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This page gives you the latest bird and wildlife news from Chew Valley Lake (and sometimes elsewhere if there's something good about). Records are taken from various sources and should be regarded as unconfirmed.

When you visit Chew, please remember that you'll need a permit to enter the lake enclosure or use the hides. You can buy one from Woodford Lodge, the Tea Rooms, or by post. See my access page for full details. Seen anything good? Please


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The Cattle Egret and Little Egret were seen in both Heron's Green Bay and the usual cow field today.

The Great Northern Diver was still off Rugmoor Point today.

A quiet day birdwise, with just the Cattle Egret and a Little Egret in the cow field west of the B3114 again. However the three Otters were seen again at Stratford hide this afternoon, and were then joined by a fourth individual.

A Great Northern Diver was present off Holt Copse and Rugmoor Point today.

The Cattle Egret was again in the same cow field as yesterday. A Peregrine was seen at the Starling roost at Herriott's Bridge this afternoon; in a long-awaited piece of good fortune for one observer, it was briefly joined by a male Goshawk. There are no accepted records of this species at Chew. The Red-breasted Merganser and a Mediterranean Gull were also seen today.

The Cattle Egret was feeding in the cow field south of Heron's Green Pool this afternoon (from the B3114 just before the turning to Moreton Cottage); it was later back on the islands at the pool. Large patches of the lake were again frozen today.

A Cattle Egret was at Heron's Green Pool this afternoon, on the north side on the gravel island nearest the shore. It was difficult to view as it was stood amongst the dead rushes (apparently present since yesterday). The Long-tailed Duck was again seen from Bernard King hide, the male Red-breasted Merganser was at Moreton, and a Green Sandpiper was at Herriott's Pool.

A Green Sandpiper was seen in Heron's Green Bay this morning.

The juvenile Long-tailed Duck was seen off Sutton Wick today, and a Bittern was seen in flight at Herriott's Pool at 16:20.

An adult Peregrine, three Mediterranean Gulls and a Water Pipit were seen today.

Some more of the same - a typical winter list (but without the Smew): 29 Pintail, one Long-tailed Duck (BK again), one Water Pipit (Stratford) and one Kingfisher.

A portly Welshman has asked me to mention this.

Standard winter fare today - 14 Goosander, 23 Pintail, two Kingfishers, one Mediterranean Gull, a Barn Owl (Herriott's at 16:15) and the Long-tailed Duck (BK hide). Forgot to mention on Saturday that there's a picture of one of the Stratford Water Pipits at my photo page.

The two Black-necked Grebes were at Nunnery Point this morning; one was then off Moreton Bank this afternoon. The Red-breasted Merganser was at Heron's Green Bay, and a Redshank was at Herriott's Bridge.

A fine but cold day, with large patches of ice around the more sheltered parts of the lake. Two Water Pipits at Stratford showed well today; the water level is now just at the right height for them to walk along the shoreline a few metres in front of the hide. A couple of Snipe were there as well.

The two Black-necked Grebes were at Nunnery Point again; also from there were the Red-breasted Merganser (Roman Shallows) and the Long-tailed Duck (towards East Shore). The gull roost at Nunnery this afternoon was both small and distant, although there was a little quality with an adult Ring-billed Gull in addition to two adult Mediterranean Gulls.

Four Bewick's Swans were seen on Herriott's Pool for half an hour this afternoon before flying off (perhaps pushed over here by the snow further east), and the two Black-necked Grebes were again in Villice Bay. Otherwise, a typical winter list: one Little Egret, ten Goosanders, one Red-breasted Merganser, one Mediterranean Gull, two Water Pipits (Stratford), two Stonechats, a Peregrine and one Kingfisher.

A little more of the same on the bird front - the two Black-necked Grebes (same two places as yesterday), the Long-tailed Duck (Spring Bay/East shore) the Red-breasted Merganser, ten Goosanders and a Green Sandpiper.

Three Otters were watched along the shore at Stratford hide this morning, for 15 minutes at about 10:30. There have been barely half-a-dozen records of single Otters at Chew in recent years (the last was in 2007), so three together is a remarkable find. Their behaviour suggested that they were a family group.

Two Black-necked Grebes were still present (one at Nunnery Point, the other in Villice Bay close to the B3114), and a Marsh Harrier was seen again from Herriott's Bridge. The Red-breasted Merganser (Nunnery/Moreton) and a Water Pipit (Stratford) were also seen.

After a quiet week with rising water levels and leaving birds, two Marsh Harriers were seen at Moreton Bank this afternoon. Both were female-type birds, in a carbon-copy of last December's events. One of the birds was seen high over Nunnery Point/Heron's Green Bay later. One Black-necked Grebe was at Nunnery Point (unusually vocal this afternoon), where there was also the male Red-breasted Merganser, a Water Pipit and a Mediterranean Gull.

One of the Black-necked Grebes at Nunnery Point last weekend.

No further sign of the skua today. The Red-throated Diver was seen in it's place on the Roman Shallows, three Water Pipits were at Stratford and a Mediterranean Gull was in Heron's Green Bay.

The Pomarine Skua was reported again this morning, but couldn't be seen again this afternoon in poor conditions. Up to 10 Goosanders, the male Red-breasted Merganser, two Black-necked Grebes and four Little Egrets were also seen.

Another pretty decent day at the lake, and some pretty decent weather for a change as well. The Pomarine Skua was present again all day, usually floating about on the Roman Shallows waiting to pounce on anything that flew past (which happened to be another unfortunate Common Gull this afternoon).

It seems that the continued presence of the skua has had some effect on the gull roost as well. The location of the main roost off Nunnery Point varies from night to night, but even allowing for the effects of wind speed and direction, this evening was remarkable in that during the hour before sunset there didn't appear to be a single gull anywhere on the main lake south of a line between Nunnery Point and Denny Island.

The Red-throated Diver was off picnic site No.1 again, but was remarkably elusive at times. The rest as follows: two Black-necked Grebes (Nunnery Point), the Long-tailed Duck (briefly at Moreton hide), the male Red-breasted Merganser (Moreton and Villice), Water Pipit and c.10 Snipe (Stratford).

The male Ring-necked Duck was present today and yesterday in Holt Bay.

The immature (presumed 2nd-winter) Pomarine Skua was still present today, spending most of the afternoon floating about in the Roman Shallows area in the murky gloom. The Red-throated Diver was a again off No.1 picnic site, where there were also three Bramblings today. The Long-tailed Duck was seen late morning between Nunnery Point and Moreton Point; the two Black-necked Grebes were still at Nunnery Point and the male Red-breasted Merganser was in Heron's Green Bay. At least one Water Pipit was on the green island at Stratford hide; these will get a lot more difficult to find after the new year when the water levels are higher.

The Pomarine Skua was seen again today, as was the Red-throated Diver (main dam), two Black-necked Grebes (Nunnery Point), two Water Pipits (Stratford) and the male Red-breasted Merganser.

The immature Pomarine Skua was still present at first light this morning, battering a seagull in Stratford Bay. The two Black-necked Grebes remained, along with a Bittern, eight Water Pipits and a Green Sandpiper.

Immature Pomarine Skua, and lunch. With such an obvious delectation for Common Gulls (it dispatched a couple more today), you'd wonder why we don't have flocks of Poms here every winter. Perhaps the essentially juvenile-like plumage combined with the obvious primary moult visible in these shots might make it a second calendar-year? (Simon Mackie)

The Pomarine Skua continues to grace us with its presence, and today there were even some other good birds around to look at: two Black-necked Grebes, Long-tailed Duck and Ring-necked Duck (Nunnery), Red-throated Diver (dam end), Bittern (in flight along the main reedbed), Common Scoter (Moreton), and single Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret and Peregrine.

Sadly, the seven seconds of decent light today didn't coincide with the Pom Skua showing at close range in Heron's Green. (Richard Mielcarek)

The immature Pomarine Skua was still present today; at this rate it'll probably stay until Friday then bugger off in time for the weekend! The Red-throated Diver (dam end), two Black-necked Grebes (Nunnery) and two Common Scoters (Moreton) were also seen.

Fans of lakeside disturbance and shoreline litter will be disappointed to learn that the pike fishing season closed yesterday.

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