A big thank you goes to volunteers Jacki, Bob and particularly Geoff who helped rake up cut ragwort and thistle on the northern shore of Ibsley Water yesterday. Unfortunately we have to remove these plants to maintain the grassland habitat, thistles because they can take over by sheer numbers and ragwort because it can be toxic to horses if eaten in large quantities. Both plants are a brilliant nectar source for insects so we do leave plenty in other areas. We have now completed this hot and sweaty task I am pleased to say.
On the way back to base Geoff and I stopped to have a look at the small fleabane plants growing on Mockbeggar Lane, a tiny and very rare flower found at just a handful of sites in the New Forest.
This morning when I unlocked Ivy North hide the great white egret was present again, I just got my camera focused on him and he caught a small pike.
As rain was forecast for this afternoon I thought I spend the morning trimming paths near the Goosander and Lapwing Hides. While I was out I noticed the local fallow deer had been stripping bark from willow trees, unfortunately nearly every tree in this area has been damaged or even killed by deer and most of the understory vegetation has been eaten except the most unpalatable species like stinging nettles. This is a problem where ever there are large deer populations without natural predators (lynx, wolves) to keep them on the move and prevent them staying in one area for too longer time. Indeed the decline in many woodland birds like nightingales, willow tits and wood warblers is thought to be partly caused by increased numbers of deer eating out woodland understory, reducing habitat and the amount of insects.
At lunch time I went to Goosander hide, and despite Wessex Water’s ecologists doing algae surveys and plant transects in a canoe there was a fair bit to see including 2 kingfishers close to the hide, 5 pochards, 28 grey herons at various points around the lake and a distant osprey carrying a fish flying over the river west of the reserve.
There as been quite few ospreys around the county recently, Farlington Marshes, Titchfield Haven, Christchurch harbour and Fish lakes meadows near Romsey have all had them lately so it was really good to see one here. Hopefully the next one will land on our new osprey perch we put out in Ibsley Water a few weeks ago.