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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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  APRIL 2012

A male Green-winged Teal was at Heron's Green Pool today. You'd have to think that it was the same bird as seen on 17th/18th - perhaps the flooding has forced it to relocate to the lake again? A male Garganey was also there, and a Barn Owl was seen this evening.

A day of strong north-easterlies and continuous rain, and yet another Fulmar at the lake this afternoon; the fourth in four weeks. Previously this was an extreme rarity at Chew, but in recent years a few have appeared during windy/rainy weather in spring.

Single Common Tern and Arctic Tern were also on the lake, with 1000-plus Swallows. Much fewer Swifts today. Five Yellow Wagtails were on the lawn at a deserted Picnic Site no.1 this afternoon, a Barn Owl and a Common Sandpiper were at Heron's Green.

There were a lot of miserable-looking Swallows around the lake today. Six thousand miles for this!!

5cm of rain in the last week (2cm of which fell today) has led to the inevitable run-off into the lake. This was Herriott's overspill this afternoon; it might sometimes be like this in November, but not at the end of April. Stratford Lane and the path to Stratford hide were just about impassible today. Still, not a bad month, all things considered!

A day of cold wind and rain bringing the expected thousands of Swifts and Swallows over the lake. Comparatively few House Martins and Sand Martins, though. Single Yellow Wagtails were at Herriott's Bridge and the dam; the latter site also had four White Wagtails and a Common Sandpiper.

A male Whinchat in Heron's Green Bay was the highlight today, with a few other good birds see/heard around the lake as well... A Grasshopper Warbler at Stratford hide, 1000-plus Swifts, 100-plus Sand Martins, one Black Tern, one Common Tern, two Whimbrel, eight Common Sandpipers, a Barn Owl, the female Long-tailed Duck and an influx of Sedge Warblers.

The continuing miserable weather was no doubt responsible for depositing 17 Little Gulls at the lake this morning. Things improved later with the arrival of another Fulmar and an increase in the Little Gull count to 34. 58 terns variously reported as Common Terns and then Arctic Terns joined the Black Tern pair still present, but birds moved out during the afternoon and by this evening only the two Black Terns, three Arctic Terns and a Common Tern were present.

The Little Gull count was the highest since 38 in 1995, but some way behind the record of 74.

Other birds seen today were a Hobby, two Swifts and the female Long-tailed Duck (Herriott's Pool, then in flight south past Nunnery Point this evening). No sign again of the Spotted Sandpiper.

An arrival of terns was the feature today; up to 70, most of which were Arctic Terns arrived at midday, with two Black Terns joining them in the evening.

A few more summer migrants moving through, with a few residents and lingering winter visitors as well... one Black-tailed Godwit, three Whimbrel, two Dunlin, three Common Sandpipers, one White Wagtail, a Grasshopper Warbler (Heron's Green Pool), two Greylags, a Little Egret, the female Long-tailed Duck, two Goldeneye, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (heard near Herriott's Bridge), a Barn Owl and a Peregrine.

One of the three Whimbrel on the main dam this afternoon (Gary Thoburn).

An overnight arrival of Common Sandpipers was evident first thing this morning with a total of 24 seen around the lake; a good spring count for Chew by any standards. Also seen this morning were a Whimbrel (Villice Bay), a Barn Owl and a singing Grasshopper Warbler (Heron's Green Pool) and the Spotted Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool). A late Redwing was trapped.

No sign of yesterday's Iceland Gulls this evening, although a Cuckoo was heard at Moreton.

A late Redwing was trapped at CVRS this morning (left, Mike Bailey). A new aythya hybrid on Herriott's Pool ought to have been a Tufted Duck x Pochard, although it isn't quite like the normal ones we get. It did have a faint whiff of last year's Tufted x RCP about it.

Two adult Iceland Gulls were seen late this evening at Herriott's Pool; one was seen to fly off on to the main lake. Two together is a pretty rare sight at Chew.

Earlier, an Osprey was reported in flight over the lake, with a familiar list of others... Spotted Sandpiper, two Garganey, two Little Egrets, one Long-tailed Duck, two Goldeneye still, four Common Sandpipers, one Snipe, three White Wagtails, c.50 Swifts, five Ravens and a Peregrine.

No sign of the Green-winged Teal today. A Black-tailed Godwit was at Stratford Bay.

The Green-winged Teal was again at BK hide, but there was also another good Chew bird in the shape of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the hedge along Moreton Lane. A reeling Grasshopper Warbler was nearby at Moreton.

Also seen today were three Little Gulls, two Garganey, a Cuckoo, two Common Sandpipers and one each of Sanderling, Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Ringed Plover and Snipe. A good variety of waders for a spring day.

Another surprise today in the shape of a male Green-winged Teal at BK hide; it showed well until late afternoon when it flew off towards Hollow Brook. I'm advised that's the 21st(ish) American bird at Chew since last June. Quite remarkable.

The first Common Tern of the year appeared today (not before time); also seen were three Garganey, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, three Common Sandpipers, the Spotted Sandpiper, one White Wagtail, one Whitethroat, 47 Swifts and at least 500 Swallows.

Today's Green-winged Teal (left, Chris Stone) and the Spotted Sandpiper (right, Keith Vinicombe).

Two Little Gulls were new-in this morning; also seen early on were seven White Wagtails (Main dam), two Little Ringed Plovers (BK hide) and the Spotted Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool).

An Osprey was seen again this morning and this afternoon at various locations around the lake. The Cackling Goose reappeared on Herriott's Pool, where the Spotted Sandpiper remained. Also seen today were the Long-tailed Duck (Villice), three Garganey (Stratford), 50 Swifts and up to 150 hirundines (mostly Swallows). There were up to four White Wagtails on the main dam.

Near... and far away. (Gary Thoburn)

The Cackling Goose flying (right) and cackling (left).

An Osprey was watched circling high over Herriott's carrying a fish late this afternoon; it was lost to view as it headed towards West Harptree. The two Garganey (Stratford, on the shore to the right of the hide) and the first-summer female Long-tailed Duck (main dam/Picnic site No.1) were still present, as was the Spotted Sandpiper (Herriott's Pool). A late Snipe was in Stratford Bay. There were a number of Swallows moving through today, and the first Swifts of the year (30-plus) were seen this afternoon.

With all this talk of droughts and so on, it might be worth mentioning that the lake is currently 75% full (just over a metre below top level), and has been for some weeks. Normally we would expect the level to begin drawing down now until late autumn unless we get some unseasonal rainfall. Usually it would be at or near top level at this time; this is the lowest it's been in April since 1992, so although it might not be such good news for us, or some of the breeding waterfowl, it does mean that there are quite a few muddy margins around the lake so there may be a chance we might get a few waders through this spring. They don't even need to have legs the length of a Black-winged Stilt to find somewhere to land.

The female Long-tailed Duck seems to have just about finished moulting; this is about as advanced as they get in first-summer it seems. More from today at Flickr.

A Red Kite was seen flying west at 13:00; otherwise more of the same... Spotted Sandpiper, two Garganey, the female Long-tailed Duck, two Snipe, two Little Egrets, one Peregrine and one Yellow-legged Gull.

There were a few summer migrants in evidence, with three Reed Warblers and a steady stream of Swallows going through all day (biggest single flock of c.100), and very small numbers of Sand Martins and House Martins.

A Whimbrel was at Nunnery Point this afternoon.

Photographs of the Black-winged Stilt (now at Abbotsbury) do indeed appear to confirm that it is the same bird as at Chew.

No sign of the Black-winged Stilt today. Perhaps it was the bird which appeared at Radipole Lake this morning?

In other news, a Marsh Harrier flew through this evening, as did c.500 Swallows.

Another good bird at Chew - this time a splendid Black-winged Stilt at Stratford hide. Found mid-morning, it remained all day and became the second Chew record, following a pair which stayed for four days in May 1965. The only other in the Avon area was one seen flying down the Severn Estuary off Oldbury Power Station in May 1997.

The Spotted Sandpiper was still at Herriott's Pool; a pair of Garganey were with the stilt in Stratford Bay and five White Wagtails were seen (one at Herriott's and four on the main dam).

A few more photos of today's Black-winged Stilt here and here.

A Ring Ouzel flying over the B3114 at Villice Bay this morning was only the third Chew record; unfortunately it couldn't be relocated. The Spotted Sandpiper (Herriott's), three Garganey (Stratford) and Long-tailed Duck (main dam) were all still present.

An Osprey was seen over the picnic site at 10:30, then it or another at Stratford shortly after. A pair of Garganey, the Long-tailed Duck and Spotted Sandpiper were all still present in the usual places. I saw 44 Shelduck this morning. Might be a record count if I could be bothered to check.

One Osprey was still present first thing, along with a first-winter Kittiwake, but much more unexpected was the appearance of a Fulmar - only (I think) the tenth Chew record, joined later in the morning by a second bird. Two together is a pretty unlikely record count for Chew. Evidently a few sickly birds were forced inland as a few others had been seen on inland waters in the south-east today; one of which was picked up and taken in to care.

An Osprey (re)appeared at 15:30, a Wheatear at Nunnery Point and five Little Ringed Plovers were new-in, but the rest of the birds were similar to the days before... Spotted Sandpiper, two Common Sandpipers, one Green Sandpiper, two White Wagtails, three Garganey, one Little Egret, Long-tailed Duck...

One of today's Little Ringed Plovers (Gary Thoburn).

An Osprey arrived this morning, and was then seen again later in the afternoon. The Spotted Sandpiper, Long-tailed Duck, and three Garganey were all still present.

The Spotted Sandpiper was with a Common Sandpiper on Herriott's Pool today - it's now moulted in a few spots as well. Three Garganey were still at Stratford, but there wasn't much in the way of new birds... three House Martins, 170 Sand Martins, one Pintail, one Wigeon, the Egyptian Goose and the female Long-tailed Duck still.

Four Black-tailed Godwits were new-in today.

Up to two Marsh Harriers were seen today - this species, although still scarce is being seen more frequently at Chew in the last few years. Three Garganey (two males and a female) were on the island at Stratford hide this afternoon, with other birds seen as follows... One Swallow, c.200 Sand Martins, one Willow Warbler, one White Wagtail, one Snipe, the Spotted Sandpiper at Herriott's Pool and the female Long-tailed Duck at the main dam still.

Nice to see a couple of male Garganey close(ish) in front of Stratford hide today.

The female Long-tailed Duck is currently in rapid moult - compare this picture taken on 31st March with the one taken two weeks ago on the March page - she's moulted in a lot of brown feathers on the head, and has grown a new tail since then.

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