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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 27.10.2005
October 2005
Still a good quantity of birds in Stratford Bay - as usual, the three juvenile Velvet Scoters, three Black-necked Grebes and eclipse drake Red-breasted Merganser remained, and were today joined by seven adult Bewick's Swans. The shorelines around the lake today also produced four Little Egrets, 61 Pintail, five Goosanders, four Dunlin, one Little Stint, five Ringed Plover, one Ruff, two first-winter Mediterranean Gulls and a leucistic Teal. Three Peregrines and one or two Swallows were also seen in the Stratford/Herriott's area this afternoon.
The three Velvet Scoters, three Black-necked Grebes and two Red-breasted Mergansers at one point made an unusual scopeful in Stratford Bay this afternoon; other birds there included five Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, six Golden Plover, one Water Pipit, a Peregrine and a late Swallow. There was an unconfirmed report of a Bittern at Herriott's End during the week.
An unseasonably warm day, and still a good number of birds to be found. The now-predictable list of notables as follows: Three Velvet Scoters, three Black-necked Grebes, six Little Egrets, four Goosander, one Red-breasted Merganser, one first-winter Mediterranean Gull, one Dunlin, one Ruff, one Little Stint, two Curlew, one Black-tailed Godwit, two Water Pipits, 30 Golden Plover and two Peregrines. One of the latter killed a Teal, whilst a Buzzard was seen to walk through a flock of Linnets and kill one of those, as well!
Little change again; the three Velvet Scoters, three Black-necked Grebes and the drake Red-breasted Merganser were all still present, along with four Little Egrets, one Little Stint, two Dunlin, one Ruff, two Green Sandpipers, six Water Pipits and a Goosander. A flock of 50 Fieldfare flew south, and there were smaller numbers of Redwing and Skylarks overhead too.
Pretty much a repeat of the last few days, with the three Velvet Scoters, three Black-necked Grebes, three Water Pipits, a Ruff, two Dunlin, the Red-crested Pochard x Pochard and the drake Red-breasted Merganser all still in Stratford Bay, along with the 'monstrosity-billed' Pochard still.
Again, the three Velvet Scoters were showing well in Stratford Bay, along with three Black-necked Grebes, three Water Pipits, six Dunlin, a Ruff, the Red-crested Pochard x Pochard and eight Golden Plover. The latter seem to have spurned the lake again this year, with a sizeable flock at Top End, Blagdon still. There was a report of the Grey Phalarope off Nunnery Point today.
The three Velvet Scoters and the three Black-necked Grebes were still in Stratford Bay, and the Grey Phalarope was also still present, today on the muddy shoreline at the north end of Denny (best viewed from No.1 Picnic Site). Other birds reported around the lake were four Little Egrets, a Ruff, one Water Pipit, one Greenshank, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, three Goosanders and the drake Red-breasted Merganser. A flock of 115 Linnets was along the shore under the main reedbed. Also in Stratford Bay was a female Pochard with a bizarre-looking plastic blue band around the top of it's bill. Unfortunately it was too far away to read the inscription.
Surprisingly, the good birds from earlier in the week remained for the weekend - the three Velvet Scoters were showing well (or as well as can be expected) in Stratford Bay, and the first-winter Grey Phalarope was relocated by the Main Dam at No.1 Picnic Site, where it showed down to about six feet, as can be seen below!

Elsewhere, a typical October scattering included ten Dunlin (Little Denny), one Redpoll, one Greater Scaup (Bernard King hide), one juvenile Arctic Tern, the eclipse drake Red-breasted Merganser, one Goosander, one Green Sandpiper, and (in Stratford Bay) three Black-necked Grebes and single Water Pipit, Mediterranean Gull, Little Stint, Golden Plover, Ruff and Stonechat.
Copyright Rich Andrews

First-winter Grey Phalarope - No.1 Picnic Site
CHEDDAR: Bad pictures of that tern appear below:

   Black Tern
Copyright Rich Andrews
The three Velvet Scoters were still in the middle of the lake, although they were difficult to see in the choppy water. The Grey Phalarope wasn't seen today, although it was difficult enough to find in calm conditions, so there's a possibility it may still be here, hidden behind a wave. A Red-breasted Merganser (an eclipse male) was in Stratford Bay, along with the female Pochard x Red-crested Pochard, three Black-necked Grebes and the first Water Pipit of the autumn. A Rock Pipit and a White Wagtail were on the main dam. Other birds today were 30 Goldeneye (a rapid arrival in the last week), and single Ruff, Goosander, Peregrine and Little Egret.
The three juvenile Velvet Scoters and the Grey Phalarope were all still present today, mainly in the Moreton/Stratford/Wick Green Point area. There are now three Black-necked Grebes (again), but a new arrival today was a 'redhead' Red-breasted Merganser. Other birds were eight Golden Plover, five Ringed Plover, five Dunlin and a Ruff.

If you're coming to Chew for your annual visit, don't forget that you will need a permit to enter the lake enclosure.

Thanks to Paul Bowyer for the image.
Copyright Paul Bowyer
Juvenile Velvet Scoter.
A twitch!  The discovery of three Velvet Scoters this afternoon was the cause of much agitation amongst those local birders who work for a living. The subsequent appearance of a Grey Phalarope didn't help either. The three Velvets spent most of the day in the Stratford Bay/Roman Shallows area, moving into the sailing area off Nunnery Point early in the evening. This is another one of those species which seems to turn up with a fair degree of regularity in the Midlands, but is really rare at Chew - this is the first record since 1984, and only the fourth ever. All three scoters and the phalarope were still present at dusk off Nunnery Point.

There were some other birds too: five Little Egrets, two Black-necked Grebes, nine Golden Plover, ten Goldeneye, three Black-tailed Godwits, one Ruff and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

DUNDRY: At least two Ring Ouzels were on Dundry today, along a hedge behind the radio mast at ST562663, just over the stile along the public footpath that leads to Dundry village (behind the house).
The first Goosander of the autumn was in Heron's Green Bay, otherwise just seven Golden Plover (although there are 128 at Blagdon), two Black-necked Grebes, four Dunlin, four Black-tailed Godwits and four Little Egrets.

The volunteer Epirritas from Saturday 8th all turned out to be male November Moths.
In typical form, there was no sign of the two Avocets today, just more normality as follows: one Black-necked Grebe, five Little Egrets, two Curlews, four Black-tailed Godwits, one Ruff, 16 Ringed Plover, one Little Stint, two Stonechats, a Raven and three Peregrines - the latter a good Chew count! Overhead passage was reduced from the weekend, with just a handful of Skylarks and Redwings today.
Another pleasant surprise today was a pair of Avocets which landed in Stratford Bay at 09:45. There have been less than a dozen previous CVL records.

Amongst the Aythya flock in Stratford Bay this morning were two juvenile Greater Scaups, and single (apparent) drake Ferruginous Duck x Pochard, Pochard x Tufted Duck, Tufted Duck x Greater Scaup, a Black-necked Grebe and a female Goldeneye. A third Greater Scaup, a juvenile male, was in Spring Bay this afternoon. A White Wagtail was at Twycross, and three or four each of Yellow-legged Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were also scattered around the lake. Four Little Egrets included the rather photogenic individual at (or should that be almost under) Herriott's Bridge this morning, whilst overhead, the passage of Skylarks continued this morning, with reasonable numbers of Meadow Pipits still around the shoreline.

A bit of movement became apparent this afternoon, when new birds started to appear at the lake: two each of Ruff, Curlew, Dunlin and Little Stint, one Redshank, a juvenile Arctic Tern and a flock of least 150 Redwings overhead. Lapwing also appeared to increase in number during the day. Two Mediterranean Gulls were present this evening; the gull roost is now beginning to increase in size, with a noticeable rise in the number of Common Gulls in the last week or so.
Copyright Rich Andrews

Juvenile Little Egret - Herriott's Bridge
A typical mid-October day, with the last of the summer migrants hanging on, and the first winter visitors beginning to appear. Nine Golden Plover were at Herriott's End this morning, only to be replaced by a single Grey Plover this afternoon. The vast Tufted Duck flock was counted during the week as part of the monthly WeBS count, and was found to contain 2115 birds - that's 650 more than the previous record (which was last September). A juvenile Greater Scaup and the apparent drake Ferruginous Duck x Pochard were found amongst them today.

There was a fair bit of passerine activity today, with Skylarks being particularly noticeable as they moved overhead. Meadow Pipits were also in good supply with small flocks all around the lake - at least 100 birds in total. Other passerine migrants included one Wheatear, three Redpolls, three Siskins, two Stonechats, twelve Redwings and a small number of Linnets. Of the regulars, there was still one Black-necked Grebe in Stratford Bay, an adult Peregrine at Herriott's this evening, and single Little Egrets in Heron's Green Bay and in the channel at Herriott's Bridge, where a Kingfisher was also seen this evening.

An honorable mention should also go to the two seagulls now know as Larus michahellis michahellis which, as usual, spent the whole day sat on their arses in Spring Bay.

A Clouded Yellow was in the Villice/Parkland area this morning, whilst moths overnight included 39 Large Wainscots (evidently a strong population at CVL!), twelve Epirrita sp., three Red-line Quakers, Scrobipalpa costella and a late Bordered Beauty. There were still reasonable numbers of Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers on the wing in the sunshine today.
A surprise today was the appearance of not just one, but two species of skua. Two Arctic Skuas were seen in flight high over the lake late this morning, when they were joined by a Great Skua! The two Arctics were then lost from view, but the Bonxie landed on the water, and stayed for about an hour before flying off. A remarkable Chew record.
Seven Little Egrets were present today, as were three Black-necked Grebes, one Little Stint, nine Ringed Plovers, one Yellow-legged Gull, two Peregrines and the Pochard x Red-crested Pochard still. The two Stonechats and one Whinchat were again on Moreton Bank.
There are now three Black-necked Grebes in Stratford Bay; otherwise highlights today were at least four Little Egrets, single Dunlin and Green Sandpiper, and a Pochard x Red-crested Pochard in the distant Aythya flock, along with what may have been a female Scaup or two. One Whinchat and two Stonechats were on Moreton Bank.

If the birds are a little lacklustre at the moment, there's been excitement on the alien plant front this week, with two firsts for Chew. After the addition of Tomato to the CVL list on Sunday, today Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) was found growing in Heron's Green Bay. A native of Asia, this was doubtless introduced with bird seed. The last Avon record was in 1978.
Little to report again today; the most noteworthy birds were again in Stratford Bay: two Black-necked Grebes, one juvenile Peregrine, two Little Stints, one Green Sandpiper, three Dunlin, five Ringed Plover, one Grey Plover, and a high count of c.100 Carrion Crows feeding in the SW corner of the bay from Moreton Bank to the trapping area.
The two Black-necked Grebes were still in Stratford Bay this morning. Other birds today included three Skylarks, three Ringed Plovers, two Little Stints, four Dunlin, one Grey Plover, one Garganey, four Little Egrets, one Mediterranean Gull, three Yellow-legged Gulls and five Great Black-backed Gulls.

Moths: An actinic trap overnight produced 63 moths of 17 species, highlights of which were: 28 Large Wainscots (a surprisingly high count); another male Vapourer (unusual at light, but trapped here in all of the last three sessions at this location); four Green-brindled Crescents, and singles of Black Rustic, The Chestnut, The Sallow, Pink-barred Sallow, Barred Sallow and Dark Sword-grass. Ten Epirrita sp. (Autumnal/November/Pale November Moths) were also trapped; a few Epirritas have been recorded before at CVL, but none have been determined to species level, so some of last nights moths have volunteered to be examined in detail.
A brief visit to Herriott's Bridge in the gloom this evening produced a Kingfisher and a Little Egret in the channel.

Of note, all of the large sallows and other encroaching scrub has now been removed from Stratford Islands.
Another Grey Plover was a good Chew bird this evening from Herriott's Bridge. Also present there were two each of Dunlin and Little Stint.
The 'resident' waders seem to be on the decline now, with just four Dunlin, one Little Stint, one Black-tailed Godwit and two Green Sandpipers today. The two Black-necked Grebes were still present, as were five Little Egrets, two Peregrines, one Water Rail and one Wheatear. Two early Redwings flew over Stratford car park, and a small hirundine presence consisted mainly of House Martins.
Three drake Common Scoters and a first-winter drake Greater Scaup were new in today, as were four Curlew which landed on Little Denny. A late(ish) Garganey was also noteworthy, otherwise birds seen today were: two Black-necked Grebes, three Little Stints, five Little Egrets, four Dunlin, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Greenshank, three Green Sandpipers, two Water Rails and a Wheatear.
Two Grey Plover were today's best birds (Little Denny late pm) - a very difficult species to catch up with at the lake. A juvenile Arctic Tern was in Stratford Bay, which also held one Black-tailed Godwit, two Black-necked Grebes, two Little Stints and (only) seven Dunlin. Also seen around the lake were two Little Egrets, two Ringed Plover, and single Raven, Wheatear and Kingfisher.

A few lepidoptera seen over the weekend included Small Copper, Stigmella obliquella, Ectoedemia rubivora, Phyllonorycter messaniella, Parornix finimitella, Phyllonorycter platanoidella, Stigmella viscerella, Coleophora badiipennella and Scrobipalpa acuminatella. The last three were firsts for Chew.
Five Golden Plover were the highlight today, otherwise much the same as the previous week, although it seems some of the waders and ducks are beginning to move off. The small wader flock still contained two Little Stints, 18 Dunlin and two Ringed Plover, with one Redshank and one Ruff also still present. Other birds included five Little Egrets, two Black-necked Grebes, 20 Common Gulls, one Common Tern, one Hobby and a few White Wagtails in Heron's Green Bay.

An albino House Martin was seen over the Bittern trail early this afternoon; apparently it was also here yesterday.
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