Sunday 19 December – Chew Valley Lake Leader: John Rossetti

An intrepid group turned up at Herriott’s Bridge on this cold damp morning. While we hoped to be looking AT Chew Valley Lake, for most of the time we were looking FOR the lake as thick fog rolled in and around. The forecast suggested a brightening later on, but it turned out this must have been a forecast for somewhere else! Nonetheless we had a small but lively group, lots of conversations and even some birds.
Unfortunately, the always helpful Mike Bailey was unable to show us the ringing station due to Covid considerations. We left Herriott’s with my encouragement that ‘you might normally see a Marsh Harrier from here’, or ‘there are several lovely Pintails at the back in the mist’. We moved on to Stratford Hide. Initially it was very quiet and grey, but eventually we saw the best birds here with views of the superbly camouflaged Jack Snipe in the reeds, nice if brief views of two Bearded Tits, a Water Rail in flight and a Green Sandpiper that landed right in front of us, before flying off with great views of the white rump. We moved on to Herons Green Bay, watching two dabchicks on the small pool opposite while I explained the demise of most of the breeding dabchicks due especially to predation by Pike, along with other predators of duck species like the Great Black-backed Gull which are relatively new to the lake. The final spot was going to the end of Nunnery Point – ‘you would normally get great views of the whole lake from here’ I pleaded, while any thoughts of looking for the diver that had been around were abandoned. Thanks to everyone, and especially Alan who spotted many that I missed. We did manage though to see 54 species in our short morning. Imagine however, going to Chew at this time of year and not seeing a Heron, Egret or any birds of prey! (Thanks to John for leading) John Rossetti