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This page gives you the latest bird and wildlife news from Chew Valley Lake (and sometimes elsewhere if there's anything 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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Much quieter than of late, although still good numbers of wildfowl in the southern half of the lake; the first-winter male Greater Scaup was still with the Pochard flock off Moreton Bank, and at Nunnery Point this evening were 98 Goldeneye, 14 Goosander (both the highest counts of each species so far this winter), the male Red-breasted Merganser and two Mediterranean Gulls.

The Spotted Sandpiper was still in the channel at Herriott's Bridge today. At Stratford Bay were a male Red-crested Pochard (it or another was later seen at Moreton), male Greater Scaup, a Ruff, the male Red-breasted Merganser and a male Lesser Scaup-type hybrid.

Four Pink-footed Geese arrived from Blagdon late this afternoon; they flew over the B3114 at the entrance to Moreton Cottage and appeared to drop out of view into one of the stubble fields between the road and the lake. This is only the eighth or ninth Chew record, and beats the previous highest count by two.

The Spotted Sandpiper was again at Herriott's; either in the channel on the lake side, or the causeway behind the hedge on the pool. A first-winter male Greater Scaup and an adult male Ferruginous Duck x Pochard were with the aythya flock off Moreton Bank this afternoon.

A Whooper Swan and six Bewick's Swans were seen at Hollow Brook today; they flew off and were later seen flying SW over Blagdon.

The Spotted Sandpiper was back at Herriott's Bridge again this afternoon.

A week of rain has pushed the water level up a good few inches; consequently the muddy parts of Stratford Bay are all but covered now. No sign of The Spotted Sandpiper at Herriott's, nor the Long-billed Dowitchers or the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, either here or at Blagdon.

Two Green Sandpipers and a decent count of 860 Pochards was the news of the day.

A very late Osprey was seen to catch a fish off the picnic site this morning - our latest ever by some margin. The previous latest was a bird which remained from October 19th to November 6th 1988.

A Snow Bunting heard calling in flight over Stratford hide was a fine Chew record; there have only been about seven seen here previously. An adult Ring-billed Gull off Nunnery Point (yet another new transatlantic species for the autumn/winter) was, on the other hand, much more expected. The female Garganey was still on Moreton Bank, becoming our latest ever, surpassing one seen on December 7th 1978. That was the year that we had the record count of 34 on September 2nd! The Spotted Sandpiper was again in the channel at Herriott's Bridge, and a Black Swan was still on Herriott's Pool.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and two Long-billed Dowitchers relocated to Blagdon today; the four Pink-footed Geese were still present.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still present today, now with just a single Dunlin, ranging from the tree stumps at Herriott's End, round to the shore at Stratford hide. The Spotted Sandpiper was again either in the channel (River Chew) north of Herriott's Bridge, or on the sluice there. Four Red-crested Pochards (two pairs) in Stratford Bay were new-in.

Four Pink-footed Geese were present yesterday and today - a rare sight at the lakes.

All the rare waders were still at the lake this morning; the Spotted Sandpiper at Herriott's, on both the causeway and the channel on the other side of the road; the two Long-billed Dowitchers (this morning at least, at Herriott's End), and the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper with up to 27 Dunlin just to the right of Stratford hide (mostly). A pair of Greater Scaup were also at Stratford, and the Egyptian Goose was at Heron's Green Bay.

The Spotted Sandpiper was watched in the channel from Herriott's Bridge again this afternoon, and the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, whilst mostly in Stratford Bay still, visited Heron's Green Bay with the 43-strong Dunlin flock. A Grey Plover was at Herriott's End.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and two Long-billed Dowitchers were all still in the Stratford Bay/Herriott's End area today, as was the late female Garganey.

The Spotted Sandpiper was seen in the channel at Herriott's Bridge this afternoon (in just about the same place as the Temminck's Stint earlier in the autumn), and the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was with 15 Dunlin in Stratford Bay, again showing fairly well from the hide. There were three Golden Plover with the Lapwing in Stratford Bay; also reported were five Green Sandpipers, one Black-tailed Godwit, two Goosanders, a Water Rail at Stratford hide and a Kingfisher at Heron's Green Pool. No reports of the dowitchers again.

The Great Grey Shrike was still between Charlton Field and Chewton Keynsham.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still in front of Stratford hide this morning, and the Spotted Sandpiper was reported as being still present at Herriott's Bridge. I didn't hear any reports of the Long-billed Dowitchers, although they were looked for at both Stratford Bay and Hollow Brook.

The Great Grey Shrike was still present today; this afternoon it was nearer the Hinton Organics end of the track, just here.

I managed some better shots of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper today. When I say "better" I mean "less bad".

As we're in December, technically it's winter now, so it might be nice to reflect on what has been Chew's best ever autumn... Blue-winged Teal, two Ring-necked Ducks, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Scaup, Great White Egret, eight Spoonbills, one Semipalmated Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, at least five Pectoral Sandpipers, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, two Long-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper and five Grey Phalaropes. Some tarts are even counting that Cackling Canada Goose.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper again showed well in front of Stratford hide today, whilst the two Long-billed Dowitchers were again at Hollow Brook/Twycross. The Spotted Sandpiper was in the lake-side channel at Herriott's Bridge again.

Also seen today were the female Garganey, one Red-breasted Merganser, two Goosanders (a really slow build-up this winter), one Curlew, 42 Dunlin, four Snipe, a Water Rail and a Chiffchaff. The Bittern flew across Herriott's Pool at 15:45 this afternoon.

The other day, Mr Vinicombe asked me whether that stint with the Dunlin flock last month had appeared in any of my Sharp-tailed Sandpiper shots. On close inspection it would appear that it had. On even closer inspection it would appear that it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

It was present between 10th and 20th November; despite efforts made during its stay to get a decent view of the bird, it was never seen well enough to identify in the field, and was presumed to be a Little Stint. The photos below were taken at a distance of 120m from the end of a net lane in the trapping area. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. That, and the fact that I was busy seeing a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at the time.

"Have you got any photos of that stint at Chew?"
"You mean the grey one with the unsplit supercilium, drop-shaped marks on the scapulars, no mantle braces and short primary projection..?  Bugger."

The Dunlin flock containing the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and two Long-billed Dowitchers was in Stratford Bay this morning, before being flushed by a Peregrine and clearing off to Twycross, where they were again difficult to view.... Park in the No 2 Picnic site car park and walk south along the edge of the reedbed on the Grebe Trail until you get to a pine copse on your left. At the south end of this there is a bench and a white sign saying Grebe Trail sign no 4 (or similar). Look out over the reeds from there and the flock were out on the mud.

The Great Grey Shrike is still present, viewed from the muddy track between the composting site at Charlton Field, and Chewton Keynsham. It favoured hedgerows and ploughed fields around a quarter of a mile east of the cattery, looking from the rusty gate towards the Chewton Keynsham end of the track.

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