Sunday 1 December 2019


The lure of one of my favourite birds - a relatively close and apparently reliable Smew proved too much, so I shot up to Chard this morning to see it. The bird was always pretty distant from the Fisherman's carpark at the north end, but it was a joy to watch - diving frequently like Smew do! It's becoming increasingly difficult to see this species locally, in fact I haven't seen one since early 2010 when a pair was upriver from Mudbank, having earlier flown over the Warren (and Kev). I managed to see them from Joel's bedroom window but to say the views weren't great is an understatement. Prior to that I've seen a few in Devon over the years - the most memorable being a pair that I found on Newcross Pond (which no longer exists), near Kingsteignton on February 8th 1991. That was back in the day when large bodies of water used to freeze over for weeks, and wildfowl would cram together in the small ice-free patches. I really do miss those days. As well as the Smew the reservoir held at least 36 Great Crested Grebes and good numbers of Redwing were moving around the surrounding woodland.

Chard Reservoir - photographed from the north end. A very nice site and the first time I've been there. It's just inside Somerset but I was surprised how quickly I got there. Arrived at first light, back for breakfast!

Juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose - one of six off Mudbank this morning. Also c100/150+ Pintail.

Two Black Redstarts in the Shelly Beach area this morning. This site is pretty reliable for Black Reds with only one blank winter in recent years.


  1. Beautiful photos Matt, great Male Blackred and pleased you went to Chard Res sorry I couldn’t come with you. Hope to pop to the Marina Monday am šŸ‘

  2. Thanks Derek - always good to see Black Reds. Hope you got 'em this morning. See you soon. Matt

  3. Always great to see a Smew. Certainly less common than in the past but we normally do quite well around London for these. Great shots of the Black Redstarts.

  4. Thanks Neil - as a kid used to go up to Chew Valley Lake on Boxing Day or New Year's Day with dad to see Smew. Pretty much guaranteed back then - not any more. They've never been common in Devon. We do quite well for Black Reds in Exmouth but never tire of them. Good to hear from you. All the best. Matt