Reserve access update and a swan rescue!

Unfortunately in addition to the two path closures mentioned in Jim’s last blog, we have also had to close the stretch of path between the Welcome Hut and the Woodland Hide (you can walk along this path as far as the left hand turn towards Ivy North Hide). 

Both the Woodland Hide and Ivy South Hide are open, but they need to be accessed from the other direction, via the bridge and boardwalk.

We had hoped to get the offending tree branch, which has partially come away from one of the large oaks and is resting over the path against another tree opposite, removed today but unfortunately this did not happen. Hopefully the tree surgeons will be able to re-schedule their visit soon, as we know the circular ‘Wild Walk’ loop is a popular one.

On Saturday evening I had received a message from Jim warning me that visitors had reported a swan inside the water treatment works fence. Unable to do anything that night, it was left for me to investigate again on Sunday morning after I had opened the hides.

The swan had probably planned to land on Ivy Lake, and had either made a mistake and overshot the water, or being a young male it could have been put off landing by another male. On walking around the perimeter fence I did indeed find the bird. It was not overly impressed to see me, but didn’t appear too unscathed after a night inside the site.

On my way back to Centre I spotted a couple of Earthfan fungi on the edge of the lichen heath.

I found the key to the works and called Mike at the wildlife rescue at Moyles Court to see if he was available to retrieve it. He came down straight away and we went inside, following the fence line round. The swan had moved from its original spot, and had been closer to the entrance the night before, so clearly it didn’t have a problem walking.

With me blocking the swan’s exit (not entirely sure what I would have done if it had run at me), Mike was able to catch the bird and hold it down, while I positioned a carry bag. He placed the swan on top of the bag, holding its wings tight, and I zipped it up so his wings were held in place. We then carried the swan back to his van and took it across the road to Ibsley Water.

Before releasing the swan on the larger lake, Mike checked him over to make sure he was fit and well and hadn’t damaged himself in any way when he landed.

With no signs of damage to his wings or feet, Mike was satisfied and we went out onto the shore to release the bird. Ibsley Water is a much larger water body than Ivy Lake and is able as a result to support a larger population of swans without them getting too close to each other.

Mike released him slowly, making sure he had a chance to take it all in and clock where the other swans were on the water. He was quite happy to get back onto the water, and was quite vocal in his appreciation! Thank you Mike!

After the excitement of a swan rescue, I was able to have a look inside the moth trap, which revealed a nice selection of autumnal moths:

Today Bob, Chloe and NFNPA apprentice Ben have been improving the view of Ibsley Water from the viewing platform by removing some of the willows that have been merrily growing taller and taller. This will improve the views of the gulls and other birds roosting on the lake and also hopefully the starling murmurations.

I wasn’t able to take a before photo as I spent the morning uploading events to the website and Eventbrite, but I did join them in the afternoon so I could pinch some of the cut willow for wreath making. The rest was added to the dead hedges.


Willow ready to be turned into wreaths

Bob still has a few willows to cut, and with us selling 100 wreaths last year for a donation any nice straight whips will be put to good use!

Our self-led ‘Decorate a Willow Wreath’ activity will be available once again from Sunday 28th November and you can find out more on our website here.

In bird news, a Caspian gull has been seen on Ibsley Water both today and yesterday, with other recent sightings including marsh harrier, common and green sandpiper, a number of yellow-legged gull, water pipit and a number of black-tailed godwit. Elsewhere on the reserve firecrest have been showing nicely along with good numbers of siskin and a Siberian chiffchaff was caught on Thursday by bird ringer Kevin.

Finally, David Cuddon shared this photo of a Peregrine falcon wit us, showing nicely from (I think) Tern Hide – thank you very much David!


A Dark Surprise

Bird News: Ibsley Waterblack-necked grebe 1, dunlin 1, lapwing 350, goosander 25, green sandpiper 1.                         Ivy Lakebittern 1, chiffchaff 1, yellow-legged gull 1.

A fine, warm day, as is only fitting as it was Volunteer Thursday. Nineteen people turned out and we worked around the Woodland hide  doing clearance and generally tidying up for the winter, if we get good flocks of finches it should now be possible to see them well. The pond was cleared and the rainwater collector  fixed.

Volunteers working at Woodland hide

This task actually only involved just over half the team , the rest were digging in the cables for a new camera we are putting in.

Volunteers digging in camera cables

I think next week’s task will be to clean out and refill the sand martin holes in the bank at the Goosander hide. One thing is for sure my plan to do any more work at the Ivy North hide are at and end, now that there is a bittern in residence.

The continuing mild weather means there are still a good few moths on the wing, including a couple of surprises this morning. These were a scarce umber, which is typical of this time of year but not a species I see every year.

scarce umber

More unusual was a dark arches, a moth I see lots of every year, but I don’t think I have ever seen one in November before and this was a very fresh one so recently emerged, not an old worn left over from late summer.

dark arches

I had left the reserve before the bittern was reported, although I had a good look this morning as I knew that several have turned up around the south of England in the last week or so. They are now doing well as a breeding species in Britain so perhaps we will see them more and more on the coming years. I did see a few birds today though, on Ibsley Water a green sandpiper was on the north shore and a single dunlin flew around with the now quite large flock of lapwing. I was in the Goosander hide briefly in the afternoon, checking on the sand supplies for the martin bank and saw at least 25 goosander resting on the opposite bank. The black-necked grebe was again near the northern shore of the lake in the morning.