BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

September 2011 News


Saturday 3rd September

Sean Davies reported seeing the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Top End today.

Sunday 4th September

Sean Davies saw the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis by the Spillway close in to the dam and giving excellent views this morning. Also noted were singles of Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Top End.

Tuesday 6th September [Cool with showers, some heavy]

The juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still present at Top End today, where there were also 3 Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Dunlin Calidris alpina. There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis loafing with some Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo on the shore at Orchard Bay and for contrast a yellow-legged gull in front of the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow that looked like a Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid. On the subject of hybrids, there was what looked like a Common Pochard hybrid that superficially resembled a female Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris right front of the Lodge feeding at Polish Water. I got some poor quality video footage and still pictures, Richard Mielcarek digiscoped some shots too, but I will try for some better quality efforts later. Also present among the wildfowl there were 2 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, a Northern Pintail Anas acuta, 2 more Dunlin Calidris alpina and an Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea feeding over the dam end. Finally, at Holt Bay there was a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and on Green Lawn a couple of Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis with the Canada Geese Branta canadensis.

Before I left this afternoon, I stopped at the south end of the dam and heard some Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus calling and saw 3 birds fly from Cheddar Water into the Inspection House garden.

The lake is 57% full according to the Bristol Water website.

Wednesday 7th September [Cool with some heavy showers]

I had just finished realigning the Blagdon Bird List to match the latest BOU order and was loading my camera gear in the car when I received a call from Dave Northover to say he'd found a Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius by the Lodge (the last one was in 2005). So I drove down and located the bird at Polish Water / Pipe Bay to the left of the Lodge (as you look out). It appears to be a juvenile well advanced into 1st-winter plumage.

It then became a Red Letter Day, with a first for the lake. While I was watching the phalarope, a couple of fishermen came in off their boat for lunch and wanted to have a look at it through my scope. Then, one of them, Simon Kidd, told me they had seen a shearwater sitting on the water during the morning off Green Lawn. I showed him my field guide and he said he was sure that's what it was, so somewhat incredulously, I went for a look and sure enough there was a Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus still sitting on the water! During the late afternoon, a 1st-winter Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus buzzed the shearwater a few times causing it to fly or dive, but as it appeared to be in good condition the gull moved on quickly. Both rare birds were still present when I left at 1730 hrs.

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus, Ash Tree © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

There was also a reasonable supporting cast with the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Top End, 2+ Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina and a juvenile Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. I saw a female White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba on Tiny's Shallow and Dave Northover saw a Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe at Green Lawn. On one of my excursions to the north shore to try and photograph the shearwater I saw a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo sitting on wires along the lane behind the Scot's Pines at Indian Country. During the day several 'commic' terns flew through, including at least 3 Common Terns Sterna hirundo and 4 Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea, though there were probably more of each, truth be told.

More excitement in an email from Daniel Hargreaves today as well:

"I’ve been down on the lake almost every night for the last 10 days – we tagged two male Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii last Saturday both are roosting in separate houses to the North of the lake. We have been tracking them and the tag failed after 3 days on one of them and the other one is still going so Chris will be out tracking him tonight (I’m away tonight). We also found a male lekking from the small pump station near the fishing lodge entrance so we have been watching him almost nightly trying to see if he has attracted any mates – so far it appears not. To date we have caught 21 Nathusius' all have been adult males – it’s very interesting. I’ve seen Otters Lutra lutra three times now, mainly near the overflow on the dam wall – there has always been two together and I was lucky enough to see them on the bank and in the water."

I do hope Daniel and the team finally catch up with some female Nathusius' Pipistrelles soon, in order to prove local breeding. What a day!

Thursday 8th September [Cool with occasional drizzle]

The juvenile / 1st-winter Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius was still showing very well in front of the Lodge until 1215 hrs at least and the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still at Top End, 3 Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 1 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina and a juvenile Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula were also present. There was also a juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea resting on the dam wall this morning that appears to have still been present this evening. Thankfully, the Manx Shearwater appears to have flown off overnight. I searched for it, or its corpse, this morning without seeing either, I'm relieved to say!

Friday 9th September [Overcast and drizzly]

Tony Donnelly, Bristol Waters' assistant fisheries manager, found a huge snakeskin while out walking his dog in the village (not by the lake) on Monday 22nd August. It was handed to some reptile experts who have confirmed that rather than being from some escaped pet, it is that of a, harmless (unless you're a frog), female Grass Snake Natrix natrix. Tony, who is 6 ft 1 inch tall, measured the skin at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 metres) and while it is clearly from a very large animal, according to someone who keeps snakes, it might not be the same length as the actual snake as the skin can be stretched significantly when being sloughed. Thanks to Tony and the Bristol Water team for including me in the news, which Tony is happy for me to share on the website. Here's his picture:

Right then, to the bird news. The juvenile / 1st-winter Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius was still showing in front of the Lodge until 1600 hrs at least, and the supporting cast included the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, 2 Barnacle Geese Branta canadensis, a Common Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 4 Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (6 seen earlier), and 2 Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea. Also showing very well at the Top End hide were 2 juvenile Hobbys Falco subbuteo chasing and feeding on the large increase in Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta around the trees today. When I first got to the lake there were also some Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus calling at the Lodge car park.

Juvenile / 1st-winter Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius, Polish Water © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Saturday 10th September [Benign and overcast]

There was no sign of the Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius this morning. But there were single Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos at Home Bay Point and Wood Bay, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus at Top End, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 7 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and a juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea. There were also some Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus calling at the Lodge car park.

Mervyn Pearce emailed me this evening to tell me he'd seen the juvenile Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis at Indian Country (opposite the Top End hide) and two unidentified shorebirds on Wookey Point before three people and two dogs appeared on the shore at Bell's Bush and put paid to bird watching from the hide in the fading light.

Sunday 11th September [Mainly overcast with an occasional shower]

I was out on the Mendip Hills looking at a dry stone wall as part of an education day at Chancellors Farm today, but this evening during a quick visit I saw much the same birds as yesterday including a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the North Shore, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus at Top End, 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula (an adult and 2 juveniles) and the juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea resting on the dam wall with Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Again, I didn't see the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, but it's probably still present.

New birds today included a couple of Northern Pintail Anas acuta off Rugmoor Point and 23 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis (the largest count at Blagdon) on Holt Farm fields. These are naturalised birds rather than migrants, but nice to have around all the same.

It looks like the weather is not going to be anywhere near as bad as forecast, thankfully, so it's unlikely there will be any wind-blown seabirds deposited inland tomorrow, but I'll go down early on to have a look just in case!

Monday 12th September [A strong westerly wind with sunshine and showers]

Well, as I thought, it wasn't very windy overnight and no sea birds arrived. However, it does seem like the wind is beginning to increase as the morning wears on. Many of yesterdays birds were still present viz. a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the North Shore, a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus at Top End, 5 Dunlin Calidris alpina, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 12 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and the juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea. I also saw the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis opposite the Top End hide. New arrivals included 2 Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia at the Lodge, an adult Common Tern Sterna hirundo off Rainbow Point and a Hobby Falco subbuteo over the Lodge. There were good numbers of hirundines that included a fair sprinkling of Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the water.

This evening there was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus in front of the Lodge with orange letters 'AJU' on a dark blue darvic. Peter Stewart of the Severn Estuary Gull Group who ringed the bird as an adult, sent me the following history of the bird:

News today that early bird angler Rod Newton saw an Otter Lutra lutra on the road at the spillway end of the dam yesterday morning before first light - it's a bit worrying that they are crossing the road rather than using the spillway given the speed of traffic over the dam. Bristol Water have discussed putting a ramp in the spillway for several years for Otters to use and it would be good to see a little of the conservation budget used for this purpose before we have a road casualty - what about it guys?

I have been asked by several people if I would post some pictures of the 'Semi-palmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla' that was at Chew Valley Lake today. I took them to try and help with the identification process, but I don't think the quality helps much due to the distance I was shooting from, albeit with a 600 mm Canon image stabilised lens! I wouldn't normally show such poor quality shots, but here they are for the record anyway. Subsequent discussion on the identification has led to the conclusion that it's a Little Stint Calidris minuta with no less an authority than Killian Mullarney contributing to the debate and commenting in an email to Keith Vinicombe "that it had moulted its mantle feathers very early and so (a) had become drab and (b) lost its mantle Vs." Keith added "I guess that it had also moulted more of its body feathers, explaining the virtually complete breast band. He said that they had a very similar bird at Tacumshin last autumn which also caused a lot of confusion." If I get permission, I'll post annotated versions of the pictures sent by Killian.

Tuesday 13th September [Heavy rain mid-morning and blustery all day]

Hurrah! At last, 2 Black Terns Chlidonias niger (a moulting adult and juvenile). The juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea and an adult Common Tern Sterna hirundo were also still feeding at the dam end. The Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis was still at Top End as were the 9 mobile Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and the Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. There were 16 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula (12 at the Lodge and 4 on Wookey Point), an adult Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus asleep in front of the Lodge, 19 Pied Wagtails Motacilla alba yarellii on Rugmoor Point, 11 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea scattered around the lake and a single Northern Pintail Anas acuta at Top End. The wait for the Sabine's Gull Xema sabini goes on!

Of interest to the wider birding fraternity Mervyn Pearce rang me this evening at around 1900 hrs, as I was just about to go down and look at the gulls, to say he was watching a very flighty Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius between Rainbow Point and Peg's Point. I was with him in minutes, but Mervyn had lost sight of it while ringing me and despite our searching until dark, we were unable to relocate it. There were a surprising number of Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, and quite a lot of larger, mainly Herring Gulls Larus argentatus, in the roost this evening. I'd hazard a guess this is due to the weather conditions because I wouldn't normally expect as many until November normally. Mervyn spotted the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the North Shore and a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia at Paradise. I saw the female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula feeding just offshore too. While Mervyn and I were standing on Rainbow Point, a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo came steaming over our heads out over the water had a dive at an unidentified martin, pulled out, then went for another and caught it right in front of us. It then flew off north over Ash Tree clutching the unfortunate hirundine.

At last, I have updated the Blagdon Map on the General Info page should you need to refer to it for a clearer understanding of places mentioned around the lake in the news dialogue.

The lake level is 55% now (per Bristol Water website).

Wednesday 14th September [Calm and sunny]

There seems to have been a clear out of Aythya ducks overnight and conditions were far calmer this morning. On the basis that there's a juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus present this morning, I'm eating humble pie and withdrawing the Black-legged Kittiwake sighting for last night. Too much excitement! I've spent an hour at the lake so far, and the moulting adult Black Tern Chlidonias niger and juvenile Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea are both still around the dam end, though ranging widely. I saw the Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia at Orchard Bay, 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Green Lawn and 2 Northern Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe at Holt Bay on my way to Rainbow Point.

I wrote the morning news on the blackboard in the Lodge at about 1400 hrs just before going home to lunch and had a chat with angler Martin Cottis, who told me he'd seen the Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius feeding off Peg's Point while out in a boat at about 1100 hrs. So, I skipped lunch and went back for another look from Rainbow Point and eventually, at about 1500 hrs, located the bird feeding about 200 metres from the shore in Orchard Bay. I watched it for about 2 hours and it always stayed out in the waves, unlike the previous one which generally fed along the shoreline. I think it's probably a different bird to the one that visited last week, judging from my pictures.

Other birds noted this afternoon included a probable Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris (having looked at my rather distant photos taken this afternoon) rather than a Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica. It was keeping company with some Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula and if identified conclusively tomorrow, will be another one for the 'escapes' list! There were at least 2 Common Terns Sterna hirundo, 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, the female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 2 juvenile Eurasian Hobbys Falco subbuteo, a total of 19 Ringed Plovers Falco subbuteo, 9 Dunlin Caldris alpina, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis in addition.

There was a familiar gull in front of the Lodge at lunchtime, a Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus bearing a white darvic with the black inscription '2.BB2'. I reported this bird at the lake on 22nd October 2010, when I found out it was ringed in Guernsey. Ringer, Paul K. Veron, has sent me details of it's history as follows:

Thursday 15th September [Calm and sunny]

I sneaked off to Chew Valley Lake at 0610 hrs this morning to see if the 5 Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia were standing in front of Stratford hide in the mist. Sadly, from a photographic point of view, they were miles away in Stratford Bay until 0715 hrs at least when I left to go back to Blagdon. The only consolation was the beautiful sunrise!

Keith Vinicombe has just texted me to say there are 3 Grey Phalaropes Phalaropus fulicarius off Woodford Bank at Chew this morning too (per Rupert Higgins). Also, I've had a reply from ringer (bander if you're American), Paul Veron, with a history of the gull seen yesterday - see 14th September for details.

Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia at dawn, Stratford Bay, Chew Valley Lake and Juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus. Lodge, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Back on the ranch, I couldn't find the GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius among all the floating white feathers on the flat calm surface, but I did see the juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus and Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea, 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and a Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe. Then it was back home for some hot tea and toast. I'll check for the Black-necked Grebe and mystery teal later.

No sign of the Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis or the Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris this afternoon. Other birds to add to the list were singles of Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, Dunlin Caldris alpina and Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo at Top End, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis loafing on the shore at Orchard Bay and the female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula.

I've spent two days prowling around the lake with my cameras without getting any worthwhile shots at all until as I was going home I spotted this pale juvenile Common Buzzard Buteo buteo sitting on a hay bale at Flower Corner looking for small rodents and invertebrates. Enjoy! I did!

Juvenile Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, Flower Corner © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

This evening I popped down to look for more ringed gulls in front of the Lodge but there were far fewer now the weather has improved. I went to Rainbow Point and saw a pair of Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna, the first this year at the lake. Mike Jenkins rang me as it got dark to tell me a Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia had flown towards Blagdon from Chew, sadly though, it didn't arrive, or, I missed it.

Friday 16th September [Sunny]

Just a quick early morning visit before going out on my bike to follow the Tour of Britain Cycle Race on the Mendips. I saw juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, at least 21 Barnacle Geese Branata leucopsis, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 6 Northern PintailsAnas acuta, the female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 6 Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis (the first of the autumn) and an adult female Peregrine Falco pergrinus that had just killed a Common Coot Fulica atra at Ash Tree (it did the same on the North Shore yesterday).

Saturday 17th September [Sunshine and showers with a steady westerly wind]

It was a Red Letter Day, with another first for the lake during the WeBS Count when I picked up a Great Skua (Bonxie) Stercorarius skua over the dam end while Roy Curber, Terry Doman and Phil Delve were standing in front of the Lodge checking the wildfowl. A huge black rainstorm came up the Severn Estuary and I assume this bird was pushed east around it because it drifted in from the west over the dam, dropped then went up high and drifted further down the lake before turning and coming back over the dam end and carrying on out west towards the coast.

The details of the count are on the WeBS Counts page. There has been a marked decrease in diving duck numbers but the dabbling duck numbers have increased markedly. Pick of the birds were the juvenile Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, a juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger, 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis. Good counts included 850 Common Coots Fulica atra, 705 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos and 514 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca.

I popped down at tea time to check the gulls on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge, set up my scope and blow me our adult female Peregrine Falco peregrinus whipped in and killed a Common Coot Fulica atra, not too efficiently it must be said, right in front of me. The hapless Coot is the third killed by the falcon this week to my knowledge. Two juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus sidled in and stood by waiting for their chance to pick over the carcase. Earlier in the week, I watched a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull swallow the head of a Coot, beak and all, after the Peregrine and 2 Common Buzzards Buteo buteo had left the scene! Nature red in tooth and claw. Rather typically, I didn't take my camera for such a short visit and my video camera was left on the table at home while I try and find a decent still frame of the very distant Bonxie. Oh well, the way she's going, I should get other chances to photograph her on a kill. Additionaly, there were 3 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula in front of the Lodge too.

Sunday 18th September [Sunshine and showers]

It was relatively quiet this afternoon, with a juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger the pick of the birds. The 9 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were feeding at Burmah Road and Hellfire Corner, and I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the North Shore. I checked through the gulls and found a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis in front of the Lodge, but none bearing darvic rings. Unusually, there were at least 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Holt Bay and 24 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Long Bay, the first of the autumn. There were also 5 Northern Pintails Anas acuta scattered around the Top End. Late news of 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina on Wookey Point from Mervyn Pearce.

Monday 19th September [Overcast with showers]

The juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger was still feeding over the lake, mainly in front of the Lodge and a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was feeding along the North Shore.There were 6 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula at Holt Bay along with a Common Redshank Tringa totanus and 3 Northern Pintails Anas acuta at Top End, where the Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus was feeding out in the open again. There were an astounding 485 Canada Geese Branta canadensis and 22 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in and around Holt Bay, while Long Bay hosted 11 of the 14 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea at the lake today.

Black Tern Chlidonias niger, Dam End and bathing Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Holt Bay © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, Holt Bay, squabbling over bathing rights © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Daniel Hargreaves rang this evening to say he was going down to the lake with Chris Barrington to check a site where a male Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii has been lekking to attract females. He also planned to put out a harp trap with lure. It turned out to be a very interesting couple of hours during which we caught a single male Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

Released Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Beetle Oedemera femoralis, Pipe Bay Copse © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Daniel went to look in a box in the woodland that we trapped in and spotted a dead bat underneath the box which appeared to have been caught on the spine of a Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. Then, he looked up and spotted a pair of Slugs Limax sp. (probably Limax marginatus or L. maximus - can anyone help?) mating about 10 feet up in a tree suspended on a thread of mucus. I managed to grab some shots of this extraordinary event which I've never seen before.

Slugs mating, probably Limax marginatus or L. maximus, Pipe Bay Copse © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Here you can see that the slugs have climbed into a tree and then, entwined together, lowered themselves on a thick string of mucus, everted their pale translucent mating organs (penises) from their gonopores (openings on the right side of the head), entwined the organs, and are exchanging sperm. The picture on the left clearly shows the penises extended from the gonopores, the middle picture shows the entwined mating organs exchanging sperm and the right picture presumably shows the slugs after the exchange, before they go their separate ways. As you may or may not know, slugs are hermaphrodite and both will lay hundreds of eggs later.

Then I spotted a couple of newts. I photographed the larger of the two, which were both in their terrestrial form, and identified it as a Palmate Newt Lissotriton helveticus on the basis that it had no spots under the chin.

Palmate Newt Lissotriton helveticus, Lodge entrance drive © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Finally, as we were packing up, Daniel found a largish beetle on the net pole that he was dismantling. My photographs show it to be the Nationally Notable Nb Oedemera (Oncomera) femoralis. So, I shall pass the record on to Somerset Beetle Recorder, James McGill, when he comes to visit at the weekend. I also found this beetle sp. many years ago on Ivy Hedera helix in my Blagdon garden at night, when moth trapping.

Tuesday 20th September [Overcast with mizzle all afternoon]

I had a brief view of the juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger in front of the Lodge this afternoon but couldn't refind it later. The Holt Bay Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula flock had swollen to 7 today but there was no sign of the Common Redshank Tringa totanus. Top End hosted 6 Northern Pintails Anas acuta, 4 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina and 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and the Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was at Ash Tree.

The reservoir level has dropped to 53% full (per Bristol Water website).

Wednesday 21st September [Sunny intervals]

Not much change today. The juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger was still present and ranging widely. 7 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula were in Holt Bay, 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were at Hellfire Corner, 5 Northern Pintails Anas acuta at Top End, 4 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope at Indian Country and 2 Eurasian Hobbys Falco subbuteo (at least one of which was a juvenile) causing havoc with the skittish Eurasian Teal Anas crecca at Top End. My best sighting was a Grass Snake Natrix natrix crossing the road at Lodge Copse but it was in a real hurry and avoided the gaze of my camera lens!

I ran my 15W Heath Trap overnight on Home Bay Point (13 Celsius, 2000 - 0700 hrs) and caught the following:

Thursday 22nd September [Overcast, then sunshine with a stiff WNW breeze]

The long-staying juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger was present early this morning off Green Lawn, though mobile. Other birds noted include 8 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at Hellfire Corner, 8 Northern Pintails Anas acuta around Top End, 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, a near-adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and I heard Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus at The Lodge and on Rainbow Point where I also heard some Northern Ravens Corvus corax 'cronking' overhead. Mervyn Pearce reported seeing a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus.

Friday 23rd September [A lovely warm sunny day]

Amazingly, the juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger was still at the lake today. I can't believe it hasn't moved on by now. Migration brought more Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula in today, with 21 on Tiny's Shallow, with 3 Dunlin Calidris alpina, and singletons on the dam and Wookey Point. The 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were up at Top End as were 7 Northern Pintails Anas acuta. Looking through the gulls on Tiny's Shallow, I saw the adult Herring Gull Larus argentatus (or hybrid) that has yellow instead of pink legs and has been around for a while (with lots of head and neck streaking, unlike an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis) - note, this bird was later deemed to be a 4th-winter Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis.

Tomorrow, there are plans to check and refurbish the bat boxes and survey beetles by day, and, if the weather's OK, we'll be bat and moth trapping tomorrow evening. Busy, busy!

Saturday 24th September [Another lovely warm sunny day]

No sign of the juvenile Black Tern Chlidonias niger, but I did see 4 Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea fly through late morning. There were 27 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow and in front of the Lodge, with a single Dunlin Calidris alpina and the 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at Top End.

The bat box checks produced a single male Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii which Daniel ringed, and 20 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. We also checked a roost of Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii and saw a minimum of 7 in the hole. Daniel plans to trap these tomorrow night. The trapping this evening at All Saint's Wood was disappointing with just singleton males of Daubenton's and Soprano Pipistrelle caught. However, Daniel and I did find a couple of Collared Earthstars Geastrum triplex.

Bat Bug probably Cimex pipistrelli on male Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii tail membrane, Pumping Station, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Collared Earthstar Geastrum triplex, Home Bay Copse and male Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii, All Saint's Wood, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

This afternoon James McGill (The Somerset Beetle Recorder) and Clive Turner (Plymouth, Devon) caught some significant beetles in front of the Lodge, although we missed those species we specifically targeted. There will be a great deal of work to be done before everything is identified by the guys but they have identified two Nationally Notable (Nb) species Bagous limosus and Blethisa multipunctata (last local record at Chew in 1990) so far.

My two 125W Robinson moth traps were run at The Spinney (North Shore car park) and in the meadow by The Island (2000 - 0000 hrs, 15 Celsius), with a reasonable return including 6 new species for the lake:

Sunday 25th September [A dismal morning but the sun came out this afternoon]

Little change on the bird front today with 28 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina on Tiny's Shallow and in front of the Lodge, and the 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and 5 Northern Pintail Anas acuta at Top End. The Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos was on the North Shore again.

We did some more bat trapping this evening, Daniel wishing to trap Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii at the roost we found at the Pumping Station and he also put up a harp trap for a few hours from 1930 to about 2300 hrs. We caught 17 Daubenton's from the roost which were duly ringed and could see at least 3 more in there when Daniel removed the trap to process the bats. The harp trap produced 2 male Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii, one new one which Daniel ringed and one re-capture (trapped and ringed at Butcombe Bank on 13th August 2011 and subsequently found lekking on the other side of the lake between whiles). Also captured from the harp trap were 2 Common Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus and another Daubenton's Bat.

Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii and Nathusius' Bat Pipistrellus nathusii, Pumping Station, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

'Scary' spider Tegenaria sp, Spillway, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2011

Monday 26th September [Rather pleasant, warm and sunny]

Some of the Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula appear to have moved on as I could only see 13, with the 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina, today. There were 2 Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna asleep most of the day in front of the Lodge which is quite unusual for Blagdon. The bulk of the wildfowl are at Top End at present, and this afternoon included the female Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula and no less than 14 Northern Pintails Anas acuta, while the 5 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa continue to potter about feeding between bouts of sleep, 20 (introduced) Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis were on Rugmoor Point and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus flew over towards Chew Valley Lake.

It was nice to meet Mike Gillett, who re-constructed the squirrel-proof nut feeder we hang in the Hatchery grounds through the winter, for a natter and it served as a reminder to me to get the feeder put up again. I am currently trying to decide where to put a feeding station, for the benefit of birds and birders. I'll probably go for somewhere near the Top End hide to attract finches, tits and, hopefully, buntings and leave the nut feeder at the Hatchery for the Eurasian Nuthatches Sitta europaea and Great Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopos major that frequent the grounds.

I was down at the Pumping Station this evening by the spillway and spotted a Glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca glowing in the dark - the latest date I've seen one. I also ran the 15W Heath trap overnight (2015 - 0715 hrs, 13 Celsius) at the spillway and caught:

Tuesday 27th September [Warm and mainly sunny]

A bit of turnover today with the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa clearing out and the Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula count rising to 17. The 2 Dunlin Calidris alpina were still present at the Lodge too and I saw at least 3 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus flying around overhead with other migrants first thing this morning. There were also a number of Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita singing along the south side of the lake in the warm sunshine. Later, a couple of Northern Ravens Corvus corax flew over Indian Country while I counted 23 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, 2 Eurasian Wigeons Anas penelope and 8 Northern Pintails Anas acuta. I also spotted a male Common Pochard Aythya ferina with a blue nasal saddle that read 'D' on the front and 'KK' on the side (I think). If it were 'KK' then it'd be the bird I first saw on 23rd July.

Wednesday 28th September [Hot and sunny]

There were 13 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and at least one Dunlin Calidris alpina in front of the Lodge this morning together with a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.

Having visited the lake, I picked up Alan Bone and set off for Edinburgh en route to the Shetland Isles.

Thursday 29th September

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Alan and I met friends Mark Ponsford, Jack Willmott and Pete Massey at Black Dog, Aberdeen where Mark and I finally managed to catch up with Black Scoter Melanitta americana and add it to our respective British Lists. We saw 2 Arctic Skuas here and at least 8 from the boat as we headed north later. Also seen from the boat were 2 Puffins, 3 Great Skuas (Bonxies) and 2 Sooty Shearwaters.

Friday 30th September

SHETLAND ISLES DIARY: Alan and I headed out to Eshaness today, but saw nothing remarkable.