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This page brings you the latest bird and wildlife sightings from Chew Valley Lake (and occasionally elsewhere). Most updates will be on a weekly basis, although they will probably be more frequent at busy times. Records are taken from various sources and should be regarded as unconfirmed.
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on 23.08.2005
August 2005
A good day at the lake, with the unexpected appearance of five Shags being the undoubted highlight. One or two were seen in the centre of the lake this morning, then another three were at Bernard King hide. This evening, two were roosting on Little Denny, and three were on the shore at Twycross Point. Although rare anywhere inland, this species seems to turn up with a certain amount of regularity at most large reservoirs, but at Chew it is ridiculously rare, with only four previous sightings. This is a record count, beating the three in November 1980. Note that the Somerset Ornithological Society website reports that there were 15 at Hurlestone Point yesterday, with 21 there the day before.

The 'funny' weather did not disappoint on the Black Tern front, either - there were 44 this morning, but all had moved off by this evening. Most of the other birds of note were on Little Denny this evening; aside from the aforementioned Shags, there were at least 41 Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin, two Little Stints, one Sanderling, three Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Terns, six Yellow-legged Gulls and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls. Other birds were a juvenile Mediterranean Gull at East Shore this evening, at least five Greenshank, and from Herriott's Bridge this evening, single Little Egret, Green Sandpiper and Garganey.
Little reported today; Stratford hide this afternoon produced seven Black-tailed Godwits, one Garganey, three Little Egrets, one Little Ringed Plover, one Greenshank and four Snipe.
A little quieter today - the mobile wader flock was seen at Heron's Green Bay, Stratford Bay and Little Denny this morning, with at least 13 Ringed Plover, four Dunlin and two Sanderling still. Other waders included one Greenshank, three Black-tailed Godwits, five Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers and one Snipe. The majority of the wildfowl were on the undisturbed stretches of shore between Twycross and Herriott's End, and included up to eight Garganey, nine Pintail, nine Wigeon and one Goldeneye. Other birds included a Raven seen over East Shore, two Hobbies over Heron's Green Bay early this morning, three Little Egrets, one Kingfisher and a Yellow Wagtail in Heron's Green Bay. At least four Great Black-backed Gulls and one Yellow-legged Gull were on Little Denny.
Evidently some interchange overnight on the wader front; no Turnstones today, but four Sanderling were new in (a good record for Chew). The Curlew Sandpiper, 30 Dunlin and 21 Ringed Plover remained. Other sighting were: two Ravens, five Little Egrets, ten Black-tailed Godwits, two Greenshank and single Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Yellow Wagtail, Peregrine and Hobby.

Two Silver Y, a Painted Lady and a Rush Veneer were at Moreton, and a Clouded Yellow was seen at Herriott's.
Sanderling with Dunlin and Ringed Plover
Copyright Rich Andrews Sanderling with Dunlin and Ringed Plover
More of the same today; no bad thing though. Waders were more or less as they were yesterday: 43 Ringed Plover, 72 Dunlin, one Curlew Sandpiper, two Turnstones, one Snipe, one Whimbrel (all on or from Moreton Point), twelve Black-tailed Godwits (Little Denny/Twycross/Stratford Bay), one Common Sandpiper, two Little Ringed Plovers and two Greenshank (Stratford Bay). Wildfowl included six or seven Pintail, seven Wigeon and at least four Garganey - the latter all from Herriott's Bridge. Other birds were two Ravens showing well at Moreton, four Common Terns west over Heron's Green Bay early am, one Wheatear (Moreton/Heron's Green Bay), plus another on the B3114 at the Blue Bowl Inn, a White Wagtail and at least two Little Egrets in Stratford Bay and a Water Rail again in the channel just north of Herriott's Bridge.

A couple of Silver Y and a Painted Lady were at Moreton Point.

The thumbnails on the right lead to a larger image - click on the pictures!
Curlew Sandpiper
Copyright Rich Andrews Curlew Sandpiper
Copyright Rich Andrews Dunlin
Ringed Plover
Copyright Rich Andrews Ringed Plover
Copyright Rich Andrews Turnstone
An entertaining day at the lake, with eleven species of wader hopefully lending some promise for the weekend. The totals were: 71 Dunlin, 43 Ringed Plover, six Knot, one juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, six Turnstones, seven Common Sandpipers, five Green Sandpipers, two Little Ringed Plovers, two Greenshanks, twelve Black-tailed Godwits, seven Common Terns, 14 Arctic Terns, one Black Tern, four Little Egrets, 50 Sand Martins, four Hobbies, four Pintail, one Garganey, two Wigeon, one Goldeneye, six Great Black-backed Gulls, two Yellow-legged Gulls and one Yellow Wagtail. Even though we are (finally) beginning to get reasonable numbers of waders, some species, notably Greenshank and Ruff, have been either absent or only present in very poor numbers. On the other hand, the last week or so has seen the best numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone for ages.

Of course the best event of the day was a new micro-moth for the lake - the rather smart-looking Nemapogon clematella, which landed on your webmaster's car at Nunnery gate.
In a scene almost reminiscent of the 'good old days', there was a flock of 17 Ringed Plover, 33 Dunlin and two Little Ringed Plovers on Moreton Point this evening. These are the best numbers of the first two species for ten years. Elsewhere, there were an additional two Dunlin and a Turnstone on Little Denny, a third Little Ringed Plover, two Little Egrets, one Black Tern and a Wheatear in Stratford Bay. Two Common Sandpipers and four Green Sandpipers were in Heron's Green Bay, and at least three Great Black-backed Gulls and four Yellow-legged Gulls were also on Little Denny. Of note the water level on Heron's Green Pool is now very high.

A Red Underwing was on the fisherman's hut at Stratford car park this evening.
Still up to five Little Egrets today, most of which were in Stratford Bay. Also around the lake were up to four Garganey, three Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Sandpipers, five Green Sandpipers, seven Dunlin, eight Ringed Plover and three Little Ringed Plovers. Most of the last three species were in front of Stratford hide, just left of the weedy 'island'. An adult Mediterranean Gull was at Herriott's End this evening. Terns earlier in the day included two each of Arctic Tern and Common Tern and one Black Tern. Another Yellow Wagtail and the first White Wagtail of the autumn were also seen.
Further encouragement on the wader front today, with 14 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover, and a record count of 12 Turnstones in Stratford Bay. Evidently there has been a number of these inland recently, including a further six nearby at Blagdon. A Cuckoo was also at Stratford this morning. Three Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper were also seen.
Small waders have been something of a scarcity at Chew in recent years; although nothing to write home about, at least twelve Dunlin and four Ringed Plovers today were an encouraging sign. The daily tally stood at four Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers, one Redshank, two Little Ringed Plovers, one Black-tailed Godwit, two Snipe, three Garganey, two Pintail and four Little Egrets. Most of the good birds seem to be on the far side of Stratford Bay at the moment! A Kingfisher was at Hollow Brook, and a juvenile Peregrine killed what appeared to be a Dunlin at East Shore early this morning. A Hobby was over Stratford Bay this evening. Of the commoner species, an all-lake count of 64 Little Grebes was made today. Although there are good numbers of birds at the lake at the moment, some species are not in such high numbers as they have been in recent years - Tufted Duck in particular are much reduced in comparison with the good numbers of previous autumns, and Coot are not present in the vast flocks that they can be, although a record count of 3151 at Blagdon today may go some way to explain this!

A new one for the Chew list (and a species seldom recorded locally) was the micro moth Antispila treitschkiella - several mines were found on dogwood along the old Parkland road. A Painted Lady was seen in Heron's Green Bay.
A little more effort produced a few more birds today, although nothing unexpected was discovered.. Six Little Egrets were in Stratford Bay this afternoon, as were two adult Peregrines, one Black-tailed Godwit, a female Goldeneye and two Garganey (along the East side, with Teal). Four Black Terns were present earlier in the day. Heron's Green Bay produced single Pintail, Greenshank and Ringed Plover, six Green Sandpipers and two Common Sandpipers. Two Dunlin and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull were on Herriott's Pool, whilst two juvenile Hobbies were at Sutton Wick just before dusk. Two Little Ringed Plovers and a second Pintail were also reported.
Two Little Ringed Plovers were in Stratford Bay, and two Greenshank were on the main dam.
A further increase in Black Tern numbers today - 26 were present in front of Stratford hide this evening. Also in the bay were two Garganey, five Little Egrets, two Dunlin, two Black-tailed Godwits, six Snipe and a Kingfisher. Heron's Green produced the juvenile Wood Sandpiper, four Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipiers, one Pintail, one Greenshank and two Hobbies. A late visit to Herriott's Bridge turned up the first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn (one overhead with roosting Pieds), a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and another Green Sandpiper.

Dropping water levels now mean that the first tree stumps are appearing on Little Denny - there were many Cormorants and hundreds of Coot there tonight.
It looks as though things are starting to improve - two Wood Sandpipers were new in today (Stratford Bay and Moreton), as were six Black Terns and a Turnstone; the latter a difficult bird at Chew. An increase in the number of common waders was also a good sign - six Ringed Plover, four Green Sandpipers, six Common Sandpipers, two Dunlin, two Black-tailed Godwits and single Curlew and Redshank. There were still five Little Egrets and one Garganey present.
A juvenile Arctic Tern was the first tern of the autumn passage 'proper' - and not before time! Also recorded today were four Common Sandpipers, single Dunlin and Ringed Plover (Herriott's) and five Green Sandpipers and one Common Sandpiper (Heron's Green Bay)
More of the same - four Little Egrets were in Stratford Bay this evening, and the second Mediterranean Gull of the autumn (a juvenile) was on Herriott's Pool this evening. Other birds were two Little Ringed Plovers and a Ringed Plover at Twycross, single Dunlin at Denny and Herriott's Pool, one Greenshank, two Snipe, one Common Sandpiper and a total of ten Green Sandpipers. The juvenile Water Rail was again showing on Heron's Green Pool this evening, and a Kingfisher was at Hollow Brook. Unfortunately, but rather predictably, the main event of the evening was the continued and deliberate disturbance by hot air balloons.
Still at least two Little Egrets today (singles at Moreton Bank and Heron's Green Bay). Wader numbers, although still dismal, produced a little more variety - single Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover and Dunlin, plus three Common Sandpipers and four Green Sandpipers. A Water Rail was in the channel just north of Herriott's Pool - they can be quite reliable here at times. The only other birds of note were three Great Black-backed Gulls on Herriott's Pool.
There are now up to six Little Egrets in the Stratford/Moreton area. The only other species present in anything like reasonable numbers is Green Sandpiper - up to twelve were seen today. Other counts included six Snipe, one Dunlin, one Pintail, one Hobby (Heron's Green Pool) and at least five Yellow-legged Gulls. A Water Rail was seen with a small chick on Heron's Green Pool. The last few days have seen a gradual increase in the numbers of Teal and Shoveler, but by and large, migration has been extremely poor so far - for example there have been very few waders, no terns and low numbers of duck. Maybe things will pick up in the next few weeks?
A fair scattering of birds today, including single Oystercatcher, Garganey, Wigeon and Goldeneye (all Stratford Bay), two Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool), and ten Green Sandpipers in the Heron's Green Bay/Pool area. The two Stratford Bay Little Egrets seemed to be particularly mobile this evening, at least until it was discovered that there were actually four birds and they hadn't moved all night. Three Water Rails were on Heron's Green Pool today; the water level here seems to be just the right height at the moment.

One of the Red Foxes was again in front of BK hide this evening - they seem to be particularly reliable here just lately.
Not before time, the first Garganey of the autumn was found on Heron's Green Pool today. Nearby there were six Green Sandpipers in Heron's Green Bay, with another on Herriott's Pool. Other birds included two Little Egrets, two Common Sandpipers, a Snipe, a Water Rail and two Dunlin and three Ringed Plovers on Denny.

There was also a little of interest on the non-feathered side as well today, two Clouded Yellows and one Painted Lady were found. Record of the day however was the count of 15 Red Foxes made from Bernard King hide this morning. All on view at virtually the same time, there were eight on East Shore, two at Twycross, two on Denny and three in Stratford Bay. Possibly an additional one was seen earlier in Spring Bay!

Two moths flying at Chew at the moment - check the fisherman's hut at Stratford car park for Red Underwing during the day. Click on the images for a larger picture:
Brown-veined Wainscot
Copyright Rich Andrews
Brown-veined Wainscot
Red Underwing
Copyright Rich Andrews
Red Underwing
The two Little Egrets remained in Stratford Bay; other birds were three Oystercatchers (Moreton), one Snipe, one Redshank and a juvenile Peregrine briefly in Stratford Bay this afternoon.
Stratford Bay
Copyright Rich Andrews
Stratford Bay - despite the low water levels, July was rubbish.
More of the same today; eight Green Sandpipers, one Common Sandpiper, one Water Rail and two Little Egrets.

A Clouded Yellow was also reported again.
The slow passage continues.... one Oystercatcher, six Green Sandpipers, one Common Sandpiper and two Little Egrets.
The two Little Egrets were again in Stratford Bay, there were four Green Sandpipers and one Common Sandpiper in Heron's Green Bay, and six Yellow-legged Gulls at Bernard King hide. One Dunlin and three Ringed Plovers were also reported.

There were still a few Purple Hairstreaks again in the old car park at Nunnery/Parkland.
Probably the most notable sighting of the day was two Water Rails - an adult and a juvenile on Herriott's Pool. Other birds included three Green Sandpipers, and one Common Sandpiper.

On the butterfly front, five Purple Hairstreaks and a Clouded Yellow were notable.
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