Back from a short break over half-term and catching up with what has happened over the week. Most obviously the leaves have changed colour and started falling in quantity, especially annoying as the leaf-blower is still out of action. There are also masses of fungi all over the reserve, autumn is in full swing.
On Monday I had the October waterfowl count to do – just in time as it was the 31st. Numbers of wildfowl are still quite low generally, but perhaps they will pick up when the temperatures drop a bit. During the count I came across “Walter”, the great white egret on the shore of Rockford Lake. He was close to the path and quite relaxed. Almost immediately afterwards, looking across Ivy Lake from the screen, I saw the bittern sitting high in the reeds preening in the afternoon sunshine. I failed to see the goldeneye reported by several people on Ibsley Water -we usually see our first at the end of October, so it just made it.
I ended the day with a check on the roosting birds on Ibsley Water; the gull roost was large, although not as large as it can be. There were something like 6000 lesser black-backed gull and about 3500 black-headed gull. There were also a couple of thousand starling flying about, which appeared to drop into the reeds to the west of the Salisbury road. Not quite a murmuration yet but maybe in a week or two, who knows.
Today I was working with the ever busy Blashford volunteers, cutting and burning brambles from the lake shore adjacent to the old Hanson plant. The aim is to open up the shore to the newly cleared plant site, to maximise the area of habitat suitable for birds like nesting lapwing and little ringed plover. The open ground should eventually develop into grassland in parts and so provide habitat for a range of other species.
Unfortunately it is likely to take a good few years of hard work to get this old industrial site into a state where it can become a valuable and importantly, manageable habitat – but it will be interesting to see how it develops. These so called “Brownfield” sites can develop into very interesting habitats as they are often low in nutrients and have unusual characteristics such as variable pH and impeded drainage.
In addition it will provide an alternative route between the main car park and Goosander hide and create a circular walk around the reserve. Work on this is progressing well but it will be a while yet before it is completed.