Chew Valley Lake & Blagdon Lake, Somerset, 12 December 2011

An extremely early start from Norfolk (3am!) had me at Herriott's Bridge on the south side of Chew Valley Lake by first light. I then spent the morning scanning the lake margins from here and Stratford Hide with very little to show for my efforts. The only birds of note were a single female each of Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Goldeneye, c70 Linnets, Grey Wagtail and a couple of Cetti's Warblers singing near the hide. Importantly there were no waders at all apart from a loafing flock of Lapwings. Things were not looking good.

Nice rainbow but no waders! Chew Valley Lake

 As I entered Stratford Hide for yet another stint there was one other birder present, none other than Rich Andrews who said 'are you wanting to see the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper?' and then he went onto give me directions to where he'd seen it this morning at nearby Blagdon Lake! I hot footed it there as quick as I could to be greeted by some other birders including Keith Vinnicombe and informed that the flock had flown 10 minutes before I arrived. Jesus Christ! Keith took my number in case he found it again and I gambled and headed to the east end of the lake to search. Walking in from that end I soon found the flock of Dunlin (which even then flew and I had to wait for them all to settle again) and within a few minutes I picked out the very distinctive Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and my bogey bird was finally bagged! Moving closer I managed to get within 50 meters for some great views with local birder Nigel Milbourne and 2 of his mates. The flock also contained the 2 juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers as an added bonus. The lake also had 10 Bewick's Swans while a Common Buzzard was flushed as I walked back.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, copyright Nigel Milbourne

Long-billed Dowitchers, copyright Nigel Milbourne      
The successful scene, Blagdon Lake

I decided to return to Chew Valley for the rest of the afternoon finding 2 Green Sandpipers in Heron Green Bay, Water Rail, Mediterranean Gull and [Black Swan] at Herriott's Bridge before heading into Bath for an impromptu overnight stay. 


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