Yesterday we spent the morning preparing the sand martin wall at Ibsley Water with the Thursday volunteer gang. We decided to do it earlier this winter before the lake level rises and the need for waders. The holes are actually drain pipes and need to be cleaned out every year and refilled with fresh sand. This cleans out the nest parasites and allows the birds to dig a fresh tunnel, but it does involve quite a bit of work. Each hole has a small render lip that has to be removed, then the old nest is dragged out with the aid of the a wooden rod and metal hook, the remaining sand is rammed to the back of the metre long pipe with a fence post and phase one is complete. Then each hole needs to be filled almost to the end with new sand and a new lip of render made and fitted.
Unfortunately the martin colony has dwindled to just 32 occupied nest pipes this year, the main reason seemingly that many of the birds have moved to a nesting site in a quarry on the other side of the A338. So our task was completed in just a couple of hours. Of course we all are hoping that the martins will return to the Ibsley Water colony in greater numbers next year.
If has been another good week for birds with the Franklin’s gull again coming into roost on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The long-tailed duck has remained and been seen every day on Ibsley Water, and Wednesday we had 3 black-necked grebes again on Ibsley Water. The starling roosts have continued to be impressive with Tuesday being the best day and some great murmurations against the clear skies, this was really pleasing as I had a birdwatching event at Tern Hide with 16 people and everyone left quite pleased with what they had seen. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, I did the next day but the sight was less impressive against in the overcast conditions.
Also quite an unusual sighting on the reserve is this stock dove that was outside the education centre when I arrived this morning.
We’ve also had a few reports of birdwatchers wondering around Mockbeggar Lake looking for the Franklin’s gull, this lake is not part of the reserve and the lake manager has asked if birdwatchers would please stay out. The gull has not been seen on Mockbeggar lake indeed it’s whereabouts during the day remains unknown.