March 2009

One of the highlights of this time of year at Chew is watching the great crested grebes displaying. A photo and a lesser black-backed gull below.

great crested grebes

lesser balck-backed gull

I visited the gull roost at Cheddar Reservoir on 29th. Highlights were a juvenile Iceland gull, an adult little gull, and at least 3 white wagtails in a flock of ca.40 alba wagtails.

My most enjoyable day's birding this year at Chew on 28th. The light was great with strong winter sunlight and a hailstorm. First stop was Herriot's Pool, where the drake ferruginous duck had an unexpected personality change. This (presumably it's the same individual) bird has been a regular visitor for at least 7 years, and can disappear for days. Even on the best of days it is usually difficult to spot the the back of the pool. Last Sunday I spent ages trying to string every female tufted duck into a ferruginous, but when you see this bird, it stands out a mile. For the first time I've seen, the bird became very tame, showing down to 10m or so in front of the road bridge. It was displaying to tufted ducks, bobbing its neck and showing the extensive black collar, presumably to father the next generation of Chew hybrids. Several pages of photos can be accessed by clicking on the image below.

ferruginous duck

Other birds included a pair of greater scaup on Herriot's, 12 goosander, 2 green sandpipers, a redshank, barn owl and raven. At Heron's Green Pool a barn owl flew (another, or the same at Moreton), and roe deer and a brown hare fed beyond the pool. A flock of over 100 hirundines gathered over the lake in the late afternoon - some, probably most of them, were swallows.

The eagle owl perched on the School of Biological Sciences again on 27th. It was still calling on 25th, and perched in its old-favoured sycamore tree on about 17th.

Chew Valley Lake on 22nd. Despite a good range of birds seen yesterday, the only birds of note that I could find were a drake garganey and a little egret on Heron's Green Pool.

Chiffchaffs singing in Clevedon, Barrow, Blagdon and Chew on 15th. About a dozen sand martins at Chew, 2 shelduck at Barrow, and 4 scaup (2 drakes) at Blagdon Lake.

Eagle owl still calling on 12th and 16th

My annual Spring trip to the Forest of Dean on 8th. I set off in conditions that looked promising to see displaying goshawks, but soon after arriving at New Fancy View heavy showers set in, and the wind strengthened. I got soaked, and no birds flew. Activity around the feeders was impressive though, with bramblings showing well. A male, female, chaffinch and coal tit below.


brambling - male

brambling - female


coal tit

The showers eased at about midday, and once the sun shone 3 goshawks appeared at the same time over the distant forest ridges. Other birds in the area included fly-by goosander (3) and male crossbill, 2 ravens and siskins.

The great grey shrike has reappeared at Boy's Grave. It captured 2 lizards in the hour or so that I watched it.

great grey shrike

Cannop Ponds held at least 18 mandarin, a marsh tit and siskins. 3 goshawks flew low overhead.


The only disappointment of the day was at Brierley, where I failed to see any willow tits. There were 2 marsh tits in a spot where I've seen willow tits before, but I wonder if the population is holding on here.

In the evening a barn owl flew in the fields east of Station Road in Flax Bourton - it's been present for a few weeks, but was disturbed by bikers on 9th.

A singing male blackcap in Flax Bourton on 6th.

The Bristol eagle owl still calling on 3rd.

January 2009February 2009April 2009May 2009June 2009July 2009August2009.htmlSeptember 2009October 2009November 2009December 2009