aythya ferina were grouped at Top End, a new brood of 2+ juvenile Common Coots Fulica atra were noted in Holt Bay, and I saw an egret sp. very briefly in flight, which may, or may not, have been a Great White. I looked for it, but couldn't find it again unfortunately. Despite the showers I also saw a Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus in flight at Home Bay.

Wednesday 29th June [Showers]

I had a look around this morning and saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall, then checked the Dormouse boxes, eight of which we put up last year in an area of Hazel coppice. Five of the ten boxes had old bird nests in them (one with 3 cold eggs which I left in situ), but there was no sign of any use by mammals in any of them. We are going to put up some tubes as well, to try and find out if there is a resident population at the lakeside.

Thursday 30th June [Showers]

I got back from Northumberland late afternoon with my computer working again thanks to my kid brother! Apologies to everyone for the lack of news caused by the malfunction, normal service is now resumed! My evening visit to the lake saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos still on the dam wall, and 2 adult Common Terns Sterna hirundo roaming widely over the lake.

The lake is being pumped down to Barrow via North Hill and the 'Line of Works' currently, which is causing it to drop quite quickly, although this may slow when the water is pumped to Banwell Treatment Works instead. So, it's going to be a nervous wait to see if the level drops sufficiently to attract late summer / autumn migrants in the coming months. I reckon its probably about 90% full at present.