I was running a bird watching course at Blashford today so I was pleased to wake to a dry and fairly bright day with little or no wind, more or less ideal conditions. There were ten people booked on, although only eight actually came along in the end. We did a tour of the hides starting with the furthest away. This gave us the walk along the Dockens Water to look and listen out for woodland birds. We did not see anything unusual, although along the way we had good views of goldcrest, treecreeper, nuthatch, redwing and long-tailed tit. In fact we found several bands of long-tailed tits, each one the core of a small mixed flock of woodland birds.
Up at the Lapwing hide one bird we did not see was lapwing, but we did find a small group of goldeneye, there were at least eight around today, a marked increase, no doubt due to the colder weather, there was also a flock of 20 pochard, probably newly arrived.
After a brief stop in the Goosander hide, where we did see goosander, it was back over the road to the Ivy Lake hides. Arriving at Ivy South we learnt that we had just missed the bittern, but we did see lots of ducks, including gadwall and wigeon.
At the Woodland hide we had the usual great views of lots of the common woodland birds as well as a fine male brambling with the many chaffinch feeding on the ground.
We tried the Ivy North hide for the bittern, but failed and finished off in the Tern hide (where of course there are now no terns) seeing lots of greylag geese, little grebe and ducks. Hopefully everyone had enjoyed themselves and taken a way a few tips for getting more enjoyment out of their bird watching in future. I have watched birds all my life and never tire of them, you never know what you will see. There is always lots more to learn, they also have the advantage of being almost everywhere at all times of the year and relatively easy to see.
Later in the afternoon I went over to the Tern hide again to check out the birds arriving to roost as I have a “Coming to roost” event tomorrow evening. There were lots and lots of gulls, but sadly no starlings, still perhaps a cold snap will bring them back.
There was no obvious sign of the ring-billed gull this evening, but it might just have got lost in the mass of birds, there were at least 20 common gull though, I have been struggling to find more than five so far this winter.
Locking up on Ivy Lake I counted at least 67 cormorant in the roost, earlier I had also seen a single little egret with them, but by dusk it had gone.
It was very pleasant to be able to get right round the reserve, something I had not done in ages and on a remarkably pleasant day, albeit one that did start to get a bit chilly as the sun set.