Adding up

As Bob said in the previous blog we carried out a count of wetland birds of all the lakes in area (not just the ones managed by HIWWT) yesterday morning, so I thought I’d post a few of the figures here. We managed to count 2087 birds between the two of us yesterday, most numerous being 827 coot, which sounds like a reasonable number but is actually down on November 2014’s 1006. And well down on November’s 2009’s 1802. In fact after a quick look at all the figures it would appear that most of the wildfowl counts are down too this autumn. This is for a variety of reasons but big factors are probably the current mild weather and there is noticeably less weed growth in the lakes this year. Last summer there were great rafts of pond weeds (food for duck and coot) both in Ivy lake and Ibsley Water but this year it didn’t grow nearly as well.

Other counts yesterday included 242 tufted duck, 239 gadwall, 168 wigeon, 110 lapwing, 61 mute swan, 50 pochard, 49 little grebe, 32 great crested grebe, 29 teal and 5 kingfisher. My highlight was the bittern that flew into the field of view of my telescope while I was counting tufted duck on Ivy Lake, heading north and dropped in near Ivy North Hide. We then headed back out again at dusk and counted 32 goosanders and 4 goldeneye come into roost on Ibsley Water. As well as these perhaps as many as 10,000 gulls (of at least 8 species), 6000 starlings and 500 greylag geese also roosted on (or in the case of the starlings)near this lake. The gulls turning up from 3pm onwards,  starlings moving around at about 3.50pm and the geese almost in the dark at 4.50pm. The adult ring-billed gull (a vagrant from North America)was present again from 3.45 pm. The starling’s were in several groups heading in different directions. At Goosander hide I hoped to see the otter but the only mammals we saw were a rabbit and 2 bats hunting over the lake (perhaps Daubenton’s bat but no bat detector to hand).


Rabbit at Goosander hide


Starlings in poor light from Goosander hide

Last wednesday I also visited Goosander hide one evening and saw a variety of gulls on the rails in front of the hide, mainly black-headed and lesser black-backed but also 3 adult yellow-legged gulls.


Black- headed gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and yellow-legged gull 11/11/15


Lesser black-backed gulls and 3 yellow-legged gulls (right hand side, 2 on rails 1 bird in from the left and one in the water)

The yellow-legged gulls can be identified by a combination of features including their clean white heads, darker grey wings than herring gull and yellow legs (although not as bright at this time of year as in spring and summer). I managed a slightly closer photo of one smart individual using a phone camera and telescope.


Adult yellow-legged gull, phonescoped 11/11/15

Safe to say the osprey has definitely gone now, not being since the 8th of November, making it 24 days returning to the perch. When we first put the perch I thought we might get one for a couple of hours, but 24 days was totally unexpected and very excellent. The best day for me was the 27th of October when the osprey was feeding on it’s perch and an otter swam underneath it and at one point they looked up at each other, just amazing! Here is a local wildlife artist’s impression of the scene:

Osprey and Otter

Osprey and Otter, Ibsley Water – Michelle George

A fantastic picture. Although the osprey appears to have feathered legs like a rough-legged buzzard and the otter seems to have a head the size and shape of a leopard seal’s.

Thanks to expert photographer Bryan Jones for this photo of the splitgill fungus seen on Sunday, very nice.


Splitgill fungus

Today reports have been thin on the ground due to the wet weather, but a bittern was seen flying over the woodland hide toward the Ivy silt pond reedbed at dusk.

2 thoughts on “Adding up

  1. Thanks as always for the blogs. We really appreciated the numbers, photos and general update. It is amazing to know how much can be seen when we are not there!

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