A Bittern Battle and a Paleface

Got to Blashford again today, at least for the morning, then off to a meeting at Langford Lakes, north of Salisbury. I was early so I opened up the reserve, which brought the bonus of a great view of 2 bittern in the Ivy Silt Pond, they were occupied having a scrap when I saw them and only broke off when they spotted me. The bitterns were not the only birds of note on the silt pond though, there was also a pair of Mandarin duck perched on one of the fallen branches. All in all a pretty good start to the day.

Looking from the Tern hide there were once again a few diving duck around the wooden rail outside the hide.

drake tufted duck

drake tufted duck

The typical tufted ducks included one with a white face, these birds quite often get misidentified as female scaup, which have white faces, but they are also quite a bit larger structurally different, the bird books often fail to say that tufted ducks can have white faces too.

female tufted duck

female tufted duck

Looking from Ivy South hide there were 105 pochard on Ivy Lake, which is a fairly high count for recent years, although when the lakes were newly created counts exceeded 500. There are several reasons for this decline, for one thing generally milder winters have meant many wildfowl don’t make it this far, short-stopping on the near continent unless the weather gets really cold. However the main reason is that the lakes have developed over time, the most important change has been the increase in nutrients. New lakes are very nutrient poor, or oligotrophic, as plants grow and fish and birds use them they gain nutrients and become more and more eutrophic. Pochard really like eating stoneworts which are classic occupants of nutrient poor lakes, but over time these get replaced with water plants like the Elodea, so beloved by coot and gadwall. These water quality issues are important for wildlife, but also for us as drinkers of water.

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