About Jim Day, Blashford Lakes

Education Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trusts Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve, near Ringwood.

Walter!

Having reported on Saturday evening that a great white egret was back on Ibsley Water, but that it was not our old veteran and trail blazer nicknamed “Walter” a few years, I am now delighted to report that Mark Wright got in touch on Sunday with the pictorial evidence that Walter has now made it back for his 16th year! So many thanks to Mark for the pictures below, taken overlooking Ibsley Water where the first bird was seen on the previous day:

Walter by Mark Wright

Walters back! By Mark Wright

Walters leg by Mark Wright

There’s no mistaking Walter when you can see his “bling”!

No great white was reported at all yesterday but this morning there was one bird on the little island to the right of Tern Hide. With its legs obscured by an adjacent Egyptian goose and later on a cluster of little egrets, I have not yet managed to ascertain which of the two (or more?!) great whites we have on show this morning.

For more about the history of “our” Walter follow the link to Bobs blog post from August last year: https://blashfordlakes.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/walter-returned/

 

 

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Not Walter…

…but a non-ringed great white egret has arrived today, the first of the season, spending most of it on the spit midway between Lapwing and Goosander Hides on the eastern shore of Ibsley Water.

Hopefully it heralds the arrival of our long standing regular visitor “Walter” whose ringed legs will mark him quite unmistakably when/if he arrives. Keep your eyes open and let us know if you do see him!

Woodsmoked…

Woodsmoked is definitely what I am this week! After a couple of weeks off it was straight back in at the deep end with back to back campfire based activities:

Tuesday – a Wild Day Out activity day, namely the BIG campfire cookout challenge for 7-12 year olds. The challenge being to come up with, prepare and cook over the campfire a tasty, creative and well presented menu from a prescribed selection of ingredients:

Most teams managed the creative aspect – well presented and tasty, I’d like to say the jury was still out but unfortunately for the poor judges (we really should be paid danger money) who sampled the offerings (most of which, surprisingly, were NOT burnt it has to be said!), tasty and well presented the dishes were not!

Wednesday – a wet day and another Wild Day Out, this time the little campfire cookout challenge for 5-8 year olds. You get the idea! Today however our younger visitors on the whole produced creative AND tasty food for us to try  and some of the dishes were even presented well!

Next week the Wild Challenge Wild Day Out for 7-12 year olds still has places available – more information and booking here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-wild-challenge-tickets-63113599475 (Please note that Thursdays Wild Play day for 5-8 year olds is now fully booked).

Thursday – Myths, moths and marshmallows. An evening storytelling event – around the campfire of course! Not a huge number of moths to look at but enough, everyone enjoyed hearing about how the nightingale got its song and how my Grandad failed to secure the leprechauns’ pot of gold and the toasted marshmallows went down a treat too. The latter possibly enjoyed more by the adults than the children!

Wet today so in the office catching up on emails, telephone calls… and blogs!

Following the previous posting while I was away last weekend I will just confirm that the reserve, which was closed due to the extreme weather on Saturday, has been open since Sunday, is still open now and will be until the next extreme weather event!

The one that DIDN’T get away!

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Anyone that follows this blog can’t have failed to notice that it is 30 days wild time of year again with Bob going the extra mile to blog his wildlife encounters at work and at home on a daily basis. Midway through June thus weekend is the Trusts “BIG Wild Weekend” with lots of events held across the UK.

At Blashford we joined in with a river dipping event this morning where we caught mayfly, stonefly, beautiful demoiselle and golden-ringed dragonfly nymphs, freshwater shrimp, cased caddisfly and blackfly larvae, leeches and, on the fish front, bullhead and young brown trout.

However by far the best catch of the day (and indeed the best catch of all of my previous 17 years working here and countless river dipping sessions with both young and old!) was John’s brown trout which filled the tank at a whopping 11 inches in length! Well done John!

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(and, just for the record, the fish was released – unharmed – back into the river after taking a few quick photo’s!)

Summer Wild Days Out

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We are now accepting bookings onto our Wild Days Out activity days this summer! 
Wild Days Out are outdoor play, exploration, adventure and wildlife discovery sessions held during the school holidays. Our varied activities are inspired by the changing seasons and have included everything from campfire cooking and den building, to pond dipping and bird watching to river snorkelling and boat building!

Please follow the hyperlinks below for more information and to book your chosen activities (and if you don’t have children / grandchildren who might be interested you may just wish to make a note of the dates so you know which days to avoid!): 

Sessions for 7-12 year olds: 

30th July – Wild Wander I (7-12s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-wild-wander-i-tickets-63108827201  

6th Aug – Big Blashford Bioblitz (7-12s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-big-blashford-bioblitz-tickets-63111999690  

13th Aug – Big Campfire Challenge (7-12s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-big-campfire-challenge-tickets-63113220341  

21st Aug – Wild Challenge! (7-12s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-wild-challenge-tickets-63113599475                         

Sessions for 5-8 year olds: 

31st July – Wild Wander II (5-8s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-wild-wander-ii-tickets-63111675721  

7th Aug – Little Blashford Bioblitz (5-8s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-little-blashford-bioblitz-tickets-63112241413 

14th Aug – Little Campfire Challenge (5-8s) https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-little-campfire-challenge-tickets-63113403890  

22nd Aug – Wild Play! (5-8s)  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-days-out-wild-play-tickets-63113850225

Advanced notice of Autumn Wild Days Out: we will not be accepting bookings until after the summer holidays, but, so you can make a note in your diary, we will be running the 7-12 year old session on Tuesday 29th October and the 5-8 year old session on Thursday 31st October.

If you have any queries about any of the above please contact us at BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk. Alternatively call the Blashford Lakes Education Centre on 01425 472760, but either way please be patient with us as we are generally out on the reserve leading school or uniformed groups most of the day, every day, during the summer term and are not in the office very much!

 

They came and they saw! Bird Trail 2019

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

On the Bird Trail!

Saturday 11th May, the sun was shining and by 9.15am the main car park and pedestrian area outside Tern Hide was already crowded with volunteers and staff from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society, along with young people from across the south of the County.

You could be forgiven for thinking there was an unusually rare bird sighting given the buzz but in fact it was the gathering point for the Bird Trail 2019 bird watching and wildlife event for groups of children and young people organised by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in partnership with Hampshire Ornithological Society.

With teams from Blashford’s very own Wildlife Watch & Young Naturalists groups, Titchfield Haven Wildlife Explorers, 1st Burley Cub Scouts, 4th Sway Beaver Scouts and two teams entered from both 3rd Ringwood and 1st Fordingbridge Scout Groups a wildlife packed day was install for all.

Once assembled and registered the groups were introduced to their HOS volunteer for the day, who would serve as both a guide and bird sightings verifier, and everyone made their way across the road to await the event briefing, practicing their binocular skills en-route.

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

The briefing!

Then they were off – each team vying to be that which saw, identified and recorded the most species of bird (and other wildlife – the number of which would be critical in the event of a tie in the number of birds seen).

Following a prescribed route encompassing Tern Hide, Ivy South Hide, Woodland Hide and Ivy North Hide and interspersed with a raft of other wildlife activities all the teams were kept plenty busy enough throughout the day!

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Ivy South Hide

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Ivy South Hide

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Ivy North Hide

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Getting the bird identification right!

One of the highlights of the Trail is always the bird ringing demonstration, this year kindly provided by regular Blashfords British Trust for Ornithology volunteer bird ringers  Kevin Sayer and Brenda Penwarden.

There was not a huge catch, but it was steady for most of the day (all bar the team saw “birds in the hand” and a couple even saw jays which was a real treat).

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A jay in the hand is definitely worth two in the bush! Photo by Kevin Sayer

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Learning about the science and methodology of bird ringing – photo by Jim Day

At the end of the event the totals were; Great Tit 7, Blue Tit 2, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1, Greenfinch 6, Wren 1, Coal Tit 1, Dunnock 1, Jay 2 – as recorded on Kevin’s record form below:

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Groups also enjoyed a close encounter with captive birds of prey at a static demonstration by Liberty’s Owl, Raptor And Reptile Centre :

… and a bird feeding strategy activity provided by New Forest National Park Authority Rangers who also talked to the groups about the pressures that recreation is having on ground nesting birds in the New Forest and stressing the importance of walking on footpaths and keeping dogs on leads at this time of year in particular to minimise disturbance to these birds.

At other times and elsewhere during the event the children also had opportunities to make badges with the Cameron Bespolka Trust, dissect kestrel & owl pellets, learn about moths at the light trap and pond and river dip.

All in all a real treat for wildlife enthusiasts and an opportunity for HIWWT and HOS to hopefully inspire the next generation of conservationists and bird watchers!

Lunch was the only point in the day to stop, relax and recover in readiness for the next whirlwind of wildlife watching activity:

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…and relax!

All good things must come to an end though and by 2.45pm the first of the teams were on their way back to the new Welcome Hut, which doubled as team registration and event contact point for the Bird Trail, where Kay and Linda then had the not insignificant and unenviable task of checking and tallying the bird sightings totals at high speed while I adlibbed with the crowd until the results were in!

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Kay and Linda enjoying the calm before the storm!

And finally the results were in!

In first place – Young Naturalists with a total of 44 bird species recorded who won binoculars and a bird watching boat trip courtesy of In Focus and Birds of Poole Harbour respectively:

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…and just in case there are any calls of foul play given that it was a Blashford team that won overall, I should point out that 4th Sway Beavers, of whom I have the honour of being the Scout Leader, came in last place. Even so, they still managed to record a total of 30 birds, so well done to them :o) !

In second place – 1st Fordingbridge Scout Group with 41 birds, winning family tickets to Liberty’s Owl, Raptor And Reptile Centre and great grey shrike pin badges by Cameron Bespolka Trust:

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

And in third place – 3rd Ringwood Scout Group with 39 birds, winning an FSC garden birds ID guide courtesy of Hampshire Swifts and bird feeders by Nutbags New Forest Bird Foods

Everyone who took part (including volunteers and group leaders who desired them!) left with a unique woven badge (sponsored by Cameron Bespolka Trust) and a Bird Trail certificate (kindly printed by Pearsons – Romsey office) personally signed by Bird Trail advocate, HOS President, naturalist, photographer and television presenter Chris Packham:

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Thank you to our sponsors, to everyone who took part and, in particular, to all of the volunteers who gave up their time to help make the day the great success it was – some at the very last minute following a late plea for additional help.

The Bird Trail 2019 was sponsored by:

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In addition we would like to thank the following organisations for supporting the Bird Trail 2019 with their displays and activities on the day:

British Trust for Ornithology, Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre and New Forest National Park Authority.

Planning and preparation for Bird Trail 2020 will start soon!

All photo’s kindly taken by HIWWT volunteer photographer Rex Waygood unless stated otherwise on the caption.

 

 

Open as usual this weekend…

Last time I blogged it was to warn that the reserve would be closed for the Bird Trail on 11th May and since then although the reserve has been open the Centre has been closed while the toilets and lobby were decorated. Tomorrow it will all be open! New interpretation will be going into the lobby at the end of the month which will mean further closures of the centre for 2-3 days, around 25th-27th June, during which time there will be port-a-loo’s available as there have been this week, but until then all should be as normal, albeit a smarter fresher normal than normal!

A blog post on the Bird Trail will follow, but just to wet your appetite here is a picture taken at the end of the day by HIWWT volunteer photographer Rex Waygood:

11 May Blashford Lakes Event

Bird Trail tomorrow – limited access for visitors

Just a quick reminder that we are hosting the HIWWT/Hampshire Ornithological Society Bird Trail 2019 event tomorrow – there is no visitor parking on the south (Education Centre) side of the reserve, limited parking at Tern Hide and Tern, Woodland, Ivy North and South Hides are all in use by the teams of children and young people from 10.15am-3pm.

Unless involved in the event best to come Sunday instead! If you do visit tomorrow Lapwing and Goosander Hides will be “safe”!

Thank you.

Blashford Lakes Annual Report 2017/18

The Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve and Centre is a Project managed by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on behalf of Project Partners and landowners Wessex Water and Bournemouth Water. Each year the Reserves and Education Officer pull together a summary of the Trusts work at Blashford into an Annual Report which we presented last month.

If you would like to find out more about the Trusts work at Blashford, including that of our fantastic volunteers, without whom the site would be a shadow of its glorious self, along with some lovely images, information on our education work and wildlife survey findings, do open the following link: 190101ONLINE Blashford Annual Report 2017-18 JD

Enjoy!