Bird news: Ibsley Water – grey plover 1, peregrine 1, ruddy duck 1, barnacle goose 5. Ivy Lake – bittern 1, Cetti’s warbler 2, smew 1.
All of today’ s bird news comes courtesy of visitors as I managed to avoid pretty much all the wildlife. This is not to say that I saw no wildlife, just none of the more notable things. Near the Ivy Silt Pond a party of 5 bullfinch were good value, they were eating the buds on one of the sallow trees. Nor were these the only bullfinch I saw, at least three were at the entrance gate and another three or four in the hedge alongside Ellingham Drove beside Mockbeggar Lake. I also had reports of groups near the Lichen Heath and on the Rockford path. We always have a few about the reserve but this seems like the result of a bit of an arrival of birds, possibly in response to the cold weather.
The ringers were in again this morning and had a good session catching over sixty birds, mostly siskin, but including a few lesser redpoll, goldfinch and a goldcrest.
Ringing offers real insights into the lives of birds, it tells us where they go and how long they live, all crucial to understanding how best to conserve them. I never cease to be amazed at the information it throws up, recently an oystercatcher has passed the forty-year old mark and one of the greenshank ringed at the Wildlife Trust’s Farlington Marshes reserve when I was working there has been caught sixteen years later. The ringing of siskin and lesser redpoll at Blashford has already shown that they return year after year, despite breeding in Northern England, Scotland or even further afield, they really do benefit from the reserve being here.
Of course part of the reason for many of the birds visiting is that we put out food for them, something that a lot of the birds were very grateful for today as it was very cold, making their need to take on calories the more urgent. The fat feeder outside my office was busy with birds all day.
Not the greatest picture as it was taken through the window with the camera just held up to the glass. It is not just food that is put out that benefits the birds though, hopefully if we get the management of the reserve right there will be more natural food as well and the very act of providing a safe place means that birds do not have to move about as much and can conserve energy, especially important when times are tough.
There were some god sightings on the reserve today, the highlight must be the grey plover seen on the shore of Ibsley Water at the Lapwing hide, they are scarce here at any time of the year, but winter records are especially unusual. The bittern showed exceptionally well at the Ivy North hide in the afternoon and the redhead smew is now in also to be seen there. Just as the two did last year it is frequenting the edge fo the reedmace and lurking under the overhanging trees.
From slightly further afield came news of over 450 common gull on Mockbeggar North Lake, an exceptional count, but consistent with the trend of numbers increasing dramatically in cold weather. Another cold weather arrival was the ruddy duck drake, I assume the same one as earlier in the winter which seems to head off when it gets mild only to return after a couple of frosts.