Little & (very!) large

Hope everyone is out and about enjoying some glorious Spring sunshine this Easter weekend 🙂 . The warmer more settled weather is resulting in some “firsts for the year”, including my first Orange-tip butterfly and first Garden Warbler (singing to me as I opened up the main car park gate). Yesterday it was the turn of the return of Reed Warblers, singing from the reeds outside Ivy North Hide & also Ivy Silt Pond on my morning “rounds”.

As previously reported, Sand Martins are back & volunteer Phil West photographed the first few tentatively investigating the artificial sand face at Goosander Hide earlier in the week:

Sand Martins by Phil West

Hopefully they will have a good year again as there is nothing quite like the spectacle of viewing the swirls of 100’s of martins from, and on teh approach to, the hide during the summer.

He also clocked this White-tailed Eagle passing over!

White-tailed Eagle by Phil West

Although the wonderful Wild Daffodils are now well & truly over the the very first of the Bluebells are just starting to show, the Primroses are still looking fabulous and being very much beloved by Bumblebees and one of my favourite spring flowers, Moschatel (Five-faced Bishop or Townhall Clock!), is also having a really good year this year:

Chloe & I have been busy this week with Wild Days Out school holiday activity days – we missed the best of the weather unfortunately, but it could have been a lot worse! A good time was had by all in the pond & river (including we staff & volunteers!) and a separate blog post specifically about that will follow.

No Wild Day Out next week but we are inviting families to “Go Wild!” and join us for pond dipping on Wednesday – the initial morning session is now fully booked so we have now started taking bookings for a second session in the afternoon – for more information and to book your places please see: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/321316184357

Families are welcome, but so too are individual adults without children who wish to find out more about some of our fascinating wetland wildlife.

Discovering pondlife on Tuesdays Wild Day Out – more pictures & information to follow in a subsequent blog!

Sadly too much of my time these days is spent in the office dealing with increasingly complicated administrative and managerial tasks when I’m not out and about teaching and one of these necessary jobs is the production of the Annual Report to our partners (South West Water & Wessex Water). Although very time consuming it is also always a good opportunity to reflect on the challenges & achievements of the previous year so not as arduous an undertaking as it might seem. Still, I am sure that having signed off on his last Blashford Lakes Project Annual Report it is one part of the job that our recently retired Bob will not miss!

Having put the work in we are keen to share it more widely than with just the Project partners so do download it and have a read for a “behind the scenes” glimpse into work at Blashford Lakes!

Blashford Lakes Annual Report: Sep 2019 – Aug 2020

Bob and I prepare and present an annual report to our funders and partners in the “Blashford Lakes Project”, Bournemouth Water and Wessex Water at a meeting in the early Spring of the year following that of the reporting year. This meeting was held (via Microsoft Teams of course 😉 ) earlier this week and the report accepted.

So, for anyone stuck at home and looking for things to do this lockdown, or who is missing the place but staying away from Blashford because it is too far away than is reasonable to travel for exercise at present, please enjoy said report by following the link here:

Given that 6 months of the period were “COVID months” we were pleasantly surprised by how much we found to write about!

The year that was…

While Bob and Jo continue to warden and monitor Blashford Lakes and Fishlake Meadows between them, Tracy and I have been working from home, along with many, many other people, venturing out only into our gardens, or for our permitted daily exercise from home, so I really do have very little to report on the wildlife front!

That said the children and I are (slowly, in between maths, literacy, phonics, science, history and geography home learning) trying to improve our small garden for wildlife. To be honest, its pretty lousy at the moment, so anything will be improvement – when my wife and I first moved here I spent a long time nurturing a small meadow, digging a small pond (disparagingly called a puddle by some, but it held wildlife!) and nurturing a small compost heap and log pile, while our herb bed was always buzzing with insects.

Then came children, a swing and a climbing frame and short grass for kicking a football around on.  No longer was there room for my lovingly created space for nature in our (very) small garden.

However, they are now all a little bit older and happy to sacrifice a bit of their play space for something a bit more wildlife friendly that they too can enjoy exploring.

We have plans, we have the will and the inclination, and we will have time over the Easter Holiday break from the home learning, so watch this space! Our little corner of the New Forest is set to become just a little bit Wilder – there may well be a blog to come on this, but it is very much a long way off at the moment!

If, like me, you are missing Blashford Lakes, or if, unlike me, you don’t have children and are therefore not trying to juggle your work with trying to teach them and therefore have more time on your hands than normal, you may appreciate a lengthy read, with pictures.

Please follow the link to indulge yourselves with the Blashford Lakes Annual Report for the period September 2018-August 2019: 200306BLAnnualReport2018-19 and remember the year that was..

What else can I say other than “enjoy!”

Stay at home, stay safe, stay well… and stay sane!