29th Dec – Sightings

No pictures today as my camera has died on me. Opening the hides first thing there was a water pipit at Tern hide (later I also had singles at both Goosander and Lapwing hides as well), also from there a new high count of linnet 108, and a chiffchaff beside the hide. At Ivy North hide the bittern was standing high in the reedmace giving great views. At the Woodland hide the reed bunting count had risen to 7 along with all the usual woodland birds.

Walking round the reserve the number of species singing was notable, I heard mistle thrush, song thrush, great tit, treecreeper, robin and Cetti’s warbler between the Centre and Ivy South hide.

In the afternoon a first winter Caspian gull was showing well swimming among the larger gulls from at least 2 o’clock. Despite searches by a few people no other notable gulls were found apart from rather more yellow-legged gull than recently seen, with perhaps 10 or more.

Towards dusk a green sandpiper was at Goosander hide, a great white egret flew over heading south, I assumed the egret was heading to roost in the trees at Ivy Lake, but when I got there none were to be seen. A small starling roost gathered over the north end of Ibsley Water, maybe 1000 or so birds, being chased by a peregrine. The peregrine them forced low over the water, so low that many wings broke the surface and produced a sudden flash of spray.


It’s a Small World

Boxing Day was quite busy at Blashford, with a fair few visitors on the reserve, most who were prepared to spend the time waiting saw the bittern at Ivy North hide. Whilst they waited good views were to be had of water rail and Cetti’s warbler.

From the hides on Ibsley Water the black-necked grebe could be distantly seen along with at least two water pipit and near Tern hide, at least 85 linnet. An adult female marsh harrier crossed over the lake a few times and a sparrowhawk was seen trying to hunt the small starling roost int he late afternoon. The starling roost has evidently relocated having dropped from tens of thousands to a few hundred. I could also find no sign of any great white egret, even at dusk when I looked at the usual roost site, none could be found.


Part of the linnet flock on the shore beside Tern hide, there are lots of them but they are hard to pick out!

I had a look through the gull roost and there were good numbers of lesser black-backed gull and black-headed gull, but only 14 common gull, two yellow-legged gull and no sign of the ring-billed gull or Caspian gull. Obviously I could not check all the gulls present but conditions were very good, so I was disappointed not to find either species.

Away from the birds I came across an oak branch with a remarkable habitat growing across it, just one branch had it’s own forest of lichen, moss and fungi, small in scale but extraordinary.


lichen and moss on oak branch

lichen and moss 2

More lichen and moss

hair lichen

hair-like lichen


A small fungus (I think)

It might be only just after Christmas, but signs of spring were to be found. I saw snowdrops pushing through the ground and the hazel catkins are opening.

hazel catkins

hazel catkins

I also heard singing mistle thrush and great tit as well as the year round singers like robin and Cetti’s warbler.

Can Starlings Sleep Easy?

Bird News: Ibsley Waterblack-necked grebe 1, yellow-legged gull 4+, goldeneye 14 (including 4 adult drakes).                  Ivy Lakebittern 1, cormorant 7 (to roost), chiffchaff 1. Centrelesser redpoll 2+.

A grey and gloomy day, so no pictures. I was tied to the office for pretty much the whole day, but I did pretty well for wildlife on my brief excursions into the outdoors. I had lunch in the Tern hide and saw the black-necked grebe, distantly, near the northern shore. Already by one o’clock there were several hundred large gulls on the lake and these included at least 4 yellow-legged gull, although I could see no sign of the red-crested pochard someone had written in the book.

At the Centre two or more lesser redpoll were in the birch trees and a mistle thrush spent much of the day singing.

Going to lock up I spotted some movement in the edge of the reeds to the north of the Ivy South hide, the bittern was in full view. It may have just flown in, possibly getting ready to eat a starling or two as they come into roost, as this is their favourite area. Bitterns are by no means just fish eaters and will happily take mammals and birds it they come in range and are small enough to swallow. At the Ivy North hide a chiffchaff was calling and I saw some small flocks of starling coming in and starting to wheel over the lake. I also saw at least 7 cormorant in the trees on the island near the eastern shore, I suspected they might be roosting there the other day and now I am more or less certain.

Closing the Tern hide I saw 14 goldeneye gathered quite close to the hide, these included four adult drakes, three of which were displaying vigorously, although this seemed to be amongst themselves as the females were neither close by, nor at all interested.