A New Smew, Rusty Returns and a Reason to be Careful

Bird News: Ibsley Watersmew 1. Ivy Lakebittern 1, Cetti’s warbler 1, ferruginous duck 1.

Looking from the Tern hide first thing I was a little surprised to see a fine redhead smew to the right of the hide loosely associating with a group of 11 displaying goldeneye. I am pretty sure it was an adult female, as the white areas were very clean and the belly unmarked, it also had the dark lores of an adult bird, although this can develop in the first winter. In other duck news, the ferruginous duck was seen again, although once more during the afternoon, it was certainly not on Ivy Lake first thing this morning. A bittern was seen again from Ivy North hide after a no sighting yesterday.

I was a little worried about the bursts of heavy rain this morning, after all it was Volunteer Thursday, but by 10 o’clock it had cleared and as we worked the sun came out and a clear blue sky unfurled above us. We were working in the area we cleared of rhododendron last winter, digging out the last of the stumps and stacking brash to protect the new hazel saplings we have planted in their place. We also made one or two other interesting observations. Many of the old hazel stools had sprouted new shoots in response to the extra light, especially on their southern sides. These had often then been nibbled off by deer, except where a brash pile had made access to them more difficult where they had grown to over two metres. As a result we are going to put more brash around the old stools as well. The second find was a few bluebells pushing through, so ninety years of rhododendron cover had not completely killed the ground flora after all.

The only other news today decidedly less welcome and came in the shape of only our second break-in to a car in the six years since the reserve really opened up. I suppose with the frequency of this kind of thing in New Forest car parks it was perhaps inevitable it would spread to Blashford in the end. It does highlight the importance of locking away valuables or, if possible, not leaving them in the car at all. It might also be worth taking note of anyone hanging around near the car parks for no obvious reason. The amount of coming and going at Blashford probably means that it is a very risky place to steal from cars without getting caught sooner or later. In the first case we had they very nearly were, as they were seen and the make model and colour of the car noted, but the number plate just missed, as they knew they had been seen I guess they thought themselves lucky to have got away and did not come back. Hopefully we will not get a repeat this time but I would suggest taking extra care with valuables and staying vigilant. Equally if anyone was at the reserve early this afternoon and saw anything suspicious, especially around the main car park it would be good to know.

A Glamorous Day at Blashford Lakes

Bird News: Ibsley Watersmew 1 (redhead), pintail 13. Ivy Lake ferruginous duck 1, Cetti’s warbler 1, green sandpiper 1. Blashford Lakegreat white egret 1.

A new year and for many birders a new yearlist, so the reserve was pretty busy for much of the day, even the heavy rain did not drive everyone away. The main attraction remains the ferruginous duck, which moved over to Ivy Lake once sailing started on Blashford Lake, unfortunately the great white egret that had also started the day there did not follow.

My day began well, I opened the Tern hide and was greeted by the sight of the redhead smew swimming out from the bay near the Goosander hide, I suspect it had roosted there with the goosander last night.

It had been very mild overnight and the moth trap had caught four moths, of three species, these were 2 mottled umber.

mottled umber

The others were a hebrew character.

hebrew character

And the last a micro moth, Acleris hastiana.

Acleris hastiana

As anyone who was out and about today will have noticed, the day went downhill considerably, the forecast light rain somehow came to us as a torrential downpour. However the decline of my day started rather earlier when I got a call to say that the toilets had become blocked, requiring a dash back to the Centre and the deployment of drain rods. I have worked in nature conservation for many years and always in the field, or what a former colleague used to refer to as “the glamorous end of the business”, however there are times when the lustre can become a little dulled.

By the end of the day I had recorded 68 species of birds on the reserve and I know of at least three more that were seen, all in all not bad considering the conditions.

I expect the Bank Holiday tomorrow will also be quiet busy, especially after the afternoon wash-out today.