BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

October 2012 News


Site Updates; I am currently revising the presentation of the bird species accounts and I've started to upload some of my database info on past records of vagrant ducks. I'd welcome additional information and corrections if you spot any omissions or mistakes.

Tuesday 20 November 1930 hrs for 20:00 - 22:00hrs; The Wildlife of Blagdon Lake: a waterside perspective.

An illustrated talk by local naturalist and photographer, Nigel Milbourne, about the wildlife in and around Blagdon Lake, a real gem of the Bristol Water estate and Mendip AONB. Nigel’s access, as an honorary bird warden, gives him the opportunity to share his passion for the woodlands, flower-rich hay meadows and naturalised reservoir banks. He has been watching and surveying the lake almost daily for over 20 years, since he moved to the village. This is a special fund raising event and the entry will be £3. There will be sale stalls at the meeting and refreshment will be provided. Note the different venue of Church House (opposite St Andrews Church), Cheddar, BS27 3AA.

Updated 2 November, 2012


Monday 1st October [Mainly dry]

I saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis briefly, back over at Flower Corner late this afternoon, so it's still about but hard to pin down. There were 5 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope at Top End, and that folks was about it!

I have just updated the information about the Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus I saw on Holt Farm fields beside the lake on 21st September. It makes interesting reading and there is a link to the BTO website that gives you all the longevity records for the various species - its quite interesting looking through them and guessing what age you think the various bird species might reach.

Tuesday 2nd October [Sunny spells and showers]

I paid a visit for a site meeting at lunchtime during which I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam and an arrival of large gulls off the fields that included 173 Herring Gulls Larus argentatus with a smaller number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus. I'm wondering if this apparently new phenomenon is related to the fact that lots of larger gulls have been displaced off the Gloucester landfill sites by a new regime of 'pest' control.

Late afternoon I couldn't see the Black-necked Grebe, so went through the gull roost and found a Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis which kept itself apart from the rest, a real Billy-no-mates.

Wednesday 3rd October [Chilly, with occasional squalls]

I saw a small grebe sp. at Flower Corner from Rainbow Point late this afternoon, but couldn't really be sure it was the Black-necked Grebe, although I think it probably was. It was chased by a Common Coot Fulica atra and made a dive into marginal vegetation where the view was even worse than before. There was no sign of any Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam either, so there's not a lot to write about I'm afraid. I suppose I should add that there were reasonable numbers of House Martins Delichon urbicum and Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica feeding after the late afternoon cloudburst. Alan Herring told me he'd rescued a Comma Polygonia c-album butterfly from the water at Holt Bay but whether it will survive its dip to overwinter is another matter.

Thursday 4th October [Occasional showers]

There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam late afternoon and quite a lot of large gulls in the roost again, while at Top End there were 6 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope but no sign of the Black-necked Grebe. I saw a Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus sitting on the top of a tree at the Lodge.

Saturday 6th October [A lovely sunny day]

A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos pottering about on the dam was about the best bird. The Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock has swollen to 442 and contained 13 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in addition, so perhaps they'll attract something in with a bit of luck. I heard Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus calling at the Lodge and have started to put feed out for them.

Jeff Hirst stopped for a chat and told me he'd seen Grass Snakes Natrix natrix during each of the last two weeks at the lake.

Sunday 7th October [Another pleasant day]

I had a bit of time this afternoon for a proper look around and found the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis again. It has moved to Ash Tree and was feeding right under the bank in the marginal vegetation as this particular bird seems to prefer to do. A single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was feeding backwards and forwards along the dam wall and most surprising of all was the Barn Owl Tyto alba sitting in a Willow Salix sp. on the Indian Country bank taking the sunshine, then while I was watching it, a second bird all but flew over my head at Bell's Bush. I hope this isn't a sign of starving birds out in the daylight. They didn't breed beside the lake this year; Top End box was used by Western Jackdaws Corvus monedula and Warwick White checked North Shore box, while I was in Alsaka, and found nothing.

I heard Winter Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes and European Robins Erithacus rubecula singing at Lodge Copse and heard calling (presumed) Lesser Redpolls Carduelis cabaret, Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus and Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita nearby, while a Peregrine Falco peregrinus flew south overhead towards the village. I saw a few Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta and 2 Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum still on the wing.

Daniel Hargreaves and visiting bat worker Toby Thorn were checking the boxes around the lake and found the usual Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in most of the flat 1FF boxes and the three of us and Colin Hunt checked the boxes at the Pumping Station where there were 3 Natterer's Bats Myotis nattereri in a 2FN box near the Spillway. The Natterer's had all been peviously ringed by Daniel on site. The BBC are planning to interview Daniel about his bat research at Blagdon on Tuesday evening, weather permitting. I will post details of when the broadcast is going out as soon as I have them.

Monday 8th October [A grey, dank, autumnal day]

When the mist had finally cleared sufficiently for it to be worthwhile to visit the lake, the light was starting to fade anyway! However, I did spot the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis over at Peg's Point. Other than that, I couldn't see anything else to report.

Tuesday 9th October [Grey and dank with a stiff east-north easterly breeze]

No sign of the Arctic Skuas Stercorarius parasiticus that were flying around at Chew sadly (but thanks for the calls Rich), they must have headed off high across the Mendips rather than my way. While I was waiting for them, I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam wall. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was reported by Dave Northover (thanks for the text Dave) at Rugmoor Point among the flooded trees at lunchtime. Dave also saw about 20 House Martins Delichon urbicum and a couple of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica flying through in a "generally easterly' direction."

Wednesday 10th October [Cool and overcast most of the day]

I saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis swimming towards Rugmoor along the Indian Country side of Top End this evening and was especially pleased to see an adult winter Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus in the gull roost, which still contains good numbers of Herring Gulls Larus argentatus.

The most amazing sight were the 514+ Canada Geese Branta canadensis that I counted. This is the first count of over 500 at the lake and would have been a few more if some hadn't flown onto Holt Farm, behind a hedge, before I counted them. The usual 13 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis were with them.

I spent most of the day on Ubley Warren with the Mendip Conservation Volunteers walling and tidying up paths and was staggered to find that someone had ripped out a stile and used it to make a fire! We have cattle on the reserve, but thankfully none had found the gap created before we managed to rebuild the dry stone wall and replace the stile. You wonder what's going on in the heads of some of the visitors at times...

Thursday 11th October [Drizzle]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was at Rugmoor Point this evening, where a large number (100+) of Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarrellii were going to roost in the flooded trees. While I was watching them through my scope, a Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus almost dropped into the water before making off. A flurry of feathers came showering down into my field of view and looking up quickly through my bins I picked up a Peregrine Falco peregrinus in flight away from the scene. No supper this evening, unless it got lucky somewhere else before dark. There were a few gulls feeding on Holt Farm fields, among which was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. A Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was pottering along the dam wall and a steady stream of House Martins Delichon urbicum were apparently making their way east overhead.

Even though dusk was starting to fall, a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta was feeding around the edge of Holt Copse and I saw yet another immature newt sp. Lissotriton sp. making its way across the road towards the hedge, so I gave it a helping hand off the tarmac.

Friday 12th October [Bright sunshine and squally showers]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still at Rugmoor Point this morning but may get moved around by boat anglers later. Our near-resident Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was still on the dam too.

Saturday 13th October [Sunny spells]

This was the first day in over a month I've had time to spend mooching around Blagdon and it was quite reassuring to find nothing out of the ordinary; the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding off Ash Tree and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the dam. I counted 54 bird species during my 4 hour walk, including a Little Egret Egretta garzetta flying west over the dam and a small mixed flock of House Martins Delichon urbicum and Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica going the other way as well as a flyover Northern Raven Corvus corax and Skylark Alauda arvensis. I noted a Mute Swan Cygnus olor under the cill of the Spillway, so Warwick White and I caught and returned it onto the lake later in the day.

There were Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta and a Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum still on the wing and I spotted yet another newt Lissotriton sp. making its way across the road towards the hedge.

I had another fascinating evening down by the lake when Sarah and Dave 'the sound man' Pitt came from the BBC to interview Daniel Hargreaves about the Nathusius's Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii. We ran two harp traps and a mist net to try and catch some bats, though the temperature had dropped to about 7 Celsius before dark. I'll post details of the Radio 4 broadcast as soon as I have them.

Sarah Pitt interviewing Daniel Hargreaves for Radio 4 © Nigel Milbourne, 2012

We also downloaded information from the Song Meter deployed to help with monitoring the Nathusius's Pips and found we had a further 21600 sound files collected between 22nd Sept and 9th Oct., including lots of lekking spectrograms. While we were there, Daniel showed me a Czech. paper that suggests we can recognise individual bats from their lekking spectrograms, which will make for some interesting analysis this winter. Oh, and I added another 3 bird species to the day list, making 57, and was told about another I didn't catch up with today. Amazingly, I didn't get Long-tailed Tit, Pheasant or Nuthatch either.

Sunday 14th October [A cracking, sunny, autumn day]

I'm glad I poked my head over the dam wall at lunchtime, there was an adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla sitting on the water looking rather bemused. It swam around for the 10 minutes I watched it, then took off, circled several times over the dam and headed off west at 1240 hrs. This is the first record since 2007 and the 9th lake record. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was in Rugmoor Bay but gradually swam along the north bank as the afternoon wore on and I left it just east of the owl box meadow. Pictures of both birds in the Recent Images Gallery. Anyone got an informed view on the age of the Black-necked Grebe?

There was a bank fishing match at Blagdon today and I spent (too) much of the afternoon chatting with Jeff Hirst, Martin Cottis and Colin Hunt. We saw a cracking Caddisfly (sedge-fly if you prefer). I took some photos and it turns out to be one of the angler's 'Caperers' Halesus radiatus. There's a picture on the Anglers Entomology Page. I also saw a Comma Polygonia c-album butterfly and Silver-Y Autographa gamma moth at Holt Bay, the fly Mesembrina meridiana and lots of Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana moths on Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium at Wood Bay.

Daniel and I caught 3 more Nathusius's Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii this evening at a lekking site, none of which had been ringed previously. Can these be new migrant arrivals?

I ran the 15W Heath Trap (minimum temp. 6 Celsius) overnight in Pipe Bay Copse and caught:

Monday 15th October [Showers]

I carried out the WeBS count at lunchtime the details of which are on the WeBS Counts Page. The best two birds are still the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Ash Tree and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis loafing at Peg's Point too. The total count was 2148 individuals of 26 species.

Tuesday 16th October [Showers early then sunshine all the way]

Alan Herring stopped for a chat this evening while I was counting the gulls and told me that the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis swam over his fly line four times this afternoon while he was fishing at Peg's Point! He also had a close encounter with one of our Barn Owls Tyto alba when putting his fishing gear in the car to go home.

I went down to the lake this morning to see if anything had been blown in on the gales and rain last night but there was nothing to write in the notebook. Then I went for a walk from King's Wood, Winscombe to Bradley Cross, Cheddar over the Mendips but didn't see any migrants until I got home, when I spotted a Brambling Fringilla montifringilla feeding on the sunflower hearts I'd put out in the garden this morning.

After painting the chimney pot, I went back down to the lake to look through the gulls and was amazed to see so many Herring Gulls Larus argentatus that I decided to count them, 647, by far the largest number I've ever had at Blagdon.

Wednesday 17th October [Showers]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was along the stretch of bank known as Paradise (between Peg's Point and Ash Tree) this afternoon. I've looked at Identification Guide to European Non-Passerines, BTO Guide 24 by Kevin Baker (BTO, Thetford, 1993) and that suggests that one of the key factors to look for when ageing them is the condition of the scapular tips. That isn't going to be easy to decide upon, unless it's in the hand, I guess. Interestingly though, the post-juvenile moult is confined to body and tail in late autumn to December, whereas an adult goes through a simultaneous shedding of the flight feathers in September. So, we need to try and photograph a wing flap, which might help. I certainly haven't seen it fly since it arrived. Eye colour is not mentioned as an ageing factor in the guide or The Birds of the Western Palearctic. There were 228 Canada Geese Branta canadensis and 13 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis around Rainbow Point when I got there and I photographed Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana for the Micro-moths gallery.

I forgot to mention the adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis on Peg's Point this afternoon. I counted just 359 Herring Gulls Larus argentatus in the roost, which were probably outnumbered by Black-headed Chroicocephalus ridibundus tonight. I wonder if yesterdays high count was due to the wind bringing them in from the coast? The puzzling thing is that, large gulls usually fly off to Chew Valley Lake to roost after washing at Blagdon. These appear to be roosting at Blagdon.

Jeff Hirst gave me a tube of invertebrates he'd 'spooned' from a trout today and while looking at the amphipod crustaceans, popularly known as 'freshwater shrimps', I wondered if there might be an online key to these beasties. I found the Freshwater Biological Association has produced an identification guide Identifying Invasive Freshwater Shrimps and Isopods, including species such as the so-called 'killer shrimp' Dikerogammarus villosus, which can be found at: http://www.fba.org.uk/downloads. However, there were no such aliens in this sample thankfully, just midge Chironomidae larvae and pupae, immature crustaceans Gammarus sp., and partly digested, unidentifiable, mature Gammarids.

Thursday 18th October [Breezy, with warm sunshine and the odd shower or two]

I had an interesting walk this morning and it took quite some time before I spotted the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis in Rugmoor Bay with an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis nearby. Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus were on the dam, among which was a bird with a white darvic on its right leg bearing the legend 'J8P8' in black. It's probably a bird rung by Lista Ringing Group, Vanse, Norway, but I await confirmation. There were 26 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope at Top End.

The gull roost is growing each night and despite there being good numbers of Herring Gulls Larus argentatus again, I decided to count the Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus and came up with a total of 740. I also spied a brown head Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula out the corner of my eye, off Spinney Point, while counting - our first of the winter.

Curiously, I came across a Cowslip Primula veris in flower at Wood Bay and also saw a Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum, 2 Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta, 2 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta and 2 Commas Polygonia c-album flying in the sunshine.

Out of interest, I had a look for the latest update on the Ruddy Duck Oxura jamaicensis cull and it seems that as of April 2012, Defra / Fera estimate there are as few as 60 individuals left in the wild in the UK (1% of the January 2000 UK population estimate). I wonder how many of us will get it on our 2013 lists? The highest count I can find for Blagdon was 603 in January 1987, which was about 20% of the UK population of about 3000 at that time.

The ♀ Brambling Fringilla montifringilla was back in our garden again today.

Friday 19th October [Mainly sunny and quite mild]

A day of two halves - I spent most of the day at Bristol City Museum going through the papers of Stanley Lewis, an egg collector who lived in Cheddar, to see what is on record from his visits to Blagdon Lake, more about which another time, and the evening with Daniel, Chris and Christie (YACWAG) catching bats. So, although I spent several hours lakeside, I didn't do any birding today but I did see a (the) Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam.

The bat trapping was fascinating in that it seemed to be the night of Brown Long-eareds Plecotus auritus, we caught 6, and secondly because we recaptured a ringed Nathusius's Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii that we'd trapped 3 times and filmed 'lekking' last year. This is the first Nathusius's Pip we've recaptured in a different year, so it seems reasonable to assume it's living locally. We also caught a single Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus. I have posted a couple of pictures of Brown Long-eareds in the Recent Images Gallery.

Saturday 20th October [Mainly sunny]

Much the same fare as the last few weeks, with the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis in Rugmoor Bay and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. The Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula was still off the North Shore and I heard Skylark(s) Alauda arvensis flying over while I was on Rainbow Point. Boy, what a contrast to the excitement of last autumn!

Sunday 21st October [Cool and grey early then sunny with a north-easterly breeze]

A stop at the dam failed to realise the usual Common Sandpiper, but 7 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus flew south along the line of the wall and into the grounds of the Inspection House. At the Lodge there was a sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis sitting on the water and 2 Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula (both brown heads) feeding close in to the trees opposite at Spinney Point. Common Gull Larus canus numbers are starting to build as they arrive for the winter. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding close to the bank at Rugmoor Bay again today.

The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was back on the dam when I went to look at the gull roost this evening, during which I counted 405 Herring Gulls Larus argentatus and although increasing, estimated there to be less than 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus. I hope we continue to get large gulls in the winter roost this year, perhaps they'll attract some 'white-wings' in, I could do with a Glaucous Gull for my site list!

Monday 22nd October [Grey, dismal and drizzle all day]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding at Peg's Point this afternoon and was just visible from Rainbow Point through the murk. I heard a 'plop' into the feeder stream at Bell's Bush and was pleased to see a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis fly away towards Ubley Sewage Works. Aside from that there were about 50 Common Gulls Larus canus feeding on Holt Farm, so their numbers continue to rise, but I won't be checking the roost this evening because it's too misty to see anything. I found another run-over Grass Snake Natrix natrix on the south side road this afternoon at Hellfire Corner and saw a Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta in front of Top End hide.

Tuesday 23rd October [Grey and overcast]

As usual, the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding at Peg's Point (200 metres west of Rugmoor entrance gate) and a Aythya hybrid was off Burmah Road where I've seen it on and off over the last few weeks.

Wednesday 24th October [Grey and overcast with a cool north-easterly breeze]

Dismal, dismal, dismal! Not even the Black-necked Grebe to report today I'm afraid. With the cold weather approaching, I've filled the lakeside feeders again. The gull roost was the first large one of the winter, perhaps they're moving ahead of the colder weather too? I can safely say there were over 2000 birds, though I didn't get the counter out, however, there wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

Thursday 25th October [Grey, and raw down by the lake in a strong north-easterly breeze]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding at Ash Tree with Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula. I saw one bank and one boat angler when I went down late in the afternoon to check the gull roost in which I found an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis.

I heard there was quite a lot of visible migration on the coast today, but I walked over Mendip from Cheddar to Wells in the mist and drizzle without seeing anything apart from a small group of Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris and another group of a dozen or so Skylarks Alauda arvensis near Priddy.

Friday 26th October [An Arctic blast across the lake from the north this afternoon]

No sign of the Black-necked Grebe in a brief look, but there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis sitting on the water late this afternoon. There was also a newly arrived adult Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula.

I wonder if this weekend will see the arrival of any Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii locally? I can't imagine they'll spend any time at either Blagdon or Chew with the water so high.

Saturday 27th October [Cold and sunny]

I was at the British Orchid Congress all day, but did manage a quick visit to the lake before dark. Again, no sign of the Black-necked Grebe but there were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis. Hopefully, I'll have more time for a proper look around tomorrow. There seemed to be more Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope at Top End than yesterday and a clear night and bright moon may bring some more wildfowl in. The pagers reported a Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii at WWT Slimbridge today!

Sunday 28th October [Miserable and wet]

Angler John Vowles told me the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was feeding off Ash Tree while he was fishing there earlier in the day (before the wind turned), but I said "nah, I don't reckon it's still here, I haven't seen it for two days." But he was adamant, so I spent another 10 mintues scanning back and forth along the other bank and eventually spotted it off the owl box meadow on North Shore. Humble Pie time.. though in my defence I have to say I trained him well. Nice one, John!

Holt Farm hosted a flock of 168 Common Wood Pigeons Columba palumbus in a field with a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, and remarkably the Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock contained a new bird with an orange neck collar bearing the letters 'DL' in black. I've never seen a neck-collared Canada Goose at Blagdon before, so it'd be nice to know where it comes from. I've sent the sighting off to the BTO, and then, later, I found some information on the North Cotswold Ornithological Society website which gives a link to the following project which the Blagdon bird comes from:

"On the 4 and 5th July 2012, a team from Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Slimbridge, Food & Environment Research Agency, Exeter University and Cotswold Water Park Trust, caught, tagged and released 146 Canada Geese on 5 sites across the CWP. This work is part of a research project coordinated by WWT, FERA and Exeter University; the key study aim, using the Canada Geese of the CWP, is to assess how stable a population is, to assess which birds associate together and how and if this changes; this will include assessing how these birds move around the CWP, how they form winter flocks, whether they are faithful to breeding sites and whether they roam beyond the CWP and into the wider Thames Valley."

Bea Downing from Exeter University has already replied and gives the following resighting information (all from Cotswold Water Park):

DL (BTO: 5250974) Sex unknown
Lake 35 (SU 03279 94802)             04/07/2012
Lake 35 (SU 03279 94802)             11/07/2012
Lake 37 (SU 03210 94357)             12/07/2012
Lake 37 (SU 03210 94357)             13/07/2012
Lake 200 (SU 05631 94915)           16/09/2012
Lake 30 (SU 03417 95136)             06/10/2012

There were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis present between Orchard Bay and Peg's Point and Top End hosted 62 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, a single Eurasian Teal Anas crecca and there were at least 94 Common Pochards Aythya ferina on the lake, again, mainly at Top End. Most were asleep, so I couldn't spot if any had a nasal saddle fitted.

Monday 29th October [Mainly sunny and milder than at the weekend]

The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was along the North Shore by Owl Box meadow again at lunchtime. A large number of Common Gulls Larus canus dropped in late morning so I had a look through them and found an adult winter Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus. The usual adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis or two were flying around and one spent some time loafing on Peg's Point while I was at the lake. I spotted the Mediterranean Gull again later on in the roost this evening.

I spotted a dead bird floating upside down yesterday and went out with fisheries staff to have a look at it today. It was an adult Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus but we couldn't see any apparent cause of death. A Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta went barreling across Holt Bay while I was trying to get a shot of the Canada Goose Branta canadensis with a neck collar (unfortunately backlit and behind a tall hedge).

Canada Goose Branta canadensis with neck collar DL, Holt Farm © Nigel Milbourne, 2012

Tuesday 30th October [Sunny spells]

Radio 4 will be broadcasting their 'Saving Species' programme today at 1100 hrs and again on Thursday at 2100 hrs, in which they came to interview Daniel Hargreaves during a Nathusius's Pipistrelle netting session with me at Blagdon Lake on Saturday 13th October. More programme details here. It's also on BBC iPlayer Radio now.

Chris Stone saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis and a Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis this afternoon.

I didn't go birding at the lake today due to my making another visit to Bristol City Museum to go through Stanley Lewis' papers for references to visits he made, egg collecting. Sue Caola accompanied me this time and we spent the afternoon going through the Natural History Diaries of Dr George Munro Smith (President of Bristol Naturalists Society at the time) dating from 1911 onwards, again, for references to visits he made from his Bristol home. If I can work through my notes in time, I hope to include some of the material in my talk at Cheddar on 20th November. Rhian Rowson, Natural Sciences Collection Officer, has kindly agreed to my going back again in December to have a look at more of the museum material, for which I'm truly grateful. I actually got to see the box which contained Lewis' Common Pochard Aythya ferina nest with 8 eggs - the first collected in Somerset, at Blagdon Lake, on 9th July, 1936 - but I didn't have time to 'open the box' today!

More importantly, I think I can add Grey Partridge Perdix perdix to the Bird List on the basis of the following account for 20th May (1913, I think, but need to check) written by Dr Smith in his diary: "Some men cutting showed me a partridge's nest with 17 under a little low hedge on the top of the mound. They had cut grass round it." I can't imagine where the mound is that Smith refers to, but as all other notes for that day were at the lake, it must surely have been at or very near the lakeside.

I did look over the Spillway on the way home at dusk to see an adult Mute Swan Cygnus olor sitting in the byewash below the tumbling water. I'll check it tomorrow to see if it is getting in and out without trouble, or, is actually trapped again.

Wednesday 31st October [Cool and showery]

No sign of the Black-necked Grebe which appears to have relocated to Stratford Bay, Chew Valley Lake, where Andy Davis saw it at lunchtime. However, there was a 1st-winter Greater Scaup Aythya marila between Green Lawn and North Shore, though I'm not ruling out an eclipse adult on the views I had. 38 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus flew west along the lake and the Canada Goose Branta canadensis with neck collar 'DL' was still among the flock. We've had an influx of Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula, one flock containing 12 brown heads, as well as 2 other brown heads and 2 adult .

I counted 200 Herring Gulls Larus argentatus in the roost this evening, but none of the Common Gulls Larus canus bathing at lunchtime stayed to roost and there was no sign of the Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus either. The Mute Swan Cygnus olor was still in the byewash though, so I'll go and get it out tomorrow.