I was doing a water bird count this morning and got off to a good start when I saw the female red-breasted merganser fly out of the roost on Ibsley Water with 5 goosander and fly north up the valley, disappearing over Ibsley Church. At Ivy North hide a bittern was one view and I also saw 2 water rail. I then circled round to count Ellingham Lake, then to the eastern side of Ibsley Water. From the Lapwing hide I had good views, relatively, of the black-necked grebe.
Most of the wildfowl numbers have started dropping now as they begin to move off toward their breeding areas. One exception is the diving duck, pochard and tufted duck, numbers of the last especially have risen quite sharply. Many winter further south and especially west and stop off at Blashford en route back to the continent. Although I have not totalled everything yet it is clear that there were about 600 tufted duck, surely enough to have a chance fo a lesser scaup one day? Tufted duck do also breed at Blashford of course as do moorhens.
Moorhens seem like birds that don’t go anywhere and a good few probably don’t, but some at least visit us from the near continent for the winter. Not every thing is leaving, some birds are coming back. Today I saw the pair of oystercatcher that have been around for a few days, but there was also another bird, so three-quarters of our breeding population are now back.
The pair of oystercatcher were doing display flights for a short while and they were not the only birds displaying, I saw at least four pairs of great crested grebe doing so including the pair below, they did the full weed-dance, but they were quick and I was too slow, so the picture shows them just after they had dropped their beakfuls of weed.
The mild night produced the best moth catch of the year so far with pale and small brindled beauties.
New for the year were twin-spot Quaker and dotted chestnut.
There were also several chestnut and 3 satellite.
Having missed them when I was doing the main count I managed to end the day by catching up with the 2 smew on Ivy Lake, a day that starts with a bittern and ends with 2 smew can’t be bad.