More Gulls, Fewer Finches

Bird News: Ibsley Waterred-breasted merganser 1, oystercatcher 1, black-tailed godwit 6, barnacle goose 5, Mediterranean gull 1, common gull 743+. Ivy Lakebittern 3, Egyptian goose 2, water rail 1, little egret 2, goosander 1.

Today was my only working day this week, as it was Volunteer Thursday. We worked beside the Goosander hide putting the finishing touches to the sand martin bank in readiness for their imminent return.

the finishing touches

After the task some of the volunteers went down to the Ivy North hide to see bittern, once again up to three were seen today and I managed to see one as I opened up and when I went to lock up at the end of the day. In the evening it was fishing just below the hide and I watched it for about ten minutes as it probed into the Glyceria clumps. It was just getting on with life about twenty feet from me, fabulous, one of those things you just never expect to see. In the morning I did get a picture of the same bird fishing to the left of the hide, a more typical view.

bittern - usually what I would class as a good view

Having not been in for a few days I was struck by the silence, or at least the loss of the continuous twittering of siskin that was going on last Friday. I imagine the warmer weather has made some fo the me move on, but today there wer every few small finches; siskin, goldfinch and lesser redpoll, on the reserve, whereas last week the nyger feeders were packed with them.

siskin and lesser redpoll

I expect there will be more passing through as the spring approaches as a lot went south in the autumn. Most of the finches have been with us in lower numbers this winter, brambling are almost absent, chaffinches certainly fewer, but greenfinches seem much as usual and bullfinches more frequent.

greenfinch male

When I went to lock the Ivy South hide, I had a good look round, just in case, partly to see if I could find the smew, which was on Ivy Lake yesterday, but also to follow up a report of an American wigeon. Sadly this potential Blashford “Mega” was not in evidence, lots of other wildfowl though, including a few small mixed feeding groups.

feeding group

On Ibsley Water at dusk the gull roost is getting larger again, most dramatically the number of common gull has reached a new record, I counted 743, but these were not all that were present as some were hidden. Common gull are not usually at all common at Blashford, typically ten or so roost.

Other birds on Ibsley Water today included the redhead red-breasted merganser, I suspect it is actually a young duck, an oystercatcher, probably one of the ones that breeds here, 6 black-tailed godwit and an adult Mediterranean gull.