BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

Daily News

A blog of sightings and up-to-date news from the lakeside

 

Tuesday 20th November [Cold]

There were 4 unsettled, and mobile, adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus at Top End this afternoon. Unsurprisingly, they flew off towards Chew Valley Lake at 1615 hrs. Steve Heaven at WWT Slimbridge emailed me this morning to say there were "over 40 Bewick’s at Slimbridge, that’s over 40 arrivals since last Saturday." There were about 160 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End too (difficult to count as tightly bunched in places).

Tonight, my good friend Daniel Hargreaves is giving one of his entertaining, and inspirational, talks to the Somerset Wildlife Trust Mendip Hills Group at Cheddar Catholic Church Hall, Tweentown, Cheddar, BS27 3HU, [off Upper North St beyond the church], at 1930 hrs. All are welcome.

Monday 19th November [Cold]

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mike Moxon emailed to say he'd seen a ♂ Goosander Mergus merganser at The Island. Cheers Mike.

Sunday 18th November [Sunny & cold after early mist]

This morning I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca, 6 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, plus a Dunlin Calidris alpina new in at Top End. There were a few Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis and Linnets Linaria cannabina also at Top End, and the number of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus grew while I was there, presumably as birds flew in off fields to bathe and rest.

Saturday 17th November [Sunny & cooler]

Not much to excite during my early afternoon visit. I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca of note.

Friday 16th November [Grey & misty]

I didn't visit the lake today and have no news. I went to Portland with Mark Hynam where we eventually caught up with the Pallid Swift Apus pallidus above Chesil Cove - I hope it gets accepted by the BBRC. Saw some Black Redstarts Phoenicurus ochruros there too.

Melanie Patch got back to me today as well (thanks Melanie) to say she was sure she saw 2 each of ♂ & ♀ Mandarin Ducks Aix galericulata at Blagdon on 27th October.

Thursday 15th November [Mainly cloudy and grey]

Steve Heaven got back to me from WWT Slimbridge and said Winkey and Winker weren't seen there yesterday or this morning.

This afternoon at the lake there were lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus still, plus 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. On the way back from Top End I spotted two egrets on Holt Farm with the cattle, and for a brief moment got quite excited, but it was 'only' the Little Egrets which had hopped over the hedge. There were good numbers of gulls in the roost, but nowt out of the ordinary.

Wednesday 14th November [Sunny & mild]

This afternoon there was no sign of Winkey and Winker at the lake, and it doesn't seem like they've gone over to Chew either. I'll contact WWT Slimbridge tomorrow to see if they've gone there. Hopefully, Steve Heaven will be able to spot them if they have. The rising water level will undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to leave Blagdon. I made it about 55% when I checked on Monday during the WeBS count, so it's up about 10%.

Today, I saw an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca fly east past the Lodge, saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and totted-up 390 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on my clicker. There didn't appear to be any wagtails, pipits or Linnets at Top End late afternoon, and I didn't spot anything exciting in the gull roost.

I see in this months BOC News that there was a sighting of 4 Mandarin Ducks Aix galericulata at Blagdon on 27th October (a day I was away). Melanie Patch spotted them, and they constitute the sixth site record (thanks to Nick at BOC for the info.). Four were seen at Chew Valley Lake today. I also noted that a 1st-winter Caspian Gull had been reported at Cheddar Reservoir on 14th October, while I was in Trinidad, and I'm wondering now if this was potentially the same bird I saw and reported at Blagdon on on the 24th. I didn't get all the conclusive field marks unfortunately, but I had little doubt about its identity - I just couldn't really prove it. I haven't seen it since, but it could still be around.

Tuesday 13th November [Sunny & mild]

I spent a couple of hours by the lake, mainly at Top End, this afternoon and was fortunate to see a Merlin Falco columbarius that had taken a passerine, fly past the hide and off over Flower Corner with it, all the while being mobbed by Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba. For the last few days the Linnets, Pied Wagtails, Lapwings and Teal have been regularly flushed, and those of us there when it happens have not been able to spot what was causing the disturbance. Now we know! I had been watching a ♀ Wigeon Mareca penelope intently for quite a while, before it too flushed onto the water (showing its grey axillaries - boo), and this was the clue for me to look up from my scope and see the falcon. There was just one Great White Egret Ardea alba, but certainly no fewer than the 500 or so Lapwings I counted yesterday, despite the intrusions of the Merlin.

Winkey and Winker, the Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus, had decided to stay at the lake for the first of the three WWT winter co-ordinated age assessments of Whoopers and Bewick’s across the country, which made my life immeasurably easier than having to go to 'the other place' to look for them... lol.

News from Paul Williams, this evening, of the ringed Peregrine seen at Top End last Friday as follows: this bird was ringed by Merseyside Ringers as a nestling, sex unknown, on 18th May 2016 near Northwich, Cheshire. Good work mate.

Monday 12th November [Mainly dry with a shower or two]

The WeBS team did the count this morning and totted up about 4000 birds without adding in the gull roost. Highlight of the count for me was spotting the Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta at Top End, albeit distantly from the hide. Other counts and birds of note included 1148 Coots Fulica atra, 975 Teal Anas crecca, 587 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, 498 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 325 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos, 2 Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. While looking for the Water Pipit it was very noticeable how many Linnets Linaria cannabina there were feeding in the weeds growing on the exposed lake bed. I wouldn't be surprised if there were over 100, but counting them would be a hugely difficult task without photos of the flocks on the wing. Full count details are on the WeBS Page.

Sunday 11th November [Dry & sunny]

I was out for most of the day, and got home after the sun went down behind the hill. Nevertheless, I went to the lake to see if I could find anything new, and was pleased to see 2 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus, presumably Winkey and Winker, back at Bell's Bush. There were 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End despite the rising water level. Andy Mears saw a Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta today. I'll be hoping to catch up with it tomorrow. Andy Davis thought he heard one a few days ago, but I haven't been able to find it in the meantime, not helped by the fact that I don't think I can hear their calls anymore.

Yesterday, I noticed that there was lots of debris in the form of branches etc. at the point where the feeder stream runs into the lake, so there must have been quite a lot of water coming in during the torrential rain we had on Friday night. I'll have a look at the level and check my ready reckoner when we do the WeBS count tomorrow.

Saturday 10th November [Wet]

There's lots of birds at the lake, but nothing to set the pulse racing! Not even a Great White Egret this afternoon. All I have to report today was the adult ♂ Pintail Anas acuta walking about in front of the Lodge with Wigeon Mareca penelope and Teal Anas crecca. Weird! There were lots of gulls there too. I counted about 240 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus but they were a bit mobile and scattered to make a more accurate call. The water level is rising slowly which is driving off dabbling ducks now. Hopefully, lots will stick around until Monday when we do the monthly WeBS count.

Friday 9th November [Dry until rain and wind set in as dusk fell]

I spent some time at the lake this afternoon in the company of Mark Hynam who came down the hill just behind me. He'd been to see the Crossbills at Stockhill Plantation. We had quite a careful look around but, to be honest, there wasn't anything exciting to see bird-wise. There were 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta prowling the lakeside margins, and at Top End we saw very little from the hide because a juvenile Peregrine Falco peregrinus was sitting out on the shore. It had an orange ring on the left leg with 2 alphanumeric symbols on it, but we just couldn't make them out in the gloom. There were hundreds of Teal Anas crecca at Burmah Road, and Mark spotted a small gull with a full hood that gave us a moment or two of excitement, but it was just another Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, albeit in summer plumage. The forecast is for a rough night, so perhaps tomorrow might bring something new.

Paul Williams also visited the lake and sent me the following news about the Peregrine "The Peregrine is ringed: orange 60. I have sent the sighting to Jez Blackburn at BTO. I’ll let you know any details." He also saw a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn.

Thursday 8th November [Mainly dry & mild]

I usually look forward to migration springing the odd surprise on us in early November, but it has been very quiet so far. Today, I found just a single Great White Egret Ardea alba, the adult ♂ Pintail Anas acuta, and no fewer than 420 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. There was no sign of the Bewick's Swans which, it transpires, have hopped it back over to Chew.

I have been absolutely staggered by the number of Pheasants Phasianus colchicus running around the lakeside over the last few weeks. I just don't understand how the shooting fraternity get away with releasing upwards of 30 million into the British countryside every year, and expect them to have no detrimental affect on our native species. It's scandalous!

Wednesday 7th November [Lots of rain overnight and through the day]

I didn't fancy it much this morning, but did have a look early afternoon and saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, the 2 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus, good numbers of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus (although I didn't count them), and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. As it was so wet, there were good numbers of ducks out on the margins, including the adult ♂ Pintail Anas acuta in front of the Lodge, where there was a large flock of 30+ Linnets Linaria cannabina, and I reckon there were no fewer than 200 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis scattered about, with the majority at Top End. I looked hard at the mipits, but lightning didn't strike twice... this time!

Tuesday 6th November [Some drizzle in the morning, then sunny this afternoon. Mild.]

I was out on the Cotswold edge today, on a circular walk from Coaley Peak to Uley village and back with friends. The autumn colours of the beech woods was stunning, as were some of the views. I have to say we had a lovely impromptu lunch in the Vestry Cafe at Prema Arts Centre in Uley - it is highly recommended if you're passing. The spicy red lentil and butternut squash soup with granary bread was excellent!

When I got home, I had time for a quick look at the lake before dark, and saw the 2 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus and counted 177 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Bell's Bush. There were still 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba present, and the adult ♂ Pintail Anas acuta was back on Home Bay Point as well.

Monday 5th November [Sunny & mild]

I spent much of the afternoon at the lake and went back to have a look at the gull roost too. I was walking towards Top End when Mark Hynam texted me that there was an interesting wader there. When I arrived, I was very pleased to see a Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria among 405 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus - another site year tick. Golden Plover is a difficult species to see each year now. We also saw 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 2 Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus at Bell's Bush (Winkey and Winker), a ♀ Stonechat Saxicola torquata at Holt Bay and a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing in Pipe Bay reeds.

I met Mike and Jacky before we left and they told me they'd seen a Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa along the south side of the lake.

Sunday 4th November [A grey, drizzly, but mild day.]

I only had the briefest of looks this afternoon and saw several large white birds in the murk! There were 2 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus at Bell's Bush, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. More news tomorrow when I'll have a proper look around.

Friday 2nd November [Sunny]

I went down to the lake during late afternoon and met Mark Hynam there. He'd found 2 Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus asleep at Bell's Bush, one of which had a metal ring, but we didn't see any of the other 3 legs! Looking at the bill pattern of the ringed bird, I'm sure that it's Winkey (White BCL) back from Chew Valley Lake with his mate Winker. Also present were 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 adult ♀ Goosanders Mergus merganser, a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing and a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti singing, in Pipe Bay reeds. The waterfowl have started to spread out over the lake now that the boats are off, however, bank angling continues until the end of the month.

Thursday 1st November [Sunny]

I went walking with friends today, from Shepton Mallet to Croscombe taking in Ham Woods, and on to Dinder, before returning on the other side of the valley. We saw several Skylarks above Bowlish, a Woodcock in Ham Woods and a Dipper at Croscombe. I didn't visit the lake when I got back home.

Wednesday 31st October [Milder than of late]

Paul Williams sent me the following news after a visit today: Not much seen at Blagdon late morning , but I did see a Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus with a yellow ring DAA. The only other notable birds were 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Great White Egret Ardea alba, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. There was lots of angling disturbance today.

Richard Clarke sent Paul the following information about the bird: It was ringed by the Goldcliff Ringing Group at Denny Island on 16 June 2013.  Perhaps surprisingly, yours is the first sighting since it was ringed over 5 years ago.

I had a brief look around the lake during the afternoon, before bat trapping in the early evening. I saw 2 Great White Egrets, and 2 Black-tailed Godwits, plus adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus Orange K+K. In the evening we caught 5 bats; 3 Nathusius' Pipistrellus nathusii and 2 Soprano Pipistrelles P. pygmaeus.

Tuesday 30th October [Sunny & cool]

Early morning Mark Hynam and I found 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. There were a number of Redwings Turdus iliacus in the Yews at the south end of the dam, and when we returned at dusk we saw adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus Blue G:P in front of the Lodge, as the gulls started to come in to roost, and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squealing in Pipe Bay reeds. Winkey and Winker, the Bewick's Swans, have relocated to Chew Valley Lake and were found behind Denny Island off the east shore today.

Mark and I shot 'over the bridge' late morning, hoping to catch up with the Bairds Sandpiper at Newport Wetlands Goldcliff Lagoons, but dipped. I don't think it was seen at all today, and I hope the smug-looking Peregrine, sitting on one of the islands in the lagoons, didn't have anything to do with it!

Monday 29th October [Sunny & cold]

Mark Hynam found 2 adult Bewick's Swans Cygnus columbianus at Bell's Bush this morning, one of which had a darvic that we read as 'White BCL', making it Winkey, a swan I first recorded at Blagdon in 2006. Winkey was originally paired with another swan named Tinkie by the WWT at Slimbridge, however, he paired up with another bird subsequently, dubbed Winker. Sadly, they've arrived without young this year. Also new in, were 4 Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 2 brownheads, a 1st-winter ♂ and an adult ♂.

Other birds included a spanking adult Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus at Top End, with a host of bathing and loafing gulls that flew in off fields being ploughed to the east of the lake, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, one adult Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. I saw a Skylark Alauda arvensis (also heard others) and 5 Stock Doves Columba oenas fly west while we were scanning the Top End birds, and Mark saw a large flock of Linnets Linaria cannabina before I arrived. As I arrived, most of the Lapwings Vanellus vanellus were flying off from Top End, presumably to go and feed out in the fields, and they hadn't come back by the time we left mid-afternoon.

Sunday 28th October [Sunny & cold]

I spent all day at Chew Valley Lake with Ken Anstey and Mark Hynam checking the bat boxes and cleaning them out. We found just 5 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, and 4 of those were in the first box we checked! They've obviously decided to hunker down somewhere with the onset of the recent cold snap. While we were there, Charlene, spotted a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta at Moreton hide car park and I counted 8 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus in Heron's Green Bay.

On the way home I had a brief look at Blagdon Lake, although I only had my binoculars with me. I saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, the lone Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, and at Top End an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus and lots of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.

Friday 26th October [Sunny & cold]

After a visit to Chew Valley Lake this morning, I came back to Blagdon for a look around. Mark Hynam and I spent several hours checking the place out, but it was a bit of a grind...

We saw 195 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a single Great White Egret Ardea alba, a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, and spent a while looking through the gulls at the Lodge. Adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus Blue G:P was there again, as was adult Mute Swan Cygnus olor Yellow DPH, a bird I've not seen before. I'll send details to the BTO to find out more about it. I went down at last light to look through the gulls again and, unusually, saw lots of Herring Gulls in the roost. I heard the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sing a few times from Pipe Bay reeds, and finished by counting 62 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus from the Lodge.

Thursday 25th October [Sunny]

I didn't visit the lake today. Mark Hynam had a walk at the lake this morning and reported 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, a flock of 28 Linnets Linaria cannabina and a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti.

Wednesday 24th October [Sunny]

I spent most of the day at the lake doing bat boxes with Ken Anstey, then I went home for a cuppa mid-afternoon, before going back late afternoon to have a look from the Lodge with Mark Hynam. During the day I saw 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and the single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Mark saw Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End, and found a Shelduck Tadorna tadorna in front of the Lodge together with two ringed gulls. Both gulls were familiar birds, adult Herring Gulls Larus argentatus Orange K+K and Blue G:P. While we were looking through the gulls in front of us, one stood out from the crowd, that I feel pretty sure was a juvenile/1st-winter Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans. Its head was small, pale, and classically pear-shaped, and although it was difficult to get a good look at the leg structure, the bird stood head and shoulders above the Herring Gulls around it. This may have been due to longer legs, but could also have been due to a more upright stance, I couldn't really decide. The eye was dark and apparently positioned forward of the typical Herring Gulls. The overall colour was paler than the other juvenile/1st-winter gulls, due to the white-fringed feathers. Unfortunately, I didn't get details of greater coverts or tail because it sat down in the throng at this point, while Mark was getting his camera. Shortly afterwards, the flock all took off and scattered when disturbed by a boat close by. We couldn't find it subsequently. Let's hope it shows up again tomorrow - it'd be nice to prove a first for the lake.

Tuesday 23rd October [Sunny]

There's not a lot to transcribe from my notebook into the blog today I'm afraid. There were 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (including Red AAS), a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and 7 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis with the Canada Geese Branta canadensis. The Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa was still in front of the Lodge, and I counted 299 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Top End.

Mark Hynam texted later to say he'd seen a juv. or ♀ Goosander Mergus merganser fly down the lake towards the dam at 1725 hrs.

Tomorrow, Ken Anstey and I will be doing the last bat box check of the year at Blagdon Lake.

Monday 22nd October [Sunny with a cool breeze]

It was a case of slim pickings this morning, so there's not a lot to report. There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa on Tiny's Shallow, and at Top End there were 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina and a juv. Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe. The regular French-ringed Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus Green L42 still has the ring trapped over it's foot, causing the bird considerable discomfort I'd imagine. Elsewhere around the lake were 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (including Red AAS), 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 7 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis with the Canada Geese Branta canadensis. I saw a couple of Hornets Vespa crabro still on the wing, but their days must be numbered now it's turned colder.

Sunday 21st October [Sunny]

There was an angling competition on the lake today, and quite a lot of general disturbance, which resulted in far fewer birds than of late. There was just a single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa at Polish Water, and the Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sang again from Pipe Bay reeds, while the showy ♂ Pintail Anas acuta was on Home Bay Point, with another juv. or ♀ at Top End. There were at least 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (including Red AAS), a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, a single Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, 290 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a pair of Kestrels Falco tinnunculus, 15 or so Linnets Linaria cannabina, and Mark and I heard a Redpoll Acanthis flammea fly overhead at Bell's Bush. At Top End I saw a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta and late Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria still on the wing.

Mark Hynam added the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos to the day list.

Saturday 20th October [Sunny]

I took a call from Simon Isgar this morning to tell me a Tawny Owl Strix aluco had become entangled in nets at the Hatchery and cut free by the fisheries staff. However, it needed to be checked out due to apparent damage to one of its legs, so he brought it to me to take to a carer in Portishead, who removed the remaining netting. It appeared that the damage was bad, but superficial, and that the claw was apparently still functional, which is hopeful. It's going to be kept in for observation.

This afternoon, Mark Hynam rang me shortly after I'd got back home to tell me there was a Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia at Top End. The bird was greyish and had extensive black feathering to the wing tips, together with grey-black legs so was an immature in its first or second year. We met up and had a good look around from Bell's Bush, where we saw 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Garganey Spatula querquedula, and 236 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus (counted by Mark). One of the Great White Egrets appeared to be Red AAS, a bird from the Somerset Levels, and there was another with a metal ring on its right tarsus, but no darvic. Later, when we were checking the gulls at dusk we both heard a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti sing from the Pipe Bay reeds, so Lucy was undoubtedly right last Wednesday - she's got good ears, so I'm not in the least surprised.

Friday 19th October

I took a day out from the local scene today to go and see the Grey Catbird at Land's End, Cornwall. I also saw a Little Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Black Redstarts and a few Choughs at Porthgwarra.

Thursday 18th October [Sunny & cooler, with a chilly breeze.]

Yesterday's Canada Goose Branta canadensis count missed a large part of the flock, which was in fields on the north side of the lake, so I counted again today and made it 229, which I will add as a supplementary count to the WeBS database. Today, there were 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in front of the Lodge, with a juv. Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula right out on Tiny's Shallow, where an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis was loafing with the other large gulls. At Top End I saw a Greenshank Tringa nebularia and 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, but I didn't count the Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. The egrets were scattered around the lake, and I made it 9 Great Whites Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta when driving back from Top End, so the count should be reliable for early afternoon.

A fisherman pointed out to me today that a birder gave the combination lock number to the occupants of a car who promptly drove to Rainbow Point and had a picnic! He wasn't happy because he'd already refused to give them the number. I don't know if they had permits to be there, but I shouldn't need to point out that access is restricted, and it goes without saying that the gates are locked for security reasons. The combination lock number is only given to birders so that they may access the hides by car, which is especially helpful for the less mobile among us, so please think about site security and act responsibly, or I'm sure we'll find ourselves denied the privilege.

Wednesday 17th October [A calm, grey, day.]

Rob Hargreaves, Lucy Delve and I carrried out the WeBS count this morning from 0950 to 1230 hrs with the water level still at about 45%. Top counts were the 1120 Teal Anas crecca, 805 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, 549 Coots Fulica atra, and 411 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos. Additional noteworthy sightings included 86 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a Peregrine Falco peregrinus, a Stonechat Saxicola torquatus (where the Whinchat was yesterday, rather amazingly), and a steady passage of Skylarks Alauda arvensis passing over. Lucy Delve, who was helping with the count today, thought she heard sub-song of a Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti in the reeds at Pipe Bay, but we didn't hear it again. Full details of the count are on the WeBS Page.

Tuesday 16th October [Grey & misty start, with some sunny spells later. Warm.]

The day started with a trip onto the Mendips to do a round of Dormouse boxes with Ken Anstey, during which we found an adult ♀ of over 20 grams, and a juvenile ♂ weighing in at just 10 grams. It will be touch and go whether the latter makes it through the winter, unless he puts on some serious weight before it starts to get cold.

Acting on an email from Mike Bailey at Chew Valley Ringing Station on Sunday, Ken and I went on to check two bird boxes in which they'd found bats. Obviously they left them undisturbed, and asked if we'd like to have a look as we're licensed. In one box there was a dead Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, and in the other there were another 3 (live) Soprano Pips.

I then had time for two visits to the lake this afternoon, during which I saw 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 4 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at the Lodge, a Peregrine Falco peregrinus 'buzzing' the birds on Tiny's Shallow, a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra at Holt Bay, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina at Bell's Bush, 20 Pintails Anas acuta, and a site record 103 (inc. 15 juvs.) Mute Swans Cygnus olor. Tomorrow, we will be carrying out the WeBS count.

Monday 15th October [Grey & misty all day with steady drizzle/rain]

I drove back to Bristol this morning, with Ken and Denise, before going down to the lake this afternoon to see what the recent bad weather had brought in despite my having been awake for the last 27 hours. There had been a slight rise in water level, but nothing like I'd expected, so there were still large numbers of Mute Swans Cygnus olor present, and it won't be long before the first Bewick's Swans arrive, I hope. I saw 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a Greenshank Tringa nebularia of note, and counted 42 Wigeon Mareca penelope, 21 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis, and 9 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis at Top End.

Sunday 14th October

Still no news from the lake while I've ben away I'm afraid.

In Trinidad we spent the morning packing our things ready for the trip home overnight, and did a tally of our results. It was a lovely team of bat workers, with a few 'old hands' from previous expeditions joined by JoEllen from California (who I travelled with in Thailand last November), Christiane from Germany, and Leanne from Notts Bat Group.

Saturday 13th October

Finally, a morning off! We didn't get to bed until about 0330 hrs last night and many of us weren't in any hurry to get up early this morning. A Limpkin visited the Hacienda, but I didn't get any pictures of it. Some of the team went off mid-afternoon to visit Tamana Hill Bat Cave and some of us stayed back at base to chill out in the heat and humidity.

I videoed the emergence of bats from a box put up on the side of our Lodge a couple of years ago, while Denise and Bob counted them and recorded the calls, Daniel having already noted that there were 2 spp. in there with a quick visual check the previous day.

Friday 12th October

This morning we went to visit a WWII ice house where we saw thousands of roosting bats, then after lunch we drove up into the hills to Asa Wright Nature Centre to trap and photograph bats in the forest. It was an amazing session during which the team caught circa 280 bats of 19 species, while Geoffrey and Daniel did a show-and-tell for guests, and had a long visit from the Environment Minister who came to see what we were doing, and eventually stayed until after midnight, despite not leaving parliament until 2000 hrs.

Greater Spear-nosed Bat Phyllostomus hastatus, & Purple Honeycreepers Cyanerpes caeruleus, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Bananaquit Coereba flaveola & Golden-headed Manakin Ceratopipra erythrocephala, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

I spent the evening with Denise and JoEllen using some of Daniel's kit to try and take pictures of nectar feeding bats visiting the hummingbird feeders.

Common Long-tongued Bat Glossophaga soricina, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Common Long-tongued Bat Glossophaga soricina, Asa Wright Nature Centre, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Thursday 11th October

Despite getting back to the Hacienda very early this morning, we were up again in short order for a visit to Caroni Swamp, a mangrove swamp set aside as a bird sanctuary where Scarlet Ibises, Trinidads national bird, hunt crabs among the roots at low tide. Whilst we saw a Cook's Tree Boa, known locally as the Cascabel, the high tide meant that we saw few shorebirds, other than one Greater and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, and a number of Spotted Sandpipers. Red-capped Cardinal, Bicolored Conebill and Straight-billed Woodcreeper were nice birds to see, as were a handful of Yellow Warblers, but I dipped 2 American Redstarts. The usual egrets, Snowy, Cattle, and Great, plus Little Blue, Tricolored and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, American Pygmy, Green and Ringed Kingfishers and Lineated Woodpecker, were more standard fayre.

Little Blue Heron & Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Scarlet Ibis, Caroni Swamp, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

After lunch most of the team went back to two different areas of Arena Forest to trap in the evening, but I decided to stay at the Hacienda and netted bats with Bob & Jude, and Ken Anstey. With two nets we caught 27 bats of 7 species and packed up at 2200 hrs.

Wednesday 10th October

The day I was fearing the most, saw us make the longish drive to the infamous Nariva Swamp - home of the mosquito (well, actually, millions of the most vicious mozzies you'll ever come across)! I didn't go into the forest becauase I feared getting nailed by the little blighters, and waited for the others outside while they went for a walk inside during the day. I've been in a few times before anyway. I wandered around with my camera at the edge of the forest and looked after the gear. When the group came out some hours later, they said it was horrendous. So, for the evening batting session I volunteered to man the processing station on the edge of the forest. But even that wimpy decision didn't save me - I got hammered all over my body, despite wearing a mozzie jacket and repellant. There was, however, the most amazing number of bats flying all around us while we were at the edge of the forest - hopefully they were eating the mozzies.

Two good-looking bugs, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Tuesday 9th October

A visit in the morning to Arena Forest for a look around and to decide where we were going to trap in the evening. Ken Anstey and I ran a couple of nets in the evening along a ridge and caught a good number of bats, although the variety of species wasn't great where we were.

Monday 8th October

After a leisurely morning around the Hacienda looking at the wildlife, we jumped into our minibus and drove up to the north west coast and boarded a boat to visit a sea cave where there are Greater Bulldog Bats (aka Fishing Bats) Noctilio leporinus. Most of the team went into the cave to see the bats, but having been before I didn't. However, as it got dark so the bats emerged over the sea and started to fish for small fingerling Sardinella.

Golden-olive Woodpecker, Hacienda Jacana © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Sunday 7th October

No news today, and happy to be getting on the plane from a cold Blighty to Trinidad, to join the Trinibats 2018 expedition.

When we arrived at the Hacienda Jacana we had a lovely meal, settled in, and put some nets up to trap around the Lodges. We caught quite a few bats and after having been up for 25 hours I crashed into bed!

Saturday 6th October [Wet & cold]

Three intrepid BOC members met up with Mark and I this morning in the rain. We did have a look, but used our cars rather than our feet to get around. It was a bit disappointing after all the birds that have been through in the last few weeks, and the only things really worthy of mention were 12 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and singles of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Greenshank Tringa nebularia, and Snipe Gallinago gallinago. In addition to the egrets and waders, we saw a Common Gull Larus canus and I counted 41 Pintails Anas acuta.

As of tomorrow, I will be in Trinidad for another bat expedition, returning on Monday 16th. If you visit the lake, please copy me in with your news and I'll keep posting it, along with our escapades in the Caribbean. I think this will be my fourth trip to Trinidad, but I've always gone in spring in the past. It will be interesting to see how things differ bird and bat-wise by going now, in the rainy season! More skeeters in the swamps, I've no doubt...

Friday 5th October [Mainly cloudy but warm]

I haven't been to the lake for a couple of days for domestic reasons, but Mark Hynam kindly sent me news this afternoon as follows: 26 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, 15 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 22 Pintails Anas acuta.

I'm supposed to be leading a walk at the lake for BOC tomorrow morning at 0930 hrs, but the weather forecast looks pretty dire!

Wednesday 3rd October [Sunny, less windy & warmer than yesterday.]

I walked the south side of the lake today. Not only was I birding, as usual, but I was on the look-out for Ivy Bees Colletes hederae. This new colonist from continental Europe is a solitary bee that often burrows colonially. It was found in Dorset in 2001 and has been expanding west and north. I eventually spotted some on Ivy along the pine belt at Long Bay, and again at Hellfire Corner. It has been in our area for a number of years and it was about time I found it at the lake.

The birds included 12 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 11 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula. Also noteworthy were a House Sparrow Passer domesticus in the hedge at Flower Corner, and a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas on the wing at Hellfire Corner.

This afternoon I picked up a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus bat from Middle Ellick stables, Blagdon, that had been grounded. It looks like it has trauma to the right humerus and will go to our carer Kiri Green at Bristol Bat Rescue for assessment. If the bone is broken I fear it may be euthanized, but let's hope for the best.

Tuesday 2nd October [Bleak, grey & windy.]

The greens of summer are rapidly disappearing and being replaced by the browns of autumn. Bird numbers are on the wane from the high of a few weeks ago and despite a careful search there wasn't much to excite today in truth. I noted 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, although there may have been more in Butcombe Bay that I didn't see, just 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 14 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and 31 Pintails Anas acuta. The Aythya influx the other day included quite a few Pochards Aythya ferina, but they seem to have moved on too.

Monday 1st October [Sunny, though not as warm as recently.]

I made a couple of very brief visits to the lake at either end of the day. I saw a handful of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa this morning, but none this evening. I also saw 14 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia. Hopefully, I'll have more time to look around tomorrow.

Most of the day was taken up with checking the 23 bat boxes at Barrow Reservoirs, in which we've never found any signs of use by bats - until today! I opened a box to find 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. If we'd found no bats, we were going to remove all the boxes and put them up at Chew and Blagdon where they will certainly be used. So, we had to compromise and leave the box that was being used, along with 3 others nearby, and remove the others. This afternoon we put 10 of the boxes up at Chew Valley Lake.

Sunday 30th September [Cooler]

We were out batting again last night, a small team at Chew Valley Lake, and I didn't feel like going down to Blagdon until late this afternoon. There had been an influx of Aythya ducks overnight, mostly crammed into Top End due to the number of fishing boats out today. At the Lodge there were 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula (probably the flock I saw distantly on Rugmoor Point yesterday), and elsewhere there were an amazing 14 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, just 22 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, and 41 Pintails Anas acuta.

Saturday 29th September [Sunny & warm'ish]

I was out batting all night in Wiltshire at a swarming site and didn't get home until just after 0400 hrs, so I didn't go down to the lake until mid-afternoon for an hour or so. Although there didn't appear to be many birds, and wildfowl numbers have certainly dropped, I found quite a good selection of nice birds, including, 13 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta (Mark Hynam saw 5 later), 60 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 38 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3+ Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, a Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Knot Calidris canutus, 37 Pintails Anas acuta, 7 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, and a pair of Shelducks Tadorna tadorna.

Friday 28th September [Cooler, but still sunny.]

Mark Hynam was at the lake around 0600 hrs this morning and recorded 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, and 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. Then, while shopping in Clevedon, I received a call from Richard Mielcarek who followed a Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia over from Chew Valley Lake to Top End. He told me it was pretty mobile, so much so that as I drove back up Blagdon Coombe it flew off! Oh well, can't get 'em all.

Late news of 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia as well per Avon Birds.

Thursday 27th September [Warm & sunny]

I haven't had a very comfortable day, with quite severe back/kidney/diaphragm pain that came on while batting last night, but I did venture down to the lake for an hour this afternoon in the warm sunshine. I saw 13 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, and 14 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. The juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus was back at Top End causing trouble again, although I didn't see it catch anything, and a couple of pale phase Buzzards Buteo buteo were scavaging fish carcases around the lakeside. Of the wildfowl, I counted 21 Pintails Anas acuta.

At the Lodge I spotted an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus with a darvic ring, red 261A, and a couple of others with metal rings but no darvics.

Wednesday 26th September [Warm & sunny]

I was out with bat workers all day. We did boxes on the east side of Bristol, then trapped at Blagdon for just 2.5 hours this evening. I saw 11 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. While we were batting, I heard Greenshanks Tringa nebularia calling incessantly, so there was probably more than one of them around too.

Tuesday 25th September [Warm & sunny]

I had a quick look this morning before going walking with friends and helping my mum in the afternoon. Then, I had another look just before dusk, but the following sightings do not necessarily represent everything present of note. I saw 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 16 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 1 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, and 30 Pintails Anas acuta.

Monday 24th September [Warm in the sunshine]

There's definitely an autumn feel about the place now, although I saw 3 Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas butterflies on the wing in the sunshine. I looked for Ivy Bees during my walk too, but couldn't find any rather surprisingly. We have them in our village garden now.

The birding has settled down a bit after the excitement of the last few weeks. There were, however, 10 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 51 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 30 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus to be found with a diligent search.

Sunday 23rd September [Rain early morning]

The place was locked up early this morning, and only Simon Isgar and I were out in the steady rain. Again, by recent standards there was little to report. I noted 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 6 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, just 10 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe in front of the Lodge, 51 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii and a Black Tern Chlidonius niger at Top End. Like yesterday afternoon, there was no sign of the Phalarope. Mark Hynam saw 4 Dunlin and 2 Wheatears at the Lodge after my visit. Cheers Mark.

The lake is no longer being pumped as BW have switched to Chew Valley Lake for draw down. I think the level got down to about 45-47%, and the lake is likely to start slowly filling again now.

Saturday 22nd September [Heavy overnight rain & more today]

There's been a BIG clear out overnight. There was no sign of a the Pectoral Sandpiper during my visit, but I did find an adult winter Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius on the water between Wood Bay and Rugmoor Points. There's a big armada of fishing boats out today, so they may move it around a bit. Other birds noted before I had to go for the 'old gits' flu jab this morning were 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Dunlins Calidris alpina, just a handful of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and an Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea.

By 'eck it's grim out there! We couldn't spot the Phalarope this afternoon, but the optics were getting blinded by the driving drizzle/rain, so it hasn't necessarily moved on. Richard Mielcarek found a Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava with the Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii at Top End late morning, and Mark Hynam found 3 Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe, while I can update counts to 4 Greenshanks, 3 Dunlin, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, circa 40 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, circa 40 Black-tailed Godwits and a Black Tern Chlidonius niger. Oh, I forgot, Dean Reeves told me he'd seen the juv. ♀ Peregrine Falco peregrinus during the afternoon too, and belated news of a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus seen by Robert Kelsh.

Friday 21st September [Wild & windy, especially mid-afternoon.]

Given the overnight conditions, I knew I was going to have to put in a full shift at the lake today. I was hoping for some seabirds to have been blown inland overnight, and so it proved... at Chew! 2 Grey Phalaropes and a Leach's Petrel there, and nowt at Blagdon except 2 (adult & juv.) Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea early on, and 3 Common Terns Sterna hirundo and another Arctic later in the day. I scoured the shoreline, and went through the hirundines over the water with a fine toothcomb, but sadly came up short. The Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos remained off Bell's Bush for much of the day, mainly with a single Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, but late this afternoon there were 6 Ringed Plovers and a single Dunlin Calidris alpina with it again. I spotted 6 Ruff Calidris pugnax,4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 5 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis, but didn't count any wildfowl today.

Ruff Calidris pugnax at Wood Bay © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Thursday 20th September [Changeable with some drizzle]

The Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos stuck overnight and allowed me to get some more distant pictures this morning in slightly better light. It was present all day until at least 1830 hrs.

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos at Bells Bush © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos at Bells Bush © Nigel Milbourne 2018

There were also 61 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 7 Knot Calidris canutus, 7 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 5 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, 25 Pintails Anas acuta and a record 102 Mute Swans Cygnus olor. The other notable thing was the number of hirundines over the lake, mainly House Martins Delichon urbicum, some Swallows Hirundo rustica and a handful of Sand Martins Riparia riparia.

Wednesday 19th September [Sunny & warm, before clouding over & becoming drizzly.]

I had a look around fairly briefly mid-morning and saw 5 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2+ Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, 106 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and a single Knot Calidris canutus. I went to Walton Common for a short visit early afternoon, then Keith Vinicombe rang me, just before I got home and went back to the lake, to tell me he'd found a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos at Bell's Bush. A few of us saw it before it was flushed by the juv. ♀ Peregrine Falco peregrinus and flew off with the Ringed Plovers. Mark Hynam and I found it again at the Lodge, but it flew again just as more birders arrived. Richard Mielcarek went back to Top End and found it back there again. Here's a shot taken with my 600 mm Canon lens and 1.4x converter in the early evening rain, almost impossible conditions, at ISO 800. Hopefully, it'll stick and I'll have another chance to photograph it in better conditions, although the forecast for tomorrow isn't great.

During the afternoon there were 14 Knot at Bell's Bush, with 8 Great White Egrets and a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End this evening before I left.

Tuesday 18th September [Windy, warm and mainly dry.]

Yesterday I should have added that I saw lots of Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita in bankside trees as they migrate through the area, and today I got to the lake at 0745 hrs and stayed until 0915 hrs before going onto the Mendips with Ken Anstey to carry out Dormouse box checks (we found our first two mice of the year). During that time, I saw 34 Knot Calidris canutus, the juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, 11 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 62 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 juv. Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, a Ruff Calidris pugnax,4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia and 20 Pintails Anas acuta. Later in the morning, Richard Mielcarek and Andy Davis added a fifth Ringed Plover, the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, and a Garganey Spatula querquedula to my sightings, and in the evening I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Ruff, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, 21 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis in Long Bay alone, and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Wader numbers were lower today than any time over the last few weeks. I wonder if we'll get another influx during the autumn?

Monday 17th September [Mainly cloudy & warm]

I actually spent a few hours beside the lake from late morning to early afternoon today, and amassed quite a good list of notable birds, although there weren't any new species. Pride of place goes to the juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, which was hassled by the juv. ♀ Peregrine Falco peregrinus several times, like last night. There was an increase to 11 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, plus 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 117 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 7 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 4 juv. Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 46 Knot Calidris canutus (although Richard Mielcarek had counted part of the flock earlier and got to 53 before they were flushed, and Andy Davis estimated 60+ while we watched them in flight), a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 41+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus (I couldn't see all the flock), and 10 Pintails Anas acuta. Finally, back at the Lodge, I spotted a juvenile Herring Gull Larus argentatus with a ring, white A=J, that is one of Pete Rocks local birds:

The Knot flew west over the Lodge, circling a couple of times, at around 1430 hrs and I'm wondering if they are coming to Blagdon at high tide to roost, before flying back to the estuary to feed. High tide at Clevedon was shortly after midday today.

This evening I was able to add Hobby Falco subbuteo to the day list.

Sunday 16th September [Sunny spells, warm & windy.]

Another overnight bat trapping session in Dorset last night meant I didn't exactly rush down to the lake today! An interesting visit after an early tea brought me excellent views of the juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus again. It was playing havoc with the birds at Top End, many of which had moved further up the lake. On Rugmoor Point there were 2 juv. Buzzards Buteo buteo on what looked like a Moorhen Gallinago chloropus corpse. Then the harrier flew over and stood close by, as did two Crows Corvus corone that stole in a couple of times to pinch pieces of carrion until chased off by the harrier. Eventually, the harrier gave up and targetted another Moorhen swimming close by. It hovered and dived on the moorhen several times before eventually catching it and sitting on the water trying to drown it. After a couple of minutes, the harrier lifted off the water but dropped its prize before getting to the shore. Amazingly, the Moorhen was still alive. After several more minutes the Moorhen probably stole away to safety, even though the harrier made several more attempts at taking it. Fortunately for the moorhen, the juv. ♀ Peregrine Falco peregrinus put in an appearance and made several passes at the harrier which distracted it. Whether the Moorhen will survive the mauling is a moot point.

Other birds noted included 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 140 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, and 23 Pintails Anas acuta. Then, there was a very strange looking duck in Holt Bay, I'm thinking its a domestic escape/release but will hopefully have a chance to have a closer look at it tomorrow.

Saturday 15th September [Sunny spells]

I've just added news from Ken Hall for the 8th Sept. that included 2 more Knot Calidris canutus, to add to the quite remarkable series of sightings at the lake this autumn. Up until this autumn there had only been about 20 previous records that I know about.

Well, I didn't expect that... 56 Knot Calidris canutus at Top End! Where have they been in the meantime? Perhaps to the coast and back? Also present were a Red Kite Milvus milvus which put all the waders up when it landed on Wookey Point to steal a meal from some gulls, 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 199 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina and at least 1 Hobby Falco subbuteo. There was a note on the Top End hide board of a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula in addition.

I received a message from Keith Vinicombe on my way to Dorset, where I was batting again last night with Colin Morris, to say that he'd watched 4 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis fly west down the lake at 1615 hrs. This was the second record of Cattle Egret for the site. He only saw one juv. Knot while he was there, so they'd flown off for a second time.

Friday 14th September [Showers]

I didn't get home from Dorset much before 0500hrs this morning, and Richard Mielcarek, Andy Davis and Chris Craig got to the lake before me and saw a large flock of Knot Calidris canutus, that had increased in number to an improbable 56 by 1120 hrs. Richard rang me (thanks), but I'd only just got out of bed and didn't get down to the lake until after he'd gone - and so had most of the Knot! As I stopped at the dam, 7 flew west overhead, and when I got to Green Lawn and was chatting to a visiting birder I saw another 7 Knot fly around Rainbow Point. So, I drove directly to Top End hide where I found just 3 left. I noted a few Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa heading west up the lake between the showers while I was there, so I didn't count those still present, but Richard and Andy had estimated that there were over 200 Black-wits earlier. I think the cause of birds leaving was probably the juv. Peregrine Falco peregrinus that has been around for a couple of days now. I saw singles of Redshank Tringa totanus, Ruff Calidris pugnax, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a few Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis during that first visit too.

After domestic duties, I went back to the lake and met Mark Hynam who'd just found a juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Green Lawn, and while he was trying to photograph it he spotted a Red-legged Partridge creeping across the meadow. As I drove around the corner it walked into the hedge and despite looking for nearly an hour we couldn't relocate it. At that point we were about to go and count the Little Egrets (7+) coming in to roost, when I spotted it again... a Blagdon tick, although no doubt released locally. This was only the second site record, the last being in 1993. And, on the subject of records, I've just searched my Blagdon database for Knot records, and can find none of double figures, so today's 56 was truly exceptional.

Thursday 13th September [Sunny spells]

I popped down to the lake mid-morning, and met Andy Davis and Richard Mielcarek going through the birds at Top End. Richard had counted 168 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and while we scanned and chatted, all the birds went up. A large, probable ♀, Peregrine Falco peregrinus was swooping down at the panicking masses, then the juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus I'd noted a few days before, added to the mayhem. No wonder the waders and dabbling ducks were so nervous. While I was there I counted 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, but had to leave shortly after for the Dorset coast, where Nick Tomlinson had obtained permission for us to do some bat trapping as part of the Nathusius' Project.

Other sightings taken from the Top End hide board included 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, Ruff Calidris pugnax, and Redshank Tringa erythropus.

Wednesday 12th September [Cloudy early, sunny & warm later.]

I spent all day at Chew Valley Lake with Ken Anstey and two trainees checking bat boxes. We had a good day (see Bat News).

In the evening I went to the lake after tea, and noted that we have a developing Little Egret Egretta garzetta roost, with at least 10 birds flying in. I didn't have time to look around, but did note 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba before they flew off to roost at Chew as usual. However, Richard Mielcarek counted 228 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa this morning, as far as I'm aware, a site record. also recorded were 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, Ruff Calidris pugnax, Redshank Tringa erythropus, and 9 Great White Egrets.

Tuesday 11th September [Dismal, dreary & drizzly all day]

I was supposed to be going to Shapwick to photograph invertebrates with friends today, but the weather put pay to that idea, so mid-afternoon I went down to the lake and saw a juv. Dunlin Calidris alpina, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 62 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 1 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 3 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 220 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, the juv. Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 11 Pintails Anas acuta, 90 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, a Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, and heard a Hobby Falco subbuteo. There were sightings left on the Top End hide board of a Peregrine Falco peregrinus and 3 Hobbies.

Monday 10th September [Mainly warm & sunny]

My apologies for the lack of news, I've just been rather too busy to update the blog. I will start with today's WeBS count and work backwards to fill in the gaps where I can.

Phil, Terry, Rob and I did the monthly count this morning which took us from 0945-1345 hours, mainly due to the numbers of birds. Top counts were 1131 Coots Fulica atra, 1112 Teal Anas crecca, 733 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos, 446 Shovelers Spatula clypeata and 294 Gadwall Mareca strepera. Other notable birds/counts included a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, a Garganey Spatula querquedula (per Andy Davis), 9 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 3 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 105 Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus, a Red Kite Milvus milvus, 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 9 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and 89 Mute Swans Cygnus olor (equals record count). Then we came to the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa... Richard Mielcarek rang me while we were counting, and said he'd totted up 205 from the hide, while each of us counted them and had totals of 209, 209, 211 and 214 (the last one being done when some birds flew up). So, we're going to settle for 211 (which is a site record I believe, and included a recently expired one floating at the water's edge at Bell's Bush). Full count details are on the WeBS Page as usual. By my reckoning the water level must be down to about 42% and is still dropping.

Sunday 9th September

I got down to the lake as dusk started to fall, but managed to see the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, and lots of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. Interestingly, it appeared that 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta may have roosted together.

Saturday 8th September

I didn't have time for a visit today. But Ken Hall sent me the following news:

Lots of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Knot Calidris canutus, 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, and 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, all at the Top End. There were 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba here as well plus one on the north shore, and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in Long Bay. There were in addition c. 55 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in the ploughed fields near Holt Farm. Quite impressive were the Hornets Vespa crabro going in and out of one of the bat boxes at Holt Copse. Thanks Ken.

Friday 7th September

I saw 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 6 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 2 Sand Martins Riparia riparia, 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, and Richard Mielcarek counted 179 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa.

Thursday 6th September

It was a very long day by the lake today, starting at 0900 hrs to look at the birds quickly before spending the rest of the day checking bat boxes, which took until 1815 hrs. After a bite to eat we went back down to the lake to do a spot of bat trapping in the evening.

Let's start with the bird news. I saw 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and when we met Richard Mielcarek later he told me he'd seen the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 170 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and 10 Pintails Anas acuta.

We had 4 species of bats in the boxes, including a ringed ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii and our second record of Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii in a box. In the evening, we caught 3 more ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles, two of which we'd previously ringed as well (see Bat News for details).

Wednesday 5th September

It was a very interesting day's birding with a juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus causing a bit of a ruckus among the assembled throng at Top End throughout the afternoon. A few new birds included 2 Knot Calidris canutus, along with the usual Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, as well as 7 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a Redshank Tringa totanus, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 114 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, and 11 Pintails Anas acuta.

Some very distant, and tightly-cropped, record shots of the Marsh Harrier. Frustratingly, when it was much closer, I couldn't follow it with the big lens through the stupidly narrow viewing slats of Top End hide.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus at Top End © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Tuesday 4th September [Overcast & damp]

I spent an hour or so at the lake this morning before going to see the Tour of Britain at the top of Cheddar Gorge. During that time I saw the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 3 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, and 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago. Later I had some additional news from Mark Hynam who saw 2 Common Actitis hypoleucos and one Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus on the North Shore, plus another Common Sandpiper on the dam, and 10 Great White Egrets and 5 Greenshanks overall.

Monday 3rd September [Warm again]

I met Andy Davis and Rich Mielcarek in the Top End hide when I got there, and they'd already found another Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, our fifth of the year at the lake, as well as 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula. Andy had said that he thought that there might be three present when we were chatting the other day, one that sleeps on Wookey Point and two that are usually to be found together out in Top End, but they can be hard to pick out in the throng. Richard had counted 95 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa but suspected he may have undercounted, and so it proved when I totted up 113 that included some at Rugmoor. There were an additional 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Redshank Tringa totanus, and 3 Hobbies Falco subbuteo. Rich and Andy had seen 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Top End that disappeared during the regular raptor disturbance, but when I got back to the Lodge I found 6 there. I saw a very smart juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe on the dam when I arrived at the lake, and have to apologise to the birder I met there who was hoping to see a Spotshank, only to be put off by me when I told him the previous four had moved on several days ago, not knowing another had arrived.

The weather is closing in a little as the afternoon draws on so I might go back later, if rain sets in, to see if any terns or other migrants drop in.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea sunning itself on Home Bay Point & Juvenile Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea at Top End © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Sunday 2nd September [Another lovely warm day]

Damn, no patch ticks today - so far! A visit to the lake this afternoon brought 10 each of Great White Egrets Ardea alba and Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 122 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and 3 Pintail Anas acuta. There has been a slow increase in the number of Wigeon Mareca penelope since last Tuesday, a sure sign of autumn, even though the weather is still gorgeous. Also noted were 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo and a juv. Peregrine Falco peregrinus. I've heard, second-hand, that the Glossy Ibis was seen first thing this morning, but there was no sign of it during my visit.

Saturday 1st September [A lovely warm day]

Welcome to the blog from Blagdon Puddle on the first day of meteorological autumn! It was a good day to be birding with a juvenile Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and an adult Knot Calidris canutus doing my Patchwork Challenge score no harm whatsoever.

Mark Hynam had been at the lake since early morning when I finally got to the lake and met up with him. We spent a couple of hours in the Top End hide going through all the birds, finding the Knot, and comparing notes when, while counting 169 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, I stumbled across the Glossy Ibis on Wookey Point at around 1215hrs. Neither of us saw it fly in, so where it came from we have no idea. There were 6 each of Great White Egrets Ardea alba and Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, with the Littles flying off west at dusk and the GWEs flying off east to Chew Valley Lake to roost. We had 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, 4 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Dunlin Calidris alpina, up to 4 reported Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 7 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, a Pintail Anas acuta new in, and a couple of Hobbies Falco subbuteo (adult and juv.). There was a note left on the white board in the hide later in the day of a Peregrine Falco peregrinus too.

I was alone in the hide as darkness fell, and saw the Glossy Ibis until I could see no more. The Godwits were extremely vocal and I wondered if they were preparing to clear out tonight - time will tell. A Barn Owl Tyto alba was sitting on the exit gate in my headlights as I left, a perfect end to a lovely day.

Friday 31st August [A lovely day]

It was a beautiful day, but I was busy both this morning and afternoon with Avon Bird Report and bat business. I received a number of calls during the day with some intriguing sightings. Rich Mielcarek rang to alert me of some Avocets flying around at Chew Valley Lake that may have headed west towards Blagdon. He popped over for a look and found 10 Black Terns Chlidonias niger but no sign of the Avocets. Then, Paul Williams texted a few times during the afternoon to tell me there was a Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at the Lodge, 13 Black Terns off Rainbow Point and 2 Little Stints Calidris minuta at Top End.

I eventually had time to have a quick look at the lake at around 1830 hrs on the way home and saw the Black Terns and juv. Wheatear. After tea I went back to the lake for the last half hour of light and saw a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula at the Lodge with the Wheatear nearby, counted 12 Black Terns off Rugmoor Point, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (that flew off to Chew to roost as usual), 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Redshank Tringa totanus, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, another 3 Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin Calidris alpina around Top End, but no stints. I didn't count the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in the failing light, but estimated there to be nearly 100 present as darkness fell. On the way back to the Lodge I saw 2 Barn Owls Tyto alba hunting.

Thursday 30th August [Dry & warm]

I made a couple of brief visits to the lake today and saw 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 5 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and lots of Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. Andy Davis texted me that he'd counted 121 this morning and I'd made two counts of 122 and 134. They were densely packed and occasionally moving about so there was going to be an element of inaccuracy, and I'm happy to settle for a minimum of 121 birds. Another unusal sighting was a raft of 20 Moorhens Gallinula chloropus well out in the lake. Perhaps, with the water so far from marginal vegetation now, they feel safer from predators when feeding out in the weed beds being exposed as the water level drops.

I saw 2 ringed gulls this afternoon, both seen before and logged as:

Wednesday 29th August [Dry & warm]

I was unable to visit the lake today but received the following news of birds there: 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a Garganey Spatula querquedula, 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Stint Calidris minuta, 4 juv. Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and just 53 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa (the rest having been flushed over to Chew Valley Lake, Herriott's Pool, by a helicopter). There was also a Hobby Falco subbuteo still present, and Sarah Lynnet reported seeing a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. Thanks for the news.

Tuesday 28th August [Dry & warm, but overcast.]

I managed a couple of hours lakeside today, and saw the juv. Little Stint Calidris minuta in the usual place with 5 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 juv. Dunlin Calidris alpina and a Garganey Spatula querquedula. Also dotted around Top End were 108 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and 4 Wigeon Mareca penelope, the latter being new in. Other counts included 89 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 60, or so, Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm, and 6 more Ringed Plovers (5 adults and a juv.) at Polish Water in front of the Lodge. A Peregrine Falco peregrinus was spotted by Keith Vinicombe over Top End while we were birding together too. The water level suggests the lake is now around 53% full.

Monday 27th August [Dry, mainly cloudy, but with some sunny spells.]

An afternoon by the lake was quite productive, with the juv. Little Stint Calidris minuta still present on Wookey Point, as were a Garganey Spatula querquedula, 5 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, and a Dunlin Calidris alpina. I saw a mobile Great White Egret Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, plus 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, 2 more Ringed Plovers at the Lodge, and counted 107 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, and 57+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.

I had a Swift Apus apus reported to me while I was there, and noted one ringed gull at the Lodge:

Late news of 2 Great White Egrets at the lake this morning to add to my one, later in the day.

Redshanks Tringa totanus, Polish Water, Blagdon Lake. Saturday 25th August © Nick Wilcox-Brown 2018

Sunday 26th August [Rain all day until the evening]

I didn't go down to the lake until this evening when the rain abated. However, it was well worth the trip because I found a juv. Little Stint Calidris minuta at Wookey Point with 4 Dunlin Calidris alpina (2 adults), a juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, and 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula. I counted 116 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, around the Top half of the lake, saw a single Great White Egret Ardea alba, and a mobile Greenshank Tringa nebularia, but there was no sign of the Spotshanks. In addition to those at Top End, I counted another 5 adult Ringed Plovers.

I've just seen a report of a visit made this morning with the following sightings in addition to mine: 2 Great White Egrets, 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 2 Garganey (adult & juv.) Spatula querquedula, 9 Dunlin, 1 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 5 Greenshanks and 1 adult Redshank Tringa totanus (thanks to the contributor).

Saturday 25th August [Sunny]

I did have a quick trip to Top End hide to show a couple of mates the Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus before we drove to Bodmin to watch an FA Cup match. I saw 3 Redshanks Tringa totanus while I was there, as well as Black-tailed Godwits and Greenshank.

There was a more comprehensive report on Avon Birds as follows: 1 Great White Egret Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 14+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 49+ Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 1 Redshank Tringa totanus, 4 Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus, and 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia.

Friday 24th August [Some heavy rain showers through]

I spent a lovely afternoon at the lake, mostly in the company of Colin Hunt at Top End hide. I saw a single juvenile Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticula at Polish Water in front of the Lodge, then added 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus, singles of Redshank Tringa totanus and juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 82 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, and 2 Swifts Apus apus among the throng of House Martins Delichon urbicum from Top End hide with Colin. Before leaving, we drove over to Rugmoor Gate and found an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, having already seen one from the hide. So, whether there were 4 or 5 Greenshanks present I'm not sure, but I'm happy to settle for 4.

I have another report from early morning that said 14 Ringed Plovers were still present, along with an adult ♀ Garganey Spatula querquedula, 2 Hobbies, and a single Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus.

Later, Andy Davis texted me to say he and Rich Mielcarek saw 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula at Wookey Point this morning.

Thursday 23rd August [Warm & sunny in the morning, cloudy, cooler, & breezy in the afternoon.]

Simon Isgar was kind enough to call me this morning when he found 6 Common Terns Sterna hirundo in front of the Lodge, and before I drove down the hill he saw 2 Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus come in, then fly off west. We also spotted 2 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Polish Water before I had to leave.

After going for a walk with friends, and doing the domestic chores this afternoon, I finally got out after tea for an hour before dark. I managed to compile quite a list despite the late hour, but no doubt its far from comprehensive. There were 19 Ringed Plovers and 6 Dunlin Calidris alpina in front of the Lodge, a Barn Owl Tyto alba at Holt Bay, and 69 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Top End. While at the Lodge I noticed a sizeable raft of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus, so I counted them and those I saw from Top End hide to give a total of 68, which is an increase since the WeBS count on 14th.

According to Avon Birds, 2 Greenshanks were seen during the day and Andy Davis texted to say he'd seen a single Garganey Spatula querquedula at Top End.

Wednesday 22nd August [Dry but cloudy. Warm.]

I managed to get to the lake this morning and over lunchtime for a change. Although Andy Davis called me to go and see a couple of Garganey Spatula querquedula at Top End (found by Derek Angell - thanks guys), I saw the following birds in order from the dam to Top End:

A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 2 (adult & juv.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Polish Water in front of the Lodge, several ringed gulls (details below) on Tiny's Shallow, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and from Rainbow Point towards Top End there were 4 Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus, 78 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Redshanks Tringa totanus, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo.

Additional to my sightings were 8 Little Egrets on Rugmoor Point mid-afternoon per Mike Moxon (thanks Mike).

In the evening I joined Dave Cottle to co-lead a bat walk for residents of East Harptree. Mark Hynam joined us with his EM Touch, an especially useful detector to have out in the field on public events [see Bat News].

Tuesday 21st August [Mainly dry after early drizzle]

Having arrived home at 0700 hrs this morning I slept until lunchtime after a pretty hectic night of batting. However, late in the afternoon I recorded 13 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 7 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Spotted Redshanks Tringa erythropus, 111 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4, or possibly 5, Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 56 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and 12+ Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus.

I received other sightings from various people including Andy Davis (thanks to everyone for taking the trouble), that included maxima of 117 Black-tailed Godwits, 18 Ringed Plovers, 4 juv. Spotted Redshanks (until dusk), 2 juv. Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, a juv. Peregrine Falco peregrinus, and a juv. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (one of those previously noted at Chew). The latter bird is undoubtedly the same one that I saw so briefly yesterday and, therefore, aged incorrectly. Should have checked the id guide before writing the blog. Doh!

Monday 20th August [Cloud & a little drizzle]

I was up late this morning after a tiring weekend batting in Guernsey, and Richard Mielcarek rang me to tell me there were 2 Turnstones Arenaria interpres in front of the Lodge. It was early afternoon before I finally got to the lake and, sure enough, the Turnstones were still there along with 14 (12 adult & 2 juv.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, and the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius. There were 17 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa also there, but I counted another 113 at Top End! So, I started a second count, but was distracted by an adult ♀ a juvenile Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus right in front of me. Needless to say, it flushed everything at Top End before I lost sight of it overhead thanks to the frustratingly narrow hide viewing slats. I noted the time as 1520 hrs and rang Richard while I carried out a recount of the Godwits. He made it 109 this morning, including the birds at the Lodge, and I made it 109 on the recount. So, on the way home I checked to see that the Lodge birds were back at Top End, which they were, so we'll settle for 109 today. Additional birds that I noted were a Great White Egret Ardea alba, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax. No Garganey though!

Mike Moxon sent me the following news: There were 2 Great White Egrets with at least 6 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea & 1 Greenshank Tringa nebularia amongst the Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, all at Rugmoor Point. I note that George Stacey had a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra at Blagdon as well today, according to Avon Birds (another patch year tick escapes me).

I'm off batting in Wiltshire all night tonight - no rest for the wicked. Hopefully, I'll have some time to write up the events of the weekend tomorrow.

Sunday 19th August

I didn't get home from Guernsey until quite late, having stopped for a decent Indian meal in Dorchester with Daniel and Mark on our way home. I received the following information about the birds at Blagdon today:

2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 14 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 91 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 juv. Ruff Calidris pugnax, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, and a juv. Peregrine Falco peregrinus. Thanks for the news guys.

Saturday 18th August

I received the following news of sightings at Blagdon today (thanks to those who contacted me):

2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta (was this a double count?), an adult ♀ Garganey Spatula querquedula, 9 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 86 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa on my one count from the hide, with 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, and an adult Hobby Falco subbuteo, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba, a ♀ Kestrel Falco tinnunculus.

Friday 17th August

Just arrived on sunny Guernsey and I've already heard from Richard Mielcarek that there's a Garganey Spatula querquedula at Top End (thanks Rich), but I'm not grumpy at all! Mervyn Pearce has also been in touch (cheers Merv) to say he counted 62 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Wednesday, when the report I received was of 61 - and so it begins...

Thursday 16th August [Breezy & mainly sunny]

Much the same fayre as yesterday this morning, although some birds appeared to have moved on. The 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula were split between Tiny's Shallow (The Lodge) and Wookey Point (Top End), while the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius was still at the Lodge. I counted 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta along North Shore and at Rugmoor, with a single Great White Egret Ardea alba and a Swift Apus apus also at/over Rugmoor Point. There were 86 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa on my one count from the hide, with 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, and an adult Hobby Falco subbuteo also present. I met Richard Mielcarek and Andy Davis at Top End, but none of us could spot any Garganey, which was disappointing. I reckon the water level to be at about 60% now, as it continues to drop.

I'm off to the Channel Islands Bat Conference at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so I won't be visiting the lake over the weekend. Any news from visiting birders will be gratefully received and shared here as usual. I will have internet connectivity while there.

Wednesday 15th August [Breezy with some drizzle]

I spent all day from 0930 to 1730 at Chew Valley Lake checking bat boxes yesterday and missed two bird year ticks at Blagdon, which is disappointing to say the least. I received a report on Thursday morning, for which I'm grateful (thanks to the birder concerned who wishes to remain anonymous), of the following sightings:

A Great White Egret Ardea alba, 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula (adult & juv. ♀♀ found by Andy Mears), the ♂ Mandarin Aix galericulata, an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, 61 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 8 (7 adults & a juv.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 5 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 (adult & 2 juvs.) Dunlin Calidris alpina, 2 (adult & juv.) Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 91 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 (adult & 4 juvs.) Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 4 Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava flavissima, 2 ♂ Kestrels Falco tinnunculus, an adult Hobby Falco subbuteo and a juvenile Peregrine Falco peregrinus.

As for the bat box checks at Chew, we were really excited to find 2 Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii, both ringed, plus 48+ Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. I will post news about the ringed bats later on the Bat News Page. While there, I also saw a late Swift Apus apus over Moreton Point and 3 Green Sandpipers in Heron's Green Bay.

Tuesday 14th August [Breezy & mainly sunny]

I did the WeBS count this afternoon from 1245-1545 hrs, as we had to postpone it last Friday. There was still a good selection of waders present, and I made it 1 Great White Egret Ardea alba, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 87 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 5 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 6 Dunlin Calidris alpina, a Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 2 Redshanks Tringa totanus, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 48 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 1289 Coots Fulica atra, 142 Moorhens Gallinula chloropus, 86 Mute Swans Cygnus olor, 602 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos and 234 Gadwall Mareca strepera to mention but a few! Full details of the count are on the WeBS Page.

More news later of 4 Redshanks, 6 Little Egrets, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis (I presume the regular adult and a juv.), 2 Snipe and 5 Green Sandpipers. Just so readers understand, it is not always possible to see all the birds present at Top End from the hide at present, and this will partly account for the varying numbers reported, aside from angling disturbance and birds coming and going, of course. Thanks for the updates.

Monday 13th August [Sunny so far]

A mid-morning whizz around, before going off to Weston General again, gave me the following counts:

A single Great White Egret Ardea alba, 6 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 87 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 2 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina.

Okay, I got back late in the afternoon and met Mark Hynam. We had lots of birds and I can update the earlier counts as follows:

105+ Black-tailed Godwits (Mark's count, I 'only' managed 94), 4 Ruff, 8 Ringed Plovers, 5 Green Sandpipers, 5 (Mark again, I only saw 3) Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 1+ (probably 2) Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 52 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, an adult Yellow Legged-Gull Larus michahellis, the Mandarin Aix galericulata, a Hobby Falco subbuteo and a sleeping Barn Owl Tyto alba. Afternoons like that make up for all the days with little to report!

Sunday 12th August [Quite a lot of rain]

I guessed the rain might drop some new birds in today, but I wasn't able to have a look for them until this evening. Nevertheless, I saw a juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius and 4 (2 adults & 2 juvs.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at the Lodge, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in the trees at Holt Copse, while at Top End I spotted 5 more Ringed Plovers, 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 4 Ruff Calidris pugnax, 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, and a flock of 17 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis sitting together in a weed bed.

News on the BOC website from Nick (thanks), who said Andy Mears had visited earlier in the day, and reported: 3 Water Rails, 7 Ringed Plovers, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 64 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 3 Green Sandpipers, and a Common Tern Sterna hirundo. The Common Tern was new for the year, and about time too! I understand Rob Laughton saw a Garganey Spatula querquedula as well, according to Nick.

Saturday 11th August [Quite a bit of rain & windy]

I met Mark Hynam at the lake this evening, and between us we recorded the Mandarin Aix galericulata, 45 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 5 (4 adults and a juv.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, the juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 59 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 1 or 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo and a hunting Barn Owl Tyto alba. It was quite a rewarding last couple of hours of daylight.

Friday 10th August [Rain in the morning, drying out later.]

The heavy morning rain and the need for me to take Celia for an emergency dental appointment combined to put off the WeBS count this morning. We did have time for a brief look around and we spotted 5 (4 adults and a juv.) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, and a juv. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius in front of the Lodge, while there were 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 18 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago and the Mandarin Aix galericulata from Top End hide. Oh, I almost forgot, there were at least 10 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus at the lake too.

Sarah Lynett emailed to say she'd seen a Peregrine Falco peregrinus this afternoon at Awkward Hill, Nempnett Thrubwell, overlooking the lake. Thanks Sarah.

Mark Hynam texted me in the evening, while I was out, to say that there was a Great White Egret Ardea alba at Top End, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and an extra Black-tailed Godwit to add to those seen by the WeBS team in the morning.

Thursday 9th August [Showers & breezy. Cooler than of late.]

I managed to have a look around at lunchtime and saw a Peregrine Falco peregrinus, 17 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and 4 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus at Top End, as well as 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at various points scattered around the lake. Mark Hynam texted me at 2008 hrs to say he was watching 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula in front of the Lodge, a species I've yet to catch up with for my site list this year. We will be doing the WeBS count tomorrow morning, so who knows, they may still be there if I'm a lucky boy!

Wednesday 8th August [Showers & sunny spells]

I was checking bat boxes on the North Somerset Levels most of the day, and didn't get to the lake until late evening, in the gentle rain. So, my visit was quite short but I saw 62+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and the eclipse ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata at Top End.

Nigel Crocker emailed to tell me he'd seen a Red Kite Milvus milvus over Velvet Bottom on Monday morning. It's good to know there are one or two about after the migration period - it can't be long before they start breeding locally surely, and they'd be a very welcome addition to our local avifauna in my opinion.

Tuesday 7th August [Sunny spells & breezy]

This morning I saw an adult Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres on Rugmoor Point with, I think, a juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina. Also there and around Top End were 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3+ Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. I'd noted mobile Little Egrets Egretta garzetta before leaving and saw 2 together in Long Bay. Mervyn Pearce was at the Lodge, so we had a look at the Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum from the boat quay, and counted 10♂♂ and a teneral ♀.

Monday 6th August [Warm & sunny]

An interesting visit late afternoon saw 4♂ Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum at the boat quay, a Badger Meles meles foraging along the shoreline (they must be desperate for food with this hard ground) on North Shore at 1615 hrs, single Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Orchard & Wood Bays, about 26 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus scattered about, with 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, a White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata at Top End. There has been an influx of Teal Anas crecca, Gadwall Mareca strepera and Shovelers Spatula clypeata over the last week or so too, no doubt attracted by the low water conditions.

Sunday 5th August [Hot & sunny]

I didn't visit the lake today, but did go bat trapping at Shapwick NNR in the evening (with permission from Natural England). While there I saw a Marsh Harrier over Canada Farm. The bat trapping was only a short session, from dusk until midnight (see Bat News for details).

Saturday 4th August [Hot & sunny]

I made an afternoon visit today because we're bat trapping on the Somerset Levels this evening. I picked out 6 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus at Top End, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia on Wookey Point, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta on Rugmoor Point, another Black-tailed Godwit in Pipe Bay, and a Redshank Tringa totanus on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge. The Lesser Black-backed Gull, Red K+H, was also on Tiny's Shallow among the loafing birds in the terrific heat.

Thanks to Ali Blaney and the RSPB staff for the opportunity to trap at Ham Wall RSPB reserve, we had a long night and I didn't get to bed until 0600 hrs! As expected, we had a good variety of species and caught 3 adult ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii, but no ♀♀ or young of the year (see Bat News for catch details). We had 3 sightings of Marsh Harrier and saw 2 Great White Egrets while setting up.

Friday 3rd August [Warm & sunny]

As I arrived early this evening, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa flew west over the dam. The water level continues to drop rapidly as the drought continues, and I saw 40+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm on a newly turned field. I'm not sure if the ploughing, or the drought, was responsible for my seeing 2 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus lakeside, a most unusual occurrence. Perhaps, they were looking for green grass, in the parched landscape? At Top End, there were 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus on the exposed mud, and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata was feeding out in the extensive weed beds with all the other waterfowl.

Thursday 2nd August [Warm & sunny]

I picked up a grounded Leisler's Bat from John Harris today, a juvenile ♀, that he found in his garden in Pill. Sadly, it died before I got it to Kiri and Stew at Bristol Bat Care. However, it's an interesting record all the same.

At the lake there were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on Rugmoor Point, and later 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta flew in to Flower Corner while I was at Top End hide with Mark Hynam. Although I'd looked on the way through, I missed a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius in front of the Lodge according to Mark.

Wednesday 1st August [Warm & sunny]

I was away from Blagdon at Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire today. I was checking bat boxes with Ken Anstey and two of our bat handling trainees to help Dr. Dani Linton . We found 7 Natterer's and 29 Daubenton's including a number of young of the year that Dani and Ken ringed. It's all part of a long-term study of 1200 boxes that Dani has been carrying out since 2006.

Tuesday 31st July [Warm & cloudy]

At the Lodge this evening, the 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius were still in front of the Lodge, and there was a ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus on Tiny's Shallow:

In Home Bay I saw a pair of Moorhens Gallinula chloropus with 3 late juveniles, and on Holt Farm circa 45 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. I noted just a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on Rugmoor Point, whilst a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata were at Top End.

Monday 30th July [Showers]

I spent most of the day with old work friends walking in the vicinity of the Orchardleigh Estate. So, it was quite late this evening when I went down to the lake. I saw 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius in front of the Lodge, 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on Rugmoor Point, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata at Top End. Hopefully, there'll be some more sunshine tomorrow, then I can get down to the lake to look for invertebrates and passing migrant birds. The water level has dropped to about 64% now.

Sunday 29th July [Heavy showers]

Overnight rain that continued into the morning made me decide to go down to the lake at lunchtime, in the hope that some new birds may have dropped in. On the dam there was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, and at the Lodge there was a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius and Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus yellow D:DX, which was a good start, but thereafter I didn't see anything new. There was a returning adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis loafing on Rugmoor Point, a few scattered Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and the adult Greenshank Tringa nebularia and adult Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus were at Top End.

Saturday 28th July [A bit cooler than of late with heavy showers]

With the changeable weather I thought it worth going down to the lake a bit earlier than of late. As predicted last Monday, there was a moulting adult Dunlin Calidris alpina and 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius on Tiny's Shallow, while the adult Greenshank Tringa nebularia and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus were on Wookey Point at Top End. I didn't spot the Mandarin Duck, but it may have relocated given that the water has now drained from the Top End trees as the level continues to go down rapidly.

This evening, Mark Hynam spotted a Little Egret Egretta garzetta on Home Bay Point, and we both saw 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on Rugmoor Point, and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata at Wookey Point (no leg rings).

Friday 27th July [Hot & breezy]

At lunchtime I saw a Greenshank Tringa nebularia at Bell's Bush, but didn't look for the Mandarin Duck. The water level continues to drop rapidly and the island in front of the Lodge is almost joined with the bank and, therefore a spit.

I saw 4 or 5 ♂ Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum at the boat quay and took Mark Hynam up to see the Southern Migrant Hawker (aka Blue-eyed Hawker) Aeshna affinis which is still showing incredibly well.

Looks like its going to be cloudy tonight after all this incredible weather, which means photos of the 'Blood Moon' is going to be out.

Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Blue-eyed Hawker, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Thursday 26th July [Hot & sunny]

There's not much to tell about the birds at the lake today, save for a 3rd-year Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, at least one Sand Martin Riparia riparia, and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata.

I was amazed to find Small Red-eyed Damselflies Erythromma viridulum at the boat quay, the first place I decided to look this afternoon. There was a pair in tandem with the ♀ ovipositing, and at least 2 other adult ♂♂. I didn't have time to look for others today, but will tomorrow, because I then went up to Priddy to look for the Southern Migrant Hawker (aka Blue-eyed Hawker) Aeshna affinis reported to be there a few days ago. Luckily, it was still present and showing well along the roadside edge of Waldegrave Pool.

Small Red-eyed Damselflies ovipositing, Blagdon Lake & Blue-eyed Hawker, Waldegrave Pool, Priddy © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Wednesday 25th July [Warm & sunny]

This evening I saw 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, circa 18 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, and the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata briefly.

Small Red-eyed damselflies were found at Chew Valley Lake by Rupert Higgins yesterday, so it'll be worth a concerted effort to see if they've made it to Blagdon too. I couldn't see any this evening, but it was a bit late in the day. They are a fairly recent colonist and I remember going to see them on the ponds at the massive Bluewater shopping complex in Kent a few years ago. Richard Mielcarek also told me he'd seen the Southern Migrant Hawker at Waldegrave Pool at Priddy yesterday, so I might go and have a look for that too.

Tuesday 24th July [Hot & sunny]

I was out photographing invertebrates for a good part of the day at Worley Hill Nature reserve on the Poldens (owned by Millfield School). Like everywhere else at the moment, the hillside was burnt to a crisp and all we could find there were a few Mottled Grasshoppers. The woodland rides were much more productive, however, and we saw a good selection of butterflies and other creatures, although I could only find 4 hoverfly species, which was a disappointment. Here are a couple of pictures taken today:

A tick, probably the Castor Bean Tick Ixodes ricinus & a jumping spider probably Heliophanus flavipes © Nigel Milbourne 2018

The tick turned out to be particularly appropriate, I picked up 3 during my visit! It's been a terrible year for them this year.

Back home on the ranch, I saw the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata, a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, about 25 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. There was also a ♀ Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with a single smallish duckling in Long Bay, the remains of a late brood.

Monday 23rd July [Warm & sunny]

This evening the island (Tiny's Shallow) has well and truly risen above the waves in front of the Lodge and there are birds starting to use it for lounging and feeding. So, hopefully, we might start to see a few waders dropping in there. I spotted the ♂ Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata again, sitting on a branch above the water at Top End, and 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 46 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at various points around the shoreline.

Sunday 22nd July [Warm]

A brief visit on the way to Chew Valley Lake for a batting session this evening, turned up 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos.

The batting was disappointing at Chew, probably due to the clear skies and bright moon, although it did remain warm (see Bat News for catch details).

Saturday 21st July [Warm & sunny]

This evening, I saw 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at various points around the dam end, and 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in flight over the lake. Seven of us assembled to run 3 harp traps and a net to catch bats at Top End, and we had a pretty good session (see Bat News). The best capture was, as we were about to pack up, an adult ♂ Brandt's Bat Myotis brandtii brought to the processing station by Daniel (only our second site record). Phil Delve also used my generator to run his Robinson moth trap at Flower Corner where we based ourselves. He had a pretty good return I believe, and he'll send me a list that I'll post here when I receive it. As we were packing up the last trap at 0400 hrs, we heard a Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus give a couple of flight calls in the early dawn light.

Tomorrow, we move on to Chew Valley Lake to trap overnight.

Friday 20th July [Warm]

I didn't manage to get to the lake this morning, but this evening I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus. I moved on then to Chew Magna reservoir where we carried out a short batting session until the rain set in. We'd caught 13 bats of 3 species by the time I called it off. We couldn't afford for the gear to get too wet with two more sessions planned this weekend.

Thursday 19th July [Warm]

My evening visit turned up a juvenile Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus on the dam with Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and at least 38 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. I should be able to get to the lake tomorrow morning for a look around, and will be batting each night over the weekend at the Bristol reservoirs.

Wednesday 18th July [Warm, with sunny spells.]

It was quite quiet at the lake this evening. Mark and I saw 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a single Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus and about 40 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, although the latter were well scattered and difficult to tot up. There were 11 Teal Anas crecca at Rugmoor Bay, missed on the WeBS count, and a handful of Gadwall Anas strepera around the Top End, but no sign of the Mandarin again.

Tuesday 17th July [Warm, some rain.]

I had to go to visit a local church to survey their bats this evening, and took Mark with me to help count and video the emergence. Before that, we met at the lake and spent 45 mins looking for new birds. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and a ♂ Ruff Calidris pugnax, but couldn't spot the Mandarin Duck we saw yesterday in the time available.

Monday 16th July [Warm, with some cloud & a shower late afternoon.]

Phil Delve, Terry Doman, Rob Hargreaves and I did the WeBS count this morning. Top birds were a Mandarin Aix galericulata, probably an adult ♂ in eclipse (5th site record), 2♂ Ruff Calidris pugnax, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba flying west over the dam, and 8 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos. There has been an increase in Coot Fulica atra numbers to 825, and Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula to 264 (virtually all ♂♂). See WeBS Page for details of count. The Mandarin was still present this evening, and I saw 2 Sand Martins Riparia riparia over Top End. The water level is about 72% now.

Sunday 15th July [Warm & sunny]

I had a look around this evening with Mark Hynam, and we saw a 2nd-year Common Gull Larus canus at a distance with great white patches in its wings, that flew off when we tried to approach it for a better view. There were 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and 58 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, as well as a new singing Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus at Long Bay (the other one was still at Holt Bay). Tomorrow, we will be doing the monthly WeBS count.

This afternoon, a ♂ Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo flew into the lounge through the open patio doors. Quite a remarkable event given that they are associated with clean running water, and we live 350 feet up a hill with no stream nearby! Perhaps, they are being forced to move around the countryside more, as the local hill streams dry up. It is a splendid looking species, and I was able to let it settle on a finger while I walked it back outside.

Saturday 14th July [Warm & sunny]

Mark Hynam had a look around the lake today, and spotted a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and 50+ Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.

Friday 13th July [Warm & close. Thundery with a brief but heavy rain shower!]

The best sighting on a brief visit this evening was a couple of Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus on Green Lawn. They were backed up by no fewer than 7 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, an unidentified distant egret that was probably a Great White Ardea alba, and a flock of Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.

I moved on afterwards to meet up with our Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project team, bat trapping at Litton lower reservoir.

Thursday 12th July [Less warm again & cloudy]

I was supposed to be going to Exmoor again today, but rain put paid to that for the second week in a row - the weird thing is, we've barely had a drop at home. Anyway, I did visit the lake this evening and saw 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay (the point is now exposed), 39 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm and Rugmoor Point, and 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn and Home Bay Point. The Coot Fulica atra numbers are starting to build too.

Tuesday 10th July [Less hot with a breeze]

I spent most of the day at WWT Steart Marshes with our invertebrate group, more about which later. This evening I went to the lake and saw 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Home Bay. John Mason, one of our group of friends who meet up regularly during the summer to go on invertebrate forays, found a road casualty Grey Heron Ardea cinerea a while ago and brought a claw with him to show me the comb on one of the toes that is presumed to be used to wipe fish slime etc from their feathers. It's not something I've seen before, and I thought I'd share a photo for the birders among you.

Claw comb of a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea © Nigel Milbourne 2018

At Steart I didn't see too much of interest before we took lunch in the Quantock hides watching young Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta and Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus. However, late in the day, we went to Wall Common and spent a fascinating hour watching bees which, at the time, we thought were probably Coast Leafcutter Bees Megachile maritima. According to Steven Falks' Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland they use the leaves of birches, willows and Hound's-tongue to make their cells. Our bees were using the leaves of Dandelions Taraxacum agg. and I now think they were Silvery Leafcutter Bees Megachile leachella in a large, noisy, nesting aggregation. Anyway, here's a few pictures taken during the day.

Silvery Leafcutter Bee Megachile leachella digging a nest hole & bringing in nest cell material © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Silvery Leafcutter Bee Megachile leachella nest cell & Taraxacum agg. leaf damage caused by the bees © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Monday 9th July [Hot, hot, hot.]

This evening I saw 3 Redshanks Tringa totanus (an adult and 2 juveniles, I think) on the dam, but couldn't find a Common Sandpiper for love nor money. There were about 40 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Green Lawn and Holt Farm, 6 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis (5 adults and a juvenile) in Long Bay, and I counted 60 Mute Swans Cygnus olor (16 juveniles).

Earlier in the day I had a quick look at Chew Magna reservoir to see how much the water level has fallen. As it happens, it is still quite full. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the spillway, and heard a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus call from somewhere behind the dam. However, the real surprise was spotting a ♂ Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope patrolling the NE corner of the dam, viewable from Battle Lane, between 1210-1240hrs or so. The last time I saw this migrant dragonfly was at Blagdon Lake in 2006, during a general influx into the country.

Sunday 8th July [Hot]

I was down at the lake by 0700 hrs this morning and met Mark Hynam, so we walked to the Top End hide and back from the Lodge. We saw 12 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, more than 20 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, and the first Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus of the year. So, things are on the move and there are some small margins at the lake to attract shorebirds, but we need it to drop some more yet. At Lodge Copse, I saw a juvenile Siskin Spinus spinus, then at Holt Bay we heard a singing Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, the first since two passage birds in spring. I was wondering what had happened to them this year.

Saturday 7th July [Baking hot]

It was way too hot to go traipsing about at the lake looking for birds during the day. However, this evening I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, but Mark told me he'd seen at least 4, possibly 6. There were more Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula present than during my last visit, but they were put into the air by two separate firework displays!

Thursday 5th July [Hot & sunny]

I had a very quick look at the lake this evening and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam plus 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Green Lawn. Then, I went over to Chew Valley Lake to count the emergence from a bat roost with Ken Anstey and Mark Hynam.

Wednesday 4th July [Some spits & spots of rain. Cloudy & warm.]

I went down to Exmoor this morning with photographer Chris Hooper, but spitting rain turned persistent and became quite heavy as I drove back up the motorway from Taunton. When I got within a couple of miles of home, the ground was virtually dry. It had by-passed Blagdon. Unfortunately, our mission was to photograph butterflies, but it was pretty hopeless in the circumstances. Nevertheless, it was really kind of Chris to take me out.

This evening I spent an hour and a half at the lake. There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a few Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point. But, finding 28 Pochard Aythya ferina back at the lake, as well as another successful brood of 5 juvenile Mallards Anas platyrhynchos at Top End were the more noteworthy sightings.

Tuesday 3rd July [Warm & sunny]

A long, hot, day at Wytham Woods checking bat boxes resulted in our little group spotting just 3 Pipistrelles in 2-off 1FF boxes. Another crew found a maternity group of 40 Natterer's Myotis nattereri, including 19 juveniles. We also saw a roosting Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus while we were there - an unexpected bonus. Thanks to Dani, as ever, for having us.

There was no news from the lake.

Monday 2nd July [Hot]

I got down to the lake rather late this evening, and while I was checking over the dam, Mark appeared. He'd been having a look around, and had seen a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and circa 12 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. As dusk was rapidly falling, we decided to go straight up onto the Mendips again, and found a third pair of Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus.

I had been out earlier in response to a call from Sarah Lynett because a Swift Apus apus had flown into Ubley village hall at around 1400 hrs and had been flying around near the ceiling for much of the time until I got there at 1900 hrs. Anyway, I eventually netted it while it was clinging to a ceiling support beam, and we released it back outside with the other local swifts and watched it fly off strongly. Thanks to Sarah for her call, and being prepared to give up her time until the bird was safely removed.

Tomorrow, I am going to help Dr. Dani Linton at Wytham Woods, with Ken Anstey and two of our bat handling trainees. It will be a long day, and I doubt that I will get down to the lake as well. So, any bird news would be gratefully received!

Sunday 1st July [Warm & sultry]

I met Mark Hynam at 0530 hrs for a look around the lake this morning. We found 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 15 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Teal Anas crecca and saw a ♂ Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo at Top End. There has been a small increase in Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers, but it's still quiet as far as wildfowl are concerned.

Mike O'Connor emailed to say he'd seen a Red Kite Milvus milvus circling for 2-3 minutes just up the road near Yeo Valley HQ this morning, before it headed off towards the south side of the lake and out of sight.