Just a few Birds

I know Ed’s been really busy and hasn’t had the opportunity lately to post much in the way of pictures from the Reserve so I’ll share a few images of some of our more common species, taken last Wednesday and today.

The long view from the Tern Hide to the far side of Ibsley Water was distinctly autumnal

Across the water from the Tern Hide

Across the water from the Tern Hide

A few of the ‘regular’ birds using the feeders around the Woodland Hide were considerate enough to perch up on the nearby branches before dashing in to take a few seeds.

Male chaffinch

Male chaffinch

Female chaffinch

Female chaffinch

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

Collared Dove - normally a bird of more open areas, these have adapted their behaviour to the woodland area and taken to raiding the seed feeders.

Collared Dove – normally a bird of more open (park and garden) areas, but at Blashford they have adapted their behaviour to the woodland area and taken to raiding the seed feeders.

and a seasonal favourite…………..

A Blashford Christmas robin ?

A Blashford Christmas robin ?

Although most of the tit family only lingered long enough on the feeder for me to take their picture

Great tit

Great tit

Among the other birds seen around the woodlands are wren, nuthatch, blue and coal tits, siskin, dunnock, goldcrest and chiffchaff.  On the water there are increasing numbers of duck of several species including gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, teal, wigeon, shoveler, pochard, goldeneye and goosander, as well as the now regular long-tailed duck.  Great crested, little and black-necked grebe are all present on Ibsley water. Here also the early evening spectacle of large numbers of lesser black-backed, herring and black-headed gull  together with smaller numbers of great black-backed, common and yellow-legged gull coming to roost continues to attract birdwatchers. The starling murmuration has lost some of its previous  splendour with reduced numbers and more distant view, but on clear days, like today, can still be quite impressive.

On Ivy Lake at least two bittern have been seen and a couple of water rail were scrapping, chasing one another around outside the Ivy North Hide earlier today.

Visitors often ask where they might see particular birds around the reserve. In my experience the species most often sought is kingfisher, but I usually have to resort to rather vague advice of looking from one or other hide where a bird has been reported (but not personally seen by me!!). So it was gratifying to be privy to views of these birds perched openly and close(ish) to the Ivy North Hide, even allowing me to capture some half-decent images.

Kingfisher in reedbeds to right of Ivy North Hide

Kingfisher in reedbeds to left of Ivy North Hide

In branches to left of Ivy North Hide

In branches to left of Ivy North Hide

 

 

 

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“A fallen tree is like a free playground”

131030 Wild Days Out 20resized by J Day

The title of this blog refers to my quote of the week from Rosie, who made this observation even before we came across the fallen tree pictured above and spent a significant part of the morning on or around it! That quote is closely followed by “Who needs wi-fi when you’ve got nature?”, by Sam. Both children were participants in the autumn themed “Wild Days Out” activity days this week which were thoroughly enjoyed by all, despite the wet weather on Friday.

I, personally, fully endorse both quotes and both go some way to explaining why I think my job and my work are so important and why I so strongly believe that the more experiences like this that I and like-minded people in the Wildlife Trusts and other organisations can provide children, the better our world will be.

Stepping off my soap-box, mixed weather again today – sunshine, showers and wind, though thankfully nothing anywhere near the scale of Sunday night/Monday morning.

We had a family birdwatching event this morning which played host to a select, but very enthusiastic audience! Birds generally speaking were, and are, a bit thin on the ground – a combination of the relatively mild weather having minimised the influx of migrant birds to both woodland and wetland, an abundance of fruits and seeds in the tree’s and hedgerows decreasing the woodland birds need for the bird feeders and then the wet weather dispersing a lot of grazing wildfowl like wigeon, into the valley and thus away from the lakes. Still nuthatches and great spotted woodpeckers performed at the woodland hide where it was also interesting to note that coal tit have now obviously moved back from having summered in the coniferous plantations. Highlight of the morning however was towards the end of the morning/early afternoon at Ivy South Hide where two bittern were confirmed in the reeds to the left (north) of the hide, one flying in from elsewhere whilst another could be seen stalking along the very edge of the reed/water boundary. As far as I am aware there have still been no bittern seen from Ivy North Hide (or the “bittern hide” as it is known to many!), but it doesn’t mean they are not there! Also reported again today, over on Ibsley Water and best seen from Lapwing Hide, was a sighting of the black necked grebe.

Hare today – Birdtrail tomorrow

Saturday isn’t my normal day to be here but with the Birdtrail event tomorrow Jim will be on duty, so I’m covering his normal Saturday shift.  As Jim mentioned in yesterday’s post, tomorrow morning  there will be a number of groups of young people, parents and volunteers visiting the Reserve for the Birdtrail.

Although most of the work on resurfacing the access road to the Education Centre has ben done, the rain has delayed some aspects and it will now be next week before it’s ready to take traffic

With the reduced parking , due to re-surfacing of the road, other visitors might wish to delay their arrival tomorrow until the afternoon.

The rejuvenated road surface

The rejuvenated road surface

Butterfly wise its just starting to ‘buzz’ (if that’s the right description??) with a number of white butterflies including orange-tip as well green-veined white. Personally I find brief views of white butterflies one of those things that test your identification skills, especially as they seem to be a group that are particularly active and flighty.   Another complicating aspect is the amount of grey/black on the wing tips and that early and later broods of the same species have variable markings. Having said this the male orange tip is unmistakable – with the orange tip to its forewing – but the female can look very similar to other whites.

Male orange-tip

Male orange-tip

Fortunately both male and female orange-tip butterflies have a  magnificent marbled green and white underwing, which marks them out from the rest.

Whilst we’re talking about lepidoptera, the light/moth trap only had one inhabitant present of the species Parus major, not a moth at all, but a great tit.  He/she  had apparently eaten all the moths, although we only found one set of detached wings, so there may not have been many moths anyway as the overnight rain may have deterred them from flying.

Undeterred from nocturnal, and diurnal, flying activity were a great number of small flying insect, which I tend to lump together as midges,  so as well as quite a few in the moth trap there was also a fair number of them bedecking a somewhat dilapidated spider’s web, close to where the light trap had been set-up.

Spiders web with midge decoration

Spiders web with midge decoration

Apart from our voracious great tit and the usual collection of  blue tit, coal tit , greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch around the feeders, other birds seen or heard around the reserve include swift and common tern cruising above the Tern Hide when we opened up this morning. Three  little ringed plover  and a pair of dunlin , in breeding plumage, were seen by a couple of visitors and a cuckoo was singing(?) somewhere not too far from the Education Centre.

It’s  the nesting season and although it’s not alway obvious with most of the smaller land based birds, where the nests are, some of our water birds are less than subtle in collecting the necessary material, as was this coot.

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Coot with nesting material

Some other aspects of bird behaviour can be fascinating as well, especially where it’s not entirely what’s expected, as with this jackdaw which has learned to exploit our seed feeders.  Not content with simply picking up the spillage that the smaller birds leave, it’s found that is can balance itself on the feeder, but being a highly intelligent and resourceful bird it checks out the area first from a suitable vantage point.

P1400102

A suitable vantage point

Here we go.....................!!

Here we go…………………!!

A safe and rewarding landing.

A safe and rewarding landing.

But it’s not only the jackdaw that was taking advantage of our signposts for human visitors…

Great spot for a great spot

Great spot for a great spot

On the mammal front there are plenty of rabbits around the reserve.  Jackie, who regularly assists on a Saturday, spent some time  today walking the paths and cutting back bramble that was threatening to snake across them, and was rewarded for her efforts when she saw a hare not far from the Lapwing Hide.

Although there wasn’t a huge influx of visitors today, none of those we spoke to were reporting much activity near the sand martin nests under the Goosander Hide. It was, therefore,  reassuring as we closed the Tern hide to have over fifty sand martins with a few house martins, swallows and swifts circling around over the car-park.

High l’eau from Blashford

Tern Hide car-park flooded again last night and if the weather prediction for tonight is accurate then it’s unlikely to be open again tomorrow.  Still the bright sunshine of earlier today gave us some wonderful sights of autumn colour against the deceptively tranquil appearance of the settlement pond. The following picture was taken from the path going to the Ivy South Hide.

Autumn colour behind settlement pond

Two things that aren’t  obvious from this picture is that the pond is actually being filled with water running into it from Ivy Lake – it looks so tranquil – and also there is a large raptor in the picture.

I’m personally immensely impressed by human ingenuity and the gadgets and equipment, especially digital camera technology, we now have at our disposal, thanks largely to a huge un-sung coterie of engineers and technologists, without whom this blog wouldn’t be possible and certainly wouldn’t be as colourful. As testament to the power of this I present a picture of the aforementioned raptor, a picture taken with the same camera from the same position using the same lens ( O.K. with a bit of digital ‘zooming’) et voila:-

Buzzard on far side of settlement pond!!

If you look closely at the first picture you may just make out a small lump on the most central tree.

One of the ‘little’ jobs we were attempting today was to clear some of the dirt that had lodged between the boards on a bridge over the Dockens water, it had caused the build up of a large puddle in the heavy rain yesterday. On the way there,  just beyond the Ivy South Hide the path continues on a boardwalk. I suspect there have been times when this has been under water, well today was nearly one of them,

Watery walk on the boardwalk anyone?

Bur of course without the damp we’re not so likely to see the fungi which at this time of year decorate the trees (mostly) with their various arrays of spectacular excrescences and garish colours. Don’t know what they are but they look great.

A bracket fungus

A yellow fungus

That’s probably quite enough on a wet theme so I’ll close with a couple of pictures of some of our regular visitors taking advantage of one of the new feeders that have been put up outside the Woodland Hide and elsewhere.

Coal tit

Great tit