Spring on it’s way?

Seem’s a bit early to be thinking about spring, but that is certainly what the goldeneye on Ibsley Water were thinking about this morning. I could hear the distinctive grumbling calls of the males even before I had unlocked the hide and sure enough once I was in and looked out there they were, nice and close, two drakes and one duck. The males were grumbling at each other and cavorting around with their helmet like “crests” raised, throwing their heads backwards and forwards and rearing up out of the water at each other. A lovely, if somewhat comical, sight even if it does seem a bit early for thinking about “that kind of thing”. Typically the female was not the least bit interested in the gadding about of the two rival males showing off to each other and her!

The sun has been in and out all day – writing this now mid-afternoon it has clouded over and it is about as dark as it was first thing this morning, but the sun was out when I opened up Ivy North Hide and took this picture:

Ivy North Hide this morning

No bittern to be seen (two reported again for the first time in over a month earlier in the week, so they are coming in!), but there were loads of teal sheltering behind the reed bed amongst and beneath the overhanging willows and some mallard and a little grebe were feeding in the pool beneath the window too (not that you can see any of them in the photo!).

I still can’t quite get over the number of wigeon and shoveler on Ivy Lake at the moment, but this morning it was the gadwall that caught my eye as they perched on the fallen alder outside Ivy South Hide:

Gadwall (tufted duck, coot and wigeon in background)

Gadwall (tufted duck, coot and wigeon in background)

Later on in the day there were also reports of a drake red-crested pochard on Ivy Lake which, like the ferruginous duck seen earlier this autumn is probably a bird that has returned having over-wintered in previous years.

On another note lots of visitors recently have been enquiring about the vacant Reserves Officer post and what, if anything, was happening. The answer, for the time-being at least is nothing! Having unsuccessfully gone through two rounds of job advertisements the post itself is being reviewed in terms of the level and areas of responsibility. Meanwhile the Trust itself is undergoing a review of its conservation and education strategy for the next few years and the outcomes of this will, to an extent, then determine how exactly the Blashford Lakes Reserves Officer post might be developed. Therefore until the Trusts strategy for its work in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight has been agreed and formally adopted the West Team is unable to decide on the role and job description of the Reserves Officer post at Blashford. So watch this space, but there are unlikely to be further developments now until spring.

In the meantime I am pleased to report that Kevin Butcher, who some may know is the Assistant Reserves Officer at Testwood Lakes, has been offered and has accepted two days a week as Assistant Reserves Officer at Blashford Lakes. Starting in the New Year, this will enable us to keep on top of the conservation and site management work in the interim – so say hello when you see him!

And finally a big thank you to the volunteers (mainly Mike and Pete, though I think Rex joined in last week) who have cleared the drains in the main, Tern Hide, car park. After all the rain yesterday I had fully expected to be driving or wading through a pond in order to get to the hide when I opened up this morning and , all thanks to their hard work, it was actually dry as a bone bar a puddle just the other side of the height barrier. So ,as  I say, thanks!



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