Nobbi Tern

Although it was another unpromising start to the day as we arrived to open up a distinctly soggy reserve under grey skies and light rain, the great spotted woodpecker was drumming from a large tree next to the Centre. A song thrush too was assuring us that spring was here with its distinctive repetitious singing of differing phrases. Trumping even these two was the wonderfully evocative sound of a chiffchaff calling out its own name in song.

Over Ibsley Water sand martins were seen hawking for insects. Whether these birds will be staying with us in the recently refurbished sand martin bank, or are just some of those moving through we will never know.

It’s very much a period of shift change as some of the late winter visitors haven’t all departed yet. Indeed the probable late winter/early spring shortage of natural food means we seem to be hosting ever larger numbers of brightly coloured finches, taking advantage of  the largess of the Trust in providing considerable quantities of niger seed, sunflower seed  and peanuts. As well as the siskin and redpoll coming into their breeding finery there are  quite large numbers  of (forty or more) around the Woodland Hide with at least ten brambling.   Some more brambling, and other finches including greenfinch,  are around the feeders near the Centre car-park. (Picture taken by Sheila).

Brambling P1390262a

Brambling by feeder close to Centre building

A buzzard has been making its presence fairly obviously around the Woodland Hide, much to the consternation of some of the smaller birds and a few of our visitors. One even asked if it had been taking many of the smaller birds, personally I should think this unlikely as most of the finches and tits are probably too agile to be caught by a buzzard. Most likely its scavenging some of the spilt food, I’ve had a friend ‘phone me today reporting just such buzzard behaviour from her garden.

The snipe has been re-located from the Ivy North Hide but there has been (to my knowledge) no sighting of any bittern today – hence the title of this piece (Just in case you were wondering if there is a strange species of tern on the reserve!!!).

Still a few ducks around including pochard, wigeon, teal, mallard, gadwall, tufted duck and goldeneye.  A couple of keen-eyed visitors spotted a pair of mandarin duck on Ibsley Water and some black-necked grebe are also still there.

Perhaps the most delightful sighting was by a couple of regularly visitors who were fortunate enough to see a barn owl flitting from post to post on the fence alongside Rockford Lake. The owl was trying to hunt in the open, but was being mobbed by black-headed gulls, the whole menagerie eventually flying off in the direction of Ivy Lake.

Something to Sing About

Bird News: Ibsley Watersmew 1, barnacle goose 5, black-tailed godwit 4, yellow-legged gull 1,            Mediterranean gull 5, wigeon c500, peregrine 1. Ivy Lakebittern 2, smew 2, green sandpiper 1.

Another fabulously clear and frosty start and made better by just about the first bird I saw from the Tern hide being a redhead smew, I think an adult female as it is very clean and neat.

Early morning from the Tern Hide

Somewhere out there is the smew, it is a little more visible in the shot below.

redhead smew

I walked round opening the hides in brilliant sunshine and, despite being cold, this had induced lots of bird to sing. The song thrushes were going full tilt, they are magnificent singers when they really go for it. I got a picture of the one below in the top of a tree just beside the path near the Woodland hide.

song thrush belting it out

The bitterns were performing well again today, although there were a few face-offs when they met, they are famously anti-social birds. Things were a little more restrained inside the hide, but not entirely friction free. As noted before some visitors, most conspicuously photographers, do make a habit of occupying the hide for hours at a time, often hogging the best views to the exclusion of others. So far this has led to no more than muttering off, but a bit more consideration would not go amiss.

I had to go down to Ivy Lake in the afternoon to check out a report of poachers, they might regard themselves as unofficial anglers, but the movement of fish they do is a threat to the legal fisheries and involve the theft of fish sometimes worth hundred of pounds. In this case all that was left was a bit of rubbish, another regular sign of anglers having been on site. On the way I saw two redhead smew, presumably the one I saw on Iblsey Water and another, but I am not entirely sure there are not three around. I also came across my first lesser celandine flower of the spring.

the first lesser celandine of the season

For some time a large ash tree in the same area has had a couple of bracket fungi, but after not looking at it for a while I found the brackets have really grown, the tree is probably slowly dying. Luckily it is not going to fall on anyone or anything that we need to worry about, for once a tree can go through all the stages of life and death with all the niches this provides for wildlife.

ash tree with bracket fungi

When I locked the Tern hide I had a scan for the Iceland gull, with no success, there were at least 5 Mediterranean gulls though and the 5 barnacle geese were also there.  I was also pleased to see a good flock of wigeon grazing the western bank, this has the added bonus of trimming the grass to an ideal length for nesting lapwings.

grazing wigeon flock