Daily News

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

Sunday 20th August [Continuing changeable]

I was in bed for much of the morning and due to family commitments couldn't get to the lake until early evening, when I saw 2 adult (Common) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge, several Sand Martins Riparia riparia, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, the ♂ Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, and a Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis among the large Canada Goose Branta canadensis flock.

The evenings bat work in Wiltshire was cancelled due to the forecast of rain.

Saturday 19th August [Changeable & breezy]

I met Mark Hynam late afternoon at the lake. He told me he'd seen very little of interest and I only noted 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Sand Martin Riparia riparia. We then went over to South Wales to join friends bat trapping at RSPB Newport Wetlands (see Bat News).

Rain stopped play last night, as it inevitably would, but we managed 2-3hours of bat trapping at Shapwick NNR (again, see Bat News).

Friday 18th August [Changeable with heavy rain showers & breezy]

I spotted a ♂ Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope during my visit mid-morning. It may have been present since the WeBS count. Other than that, there were just 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta worthy of mention. There have been lots of boats out for the last two days practising for a national angling competition that is being held over the weekend (both days). Most are fishing near the dam, and the majority of wildfowl are at the Top End as a result. It also means that any waders dropping in overnight onto the dam or the island in front of the Lodge are also likely to be disturbed as the boats go out - so if you're coming birding, do so early in the morning. The changeable weather, so often good for bringing migrants down, hasn't done so when I've visited over the last few days.

Ken Hall pointed me to the recent article in Nature magazine about a potential new species of Grass Snake that was alluded to on the BBC website (see 7th August blog). Having read it, my take is that there is a proposal by German workers, based on DNA analysis of animals taken from two zones of hybridization in Europe, for a new species of Grass Snake. Their work suggests three Grass Snake clades exist across Europe, and that the one in Germany and much of NW Europe contains several sub-species including the one native to Britain Natrix natrix helvetica. If their proposal for this clade to be accorded specific status is accepted, then our Grass Snake will become a sub-species of the new species viz. Natrix helvetica helvetica. During the course of the analyses, they tested a fair number of snakes from Britain and found one example from Surrey that had a DNA sequence which they attribute to one of their 'Eastern' clade of sub-species with a likely origin in, I think I'm right in saying, Northern Italy or the Balkans. This would be morphologically different to the native species, as suggested in the BBC website article, but is most likely to be an introduction. It hardly means we have two species of Grass Snake in Britain, although there is the possibility that an introduction could become more widespread. I'm sure British herpetologists will be investigating the situation going forward. Meantimes, it's as you were.

It's a busy weekend of bat work ahead, with a trapping session tonight at Shapwick NNR, tomorrow a Bioblitz at Newport Wetlands, and a swarming survey in Wiltshire on Sunday.

Thursday 17th August [Mainly sunny]

The Little Egret Egretta garzetta count continues to rise with 9 present this morning.

Wednesday 16th August [High cloud with sunny spells]

I only had time for a brief look around today and saw 8 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 10 (including 4 juvenile) Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus.

Tuesday 15th August [Warm and sunny]

I spent most of the day at DWT Fontmell Down Nature Reserve looking at invertebrates, and saw 3 Red Kites Milvus milvus together in the air overhead at lunchtime. I didn't see any of those 20 years or so ago when I last visited the reserve. I also feel there has been a significant reduction in the grassland which seems to have been invaded by more scrub, but memory is a fickle thing!

Back at Blagdon this evening, I saw an adult Dunlin Calidris alpina (partial summer plumage), 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. The water level is dropping quickly, so I guess it's being pumped again. Perhaps, it might provide the opportunity to spot a passage Spotted Crake - it's been a long 21 years since the last, and only, accepted records.

Monday 14th August [A few sunny spells]

The WeBS team carried out the count this morning (see WeBS Page for full details). There were 6 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and at least 7, probably 8, Little Egrets Egretta garzetta present. We saw 3 Common Swifts Apus apus and a number of Sand Martins Riparia riparia at the dam end, and I saw a Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus at Lodge Copse on the way back home. Warwick White texted me from Blagdon to tell me he'd heard and seen 2 Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata in flight high over the village while we were counting, but none of us heard them down at the lake, unfortunately.

This evening I met Mark Hynam to check some bat boxes at Chew Valley Lake, before we drove over to Herriott's for a last look at dusk. There were 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba roosting at the back of the pond, and a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 5 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Common Sandpiper there as well.

Sunday 13th August [Mild]

I did not visit the lake today, but we will be carrying out the monthly WeBS count tomorrow morning.

Saturday 12th August [Dry and changeable]

News from Mark Hynam today, who saw 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus in Long Bay and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Later, we had a super bat trapping session at Chew Valley Lake (see Bat News), where we also saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos working the north shore of Villice Bay, and enjoyed a fantastic display by the Perseid meteor shower throughout the night thanks to a near-cloudless sky.

Friday 11th August [Dry, bright morning, then clouding over with rain later.]

I spent a couple of hours this morning having a look through the birds on the lake but, disappointingly, there were no shorebirds. I counted 6, possibly 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, and saw 4 each of Common Swift Apus apus and Sand Martin Riparia riparia, the first (juvenile) Common Gull Larus canus of the autumn, and the Canada Goose Branta canadensis with neck collar orange 'JX'. The water level is getting interesting now, with Tiny's Shallow appearing in front of the Lodge as an island where gulls spend time loafing as they moult; so, perhaps an opportunity to find some of Pete Rocks ringed urban breeders, or, birds from further afield.

Tomorrow evening we will be bat trapping at Chew Valley Lake again.

Thursday 10th August [Dry with sunny spells]

A visit this evening turned up 7 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Top End, our first real autumn influx. With 3 Great White Egrets currently at Chew, I suppose it's likely we'll see numbers of both at the lake as the days start to shorten. The Canada Goose Branta canadensis with neck collar orange 'JX' was still among the growing flock on Holt Farm.

Wednesday 9th August [Wet early, then slowly drying out.]

I was at the lake from mid-morning until tea time, before going over to Chew Valley Lake until dusk, checking bat boxes with Ken Anstey (see Bat News).

At Blagdon we saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis fly past us at Long Bay, and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus high over the lake being given a hard time by a gull. There were also 6 Common Swifts Apus apus still over the lake among the martins and swallows. There was also a Pygmy Shrew Sorex minutus in Point Bay hide that we saw several times.

Then, at Chew we saw a Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus flying around calling for some time at dusk.

Tuesday 8th August

I didn't visit the lake today, having spent it at Wytham Wood in Oxfordshire working with Dr Dani Linton, Ken Anstey and Nick Tomlinson.

Monday 7th August [Overcast & mainly dry]

During an evening visit I saw a Sandpiper sp. on the dam. It was probably a sleeping Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, although it had quite a dark back. I didn't see any other waders around the shoreline and nothing unusual in a perusal of the ducks. One of the Canada Geese Branta canadensis was wearing a neck collar orange 'JX' which was fitted at Cotswold Water Park and only seen once by me at Blagdon on 10th Sep. 2016.

Surprising news today that German scientists working on Grass Snakes have split them into Common or Eastern Grass Snake Natrix natrix and Barred Grass Snake Natrix helvetica. The Common Grass Snake is olive green with barely noticeable dark barring along its length and a bright yellow collar, while the Barred Grass Snake is grey with dark barring along its length and a dull yellow collar. The two new species were formerly thought to be sub-species. Time to start looking at those old photographs to see which have been recorded around here - both are likely to occur. See BBC website news.

Sunday 6th August [Sunny spells]

I didn't go to the lake today, but Mike O'Connor sent me news of a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis on the dam.

Saturday 5th August [Mainly sunny & breezy]

After a bit of a lie-in having not got into bed until 0430 hrs, I had a brief look at the lake and saw just a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos of note, on the dam.

Later, we went bat trapping at Shapwick Heath NNR with permission from NE (see Bat News). While we were waiting for the first bats to come out, we were treated to the sight of an adult Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax flying towards the Decoy Hide. Could it have been one of the Westhay NNR breeding pair? I've notified Brian Gibbs the Somerset Bird Recorder.

Friday 4th August [Sunshine & showers]

I didn't get down to the lake until this evening to run a bat trapping session, and two Robinson moth traps. Mark Hynam arrived before me and reported seeing 2 Common Kingfishers Alcedo atthis, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 6 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and 2 (adult & juv.) Peregrines Falco peregrinus.

The bats weren't playing ball this evening (see Bat News), and similarly the moth catch wasn't exactly up to expectations either. Thanks to Phillip Delve for his work running the two Robinson traps and providing me with a list of his records on the night, supplemented with those that I've subsequently determined as follows:

I visited Chew Valley Lake earlier this afternoon and John Harris showed me a reptile that had been found alive and well by a BW engineer on the spillway that was one of the caiman/crocodile/alligator group! I suppose it's likely to be a Dwarf Caiman, or similar, that has been released into the wild by someone... Could give you a nasty nip though. The pet trade has a lot to answer for.

Wednesday 2nd August [Wet and windy]

It was bat box check day at Chew Valley Lake, so my whole day was taken up with dodging showers and checking boxes with Ken Anstey, sister Harriet, Hannah Bates, Dani Smith and Stephanie Bentham-Green. Consequently, I had no opportunity to check Blagdon Lake. Of note at Chew, we found a Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii in a box for the first time (see Bat News), and an Old Lady Mormo maura moth in Moreton bird hide.

Tuesday 1st August [Sunny intervals]

I spent the morning working in the Chew Valley again, and had planned to go to Dorset to photograph invertebrates afterwards. However, in the end I spent the afternoon at Blagdon with my sister looking at invertebrates instead. We had an amazing time, and actually found not one, but two of Britain's largest hoverfly, Volucella zonaria, the first site record. We also saw a Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis at Cheddar Water/Park Lane, the second site record, I believe. I'm still working through all the other photos to see what else I can identify. While there, we checked out the birds but could only see a single Little Egret Egretta garzetta.

Other invertebrates recorded (so far):

Monday 31st July [Mainly sunny]

My sister and I made a couple of visits to the lake today and saw 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. There also appears to be a pair of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus building a nest platform in the middle of Long Bay.

The highlight of the day was a Weasel Musela nivalis that ran up to the patio doors and scratched on them before going back to working its way along the garden wall. I went out, and it came back along the wall and ran almost right up to my feet before disappearing back into a hole in the wall. Extraordinary!

Sunday 30th July [Showers]

A mixed day didn't bring any new birds in other than, perhaps, a few Sand Martins Riparia riparia. A single Little Egret Egretta garzetta flew along Indian Country bank and into Rugmoor Bay and a pair of Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus fed beside the hide within a few feet of my viewing position in the rain.

In the evening a small group of us gathered to do some bat trapping along Woodford Bank at Chew Valley Lake despite the unfavourable onshore breeze. We didn't do particularly well!

Saturday 29th July [Mainly overcast with rain in the evening]

This evening I met Mark Hynam who was also having a look around. We saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Hellfire Corner, and I spotted a brood of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus with 2 juveniles, that I assume to be the same one I saw for the first time on the WeBS count with just a single juvenile.

Our bat trapping at Chew Valley Lake was postponed for the second successive evening.

Friday 28th July [Mainly overcast]

Once again, I was working in the Chew Valley for much of the day, and only had a time for a brief visit to the lake. I met Steve Hale who told me he'd seen nothing of note. So me nothing + Steve nothing = nothing to report!

Steve sent me a picture of the larva of an Orange Footman Eilema sororcula that he found recently at the lake. I've checked my records and think this is the 2nd site record, the other being an adult caught in 2011 by Alan Bone and I when light trapping. Nice find Steve, and thanks for sharing.

Back to the mystery raptor. I believe the bird was a young Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, albeit a strange colour form that I've never seen previously. At least three correspondents agree with me, although I await a couple more contributions.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo © unknown photographer, 2017

Thursday 27th July [Sunshine & showers]

I was over in the Chew Valley for much of the day, but did have a brief look at Blagdon Lake on the way back. I saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Hellfire Corner and that was about it. Later, I was shown two pictures of a cinnamon-coloured raptor that was photographed at the lake, and later still I recieved a short video of it. It is certainly curious and has got a number of people excited that it might have been a harrier, but I don't necessarily share that opinion at the moment. I have sent the photos to Robin Prytherch for comment.

In the evening I was asked to join Adrian Woodhall to help him carry out a bat emergence survey in Brean, of all places. Needless to say, no bats emerged, although I was able to identify a juvenile that was found barely alive in the garden earlier in the week, and which subsequently died, as a Common Pipistrelle by its wing venation (with suitable caveats).

Wednesday 26th July [Windy with showers]

I saw a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay and some Sand Martins Riparia riparia at Top End, and Mark Hynam spotted a Eurasian Stonechat Saxicola torquata at Long Bay.

We videoed (with IR lights) a Lesser Horseshoe emergence at Chew Valley Lake at dusk which I'll review later, but there were many more than before they gave birth, so it would seem to have been a good breeding season.

Tuesday 25th July [Warm and sunny]

I spent nearly 2 hrs at the lake during the late afternoon looking for waterbirds, but the only bird of note to report was the regular Little Egret Egretta garzetta. I wonder how long it'll be before its joined by its bigger cousins? After that I went to meet friends to catch bats near Chepstow, where they had recorded some pipistrelles echolocating at around 39 kHz, so potentially Nathusius'. We caught 5 species including Soprano and Common Pipistrelles but no Nathusius' last night.

Monday 24th July [Mainly sunny and warm]

The WeBS team carried out the monthly count this morning and saw a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Peak counts were 926 Common Coots Fulica atra and 393 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula (see WeBS Page for full count). I saw a new Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus brood (2 juveniles), a Common Coot brood (1 juvenile), a 3rd brood of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus (1 juvenile), and an adult Mute Swan Cygnus olor with a yellow darvic ring 'CTN' that I don't think I've recorded at the lake previously. Insects noted included a ♀ Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens and a few ♂ Black-tailed Skimmers Orthetrum cancellatum.

Sunday 23rd July [Changeable with heavy showers]

An adult Common Redshank Tringa totanus was a welcome addition to my site year list today. Steve Hale sent me a lovely shot of it - thanks Steve.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus, Green Lawn © Steve Hale, 2017

There was an additional juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn bringing the total to 3, where a juvenile Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos kept them company. I also saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, another Common Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus on a day when the weather appears to have brought some new birds in. We will be carrying out the WeBS count tomorrow morning.

Saturday 22nd July [Changeable]

It was a bit of a mixed day weatherwise and I didn't go birding until early evening before we were due to do some bat trapping. I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Rugmoor Bay, a Eurasian Hobby Falco subutteo over Ash Tree, 1 of 2 Eurasian Stonechats Saxicola torquata found by Mark Hynam, and a family of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis (4 juveniles) and Common Coots Fulica atra (1+ juvenile) in Long Bay. Mark also saw 2 juvenile Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropus in Long Bay.

We ran a bat trapping session centred at Ash Tree later to try and catch a Nathusius Pipistrelle to radio tag (see Bat News).

Friday 21st July [Overcast and miserable]

Just 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos this evening.

Wednesday 19th July [Thundery]

After last nights thunder storms, I had a look around between mid and late morning but didn't find any new birds. I saw 4 or 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm, and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Wookey Point. I also saw a Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus carrying prey over the dam. The water level has dropped fast to about 72% by my reckoning (some 6% in 9 days).

John Horsey was fshing at the lake today and told me he'd seen an Osprey over Chew a couple of weeks ago, presumably a wandering immature looking for its own territory.

I was dismayed to find a dead Brown Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus in the garden this morning. It had probably been caught by one of the neighbourhood cats.

Tuesday 18th July [Thundery]

Sorry for posting this late, I forgot to press the upload button! There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, a Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm. Most exciting for me was the singing European Greenfinch Chloris chloris at the Lodge car park. Greenfinches have been a difficult species to catch up with at the lake for a few years, with the best spot usually being around Cheddar Water/the Inspection House.

Monday 17th July [Mainly warm & sunny]

Another day when I should have got out early, but didn't get to the lake until the evening! Anyway, I saw 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius at Green Lawn, and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Top End. There is now an exposed point at Rugmoor as the water level continues to drop.

Sunday 16th July [Mainly overcast]

I made a brief visit this evening before going out surveying with the YACWAG Batmap Project. I saw just 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam. I looked over to Rugmoor Point and although the level has exposed a good marginal area for birds to feed, I didn't see any migrants feeding there.

Saturday 15th July [Mainly overcast]

There were 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius on Green Lawn early this morning according to Mark Hynam, and when we met this evening we saw 2 adult Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and at least one Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. The water level has dropped noticeably in the last couple of days, and Common Coot Fulica atra numbers appear to be increasing as weed becomes more accessible for them to feed on.

Friday 14th July [Sunny & breezy]

There was a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, an Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Holt Farm and a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point this evening. Some of the Canada Geese Branta canadensis appear to regaining their powers of flight, post-moult, but wildfowl numbers have yet to start increasing.

Thursday 13th July [Warm & sunny]

This evening I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius on the dam, and a Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point. Earlier, I walked a 9 mile circuit from Stanton Wick, via Stanton Drew to Chew Magna, over Knowle Hill and return. It was good to see there was a population of Yellowhammers at Roundhill and Pitt's Farm, north-east of Chew Valley Lake.

Wednesday 12th July [Cool & overcast, then warm & sunny]

I only went to the lake briefly this afternoon to rescue a couple of grounded birds with Warwick White.

Tuesday 11th July [Wet]

This evenings visit was a bit damp! I saw singles of Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, and Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Rugmoor Point.

Earlier in the day, despite the weather forecast, Robin Williams and I met at the Millfield School Worley Hill nature reserve. However, after half an hour of photography under an umbrella, we decided to call it a day.

♂ Osprey white 'YA', who visited Blagdon Lake in March 2013, has raised 3 youngsters (a ♂ and 2♀) at Kielder Water this year. They were ringed on 26th June and are not far off fledging.

Monday 10th July [Overcast in the morning & brighter later. Breezy.]

Mike O'Connor spotted a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo over the dam early this morning. I had a look this afternoon and noted several Sand Martins Riparia riparia, my first juvenile Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos before I had to leave. I also took some pictures of a Large Skipper Ochlodes faunus and saw an Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola, as well as getting shots of Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum (which seems to be having a good year), but the wind was howling along the lake making photography very difficult.

This evening I saw the Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, and 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Rugmoor before going to video the emergence from the 1FW box. There were probably in excess of 140 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out, but I will have to review the video to get a firm count.

I reckon the lake is about 78% full at present, so there are a few areas with margins for passage waders to feed, but they will be subject to angling disturbance.

Sunday 9th July [Sunny and breezy]

Not much change today, there were 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, a Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, 12 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta.

Late news from Christine and Mike O'Connor of a Common Redshank Tringa totanus on the dam at dusk while I was at the other end of the lake. Thanks.

Yesterday evening, Mark Hynam pointed out a roosting dragonfly to me at Flower Corner that puzzled me, but I'm pretty sure it was a ♀ Yellow-winged Darter Sympetrum flaveolum. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me and have no photographic record. We had another look for it this evening, but didn't see it. I'll have another look around the middle of the day tomorrow, when it's more likely to be flying. A few migrant dragons have been found around the country in recent days, so it's worth keeping an eye open for the unusual.

Saturday 8th July [Sunny and warm]

At long last, real signs that migration is underway. This evening I saw 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, and a bird I didn't see last year at the lake a Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, with a Green SandpiperTringa ochropus, 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 5 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, and 4 (3 prob. juvs.) Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Rugmoor Bay. I met Mark Hynam at Flower Corner and he told me he'd counted 11 Lapwings on Rugmoor Point and heard a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus squeal at Pipe Bay.

Friday 7th July [Warm but overcast much of the day]

I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Cheddar Water this evening, a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata at The Lodge car park, 2 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on the shore at Green Lawn and counted 20 Common Pochards Aythya ferina at Burmah Road.

Later, I popped down to Burtle to return some kit to Daniel Hargreaves and went for a walk with him and their dog Poppy. We heard 2 Grasshopper Warblers reeling, saw a Barn Owl, and heard a couple of young Tawny Owls.

Thursday 6th July [Warm]

I didn't visit the lake today.

Wednesday 5th July [Scorchio]

There was a big Yeo Valley corporate event at the lake today, and I got called down because a grounded bat was crawling around on the ground at the Lodge. It was a young Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus that, because it looked active, I popped back into the roost with all the others. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam while I was there.

In the evening I visited the garden of friends in Bishop Sutton who wanted to know what bats they were seeing in their garden. There were, of course, the usual Soprano and Common Pipistrelles, with Noctules flying high overhead, but the pleasant surprise was to see at least 12 Serotines Eptesicus serotinus heading out across the garden from a probable maternity roost close by.

Tuesday 4th July [Overcast]

Mike O'Connor emailed news of a Little Egret Egretta garzetta and a Green Woodpecker Picus viridis on the dam earlier this morning. Later, I saw a Little Egret at Rugmoor Bay, a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis that flew past me at Cheddar Water and a flock of circa 20 Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris of mixed ages flying around at dusk. Starlings are a really unusual bird to see at the lake at this time of year, since the catastrophic decline in local breeders.

Monday 3rd July [Some drizzle, then brightening up with a strong breeze.]

Thanks to Keith Vinicombe, who called me, I managed to connect with 9 (8♂ & 1♀) Common Scoters Melanitta nigra that flew off from Chew and landed at Blagdon late this morning. They were still off the dam, trying to sleep, when I left at about 1230 hrs. They're my first new species at the lake since 23rd May - it's been tough! Robert Hargreaves arrived at the lake just before I left at lunchtime, and got these great shots of the Scoters. Thanks for sharing them Rob.

Common Scoters Melanitta nigra © Robert Hargreaves, 2017

I did go back to the lake, but had forgotten a battery I needed to film a bat roost emergence afterwards, so had to go back home without adding any more news. Mark Hynam and I videoed and recorded an emergence of Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii from a local church.

Sunday 2nd July [Sunny & breezy]

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca and Little Egret Egretta garzetta still present. Also, the first brood (2 juveniles with one adult) of Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis that I've seen at the lake this year were in front of the Lodge at Polish Water. There was no sign of the Caspian Tern seen earlier at Chew unfortunately. Mark Hynam was already at the lake and I was on my way down when Simon Isgar (the finder) rang me to say it had just flown off from Herriott's Pool towards West Harptree. Congratulations on a nice find Simon!

I have reviewed all the sonograms I recorded close to the Fishing Lodge roost entrance last night and have, reluctantly, to conclude that Nathusius' Pipistrelle calls were notable by the absence! Lots of Soprano and, rather surprisingly, Common Pipistrelles. I do have some cracking video sequences of the bats emerging from their roost though, which is some consolation I suppose.

Saturday 1st July [A real mixture of sunshine and showers]

This evening I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, plus a Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis that flew past me at Flower Corner. Mark Hynam checked Rugmoor and saw a single Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Then we met up and checked a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus roost that has formed in the Fishing Lodge roof. We counted about 100 bats out before they started to come back after about 90 minutes. I don't think there were any Nathusius' Pipistrelles in the roost, but I have yet to check all our recordings and review the videoed emergence.

Among the invertebrates I recorded yesterday were:

Friday 30th June [Sunny spells this morning]

Mike O'Connor sent me a text saying there are 2 or 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos and the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam this morning.

I spent 2-3 hours around lunchtime at the lake and saw 2 Common Sandpipers on the dam, along with 8+ Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea and 5 adult Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. I also saw at least 20 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus in the trees at the Lodge car park. Then, I spent most of my time photographing insects, a few of which I will put up later on the blog, but now I have to go out to help count a local Lesser Horseshoe roost with Warwick White. Later: We counted 210 bats out of the roost last time, 13th June, but just 160 tonight.

Of particular interest today though, was that I was told about a bat roost lakeside that I'll get out to video tomorrow evening. If it's a largish Soprano Pipistrelle roost, it's just possible that there may be Nathusius' Pipistrelles breeding there too, right under our noses! How ironic would that be?

Hoverflies Ferdinandea cuprea and Meliscaeva cinctella © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Hoverflies Cheilosia illustrata and Syritta pipens © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Hoverfly Xanthogramma pedissequum and Soldierfly Oplodontha viridula © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Thursday 29th June [Overcast, with rain getting steadily heavier in the evening.]

The only birds of note this evening, in the steady rain, were a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, a juvenile Green Woodpecker Picus viridis and an adult Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus on the dam, and the returning Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on Green Lawn. The most interesting sighting for me was finding a few pink-flowering examples of Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis at Top End. It seems to be flowering early this year anyway, but it was an absolute delight to find this colour form, which I don't think I've seen before at Blagdon.

Wednesday 28th June [Drizzle early, drier later.]

This evening a Little Egret Egretta garzetta was feeding at Rugmoor Bay, and I counted 302 moulting Canada Geese Branta canadensis on the lake. I was planning to go looking for insects today, but the weather put paid to that. Perhaps tomorrow?

At dusk I carried out a roost emergence count at Chew Valley Lake with bat co-workers - see Bat News.

Tuesday 27th June [Overcast, with light rain after tea.]

We have 2 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus pairs with broods, one with a single quite large juvenile at Holt Bay, and the other with 2 small juveniles at Flower Corner. A Little Egret Egretta garzetta flew through to the west over Rainbow Point late evening. I also saw 2 unidentified dragonflies this evening as well; my first at the lake this year.

The bat video and recording carried out last night saw a further reduction in the number of bats exiting the 1FW box - see Bat News.

Robin Williams, John Mason and I spent some time photographing insects on Marsh Thistles Cirsium palustre yesterday, among which were large numbers of the very striking ichneumonid wasp Amblyteles armatorius. While looking through my photos, I came across a very useful beginner's guide (pdf) to this fascinating group of insects online that I've added to the Links Page - Beginner's guide to identifying British ichneumonids. It's well worth a look, especially for the moth trappers among you.

Monday 26th June [Mainly sunny early, but cloudier later, though warm and still.]

I met Mark Hynam this evening and he reported seeing 4 Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus in Holt Copse before we met, and we also saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Green Lawn and Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Rainbow Point.. There appears to have been a small influx of Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula too.

I spent most of the day on SWT Lot's Grassland Reserve on the Mendips photographing invertebrates, and was really pleased to see there is still quite a healthy population of Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens there.

In the evening Mark Hynam joined me to video and record the emergence of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus from one of the hibernation boxes, which I assume they're using as a maternity roost. However, the reason for videoing/recording is to try and prove it. There was lots of coming and going and I hope I've got some lovely footage, but I will have to wait until tomorrow to review it and try to count how many came out during our visit.

Sunday 25th June [Windy, with some drizzle and sunny spells.]

I didn't get to the lake in time for a good look around this evening unfortunately. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, I promise.

Saturday 24th June [Mainly cloudy with a cool wind this evening]

Ce and I are back from a lovely week on the Isle of Man, so I visited the lake this evening. I saw my first brood (1 juvenile) of Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus at Flower Corner, and 8 Northern Lapwings Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm. Mark Hynam picked out a Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo at Long Bay, and there were 4 Common Pochards Aythya ferina in Holt Bay, but there wasn't much else to report. It's very quiet still!

I wasn't specifically birding or batting on the Isle of Man, but I saw Black Guillemots, Manx Shearwaters, Hooded Crows, Peregrine Falcons and Grey Seals during our travels. We enjoyed a whizz around the TT course on the back of a trike with IOM Trike Tours, during which we touched 80 mph where the racing bikes would be going about three times faster, saw the mens time trial at the British Cycling Championships, and spent lots of time travelling around on the Manx Electric, Snaefell Mountain, and Isle of Man Steam Railways on a real nostalgia trip.