Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017…

Another misty start to the day this morning, although by no means as misty as yesterday when from Tern Hide all that could be seen were the silhouettes of coot and a couple of pairs of goldeneye which were feeding close to the shoreline immediately in front of the hide.

This morning all of Ibsley Water could be seen, albeit through a misty haze, but most of the wildfowl was further offshore towards the north of the lake among the feathered leavings of the overnight gull roost which is now very extensive and covering a huge proportion of the lake by dusk. Evenings are also still seeing a “mini-murmuration” of a couple of thousand or so starlings, currently often settling in for the night in the reedbed in Ibsley Pond north of Lapwing Hide. What was immediately in front of the hide today, furtling around in the gravel for invertebrates, was a very obliging green woodpecker who would have posed beautifully for anyone armed with a camera had they been there (I just had a ‘phone)… Unfortunately by mid-morning what had started as a relatively clear day had soon disintegrated back into dense mist again… from Lapwing Hide you could just see past the end of the “spit” by about 11am!

A misty start. It didn't last!

A misty start. It didn’t last!

Look closely for the green woodpecker!

Look closely for the green woodpecker!

Ivy Lake was equally misty. No bittern or water rail when I opened up Ivy North Hide, although both species were obliging yesterday and later on in the day today. The water rail in the alder carr  opposite the Woodland Hide that Bob reported in the previous blog entry has also continued :

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At the Woodland Hide itself reedbunting and brambling (at least two) are still present along with the usual multitude of other species which makes a visit to this hide consistently enjoyable. Not that many decided to visit the feeder when I tried taking a picture during my “rounds”:

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There were mallard and shoveler in Ivy Silt Pond on the way down to Ivy South Hide where from the hide itself all the regular wildfowl could be seen, with some gadwall, wigeon and tufted duck all feeding (and in the case of the gadwall and mallard, very noisily and “splashily” displaying and setting up/defending pairings):

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The relatively mild weather and now lengthening daylight hours are also bringing with it other signs of spring and the New Year – as well as ducks pairing up, the great crested grebes are apparently setting up territories on Ivy Lake and a great tit has been stridently calling out “teacher” on and off all day around the centre. A lovely early introduction of the bird song that is still to come and with that I’ll leave you with the welcome sight of the recently emerged snowdrop shoots ushering in 2017, a New Year and new beginnings….

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I shall post this now and update at the end of the day as necessary with anything particularly noteworthy for anyone heading out this way tomorrow to kick start their year-lists. I’ve been office bound this morning and for the early part of the afternoon but will be heading out a little earlier than usual to stretch my legs, beat the bounds and swap the 2016 sightings record books for 2017’s. Hopefully the mist will lift again so I can see something! Who knows, I could even finish the year with an otter! But probably not!

Unfortunately the weather is not looking too favourable for tomorrow so what is traditionally the reserves busiest day of the year visitor wise may not be…

However for anyone who does make it out tomorrow don’t forget that Nigel and Christine will be in the centre classroom with their Pop-up cafe from 10.30am-3.30pm tomorrow with hot drinks and home baked cakes, a proportion of the takings from which goes into supporting our conservation and access work on the nature reserve.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

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Beauty and the Bittern

Bird News: Ibsley Watersmew 1, black-necked grebe 1, oystercatcher 2, black-tailed godwit 7, Mediterranean gull 6. Ivy Lakebittern 3, water rail 2, Cetti’s warbler 1, smew 1.

A much milder night has seen a thaw of the remaining ice, much to the benefit of the bitterns, at least three of which were in evidence again for most of the day. The brighter of the two smew was also on Ivy Lake in front of the Ivy North hide for a time and I saw the duller bird on Ibsley water as I opened up. At the Ivy North hide first thing, I spotted one bittern just visible round the trunk of the tree off to the left of the hide.

lurking bittern

The mild night resulted in a modest catch of moths including an oak beauty, hebrew character and chestnut.

oak beauty

Looking ahead the next few days do have a very spring-like appearance, perhaps we will even see a sand martin before the end of February. The wild daffodils are starting to come out and will be sped up by a bit of warmth, meanwhile the snowdrops are still looking good, but will soon be finished.

snowdrops

When it comes to finding ways to allow people to get close to wildlife the provision of a hide is a frequent choice, but it is not the only one. Obviously a hide that really works will mean that the wildlife will not know you are watching and will give the truest picture of what they get up to. With some wildlife habituation is a possibility, this technique relies on the fact that many species will get used to a moderately close approach under certain conditions. Wildfowl like to be able to see a threat, this is why they will actually follow a fox along the shore of a lake, a threat they can see cannot surprise them. Likewise they will see humans a s a threat but can learn to tolerate people within defined limits. With this in mind I have been cutting the vegetation alongside the path to the Ivy South hide to produce a low dense hedge. This means the ducks can see people but equally the barrier means they can easily see that we are not too close. This is slowly producing results and recently there have been several gadwall, mallard, tufted duck and a few shoveler using the pond, allowing quite good views without the constraints of a hide.

shoveler pair relaxing on Ivy Silt Pond

There was not much other news today, a black-necked grebe on Ibsley Water was new and will perhaps stay to moult. At dusk the numbers of large gulls are again declining, but there was further evidence of the arrival of smaller gulls with at least 6 Mediterranean gulls reported, all adults.