Thunder Snow?

We were promised dramatic weather today and so I would not have been surprised if not many volunteers came to this morning’s task. However it was Thursday morning and, as we all know, this is the best part of any week, so we actually had a little light rain but mostly it was dry and surprisingly not cold. Of course it also never pays to underestimate the Blashford volunteers! They came out – in fact ten people worked all morning and together we completed a long length of the new dead hedge that is going on top of the bank that runs alongside what will be the new path to the Goosander hide. It will provide some support for brambles that, along with some planted scrub, will provide a habitat corridor between the willow scrub between Goosander and Lapwing hides and the woodland along Ellingham Drove.

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Volunteers dead hedging new bank.

The weather did go downhill somewhat later and my “In to Roost” event at dusk was something of a washout, although it was just possible to make out a Mediterranean gull and the most regular of the ring-billed gulls. Something of a contrast with yesterday evening when Ivy Lake was very serene, with ducks gathering to roost under the light of the full Moon.

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Ivy Lake at dusk (yesterday)

Amongst the duck on Ivy Lake yesterday was a young drake scaup, not a common sight at Blashford, I did have a quick look for it today but with no luck. First thing today the lakes were calm and I managed to see the black-necked grebe relatively close to Tern hide and, even better, the bittern feeding in the long channel at Ivy North hide, my best sighting of it so far this winter. On both the last two evenings just one great white egret has roosted in the tree beside Ivy Lake. Tonight I think this may have been a mistake as it is a very exposed site and it looked as if it was having difficulty hanging on, and it must be very cold high up in the wind and sleet. The only other reports of note today were of the water rail near Woodland hide and the water pipit seen again at Tern hide.

The final news is of a temporary closure of the boardwalk beyond Ivy South hide. This is due to a large tree having snapped off and now hanging over the path. It will need a tree surgeon to deal with it safely. Luckily it does not affect access to the hide, just cuts off the link across to the Ellingham path, so is not really much more than an inconvenience. Please respect the tape and signs though as I don’t want to find anybody squashed under a fallen branch. Hopefully it will be cleared next week.

As I headed home it was sort of snowing, but there was no thunder, so the “Thunder snow” never materialised.

A Few Birds and the Promise of More Cake

Over the last few days there have been regular sightings of “Walter” the great white egret as well as a few further ones of the second, un-ringed, bird. Other observers have also confirmed my impression that the new bird is quiet a bit smaller, this probably confirms that Walter is indeed a “He”, since males are larger than females in this species. We were sent these pictures of both egrets by Lorne Bissell a couple of days ago.

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The two great white egret, Walter is on the right with the rings.

Bittern sightings have been intermittent from Ivy North hide, usually to the east (left) of the hide and water rail are being seen regularly. the wildfowl on Ivy Lake remain very unsettled, I suspect this is due to otter activity, but I have no sightings to confirm this as yet.

In the alder and birch trees around the Centre a large flock of siskin can be seen and heard, I estimate there are at least 150 birds in this flock. Also in this area a firecrest is regularly being seen associating with the mixed tit flock that frequents the willows.

A black-necked grebe was on Ibsley Water yesterday, but I do not think anyone saw it today. The marsh harrier that has made a number of visits recently was again around Ibsley Water today, spending about half an hour perched at various points. There was also a peregrine seen. At dusk the gull roost was as large as ever and something like 3000 starling gave a brief flying display to the north, before going to roost. Hopefully they will stay around and grow in number for my “In to Roost” event next Wednesday afternoon, there should still be places if you would like to come along, but please call us to book (01425 472760) or email BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk.

Another up-coming event is the return of the, soon to be legendary, Pop-up Café. It had a premiere on the first Sunday of this month and proved a great hit with visitors and it will be back at the Centre this coming Sunday serving hot drinks, very fine home made cakes and probably a few other things besides. We will also have the very fine Trust calendar for 2017, wildlife Christmas cards, books and various other things available for sale.

The café will return throughout the winter on the first and third Sunday of each month.