Swifts, Chew Valley Lake


Heron’s Green Bay is where I’ve seen the herons, or rather egrets. I must remember that because I’m always confusing it and Herriott’s Pool – two t’s in this seems to be the consensus for its spelling. The Bay is the first public access point on the way in from Bristol if one follows the west side of the Lake.

So, that’s where I started today, even though my double quest of ferruginous duck and yellow-legged gull have been reported at the Pool. Not much at Heron’s Green propelled me on past the Blue Bowl and the Crown at West Harptree and round to the causeway at Herriott’s Pool. No duck and only one candidate gull, which refused to show its legs – story of my life. I’m not going to call it without that diagnostic, no matter how convinced I am of its other field marks.

That left Stratford Bay hide, for which my permit came into play. Now, I’d been seeing many swifts from both previous vantage points but the numbers above this last location… at first I called them dozens. Then I had to go to hundreds after an attempted count. Then walking to the hide and back, I realised that the birds stretched not only from horizon to horizon but out across the entire lake.

Thousands. And if I say two thousand, I believe I’m selling the spectacle short. I just had to stop and watch: they were everywhere. And a marvellous recompense for a double dip. So was this cheeky jackdaw, who was much easier to photograph than the swifts!

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