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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 04.08.2006
August 2006
The female Ferruginous Duck was again in the bay to the left of Stratford Hide this morning. Other birds today included three Hobbies, one Green Sandpiper and three Common Sandpipers. At least 20 Chiffchaffs counted along Moreton Lane.
The only birds worthy of mention today were two Common Sandpipers, and single Snipe and Green Sandpiper. Compare this to August 27th last year, and it's clear that the high water levels this autumn are having a detrimental effect on migrating waterbirds at Chew.

A couple of moth traps run overnight produced a typical selection of wetland species, with nine Feathered Gothics being the highlight; a real local scarcity, and these are the first for Chew. This record demonstrates the value of running small battery-powered traps at different locations around the lake - all nine were in a small six watt trap, at a location that's never been trapped at before. Click here for the full list.

Another addition to the Chew list was more unexpected - a Rufous Grasshopper was seen and heard singing by the puddle on Moreton Lane; the nearest colonies are on the Mendips.
August Bank Holiday weekend should normally have a good number of birds at Chew, but with so much water in the lake there's not much chance of that. Today produced five or six Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers, one Water Rail, two Snipe, one Ringed Plover, two Pintail, one Little Egret, c.20 Sand Martins and two Spotted Flycatchers (the latter at Stratford Car Park). Thanks to Gary Thoburn for the image....
Spotted Flycatcher
Copyright Gary Thoburn

Spotted Flycatcher - Stratford
A male Ferruginous Duck was seen briefly along Moreton Bank, with other sightings today of two Green Sandpipers, two Black-tailed Godwits, four Common Sandpipers and seven Yellow Wagtails. There have been a few reports of a male Tufted Duck in Stratford Bay this week, wearing a blue plastic bill-band. Evidently it was put on it's face in France, at a place called Lac de Grand Lieu, near Nantes, in November 2004.
The female Ferruginous Duck was again in Stratford Bay (to the right of the hide). Other birds today were one Black Tern, c.120 Sand Martins, eight Swifts and a Yellow Wagtail.

A few Clouded Yellows were on the wing today, at Woodford Bank and Moreton.
Little change - the three Common Terns and one Black Tern were still present this morning. A new arrival however, was a juvenile Spotted Redshank on Herriott's Pool at 09:20 - it was seen in flight and briefly on the mud 'island' with a Greenshank before disappearing. Also on the pool were four Dunlin, two Pintail, a Common Sandpiper, one Water Rail and five Great Black-backed Gulls.

The best that two actinic moth traps could manage overnight was a single Small Mottled Willow. Click here for the full trap list.
Still slow-going; three Common Terns and a Black Tern were still present this morning, as were three Green Sandpipers, one Little Egret, the Black-necked Grebe (Heron's Green Bay) and a Kingfisher. There were good numbers of Acrocephalus and Phylloscopus warblers around first thing this morning.

Further searches last month and at the beginning of this month for Lunar Hornet Moth drew a blank, with no other adults or exit-holes found since July 2nd, even on the Bittern Trail, where there is extensive suitable habitat. However at least 35 larval workings were found today on a single felled Sallow trunk at Sutton Wick, so evidently the moth isn't restricted to the nature reserve. Even on felled trunks known to be (or have been) infested, only a few exit-holes could be found, so the moth is probably commoner than the evidence suggests. Another Old Lady was caught in an actinic trap overnight.

Of interest, there were some reports of an Otter in the Wick Green/Main Reeds area of the lake approximately six weeks ago.
Still some good birds moving through, despite (or because of) the weather: one drake Common Scoter, a juvenile Black Tern, four Common Terns, two Oystercatchers, two Common Sandpipers, one Garganey, two Hobbies and 15 Sand Martins. Two Ravens were over Herriott's.
A juvenile Little Egret at Heron's Green Bay and two Pintail on Herriott's Pool were the only birds reported today.
Birds seen today were as follows: two Pintail, one Hobby, 14 Black-tailed Godwits, three Common Sandpipers, one Green Sandpiper and the first Stonechat of the autumn.

Three Clouded Yellows were also seen.
The monthly wildfowl count took place today; although numbers were well down on last August, a few decent birds were found: a female Ferruginous Duck in Stratford Bay (the returning bird from previous summers); one Black-necked Grebe (Heron's Green Bay), two Arctic Terns, one Common Tern, one Little Gull, three Common Sandpipers, one Turnstone and a Greenshank. As well as the terns and Little Gull, the crappy weather pulled in 75 Swifts. The only wildfowl to be present in good numbers were Coot (2360), whereas ducks that like a bit of shoreline were few in comparison, for example there were only 20 Shoveler counted, compared with 315 last August.

A notable find as far as insects are concerned was an active Hornet nest on the Parkland.
The juvenile Black-necked Grebe was still in Heron's Green Bay this morning, as was the single Common Sandpiper. A female Common Scoter was off Nunnery Point this afternoon.
A juvenile Black-necked Grebe in Heron's Green Bay was new in today. Also present were two Wigeon and a Common Sandpiper.
A female Marsh Harrier was seen at Moreton Bank at 14:00 (but not after) - there was one here last month, but I've only just remembered about it! Other birds included a Greenshank and four Snipe (flushed by the harrier), two Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Sandpipers and a Dunlin.

INSECTS: The birding might be dire at the moment, but the last few weeks have seen a fair bit of activity on the insect front in the area. Following the Lesser Emperors at Chew and Blagdon, further individuals have been found at Chew Magna Res and Severn Beach (Orchard Pools). The Avon areas first record of Small Red-eyed Damselfly was found at Bath University last week, followed by further records at two sites near Severn Beach - the Orchard Pools and Western Approach Business Park. Moths have been pretty good, too - the first Avon record of Least Carpet occurred in Whitchurch a couple of weeks ago, followed the next day by the second, in Horfield. Small Mottled Willows have been more regular than ever before, and the first recent Avon record of Great Brocade was at Timsbury the night before last.

Top to bottom - Great Brocade, Timsbury; Small Mottled Willow, Chew Valley Lake; Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Severn Beach (photo: John Martin); Least Carpet, Whitchurch..
Great Brocade
Copyright Rich Andrews
Small Mottled Willow
Copyright Rich Andrews
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Copyright Johnny 'boy' Martin
Least Carpet
Copyright Rich Andrews  

Twelve Black-tailed Godwits were on Herriott's Pool this evening.
A Nuthatch at Herriott's Pool this morning was an unexpected find; also there this morning were a Little Egret and two Green Sandpipers.

Another moth-trapping session over night produced over 90 species between three traps, highlights of which were Acleris emargana (first CVL record), several more Calamatropha paludella, Eudonia pallida, Sharp-angled Peacock (first for CVL), Old Lady, three Small Mottled Willows and two Pinion-streaked Snouts (but no Silver Y!). Click here for the full trap lists.
An adult drake Common Scoter on the Roman Shallows this morning was a nice, though not entirely unexpected find. A drake Garganey was on Herriott's Pool. With the persisting high water levels, six Common Sandpipers and one Snipe were all that could be found on the wader front. A Kingfisher was seen in flight on Herriott's Pool, and two Yellow-legged Gulls were with Great Black-backs on the bouys at the sailing area.

A productive run of an actinic moth trap overnight produced 250 moths of 51 species, highlights of which were the first Mocha for Chew, the second Calamotropha paludella, three Pinion-streaked Snouts and 40 Straw Dots. A White-spotted Pug was also the first Chew record, although with abundant foodplant here this is almost certainly a case of under-recording rather than the species being genuinely scarce (as with most of the pugs here). Perhaps surprisingly, there were no 'real' migrants apart from one Silver Y, and a single Rush Veneer flushed from grass in Villice Bay. Two Orange Ladybirds were also in the trap overnight. Click here for the full trap list.
No sign of the Caspian Gull this evening on Herriott's Pool, but present on the 'island' were six Oystercatchers, five Black-tailed Godwits, three Common Gulls, one Mediterranean Gull, two Greylags and a Common Tern.
A third-summer Caspian Gull was at Herriott's Pool this evening until dark. Also present were three Yellow-legged Gulls and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.
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