Quick post on bird and dragonfly photography

Firstly on bird photography: we are absolutely delighted and thrilled to have local wildlife photographer and lecturer John Combes back for the first time since the pandemic hit delivering his popular and brilliant photography courses.

Sadly the “Basics” day course, which should have run today, didn’t, and this is particularly sad as it is almost certainly simply because of the fact that with our current (temporary!) reduced staffing levels I have been too busy to advertise it as well as I should have done. So I am working at home late tonight to make sure that more people are aware of the follow up “Birds” photography course which is being held next Saturday, 2nd July. With some places sold already this course is definitely running – but we are keen to fill it if we can!

Please visit the website to find out more – and book!

https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/events/2022-07-02-wildlife-photography-birds

Now onto dragonfly photography – I have a special request…

Nigel Kendall, a Blashford Lakes supporter, one of our Welcome Volunteers and a keen photographer himself, is working up a “Blashford Dragonflies” book which will be sold from the Welcome Hut with all proceeds to Blashford Lakes. The book will feature a small amount of information alongside images of all of the Odonata species currently known to frequent the nature reserve as well as a small number of other species not yet recorded which are likely to be at some point in the future (based on a list compiled by Bob Chapman).

Nigel has good quality images which he is happy to publish of the vast majority of dragonfly and damselfly species on the list, but is missing the following:

Willow Emerald Damsel
Scarce Blue-tailed Damsel
Green-eyed Hawker
Vagrant Emperor
Lesser Emperor
Yellow-winged Darter
Red-veined Darter

So, if you have images of any of the above you are willing to share for this publication, or can forward this blog post onto anyone who you think might be able to help, we would be very grateful. Could you please email us at BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk with your consent for me to forward your email on to Nigel, and I will do so so that he may correspond with you directly.

In return you will obviously be credited as you wish within the book and you will receive your very own copy of the book free of charge when it is published – and, as if it could get any better, you will also get to experience the wonderful, warm, glow of knowing that your image contribution is indirectly contributing to the ongoing support and management of the Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve & Education Centre!

We hope to hear from you!

Draft front cover of Blashford Lakes Dragonflies by Nigel Kendall

Counting birds and a community fund

On Sunday our Young Naturalists took part in the garden bird watch, visiting the woodland hide and watching the feeder and trees close to the Education Centre, watching the birds for one hour and recording the highest number they saw of each bird species at any one time within that hour.

Talia and Poppy

Talia and Poppy

 

Unsurprisingly, our top species was chaffinch, with 23 birds recorded at one time. This was followed by goldfinch (7), great tit (5), blue tit (5), long-tailed tit (4), greenfinch (4), blackbird (4), robin (4), brambling (4), siskin (3), dunnock (3), coal tit (2), nuthatch (1), jay (1), carrion crow (1), and lesser redpoll (1): sixteen different species in total.

Talia took some lovely photos of the different birds and has shared them with us for the blog:

Siskin by Talia Felstead

Siskin by Talia Felstead

Robin by Talia Felstead

Robin by Talia Felstead

Long tailed tit by Talia Felstead

Long tailed tit by Talia Felstead

Great tit by Talia Felstead

Great tit by Talia Felstead

Dunnock by Talia Felstead

Dunnock by Talia Felstead

Chaffinch by Talia Felstead

Chaffinch by Talia Felstead

Chaffinch 2 by Talia Felstead

Chaffinch by Talia Felstead

Brambling by Talia Felstead

Brambling by Talia Felstead

In addition to the birds we also spotted four bank voles and one brown rat.

Bank vole by Talia Felstead

Bank vole by Talia Felstead

After lunch we headed over to the area by Goosander hide to remove some of the young birch trees which have self seeded and started to dominate this part of the reserve. The smaller ones we either pulled out or levered out using a fork. Geoff had also made a very nifty sapling lever which we had a go at using. The larger trees we cut at waist height, hopefully reducing the likelihood of them continuing to grow – if coppiced low to the ground they would certainly sprout new shoots quickly.

Young Naturalist Megan has very kindly nominated our group for the Waitrose Community Matters fund and we’ve been chosen as one of their three charities throughout February at the Lymington store for a share of the months funding.

So, if you live in or near Lymington and shop in Waitrose, or feel like popping in throughout February, please make sure you get a token at the end of your shop and place it in our Young Naturalists pot to support the group!

Thank you, and thank you Megan for nominating us!

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Our Young Naturalists are kindly supported by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.

Bird Photography is not Easy!

I had a few more attempts at getting some pictures of birds at Blashford today, surely I could do better than yesterday? At Ivy South hide as I opened up there were several gadwall close to the hide. The birds were close and the light was okay, what could stop me getting a reasonable shot? gadwall drake 3It turns out a well, or rather a badly, placed branch can still get in the way. Eventually I got one that was more or less alright, although it was almost too close.gadwall drake 2 Up close drake gadwall are not the boring grey they sometimes appear at a distance.

As I was about to head off a kingfisher flew into a tree just south of the hide. It was quite close, but once again there were problems with the woodwork!kingfisher 1In fact this was not the only problem, I dare not open the hide window so the picture had to be taken through the glass, never ideal. It did change perch and at least this time I could more or less focus through the twigs.kingfisher 2Overall better results than yesterday’s avocet, which had, unsurprisingly, gone today. I was only at Blashford in the morning and so do not have a lot to report on the bird front. I understand that 2 brambling were seen at the Woodland hide, along with a chiffchaff and lesser redpoll. When I opened the Tern hide I saw a shelduck and 5 pintail (4 of them drakes) and later there was a report of a green sandpiper there.