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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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  MAY 2012

The Garganey pair were seen briefly in front of Stratford hide this evening. It's only May and the male is already beginning to moult into eclipse. Or in the case of the Garganey should that be winter plumage?

Another batch of Red Kite observations today; a total of five, of which four passed high N/NE between 11:00 and 13:00. Easily the most seen in a day at Chew. Also seen today was a Barn Owl viewed at long range hunting in fields between the dam and Chew Magna. The Heron's Green Pool birds are still present and being seen regularly. Also two Garganey at Herriott's Pool, and singles of Dunlin, Hobby and Common Tern.

A(nother) Red Kite was seen flying E over Burledge Hill at 09:30. Also reported were one each of Yellow Wagtail (Heron's Green), Spotted Flycatcher (Hollow Brook), Common Tern and Common Sandpiper.

Three Cuckoos today must have been the highest number heard in a day at Chew for some years. Also seen were a Common Tern, a Red Kite over Burledge Hill (E at 16:20), four Hobbies and six Ravens.

A few broods are beginning to appear, with Mute Swan and Shelduck appearing today. Other news today of two Dunlin, two Ringed Plover, an Oystercatcher and two Cuckoos.

Quiet, with little in the way of news all week. Two Cuckoos (Moreton and CVRS) were the highlight, with an Oystercatcher, a Hobby and a Peregrine also seen.

Two Red Kites were seen over Nunnery Point this morning. Also recorded were five Common Terns, three Ringed Plovers, c.50 Sand Martins, one Yellow-legged Gull, a Spotted Flycatcher, and a Barn Owl again at Heron's Green Pool.

A Turnstone was on the main dam, and a Cuckoo was heard calling. Two Black Terns and a Common Tern were on the main lake.

Two Red Kites were seen today; one over Burledge Hill at 12:30 then one flew east and disappeared over Knowle Hill at 13:40.

A female Marsh Harrier (Moreton Bank) and a Sanderling (Heron's Green Bay) were the highlights today. Other birds seen included two Hobbies and singles of Little Egret, Barn Owl, Peregrine and Goldeneye.

Our first dragonfly of the year was seen at Nunnery Point - a Four-spotted Chaser.

A few birds seen this evening - one Oystercatcher, one Ringed Plover, two White Wagtails, a Barn Owl (Heron's Green Pool) and a Hobby which caught a Swift over the lake.

The Pomarine Skua was still present at first light, watched distantly from Sutton Wick, but at 07:30 it sneaked off when nobody was looking. A Red Kite was watched very distantly over Bishop Sutton, and a Barn Owl was showing well at Heron's Green Pool this morning. Other birds seen today were 1000-plus Swifts, a Whimbrel, two Little Egrets, two Goldeneye and a White Wagtail.

By the way, who was talking about unseasonal rainfall? In April we had three times the average rainfall and the lake is now at 100% capacity. It just about laps over the overspill if there's enough of a swell. It can't have done the nesting waterfowl many favours as the level rose by over a metre in little more than three weeks; in fact some ground-nesting passerines have also had nests destroyed by the rising water.

An immaculate summer plumage Pomarine Skua was something few of us would have thought we'd ever get the chance to clap eyes on at Chew until this afternoon. There have only been three accepted records of Pom Skua, and we had to wait until 1999 for the first one of those.

A male Garganey was also seen this afternoon, as was the female Long-tailed Duck (Herriott's Pool) and a Dunlin.

The Squacco Heron was again showing well at Top End today.

Pomarine Skua. Massive thanks to the BW Fisheries staff who went well out of their way to take us out in a boat as fishing was ending this evening. At one point the skua was no more than six feet from the boat. We even heard it call. See a load more here.

Still a few new birds moving through - two Turnstones on Nunnery Point being the best of the bunch. Also two Goldeneye, two Arctic Terns, two Dunlin, three Common Sandpipers, one Wheatear, one White Wagtail, one Hobby and a Spotted Flycatcher (Parkland old road).

Squacco Heron. Still.

A similar feel to the weather, and a similar feel to the birds today... thousands of hirundines and Swifts the Long-tailed Duck, two Common Terns one Hobby, a Lesser Whitethroat, a White Wagtail, and the Barn Owl at Heron's Green Pool.

The Squacco Heron was still present today, in the meadows at Top End.

There were thousands of Swifts and hirundines over the lake today; two Hobbies, two Peregrines, one Dunlin and the female Long-tailed Duck were also seen.

The Squacco Heron remains.

The Squacco Heron was stood in a puddle in the muddy field at Moreton briefly this morning, before flying off to Blagdon. An Arctic Tern was seen this afternoon, when least 1000 Swifts and 500 Swallows were present.

The Squacco Heron showed well again, this time in the meadow east of Top End hide (by the Barn Owl box). Also four Hobbies and a Yellow Wagtail were seen there.

The Squacco Heron was on the shore at Picnic site No.1 first thing this morning; it then flew off and was later relocated at Blagdon. A Spotted Flycatcher on wires at the Blue Bowl and a Red Kite over Heron's Green Bay were the best of the rest, with other reports as follows: Long-tailed Duck (Herriott's), Common Sandpiper, Wood Warbler and four Garden Warblers (Nunnery), Wheatear (Heron's Green Pool), two Hobbies, and Cuckoo (Sutton Wick).

There were large numbers of Swallows again at first light, but as the weather warmed they dispersed and most of them left the lake.

With the unusual grounding of so many hirundines recently it's noteworthy that a few Hobbies have also been similarly affected. Birds have been seen on the ground at Portland, Saul Warth and this morning at Severn Beach, where this remarkable video was taken.

As noted above, the Squacco Heron was relocated in a lakeside meadow on the south shore this afternoon where it showed extremely well. It's the first to be recorded at Blagdon.

More cold north-easterlies, and the main feature again was the number of Swallows over the lake. It's impossible to make an accurate estimate of numbers, but 3000 would be on the conservative side. There were also 1000-plus Swifts, with smaller numbers of House Martins and Sand Martins. A Wood Warbler was seen at Picnic site No.1, and a female Redstart was at the Parkland. Three White Wagtails, a Hobby and three Common Sandpipers were also seen, as was a Barn Owl by the B3114 opposite the entrance to Nunnery. The first-summer female Long-tailed Duck lingers on; she was with Tufted Ducks at Herriott's End this afternoon.

The Squacco Heron was again seen this afternoon; at 15:05 it flew over Herriott's Bridge, past Stratford hide and along Moreton Bank; it couldn't be relocated subsequently. You can see it on here.

It's very unusual to see Swallows and even House Martins take to the trees at Chew like this, even when the weather is poor. They've also been seen resting on the nets over the fish cages - there was even a House Martin sat in the picnic site car park today.

The Squacco Heron reappeared at Picnic site No.1 this morning in front of Lakeside Optics before it headed off towards Picnic site No.2. It was probably also seen yesterday evening at long range flying north at Stratford Bay. The continuing wind and rain saw an impressive gathering of Swifts and Swallows today, with smaller numbers of House Martins and a few Sand Martins - in the region of 10,000 birds were estimated.

No sign of the Squacco Heron so far today; given the continuing poor weather and that relatively few people were out looking today, perhaps it could still be around the lake somewhere. It ranged over the practically whole length of the lake yesterday.

A Whinchat and a Wheatear were on Moreton Lane, a Barn Owl at Heron's Green Pool and a Red-legged Partridge was near North Widcombe. The latter is a rare bird at Chew, but there's often doubt as to the provenance of some of the birds that appear from time to time. One Common Tern was also seen, two Hobbies and two Common Sandpipers were at Herriott's.

The Squacco Heron as it flew over Herriott's yesterday evening (Gary Thoburn).

It never rains but it pours. Carrying on from where April left off, a Squacco Heron was seen today. What was first thought to be a Cattle Egret was seen distantly in flight this morning at the north end of the lake, but it wasn't seen properly until late this afternoon in Stratford Bay when it's true identity became apparent. It showed briefly at the back of Herriott's Pool for a few lucky people, then reappeared again and sat at the top of a tree for a good 25 minutes or so. It wasn't seen again until later when it was relocated in the field behind Herriott's Pool, then it flew back over the bridge and up the lake. It was then reported to be feeding on the shoreline of Denny Island, viewable from BK hide at dusk.

This is the second Sqaucco to be seen at Chew. The first was in May 1973, and was watched by only a handful of people.

Two Hobbies and a Peregrine were also seen at Herriott's this evening.

The Squacco Heron (Andy Davis)

The male Green-winged Teal and male Garganey were both still at Heron's Green Pool today. Two Whinchats and a Barn Owl were also there. There was more evidence of birds on the move, with four Hobbies through (a party of three plus another), one Black Tern, 11 Common/Arctic Terns (four Common seen later), an adult Kittiwake, one Redshank, three Common Sandpipers, an immature male Marsh Harrier, and a Cuckoo.

The recent deluge has seen the water level rise rapidly; we're probably only half a metre or so below top level now.

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