Although it was another unpromising start to the day as we arrived to open up a distinctly soggy reserve under grey skies and light rain, the great spotted woodpecker was drumming from a large tree next to the Centre. A song thrush too was assuring us that spring was here with its distinctive repetitious singing of differing phrases. Trumping even these two was the wonderfully evocative sound of a chiffchaff calling out its own name in song.
Over Ibsley Water sand martins were seen hawking for insects. Whether these birds will be staying with us in the recently refurbished sand martin bank, or are just some of those moving through we will never know.
It’s very much a period of shift change as some of the late winter visitors haven’t all departed yet. Indeed the probable late winter/early spring shortage of natural food means we seem to be hosting ever larger numbers of brightly coloured finches, taking advantage of the largess of the Trust in providing considerable quantities of niger seed, sunflower seed and peanuts. As well as the siskin and redpoll coming into their breeding finery there are quite large numbers of (forty or more) around the Woodland Hide with at least ten brambling. Some more brambling, and other finches including greenfinch, are around the feeders near the Centre car-park. (Picture taken by Sheila).
A buzzard has been making its presence fairly obviously around the Woodland Hide, much to the consternation of some of the smaller birds and a few of our visitors. One even asked if it had been taking many of the smaller birds, personally I should think this unlikely as most of the finches and tits are probably too agile to be caught by a buzzard. Most likely its scavenging some of the spilt food, I’ve had a friend ‘phone me today reporting just such buzzard behaviour from her garden.
The snipe has been re-located from the Ivy North Hide but there has been (to my knowledge) no sighting of any bittern today – hence the title of this piece (Just in case you were wondering if there is a strange species of tern on the reserve!!!).
Still a few ducks around including pochard, wigeon, teal, mallard, gadwall, tufted duck and goldeneye. A couple of keen-eyed visitors spotted a pair of mandarin duck on Ibsley Water and some black-necked grebe are also still there.
Perhaps the most delightful sighting was by a couple of regularly visitors who were fortunate enough to see a barn owl flitting from post to post on the fence alongside Rockford Lake. The owl was trying to hunt in the open, but was being mobbed by black-headed gulls, the whole menagerie eventually flying off in the direction of Ivy Lake.
I think this is the first barn owl record for the Lakes in “modern times”.