May 2009 News


Friday 1st May

Quite a few hirundines including some Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the lake. I decided to have another look for Adder's-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum plants on Green Lawn today and found at least a dozen.

Saturday 2nd May

A Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus flew over the dam, a female Mallard Anas platyrhynchus kept a watchful eye on 7 ducklings (4th brood 2009) in Butcombe Bay, a pair of Eurasian Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus displayed over the North Shore car park and there were 3 Mute Swan Cygnus olor nests at Butcombe Bay, Top End and in front of Top End hide. There were a pair of Common Kingfishers Alcedo atthis at Top End, 4 Common Pochard Aythya ferina (3 drakes and a duck) at Burmah Road, and at least 60 Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus at the lake. I checked the original site that I found Adder's-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum at on the north side of Top End a few years ago and found it to be more widespread than I'd noted previously. Perhaps the poor growing conditions for grass have been such that the fern is more noticeable this year, or, on the other hand perhaps it really is more widespread this spring.

I noted all the above on my annual May Spring Migrant Walk around the lake when I counted the following:

8 Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus, 6 Sedge Warblers Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, 19 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, 7 Garden Warblers Sylvia borin, 16 Common Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, no Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus and 6 Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus.

Sunday 3rd May

A single Little Egret Egretta garzetta (per Sue Caola).

Monday 4th May

There was a Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis singing on a territory in Park Lane for the 3rd consecutive year this morning but amazingly I haven't seen a Whitethroat at the lake, a few hundred metres away, for many years. There were thousands of Common Swifts Apus apus and hirundines, mainly Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, at the lake today and I counted 4 Gadwall Anas strepera (3 drakes and a duck) possibly hanging about in order to make a breeding attempt. There were some more Adder's-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum plants at a new site along the waterside strip on the east side of Long Bay together with a single spike of Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa.

Tuesday 5th May

A single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at Cheddar Water, with it or another on Rainbow Point in the evening. The first brood of Common Coot Fulica atra (2 juveniles) appeared in Home Bay today and 4 drake Gadwall Anas strepera and a single drake Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata were along Burmah Road. A female Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus was still visiting our garden feeder in Blagdon.

Saturday 9th May

Singles of Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus and Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea (per Sean Davies).

Sunday 17th May

A Little Egret Egretta garzetta and a 2nd-summer Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (per Sean Davies).

Sunday 24th May

A reeling Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia and an Otter Lutra lutra were at Top End and 2 Red Fox Vulpes vulpes cubs were at Home Bay. Wildfowl included a pair of Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis in Pipe Bay, a pair of Common Pochard Aythya ferina in Home Bay and 14 Canada Geese Branta canadensis.

Monday 25th May

The Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia was still reeling at Top End today and a welcome visitor in the form of a juvenile Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus flew in to Top End and was visible from 1355 - 1410 hrs when it either flew East or landed in marginal vegetation. The pair of Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis were in Home Bay today (where the species has bred previously) and a single male was in Long Bay. Positive breeding information included a pair of Canada Geese Branta canadensis in front of the Lodge today with 5 juveniles (1st brood 2009) which was a real surprise as I hadn't seen the nest, although I had noted the pair acting furtively at various points around the lake earlier in the year. I also saw cygnets under mum Mute Swan Cygnus olor in Butcombe Bay (1st brood 2009). A female Mallard Anas platyrhynchos was in Butcombe Bay with 4 juveniles (5th brood 2009).

Other species noted included 33 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus, a singing Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus at Orchard Bay, and the returning Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. There was also a noticeable passage of Painted Lady Vanessa cardui butterflies heading westward.

Sean Davies reported 20 Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus over today.

Tuesday 26th May

A Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata pair was off the north end of the dam and a male Gadwall Anas strepera was in Home Bay, perhaps looking for somewhere to breed? Unusually there was a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus at Peg's Point on the North shore.

Wednesday 27th May

Two drake Common Pochard Aythya ferina were noted at Long Bay and Burmah Road, a singing Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus was heard at Holt Bay, and the Canada Geese Branta canadensis count had gone up to 58 in addition to the family of seven.

Away from the lake there was an adult Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus feeding two juveniles at Moat Farm, Compton Martin.

Thursday 28th May

38 Canada Geese Branta canadensis plus the family of seven, 4 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis (2 drakes & 2 ducks) at Home Bay and 2+ recently fledged Rooks Corvus frugilegus at Hellfire Corner, the adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and the reeling Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia was at Top End. There was a female Tawny Owl Strix aluco calling at Holt Copse.

At Somerdale, Keynsham there was a mass migration of Painted Lady's Vanessa cardui flying towards the west to north-west this afternoon.

Friday 29th May

There was a dead Grass Snake Natrix natrix on the road in Park Lane by the entrance to the Lodge approx 12" in length. Breeding success noted today included: a pair of Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea with 1+ juveniles on the dam, 3 pairs of Common Coot Fulica atra with 3,3 and 2 juveniles each in Pipe Bay, a group of fledged Blue Tits Parus caeruleus at Holt Bay and a Great Tit Parus major at Top End. There were 53 Canada Geese Branta canadensis plus the family of seven and House Sparrows Passer domesticus in the hedges alongside Holt Bay (presumed collecting flies to feed young at Holt Farm). On the invertebrate front I was amazed when a Cramp-ball Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus (an Nb species) fell on my shoulder between the entrance and Long Bay. I also recorded the migrant Silver Y Autographa gamma moth, Painted Lady Vanessa cardui, Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, Large White Pieris brassicae, Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria, Green-veined White Pieris napi and Peacock Inachis io.

Saturday 30th May

A Mallard Anas platyrhynchos duck with 3 juveniles (6th brood 2009) was in Home Bay, as was a Badger Meles meles. There were 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis today. In Holt Copse there was a Tawny Owl Strix aluco and a probable Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata (the Spoffle was confirmed later by Sean Davies).

Sunday 31st May

Today I carried out a search for the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Hemaris tityus and remarkably I actually found one (see the rather poor picture below). This is the first local record for many years and suggests that the moth may still actually be breeding at the lake as the last record also occurred here (though they probably still breed on the Mendips). The Burnet Companion Euclidia glyphica was also on the wing at Top End.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk © Nigel Milbourne 2009

There were 84 Canada Geese Branta canadensis plus the family of seven, a Common Coot Fulica atra pair plus an incredible 7 young in Long Bay, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis on the North Shore and 7 Common Pochard Aythya ferina (6 drakes and a duck) at Top End.

Sean Davies saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and heard a reeling Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia and a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti at Top End.

Later in the day I saw 4 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus flying west as well as an Otter Lutra lutra in the feeder stream at Top End.