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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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  APRIL 2011

SATURDAY 30th
Considering the decent wader passage happening on the coast, it's still quiet at the lake. Best of the reports today were 30 Swifts, one Common Sandpiper, one Little Egret, five Lapwings, one Bar-tailed Godwit (in flight) and two Yellow-legged Gulls. A combined count on Tuesday and today produced a total of 39 Garden Warblers signing around the lake.

Whilst carrying out his annual Reed Warbler nest survey for the BTO today, David Warden found a nest containing two eggs; the earliest date ever recorded in Britain (records began in 1939).

WEDNESDAY 27th
A Cuckoo was singing along Moreton Lane this morning, and a Marsh Harrier was again seen in the Moreton Bank/Stratford area today. Up to five Common Sandpipers were also recorded.

TUESDAY 26th
A Marsh Harrier was seen at Heron's Green Pool, otherwise another rather quiet day: ten Swifts, three Whimbrel, ten Lapwings, two Yellow-legged Gulls, 17 Great Black-backed Gulls and one Hobby.

SUNDAY 24th
Two Little Ringed Plover, a Ringed Plover and five Common Sandpipers were seen at the main dam this morning.

SATURDAY 23rd
A Ringed Plover (main dam), Common Tern and a first-winter Little Gull were all new today, with the Ferruginous Duck, one Common Sandpiper and four Goldeneye remaining. A Cuckoo was also reported this morning.

A Hornet was seen inside Stratford hide.

The nice weather over the last week or two has, not surprisingly, caused the water level to drop for the first time this year. This spring's highest level was reported by BW as 80% full - about 90cm off top level, give or take a few.

Already there is a muddy strip of shoreline in front of Stratford hide, and there are even a few places in Villice Bay that are sufficiently shallow for a wader to land; pretty unusual in spring, in fact the last time it was this low at the end of April was in 1992.


The male Ferruginous Duck paid a brief visit to the tame end of Herriott's Bridge today, and from the scuff on the top of its bill confirmed himself as the bird at Publow last Sunday.

THURSDAY 21st
Quieter today, and the high temperatures continue; a maximum of 25.4C was recorded in Bishop Sutton. Reports so far of one Common Tern and three Little Egrets on Herriott's Pool.

WEDNESDAY 20th
Eleven Black Terns at midday were the highlight, with these other birds - two Wheatears, three Little Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, and singles of Hobby, Grasshopper Warbler, Redshank and Little Egret.

TUESDAY 19th
Four Little Ringed Plovers were on the main dam today (a good spring count), and a Lesser Whitethroat was at Villice by the road.

MONDAY 18th
Some more decent quality in the way of six Little Gulls, two Black Terns and one each of Common Tern and Arctic Tern on the lake today, and one each of Marsh Harrier and Red Kite over. Also seen were two male Garganey, one Wigeon, one Little Egret, four Brambling, six Garden Warblers and single Little Ringed Plover, Wheatear and Lesser Redpoll.

FRIDAY 15th
A Marsh Harrier seen along Moreton Bank was the highlight today; also present were the male Ferruginous Duck, a male Garganey, four Common Sandpipers, a Black-tailed Godwit, an Oystercatcher and a Greater Scaup.

THURSDAY 14th
Some more fieldwork at the lake today produced some notable counts amongst the common birds; three Nuthatches (a scarce bird at Chew) and 23 Brambling (New Picnic Site). Others as follows: 500 Sand Martins, four Swallows, three House Martins, 20-plus Reed Warblers, 30-plus Blackcaps, one Whitethroat, 14 Willow Warblers, seven Sedge Warblers, five Skylarks, one Lapwing, one Oystercatcher, three Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers and 11 Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

TUESDAY 12th
A respectable list from the lake today - one Common Sandpiper, three Green Sandpipers, one Snipe, 19 Great Black-backed Gulls, two Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, one Yellow-legged Gull, two Reed Warblers, two Little Egrets, one Greylag, 20 Buzzards, three Sparrowhawks, one Wigeon, 500 Sand Martins, five Ravens, one male Greater Scaup, one Oystercatcher, 15 House Martins, ten Swallows and three Redshanks.

MONDAY 11th
Still at least six Brambling at Nunnery Point today.

SUNDAY 10th
Another fine, still day, and a decent number of common migrants around the lake, the pick of which were a Redstart at Villice and a Wood Warbler at Nunnery Point. The latter site held at least 17 Brambling, a notable count for Chew (including some very smart-looking males in full summer kit) feeding in the tops of the beeches and hornbeams in the wood at the point. Other birds around today were the male Garganey (off Moreton), two Little Gulls, three Green Sandpipers, one Wheatear, one Whitethroat, one Greater Scaup, and the male Ferruginous Duck (Herriott's Pool).

SATURDAY 9th
A flock of 16 Common Terns were the pick of the summer migrants today; other birds seen/heard were one Grasshopper Warbler, male Garganey (Heron's Green Pool), the female Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck and a male Greater Scaup.

FRIDAY 8th
A male Garganey was seen on Heron's Green Pool; it later flew across the lake to Denny. Other birds seen today were a female Ferruginous Duck x Tufted Duck (Stratford), the male Ferruginous Duck (Herriott's Pool), two Snipe, five Reed Warblers, and singles of Wigeon, Whitethroat, Redpoll (sp.), Greater Scaup, Oystercatcher and Little Egret.

Don't forget the Bird Fair tomorrow...

THURSDAY 7th
A Sandwich Tern paid a brief visit today, and a Wheatear was seen at Heron's Green Pool.

WEDNESDAY 6th
The Red-legged Partridge was seen again at the Parkland; a Little Ringed Plover was seen flying north there. Also present were a male Greater Scaup, a Grasshopper Warbler between Moreton and Stratford, two Common Sandpipers, one White Wagtail, and 20 Willow Warblers on the east side.

The warm weather has brought the butterflies out in good numbers; there were several Orange Tips on the wing today as well as a couple of Brimstones .

MONDAY 4th
Still 1500 Sand Martins today, but only eight Swallows and one House Martin were seen amongst them. Other birds today were the Red-legged Partridge, two Goosanders, two first-winter Yellow-legged Gulls, an Oystercatcher, a probable parvipes Canada Goose and the first Sedge Warbler of the year.

SUNDAY 3rd
An early thunderstorm this afternoon dropped in at least 1500 Sand Martins; there were very small numbers of Swallows with them, for the time of year you would have expected a lot more than there were. The Greater Scaup, Oystercatcher and Little Egret were still present, an early Reed Warbler was heard singing this morning (equalling our earliest ever) and there was a report of three Sandwich Terns passing through.


Three first-summer male Greater Scaup in Heron's Green Bay last month (Gary Thoburn).

SATURDAY 2nd
A few new arrivals today in the shape of 14 Black-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank at Herriott's Pool. There were still at least 1200 Sand Martins over the lake, with one Swallow, the first-winter Little Gull still, one Little Egret, one Oystercatcher and a male Greater Scaup.

A Red Admiral was on the wing at Herriott's his afternoon.

FRIDAY 1st
The male Ferruginous Duck was back on Herriott's Pool today. Other birds were 1500 Sand Martins, three first-summer male Greater Scaup, one Brambling, and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull.

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