Taking the Ruff with the Smews

Bird News: Ibsley Waterruff 1, red-breasted merganser 2, yellow-legged gull 1, Mediterranean gull 1. Ivy Lakebittern 2, smew 2.

A fantastic Blashford day, it started fine then just got better and better, sunny and warm. In addition the birds were performing and perhaps most surprisingly the reserve was not that busy so there was no problem getting into the hides to se them.

The mild night meant another good moth catch and another water beetle, this time a big one, a great diving beetle, it is easy to see that it is a female as the males have smooth elytra.

great diving beetle

The morning was taken up with a volunteer task and the afternoon leading a guided walk with the same group. The Woodland hide delivered great views of lesser redpoll and siskin. A good range of ducks were at the Ivy South hide, including this pochard which was diving close to the hide. 

As so often recently it was the Ivy North hide that really delivered, although it took two visits. A bittern was fishing just below the hide, as it moved through the tangled Glyceria all we could see at times was a gently shift of the vegetation and then up would come the head and it would peer around before descending again. There were also water rails and a singing Cetti’s warbler. On the way there for our second visit, I noticed a small sycamore tree beside the path with the telltale signs of having been got at by a great spotted woodpecker for the purpose of sap-sucking. To do this they make a series of very evenly spaced small holes to make in a horizontal line around the trunk. The runs were very prominent as the runs showed up white, probably due to mould. North American woodpeckers are well-known for this behaviour, ours less so.

signs of woodpecker sap sucking

I returned to Ivy North again to lock up and saw the 2 smew, under the trees on the eastern shore. This meant that when I was at the Tern hide right at the end of the day and saw the red-breasted merganser with twenty or so goosander I had seen all three British saw-bill ducks in the one day. It later turned out that what I saw was a merganser, rather than the merganser, as two redheads were reported today. Other notable reports included a ruff on Ibsley Water.

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