Kitt’s Grave visit and bittern on Ivy lake

Yesterday saw the regular Blashford Lakes volunteer team head up to Kitt’s Grave, another Trust reserve near Martin Down in the north-west of the county. We teamed up with staff from Natural England to clear a block of scrub to help maintain open grassland for the sites many butterfly species. We made amazingly quick progress cutting back some really spikey blackthorn, bramble and gorse, and soon had a nice bonfire going. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my memory card with the photographs I took today. We didn’t see a huge amount of wildlife partly due to racket of chainsaws and brushcutters, but there was a few fieldfare feeding on hawthorn berries in the car-park when we arrived and some large groups of wood pigeons moving over head. My best sighting however was a male blackcap, a bird I normally associate wintering in urban areas feeding on berries of exotic shrubs in gardens. This is the first time I have seen one in winter in the countryside but then Kitt’s Grave does have plenty of privet, guelder rose, hawthorn and rosehip berries so is really an ideal wintering site. Blackcaps wintering in Britain seem to be eastern birds from Germany, Poland and the Baltic moving west, where as our summer birds move south to the Mediterranean and Africa in the autumn.

There has been at least one bittern at Blashford lakes for a few weeks now, and one showed really well when I unlocked Ivy North Hide this morning.

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Bittern, Ivy lake

Bitterns are one of those birds that always look larger in flight and this one looked quite small compared to these mallards this morning.

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Bittern and mallards

Thanks to Steve Michelle for this photo of what I assume is the same individual flying over Ivy lake earlier in the week.

Bittern ivy lake

Bittern, Ivy lake – Steve Michelle

Also on Ivy lake, the cormorant roost has grown in size with around 52 birds coming at dusk, interestingly they have also started roosting on the strip of trees viewable from Ivy South hide as well as the usual spot on the wooded island.

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Cormorants viewed from Ivy South hide

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