Trip Report: Blagdon Lake (12 January 2013)

Being retired and a Tuesday birder, it’s not often that I venture forth for a grown-up day at the weekend. As Nigel Milbourne, patch specialist, was leading I made a special effort to attend. I wasn’t disappointed and am sure the others in the group weren’t either. Nigel was confident we would see 50 species during the morning’s walk. BL is a haven for Tufted Duck, Coot, Wigeon and Pochard and these were seen aplenty. The strong SW wind had cleared most of the gulls from the dam wall but we did manage to ID the 5 most common species on our trip round. Five species of Thrush were also seen – nice that Fieldfare and Redwing were in the same oak tree to allow comparison and a pair of Mistle Thrushes stood to attention on the meadow to display their chest markings. We had a detailed lesson (six scopes being utilised) on the identification of Lesser Scaup, which stayed more or less in the same area for our education – poor light levels and distance made the upper mandible ‘Black Nail tip’ hard to distinguish. (Nigel later showed us a full size reproduction to round off the class). Black-necked Grebe showed surprisingly well for such a small bird in the choppy water conditions, although its cousin the Little Grebe was far less accommodating. The Great Crested Grebes we saw had no breeding plumage head gear visible. Two pairs of Goldeneye were found but the courting display previously seen wasn’t repeated. A wisp of 40 Snipe were flushed from the lake margins with an attendant Grey Heron plus the singular sound of a female Teal making her exit. Our final species was seen from the dam end of the lake looking into Butcombe Bay, a fine pair of Goosander. Nine damp birders finished with a count of 51 species. Thanks to Nigel for leading this most enlightening morning’s birding.

Nick Hawkridge