Bird News: Ibsley Water – smew 1. Ivy Lake – bittern 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.