Wildlife sightings of the eagle kind!

Yesterday I was in earlier than usual for a bird ringing demonstration with our Young Naturalists group (I know I keep saying this, but a Young Nats blog will follow soon). We spent the morning bird watching in general when we weren’t with the bird ringers, visiting the Woodland Hide, Ivy Lake hides and Tern Hide with some of the group. We had our fingers crossed for both bittern and a white-tailed eagle fly by, but alas were not successful.

After an early start, the group left at midday, and about 20 minutes or so later I was still outside the front of the Centre when I saw a few visitors looking up to the sky. I looked in the same direction as they were, to see one of the white-tailed eagles soaring effortlessly overhead, with a sparrowhawk keeping it company.

It was a fantastic sight to see, but I genuinely couldn’t believe its timing – perhaps next time the group will get lucky.


White tailed eagle above the Education Centre

The eagle managed to shake off the accompanying sparrowhawk and drifted off over the trees towards Ivy Silt Pond.

The bittern has been showing rather nicely at times in front of Ivy North Hide, but yesterday it too eluded myself and the group. I did head over there briefly in the afternoon, after hearing it had been spotted, but with no success as it had disappeared off deeper into the reedbed. I looked for it again whilst locking, but instead after hearing a commotion in the undergrowth towards the left of the hide I was treated to a very nice view of a fox, who decided to give up on whatever it was doing and trotted in front of the hide and off to the right.

Although the bittern has been present in front of the hide for a number of days now, it has often been in amongst the reeds, using its excellent camouflage to blend in. 

This afternoon I did get lucky, heading over to the hide with Chloe and Ben. Although it was in amongst the reeds, we could quite easily pick it out, especially when it was moving around. I did manage more of a record shot photo, but David Cuddon who was also in the hide at the same time fared much better and sent these images across:

Bittern by David Cuddon

Bittern by David Cuddon

Bittern by David Cuddon 2

Bittern by David Cuddon

Much better than my spot the Bittern photo! Thank you David for sharing them.

The kingfishers have been showing well, visible from both Ivy South Hide and on Ivy Silt Pond, and there have been good views of great white egret flying over Ivy Lake. Ring-billed gull, yellow-legged gull and green sandpiper were seen on or around the shore of Ibsley Water over the weekend.

In the woodland, firecrest have been seen in amongst the holly on the Dockens path while reed bunting, marsh tit, siskin and lesser redpoll have been coming in to the feeders at the Woodland Hide.  


Teal by Ivy North Hide

7 thoughts on “Wildlife sightings of the eagle kind!

  1. Why oh why are the windows not sorted out in the Ivy North Hide, it is gaining a reputation as the worst bird hide in the country!

    • Dear Chris,

      The short answer is because, in our opinion, they don’t need sorting out and your suggestion that it is gaining a reputation as the worst hide in the country is not borne out by the number of visitors who have been using it in recent months, many of whom have enjoyed excellent views of a bittern and some of whom have done so for the first time…

      The long answer is that you are not alone in your frustration, this isn’t the first time that we have had to answer this question either on the blog, in an e-mail, or in person on site and nor will it be the last!

      Essentially there are two reasons why both Ivy North Hide and Woodland Hide have closed windows with one way glass:

      – they are aimed primarily at allowing visitors to see birds. Bittern are notoriously secretive birds and given that the hide was located close to the reed bed to the north of Ivy Lake where bittern were known to over-winter, with the hope that our visitors would be able to enjoy watching these amazing birds, we wanted them to be able to do so without disturbing them. Generally speaking we are fairly satisfied that it has worked. The same is true of the Woodland Hide where visitors can enjoy close up views of (at times!) hundreds of birds without even needing to use binoculars. The success of both hides is borne out by the number of bird watchers, families and photographers who visit them and unfortunately (sadly) this does occasionally lead to friction between visitors. As frustrating as it may be, particularly for photographers, we very much believe that the wildlife spectacles that can be enjoyed from both hides would not be nearly so spectacular and desirable to photographers (or everyone else) with a conventional hide. The birds that are so desirable simply wouldn’t be there to see or photograph in the first place.

      – education is a key part of our work at Blashford Lakes and Woodland Hide and Ivy North Hide are the two hides nearest to the centre that are used most often by visiting groups. The combination of closed windows and one way glass means that a class of 30 children can enjoy watching wildlife with little or no disturbance to it.

      The other four hides on site (and additional 5 viewing screens) are a) used less frequently by large groups of children and b) generally look out over more distant wildlife which is therefore less affected by disturbance from people, camera’s and telescopes.

      So that’s your answer! I don’t doubt that you will still be frustrated, but hope that you will at least appreciate the rational behind our choice of hides now!

      Regards, Jim

      • I’m sorry – this is incorrect. While having fixed windows and one way glass to prevent disturbance to the birds may be the aim, there is absolutely no justification for the use of tinted glass whatsoever! I have visited dedicated photo hides in several countries where clear one way glass has been installed, and the experience is perfect… in my opinion it is the tinting that causes the frustration rather than the fixed glass element…..

      • Dear Steve,

        Having explained our thinking behind Ivy North Hide we are clearly not going to agree on this so I won’t continue to bang my drum. The “tint” is not an intentional effect but rather the by-product of the film which has been applied to produce the one-way effect. It was the best that we had to work with at the time for this purpose and may or may not have been, or will be, superseded by alternative glass or glass film.

        Please do bear in mind that this is not, and was never intended to be, a photography hide. It is a hide for anyone and everyone, be they bird watchers, photographers, families, school children, people who have lived in the countryside all their lives and people who may be venturing onto a nature reserve and/or into a bird hide for the first time. Many people do have cracking views of wildlife from that hide and thoroughly enjoy their experience.

        Others not so much!

        When the time comes to replace that hide in a few years time we will look at the options available to us, but until then it is what it is I’m afraid, and, with the greatest respect, if you find that this particular hide is not to your liking, for whatever reason, all I can suggest is that you vote with your feet and don’t use it!

        Best wishes,


      • I think my response did accept fully the use of fixed glass as a solution to disturbance from various people visiting the hides – and although I do take photographs from hides, my comments were as a birdwatcher…
        My point was that clear one way glass is widely available and is being used in many countries…
        Your suggestion to basically go elsewhere is what is already happening from conversations with other birdwatchers, hence the original post from Chris !

  2. Thanks for the clarification Steve.

    In our experience one-way glass has not been so easy to come by. Bob has actually been struggling to get replacement (one-way) glass – we still need to replace the large pane that was vandalised in Tern Hide and we were hoping to re-glaze at least a couple of the windows in Ivy North Hide at the same time too. Unfortunately (or, as you may see it, fortunately!) the glazier who our hide fabricators, Gilleard Bros, used, ceased trading and they had not been unable to source an alternative manufacturer. When Bob made independent enquiries he also struggled – unless he was looking to glaze the equivalent of the “Shard”, nobody was interested!

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