Bird News: Ibsley Water – black-tailed godwit 1, redshank 2. Ivy Lake – bittern 1, scaup 1. Woodland – brambling 1.
Another misty morning and I was not expecting to see much as I opened the hides, in fact the visibility meant that it was not possible to see much from the Tern hide. At the Ivy North hide I had very good views of a Cetti’s warbler in the reedmace and saw a water rail briefly in flight. However it was the Ivy South hide that delivered the surprise of the morning, I scanned around the lake, the usual scatter of tufted duck and shoveler, then I saw a very fine drake scaup. He was head bobbing and neck stretching, clearly keen to take flight, but none of the tufted duck seemed to share this desire to get away. I had hoped this would mean it would decide to stay, but no, within a couple of minutes it was off, circling the lake then off high into the murk to the south-east, the bird of the day well and truly gone.
Several people came into the Centre to ask where they could see the bittern, they were directed toward the Ivy North hide, along with the opinion that they were probably too late and the bitterns had probably gone. I have suggested we have seen the last of the bitterns several times now, you might have thought I would have learnt my lesson by now and once again I was proved wrong. If there is one thing harder to establish than the presence of a bittern it is the absence of one.
I continued clearing rubbish from around the reserve and yet again have filled the skip I ordered and still have more to go into it. One of my rubbish piles was over beside Mockbeggar Lake and on my way there I passed the hawthorn hedge we had a go at layering to thicken a couple of years ago, it is really looking quite good now.
The next stage will be to remove the old fence altogether and keep the hedge trimmed to allow it to really thicken up. It is not as good as the classic plashed hedge of old, but much quicker to do and within my capabilities. It has the additional advantage of retaining enough of the top growth that it will flower and fruit the first season after being done. The leaf buds are starting to open on some of the bushes now and the tiny flower buds can also be seen. These shoots can be eaten and were known as “Bread and cheese”, for some reason the advent of burgers and crisps seems to have dented enthusiasm for nibbling the hedgerows.
We are still awaiting a real arrival of migrants, but I did hear news of an arrival today, a swallow was seen just north of Ibsley village, an impressively early date, especially in a spring when things seem to be on the late side, despite apparently good weather. I also heard that the long-staying whooper swan is still in the fields north of Harbridge church.