Tern rafts and whistling wigeon, Autumn must be hear..

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Ed bringing the tern rafts in

Apologies for this late post, but yesterday the Thursday volunteer group were out ever eager to do tasks, today Ed and myself with the help of the volunteers got the Tern rafts in for their annual clean up.

Ed was going out with the boat and towing the Tern rafts back to the slipway on Ivy lake, where myself and the volunteers were waiting. Once the Tern rafts were on the slip way it was all hands to the shovels to shovel off all the gravel, pumice and shale of the rafts and lift them up out of the water and onto higher ground. One or two of the Tern rafts are in need of repair as the plywood base has rotted (as one of the volunteers found by putting his foot clean through the base), Ed has said we have the materials to repair the rafts and there might be a good chance of building one or two more Tern rafts.

 

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The volunteers busy with shovels and weeding the tern rafts

 

This is great news as the four Tern rafts have been very succesful and by adding a few more hopefully the Tern colony will grow. Also this means that there is another task to add for the volunteer group, I am sure they will enjoy repairing and building new rafts which will be done over the coming months. Once again I would like to thank all the volunteers that turn up for the Thursday work party, without there help a lot of important jobs on the reserve wouldn’t get done.
Over the last few days a good number of wigeon have been arriving at Blashford, now wigeon are my favorite species of wildfowl. Not the most spectacular of wildfowl species to most people, but they have quite distinct plumage.
Drakes (males) in breeding plumage have grey backs, white bellies and pink chests. The head is chestnut in colour with a buff forehead, while the tail is predominantly black. After moulting, when the plumage is said to be in ‘eclipse’, the drakes resemble the females, which are grey or buff-coloured birds with a white underside. The drakes are rather more rufous than the females, however. Juveniles look very similar to females. What i really like about the wigeon is there call, they whistle making a distinctive whistling call ‘wheeooo’. This to me heralds the true sign of Autumn as these sounds of the whistling wigeon remind me of when I use to work on reserves on the saltmarsh by the sea. Wigeon feed in large groups and to see a group of wigeon of several hundred strong feeding on wetlands is a great sight. Wigeon are fairly long lived birds ( I think the longest lived wigeon recorded is 30 + years old) and are mainly grazers feeding on aquatic vegetation and grasses, but there numbers are on the decline as much of our wildfowl species are.
Better stop talking about wigeon now before this turns into a book about them.
Another definite sign of Autumn is the fungi, now I am certainly not that good on my fungi identification but i have been told that there are some good varieties of fungi to be found at Blashford.
Today I saw some huge fungi, I think they are parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), (if anyone thinks different please let me know). They looked quite spectacular.

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Parasol Mushroom

General sightings around the reserve, Kingfishers are being seen regularly from Ivy North and South hides and also Ivy silt pond. All the lakes are starting to get a good mixture of wildfowl, species such as mallard, wigeon, teal, gadwall, shoveler, pochard, tufted and teal. The numbers of all these species will grow over the coming weeks as Autumn and winter takes its grips and hopefully a few more species of duck will join the list , species such as pintail and goldeneye.Great white egret is now back on Ivy lake, goods views can be seen from Ivy north hide or the views screen on the Rockford footpath looking back at ivy north hide.
A few waders showing on Ibsley water, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing and Ruff seem to be the most commonest at the moment.

Until next time……………..

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