Bird News: Ibsley Water – smew 1, black-necked grebe 1, oystercatcher 2, black-tailed godwit 7, Mediterranean gull 6. Ivy Lake – bittern 3, water rail 2, Cetti’s warbler 1, smew 1.
A much milder night has seen a thaw of the remaining ice, much to the benefit of the bitterns, at least three of which were in evidence again for most of the day. The brighter of the two smew was also on Ivy Lake in front of the Ivy North hide for a time and I saw the duller bird on Ibsley water as I opened up. At the Ivy North hide first thing, I spotted one bittern just visible round the trunk of the tree off to the left of the hide.
The mild night resulted in a modest catch of moths including an oak beauty, hebrew character and chestnut.
Looking ahead the next few days do have a very spring-like appearance, perhaps we will even see a sand martin before the end of February. The wild daffodils are starting to come out and will be sped up by a bit of warmth, meanwhile the snowdrops are still looking good, but will soon be finished.
When it comes to finding ways to allow people to get close to wildlife the provision of a hide is a frequent choice, but it is not the only one. Obviously a hide that really works will mean that the wildlife will not know you are watching and will give the truest picture of what they get up to. With some wildlife habituation is a possibility, this technique relies on the fact that many species will get used to a moderately close approach under certain conditions. Wildfowl like to be able to see a threat, this is why they will actually follow a fox along the shore of a lake, a threat they can see cannot surprise them. Likewise they will see humans a s a threat but can learn to tolerate people within defined limits. With this in mind I have been cutting the vegetation alongside the path to the Ivy South hide to produce a low dense hedge. This means the ducks can see people but equally the barrier means they can easily see that we are not too close. This is slowly producing results and recently there have been several gadwall, mallard, tufted duck and a few shoveler using the pond, allowing quite good views without the constraints of a hide.
There was not much other news today, a black-necked grebe on Ibsley Water was new and will perhaps stay to moult. At dusk the numbers of large gulls are again declining, but there was further evidence of the arrival of smaller gulls with at least 6 Mediterranean gulls reported, all adults.