Not to the weather, but certainly to the birds, but more of that later. The day was pleasantly warm for the time of the year and I was busy with the volunteers and apprentices working on the eastern shore of Ibsley Water. We cut back the rushes on the shoreline to open up access for grazing wildfowl from the water and carried on with coppicing and pollarding in the reedbed. The brash is used to create a dead hedge as a habitat corridor.
The willow we pollarded will come back with a dense growth of fresh shoots next year, they can grow as much as 2 or 3 metres in a season.
The wintery feel came in the form of brambling at the feeder on the car park near the centre, at least 5 goldeneye on Ibsley Water and at dusk 7000 or so gulls coming in to roost with 3000-5000 starling wheeling about behind them, hopefully the start of a significant roost for later in the winter.
The moth trap yielded rather little today with just red-line Quaker, yellow-line Quaker, chestnut, “November” moth and silver Y.
A real misty autumn morning today, in fact so misty that I could only see a single mallard from the Ten hide first thing, it was the only bird near enough. Still as the mist thinned it did make for some very atmospheric scenes.
A misty Ivy Lake
In fact the sun burnt through pretty quickly and just a couple of minutes after the shot above I took the one below on the walk to the Woodland hide.
The sun breaking through
After several weeks of not working we got the television in the Centre back in action today and it is once again featuring “Pondcam”. When it first came on the picture was very blurred and I thought it was still not working, Jim was adamant it was just the lens that needed cleaning, I was not convinced, but went to clean it anyway, Jim was right and we now have water beetles swimming around in the Centre lobby once more.
The reserve has fungi all over the place at present, I got pictures of a couple as I opened up the reserve, not identified as yet though.
A group on fungi on an alder stump
A couple from a large group growing near the yard.
As befits the date, the last two nights have seen large numbers of “November” moths attracted to the moth trap. The November is in quotation marks as I cannot identify these to species level, they are just Epirrita species or November moth aggregate. There are three similar species, the November moth, pale November moth and autumnal moth, each one is variable and I strongly suspect we will get all three species at Blashford. I was also careful to say “attracted to” rather than in the moth trap as they majority of them are not in the trap but resting on the wall of the Centre, this morning there were at least 26 of them there.
This afternoon I spent a good while wading about in front of Ivy North hide cutting sight-lines through the reeds. When I locked up and had a good look from the hide it is clear that I have some more work to do, but at least there should be an improved chance of seeing the bittern now. We did not see any bittern but the great white egret was there, fishing just below the hide and we saw it catch a small perch. In one of the cut patches there was a water rail poking about and giving good views and all to the accompaniment of a singing Cetti’s warbler. In the Ivy Silt pond there was another singing Cetti’s warbler, perhaps they will stay the winter and remain to set up territories in the spring.
There was a very autumnal feel to this morning – as I drove to work through mist and foggy patches the diffuse light really reinforced and emphasised the changing colour of the tree canopy across the forest and it is definitely a bit cooler in the mornings. Cool enough that a combination of that, the damp in the air and a stinking cold and tiredness from number 3 not sleeping because of his stinking cold, meant that today I even resorted to wearing trousers! For regular visitors to the reserve that is usually the first sign of winter drawing nearer…*
The fog (mist?) meant that the far side of Ibsley Water could not be seen first thing, but Walter (“our” great white egret) was very handily on the near shore just to the right of Tern Hide again this morning where he was somewhat disdainfully watching a couple of grey herons having a bit of a set too over a stretch of adjacent shore line.
The light trap did not hold a huge amount this morning – a dead minotaur beetle, a couple of large caddis flies and on the moth front, a chestnut, a couple of red-line quakers and common wainscots, a common marbled carpet and, keeping to the autumnal theme, a November moth:
And finally, in keeping with true Blashford tradition, I narrowly missed out on seeing another otter this morning… approaching Ivy South Hide to open up, a visitor scanning Ivy Silt Pond mouthed “otter” as we got closer to him. He had just watched it chase and catch a large carp. We (volunteer Jacki and I) saw nothing! Having opened the hide we did give it a good 20 minutes or so but apart from hearing a (very large!) splash followed by the sight of a mini-tidal wave of ripples emanating from a different part from that which we were watching (of course!) which could have been otter, and a flurry of splashes from smaller fish jumping, we saw nothing… maybe next time?!
Still, nice to know it/they are still around, even if they continue to elude me.
*For non-regular visitors to the reserve I should perhaps point out that my resorting to trousers is in place of the shorts that I normally can be seen wearing throughout much of the rest of the year, not that I am wandering around the nature reserve a naturist mistaken for a naturalist!
Once again the overnight and early morning rain has conspired to provide a wonderfully watery pond-scape to areas of the reserve normally considered to be part of the land!! So much so that for the second time in a fortnight it wasn’t possible to open the Tern Hide car-park as it was underwater. The rain gauge registering 28 mm ( that’s over an inch in ‘old money’) says it all!!!
Being a Sunday Conservation team day, we were blessed with dry weather for the morning period and managed to coppice and pollard a small area of willow that had become a little unkempt over the years. Being quite close to the Centre was an advantage as although it stayed dry and at times even sunny, we weren’t sure it would remain like that, so it offered a chance for a quick retreat if necessary.
The overnight conditions, and the time of year, weren’t conducive to encouraging many moths to fly, but we did have four moths in or around the light trap, Mottled Umber, November Moth, Silver Y and this delightfully named Sprawler.
A Spawler – with a wonderfully relaxed name for a moth.
There were various reports from visitors coming in during the day of the road outside the reserve being flooded to various degrees. It looks as though the Dockens Water is not able to cope with the sheer volume of water coming off the Forest and water, as it does, finds the path of least resistance which in places is along the road.
Neverthe less we still had a steady stream of visitors, some, no doubt, attacted by the reports of reasonably good views of bittern. For my part I’d first heard of the bittern(s) a week ago last Thursday, but still hadn’t seen it. I believe I foolishly promised some pictures last week, so when opening up the hide this morning was half hoping to see it. They say patience is a virtue, so being particularly virtuous, I was rewarded with an exceptional opportinity to photograph the beast – which I ‘snapped up’