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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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December 2006
Another wet and windy day. Birds seen today included the apparent drake Canvasback x Pochard in front of Stratford hide and the pair of Smew in Heron's Green Bay. They favour the area around the emergent willows along the SW shore; as such they can go out of view quite often. A Green Sandpiper was also seen in Heron's Green Bay. An abietinus/tristis Chiffchaff was heard calling and seen briefly in the tree in front of Moreton hide, and the drake Red-breasted Merganser was seen at Stratford Bay, Heron's Green Bay and close-in off Nunnery Point with his Goosander lady-friend. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was at Herriott's Pool this afternoon, and an adult was in the roost off Nunnery Point later.
The strong winds and rain produced at least two adult (type) Little Gulls today - if the weather continues it might be worth keeping an eye out for a Great Northern Diver perhaps. Other birds today included the juvenile Long-tailed Duck in Stratford Bay, and an adult drake Canvasback x Pochard. An apparent drake Pochard x Tufted Duck was in Heron's Green Bay, along with a pair of Smew. The roost at Nunnery Point this afternoon produced one adult Mediterranean Gull; with the strong winds in the west, the Goosander roost formed off the sheltered side of the point this afternoon, and held all of 20 birds, plus a few Goldeneye. A Kingfisher showed well on the pool in front of the hide as well. Other sightings included single Siskin, Stonechat and the drake Red-breasted Merganser.
No sign of the Glaucous Gull in the roost this afternoon, although six Mediterranean Gulls was a good mid-winter count for the lake, whilst Common Gull numbers have really increased in the last week or so. There was about a mile of them in the roost tonight! Otherwise, best birds were two Lesser Redpolls with Goldfinches feeding in the alder plantation in the nature reserve, and 13 Goosander from Nunnery Point this afternoon.
The drake Red-breasted Merganser was in Villice Bay this afternoon, and the juvenile Long-tailed Duck was still present in Stratford Bay. Two Lesser Redpolls and a Siskin were seen in flight over the main reeds, but the best bird was saved until the end of the day - a first-winter Glaucous Gull in the roost - a proper Chew rarity, with less than ten records. Sadly, views were truly awful as the light and distance made for rubbish viewing. Three adult Mediterranean Gulls were also seen in the roost.

A pair of Smew were at Top End today - a bird that has been very scarce at the Bristol reservoirs in recent winters.
As the fog finally lifted, a Redshank was seen on the causeway at Herriott's Pool.
Both the Long-tailed Duck and drake Red-breasted Merganser were still present today, and a Water Pipit was in the stubble field behind Moreton hide.

There was a belated report of a Firecrest in the hedge between the two Moreton stubble fields on December 5th.
An adult Little Gull over the lake today was a new bird in; otherwise the wildfowl count yielded little in the way of surprises; most noteworthy being: One Red-breasted Merganser and one Long-tailed Duck. Two Mediterranean Gulls were on Herriott's Pool.
Hot on the heels of two Shags present over the last few days, a juvenile Great Northern Diver appeared on the Marine Lake this morning. Despite plenty of disturbance, the bird showed at very close range - at one point it surprised us and itself by surfacing four metres from where we were standing. At high tide this afternoon, after a short flight over the lake, it flew down on to the adjacent estuary. As it landed, a fishing rod came flying over our heads from one of the parapets on Church Hill and it became clear that the bird had flown into a fishing line, and had pulled the rod out of its stand, over the wall and into the water. It then swam further into the channel wrapped in line, with the rod trailing behind. Some deft casting managed to catch the line, and the rod was brought ashore, but as the bird was being reeled in, the line snapped. The bird then drifted downchannel past Wain's Hill - it's wings could be seen to be clear of line, but it's not known if the bird was completely free.

Click on the thumbnails below:
Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver
The juvenile Long-tailed Duck was still elusive as ever from Stratford hide today. The only other news was of two adult Mediterranean Gulls in the roost this afternoon, and a female Stonechat on Moreton Bank.

A welcome record however, was that of an Otter at Herriott's Pool at 07:50 this morning - it was seen close to the weir from a parked car, and was quickly lost from view.
Both the Long-tailed Duck and drake Red-breasted Merganser were still in Stratford Bay today.
Just as the weekend is over, the Long-tailed Duck stuck it's head above the water long enough to be seen in Stratford Bay today.
The drake Red-breasted Merganser remained.
Despite the better conditions, there was no sign of the Long-tailed Duck today.

A Great Skua on No. 3 tank this morning was a rare inland find, showing well as it spent much of the morning attempting to catch Tufted Ducks and Great Crested Grebes.
Great Skua
Copyright Rich Andrews

Great Skua, Barrow No.3
No sign of the Red-necked Grebe today, although the mini purple-patch continued with a Long-tailed Duck in Stratford Bay this morning. Evidently the bird has been here since Monday, although it is difficult to find as it spends most of it's time underneath the choppy water.
After the events of the previous few days, a storm-driven Leach's Petrel just after dawn at No.1 picnic site was a predictable discovery. It was constantly being chased by the large numbers of Black-headed Gulls leaving the roost and also a Carrion Crow as it drifted along the dam wall - unfortunately I lost it from view as I was texting the news out and was unable to relocate it before I had to leave for work. A number of reservoirs across southern England and Wales had a visit from one of these unfortunate birds this morning - doubtless many will not survive. That may well have been the fate that befell the Chew bird, as there was no further sign after 08:00, but birders looking for it found a Red-necked Grebe off Woodford Bank later in the morning - another quality Chew rarity.

Apologies for the lack of updates in recent weeks - I've just returned from The Gambia. Evidently I didn't miss much, apart from a Bittern seen in flight at Herriott's Pool at dusk on December 3rd.
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