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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The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and two Long-billed Dowitchers were both in Stratford Bay this morning, before being flushed by a Peregrine and clearing off to Blagdon. The Sharp-tailed then returned to Chew, but the two dowitchers then flew to Catcott Lows (proper Somerset) before returning to Chew this afternoon. The Spotted Sandpiper was reported again in the channel immediately north of Herriott's Bridge.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper finally showed well on four occasions in front of Stratford hide today after being flushed by a Peregrine. The two Long-billed Dowitchers were also there (only seen until 09:00) and the Spotted Sandpiper was again at Herriott's; once even being reported in the channel on the lake-side of the bridge.
Also seen today were five Green Sandpipers, an Egyptian Goose and the male Red-breasted Merganser.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper remains, although the Dunlin flock it is with has reduced to 25 birds. The juvenile Great Northern Diver (sailing area) and Jack Snipe (pool in front of Stratford hide) were both still present.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was again with the small Dunlin flock at Herriott's End, occasionally showing reasonably well from Stratford hide. Note that the closest the bird gets to Herriott's Bridge is 250 metres, but yesterday afternoon it showed reasonably well briefly at 160 metres range from Stratford hide before it moved back towards the River Chew.
Strong November westerlies in recent years have been good at producing a Great Northern Diver or two, and today was no exception, with a juvenile seen between the Roman Shallows and Little Denny this afternoon. We must be pushing 180 species for the year at this rate. The exceptionally long-staying Grey Phalarope was also seen from Stratford hide today, as were seven Bewick's Swans, the late female Garganey, one male Greater Scaup, the male Red-breasted Merganser, 34 Golden Plover, one Black-tailed Godwit, 54 Dunlin, 20-plus Snipe, our first Jack Snipe of the autumn (on the pool in front of the hide - our 34th wader species this autumn), and a juvenile Peregrine. The Spotted Sandpiper was still on Herriott's Pool, and a Belgium-ringed Chiffchaff was controlled at CVRS this morning. A Bittern was seen in the dry reedbed to the right of Moreton hide.
A rummage around Moreton and Stratford hides in recent days produced nine hibernating Peacock butterflies and a Herald moth.
Not bad here either... two Long-billed Dowitchers, a first-winter male Ring-necked Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and Red-crested Pochard.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was again present in Stratford Bay, showing on occasions closer to the hide than it has done before. The two Long-billed Dowitchers were also back, and showing well in front of Stratford hide. Also seven Bewick's Swans, one Water Pipit, 48 Dunlin, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Mediterranean Gull and a Greater Scaup were seen from there. Don't forget you will need to have a permit to use the hide. The Spotted Sandpiper was still on Herriott's Pool.
The Great Grey Shrike was still present, favouring hedges by the ploughed field, but distant.
THURSDAY 24th CHARLTON FIELD:
A Great Grey Shrike was found yesterday, and is still present today at ST643660. It was "around a ploughed field by a lane".
Still the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper remains, from Herriott's Bridge with the Dunlin flock, but is often tricky to see if it moves to the east side of the bay. The Spotted Sandpiper was still on Herriott's Pool today, where a Bittern was seen again in flight at 16:37. Also seen today were ten Bewick's Swans, one Greater Scaup, 43 Dunlin, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Green Sandpiper, 20 Snipe and a Peregrine.
The juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still present at Herriott's End today, occasionally proving difficult to see. Presumably that's because it was lurking in the woodland nearby, as this article in the Western Daily Press would indicate. By the time the story hit the Bristol Evening Post today it had become commendably well-researched, although they let themselves down a bit in the printed paper by showing a photo of 'the' bird which wasn't. There was also this in the Daily Express. Let me know if you spot any others and I'll post a link here.
The two Long-billed Dowitchers showed well from Stratford late on before being flushed by a Peregrine and flying very high towards Blagdon. The Spotted Sandpiper was again on Herriott's Pool. Other reports were of two Peregrines, one Water Pipit, 21 Snipe, one Green Sandpiper, 39 Dunlin, one Black-tailed Godwit, two Goosander and eight Bewick's Swans.
Everything still here today... the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitchers, Spotted Sandpiper and Grey Phalarope. Also ten Bewick's Swans and two Mediterranean Gulls. A number of reports of a first-winter Ring-billed Gull this morning proved to be of misidentified Common and Herring Gulls.
The juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper remained at Herriott's End this morning, along with the two Long-billed Dowitchers. The Spotted Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool causeway), Bittern (Herriott's Pool) and the Grey Phalarope (Nunnery Point) were also still present.
The "Little Stint" present with the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper today and yesterday, and here since 10th has been identified from photographs as a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. See next month's news page for more details.
They might be appalling photographs, but it's a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. At Chew. OMFG, as people say on the internet.
The most rarity-laden day of the most rarity-strewn autumn ever at Chew... the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper relocated from Blagdon overnight and spent all day with a small flock of Dunlin at Herriott's End; in doing so it became one of the rarest birds ever to be seen here. It shared its chosen corner of the lake with two Long-billed Dowitchers, and just over the road on Herriott's Pool was the Spotted Sandpiper. Four BB rarities from the same spot!
Elsewhere on the lake, the Grey Phalarope remained off Sutton Wick, with other birds recorded as follows: two Black-necked Grebes (Sutton Wick), at least four Water Pipits, two Black-tailed Godwits, 31 Dunlin, one Little Stint, one Peregrine, one Red-breasted Merganser and ten Bewick's Swans.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper becomes the 33rd species of wader to be recorded at Chew this autumn; we still haven't seen a Jack Snipe.
BLAGDON: A second-winter Ring-billed Gull was seen by a number of birders this morning.
Sadly, photographing the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper today would have been beyond the laws of physics, so we'll have to make do with a picture of the unusually large crowd at Herriott's Bridge this morning. I think the last time we had this number of people was for the Booted Eagle in 2000.
The Spotted Sandpiper was still on the dam wall at Herriott's Pool today, and the two Long-billed Dowitchers from Blagdon were again in Stratford Bay, along with two adult Bewick's Swans, an Egyptian Goose, 27 Dunlin and one Little Stint.
The shite autumn continues with a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at the Lodge today. Please see Blagdon Lake Birds for access arrangements and a couple of photos.
An arrival of Greylag Geese was the highlight today - nine at Chew and a further five at Blagdon. They appeared to be of European origin. The Spotted Sandpiper was still on Herriott's Pool, and a Woodcock was seen in flight there at dusk.
Three of today's Greylags at Moreton Bank (Keith Vinicombe), and the adult Spotted Sandpiper at Herriott's Pool (Alex Carlisle).
A misty, murky day, hence coverage was difficult... two Bewick's Swans, two Black-necked Grebes, the Bittern again on Herriott's Pool at 16:50, one Garganey (in front of Stratford hide), and one Little Stint were amongst the reports today.
A flock of 12 Bewick's Swans arrived at Twycross today, with the bird still present in Stratford Bay making it a total of 13 at the lake - a decent number by recent standards. The Bittern again showed at Herriott's Pool in reeds on east side before flying across to the west bank at 16:50.
The rest as follows: Two Black-necked Grebes, four Goosanders, 24 Dunlin, three Green Sandpipers, 15 Snipe, and one each of Greater Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, Curlew, Ruff, Little Stint, Grey Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Water Pipit (about time too), Peregrine and Kingfisher. The latter have been in very short supply this autumn; presumably they were hit badly in the cold winter.
The Spotted Sandpiper was still on the dam wall at Herriott's Pool this afternoon, occasionally wandering as far as the lay-by, giving some unusually good views as it did so. On the other side of the bridge, the adult Bewick's Swan remained, along with one Ruff, 20 Snipe, 22 Dunlin and a Little Stint. The Grey Phalarope was again off Sutton Wick this morning and the Bittern was seen again at 16:30 as it flew from the east to the west side of Herriott's Pool.
A fine November day with a fair variety of decent local patch birds. A Grey Phalarope was off Sutton Wick today; one had been reported there on Friday 11th. No sign of the Spotted Redshank flock today, but by way of compensation were one each of Bittern (Herriott's Pool), Bewick's Swan (Herriott's End) and Marsh Harrier (a female which appeared to roost in the main reedbed at 16:20). The Spotted Sandpiper was also reported as still being present.
Other birds... three Grey Plover, two Black-necked Grebes (Sutton Wick/Spring Bay), one Egyptian Goose. four Red-breasted Mergansers (main dam), two Greater Scaup, one Red-crested Pochard, 46 Goldeneye, two Goosander, ten Dunlin, one Little Stint, two Green Sandpipers, 13 Snipe, one Redpoll and one Peregrine.
Five Red-breasted Mergansers (including a flock of four off Spring Bay) was a good count for Chew, but as good counts go they were soon eclipsed by a flock of 24 Spotted Redshanks at Herriott's End; the first double-figure count since 1991. The Spotted Sandpiper was still at Herriott's Pool this afternoon; two Ruff, a Black-tailed Godwit and 281 Lapwings were at Herriott's End, and two Black-necked Grebes were off Spring Bay.
It seemed like as good a time as any to dust off the Spotted Redshank spring (purple) and autumn (blue) annual maxima graph. A count of 36 as reported in the 1980 Avon Bird Report has since been discredited as being a load of old tosh.
The Spotted Sandpiper was still at Herriott's Pool today - you'd have to wonder whether it's thinking about wintering here. Other news from around the lake as follows... two Black-necked Grebes, one Egyptian Goose, two Greater Scaup, one Goosander, 11 Dunlin, one Little Stint, six Green Sandpipers, one Yellow-legged Gull, one Peregrine, a first-winter Little Gull and a good combined count of 300 Linnets. The highest count of those I can find is of c.1000 in September 1962.
The reeds along the shore at Stratford hide have now been cut; hopefully we might get a Jack Snipe or two on the pool in front of the hide.
A Yellowhammer flew NW towards Moreton - a good bird for Chew.
One of the Blagdon Long-billed Dowitchers was at the lake today, with a few other waders as well... three Grey Plover, one Black-tailed Godwit, one Ruff, 25 Dunlin, one Little Stint, five Snipe, two Green Sandpipers and the Spotted Sandpiper still. There were three Greater Scaups (two males and a first-winter), a pair of Red-crested Pochards, two Black-necked Grebes, three Goosander and 30-plus Goldeneye.
A first-winter male Ring-necked Duck was seen in Stratford Bay today. The 14th American bird seen at Chew this autumn!
The Cackling Canada Goose (or some such similar small-type) was at Stratford Bay/Sutton Wick this morning. A Red-breasted Merganser was seen at the dam, an Egyptian Goose and a Little Stint were also seen.
The 'Cack' Goose. (John Martin).
The male Lesser Scaup was again seen at East Shore, best viewed looking north from Sutton Wick. The Grey Phalarope was also still present off there. The Spotted Sandpiper remained on Herriott's Pool, and the Cackling Canada Goose, Ferruginous Duck and Ring-necked Duck were also all seen today.
Others on the list today were two Black-necked Grebes, two Little Egrets, one male Greater Scaup, one Grey Plover and a Little Stint.
An adult male Lesser Scaup (the third CVL record) was found this morning off the East Shore; the duck flock then flew down the lake into Stratford Bay and it wasn't relocated. The Grey Phalarope was still present off Sutton Wick, and the Cackling Canada Goose was also seen again. The male Ferruginous Duck, a male Greater Scaup and two Black-necked Grebes were also seen from Sutton Wick.
The two Long-billed Dowitchers were still at Bell's Bush today.
The male Lesser Scaup (right). (Keith Vinicombe).
The Spotted Sandpiper was still at Herriott's Pool today, and a new arrival was a 'hutchinsii'Cackling Canada Goose; it was seen briefly before flying back to Blagdon with the Canada Goose flock, where it had first been seen yesterday. Other highlights were four Common Scoter, the male Red-breasted Merganser, two Black-necked Grebes, the Ferruginous Duck, one Little Stint, a Mediterranean Gull and a Merlin.
A Grey Phalarope was a nice find at the Roman Shallows this morning; other waders included 35 Golden Plover (a decent count nowadays), one Grey Plover, one Little Stint, seven Dunlin, three Black-tailed Godwits, one Green Sandpiper, one Redshank and the Spotted Sandpiper still.
Also around the lake were two Black-necked Grebes, a pair of hybrid shelducks, the Red-breasted Merganser and Ferruginous Duck, one Red-crested Pochard, a Greater Scaup, two Water Rails and a Little Gull.