A warm welcome at Blashford Lakes

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I mentioned the general increase in bird song a few blog entries ago, and this trend has continued. The last couple of mornings it has been this song thrush that has been particularly making itself heard, not least because it is favouring a song post in an old elder immediately above the entrance gate that we unlock every morning. A warm welcome in the morning indeed.

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Bittern continue to cavort across Ivy Lake and the surrounding environs, the green-winged teal has been showing well, this morning at least, and wigeon, like those pictured here outside Ivy South Hide continue to dominate the wildfowl.

As promised, I did run the light trap last night, though I had not anticipated the rain that fell and which sadly kept the catch down. So pictured here is the catch in its entirety! One pale brindled beauty and one Tortricodes alternella (thanks to Hants Moths for my identification of the latter):

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Pale brindled beauty

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Tortricodes alternella

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I spent the morning finishing off the reconstruction work to the upper Dockens Water debris dam that was started with the Thursday volunteer team – here’s the end result, unfortunately I missed the “before” photo. Originally constructed as part of a river restoration project in 2006 the constant and extreme flood conditions of the last few months had wreaked havoc, punching a fair-sized hole through that was flowing down the old canalised channel even at normal water level. We have now completed a willow “fedge” in front and behind the original log jam that will allow water to flow through for the time-being, but prevent the situation from worsening and then trap silt, sticks, leaves and other water-borne debris in the autumn, thus effectively re-sealing the gap.

After a short talk to a visiting group after lunch I headed out to see what else the volunteers have been up to in the willow scrub/reed bed on the way up to Lapwing Hide. I was impressed! Continuing the willow clearance begun with Bob last winter they have cleared significantly more over the last few weeks:

Before:

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After!

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The clearing that results will hopefully encourage a re-growth of reed and/or flowering plants, which, sheltered by the surrounding tree’s will in turn favour invertebrates and reptiles. The cleared willows themselves have been formed into a very neat (and photogenic – see below!) dead-hedge which will provide cover for both those animals, small mammals and birds. As it decomposes the dead wood will also provide suitable conditions for deadwood fungi and invertebrates.

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On the way back to the centre I stopped off to look for green-winged teal unsuccessfully, but did catch up with visitors who had seen redhead smew on Ivy Lake (from the southern-most screen). I missed that too, but was delighted by both views of a kingfisher fishing, first in Rockford and then Ivy Lake and by this view of great crested grebes courting:

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An awful picture of a special sight, which included the full-blown neck stretching, head shaking, weedy gift proffering, body-up-out-of-the-water dancing courtship works!

Bitterns here, there and everywhere!

Definitely the bird of the moment, either there are more bitterns around at the moment, or they are becoming increasingly mobile – or both.

Either way today bittern were seen from Ivy North Hide, Ivy South Hide (flying into the reeds in the bay to the north), both of the Ivy/Rockford Lakes path screens, both in the reeds fringing the northern shore and, new this year, flying into and from the reeds fringing the south-east of Ivy Lake and finally bittern was seen again in Ivy Silt Pond (where I had fantastic views of one perched high in the reeds at the top of the pond when I locked up last night). So far I have not heard of any bittern being seen around Ibsley water or the pond at the top just north-east of the Lapwing Hide but I would be surprised if there wasn’t at least one bittern at least visiting that area. So how many bittern are there at the moment? Hard to say, but based on actual observations, definitely two, almost certainly three and entirely probably four or more!

Other bird highlights of the last couple of days are regular sightings of kingfisher – including reports of at least two birds patrolling the western shore of Rockford Lake, green-winged teal – most often seen from the northern most of the screens over-looking Ivy Lake amongst the teal (look for its vertical rather than horizontal white stripe along the body) and the black-necked grebe – one on Ibsley Water and two on Rockford Lake.

For those of you who are interested in moths but have given up asking, I’ll be running the light trap over-night, so do have a look if you are about tomorrow. I may, or may not, have something to report on the moth front tomorrow, depending on how successful it is (and how successful my identification is!).

Finally, the first of the wild daffodils, in the more sheltered area outside the Woodland Hide, are very, very almost out:

130208Blashford by J Day