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31st May 2020 – Chew Valley, North Somerset

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We needed a change of scene and drove south of Bristol to Chew Valley. It was wonderful to go along the lanes I had cycled when I was a boy growing up in this area and seeing the countryside in all its glory. However, I did feel a bit guilty spoiling the fun for cyclists and ramblers as we disturbed the peace of these quiet lanes.

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DSC01196Chew Valley lake

There are two ideal spots to view the birds on the lake. Unfortunately they are just where there are stretches of straight road where cars and motorbikes roar along at ridiculous (and no doubt illegal) speeds. It does seem rather incongruous that the two areas that draw a large number of people (and consequently ice cream vans) that vehicles can travel at such unsafe speeds. However, on this occasion, as bird hides and lakeside are forbidden to us, we did stop there to see the wildlife.

DSC00839You can just make out a  greenshank if you look hard enough

DSC00837The solitary oystercatcher

Herriot’s Bridge, to the east of the lake, was teeming with birds. A friendly bird watcher (I find they are either very obliging or grumpy and secretive) pointed out a distant greenshank. As I was stretching my telephoto lens to its maximum capability I also saw a solitary oystercatcher. Much easier to see were the grey herons and great white egrets even though they were quite far off.

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DSC01261Grey heron

However, eventually one great white egret flew much closer and gave me a glorious opportunity to photograph it in flight.

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One of the frustrations of the lock-down has not being able to see these wonderful (and once very rare) birds which now seem to be here permanently. Even more frustrating has been not being able to see great crested grebes and their young which we look forward to every year.  We were delighted when we were treated to a family of great crested grebes as they came out of the reeds and made off to the lake. We were rather anxious when one chick got separated and was agitated by a group of Canada geese but it safely circumnavigated them.

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DSC01053Great crested grebe

DSC00884Canada geese and goslings

DSC00893A very agressive swan splits the family

On Herons’ Green there wasn’t as much to see except for pied wagtails with their young catching damselflies.

DSC01100Juvenile pied wagtail devouring damselfly

DSC01131Pied wagtail feeding its young a damselfly

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The trip certainly lifted our spirits.