Saturday 11 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

Eleven people met at a very cold and windy Herriotts Bridge. We were pleased to find Ian Stapp, a CVL regular well-known for his photographs on the Avon Bird Blog, who told us about some of the waders we might find on the mud bank in Herriotts Pool exposed by the low water level. With the help of ‘scopes, careful searching revealed two Dunlins, still sporting their summer black bellies amongst the twenty Lapwing and a dozen Black-tailed Godwits. Six Green Sandpipers cheered us up, with two Kingfishers racing along the back. They perched for long enough for everyone to get a good view, then dashed off in a flash of blue. A couple of Common Sandpipers kept flying around the pool keeping us amused and then to our surprise, a Curlew called and flew over, a rare bird to see at Chew. The duck in their eclipse plumage were mainly Mallard, Teal and Gadwall, but there were also four Shovelers. We were delighted to see three Great White Egrets but it was too cold for the warblers or Reed Buntings to make their presence known. It was unseasonably chilly for us, too; one of us decided to leave early while the rest had no appetite to search for the leucistic Coot known to be about. We moved on to Herons Green to find two more Green Sandpipers under the trees and a Greenshank flew across to Moreton calling. We were excited by evidence of breeding success: in the small pool were families of Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Little Grebes (particularly charming). Looking out across the wider water and including our family of five we found 24 Little Grebes! Moving round to Woodford we enjoyed watching the hirundines. A couple of Sand Martins were found and ten Swifts – for some of us the first Swifts of the month and soon to be gone from our skies till next year. A little walk through the trees revealed very few birds but a Bullfinch was heard. This was enough for most of the party, the drizzle started and we were left with four to visit the dam. Two Common Sandpipers were on the west side and three Egyptian Geese were greedily eating up the food offered at the Salt and Malt. In spite of the cold we were very happy with our finds of waders, families, Kingfishers and Swifts. Thanks to our leader, Robert Hargreaves. Anne Crowe