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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 get one from Woodford Lodge, the Tea Rooms, or by post. See my access page for full details. Seen anything good? Please contact me.


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In Association with Birding Top 500 Counter

  MARCH 2010

The Lesser Scaup and Ferruginous Duck were both visible from Stratford Hide this morning. A Little Ringed Plover flew NW over Heron's Green Bay, the two Little Gulls were off Nunnery Point, as were c.70 Sand Martins and two Swallows.

Both the Lesser Scaup and Ferruginous Duck were still present today, ending up in Stratford Bay this afternoon (the Ferruginous had earlier been on Herriott's Pool). Two adult Little Gulls were between the dam end and the Roman Shallows; a few Willow Warblers are now in evidence, as well, with 18 between the dam and East Shore. Other birds today were one Oystercatcher, two Green Sandpipers, one Peregrine, three Blackcaps, three Swallows and 100 Sand Martins.

The Lesser Scaup was still present at the dam this morning; it then moved to Stratford Bay where it showed well in the afternoon (more pics here). At least 300 Sand Martins, a couple of Swallows and an adult-type Little Gull were off Nunnery Point, where there was a summer plumage Grey Plover this afternoon.

Two Red Kites flew SE over Burledge Hill this afternoon, and three Little Gulls were seen on the main lake. There was a fall of Chiffchaffs in the main reeds trapping area this morning, of which 39 were ringed by CVRS. Of note the nets were set on an east-west axis, and nearly all the birds were trapped on the southern side of the nets (moving north through the trapping area).

A Water Pipit and 130+ Sand Martins were seen at Nunnery Point this evening.

A bit more activity with the migrants today with 200+ Sand Martins, a House Martin, two Willow Warblers, numerous Chiffchaffs and a few Swallows.

An Otter was seen from Stratford hide this evening.

The Lesser Scaup was still off the main dam all day, but there was no sign of any of the other aythyas today. A Crossbill heard calling as it flew south over Spring Bay at 11:45 was the highlight of the day otherwise, with other reports as follows - 150+ Sand Martins, four Swallows, one Woodcock, two Mediterranean Gulls, one Kittiwake, eight Chiffchaffs, one Little Egret, one Peregrine, one Dunlin and a Green Sandpiper.

I've put some more of the ducks on my blog page.

A 40w actinic trap left overnight did a lot better than last weeks effort, with 49 moths of nine species: 17 Common Quakers, 17 Hebrew Characters, three Clouded Drabs, five Small Quakers, one Chestnut, one Dotted Border, one Twin-spotted Quaker, one Shoulder-stripe and two March Moths.

For the record...

Most of the birds from the week remained today; with a fresh SW wind and a load of boats out, most of the aythyas were predictably tucked up in the refuge area in front of Stratford hide, including the Greater Scaupy-scaup, the Lesser Scaup-type thing and a Tufted Duck x Pochard. Or at least they were until a couple of fishing boats ploughed straight through the middle of the flock - one wonders what instruction is given about the prohibited sections of the nature reserve. The Ferruginous Duck was again on Herriott's Pool, as was the pair of Pintail, and the Lesser Scaup was relocated off the main dam/Walley Bank this afternoon.

Nunnery Point this evening produced 113 Goldeneye and at least 180 Sand Martins, whilst the eye-strainingly distant gull roost held three Mediterranean Gulls and two Little Gulls.

A new hybrid; what would appear to be a classic male Tufted Duck x Pochard. We rarely get ones with such an odd-looking crest though.

The male Scaupy Scaup. It looks like a Greater Scaup, but one could question that little bump on the rear crown making it look a little square-headed, and the bill - which, although with a perfect nail pattern - doesn't seem to look quite as broad or long as most. But is this just within normal variation for Scaup?

The male Scaupy Scaup with the male Lesser Scaup-type hybrid behind. The latter appears to be the bird which spent the 2007/08 winter at Cheddar. Some more pics of that bird here

An actual male Lesser Scaup, off the dam this afternoon.

The Lesser Scaup (Stratford) and Ferruginous Duck were still present today, as was the 'Greater Scaup' and a pair of Pintail. At least 100 Sand Martins and five Chiffchaffs were also seen.

The male Ferruginous Duck and the two Scaup-types remained today. Twelve Sand Martins and a singing Chiffchaff were the migratory highlights.

An aythya-fest today, with reappearances of the male Ferruginous Duck (which was reported yesterday in Villice Bay) and the male Lesser Scaup at Moreton, not two mention the Scaup and it's hybrid buddy at Stratford, which will both hopefully bugger off soon as I'm having trouble knowing what to call them. 42 Sand Martins were seen at Denny, and a Green Sandpiper and Bittern were at Herriott's Bridge. The fly fishing season starts at Chew today.

Four Sand Martins arrived at 17:15; the Scaup hybrid and it's Scaupy friend were off Moreton hide today.

Three Little Egrets were seen this morning - two flew north over the dam and the other was at Denny. The hybrid male Scaup was off Walley Bank this morning with the other bird which looks more or less like a normal Greater Scaup, although there does seem something funny about that one as well. The first Sand Martin of the year appeared over Stratford Bay this afternoon; when we get a few days of southerlies there ought to be some decent numbers building up. Two or three Mediterranean Gulls were seen in the roost.

The first overnight moth trap of the year was as predictable as it was boring - just five Hebrew Characters and a Chestnut. A Small Tortoiseshell was on the wing at Moreton Lane in the sunshine this morning.

A Red Kite was seen flying south behind Herriott's this afternoon, and three or four Mediterranean Gulls (a second-winter and the rest adults) were seen in the roost.

An Otter was seen running across the A368 at Herriott's Bridge at 08:00 this morning.

The two Scaupy things were at the dam still, and a Green Sandpiper was at Herriott's Bridge.

No further sign of anything of note this morning due to a bunch of gun-toting twats attempting to shoot anything which resembled a Ruddy Duck. The hybrid Scaup was still at the dam however, along with the second bird, which looked like a Greater Scaup but didn't seem quite right - possibly one of the 'tricky birds' from last winter.

The Lesser Scaup was seen again today, against the reedbed on the east side of Stratford Bay. A male Scaup hybrid and a male Greater Scaup was seen at the dam (presumably the two Blagdon birds); two Marsh Harriers were seen at Stratford this morning, and an adult Mediterranean Gull and a third-winter Yellow-legged Gull were seen in the roost.

A male Lesser Scaup was a nice find in Stratford Bay this afternoon; it's tempting to think it may be the same bird as the only previous Chew record in April 2008. Two Little Egrets were seen in the Denny/Twycross area and two adult Mediterranean Gulls were found in the roost.

The male Lesser Scaup. Technically I suppose we ought to call it 'probable Lesser Scaup' as we weren't able to check the wingbar, but it looks like one. In fact it might as well have been a Long-tailed Duck for the amount of time it spent underwater.

A Bittern and four Little Egrets were seen today, including the bird in the cow field on Stratford Lane, and four Mediterranean Gulls (two adults, a second-winter and a first-winter) were seen in the roost.

An Otter was seen again from Stratford hide; it follows another sighting of one reported on the road behind Moreton hide on 3rd. The male Red-breasted Merganser was still present today.

At least two Bearded Tits were seen at Wick Green Point this morning; they could not be relocated later this afternoon. The last Chew record was in April 2006.

Nothing to report on the bird front, but two Otters were seen again to the right of Stratford hide, and a Small Tortoiseshell was on the wing at Moreton.

I've had a bit of a tidy up around the site, so let me know if you spot anything I've inadvertently broken! I've also uploaded a new and improved version of the Chew map.

Otter (Graham Horrocks)

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