Today we had a “50 Bird Challenge” event at Blashford, essentially a short walk around part of the reserve with the objective of seeing 50 species of birds. We met up at the Tern hide at 10 o’clock and got off to a storming start with views of the ring-billed gull, perched on the osprey pole. We quickly added coot, wigeon, tufted duck, cormorant, shoveler, pintail, little grebe, great crested grebe, Slavonian grebe, Egyptian goose, lesser black-backed gull, mallard, goldeneye, greylag, herring gull, jackdaw and magpie. We then headed out of the hide and as we walked across to the southern part of the reserve we saw robin and dunnock in the brambles around the car park and along the path through the woods song thrush, blackbird, a group of goldfinch, we had a good view of a feeding female bullfinch and several goldcrest, a wren and a treecreeper. Before we had got to the Centre we had added woodpigeon, black-headed gull and chaffinch. By the side of the Centre car park there were blue tit and great tit. On the lichen heath we saw 2 crow and a mistle thrush. We looke din at the Ivy North hide and saw mute swan, but the bittern was not showing so we decided to return later. Heading on to the Woodland hide we saw, or rather “spotted” a great spotted woodpecker and several long-tailed tit, from the hide had excellent views of nuthatch, greenfinch, siskin, collared dove, brambling, lesser redpoll and coal tit. From Ivy South hide there were lots of waterfowl including good numbers of gadwall, pochard, teal and we saw a single green sandpiper distantly on the far bank.

Now on 49 species, we headed back to Ivy North in the hope of getting to fifty with a bittern, it had been seen but all we added was moorhen and a nice kingfisher en route at the silt pond. Returning to the main car park we finished off with the black-necked grebe on Ibsley Water and several lapwing on one of the islands. If I can add up correctly we ended with 53 species in just over our allotted two hours, a rather good variety of species and most of them seen rather well in good conditions.

The observant of you will notice a lot of “missing” species, we saw no birds of prey, nor starling, green woodpecker, wagtails or meadow pipit, to name but a few. One of the great pleasures of Blashford Lakes is the range of species and the often very good views to be had. We do sometimes get rarer birds, but it is still often the Woodland hide that provides the highlight of many visits, where it is the sheer number of common birds so close that binoculars are unnecessary that really impresses.

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