BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

October 2011 News


Saturday 1st October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Yellow-browed Warbler 4, Little Buntng and Pallid Harrier juvenile.

Sunday 2nd October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Alpine Swift and Yellow-browed Warbler 2+.

Monday 3rd October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike juvenile, Yellow-browed Warbler and Little Bunting.

Tuesday 4th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Mediterranean Gull 1st-winter.

Wednesday 5th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Pallid Harrier juvenile.

Thursday 6th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Red-breasted Flycatcher adult male, Yellow-browed Warbler, Barred Warbler and Hawfinch.

Friday 7th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: A visit to Unst where we saw Snow Bunting, Common Rosefinch 2, Olive-backed Pipit, Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Pied Flycatcher.

Saturday 8th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike adult female, Citrine Wagtail 1st-winter, Merlin, American Golden Plover juvenile, American Buff-bellied Pipit and Pallid Harrier juvenile.

Sunday 9th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Long-tailed Ducks and Porpoises.

Monday 10th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Nowt! One Chaffinch at Scalloway... I'm sitting on the windswept and currently birdless Shetland Isles as I write this.

However, I am pleased to be able to report that Mervyn Pearce, who has been visiting Blagdon Lake in my absence, found two waders late yesterday evening which he suspected as being Dowitchers Limnodromus sp. Being unable to visit again today, he rang Richard Mielcarek who visited with Keith Vinicombe and confirmed the presence of 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus viewable from Bell's Bush. These are the first since two birds visited from 7th October 1977 and overwintered into January 1978 [the precise last date being unclear: given as two first-winter birds from Oct. 7, 1977 to Jan. 8 and 11, 1978 (K.E.V. et al) in 'Birds at Blagdon Lake 1963-1983' by A.H. Davis, Bristol Ornithology 18, and two noted until 11th with one until 15th in BOC News, Jan. 1978. British Birds 71:11 gives the respective dates as 11th and 21st January 1978].

I'm toasting you Merv, with a bottle of Thatchers 'Katy' brewed just down the road from home at Sandford. Nice one!

PLEASE NOTE: If you plan to visit, please ensure you have a permit and do not venture onto the lakeside margin - stay on Bell's Bush meadow and park in car parks only.

Tuesday 11th October

I received a text from Dave Nevitt this morning who saw 4 Common Crossbills Loxia curvirostra fly over at Bell's Bush when looking for the departed Long-billed Dowitchers (relocated at Stratford Bay, Chew Valley Lake). That makes it two Blagdon 'ticks' dipped in as many days! Ho hum!

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Nowt. A Bonxie over the Pool of Virkie was best bird for me and 5 Barnacle Geese just south of Fleck were new in.

Wednesday 12th October

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: A beautiful day on Whalsay but few birds. A Common (Mealy) Redpoll, a sum. plum. Great Northern Diver and 3 Red-throated Divers were tops.

Thursday 13th October

I received a call from Bristol Water Fisheries staff today telling me that there was a strange and unfamiliar bird swimming about in front of the Lodge this afternoon and asking if I could identify it. Well, as I'm still on the Shetland Isles this was going to prove to be a challenge. So I rang Mervyn Pearce, who happened to be at Woodford Lodge enjoying a cup of tea, and he went for a look and found a juvenile Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis. While I was chatting to him and giving him what description I had, two Long-tailed Ducks happened to fly past me at Grutness as well! The last Long-tailed Duck record at Blagdon was of two, eleven years ago, in 2000 (see species accounts for all records). We saw good numbers of Long-tailed Ducks on Sunday 9th here on Shetland, for the first time since getting here, and have seen smaller numbers most days since, so perhaps there's a wider movement going on at present? Thanks to John Harris (the finder) and Bristol Water Fisheries staff for passing on the message and Mervyn for taking time out to go and look at the bird.

Chris Craig emailed later to say he didn't see the duck between 1800 hrs and dusk but did see a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Top End.

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Woodcock, Whinchat and Red Grouse crossed our path today - starting to get desperate, but we enjoyed a Shetland Bird Club meeting in the evening at Lerwick Town Hall where BTO Director Dr Andy Clements gave fascinating a talk titled 'What's happening to our migrants?'

Friday 14th October

Richard Mielcarek kindly called me today, while I was waiting to catch the ferry home from the Shetland Isles, to tell me the 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus had returned to Blagdon from Chew. There was hope yet... He also told me that there were 8 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria at Top End and later sent an email to say he'd found a juvenile Greater Scaup Aythya marila and 2 Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula at Top End after he'd rung off.

The lake level has dropped again to just 47% (per Bristol Water website).

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Nowt. We hardly saw a bird all morning! Glad we're heading home at last. The last week was awful, thanks to the westerly gales.

Saturday 15th October [Bright and sunny]

Alan Bone and I started home from Aberdeen at 0715 hrs and with a breakfast and two comfort stops I dropped him off at Keynsham just under nine hours later before driving directly to the lake to finally catch up with the 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus. That's one of the species on the Blagdon List that I didn't really expect to nail in my lifetime. Yahoo!

I counted 52 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 5 Dunlins Calidris alpina, a Ruff Philomachus pugnax and 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa before going home. If anyone else has counts please forward them to me for inclusion and to go on the record. Whilst I could easily have spent more time looking for all the changes since going away, I will have plenty of time tomorrow while we're carrying out the WeBS Count.

NOTE: If you plan to visit, ensure you have a permit and do not venture onto the lakeside margin because you will flush everything, stay on Bell's Bush meadow and PARK IN THE CAR PARK BY THE BARRIER & TOP END HIDE ONLY, not on the SSSI grasslands.

Sunday 16th October [Warm and sunny]

I do enjoy my travels looking for new birds, but it's just so great to be back on my local patch, especially this morning with the sun shining. Phil and Lucy Delve helped me do the WeBS Count, the highlights of which were the 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus, the probable juvenile female Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis (male characteristics such as pink developing on the blue-grey bill should start to be visible by October), a 1st-winter / female-type Greater Scaup Aythya marila, a Garganey Anas querquedula, 91 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 6 Dunlins Calidris alpina, a Ruff Philomachus pugnax and 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa (see WeBS Counts for full details). I did the gull roost this evening and after entering them into the database came up with a grand total of 4729 birds of 36 species counted today.

There was some passerine migration going on, as we saw 2 flyover Skylarks Alauda arvensis, a Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, several groups of Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus, 2 Linnets Carduelis cannabina and heard presumed Lesser Redpolls Carduelis cabaret calling. Lucy also drew our attention to a Grass Snake Natrix natrix crossing the road at Hellfire Corner and there were 3 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta and a Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria on the wing in the sunshine.

Monday 17th October [Cloudy with a rising wind]

The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were still at Bell's Bush today, along with 104 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 5 Dunlins Calidris alpina, a Ruff Philomachus pugnax and 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. I saw the Garganey Anas querquedula there again and also spotted the presumed drake Tufted Duck x Red Crested Pochard hybrid that has been seen at Chew Valley Lake on and off for a while (what a strange looking quacker it is, to be sure).

I couldn't find the juvenile Long-tailed Duck, which it turned out has relocated to Chew overnight, or the Greater Scaup, before Keith Vinicombe rang me to say he'd found a bat sp. on the causeway over Herriott's Bridge at Chew. I rang Daniel Hargreaves and he advised me to take it to his partner Heidi Cooper-Berry for an examination and care. Heidi thinks it's a Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii that may have sustained some facial trauma but could find no obvious signs of injury other than one nostril being blocked by dried blood and the other weeping the odd spot of blood. She gave it water, as it was dehydrated, and put it in a box to roost until later when she will attempt to feed it and see if it is willing to fly in captivity.

Tuesday 18th October [Sunny but with a raw WNW breeze]

No sign of the Long-billed Dowitchers today and a call to the Chew boys confirmed they don't appear to be there either. The Golden Plover flock and Ruff have also cleared out, leaving just the 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a wide scattering of Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus until a group of 7 Dunlins Calidris alpina flew in and landed at Burmah Road at lunchtime.

Late news from Paul Williams who saw one of the juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus back at Bell's Bush at 1715 hrs, though he couldn't see the other. Later news still from Robert Billingsley to say he saw both the Long-billed Dowitchers Limnodromus scolopaceus at 1530 hrs.

There was obviously an increase in Common Pochard Aythya ferina numbers today, so I counted and made it a total of 262 including a female that had a blue nasal saddle with a 'F' on the front, but I was unable to read the sides as it flew off while I was trying to decipher the lettering. Northern Pintail Anas acuta numbers are also prone to fluctuate daily, but I had the same tally of 28 that I made on Sunday's WeBS Count. Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo totalled 88, most of which were hauled out on Rugmoor Point, and a female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula was feeding off Burmah Road shore. There was a near-adult (4th-winter with a dark sub-terminal bill mark - later re-aged as a 3rd-summer to 4th-winter) Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis at Wood Bay.

While I was at Holt Copse looking through the Aythya flock I heard a (presumed Lesser) Redpoll Carduelis sp. fly over calling and John Harris phoned to say the fisheries team had pulled a large diving beetle out of one of the stock ponds which he'd put in a bucket for me to go and have a look at. It turned out to be another Wasp Diving Beetle Dytiscus circumflexus (see Aug11 page for pictures of this impressive beast), but you have to wonder how it survived in a trout stock pond without being eaten. We put it back in the pond, but it immediately crawled out onto the edge as if making ready to fly away.

The lake level has dropped again to just 44% (per Bristol Water website).

Wednesday 19th October [Sunny but cold]

I've just received a call from Richard Mielcarek at Top End who reports that the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus are still at Bell's Bush this morning along with 101 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria. The Golden Plovers were probably feeding on the Mendip plateau yesterday, but heaven only knows where the Dowitchers were. Two guys looked for them for a couple of hours before I got down to the lake and I was there for several hours myself. Paul Williams and Robert Billingsley visited later on and saw them - see note below for the 18th.

I went down at lunchtime today and saw both Long-billed Dowitchers, a Ruff Philomachus pugnax, just 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa (as did Paul Williams last night and Richard this morning), 16 Dunlin Calidris alpina, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria and the usual Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. Not long after I arrived, the waders went up and the majority of the Goldies flew west along the lake and didn't return before I left, so perhaps they are feeding further down the valley towards Wrington?

There is a newly tilled field by the entrance to the Lodge (between Park and Dark Lanes) that contained good numbers of Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii, a single Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, a few Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis and a Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe. It might be worth checking for Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros and rarer Pipit spp. over the next few days.

Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus, Burmah Road © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

I managed the record shot above when the waders settled again, but I was using my Canon 1Ds Mk III and 600mm lens with 1.4x converter due to the extreme range these birds remain at over the wide, muddy margins with the lake so low. Bird photography at the lake is usually extremely difficult because we have no hides close to the action in these circumstances. I wonder if we could persuade BW to create a large bunded area with a new hide at Burmah Road where little bank fishing is ever done? It could become an excellent refuge area for waders and dabbling ducks that are flushed when anglers fish Bell's Bush and Wookey Point in low water conditions and inadvertently disturb most of the birds in Top End. Frankly, birders have been moaning about both hides at Blagdon for years - Home Bay Point is almost never used and Top End is a dreadful design. I can't get the camera lens through the narrow viewing slots and short people complain they can't see out of it with a telescope. It is also set too far back behind the tall marginal vegetation rendering it virtually useless for observation from May to at least September in most years - unless you want to see Roe Deer. I shall have to put together a proposal for discussion.

Thursday 20th October [Mainly sunny and mild]

I went to the Lodge at about 0915 hrs and while I was chatting to the fishermen I spotted the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis feeding close in with a group of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. No sooner had I spotted it though and the flock went up, taking the Long-tail with them and flew east down the lake. The Long-tail did appear to peel off at Green Lawn but I haven't seen it since, though to be fair I was sitting in a photographic hide at Burmah Road for four hours hoping to get some more shots of the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus that were still present at 0940 hrs, along with 76 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, a Red Knot Calidris canutus , a Ruff Philomachus pugnax and a Dunlin Calidris alpina at Bell's Bush. Sadly, there are no bird photos to show for my long stint in the hide. I did see a couple of young Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus close by though.

Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, Burmah Road © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

The Dowitchers went to Top End according to Richard Mielcarek and at about 1330 hrs all the waders and Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis were flushed by someone, or something, and the waders (except the Golden Plover) apparently flew over to Chew where they have been showing in front of Stratford Hide this afternoon. When I came home at about 1530 hrs there were just a couple of Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Bell's Bush along with the wildfowl. Richard also reported seeing the female Ferruginous Duck-type hybrid from Top End hide again. Other birds that I noted during my time at the lake were an adult Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus apparently stripping a Eurasian Teal Anas crecca of its feathers (while it was still alive I might add) at Orchard Bay, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Top End and a Garganey Anas querquedula at Wood Bay Point that appeared to be a different bird to that noted during the last few days. I also heard quite a few Skylarks Alauda arvensis flying over during the morning.

Friday 21st October

I went on the Scarlet Tanager twitch in Cornwall and dipped. Boo!

Chris Vines sent me the following news: "Having missed the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis with you on Tuesday, I finally caught up with it early this morning. It was showing well close to shore in the mouth of Long Bay at 09.10. The two LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were also still at Bell's Bush, together with one Dunlin Calidris alpina and two Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. I counted 82 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria before they all took flight for the third time - very flighty this morning, no obvious raptors around but perhaps disturbed by two Grey Herons Ardea cinerea."

Saturday 22nd October

The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were at Bell's Bush, together with 14 Dunlins Calidris alpina, 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and 119 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria. I spent some time trying to photograph the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis which spent its time between Home Bay and Green Lawn.

Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, Green Lawn and Home Bay © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus with a European Perch Perca fluviatilis, Home Bay © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

I saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta on Butcombe Bank, the drake Red-crested Pochard x Tufted Duck hybrid, 22 each of Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis and Northern Pintails Anas acuta with 16 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea at Top End and 87 Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo on Rugmoor Point. I saw 2 Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita with a tit flock at Bell's Bush barrier.

The tilled field by the Lodge entrance contained lots of Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii (with possibly one White Wagtail), 6 Common Buzzards Buteo buteo and 7 Mistle Thrushes Turdus viscivorus today.

I ran my 15W Heath Trap overnight in Holt Copse (12 Celsius, 2115 - 0715 hrs) and caught the following:

Sunday 23rd October [Very warm for the time of year with a strong south-easterly breeze]

I was at the lake before the sun was up this morning to collect my moth trap (see results above) and have a look around before the Rugby World Cup Final. The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were at Bell's Bush, with the 3 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a Dunlin Calidris alpina. There were some Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria in the air as I walked from my car but they didn't land before I left as the sun came up. The Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis was at the entrance to Long Bay.

Green-brindled Crescent Allophyes oxyacanthae and Merveille du Jour Dichonia aprilina, Holt Copse © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

News from Steve Preddy who visited this afternoon:

"I called in to Blagdon... to take a look at the Dowitchers and the Long-tailed Duck - both were still present. A few other good birds too - a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus at the Top End... and a 4w Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis off the fishing lodge - or possibly two - there was a second bird which had bright yellow legs, the same mantle colour as the other bird, but a weedy and washed-out bill, lots of head-streaking, and a shawl of mucky streaking on the neck-sides - quite what that combination of characters adds up to is anyone's guess." The latter sounds like the bird I reported on 23rd September. I must try and get some pictures of this bird.

Monday 24th October [A warmish and blustery day with plenty of sunshine and rain later]

Andy Davis rang me late morning to say the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus had just flown in, and that he'd found a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus at Flower Corner (late news from Steve Preddy to say it was present on Sunday afternoon - see above) and noted an adult drake Greater Scaup Aythya marila.

Later on, I saw the above plus the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, singles of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Garganey Anas querquedula, 11 Dunlins Calidris alpina, 93 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 29 Northern Pintails Anas acuta, 87 Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo and 23 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in the mass of water birds that are crowding the Top End.

Sad news from Daniel and Heidi though, the female Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii found by Keith Vinicombe at Herriott's Bridge beside the A368 last week was x-rayed and and found to have either a broken or dislocated jaw which led to blood loss and blockage of the nasal passages. The bat could only breathe through its mouth and so the decision was reluctantly taken to put it to sleep. It is thought it had been in collision with a vehicle. On the positive side though, I have just sponsored the purchase of a bat hibernaculum, through the good offices of Daniel and YACWAG, which Bristol Water have kindly given us permission to put up at Blagdon Lake.

Tuesday 25th October [Warm and still. Sunny in the morning, clouding over later.]

There was some migrant activity with Skylarks Alauda arvensis, Common Linnets Carduelis cannabina, Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinosa and Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis on the move. The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus remain at Bell's Bush, with singles of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata that paid a brief visit before flying off west. Also present there, were 65 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 17 Dunlins Calidris alpina and adult drake Greater Scaup Aythya marila but there was no sign of the Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus while I was there. However, Ian Lucas saw it later when it presumably flew back from Chew Valley Lake.

At the Fishing Lodge, the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis was feeding off Pipe Bay and easily visible from the dam, while the 'large gull' flock contained the 4th-winter Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus '2.BB2' ringed on Guernsey (see 14th September for details of its life history). I also spotted another gull with a dark red darvic with black letters on it from Green Lawn, that I couldn't read due to the distance, so I drove to the Lodge and arrived just as the majority of the large gulls flew off! I'll have another look later to see if it comes back off the fields to wash and preen before going to roost. A Little Egret Egretta garzetta flew out of Butcombe Bay and along the North Shore before I left.

On the insect front, I saw a Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta today and a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta flying in the rain late yesterday afternoon. The lake level has dropped again to 42% full (per Bristol Water website).

Wednesday 26th October [Overnight rain at last. Cooler today with sunshine and showers.]

Much the same fare today, with the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus at Bell's Bush along with 46 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, 22 Dunlins Calidris alpina, the adult drake Greater Scaup Aythya marila and Garganey Anas querquedula at Top End, together with over 100 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii and an increase in Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis.

The Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis was off Cheddar Water today, not far out from the dam, and there were 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta feeding at the end of Butcombe Bay with several Grey Herons Ardea cinerea.

Thursday 27th October [Steady rain and low cloud all day]

The rain has arrived! It was very wet this morning, so I didn't spend lots of time going through all the birds at the lake. New in today was a Little Stint Calidris minuta with the other shorebirds at Bell's Bush. The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were still present as were 76 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria and 26 Dunlins Calidris alpina. I confess to not looking for the drake Greater Scaup Aythya marila, but I did check for the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis which was close in at Cheddar Water (south end of the dam). There were over 40 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis on the shore at the Lodge, but nothing unusual among them that I could see.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus was in front of the Lodge with a dark red darvic on the right leg a with black 'C:W' on it. I also saw this bird on the 22nd October but couldn't read the ring. The following information from Peter Rock:

The feeder streams were pouring red-brown flood water into the lake today, so the Top End will colour up very quickly and the trout will be running up to the Hatchery with the influx of fresh water for sure.

Friday 28th October [Sunny all day]

What a lovely day by the lake. The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were still present as were 166 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, about 120 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, the juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta, a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and 22 Dunlins Calidris alpina. I couldn't find the drake Greater Scaup Aythya marila, but the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis was between Cheddar Water and the Lodge all day, where I saw it at 1730hrs. Other birds seen included 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay, an adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, at least 2 Garganey Anas querquedula, 21 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis and 29 Northern Pintails Anas acuta at Top End. The bright sunlight showed the drake Tufted x Red-crested Pochard hybrid off very well off Rugmoor Point. During my long day at Bell's Bush, 20+ Skylarks Alauda arvensis flew over, including one group of 12 going south, a few Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus and Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis, a group of 14 Linnets Carduelis cannabina and 2 (presumed) Lesser Redpolls Carduelis cabaret.

There was an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus wearing a white darvic ring with 3 or 4 digits on its right leg at Flower Corner that I couldn't read and an adult drake Common Pochard Aythya ferina with a sky blue nasal saddle with a black 'D' and what looked like 'KK' on the sides. At least one other Black-headed Gull and the Mediterranean Gull had metal BTO-type rings on.

I saw a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta over Top End and Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta heading determinedly south over Bell's Bush during my long vigil too.

I ran my 15W Heath Trap overnight at Pipe Bay (5 Celsius, 2100 - 0645 hrs) and caught the following:

Saturday 29th October [Sunny in the morning with showers in the afternoon]

The usual cast at the lake today, with the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus at Bell's Bush, the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis at Cheddar Water (view from south end of the dam) and 10 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta in Butcombe Bay, until they were flushed by a woman walking along the shoreline. The Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria were coming and going and I only saw a maximum of 24 before lunch, while John Yeates and Roy Curber saw 32 Dunlins Calidris alpina before I arrived. Most of those flew off, leaving 3 which were joined later by 8 winter-plumaged birds and the returning juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta. I could see no sign of the Garganey Anas querquedula at Top End but the Eurasian Teal were spread far and wide.

I ran the 15W Heath Trap last night - see results above - there's also information about a Lesser Black-backed Gull from Peter Rock.

Sunday 30th October [Cloudy and mild]

As usual, we have to start with the 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus at Bell's Bush and the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, which was showing well from the dam today. They were supported by a fine cast including 87 Golden Plovers Pluvialis apricaria, the juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta, 14 Dunlins Calidris alpina, a female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, a flyover (presumed) Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret, a good flock of some 40+ Linnets Carduelis cannabina with some Goldfinches Carduelis carduelis mixed in, and a Red Fox Vulpes vulpes vixen stalking around on the shore at Indian Country in the sunshine, showing her 'plumage' off to great effect.

I also spent some time looking for new plant galls to photograph and add to the site Plant Galls List, during which I disturbed a migrant moth the Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis at Bell's Bush - another new one for the site list. I guess the southerly winds will have helped it across the English Channel. I managed to find at least three new galls.

Brick Agrochola circellaris, Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, Red-line Quaker Agrochola lota, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

I ran my 15W Heath Trap overnight at Spinney Point (15 Celsius, 2030 - 0715 hrs) and caught the following:

Monday 31st October [Mild with cloud and drizzle]

I visited very early this morning to pick up the 15W Heath Trap (see results above) and was delighted to have caught at least 3 new species for the lake. We're creeping closer to the 300 species target I set for the end of this calendar year, with 284 to date.

The 2 juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS Limnodromus scolopaceus were still at Bell's Bush and the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis was showing well in front of the Lodge at Polish Water. Also present at Bell's Bush were 16 Dunlins Calidris alpina and the juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta.