Daily News

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

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.

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.

Saturday 30th June [Hot & sunny]

This evening a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam, and I saw just one juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn. There was a late Mallard Anas platyrhynchos brood of 5 juveniles off Ash Tree and 2 ♂ Pochards Aythya ferina in Wood Bay too.

Friday 29th June [Pleasantly warm with a cooling breeze]

I had a look at the lake this evening, and saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis fly past me towards the Lodge then, at Green Lawn, I found an adult and 3 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, and a juvenile Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus with around 12 adults and 1st-summers. At Rainbow Point a Brown Hare Lepus europaeus showed briefly and, what I assume was the same Kingfisher seen earlier, flew back across Holt Bay towards the dam as I headed home. I would say the water level is probably around 79% now and falling reasonably quickly.

Thursday 28th June [Cloudy and cool to start, but it soon warmed up.]

I spent much of the day at Priddy Mineries and Stockhill Plantation photographing invertebrates with Robin Williams and Chris Hooper today. I was really pleased to spot a ♂ Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens at Waldegrave Pool, the first one I've ever seen there. Here are some portraits of some of the more unusual things seen during the day:

Leucozona laternaria and L. glaucia, Stockhill Plantation © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Platycheirus rosarum & Xylota segnis, Waldegrave Pool © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Bugs Grypocoris stysi & Closterotomus norwegicus, Stockhill Plantation © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Keeled Skimmer & Mother-of-Pearl, Waldegrave Pool © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Tuesday 26th June [Even steamier than yesterday]

I spent the day at the lake with Liz McDonnell and Clive Lovatt while they did their botanical survey of the Top End (south side) meadows until we took a late lunch, before we went to the Pumping Station in the afternoon to look at the under-recorded ST5059 square. This evening Nigel Crocker emailed news of a Red Kite Milvus milvus over Ubley village between 1430-1530 hrs, which went first to the west and then back to the east. I saw the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water mid-morning, and a number of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus which have been back at the lake for the last week or so. Once again there were a number of large gulls at the dam end for much of the day. I also saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta fly east along the north shore of the lake.

Eristalis nemorum, male hovering over female, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne 2018

I saw lots more new plants, pointed out by Liz and Clive. It was a real privilege to spend the day with them.

Monday 25th June [Steamy hot]

I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water this afternoon when I went down to the lake with my camera to try and photograph some new invertebrates. Like the birds, the inverts were keeping a low profile in the heat of the day - it was just this Mad Englishman who was out there!! As well as the sandpiper, there was quite a gathering of large gulls at the dam end, mainly Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus.

Saturday 23rd June [Hot & sunny]

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark Hynam did in the evening, and texted me news of a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos in Long Bay and 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Green Lawn. He also saw a newish brood of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos near the dam.

Later, we met up and went up on the Mendips (Somerset side) and saw 2 pairs of Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus.

Friday 22nd June [Hot & sunny]

I went down to the lake twice today, early in the morning, and again during the afternoon. I don't have any birds to report, but Robin Williams and I went looking at invertebrates and photographing some of them:

♂ Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum and Nettle-tap Moth Anthophila fabriciana © Nigel Milbourne 2018

♂ Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Soldierfly Stratiomys singularior on pink form of Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Hoverfly Eristalis intricarius and Spider Araniella sp. © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Bumblebee Bombus pratorum on Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre and Tree Bee B. hypnorum on Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria © Nigel Milbourne 2018

Mark Hynam and I met up in the evening and went looking for Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus on the Mendips (Somerset side). We heard one churring and saw a probable female.

Thursday 21st June [Warm & sunny]

I went out in the evening with Mark Hynam looking for Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus on the Mendips (North Somerset side). We didn't see or hear any unfortunately.

Tuesday 19th June [Warm but overcast]

I went to the lake twice today. I didn't see anything new to report bird-wise. Ken Anstey, Georgie Hayworth and I checked some bat boxes for roosts (see Bat News), and in the evening I made a video of their emergence from a box containing a maternity group of Natterer's Bats Myotis nattereri in order to see how many were present without opening the box and disturbing them during the day.

Sadly, I have to report that the Rook Corvus frugilegus I took to Secret World on 31st May was euthanized. No explanation was given.

Monday 18th June [Warm & dry]

Phillip Delve, Rob Hargreaves and I carried out the WeBS this morning from 0945-1230 hrs (see WeBS Counts). It was remarkable only for the lack of water birds, although we did spot 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Peg's Point. By my reckoning, the water level has dropped to about 84% and there are some margins beginning to appear e.g. Green Lawn. Early days for migrant waders yet, but here's hoping!

Other sightings made during the count included 2 new broods of Coot Fulica atra (2 & 4 juvs.), Ruddy Darters Sympetrum sanguineum and a ♂ Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum.

Sunday 17th June [Changeable]

I didn't visit the lake today and don't have any news to share. We will be carrying out the monthly WeBS tomorrow morning.

Saturday 16th June [Changeable]

I spent a good portion of the day at the lake today with the Somerset Rare Plants Group, thanks to leaders Liz McDonnell and Clive Lovatt. We spent about five hours along the north side of the lake, where group members were amazed by the glorious meadows. Liz and Clive showed us many plants, especially grasses, rushes and sedges which are a bit of a blind spot for me, and explained how to identify them. Bristol Water have given permission for a survey of the meadows around the lake to inform management, and with the proposed update of the Bristol Regional Flora in mind. I saw lots of new rushes and sedges, which are particularly well represented at Blagdon. Suffice to say, apart from a lone ♂ Pochard Aythya ferina on the dam, there wasn't much to add about the birds despite the long time on site. I did, however, see a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui at Rugmoor Bay, my first of the year.

Some of the plants I noted today:

Friday 15th June [Sunny early on]

I was up at 0530 hrs to do my late ST5159 BBS survey this morning, and it was well worth it, as I found a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm and heard the ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus singing on North Shore. I also heard 3 ♂ Garden Warblers Sylvia borin singing, which was a nice surprise. The disappointing thing was that I saw no Swallows at all around Holt Farm. I wonder if they no longer breed there as modern industrial farming takes over, albeit organic? There has certainly been a steady decline in Swallow sightings over the 20 years I've been doing the survey in this square.

Thursday 14th June [Tail end of a storm that eased during the day. Windy.]

I didn't manage a visit to the lake today.

Wednesday 13th June [Cloudy]

I met Mark at the lake this evening, and neither of us had seen anything new until he spotted a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis in flight at Holt Bay. We then checked the box that we saw 245 Soprano Pipistrelles emerge from one evening last summer. Tonight it was just one!

Tuesday 12th June [A cool breeze with cloud]

I had a look at the lake late morning, but don't have anything to report, other than I didn't hear the Cuckoo.

During the afternoon I was called out by Kiri at Bristol Bat Rescue to check out and pick up a bat brought in by a cat at Bishop Sutton. It was a ♂ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, that apart from a wing tear and small hole, didn't appear to have suffered too much damage. Ken took it over to Kiri after our survey, where she gave it some antibiotics in case it had suffered tooth puncture wounds to the body. Hopefully it'll get over the trauma and we will be able to release it back where it was found very soon.

Monday 11th June [Warm & sunny]

Mark Hynam and I had a quick look around the lake before dusk, but there wasn't anything new to report apart from 2 Pochards Aythya ferina. We carried out a bat exit survey of the Lodge at dusk, but only saw 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus come out, although there were good numbers foraging around the car park after dark.

Sunday 10th June [Warm & sunny]

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula numbers have started to rise, with c. 40 present this evening, and the Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was still singing his heart out as the sun went down. Mute Swans Cygnus olor appear to have had a mixed breeding season with two broods of 5, and others with just 1 and 2 cygnets. I know of at least two other prosssible broods that I have yet to count.

Friday 8th June [Cloudy but warm]

Just as I finished working in the garden this afternoon, I saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus glide low over the house. It drifted east along the Mendip escarpment. Then, in the next 30 mins. or so, 3 more flew over the village, all of which headed north over the lake. I noted the time as 1520-1550 hrs.

At the lake this evening I spotted 2 more broods of Mute Swan Cygnus olor, one with a single juv. at Orchard Bay, and the other with 3 juvs., so far as I could tell, on the back of the pen at Burmah Road.

Wednesday 6th June [Sunny and warm]

A quick visit to the lake in the evening, on the way to Chew Valley Lake to carry out a bat survey, didn't turn up anything new.

The bat survey will be reported on the Bat News page in due course, when Ken Anstey and I have reviewed our videos.

Tuesday 5th June [Cloudy & cool again with a NE breeze]

Back to hospital again today, but I did at least get to the lake again, where I saw 2 broods of Mute Swan Cygnus olor (4 and 5 cygnets) at the Lodge and Long Bay. I also noted a ♂ Shoveler Spatula clypeata without any sign of his mate - perhaps she's sitting? The Cuckoo Cuculus canorus I heard on Sunday evening, is still singing at Butcombe Bay (thanks to Martin Cottis and John Thorogood for letting me know).

Monday 4th June [Cloudy & thankfully cooler than yesterday]

Another day visiting hospital with Celia, but hopefully we're getting a bit closer to understanding what's going on, so well worth it. I got to the lake this evening where I counted 121 Canada Geese Branta canadensis, 17 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and 9 Gadwall Mareca strepera. The level is starting to drop and is currently around 94%.

Sunday 3rd June [Very hot & sunny]

I didn't bother to go down to the lake during the sweltering day, but met Mark at dusk to check out a couple of bat boxes to see if there were any Soprano Pipistrelles in prospective maternity roosts. We didn't see any bats come out of the boxes, which is amazing because it was a year ago to the day that we counted 245 out of one of the boxes we checked this evening! Perhaps the bats haven't moved in to their roosts yet. While we were waiting for bats, we were really pleased to hear a singing ♂ Cuckoo Cuculus canorus somewhere at the dam end. I'll have a look around tomorrow.

Saturday 2nd June [Hot & sunny]

Paul, one of the Fishery Rangers, told me someone had reported seeing an Osprey dive into the water at Chew today.

Warwick White told me that Secret World have been feeding the young Rook, so hopefully it'll be fine and we will be able to release it back at the rookery in a few days, when the wing feathers are all out of pin and it can fly.

It was nice to see that biologist, zoologist, wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker, Heinz Sielmann, was honoured by Google today. Apparently, it would have been his 101st birthday, were he still alive. His wonderful films were shown on TV when I was young, and were a great source of interest and inspiration for a fledgling naturalist.

Thursday 31st May [Still muggy & warm]

I spent most of the morning trying to get the young Rook to feed and drink with no success at all. So, after a quick lunch, I took it down to Secret World where I hope they quickly got some food and fluid into it. My visit to the lake this evening was very brief, but I did count 18 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula - yes, the birding's that good!

Wednesday 30th May [Muggy]

I didn't see anything new bird-wise this evening, though I did come across a grounded juvenile Rook Corvus frugilegus on the road. It was very calm and just allowed me to pick it up. I put it up on the branches of a fallen tree, but didn't see it get fed. Reluctantly, I took the decision to bring it home because it was flightless. With the bad weather forecast, and potential predators like Fox and Tawny Owl a serious threat to its safety, I decided to roost it in my garage. It immediately put its head under a wing and went to sleep! The wing feathers are in pin on one side, so it isn't ready to fly just yet, so I'll feed it tomorrow if the rain sets in, and reassess what's to do.

Tuesday 29th May [Overcast, with light rain this afternoon.]

I met up with Robin, John and Tony this afternoon just as the rain started at East Harptree Woods, where they had been looking for invertebrates by Smitham Pool. We decided to pop down to Blagdon for a look at the meadows where we hope to have another look around in the next week or two, now that many of the flowers are in bloom. We noted Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, John saw a Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina, and there were a number of Silver-Y Autographa gamma moths on the wing. I didn't see any new birds, although there was a small flock of a hundred or more Swifts Apus apus plus a few martins over the Lodge area. This was the first decent group I've seen at the lake this year, although I often see flocks of a thousand or more in similar conditions during May in most years. Perhaps they are late this year?

Monday 28th May [Sunny & warm]

Mike O'Connor emailed to say he'd seen a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at the dam today (thanks Mike), probably while I was asleep after another dusk to dawn batting session! I've nothing to add to Mike's sighting I'm afraid. Our last trapping session before bats give birth was a little quieter than yesterday (see Bat News).

Sunday 27th May [Very warm]

Another busy day writing the Avon Bird Report wildfowl section, was followed by a batting session at Chew Valley Lake overnight between Heron's Green Bay and Stratford. Again, we had an exceptionally good session (see Bat News), but the ♀ Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii eluded us. Needless to say, I didn't find time to visit Blagdon during the day.

Saturday 26th May [Warm & close, with thunderstorms later.]

Having been out batting all night at the lake and not getting to bed until 0700hrs, it was evening before I returned. It had been close all day and despite forecasts of rain from 0800 hrs it remained dry until we started to unload the batting gear in readiness for another overnight session. Then the heavens opened, and although it stopped fairly quickly as the storm passed over the Mendips, we decided it would be best not to trap so that the bats had plenty of opportunity to forage between the storms passing over.

Friday 25th May [Warm & close]

I didn't get down to the lake until the evening in readiness for a bat trapping marathon. I didn't see or hear any new birds, other than a Barn Owl Tyto alba hunting at Cheddar Water, while scouting the south shore for sites to place traps. The overnight batting was, however, amazing (see Bat News).

Thursday 24th May [Wet & misty]

I've just spent 3 wonderful sunny days in PadStein, Cornwall, hence the lack of news. I drove back the scenic route along the Atlantic Highway and over Exmoor because I wanted to go to Woody Bay Station (Lynton and Barnstaple Railway) on the way home. The weather turned pretty ugly over Countisbury Hill with rain and low cloud but, as I had some spare time, I also stopped at Minehead Station where there were 3 engines in steam, but the light wasn't great for photography. I popped down to the lake after tea, hoping for a passage tern or something lost in the murk, but there was nothing for me to report. Soz.

John Harris, Bristol Water, phoned to say he was out boat fishing at Chew yesterday, and had 2 Black Terns close to the boat hawking insects.

Monday 21st May [Sunny & warm, with thundery showers in the evening.]

Terry Doman, Rob Hargreaves and I did the WeBS count this morning (see WeBS Page). Numbers of waterfowl were dire to say the least. We saw just 7 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula! On the plus side, there were quite a few broods now, with Mallards Anas platyrhynchos doing okay; I counted 5 totalling 31 juveniles. We saw 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca, and 3 fly-through Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus (unusual at this time of year). Rob and I counted Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus and got very different totals, somehow, so I'll need to count them again tomorrow.

Sunday 20th May [Sunny & warm]

An evening visit turned up 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo hunting over Top End, and 2 Shelducks Tadorna tadorna flying west. Tomorrow morning, we'll be carrying out the WeBS count.

Saturday 19th May [Sunny & warm]

Another day when I didn't visit the lake I'm afraid. I did a circular walk with friends from Litton reservoirs, via Hollow Marsh, Cameley, and Hinton Blewitt in the morning. There was a brood of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos at Litton Res., but I didn't see anything else of special mention. I was hoping for a passing Red Kite or two, but it wasn't to be. The glorious weather made for a lovely walk though.

Friday 18th May [Sunny & warm]

I didn't spend any time at the lake today. Instead, in the afternoon, I went to Chew Magna reservoir with a view to doing some bat trapping in the evening (by permission of Bristol Water and Knowle Anglers). See Bat News for report. I saw two broods of Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (2 and 4 juveniles) and a pair of breeding Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea while I was there.

Thursday 17th May [Sunny with a light breeze]

I did my ST5060 'early' BBS square this morning and found a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata in one of the fields at the head of Butcombe Bay, which was a nice surprise. But, aside from Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla and a few Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, the only other warbler I heard was a single Whitethroat Sylvia communis at Aldwick. Moreover, I saw a single Buzzard Buteo buteo at the Pumping Station, but no other raptors whatsoever on the rest of the walk!

The meadows are in a kind of inbetween period as regards flowering plants. The Marsh Orchids were a delight, but the flowers that really attract insects have yet to bloom, so although we had a lovely day surveying, there wasn't the hoped-for numbers of hoverflies from my point of view, for example. John Mason had a look for Pseudoscorpions at Holt Copse by sieving some leaf litter but didn't find any on this occasion, and he pointed out two new plants for me, Changing Forget-me-not Myosotis discolor and Fern-Grass Catapodium rigidum.

Other records of interest:

Wednesday 16th May [Breezy & cloudy]

I finally managed to do my ST5159 'early' BBS square this morning. It was pretty standard fare, with nothing out of the ordinary seen or heard. I did, however, tick feral pigeon for my patch list this year! Waterbird numbers are always at their lowest at this time of year, so it's no real surprise to be struggling to bring you exciting daily news. It's more about the passerines and any successful waterbird breeding. I will to be spending most of the day with friends surveying & photographing invertebrates at the lake tomorrow, but will be looking out for passing birds as well, of course. Let's hope for some sun.

Tuesday 15th May [Misty then sunny & warm]

I had to abandon doing my BBS square on the south side of the lake this morning. No sooner had the valley mist cleared when a cool fog rolled up the valley obscuring everything more than about 100 metres away. Annoyingly, I went down to the lake twice before 0700rs too!

I had a brief look later in the day but saw nothing of note.

Monday 14th May [Sunny & warm]

I managed a short visit to the lake for an hour this evening, but saw nothing to report other than a beautiful sunset!

Sunday 13th May [Sunny, with a cool breeze.]

Mark Hynam and I surveyed the lakeside birds again this morning, for 4 hours between 0645-1045 hrs. We counted 43 Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes, 28 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, 21 Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus, 11 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 9 Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus, 5 Garden Warblers Sylvia borin, and 3 Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus. Other sightings included a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a Canada Goose Branta canadensis pair with 3 juveniles (presumably the depleted 1st brood), a Moorhen Gallinula chloropus with 2 juveniles at Hellfire Corner (1st brood), and 2 broods (10 & 4 juveniles) of Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (2nd & 3rd broods). We also watched a pair of Hobbies Falco subbuteo, saw quite a few teneral damselfies, and the white flowering form of Bugle Ajuga reptans. Not a bad haul on a fine morning, but Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were obvious gaps on the day list.

Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be doing my BBS square surveys, both by the lake, in squares ST5159 and ST5060.

Saturday 12th May [Sunny, but still a bit cool.]

This evening, I went to the lake and saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, the first of the year at the lake, as far as I know.

I spent the morning at Golden Valley NR, Wick, with Ken Anstey, Sonia Reali and a number of friends checking the bat boxes. Tomorrow morning, I will be surveying the lakeside for singing birds and waterbird broods.

Friday 11th May [Cool again, with rain in the evening.]

This morning I saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus fly west over Ubley at 0930 hrs, and aside from a good number of hirundines with a few Swifts Apus apus early this evening, a Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End was the only other bird of note that I saw. Even today, there were still at least 5 Sand Martins Riparia riparia off Green Lawn - it's been a prolonged passage this Spring.

Thursday 10th May [A cool breeze]

I didn't visit the lake today. In the evening, Mark Hynam and I joined Richard Crompton and Sandie Sowler trapping again; this time in Dowling's Wood at Folly Farm.

Wednesday 9th May [Warm & breezy]

I spent the day at Chew Valley Lake with Ken Anstey checking the bat boxes (see Bat News), and only had a brief look at Blagdon on the way home at tea time. I didn't see anything worthy of note.

While at Chew, I had cracking views of a Hobby Falco subbuteo taking insects at Heron's Green Bay, and found Goldilocks Buttercup Ranunculus auricomus (aka Wood Buttercup) in one of the small lakeside woodlands. I had also seen it in Holt Copse at Blagdon while checking bat boxes there on the 6th May and shown it to the ecologists we were out with.

Tuesday 8th May [Cooler & windier than the previous two days]

Not much to report from my brief mid-afternoon visit. There were 5, or so, Sand Martins Riparia riparia feeding with a small flock of House Martins Delichon urbicum in front of the Lodge.

I will be joining Richard Crompton and Sandie Sowler this evening to help them try and catch some bats with their students.

Monday 7th May [Cloudless skies & hot, hot, hot.]

I didn't visit the lake today, but Mark Hynam texted to say he'd seen 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo off of Bell's Bush this evening. I also got news from Nigel Crocker to say he'd seen a Hobby over Ubley on Saturday, and 3 Swifts Apus apus have been present since then too. Thanks to both of you.

Sunday 6th May [Cloudless skies & hot, hot, hot.]

I met Ken Anstey by the lake at 0930hrs this morning and spent all day checking bat boxes with two trainees, Hannah and Charlene. The only bird of note that I saw during the day was a Tawny Owl Strix aluco. We found circa 100 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 17 of the Schwegler boxes - there were several, probable pre-maternity, groups of females that we left alone in their boxes, so it's impossible to give a definitive count, and there were a few Pipistrelles in the Kent boxes too. We also saw an Oil Beetle Meloe sp. in Lodge Copse, probably a Violet Oil Beetle M. violaceous although I'll need to look at Hannah's photos to see if I can give a definitive ID. I got home at 1900 hrs! Knackered!

Saturday 5th May [Sunny and hot]

I got 4.5 hours off for good behaviour this morning, but had to get up at 0600 hrs to get it! Anyway, Mark Hynam joined me to survey the lakeside songsters and we counted the following of note: 47 Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes, 29 Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla, 20 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita, 20 Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus, 7 Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus, 3 Garden Warblers Sylvia borin, 2 Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus, 2 Whitethroats Sylvia communis and just 1 Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. Sightings included a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a Canada Goose Branta canadensis pair with 5 juveniles (1st brood), a Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas and Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus (also reported to me by Sue Prince).

This evening I went back down to the lake at about 2000 hrs to look for Hobbies but didn't see any despite the perfect hunting conditions. However, I met Mark in the Top End hide and we had a swim-past by a lone Otter Lutra lutra before giving up and going home. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Thursday 3rd May [Sunny & warm]

Another busy day today, but I found time for an hour at the lake towards dusk. Wow, what a difference a week makes! The grass in the meadows has sprung up, and many more species of tree are in leaf. I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and my first 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo of the year feeding on insects off Bell's Bush as the light faded. At Top End there was a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis calling and a ♀ Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with, I think, 6 juveniles (1st brood noted), and at the dam end a flock of about 50 martins with at least 20 Sand Martins Riparia riparia among them.

Phil Delve phoned during the morning to tell me he'd seen 7 Curlew/Whimbrel fly west over the dam while he was trying to photograph a Common Sandpiper. We can be relatively confident in supposing they'd have been Whimbrel but fair play to Phil, he said he wasn't sure of their identities given the view he had.

Wednesday 2nd May [Sunny & warm]

I had an interesting email from John Mason today that read as follows:

With the Blagdon Lake visit coming up this month, I am reminded of our day on 9th August last year looking at the bat boxes, and that I haven't reported back on my findings. I searched all the nest material and bat droppings at the time, but I kept them through the winter to see if anything else emerged. I didn't find any bat fleas in spite of collecting a lot of droppings. I think the samples from the big Schwegler boxes were too wet and foetid for fleas but they did produce a good crop of sewage flies Psychodidae. I'm not surprised that the Lesser Horseshoe droppings were flealess as their flea has not (yet) been recorded from Britain. The other samples were not large but I have collected smaller samples in the past that were productive. Most of the birds' nests were also unproductive but a few were typical tit nests heaving with fleas. All the fleas were bird fleas belonging to the two commonest species:

(These species of bird fleas are not specific to particular hosts like some others, especially mammal fleas. Their associations are determined primarily by nest conditions. Hen fleas tend to occur in high dry nests, duck fleas occur in wet nests at ground level and moorhen fleas are intermediate in their preferences.). Thanks John.

I'm hoping to visit the lake again tomorrow, as Celia is back home again now, but we're taking each day as it comes at the moment.