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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.

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  JULY 2011

A selection of waders at Herriott's End this afternoon - four Common Sandpipers, four Green Sandpipers, two Dunlin, seven Little Ringed Plovers and a Turnstone. The Garganey was again on Herriott's Pool.

It would appear that Little Ringed Plovers may be having their best ever autumn passage at Chew.

A late adult Cuckoo was at Heron's Green today, as were 11 Little Egrets. A Grasshopper Warbler was again at the Bittern Trail; other birds seen today were five Common Sandpipers, three Water Rails (an adult and two juveniles at Herriott's Bridge), seven Green Sandpipers, one Wood Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool), two Dunlin, six Little Ringed Plovers, two Common Terns and single Garganey, Redshank, Dunlin and Snipe.

There continues to be a small but steady arrival of new birds, with another good count of 11 Little Ringed Plovers. 35 Little Grebes was by 2011 standards also a notable count for a species which has failed to breed at Chew again this year, so these will be birds arriving to moult. The rest as follows... one Egyptian Goose, one Garganey, 12 Little Egrets, one Hobby, one Oystercatcher, 90 Lapwings, one Whimbrel, three Dunlin, two Curlew, six Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers, eight Yellow-legged Gulls, a Mediterranean Gull, three Arctic Terns and 12 Common Terns. Two adult Tawny Owls were calling at Hollow Brook tonight.

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to realise you can run an MV moth trap from a battery, but a few hours effort at the Bittern Trail tonight produced in excess of 80 species, including a few undeterminable Parornix and Yponomeuta (and so on) which I pretended I hadn't seen. The highlights were one Brussels Lace (the first Chew record and perhaps only the third for Avon/BRERC), Rosy Footman (second record, following a dead one in a spider's web at Woodford Lodge), and Double Lobed (only recorded at CVRS). The full list is here.

This is the first time that traps have been run at this end of the lake, and it shows that some species are very localised at Chew, as demonstrated by the records of Rosy Footman and Doubled Lobed which are evidently established at the Bittern Trail. Perhaps Brussels Lace is as well? There are quite a few macro species that would be expected to occur at Chew that so far have been missed, so perhaps a few more are still to be found by trapping at new locations.

Another record count of 14 Little Ringed Plovers tonight!

The two Spoonbills were still on Herriott's Pool this morning, but slipped off whilst nobody was looking early in the afternoon.

A decent scattering of passage migrants was found around the lake, but numbers of the commoner species are still lower than would be expected at this time of year.

Today's Wigeon, 26 Teal (including the first juveniles), one Garganey, 11 Little Egrets, three Water Rails (including a full-grown juvenile different to the Herriott's brood), two Little Ringed Plovers, 55 Lapwing, one Dunlin, six Green Sandpipers, seven Common Sandpipers, five Yellow-legged Gulls, two Common Gulls, an adult Mediterranean Gull, and a juvenile Stonechat on Moreton Bank.

The pair of Spoonbills at Herriott's Pool (Andy Davis). A record flock!

The two adult Arctic Terns were still present this afternoon, with a few other birds seen around the lake - at least ten Little Egrets, two Green Sandpipers, four Common Sandpipers, and one each of Peregrine and Kingfisher. The highlight however was a pair of Spoonbills which arrived at Herriott's Pool early in the evening; it's the first time there has been more than one at Chew.

Two Arctic Terns (sailing area/dam) and a Ruff (Herriott's Pool) were the only reports today.

A Garganey at Heron's Green was today's highlight. Also seen were nine Little Egrets and a Peregrine.

A little quieter today - ten Little Egrets, the Egyptian Goose, one Wigeon, two juvenile Water Rails, 35 Lapwing, nine Common Sandpipers (including the first juveniles), one Green Sandpiper, five Yellow-legged Gulls and 27 Great Black-backed Gulls.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Herriott's Bridge (Keith Vinicombe).

Some more new birds again today, and the Great Black-back count ticks up again... One Egyptian Goose, 11 Little Egrets, one Hobby, seven juvenile Little Ringed Plovers (Hollow Brook), 45 Lapwing (including at least three large young), one Dunlin, two Redshank, one Greenshank, one Green Sandpiper, four Common Sandpipers, seven Yellow-legged Gulls, 31 Great Black-backed Gulls, an adult Arctic Tern, c.2000 Swifts, c.300 House Martins and 85-plus Sand Martins.

Still a trickle of birds arriving; today was notable for the seagulls, with two adult Mediterranean Gulls, one Common Gull, ten Yellow-legged Gulls (our biggest count for a while) and a record count of 30 Great Black-backed Gulls.

Otherwise, some more waders etc as follows.... three juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, 60 Lapwings, two Dunlin, four Black-tailed Godwits, three Common Sandpipers, three Green Sandpipers (including the first juvenile of the autumn), one Greenshank, nine Little Egrets (including five juveniles), and one each of Goldeneye, Egyptian Goose, Peregrine and Hobby.

Annual Great Black-backed Gull maxima, back as far as the bird report gives counts for. It wasn't until recently that we had our first double-figure count.

There was still one Little Ringed Plover at Twycross (from the Hollow Brook footbridge); also one Green Sandpiper and four Black-tailed Godwits.

Black-tailed Godwit numbers are building up, with 24 at Herriott's this evening. Otherwise, some more of the birds seen in recent days - seven Little Egrets, four Wigeon, three Little Ringed Plovers, two Dunlin, four Greenshank, three Redshank, one Common Sandpiper, one Hobby, two Common Terns, two Yellow-legged Gulls, and the three Water Rail chicks still in the channel at Herriott's Bridge.

The Grasshopper Warbler was singing again on the Grebe Trail; elsewhere around the lake, the 'good start' continues.... two Greenshank, two Little Ringed Plovers, 45 Lapwings (including at least 3 well-grown chicks), one Green Sandpiper, one Redshank, three Black-tailed Godwits, five Dunlin, eight Little Egrets, 23 Great Black-backed Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls.

One extra micro-moth from the Bioblitz on 2nd has been determined as Bohemannia quadrimaculella. A first for Chew, with very few records locally. It mines the twigs and bark of alder.

The dreary weather and heavy rain we've had in the last few days doesn't seem to have made much difference to the water level; it's dropped to the extent that the little bridge is now exposed in Heron's Green Bay. Not the best news for the water company, but it seems to be suiting the birds. By my reckoning at the moment the lake is about 1.8m below top level. Fairly normal for the middle of autumn, but it hasn't been that low at this time of year since 1984; the fabled 'really good autumn'. This year we've got off to an unusually good start with Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a Great White Egret which missed Chew and flew to Blagdon by mistake. Let's hope we haven't peaked too soon!

Wader passage has now really started in earnest, and with all our acres of mud they seem to be dropping in rather than flying straight over. Today's combined reports produced eight Black-tailed Godwits, four Whimbrel, three Little Ringed Plovers, one Curlew, one Oystercatcher, four Redshank, four Common Sandpipers and two Green Sandpipers. Also, single Barn Owl, Kingfisher and Little Egret were seen at Heron's Green.

Summer-plumage islandica Black-tailed Godwit.

No reports of the Lesser Yellowlegs today. Four Black-tailed Godwits and three Common Sandpipers were all that was seen today.

A surprise find at Herriott's Pool this morning was a Lesser Yellowlegs. It showed fairly well on the pool with a Greenshank, then this afternoon it flew down on to the spit in the channel that flows from the other side of the bridge. This evening it then moved to the lake shore on the south-east side of Herriott's End, under the main reedbed, unfortunately most of the time remaining out of view. There were still seven Little Ringed Plovers and three Greenshank at Twycross, and three Green Sandpipers also seen.

A reminder that half-year birdwatching permits are now available.

The Lesser Yellowlegs this afternoon (left two, Keith Vinicombe, right John Martin)

No sign of the LRPs this morning at Twycross, but nine had reappeared there by this evening. There was further evidence of migration with four Greenshank and six Wigeon new-in. Also one each of Egyptian Goose, Redshank, Green Sandpiper and Goldeneye, with a Grasshopper Warbler heard singing on the Grebe Trail..

The lower than usual water level for the time of year has already given us some good swathes of shoreline, so fingers crossed the birding will be good again this autumn. Stratford Bay is thick with weed again this summer (water crowfoot and filamentous green algae); it's strange to see Blackbirds and Reed Buntings hopping about on the surface of the lake!

Little Ringed Plovers have been a bit thin on the ground at Chew in recent years, so ten of them (eight juveniles and two adults) at Twycross this evening was something of a welcome surprise. A record-equalling count, too. Two Greenshank, a Green Sandpiper, a Curlew, seven Little Egrets and a Common Gull were also seen.

A pair of Water Rails has appeared in the channel at Herriott's Bridge with three very small chicks.

Purple Hairstreaks are now flying in the usual spot at the disused car park on the entrance road to the Parkland (50m off the B3114) - go over the barrier and view the tall ash tree from the top of the spoil heap.

The Wood Sandpiper reappeared in front of Stratford hide this morning (it wasn't there yesterday evening). Also seen today were two Black-tailed Godwits, a female Goldeneye, six Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper, a Curlew, a Common Tern and a Nuthatch.

An additional record for Thursday 30th was of a single Lapwing chick seen towards the Blue Bowl end of Stratford Lane; not thought to be part of the two broods now on the shore at Stratford hide as it was clearly larger than those.

Today was the day of the Avon Wildlife Trust's Bioblitz, held at the Grebe and Bittern Trails. Mike Bailey and myself ran four moth traps (two MVs and two actinics) in the nature reserve and brought them up to the picnic site to check with all the punters at 09:00. As luck would have it, the two best moths (both new for Chew) were found later in the morning on the Grebe Trail in the Bioblitz survey area - the bizarre Stathmopoda pedella and Large Tabby - the latter was found hiding behind a sink in the Gent's toilet! The full list of moths taken overnight in my traps and seen this morning on the Grebe Trail can be found by clicking here. A few are still to be determined, mind.

Initial results from the Bioblitz have already turned up some decent records - Great Crested Newts, an Otter (caught by a camera trap as it wandered along the main dam at night), the aforementioned Stathmopoda pedella (third Avon/BRERC record) and the longhorn beetle Agapanthia villosoviridescens (first Avon/BRERC and probably first Somerset record).

Hot on the heels of the new Lapwing brood at Stratford last week, a second brood of four was found in a nearby field this morning - they were led along Moreton Lane and eventually arrived on the shore in front of Stratford hide to join the first brood. These are only the second and third broods at Chew in the last 20 years.

The following were also seen - 42 Lapwings (including the two broods), one Goldeneye, two Common Terns, one Hobby, five Little Egrets, 22 Great Black-backed Gulls (a site record I think), 23 baby Shelducks, 24 Teal, one Green Sandpiper, two Black-tailed Godwits, two Kingfishers, one Yellow-legged Gull, three Common Sandpipers and the male Red-crested Pochard x Tufted Duck.

Four Lapwing chicks, Moreton Lane. (Keith Vinicombe)

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