Dear, Deer, Deer

Came in early today to open up at Blashford, On arrival I saw 13 Fallow Deer crossing the road heading to the northern side of the reserve, another 3 Roe Deer as I opened up the Tern hide, 2 Roe Deer in the education car park as I opened up the centre and 2 more Roe Deer on the lichen heath ( which could have been the 2 I saw in the education car park ) as I cycled around to open up the rest of the hides. Deer are just one of the species of mammal we have here at Blashford, we have a great selection of mammal species which quite often get over looked by the impressive selection of birds species we have here. Mammal species to look out for at Blashford are, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, Grey squirrels, Foxes,  Badgers, Bank vole, Field vole, Shrews (water, common, pigmy), Wood mice, Yellow necked mice, Harvest mice, Brown rat, Mole, Rabbits, Mink, Otter and several species of Bats. As you can see there are quite a few species of mammal to look out for ( I expect I have forgotten to mention others that are here at Blashford) . Most can be seen quite frequently about, most of the voles, mice, shrews, rats and squirrels can be seen from the woodland hide, Harvest mice have been seen from Ivy south hide, there are several organised evening walks looking for bats along Dockens water and in the more open areas of Blashford where they hunt,  the Deer can quite often be seen crossing the footpaths in the reedbeds and scrub on the northern side of the reserve, rabbits are out on the lichen heath, the only one’s that are a little elusive are the Badgers and Otters, but Badgers have been seen from the woodland hide in the past, and Otters seen from all hides (except woodland) and along Dockens water. So next time you visit, keep your eyes open for the great selection of mammals here at Blashford.

Back to the birds, the first sighting of Bittern was seen yesterday from Ivy south hide, I am sure it wont be long before we will be getting excellent views of these birds from Ivy north hide,  also the first reports of Golden eye on Ibsley water yesterday. Visitors are still getting excellent views of kingfishers from both Ivy North and South hide, and Water rails are starting to be seen quite frequently from Ivy north hide.

It was a good night for moths in the light trap, highlight were, Merveille du jour, Feathered Thorn, Green brindled Crescent, Red Green Carpet, and a new one for me, a Streak which I had to wait for Bob to come in and ID for me.

As always I would like to thank our regular Thursday volunteer gang which today cleared and burned some more willow from the reedbed on the northern side of the reserve.

Until next time…..



Quick update on the last 2 days

There have been a good selection of waders seen on Ibsley water from the Tern Hide over the last few days, waders seen have been Dunlin, Ruff, Common sandpiper, Green sandpiper, Black tailed Godwit, Lapwing and up to 5 Snipe. I think this signals the first signs of Autumn as most of these waders are returning from there more Northern breeding grounds.

Yesterday the Thursday volunteer group were out weeding the shores of Ibsley water in front of the Tern hide, this task serves two purposes, firstly to get better views of the wading birds on the shore line from the Tern hide and secondly clearing all the weeds/vegetation leaves the area in suitable condition for breeding waders we have at Blashford in the spring. All the weeds pulled up are thrown in to the water, this may look a bit messy, but, most of the weeds such as Dock and Willowherb are full of seeds and the wildfowl like them as a food source. Once again I must thank our great volunteer group for all their hard work.

The fine dry weather today brought a large number of visitors to Blashford today, I have had reports today from several visitors that they have been getting great views of Kingfishers from Ivy North and Ivy South Hide and really close views of Heron’s fishing in front of Tern hide.

At lunchtime I was sitting by the pond behind the education centre, the sun was out, and there were still quite a few butterfly’s about on the Buddleia and Purple loosestrife around the pond, butterfly’s seen were, Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell, Comma, Brimstone, Green veined white, Meadow brown and Large white. Also a few dragonfly’s about, Southern hawker and Brown hawker.

Today Volunteer Jackie came in to help me for a few hours, this allowed me to cut back the vegetation along the entrance track leading to the education centre and also start doing some of the footpaths. Big thank you to Jackie for all your help today.

Until next time….


Volunteer Thursday

Today we had our regular group of volunteers out today, as always they done an excellent job. We split up into a few groups today to do various tasks, one group came with me and we started construction of a new piece of boardwalk at the southern end of the Rockford footpath which in the winter always floods and get very muddy.  The remaining group was taken out to the eastern and northern shores of Ibsley water ragwort pulling, the ragwort pulling team was led by Tracy, the new assistant education officer here at Blashford. And if this wasnt enough work done by all, the two groups even managed to get out the remaining old interpretation board posts on the Rockford footpath and also got Lapwing and Gooseander hides swept clean. Once again a massive thank you to all our great volunteers 🙂

This afternoon Tracy came and helped me finish off the boardwalk I had started with the volunteers in the morning, the boardwalk construction is now finished, all we have left to do is to get a few loads of hogging/path gravel up there to even out the level differences from the boardwalk to the ground, hopefully this will be completed next week. Anyone using the boardwalk please be aware there is a small step of the boardwalk until we get the hogging/path gravel there, the small step off is highlighted by high viz red and white tape.

A big thanks to Tracy for her help and assistance today 🙂

On the wildlife front today, grass snake basking on log in front of Ivy south hide today, also a tern chick on the branches of the fallen tree in front of the hide, obviously had come of the tern raft and swam over to the branches to get out of the water, the parent birds have found it and are feeding it well.

Ivy north hide, Tufted duck with 10 ducklings, very small ducklings probably only a few days old, great crested grebe with 3 chicks, and a coot with 1 chick.

There are quite a few dragonflies on the wing today, emperor, brown hawker, southern hawker, and common darter

Butterfly sightings today, red admiral, comma, peacock, large white, small tortoiseshell, meadow brown, gatekeepers, ringlets and another silver washed fritillary ( 3rd one ive seen over the last week or so ).

I am sure there is a lot more wildlife out and about at the moment at Blashford to see, these above sightings are only my sightings whilst I have been out and about busily working, if anyone is visiting Blashford  it would be greatly appreciated if you would record your sightings into the log books in the hide or just pop into the centre and tell a member of staff what you have seen. All your observations are important to us, it doesn’t have to be a rare bit of wildlife to be important, taking the time to count the number’s of more common wildfowl you can see on the lakes is really important information to us.

Until next time

P.S  Sorry for no pictures, still havent quite worked out how to do this yet


Tern rafts and whistling wigeon, Autumn must be hear..


Ed bringing the tern rafts in

Apologies for this late post, but yesterday the Thursday volunteer group were out ever eager to do tasks, today Ed and myself with the help of the volunteers got the Tern rafts in for their annual clean up.

Ed was going out with the boat and towing the Tern rafts back to the slipway on Ivy lake, where myself and the volunteers were waiting. Once the Tern rafts were on the slip way it was all hands to the shovels to shovel off all the gravel, pumice and shale of the rafts and lift them up out of the water and onto higher ground. One or two of the Tern rafts are in need of repair as the plywood base has rotted (as one of the volunteers found by putting his foot clean through the base), Ed has said we have the materials to repair the rafts and there might be a good chance of building one or two more Tern rafts.



The volunteers busy with shovels and weeding the tern rafts


This is great news as the four Tern rafts have been very succesful and by adding a few more hopefully the Tern colony will grow. Also this means that there is another task to add for the volunteer group, I am sure they will enjoy repairing and building new rafts which will be done over the coming months. Once again I would like to thank all the volunteers that turn up for the Thursday work party, without there help a lot of important jobs on the reserve wouldn’t get done.
Over the last few days a good number of wigeon have been arriving at Blashford, now wigeon are my favorite species of wildfowl. Not the most spectacular of wildfowl species to most people, but they have quite distinct plumage.
Drakes (males) in breeding plumage have grey backs, white bellies and pink chests. The head is chestnut in colour with a buff forehead, while the tail is predominantly black. After moulting, when the plumage is said to be in ‘eclipse’, the drakes resemble the females, which are grey or buff-coloured birds with a white underside. The drakes are rather more rufous than the females, however. Juveniles look very similar to females. What i really like about the wigeon is there call, they whistle making a distinctive whistling call ‘wheeooo’. This to me heralds the true sign of Autumn as these sounds of the whistling wigeon remind me of when I use to work on reserves on the saltmarsh by the sea. Wigeon feed in large groups and to see a group of wigeon of several hundred strong feeding on wetlands is a great sight. Wigeon are fairly long lived birds ( I think the longest lived wigeon recorded is 30 + years old) and are mainly grazers feeding on aquatic vegetation and grasses, but there numbers are on the decline as much of our wildfowl species are.
Better stop talking about wigeon now before this turns into a book about them.
Another definite sign of Autumn is the fungi, now I am certainly not that good on my fungi identification but i have been told that there are some good varieties of fungi to be found at Blashford.
Today I saw some huge fungi, I think they are parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), (if anyone thinks different please let me know). They looked quite spectacular.


Parasol Mushroom

General sightings around the reserve, Kingfishers are being seen regularly from Ivy North and South hides and also Ivy silt pond. All the lakes are starting to get a good mixture of wildfowl, species such as mallard, wigeon, teal, gadwall, shoveler, pochard, tufted and teal. The numbers of all these species will grow over the coming weeks as Autumn and winter takes its grips and hopefully a few more species of duck will join the list , species such as pintail and goldeneye.Great white egret is now back on Ivy lake, goods views can be seen from Ivy north hide or the views screen on the Rockford footpath looking back at ivy north hide.
A few waders showing on Ibsley water, Common Sandpiper, Lapwing and Ruff seem to be the most commonest at the moment.

Until next time……………..

Wet, grey day at Blashford, but lots to see.

Its been a rather wet and grey day at Blashford today, the sun did manage to break through on the odd occasion this afternoon, but only briefly. When the sun did pop through the cloud the dragonflies were active, species seen were southern hawker, migrant hawker and common darter, also a few butterflies made brief appearances on the Buddleia, large white, red admiral, comma, small tortoiseshell and peacocks.
I took a gamble last night on setting the moth trap with the predicted weather forecast, but, it paid off as this morning going through the moth trap I counted 20 odd different species in it. Now I am rather new to moth ID, it is something I am learning fast and actually quite enjoying (I didnt think i would get in to moths). I have relied on the expertise of Ed the reserves officer for moth ID, but he is away on Holiday at present, so this was the first time I have done the moth trap on my own. I was rather pleased that I new the vast majority of what was in the moth trap and didn’t have to use the ID book ( Ed is a good teacher), but there were two new moths for me in the trap which i did have to look up in the ID book, A autumnal rustic and a feathered gothic.

.Autumnal rustic (left) and feathered gothic

Autumnal rustic (left) and feathered gothic

I managed to get out and about around the lakes today to see what birds were about, didn’t see the Osprey today, but there was a good passage of waders on Ibsley water, greenshank, little stint, ruff, ringed plover, common sandpiper and lapwing, I also saw green sandpiper flying off the shallow end of Ivy lake. A black tern was flying about over Iblsey water for most of the day. Other birds seen on Ibsley water today were, mute swan,greylag goose, canada goose, egypitian goose, gadwall, teal, mallard, pochard, tufted duck, cormorant, little grebe, great crested grebe, coot, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull and great black backed gull.
Good views of the kingfisher were had from Ivy south hide and Ivy north hide, on Ivy lake there were a few species of wildfowl starting to gather, gadwall, mallard, shoveler, teal and tufted, the wigeon that arrived last week have seemed to have disappeared elsewhere. There were several grey herons fishing on ivy silt pond.

I managed to find our last two fledged common terns today, they were over on Rockford lake and were easy to view from the footpath running along side it between Rockford lake and Ivy lake. Whilst I was on the footpath running along Rockford lake I had a look from the viewing screens that look over Ivy lake. The viewing screen that looks over to Ivy north hide was best with great views of a water rail walking along the reedbed fringe, not possible to see that area from ivy north hide and the green sandpiper that i mentioned earlier.
The bird feeders at the woodland hide and in the centre car park have been regularly visited by greenfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch, blue tit, great tit, coal tit and bullfinch. Also there were treecreepers and flocks of long-tailed tits flitting about. The sparrowhawk made a visit to the woodland hide feeders today and successfully took a chaffinch.

The sky have got very dark here at Blashford again, looks like its going to start raining again, and I think its in for the night, I must not keep moaning about this rain as it is desperately needed, but, hopefully this waterlogged young greenfinch I found hiding out of the rain will dry out and survive.

a waterlogged young greenfinch

a waterlogged young greenfinch

Until next time……………………………….

Quick update for today

When I went to open the Tern hide this morning, I was greeted with the sight of several hundred Swallows and Martins as I walked across the car park, unfortunately when I opened the hide to look across Ibsley water there was a distinct lack of Gulls and Wildfowl, maybe they had some possible disturbance last night. When I came out of the Tern hide a saw a lovely little bird that is not that common here at Blashford, a Stonechat. The Stonechat is also called the Fuzzchat by some local foresters, this is due to some locals calling Gorse, Furze or Fuzz, and you normally associate Stonechats with gorse, this is where you normally get your best views of a Stonechat, sitting on top of a gorse bush.

Once again the Thursday volunteers have been weeding on Ibsley water, hopefully next week the task will be something different as Ed is back from his Holiday.
Whilst we were weeding the shores of Ibsley water we had a few waders land not far from us on the shingle spits, before the waders had even landed I recognised the distinctive call of one of them, a Greenshank, the other wader with it was a Ruff. Speaking to some of the visitors today at Blashford, a few had said they had also seen Common Sandpiper from the Tern hide today.

Seemed a quieter day for the Osprey at Blashford, only had one report of one flying high over Blashford.

There were still a few Southern Hawker and Migrant Hawker dragonflies flying about the pond behind the centre at lunchtime today.

Hopefully I will have a bit more time to get out and about tomorrow, will have my camera with me, and hopefully a good blog for you all to read.

Until next time……………………………

Not a good day to forget your camera !!!!!!!!!

Hi All
Firstly i would like to apologise for no pictures in this blog, but the clue is in the title. I nearly always have my camera in my rucksack, but today i have forgotten it, as it is packed ready for my weekend away.
A question i would like to know is, how does wildlife seem to know when you have forgotten your camera ?, it definitely seems to know, as the amount of opportunity’s i have missed today for a nice picture have been quite a few.
The Thursday group of volunteers have been out busy again today, they have been weeding out on Ibsley water in front of the Tern hide. They have been removing various weeds, weeds such as sapling willow’s, dock’s, thistles, willow-herb. Some of these weeds (such as dock) once pulled is throw into the water because its full of seeds which certain wildfowl eat. This weeding task has been a very tedious ongoing job for the volunteers and i would like to say a big thank you to them all. Hopefully this task will soon be done and the volunteers can have some nicer tasks to complete.
Sightings at Blashford today, well several visitors to Blashford today have shown me some brilliant photos of an Osprey feeding on Ivy silt pond(hence the title ”Not a good day to forget your camera”), this Osprey has been sat up on the old dead branches at the back of the silt pond for all to see, this Osprey has also been seen from Ivy North hide sitting on the old dead branch ( well i presume it’s the same bird).
The Great white egret has also been seen on Ivy lake and when i went in to have a look, it was just in front of the hide fishing in the reeds (would have made a nice photo), also in front of Ivy north hide there were two kingfishers sitting on the Reed mace and a Water rail walking about in-between the sight lines Ed and myself cut last week (all would have been great pics).
Other bird sightings today, quite a few Common sandpipers on the shores of Ibsley water and an increase in wildfowl numbers too, certainly a good number of widgeon have arrived on Ivy lake.
With the weather still hot and sunny, the invertebrates are certainly making the most of it(due to rain tomorrow), Butterflies on the Buddleia around the centre, maybe not in the numbers they were a few weeks ago but plenty of species still about, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small tortoiseshell, Large white, Small white, Brimstone, Painted lady, Silver washed fritillary, and a Clouded Yellow (which would have made a cracking photo). Also Dragonflies were abundant in the middle of the day on the pond at the centre, species seen, Southern hawker, Migrant hawker and Common darters. The centre pond out the back was visited regularly today by a Grass snake, and once again it presented itself lovely for anyone who had their camera with them.
Last missed photo opportunity moan from me, when i went to check on the horses out on Ibsley water this afternoon, I saw an Osprey fly over towards Mockbegger lake and there was an Adder sunning itself out on the grass ride
So as you can see now why the title of this blog is what it is, and i wont be forgetting my camera again in a hurry, but whats the betting, i wont get presented with the photo opportunity’s i have been presented with today for a long time.
Until next time……………………

Hello everyone

I quick introduction, my name is Adam Wells and i am the new part-time assistant reserves officer here at Blashford. I have been here about a month and i am just starting to find my way about. Just would like to say a thankyou to Ed, Jim and Michelle for making me feel welcomed in my new job role here

Went for a walk about today, noticed good numbers of waders about from the Tern hide, 250+ Lapwing, B T Godwit, Little ringed plover and Sandpipers both Common and Green. Has the Autumn migration really started already ? The sandpipers showing are a good indication that it is.


Lapwing from Tern Hide

As i have mentioned above, in the month i have been here i have been surprised at the variety of butterfly species i have seen, I have already recorded 17 different species, and that is without really looking for them. The buddlieas in the garden at the centre are starting to flower, this can be a great time to get up and close to butterfly’s whilst they are nectarine on the flower heads.


3 Peacock butterfly’s on one Buddleia flower head

Looking forward to the coming year here at Blashford and what wildlife it will bring, feel free to stop and say hello if you see me around at Blashford

Cheers Adam