Something to Sing About

Bird News: Ibsley Watersmew 1, barnacle goose 5, black-tailed godwit 4, yellow-legged gull 1,            Mediterranean gull 5, wigeon c500, peregrine 1. Ivy Lakebittern 2, smew 2, green sandpiper 1.

Another fabulously clear and frosty start and made better by just about the first bird I saw from the Tern hide being a redhead smew, I think an adult female as it is very clean and neat.

Early morning from the Tern Hide

Somewhere out there is the smew, it is a little more visible in the shot below.

redhead smew

I walked round opening the hides in brilliant sunshine and, despite being cold, this had induced lots of bird to sing. The song thrushes were going full tilt, they are magnificent singers when they really go for it. I got a picture of the one below in the top of a tree just beside the path near the Woodland hide.

song thrush belting it out

The bitterns were performing well again today, although there were a few face-offs when they met, they are famously anti-social birds. Things were a little more restrained inside the hide, but not entirely friction free. As noted before some visitors, most conspicuously photographers, do make a habit of occupying the hide for hours at a time, often hogging the best views to the exclusion of others. So far this has led to no more than muttering off, but a bit more consideration would not go amiss.

I had to go down to Ivy Lake in the afternoon to check out a report of poachers, they might regard themselves as unofficial anglers, but the movement of fish they do is a threat to the legal fisheries and involve the theft of fish sometimes worth hundred of pounds. In this case all that was left was a bit of rubbish, another regular sign of anglers having been on site. On the way I saw two redhead smew, presumably the one I saw on Iblsey Water and another, but I am not entirely sure there are not three around. I also came across my first lesser celandine flower of the spring.

the first lesser celandine of the season

For some time a large ash tree in the same area has had a couple of bracket fungi, but after not looking at it for a while I found the brackets have really grown, the tree is probably slowly dying. Luckily it is not going to fall on anyone or anything that we need to worry about, for once a tree can go through all the stages of life and death with all the niches this provides for wildlife.

ash tree with bracket fungi

When I locked the Tern hide I had a scan for the Iceland gull, with no success, there were at least 5 Mediterranean gulls though and the 5 barnacle geese were also there.  I was also pleased to see a good flock of wigeon grazing the western bank, this has the added bonus of trimming the grass to an ideal length for nesting lapwings.

grazing wigeon flock


3 thoughts on “Something to Sing About

  1. I would like to endorse the comments regarding the photograhers hogging the hide yesterday. As a matter of courtesy they could at least give up the space they occupy for a time when the hide gets busy and perhaps keep their thoughts of other peoples camera equipment and lenses to themselves!

  2. With the increase in Bittern activity at ivy north and the amount of noise coming from with in the hide that is not bothering the birds at all why not place some more photographic/viewing slits along the windows this would then ensure all gets a good butchers at the birds the noise inside would reduce (clattering of tripods and high excited voices)shuffling of feet from one end of the hide to the other disgruntled grunts from those that struggle to see thus stamping feet. I feel the height the hide sits would not disturb the birds at all if the openings took place. Most peoples i’ve noted say they cannot see becuase of the damb film over the windows and i have to agree i know the birds welfare is the prority but i aslo feel what has been done is good but over the top food for thought.cheers
    BOBP HWT Volunteer

    • What does become very clear in the hides with one way glass is the relative unimportance of noise, unless it is loud bangs or shouts, the disturbance comes from the birds seeing movement. This runs rather contrary to the “Quiet when entering the hide” notices we are all used to seeing. The Woodland hide also bears this out. At both locations the birds behave as thought there are no observers in the locations where they cannot see the observer. This contrasts with the parts of the same hides that do have opening windows, at the Woodland hide woodpeckers very rarely feed by the open windows but habitually do so on the other side. I accept that this limits the opportunities for photographers, but the main objective of the hides is to allow good views of the birds for people, only some of whom are photographers.

      The large windows allow more people to see the birds, incidentally they also mean that at least some viewing chances are not completely occupied by photographers, who I’m afraid are rather in the habit of occupying a chosen spot for many hours. Although I am often told the approach we have taken is unnessary, but I would also observe that I and many others have reported their best views of birds and behaviour from exactly these two hide with one way glass. I think it undeniable that for wary species with good eyesight it does a job that cannot be matched by a traditional hide. In a sense I am saying that I will let the behaviour of the birds make my case. Blashford is one of many reserves with hides looking at similar habitat, surprisingly the two hides in question seem to deliver the some best views despite their supposed shortcomings.

      Personally I have been generally pleased with the results delivered by our hides. I believe that a hide should aim to give a view that you will not get any other way, otherwise it is just a shelter. It is not a substitute for good fieldcraft, but allows many more people to get an up close experience than would otherwise be the case. Blashford is a very busy site with a large number of families and children visiting at times, we aim to give a good experience of a range of common and slightly less common wildlife, an introduction for many to the undoubted delights of wildlife watching without the need for advanced optics or honed field skills. In the end it will be mass support for the idea that wildlife is an asset to be cherished that will save it, not nature reserves.

      I am sure this debate will run and run, these are just two hides out of many in Hampshire alone, most hides do match up to the traditional “favourite” pattern, without a bit of experiment we cannot assess different ways of doing things.

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