Bird News: Ibsley Water – barnacle goose 5, Mediterranean gull 1 adult, goosander 74+, dunlin 1, peregrine 1. Ivy Lake – bittern 3, water rail 2, Cetti’s warbler 1, teal 96, shoveler 239.
Thankfully a rather warmer day with no frozen pipe problems, we just got away without any snow and the temperature overnight was just high enough not to freeze the overnight rain, although this was a very close thing indeed.
Fortunately for the wildfowl and especially the bittern, kingfisher and other fish-eaters the ice on the lakes was melting rapidly. The morning started at a bit of a run. I had a visiting group to meet at the Tern hide, but before I could do this I had two lads ferreting on the western shore of Ibsley Water to shoo off. Then it was over to the Centre to open up for the basket making course and then meet the volunteers for the First Sunday of the Month task.
There were only four volunteers but this was just right for pollarding a line of willows without getting in each others way.
During the morning 3 bittern were again seen from the Ivy North hide, so after lunch I went to see if I could see one.
Although the lakes were thawing there was still a lot of ice covering several. I looked at Rockford Lake, which had good numbers of duck, but no sign of the smew I was hoping for. Ivy Lake had only one good-sized area of open water and it was well filled with duck, especially with shoveler, I counted 239, far and away my largest count ever on the lake. During the rest of the day I saw at least 23 more on other lakes making a respectable 262 in all. A lot were engaged in mass feeding groups, always a spectacular sight.
The 5 barnacle geese were agin on Ibsley Water for a good part of the afternoon, but moved to Ivy Lake to roost. As the gulls started to gather on Ibsley Water I spotted an adult Mediterranean gull, it did not stay though, but headed south with a flock of black-headed gull, presumably to roost on the coast. Returning at dusk there were lots more gulls, but nothing of any great note. A single dunlin was the first I had seen there this year and at least 74 goosander came into roost.
It was also another good day for mammals, near the Woodland hide I saw a weasel, the first I have seen on the reserve for several months. On the way to the Ivy South hide the usual family party of roe deer trotted down the path ahead of me. On the northern shore of Ibsley Water there were three foxes, two asleep and one walking the shore. Then, of course, there were the usual grey squirrels and rabbits.