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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

  JANUARY 2011

A Merlin was at Stratford Bay this afternoon; the male Red-breasted Merganser was also there. A Green Sandpiper was in Heron's Green Bay.

Nearly all encounters with a Merlin at Chew last a few seconds as they shoot past in flight; even then you'd only expect to see one every few years. To have one land on a post in front of Stratford hide for a few minutes is a proper bit of luck.

The Bittern was again seen in flight at Herriott's Pool (14:30) and at least one Barn Owl was seen perched in an oak tree at Heron's Green Pool late this afternoon.

The female Red-crested Pochard was again in Heron's Green Bay today.

A female Red-crested Pochard was seen in Heron's Green Bay, and the Black Redstart was again at Woodford Bank.

The adult male Black Redstart was still at Woodford Bank this morning.

The only news today was of a hybrid male Tufted Duck x Red-crested Pochard.

Two Barn Owls again showed well at Heron's Green Pool from approx 16:00 today; meanwhile a Merlin flew west over the lake at 15:55 (seen from Herriott's Bridge). The small Dunlin flock was at Herriott's End with the Lapwing, the male Red-breasted Merganser was still in Heron's Green Bay and a total of 32 Shelduck was counted.

Some good local patch birds were seen today - two Bitterns were at Herriott's Pool this afternoon, and at Woodford Lodge the male Black Redstart was still present (in the car park and on the roof of the lodge) but was elusive as usual. A Barn Owl showed very well again at Heron's Green Pool from about 16:15 perched and in flight; the five adult Bewick's Swans and the male Red-breasted Merganser were still in Heron's Green Bay, and 16 Dunlin were on the shore in front of Stratford hide. Other news was of three Mediterranean Gulls, two Peregrines, 34 Shelduck and 500 Jackdaws.

The five Bewick's Swans were at Twycross and a Bittern was again seen at Herriott's Pool (at 12:20).

A Bittern was seen at Herriott's Pool this afternoon.

The adult male Black Redstart was at Woodford Lodge again today; elsewhere around the lake were five Dunlin and single Little Egret, Red-breasted Merganser and Little Egret.

The Woodford Lodge Black Redstart (Don Smith)

The rainy weather during the week has raised the water level by a good few inches; consequently much of the lake is brown with sediment washed down from the Mendips. 70 Goldeneye and an adult Mediterranean Gull at Moreton were the only birds of note seen today.

The adult male Black Redstart has reappeared at Woodford Lodge/Bank today.

A Merlin flew over the B3114 near the Blue Bowl late this afternoon, otherwise excitement was limited to five Bewick's Swans, three Green Sandpipers, two Little Egrets and the Grey Plover.

The Grey Plover was still with Lapwings on the Herriott's End shore by the main reedbed, and a Barn Owl again showed well late afternoon at Heron's Green Pool. Gareth Jones has some pictures of it on his website.

A Grey Plover was present at Herriott's End this afternoon - another bird which is very infrequent at Chew. The five adult Bewick's Swans and a Little Egret were still in Heron's Green Bay, and a Barn Owl again gave a fine performance over the road at the pool just before it got dark. Also seen were the male Red-breasted Merganser, a Kingfisher and few groups of Lapwing dotted around the lake, with a few small groups were also seen flying over (west) this afternoon. A juvenile Peregrine (peregrinus) was on Little Denny this afternoon.

A male Merlin was seen at Herriott's Bridge this afternoon - a good bird to catch up with at Chew. Other birds were five Bewick's Swans, three Green Sandpipers and a Little Egret.

Five Bewick's Swans were present today; also seen were 27+ Goosanders, one Little Egret, five Curlew and eight Skylarks flying SW this morning. A Bittern was seen in flight over the back of Herriott's Pool at 16:45.

A similar day to yesterday; nearly all of the ice has finally melted (still significant cover yesterday), but still small numbers of most wildfowl; 64 Wigeon is what would nowadays be regarded as a good count for January, and the male Red-breasted Merganser was still present. Other birds seen today were three Bewick's Swans (Heron's Green Bay), three Green Sandpipers, one Dunlin, three Little Egrets, a Bittern, a juvenile Peregrine on Little Denny, and two Barn Owls again late afternoon over Heron's Green Pool.

SATURDAY 1st Happy New Year!
A male Red-crested Pochard (Roman Shallows area) was a good bird to get the new yearlist started; there have been up to nine at Barrow Tanks (still six there today) and 18 at Cheddar, presumably dispersing from frozen lakes at the Cotswold Water Park. Three adult Bewick's Swans were in Heron's Green Bay, the male Red-breasted Merganser was in Stratford Bay, a Bittern was seen flying east to west across Herriott's Pool at 16:25 and a Barn Owl gave some very good views on Heron's Green Pool at 16:35. Single Little Egret, Peregrine and Green Sandpiper were also seen.

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