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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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More of the same today, with the Long-billed Dowitcher still present for its eighth day - a notable highlight in what has, by and large, been a shocking wader passage despite the favourable water levels this year. The Black-necked Grebe was still in Heron's Green Bay, with other reports of 11 Little Egrets (a new world record), eight Ravens, five Black-tailed Godwits, one Dunlin and a Peregrine.

As we were yesterday - Long-billed Dowitcher, Ferruginous Duck and Black-necked Grebe all still in place, the Red-crested Pochard at Stratford, plus five Little Egrets, eight Green Sandpipers and one each of Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Arctic Tern.

Pretty much the same assortment around the lake as in recent days - the Long-billed Dowitcher (Herriott's End), Ferruginous Duck and Black-necked Grebe (Heron's Green Bay), five Little Egrets, nine Green Sandpipers, two Yellow-legged Gulls, one each of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Wheatear, with a Red Kite over Burledge Hill a welcome new bird. The male Scaup-type hybrid was still in Heron's Green Bay.

A female Blue-winged Teal was found this morning, and was still present early afternoon at least, on the UV pools.

Apart from the Long-billed Dowitcher which was still present at Herriott's End today, a fairly routine selection of birds was reported - the Ferruginous Duck, a male Scaup-type hybrid and the Black-necked Grebe in Heron's Green Bay, the Red-crested Pochard (Villice Bay), two Hobbies, one Ringed Plover, one Wheatear, four Black-tailed Godwits, one Garganey, one Common Sandpiper and at least 11 Green Sandpipers.

The Long-billed Dowitcher remained at Herriott's End all day, being rather more easily visible than it was from Stratford hide, on the muddy spit just north of the bridge. A Spotted Crake was seen briefly early this morning, on a small pool in the nature reserve as the mist-nets were being put up. An unsuccessful attempt to relocate it met with a flock of four Glossy Ibises over the trapping area, which then flew south over Herriott's, turned back and appeared to land near Stratford Islands. A subsequent search of the whole area unfortunately drew a complete blank. Two of the birds were wearing white darvic rings, and are thought to originate from the Coto Doņana, Spain.

Other birds seen today were one Dunlin, one Ringed Plover (heard calling) and two Garganey. Water Rails are not difficult to find at the moment; the edges of Herriott's Bridge channel had three of them this evening.

Birders on the Severnside patch also had a morning of unaccustomed quality. First, a Grey-headed Wagtail at the rifle range, and then a juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper on the estuary - the first and second 'Avon' records respectively.

Glossy Ibi
Four Glossy Ibises over Herriott's Bridge this morning (James Packer). A properly fine day at the lake, and we were even able to have a brief bout of SMS rarity tennis with the Severnsiders, although it all ended when they saw off our four Glossy Ibises with a Semi-p and we all left the lake to go and see it.

The juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher remained, either to the far right of Stratford hide or from Herriott's Bridge. The Ferruginous Duck was also at Stratford Bay today, and the Black-necked Grebe was again in Heron's Green Bay.

Also seen around the lake today were nine Little Egrets (an equal highest count for Chew), seven Pintail, two Goldeneye, one Dunlin, nine Green Sandpipers, two Kingfishers, two Hobbies, one Common Sandpiper and loads of Snipe.

Long-billed Dowitcher
What a difference a bit of mud makes. Long-billed Dowitcher, with Snipe behind.

The juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher was still present today, in the same two locations as yesterday, and also at one point in front of Stratford hide this morning. Yesterday it's left eye was partially closed and appeared to be damaged, but today it seems to be fine. A Little Stint, a second-winter Little Gull and five Dunlin were also in Stratford Bay. The juvenile Red-crested Pochard (Villice), three Ringed Plover, one Garganey and one Ruff remained, and a Black-necked Grebe in Heron's Green follows one at Blagdon on Monday (perhaps the same bird?). A count of 13 Green Sandpipers in Heron's Green Bay was pretty decent.

Don't forget that to use Stratford hide you'll need a permit from Woodford Lodge (Ģ2.50). You need to buy it before you go to the hide!

Good news! A rare wader, and a new Chew bird for most of the CVL regulars - a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher in Stratford Bay this afternoon. It's preferred spot was the muddy corner as far right as you can see from the hide, later moving to the south side of Stratford Islands, viewable from Herriott's Bridge. Unfortunately, both locations are 300 metres or more from the closest viewing point; it was closely associating with Snipe. There is one previous record at Chew, of two birds which arrived in September 1977, then overwintered at Blagdon.

One Little Stint and the Ruff were also at Herriott's End today. My correspondent from the estuary informs me that wader numbers are 'crap' there as well, so it's not just us, then.

The two juvenile Little Stints were still at Herriott's End (viewable looking north from the bridge), along with one Ruff and 12 Snipe. The Ferruginous Duck and nine Green Sandpipers were in Heron's Green Bay, and one Hobby and the juvenile Red-crested Pochard were in Villice Bay. A female Pochard hybrid was at Stratford, as was a male Goldeneye.

Two Little Stints (Herriott's End) were new today, and the pick of a poor bunch of waders which comprised three Ringed Plover (Denny), one Black-tailed Godwit (Stratford), one Green Sandpiper and a handful of Snipe. The drake Ferruginous Duck was at Stratford this afternoon, as were two Common Terns. Two Kingfishers, 13 Pintail and three Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen today.

A juvenile Knot was at Bernard King hide this morning.

Eleven Black Terns and four Little Gulls were new today, and the Ferruginous Duck was again at BK hide in the morning. The water has dropped noticeably since last weekend, and wildfowl numbers are on the increase; Stratford Bay and East Shore were packed today. Waders however are still thin on the ground, with just one Redshank, one Green Sandpiper, one Ruff and two Dunlin to report in addition to the usual few Snipe and Lapwing. A Garganey was at Herriott's End, and a Wheatear was at Nunnery Point.

The two Little Gulls and one Arctic Tern remained from yesterday; other reports were of the Red-crested Pochard (Villice Bay), and one each of Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. It's clearly been a slow week at the lake, as the sport of Wigeon counting has taken off big-time. 81 today.

A pair of Common Scoter, two adult Little Gulls (at long last) and two juvenile Arctic Terns were all new in, as was a Turnstone at Stratford. 'Old' birds included the Ferruginous Duck (Heron's Green Bay), Ruff, five Pintail, juvenile Red-crested Pochard (Stratford Bay) and 35 Wigeon.

The Ferruginous Duck was seen in Heron's Green Bay today, with the rest of the day's birds as follows: three Little Egrets, ten-plus Great Black-backed Gulls, two Yellow-legged Gulls, 11 Pintail, 35 Wigeon (the highest Wigeon counts of the year are made in the autumn as this species no longer winters at Chew in any numbers), one Goldeneye, one Oystercatcher, one Dunlin, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Ruff, seven Snipe, one Common Sandpiper, seven Green Sandpipers, two Ravens, one Hobby and one Kingfisher.

After three years of high autumn water levels, it's nice to be able to report a more normal autumn migration this year, but so far it seems that passage hasn't really picked up, with low counts of most common waders and very few terns.

There was no sign of the Glossy Ibis today, despite a thorough check of it's favoured bit of shoreline. There were reports of other birds around the lake as follows: two Common Terns, seven Dunlin, one Common Sandpiper, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Ruff, two Green Sandpipers, four Ringed Plover, and three Yellow Wagtails (Stratford). Small numbers of Water Rail and Snipe can now be found at most suitably damp reedy shoreline.

The Glossy Ibis was again on the hidden shore north of Herriott's Bridge - occasionally viewable from Stratford hide, looking between (and beyond) the two Stratford Islands, but even so, views are terrible. Also there were single Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. The drake Ferruginous Duck was seen at Twycross this morning, and then again at Heron's Green Bay shortly after it flew from there. An Osprey was seen around Denny (from BK hide) at 08:00, then again from Villice hide at 10:15. Little Egrets are still very much in evidence; more so than ever before, with single birds popping up all over the place. Sundry other birds as follows: three Wigeon, six Pintail, eight Snipe, three Green Sandpipers, one Hobby, three Kingfishers, two Curlew, one Meadow Pipit, one Lesser Whitethroat and four Whinchats.

Nowadays, we think we've had a good day if we've made a double-figure count of Ringed Plover and seen half a dozen Greenshank, but spare a thought for the 'older generation' who bird-spotted in the 1980s. They wouldn't even get out of bed for less than 50 Dunlin and a Pec Sand.

1984 is regarded as an autumn of particularly fine vintage, and to give you all some inspiration for the coming month or two, I've done a cheeky scan of the autumn wader table from the '84 Avon Bird Report to show what was probably the best wader passage ever recorded at Chew. Just look at all those Ringed Plover... and Greenshank... and... everything!

The table doesn't show the rare waders that were also seen - Temminck's Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper and Grey Phalarope. Autumn 1984 also produced Spoonbill, Spotted Crake, two White-winged Black Terns and three Aquatic Warblers. And a Marbled Duck. Not bad!

1984 Avon Bird Report

Again, the Glossy Ibis was still present on the muddy shoreline below the reeds north of Herriott's Bridge - probably the only place on the lake not viewable from anywhere. Well, not quite anywhere - it can be watched in full view from Nunnery Point at a distance of 1.1 miles! Click here to see a map showing the location of the bird. A Black-tailed Godwit was also there.

The water level in Heron's Green Pool has been lowered (= partially drained), leaving a big muddy puddle containing two Snipe, a Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail. It might be worth keeping an eye out for a Spotted Crake over the next few days.

The Glossy Ibis was again seen briefly today; on the east side of Stratford Bay, distantly from the hide. It had moved later this afternoon, and could not be relocated. The drake Ferruginous Duck was refound in Stratford Bay, and a Red Kite (flying south behind Stratford hide) was another good Chew bird. Other birds seen today were one juvenile Curlew Sandpiper (BK hide), four Little Egrets, two Pintail, two Wigeon, one Goldeneye, two Curlew (flew west) and one Black-tailed Godwit.

The Glossy Ibis put in an unexpected reappearance this afternoon - seen occasionally on the muddy fringe north of Herriott's Bridge - a spot very difficult to view properly. It was occasionally seen at long range from Stratford hide. Elsewhere, the Wood Sandpiper and Red-crested Pochard were still in Villice Bay.

No sign of the Glossy Ibis today. There were still a few good birds about, including the Marsh Harrier (seen occasionally throughout the day), and the following: five Little Egrets, at least eight Wigeon, four Garganey, three Hobbies, one Ringed Plover, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Wood Sandpiper (Villice Bay), 21 Dunlin, seven Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers and a Red-crested Pochard (Villice). A report of a Spotted Flycatcher at Nunnery follows a bird seen last week near Moreton Cottage.

The Glossy Ibis reappeared at Stratford hide this afternoon, giving rather nice views until it flew to roost at the north end of Denny at 18:50. A female/juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen on several occasions at Stratford during the day. Other birds were up to eight Little Egrets, three Ringed Plover, one Dunlin, one Green Sandpiper, one Wheatear, nine Wigeon and a Pintail.

Glossy Ibis
The Glossy Ibis. Shame the light had gone by the time I arrived at the hide. Still, yesterday it was on the other side of the lake so I can't complain. Click here to see it in the sun!

A biggie! Chew's second Glossy Ibis was found today, at first in Villice Bay, then settled along the east side of Stratford Bay, only viewable at long range from the hide. It flew to roost in the trees at the north end of Denny at 19:10. The first Wood Sandpiper of the autumn (and the first since 2007) was in Villice Bay this morning, and the Knot was still present at Stratford Islands, viewable from Herriott's Bridge. A Wheatear was at Herriott's End, by the bund in the main reedbed.

Another unexpected sight was a pair of Muntjacs near Villice hide this evening - there have only been one or two previous records that I'm aware of.

No sign of the Grey Phalarope today. There were a few waders at East Shore/Twycross (Bernard King hide) during the day, including two Turnstones, two Little Ringed Plover, three Ringed Plover, one Redshank, one Greenshank, two Common Sandpipers and c.12 Dunlin. Two adult Yellow-legged Gulls were there as well.

There were another three Redshank, three Snipe and a Knot in Stratford Bay, with five Common Sandpipers, two Green Sandpipers and a Black-tailed Godwit in Villice Bay. Little Egrets are still dotted about the lake, with four together at Stratford hide this afternoon. One of them appears to have a 'baddy leg'.

Little Egret
With the water level as it is at the moment, some close views of Little Egrets can be had at Villice and Stratford hides. This one was on the pool in front of Stratford this afternoon.

The decent run of scarcities continued today with a Grey Phalarope at Moreton, and then in a repeat of yesterday's events, a Great Skua over Villice Bay mid-evening. Building up for a biggie on the weekend, no doubt.

A Great Skua this evening was a brief highlight, found by a birder who had gone down to try to relocate two Knot which had been seen earlier. 13 Dunlin were also seen today.

No sign of the Spoonbill today.

A fine start to the month, with a Spoonbill at Moreton. Also around the lake were four
Garganey, one Pintail, one Dunlin, three Greenshank, two Little Ringed Plovers,
four Green Sandpipers, six Common Sandpipers, five Yellow-legged Gulls, one Redshank,
12 Common Terns and one Black Tern.

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