BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

June 2017 News


Thursday 1st June [Sunny & warm]

I enjoyed a lovely walk this evening, but the only bird news I have is of the increase in Canada Goose Branta canadensis numbers. I counted 177, but I believe up to 100 more arrived on the lake at dusk. Most of today was spent trying to finish the duck section of the Avon Bird Report. It seems to be never-ending this year!

Friday 2nd June [Warm with some rain late in the day]

Angler Jeff Hirst called me from the lake early this afternoon to say that a grounded Common Buzzard Buteo buteo was being mobbed by Carrion Crows Corvus corone at Rainbow Point until he and some anglers stepped in. When I got there I threw a towel over it, then examined it for any obvious injuries. It didn't appear to have any, although it was pretty soaked and clearly stressed. I decided to drive it down to Secret World where they could check it out and give it some time to dry off and preen without being hassled. I'll ring them tomorrow to find out how it's doing, because I'll bring it back to the lake for release when, and if, it has recovered.

I was about to go to the lake after tea when it started raining so I decided to continue writing instead. Mark Hynam was already at the lake when the rain started and heard the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing at Top End.

Saturday 3rd June [Mainly warm & dry]

I met Mark Hynam at Top End hide this evening and the only notable bird we have to report between us was the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam. We both went to video a Schwegler 1FW bat box emergence using IR lights at dusk. We were amazed at the result (see Bat News).

I rang Secret World earlier in the day for news of the Common Buzzard, but they had none for me!

Sunday 4th June [Sunshine & showers]

There's a familiar ring to the report, with the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, a ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus at the dam end, a second brood of Mute Swans Cygnus olor (3 juveniles, I think) at Pipe Bay, 2 pairs of Gadwall Anas strepera at the Lodge, and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata in Lodge Copse. There were no bats in the 1FF box I wanted to video this evening - some you win, and some you lose!

Monday 5th June [Cool with rain all day]

I was up at 0500 hrs to go to the BRI today. I was there until 1900 hrs so, sorry, I have no news from the lake today.

Tuesday 6th June [Gale force winds]

What a wild day! Sadly, one of my favourite Birch trees had come down at the entrance to Lodge Copse today. No doubt this was due to a large woodpecker hole that had been made in it. Mark Hynam and I had a good look at some developing cracks for bats last Saturday evening, and I had planned to have another look with an endoscope in the next few days. It was one we used quite often for harp trapping beside.

iPhone pic of fallen Birch tree, Lodge Copse © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

I had a look around, but the only bird of note that I saw was the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, but can update news of the second brood of Mute Swans Cygnus olor which I saw by the Lodge this evening - there are 5 juveniles, not 3, as I suggested on Sunday. There are four very nice Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera at Burmah Road, viewable from the road, in the same area I saw some last year.

Wednesday 7th June [Sunny & breezy by day, then miserable drizzle set in during the evening.]

This evening there were probably several thousand Common Swifts Apus apus over the lake in the rain, and I saw 2 Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna fly through in a westerly direction. As usual I saw the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca, by the Spillway tonight, and heard the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing at Indian Country.

I rang Secret World this morning for an update on the grounded Common Buzzard Buteo buteo that I took in last Friday. After eight calls I'm still none the wiser as to what is supposed to be wrong with it, other than "it's not ready for release yet". I explained that as it is probably a sub-adult or adult (dark iris from memory) I wanted to get it back to site as soon as possible in case it has dependent young. However, the young lady on the phone just said "we're extremely busy at the moment, we'll call you when it's ready for release". I'm less than happy with the condescending attitude to put it mildly. I'm sure they do great work with animal care, but they really need to get their systems for tracking cases taken in sorted out (they have no paperwork or computer information they could share five days on) and they need to give feedback, rather than veiling everything in a cloud of secrecy. I have emailed them for an explanation.

Thursday 8th June [Sunshine & showers]

This evenings walk was a little more interesting than of late in that I saw a Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, and heard the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus still singing, on and off, at Top End. I also heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing at Top End, and saw a pair each of Common Pochard Anas ferina and Gadwall Anas strepera at Holt Bay. I can also correct my earlier count of the first brood of Mute Swans Cygnus olor at Burmah Road - there are 5 juveniles.

Friday 9th June [Mainly sunny]

I'm just back from 45 minutes or so by the lake late in the afternoon, and there's very little to report. I saw a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo over Bell's Bush. That's it!

Saturday 10th June [Breezy with some sunny spells]

I didn't visit the lake but Mark Hynam reported seeing a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo from Top End hide in the evening.

I released the bat I collected from Golden Valley Vets in Chew Magna and took to our carer, back where it was found in Compton Martin this evening. It flew off strongly.

Sunday 11th June [Breezy with some sunny spells]

The Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca was on the dam this evening. Mark Hynam reported seeing some young Common Coots Fulica atra at Holt Bay - the first report of the year. Tomorrow the team is carrying out the monthly WeBS count during the morning. It shouldn't take long! There may actually be more counters than waterfowl...

Monday 12th June [Sunny and breezy]

Roy, Phil, Terry, Rob and I carried out the WeBS count this morning. We found a Northen Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm, and saw a Sand Martin Riparia riparia in front of the Lodge, the first of the returning migrants. Biggest counts were 323 Canada Geese Branta canadensis (inc. of the single brood of 5 juvs), and 322 Common Coots Fulica atra (inc. 5 broods of 10 juvs.). Amazingly, there were more Mute Swans Cygnus olor (37, inc. 2 broods of 5 ea.) than Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula (34) at the lake! Count details on the WeBS Page. Oh, and we found the usual predated Common Coot eggs in several places, but a smaller egg on the lawn in front of the Lodge left us puzzled. It didn't appear to have been predated, and was probably dumped after a chick had hatched. I've since discovered it was a Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus egg. Additional birds at the lake today included Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata and the ♂ Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus still singing.

I checked a dozen Kent Bat Boxes during the WeBS survey and saw 3 single bats, presumably ♂ Soprano Pipistrelles.

I also heard from Secret World this evening - the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo is ready for collection and release back at the lake. I hope to organise that for tomorrow evening, when I get back from Chudleigh Knighton Heath in Devon.

Tuesday 13th June [Sunny and warm]

At last the strong winds have dropped and the day was all the better for it. I spent my day at the Devon Wildlife Trust Chudleigh Knighton Heath Nature Reserve with Robin Williams photographing insects. Of particular interest at the site is the Narrow-headed Ant Formica exsecta which I saw before we left. I also photographed a potter wasp, that I've yet to identify, collecting mud from one of the paths.

I had hoped to release the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo that I took to Secret World, but due to car problems in Devon, I missed the opportunity, so will do it tomorrow. In the evening Warwick White and I did a local maternity roost count of Lesser Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophus hipposideros, which numbered 201 animals.

Wednesday 14th June [Sunny and hot]

There is no let up, and I did my late ST5159 BBS count at 0530 hrs beside the lake, that had been delayed by the recent bad weather. I saw a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at the dam, and 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca flew over calling. There was also either one, or two, ♂ Common Cuckoos Cuculus canorus singing. On the way back to the car I saw what might have been an Osprey flying away to the west behind the dam, but I couldn't be really sure about its identity.

Thursday 15th June [Wind got up in the afternoon. Sunny spells.]

Ken Anstey and I went down to the lake to put up another 1FW hibernation bat box this afternoon. I saw the regular Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam. Nothing else to report I'm afraid.

There was a small egret sp. (probably Little) in the Pumping Station Grounds this evening when I went to video a bat roost emergence. The box, which contained at least 245 Soprano Pipistrelles on the 3rd June, ONLY had 88 exit this evening in the windy conditions.

Friday 16th June [Sunny spells with a rising breeze again]

I did another BBS late visit, ST5060, this morning and saw the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam. Unless I receive news from anyone visiting the lake in the next week, I won't have any updates I'm afraid. I'm taking a well-earned rest!

Saturday 17th June [Sunny and hot]

No news today.

Sunday 18th June [Very hot and sunny]

Sean Davies sent me a text to say he'd seen a Red Kite Milvus milvus today over the dam at 1000 hrs. Thanks Sean.

Tuesday 20th June [The heatwave continues]

I've no news to share since the Red Kite on Sunday.

Saturday 24th June [Mainly cloudy with a cool wind this evening]

Ce and I are back from a lovely week on the Isle of Man, so I visited the lake this evening. I saw my first brood (1 juvenile) of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus at Flower Corner, and 8 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm. Mark Hynam picked out a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo at Long Bay, and there were 4 Common Pochards Aythya ferina in Holt Bay, but there wasn't much else to report. It's very quiet still!

I wasn't specifically birding or batting on the Isle of Man, but I saw Black Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters, Hooded Crows, Peregrine Falcons and Grey Seals during our travels. We enjoyed a whizz around the TT course on the back of a trike with IOM Trike Tours, during which we touched 80 mph where the racing bikes would be going about three times faster, saw the mens time trial at the British Cycling Championships, and spent lots of time travelling around on the Manx Electric, Snaefell Mountain, and Isle of Man Steam Railways on a real nostalgia trip.

Sunday 25th June [Windy, with some drizzle and sunny spells.]

I didn't get to the lake in time for a good look around this evening unfortunately. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, I promise.

Monday 26th June [Mainly sunny early, but cloudier later, though warm and still.]

I met Mark Hynam this evening and he reported seeing 4 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus in Holt Copse before we met, and we also saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn and Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Rainbow Point.. There appears to have been a small influx of Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula too.

I spent most of the day on SWT Lot's Grassland Reserve on the Mendips photographing invertebrates, and was really pleased to see there is still quite a healthy population of Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens there.

In the evening Mark Hynam joined me to video and record the emergence of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus from one of the hibernation boxes, which I assume they're using as a maternity roost. However, the reason for videoing/recording is to try and prove it. There was lots of coming and going and I hope I've got some lovely footage, but I will have to wait until tomorrow to review it and try to count how many came out during our visit.

Tuesday 27th June [Overcast, with light rain after tea.]

We have 2 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus pairs with broods, one with a single quite large juvenile at Holt Bay, and the other with 2 small juveniles at Flower Corner. A Little Egret Egretta garzetta flew through to the west over Rugmoor Point late evening. I also saw 2 unidentified dragonflies this evening as well; my first at the lake this year.

The bat video and recording carried out last night saw a further reduction in the number of bats exiting the 1FW box - see Bat News.

Robin Williams, John Mason and I spent some time photographing insects on Marsh Thistles Cirsium palustre yesterday, among which were large numbers of the very striking ichneumonid wasp Amblyteles armatorius. While looking through my photos, I came across a very useful beginner's guide (pdf) to this fascinating group of insects online that I've added to the Links Page - Beginner's guide to identifying British ichneumonids. It's well worth a look, especially for the moth trappers among you.

Wednesday 28th June [Drizzle early, drier later.]

This evening a Little Egret Egretta garzetta was feeding at Rugmoor Bay, and I counted 302 moulting Canada Geese Branta canadensis on the lake. I was planning to go looking for insects today, but the weather put paid to that. Perhaps tomorrow?

At dusk I carried out a roost emergence count at Chew Valley Lake with bat co-workers - see Bat News.

Thursday 29th June [Overcast, with rain getting steadily heavier in the evening.]

The only birds of note this evening, in the steady rain, were a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a juvenile Green Woodpecker Picus viridis and an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus on the dam, and the returning Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Green Lawn. The most interesting sighting for me was finding a few pink-flowering examples of Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis at Top End. It seems to be flowering early this year anyway, but it was an absolute delight to find this colour form, which I don't think I've seen before at Blagdon.

Friday 30th June [Sunny spells this morning]

Mike O'Connor sent me a text saying there are 2 or 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam this morning.

I spent 2-3 hours around lunchtime at the lake and saw 2 Common Sandpipers on the dam, along with 8+ Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea and 5 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. I also saw at least 20 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus in the trees at the Lodge car park. Then, I spent most of my time photographing insects, a few of which I will put up later on the blog, but now I have to go out to help count a local Lesser Horseshoe roost with Warwick White. Later: We counted 210 bats out of the roost last time, 13th June, but just 160 tonight.

Of particular interest today though, was that I was told about a bat roost lakeside that I'll get out to video tomorrow evening. If it's a largish Soprano Pipistrelle roost, it's just possible that there may be Nathusius' Pipistrelles breeding there too, right under our noses! How ironic would that be?

Hoverflies Ferdinandea cuprea and Meliscaeva cinctella © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Hoverflies Cheilosia illustrata and Syritta pipens © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Hoverfly Xanthogramma pedissequum and Soldierfly Oplodontha viridula © Nigel Milbourne, 2017