Bird News: Ibsley Water – black-necked grebe 3, sand martin 25+, Egyptian goose 2, water pipit 1, rock pipit 1. Whole Reserve – chiffchaff 7+.
Well I had a good look round the whole area as I did the last wildfowl count of the season and the overwhelming thing that became apparent was that most of the wildfowl have gone. I saw just a handful of wigeon, gadwall and pochard in fact the only species still present in good numbers were shoveler and goldeneye. There were 2 black-necked grebe, both in more or less summer plumage and it seems I missed one as there were three later in the day, easily done as they spend so much time underwater, either that or I just did not look hard enough! Several species are now back at Blashford getting ready to breed, I saw two pairs of oystercatcher and two pairs of shelduck, both birds usually associated with the coast, but which breed on the reserve every year.
Not the best picture in rather poor light but it does show the large red knob at the base of the bill which confirms it as a drake. Shelduck are unusual in a few ways, but one of them is that the sexes look more or less alike, unlike other ducks where the duck is in camouflage. The only obvious difference at a distance is size, the shelduck is obviously smaller than the drake. These things are related, shelducks nest down burrows, usually old rabbit burrows, so there is no need for camouflage, but it is important that the duck is not too big or she won’t get down the hole.
On my walk round the site I came across about 7 chiffchaff, more than I have seen this spring, but still not many. I saw no other migrants, certainly there were no martins over any of the lakes during the morning. However by the afternoon there were a few sand martins over Ibsley Water and these built to at least 25 by the time I was locking up. I was also told of singles of both rock and water pipit with the mixed group of small birds that have been ranging around the southern shore of Ibsley Water and periodically wander past the Tern hide. Both of these pipits along with their accompanying meadow pipits and pied wagtails will be migrants, although we don’t perhaps always think of them as such. Many of the pied wagtails will be Scottish breeders on their way back from wintering either in southern England or on the near continent. The majority now are males and in a week or so most will be females as they migrate a bit later.
The night was very mild and this resulted in a good moth catch including a smart pine beauty.
As usual at this time of year small Quaker was by far the most abundant species, but there was a good showing by common Quaker and twin-spot Quaker, with a scatter of Hebrew character, clouded drab, dotted border, oak beauty, a lead-coloured drab and a few micros including 2 Acleris notana, one of them very spotty.