A Few Birds

We had a mini bird race for teams from our Blashford Lakes Project partners today, which meant that I got to have a good look around the reserve and see a few birds as well. Generally it was a quite day with rather little sign of migration despite the season.

Over Ibsley Water there were several hundred hirundines, predominantly house martin but including sand martin and swallow. The only wader was common sandpiper, but the bushes between the lakes held some small birds including chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap and a single spotted flycatcher, mostly accompanying flocks of long-tailed tit.

Walter our regular great white egret was back in his regular spot outside Ivy North hide after going absent for a few days, his recent companion has not been seen for several days. An adult hobby hunting over the trees at the same spot was also nice to see and a peregrine was reported there as well.

Numbers of wildfowl have been high for the time of year and I took the opportunity to get a new count of the coot on Ibsley Water and found 794, a really high count for the first half of September.



Race Day

Blashford Lakes is a partnership, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust run the reserve but only with the help of the two land owning partners, Bournemouth Water and Wessex Water and additional support of New Forest District Council. Hopefully all the partners gain advantage from the arrangement, the landowners get their land managed and enjoyed by lot of visitors and it plays a role in the education of thousands of people, of all ages, every year. It provides an accessible and attractive place to enjoy wildlife, which as we are now told, but perhaps many of us already knew, is very good for wellbeing.

Although the partners support our work, most of the employees never get to see the site, so yeterday we sought to address this by holding a Partners Bird Race. Between 10:00 and 12:45 three teams, one for each of the other partners, set out with Trust staff and volunteers as guides to see just how many bird species they could see.

I know that about 70 species is a good total for a day at Blashford so I was expecting something in the mid to high fifties to be the winning total, in fact two teams tied in the end both with 58 species. It turned out that 68 species had been seen in all though, with one or two more “possibles”.

The species seen were:

  1. Little grebe
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Little egret
  5. Grey heron
  6. Mute swan
  7. Greylag goose
  8. Canada goose
  9. Egyptian goose
  10. Mallard
  11. Gadwall
  12. Shoveler
  13. Wigeon
  14. Teal
  15. Pochard
  16. Tufted duck
  17. Goldeneye
  18. Goosander
  19. Red kite
  20. Buzzard
  21. Sparrowhawk
  22. Pheasant
  23. Water rail
  24. Moorhen
  25. Coot
  26. Oystercatcher
  27. Lapwing
  28. Black-headed gull
  29. Common gull
  30. Herring gull
  31. Lesser black-backed gull
  32. Woodpigeon
  33. Kingfisher
  34. Green Woodpecker
  35. Great spotted woodpecker
  36. Meadow pipit
  37. Pied wagtail
  38. Grey wagtail
  39. Wren
  40. Dunnock
  41. Robin
  42. Song thrush
  43. Redwing
  44. Mistle thrush
  45. Blackbird
  46. Cetti’s warbler
  47. Goldcrest
  48. Firecrest
  49. Great tit
  50. Coal tit
  51. Blue tit
  52. Long-tailed tit
  53. Nuthatch
  54. Treecreeper
  55. Magpie
  56. Jay
  57. Jackdaw
  58. Rook
  59. Carrion Crow
  60. Starling
  61. Chaffinch
  62. Brambling
  63. Lesser redpoll
  64. Goldfinch
  65. Greenfinch
  66. Siskin
  67. Bullfinch
  68. Reed bunting

Remarkably all the teams saw Cetti’s warbler, usually very difficult to see, two teams had good views of firecrest, but nobody saw a collard dove. The winning team, after a nail-biting tie break, was from……………….(this pause put in for dramatic, if annoying effect, as per all awards nowadays)……………..New Forest District Council, who won the prize of a bird feeder stand and the golden eggs, but not the goose.

The tawny owl that had been so regular on the south edge of Ivy Lake failed to be there today and if the bittern was still there it kept a very low profile. As if to emphasise the nature of these kind of events, although I was in a meeting for most of the rest of the day I still managed to see several more species that we had all missed during our race. Even when you have lots of people looking it is so easy to miss things, casual records at other times included dunlin, snipe and Mediterranean gull, making 71 species in the day, just better than “Par”.

Many thanks to all who participated. I am sure that all the many visitors to the reserve appreciate the support of the partners, for without them there would be no reserve to visit.

Hopefully pictures will follow.

Spinner Dipped – A Phalarope Missed

Bird News: Ibsley Watergrey phalarope 1.

There may not be much news today, but what there is certainly makes up in quality for what it lacks in quantity. Sadly the bird in question, which would have been a Blashford first for me, did not stick around, or if it did we could not find it. I had opened the hide as usual and looked out on a lake busy with birds, although nothing out of the ordinary. Then at about 09:20 a visitor came into the Center to tell us of a grey phalarope spinning around on the water just outside the Tern hide. We were just about to go into a meeting of the Blashford Lakes Partnership, so any desire to dash over the road to “twitch” the bird had to be suppressed. Inevitably, by the time the meeting had ended the bird had flown, or at least was in hiding. So, in birding terms we “dipped”.

Perhaps I should explain the Blashford Lakes Partnership reference above. The nature reserve and education centre are run by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, but the Trust does not own the reserve. The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between the two land (and more importantly lake) owners, Sembcorp Bournemouth Water and Wessex Water, New Forest District Council and the Wildlife Trust. Between us the four partners work to deliver the nature reserve and education centre that visitors use everyday. It is no exaggeration to say that no one partner could deliver the project alone and although the Wildlife Trust might front the project, we can only deliver with the backing of the other partners.