Having failed to hit 200 on Scilly, I was going to pounce on the next opportunity to tick birds. I've had a permit for Chew Valley Lake for six months now, but never got round to actually visiting. Shame on me. Still, the presence of Ferruginous Ducks and Black-necked Grebes meant that - in theory - I could get them both in the same day.
And so it was. Both birds were in amongst the enormous numbers of diving ducks congregating in Heron's Green Bay. I'm pleased with the pic of the Ferruginous Duck. The Grebe shot is lousy, but as the 200th bird for the year (the first time I've ever hit 200), I have to post it!
I started - in driving rain - on the roadside parking that separates Heron's Green Bay and Heron's Green Pool. Very difficult viewing conditions, and I saw neither bird in the throng. On the plus side, I'd never seen so many Little Grebes in one place before.
I moved to shelter, and as the weather improved I progressed to the Stratford and Moreton hides. Very good hides. Well hidden. Although the permit idea is a good one - only birders present - I never once got the impression I would have to produce my permit for anyone. Enforcement aside, and on the bird front, I was beginning to think I'd made the trip for nothing. Both hides offered good views of everything but. Running out of time, I ended up on the grass next to Moreton Cottage. It was here I saw both target birds. The smart Ferruginous Duck was first in my eyepiece (to my great relief), swiftly followed by the Grebe (scruffy in winter plumage). Hard to spot since they don't seem to spend much time on the surface! Only one of each located, but that was good enough for me. Take some photos, and in the calmer conditions have a good long look. The Ferruginous Duck was kind enough to flap it's wings revealing it's white belly.
Finally, I had a look around for the Ferruginous Duck x Pochard hybrid, but drew a blank.
200 for the year now. Mission accomplished! The next task is to get to as high a number as I reasonably can. Anything from here on in is a bonus. One thing's for sure though... I'll be back to Chew.