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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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  SEPTEMBER 2010

THURSDAY 30th
The Ring-necked Duck remained in Stratford Bay today, as did one of the male Ferruginous Ducks - the other two were in Heron's Green Bay. Other birds around the lake were three Black-necked Grebes, three Goldeneye, one Greenshank, two Ruff, three Dunlin, three Snipe, four Green Sandpipers, two Whinchats and at least one Peregrine.

WEDNESDAY 29th
The three male Ferruginous Ducks were in the Herons Green Bay/Moreton/Stratford Bay area today; the Ring-necked Duck and two Black-necked Grebes were also at Moreton. Also - one Greenshank, one Goldeneye, 16 Ringed Plover, six Dunlin, one Curlew Sandpiper, four Green Sandpipers, one Ruff, nine Snipe, two Common Terns, one Yellow Wagtail and the male Ferruginous Duck x Pochard again. Scrutiny of the newly-lowered Heron's Green Pool produced three Water Rails. No Soras yet.

TUESDAY 28th
Two male Ferruginous Ducks and the adult male Ferruginous Duck x Pochard were in Stratford Bay this evening, as was the male Goldeneye, two Ringed Plover and a Dunlin.

MONDAY 27th
The three Ferruginous Ducks were again in the Moreton/Stratford flock today, as was the Ring-necked Duck. Also present - four Black-necked Grebes, two Yellow Wagtails, 51 Wigeon, two Yellow Wagtails, one Whinchat, c.1000 Swallows, c.100 House Martins, nine Snipe, five Green Sandpipers, one Greenshank, seven Dunlin and three Ringed Plover.

SUNDAY 26th
The 21st wildfowl species of September was found this afternoon - an eclipse male Goldeneye. Surely we can chalk up a Scaup before the end of the month? Also new-in were a record-equalling seven Red-crested Pochards (five males and two females), also in Stratford Bay. Still present were three Ferruginous Ducks (an adult male and two first-winter males), the adult male Ring-necked Duck, two female Tufted Duck x Pochards, a male Ferruginous Duck x Pochard and three Black-necked Grebes.

A Kingfisher was seen at Herriott's Bridge this morning, and a few passerine migrants included three Yellow Wagtails, two Whinchats, one Linnet, c.1000 House Martins and a few Sand Martins. Of note the water level on Heron's Green Pool has now dropped sufficiently to leave a small muddy margin; should be worth checking for Water Rails or Spotted Crakes.


Part of the Red-crested Pochard flock that arrived today; three adult males and a female on the shore at Stratford Bay (Keith Vinicombe).

SATURDAY 25th
Two Ferruginous Ducks (the new birds) and the adult male Ring-necked Duck were were in Stratford Bay. Five Black-necked Grebes were also seen.


Hornets feeding on tree sap. (Allan Chard). Formerly rare at Chew, you can now expect to see a few at certain places around the lake now. These were along Moreton Lane.

FRIDAY 24th
The wildfowl collection was still all present and correct; the adult male Ring-necked Duck and the two new Ferruginous Ducks (evidently first-winters, but conclusive views still required) in Stratford Bay, and the adult Ferruginous Duck in Heron's Green Bay this afternoon. A new arrival today was a Red-breasted Merganser - distant this evening on the far side of Stratford Bay; presumably the regular wintering bird which must be about 74 years old by now. At least four (possibly six) Black-necked Grebes (Stratford/Moreton/Villice) remained. Other birds today - one Hobby, three Greenshank, four Ringed Plover, one Little Stint, and one each of Black Tern, Common Tern, Stonechat and White Wagtail. The cold NE wind grounded a few hundred hirundines over the lake today; almost all either Swallows or House Martins.

THURSDAY 23rd
A contrasting day of sunshine and torrential showers. Today's excitement came in the form of Ferruginous Duck number three - a new male being watched at Moreton whilst the other two were on view in Stratford Bay. Three Black-necked Grebes were also new in; they met up with the original bird this afternoon and all four were watched together off Moreton Bank. Two Common Terns and two Black Terns were also present this morning; the Blacks had increased to seven birds by this evening. The male Ring-necked Duck and three Garganey were also in Stratford Bay; the former takes some finding amongst the vast Tufted Duck flock.

The rest: 18 Little Egrets, five Ringed Plover, one Little Stint, three Greenshank, one Ruff, one Little Gull, one Peregrine and one Hobby. A small southward passage of hirundines was also apparent on occasions.

There are still a good number of Common Blue Damselflies on the wing in addition to the more expected Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters; a few Hornets continue to be seen at the southern end of the lake, a Red Underwing was in the Hollow Brook car park and a Rush Veneer was near Stratford hide.


A day of changeable weather... these two photographs were taken from the same spot less than an hour apart. Above - Teal in the rain, below - a small part of the vast duck flock in Stratford Bay, which stretches for about half a mile on a good day.

WEDNESDAY 22nd
No sign of the Grey Phalaropes today, but it was evidently a day of movement, most impressively by way of a Common Tern flock of up to 139 this morning. By the afternoon, they had moved on, but another 13 dropped in this evening, making what is probably a day record for Chew. Single Black Tern and Little Gull remained. A flock of approximately three Dunlin and nine Curlew Sandpipers touched down for a brief spell on the far side of Stratford Bay this afternoon, whilst a flock of two Little Stints and 11 Ringed Plover were on the west (hide) side. Two Common Scoters were also new-in.

When there is no disturbance from fishing boats, Stratford Bay is packed with thousands of birds; finding anything amongst them is a time-consuming task; nevertheless the Ring-necked Duck, both Ferruginous Ducks, the Black-necked Grebe and a Garganey were still present. Other birds seen today: four Greenshank, two Black-tailed Godwits, 40 Wigeon, 15 Little Egrets, six Green Sandpipers and one Peregrine.

A rather tatty Red Underwing was on the hut in Stratford car park this afternoon. They seem to be having a good year at Chew.

TUESDAY 21st
The Grey Phalaropes were reported still on Herriott's Pool today.

MONDAY 20th
A familiar list today: two Grey Phalaropes (Herriott's Pool), two Ferruginous Ducks (Stratford and Moreton), one Ring-necked Duck (Stratford), two Black-necked Grebes (Stratford and Moreton), 16 Little Egrets, one Mediterranean Gull, one Little Gull, two Black Terns, four Greenshank, six Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, eight Green Sandpipers, five Snipe, two Peregrines and the first Meadow Pipit of the autumn.


One of the Herriott's Pool Grey Phalaropes. (Don Smith).

SUNDAY 19th
Two Ferruginous Ducks, one Ring-necked Duck, two Grey Phalaropes, one Black-necked Grebe, ten Black-tailed Godwits, three Garganey, two Black Terns, one Yellow-legged Gull, five Greenshank, six Dunlin, six Ringed Plover, eight Green sandpipers, one Common Sandpiper, five Snipe and five Water Rails.

SATURDAY 18th
The Grey Phalaropes were still on Herriott's Pool today; both the Ferruginous Ducks, the Ring-necked Duck, the Black-necked Grebe, four Garganey and a Marsh Harrier were seen in Stratford Bay. The rest: 15-plus Little Egrets, three Yellow-legged Gulls, two Black Terns, four Greenshank, three Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, nine Green Sandpipers, three Snipe, one Barn Owl, one Hobby and one Peregrine.

FRIDAY 17th
Two Ferruginous Ducks, the Ring-necked Duck and the two Grey Phalaropes were still present today, with other birds reported as follows: three Garganey, two Greenshank, two Ringed Plover, and one each of Dunlin, Black-necked Grebe, Little Gull, Common tern, Black Tern and Whinchat.

THURSDAY 16th
A nice surprise this morning was a couple of Grey Phalaropes on Herriott's Pool. Normally a Chew encounter with a Grey Phal is a crap view of a tiny dot in the centre of the lake, so to have two together at reasonably close range made for a nice change.

The monthly wildfowl count took place today, producing a total of 9840 duck, coots, grebes, herons and cormorants. Notable were high counts of 16 Little Egrets (a Chew record), 150 Little Grebes, 1100 Mallard, 320 Gadwall, 2255 Teal, 430 Shoveler, 1925 Tufted Ducks, 2610 Coot, four Garganey, two Ferruginous Ducks and one Ring-necked Duck. Thanks to Rupert Higgins for those counts.

Other stuff - one apparent male Ferruginous Duck x Pochard, four Green Sandpipers, two Ringed Plover, one Black-tailed Godwit, four Greenshank, seven Common Sandpipers, two Black Terns, one Common Tern, one Arctic Tern, one Black-necked Grebe, one Little Gull, one Hobby and one early Goosander.

WEDNESDAY 15th
The moulting aythya flock in Stratford Bay grows vaster by the day so it's not surprising that today's birdlist reads as follows: two male Ferruginous Ducks, one male Ring-necked Duck, one Lesser Scaup-type hybrid, one male Ring-necked Duck-type hybrid, one Black-necked Grebe (all Stratford Bay). Also, two Greenshank, three Ringed Plover, three Green Sandpipers and one each of Wheatear, Hobby, Kittiwake, Little Gull, Black Tern and Common Tern.

TUESDAY 14th
The two male Ferruginous Ducks were both at Stratford Bay today, but there was no sign of the probable Ring-necked. The Lesser Scaup-type hybrid was still with the flock though. Other birds (all from Stratford hide) were three Garganey, one Black-necked Grebe, two Greenshank, two Green Sandpipers, one Dunlin, 13 Snipe, two Wheatears and one Hobby.

MONDAY 13th
Just the one Ferruginous Duck today (the usual male), but what was probably an eclipse male Ring-necked Duck flushed from the bay before all observers watching it were happy with its ID. There were also a couple of male aythya hybrids today as well; a possible Ferruginous Duck x Pochard and a Lesser Scaup-type thing.

Otherwise: ten Black Terns, two Sandwich Terns (briefly, first thing), 28 Common/Arctic Terns, three Greenshank, five Green Sandpipers, six Snipe, two Peregrines, two Hobbies and single Garganey, Common Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe and Kingfisher.

SUNDAY 12th
With a quality eastern-themed week coming to an end, it was fitting that today's new birds also had an air of eastern-ness about them. Probably. A Red-crested Pochard in Stratford Bay was pretty much expected, but less so was a new male Ferruginous Duck. Seen at BK hide this morning, it was later relocated on the shore in Stratford Bay, where this evening the usual male was also present. The new bird flew back to the East Shore this evening (where it may have been present last week also).

Otherwise, the full list as follows: one Black-necked Grebe (Stratford), 12 Little Egrets, 18 Pintail, one Garganey (Stratford shore), three Black Terns, seven Snipe, three Common Sandpipers, five Green Sandpipers, six Greenshank, one Dunlin, one Ruff, one Black-tailed Godwit, two Whinchats (Moreton), one Hobby and one late Swift.

SATURDAY 11th
Again, similar to the previous few days as follows: Ferruginous Duck (Stratford Bay), one Whimbrel (few west), six Greenshank, four Dunlin, five Green Sandpipers, two Common Sandpipers, five Snipe, one Ruff, two Black Terns, one Common Tern, 12 Little Egrets, one Hobby, six Whinchats and one White Wagtail.

There was still one Red Underwing on the fisherman's hut at Stratford this afternoon.


Green Sandpiper. There are some more Green Sands from today on my photo blog..

FRIDAY 10th
A juvenile Knot was a new bird today, otherwise less of the same - seven Dunlin, five Greenshank, three Green Sandpipers, two Common Sandpipers, three Snipe, five Common Terns, two Black Terns, a Mediterranean Gull and the Black-necked Grebe still.

THURSDAY 9th
Eight Curlew Sandpipers at Herriott's End this morning were the highlight, a Dunlin was seen from Stratford hide, as were eight Black Terns and the Ferruginous Duck. Six Whinchats (Moreton Bank and Heron's Green Pool) were a good Chew count.

WEDNESDAY 8th
No sign of the Citrine Wagtail this morning or this evening at Herriott's Bridge. There was still a good number of birds around the lake though: 22 Black Terns, one Little Gull (flew south over Herriott's Pool early am), one Arctic Tern, one Common Tern, the Osprey still (Denny, flew west at 10:20), one Peregrine, at least one Hobby, one Black-necked Grebe (Stratford Bay), 11 Little Egrets, one Kingfisher, one Ferruginous Duck, seven Greenshank, four Ringed Plover, four Dunlin, one Ruff, 11 Green Sandpipers (one flock calling in flight high over Herriott's this evening), four Common Sandpipers, three Wheatears, three Whinchats (Moreton, then three at Heron's Green Pool this evening), one Nuthatch (Hollow Brook), and one White Wagtail.

TUESDAY 7th
A day of unaccustomed quality, with Chew's second Citrine Wagtail this evening; heard calling in flight at Herriott's Bridge as it arrived with Pied Wagtails to roost in the reedbeds surrounding the pool. It was seen perched briefly, but was lost to view, with no further sign before dark.

An Osprey was present all day, being seen on a few occasions perched in trees at the south end of Denny. Black Terns were still present, with a maximum count of 36 this evening; other birds as follows: one Black-necked Grebe (Stratford Bay), one Arctic Tern, two Little Gulls, three Whinchats (Moreton Lane), one Yellow Wagtail, one Hobby and one Peregrine.

MONDAY 6th
Still a few terns around today; 18 Black Terns, five Common Terns and a juvenile Arctic Tern remained. The male Ferruginous Duck was again in Stratford Bay, a Garganey and a Ruff were at BK hide. One Hobby, a Wheatear, a Black-necked Grebe (Stratford) and c.150 Sand Martins were also seen.

SUNDAY 5th
A big flock of Black Terns is something that we've not had at Chew for quite a few years, so it was nice to hear that there were 73 of them over the lake this morning, with 25 Common Terns and three Arctic Terns. It's not clear quite how many Blacks passed through in total, as early this afternoon there were very few, but later the flock had built back up to 66 birds (plus c.20 Commons and one Arctic still). Every now and then Black Tern flocks tend to tower up and often seem to vanish for a while before dropping down again, so it's difficult to say whether this afternoon's flock may or may not have involved some birds from this morning.


Some of today's Black Terns. The wonders of digital photography tell me that 66 birds were present this afternoon, 16 of which were juveniles.


An untidy selection of some of the Common Terns around the lake this afternoon.

Other birds seen today: One Ferruginous Duck (Stratford Bay), 31 Wigeon, one Yellow-legged Gull, one Grey Plover (heard calling in flight), 11 Snipe, two Black-tailed Godwits, four Greenshank, one Dunlin, two Ringed Plover, 14 Little Egrets, three Common Sandpipers, three Green Sandpiper, two Peregrines, three Hobbies, two Ravens and a late Swift.

SATURDAY 4th
Some more of the same, although a few less waders today - 11 Little Egrets, three Garganey, 13 Pintail, the male Ferruginous Duck (Stratford), one Peregrine, a Marsh Harrier this morning, one Hobby, a Barn Owl (Stratford car park), two Mediterranean Gulls, a juvenile Arctic Tern, two Black-tailed Godwits, three Ringed Plover, one Little Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, four Greenshank, four Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers, six Snipe, one Ruff, one Kingfisher and three Spotted Flycatchers (Hollow Brook).


Cormorants and Kingfisher at Moreton. The knackered old emergent willow shown in this photograph that once stood in front of Moreton hide has now been removed from the lake.

FRIDAY 3rd
Some more new birds in today; Little Gull, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff and two Turnstones, along with some more familiar ones - one Little Stint, nine Greenshank, two Spotted Redshank, two Black-tailed Godwits, three Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, the Ferruginous Duck, Spotted Flycatcher, seven Pintail, one Yellow Wagtail, one Green Sandpiper and three Common Sandpipers.

A Bearded Tit was seen on the edge of the main reedbed from Stratford hide this afternoon.


Juvenile Peregrine at Moreton.

THURSDAY 2nd
Although nothing to write home about, some pretty decent birds are coming through now. The list for today as follows - 12 Little Egrets, six Pintail, 11 Wigeon, two Garganey, five Greenshank, eight Dunlin, two Ringed Plover, three Little Stints (Stratford), three Common Sandpipers, five Green Sandpipers, six Snipe, two Hobbies, and one each of Spotted Redshank (Moreton), White Wagtail, Ferruginous Duck (Stratford), Black-tailed Godwit, Kingfisher and Yellow Wagtail.

WEDNESDAY 1st
The following were seen from Stratford hide today: one Pintail, three Wigeon, one Ferruginous Duck, ten Little Egrets, three Black-tailed Godwits, two Ringed Plover, two Dunlin, eight Greenshank, six Green Sandpipers, two Common Sandpipers, two Hobbies, one Kingfisher and ten Common Terns. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen by the fisherman's hut at Stratford car park.

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