Bird News: Ibsley Water – swift c50, house martin c15, swallow c40, goosander 1.
It rain very nearly all day, a couple of brief spells of dry weather being the only respite. The combination of rain and the strong wind, especially in the morning made views from almost all the hides difficult or downright unpleasant. After a quick look as I opened up I confined myself to the office to do, what seems to be a rather large backlog of miscellaneous paper, or more accurately, paperless-work.
At lunchtime I decided to take a look at Ibsley Water, so went over to the Tern hide, where I could find only a couple of swifts and a few swallows and martins. However after a short time a great battle started between four male lapwings. They sparred with each other in the air at first, tumbling, climbing and diving, each one trying to outdo the others in aerobatic skill. One bird then departed and the other three switched arena to the ground. They were on the shingle just in front of the hide, so I had a great view, albeit through a veil of rain. They were calling and facing away from one another with tails high revealing their undertail coverts which were spread wide, all the time flicking their wings. From time to time two would come to within less than a metre and start to do exaggerated nest scraping flicking stones backwards and so towards their opponent. The last phase involved coming alongside at about half a metre and then jumping in the air in short flights, the point seemed to be to get just above the opponent so preventing them from getting properly airborne. This last phase resulted in one obvious winner who always seemed to, literally, come out on top. It would have made a great film, if there had been any light and I had had a camera with me!
I went to check the flow of water into Ibsley Water via the sluice from Mockbeggar Lake and found that there was almost no flow, clearly something was wrong. After some messing about I found the intake was blocked with debris which, fortunately, was easily cleared and normal flow was restored. Hopefully we can get the level of Ibsley Water up to at least get some water to the base of the sand martin wall, although the recent rain will help a bit the level is still at least half a metre down on the usual for this time of the year. A look from the goosander hide showed that there had been a slight arrival of swifts with about 50 flying over the lake, there was also a single drake goosander asleep on the bank.
All the rain did rather transform the Dockens Water corridor woodland into a river with tree emerging from it, as the few pictures below show.
Dockens Water "woodland"
The boardwalk was also shortly to become more of a wadeway.
There has been one very unfortunate consequence of all this wet and windy weather. On Thursday we set up the tern rafts, but were unable to tow them out to the moorings so had to tie them up under the trees for later deployment, unfortunately, the forecast for the next few days does not look any better. I always try top leave putting the rafts out as late as possible to allow the gulls to get settled and the terns to arrive so that they can occupy the rafts and keep any gulls away, but this tactic may have come unstuck this year.
tern rafts moored under trees
To make matters worse as we were preparing the rafts on the slipway, spreading the shingle and laying out the chick shelters, we had terns swooping around above us calling as though admonishing us for our failure to get them out in good time. Although this may sound rather anthropomorphic, I have no doubt from their behaviour that they did know exactly what the rafts were and were taking an interest in what we were doing.