Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least!) a very wet start to the day, and decidedly gloomy day throughout didn’t keep everyone away – with a steady trickle of year listers and a number of families and photographers all still making it out to enjoy the reserve.
After opening up I spent the morning in the office with the dreaded “paperwork” (not that much of it is actually paper these days) and after lunch headed out to recce next Wednesdays guided walk (“Blashford Birds and Beer”, 11am-1pm, meeting and finishing at the Alice Lisle pub, places still available if you are interested!).Popped into Tern Hide to top up the leaflets on route and where a number of visitors were all ticking longtailed duck of their lists. I then bumped into some art students from Bournemouth University who were filming a short film in the woodland along Ellingham Drove. After advising them that it would have been courteous to have spoken to us first I carried on along the way only to be very disappointed by the number of cars parked around the footpath entrance to Lapwing and Goosander Hides. I shouldn’t have been because it is a regular occurrence, at this time of year especially:
I know why people do it and I can assure you that once the delayed restoration of the former con-bloc site has been completed there will be footpath access direct to Goosander Hide through the old works, but in the meantime it is a pleasant walk along the river from the car park along the southern side of Ellingham Drove and I urge visitors to please use it! On this occasion the cars had at least parked sensitively so that access through the kissing gate and vehicle access gate were not directly blocked, which is often the case and very frustrating for both staff trying to get through with equipment as well as for disabled visitors trying to get through with mobility scooters or wheel chairs. However even leaving just this access free, although better than nothing, is far from ideal – it is only a month ago that I needed to park police, an ambulance and paramedics/community first responders at that point in order to deal with an incident and could only do so with difficulty due to cars parked here where they should not be. If you really have no other choice because of health problems I remind you that we have two mobility scooters free to borrow from the centre and failing that at least park just a bit further down the road towards Moyles Court where at least the road itself is wider and on a good straight run.
Have just read the above through and am conscious that it all sounds like one long moan – sorry! But it is important!
On a lighter note the rest of the walk passed without incident. I trimmed back quite a few brambles along the public footpath, dropped into the welcome warmth of the pub to warn them of our walk, reluctantly came back out into the drizzle(!), enjoyed the lichens thriving in the hedgerow, always a welcome splash colour and at their best on damp days like today, was surprised by the number of birds on Blashford Lake (nothing momentous, but lots of gadwall, coot, tufted duck, and greylag/Canada geese especially. There has obviously been little sailing activity over Christmas!), caught a kingfisher along the southern shore of Ivy Lake, where gadwall and coot predominate, but didn’t see any bittern, although at least one bittern was seen again today!
Happy New year from everyone at Blashford! Hope it brings you lots of special wildlife moments – and if any take place at Blashford or on another of our reserves especially, do let us know!