A warm welcome at Blashford Lakes

130209Blashford2 by J Day

I mentioned the general increase in bird song a few blog entries ago, and this trend has continued. The last couple of mornings it has been this song thrush that has been particularly making itself heard, not least because it is favouring a song post in an old elder immediately above the entrance gate that we unlock every morning. A warm welcome in the morning indeed.

130209Blashford1 by J Day_resize

Bittern continue to cavort across Ivy Lake and the surrounding environs, the green-winged teal has been showing well, this morning at least, and wigeon, like those pictured here outside Ivy South Hide continue to dominate the wildfowl.

As promised, I did run the light trap last night, though I had not anticipated the rain that fell and which sadly kept the catch down. So pictured here is the catch in its entirety! One pale brindled beauty and one Tortricodes alternella (thanks to Hants Moths for my identification of the latter):

130209Blashford3 by J Day_resize

Pale brindled beauty

130209Blashford4 by J Day_resize

Tortricodes alternella

130209Blashford1 by J Day_resize

I spent the morning finishing off the reconstruction work to the upper Dockens Water debris dam that was started with the Thursday volunteer team – here’s the end result, unfortunately I missed the “before” photo. Originally constructed as part of a river restoration project in 2006 the constant and extreme flood conditions of the last few months had wreaked havoc, punching a fair-sized hole through that was flowing down the old canalised channel even at normal water level. We have now completed a willow “fedge” in front and behind the original log jam that will allow water to flow through for the time-being, but prevent the situation from worsening and then trap silt, sticks, leaves and other water-borne debris in the autumn, thus effectively re-sealing the gap.

After a short talk to a visiting group after lunch I headed out to see what else the volunteers have been up to in the willow scrub/reed bed on the way up to Lapwing Hide. I was impressed! Continuing the willow clearance begun with Bob last winter they have cleared significantly more over the last few weeks:

Before:

 130209Blashford2 by J Day_resize

After!

 130209Blashford3 by J Day_resize

The clearing that results will hopefully encourage a re-growth of reed and/or flowering plants, which, sheltered by the surrounding tree’s will in turn favour invertebrates and reptiles. The cleared willows themselves have been formed into a very neat (and photogenic – see below!) dead-hedge which will provide cover for both those animals, small mammals and birds. As it decomposes the dead wood will also provide suitable conditions for deadwood fungi and invertebrates.

130209Blashford4 by J Day_resize

On the way back to the centre I stopped off to look for green-winged teal unsuccessfully, but did catch up with visitors who had seen redhead smew on Ivy Lake (from the southern-most screen). I missed that too, but was delighted by both views of a kingfisher fishing, first in Rockford and then Ivy Lake and by this view of great crested grebes courting:

 130209Blashford5 by J Day

An awful picture of a special sight, which included the full-blown neck stretching, head shaking, weedy gift proffering, body-up-out-of-the-water dancing courtship works!

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