A Wintery Feel

Not to the weather, but certainly to the birds, but more of that later. The day was pleasantly warm for the time of the year and I was busy with the volunteers and apprentices working on the eastern shore of Ibsley Water. We cut back the rushes on the shoreline to open up access for grazing wildfowl from the water and carried on with coppicing and pollarding in the reedbed. The brash is used to create a dead hedge as a habitat corridor.

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Dead hedging

The willow we pollarded will come back with a dense growth of fresh shoots next year, they can grow as much as 2 or 3 metres in a season.

The wintery feel came in the form of brambling at the feeder on the car park near the centre, at least 5 goldeneye on Ibsley Water and at dusk 7000 or so gulls coming in to roost with 3000-5000 starling wheeling about behind them, hopefully the start of a significant roost for later in the winter.

The moth trap yielded rather little today with just red-line Quaker, yellow-line Quaker, chestnut, “November” moth and silver Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few Birds

I know Ed’s been really busy and hasn’t had the opportunity lately to post much in the way of pictures from the Reserve so I’ll share a few images of some of our more common species, taken last Wednesday and today.

The long view from the Tern Hide to the far side of Ibsley Water was distinctly autumnal

Across the water from the Tern Hide

Across the water from the Tern Hide

A few of the ‘regular’ birds using the feeders around the Woodland Hide were considerate enough to perch up on the nearby branches before dashing in to take a few seeds.

Male chaffinch

Male chaffinch

Female chaffinch

Female chaffinch

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

Collared Dove - normally a bird of more open areas, these have adapted their behaviour to the woodland area and taken to raiding the seed feeders.

Collared Dove – normally a bird of more open (park and garden) areas, but at Blashford they have adapted their behaviour to the woodland area and taken to raiding the seed feeders.

and a seasonal favourite…………..

A Blashford Christmas robin ?

A Blashford Christmas robin ?

Although most of the tit family only lingered long enough on the feeder for me to take their picture

Great tit

Great tit

Among the other birds seen around the woodlands are wren, nuthatch, blue and coal tits, siskin, dunnock, goldcrest and chiffchaff.  On the water there are increasing numbers of duck of several species including gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, teal, wigeon, shoveler, pochard, goldeneye and goosander, as well as the now regular long-tailed duck.  Great crested, little and black-necked grebe are all present on Ibsley water. Here also the early evening spectacle of large numbers of lesser black-backed, herring and black-headed gull  together with smaller numbers of great black-backed, common and yellow-legged gull coming to roost continues to attract birdwatchers. The starling murmuration has lost some of its previous  splendour with reduced numbers and more distant view, but on clear days, like today, can still be quite impressive.

On Ivy Lake at least two bittern have been seen and a couple of water rail were scrapping, chasing one another around outside the Ivy North Hide earlier today.

Visitors often ask where they might see particular birds around the reserve. In my experience the species most often sought is kingfisher, but I usually have to resort to rather vague advice of looking from one or other hide where a bird has been reported (but not personally seen by me!!). So it was gratifying to be privy to views of these birds perched openly and close(ish) to the Ivy North Hide, even allowing me to capture some half-decent images.

Kingfisher in reedbeds to right of Ivy North Hide

Kingfisher in reedbeds to left of Ivy North Hide

In branches to left of Ivy North Hide

In branches to left of Ivy North Hide

 

 

 

Day starts misty optically, but ends optimistically

As we approach the winter solstice its, perhaps, not surprising that there are days when what little sunlight we receive is often obscured by cloud. Today was just such a one and the associated drizzle didn’t improve matters. Deposits of the damp stuff on hide windows further reduces visibility. So in a Canute like effort to improve matters I set about cleaning off the worst of the mist from the Woodland Hide windows, to some effect.

wet, wintery

Clearly not very clear

A clearer view

A clearer view

At least now the feeding greenfinch, goldfinch, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker , blue tits and great tits can be seen.
Back at the Centre one of the daily routines is to check in the loft to see if any mice have wandered into our (humane) traps. At this time of year it seems a lot of youngsters are dispersing and the attraction of a warm dry loft isn’t to be sneered at. The incidence of mice finding the loft seems to be increasing at the moment, so I had the dubious pleasure of taking a woodmouse off on its ‘holiday’ to be released back into the community!

On an otherwise not terribly inspiring day, it was good to see the great white egret on the TV screen in the Centre lobby.

Star of screen ......, but also visible from hides!!

Star of screen ……, but also, often, visible from hides!!

The, newly re-furbished, camera is positioned viewing an area between Ivy North and South Hides, which is just not readily accessible, so without it we couldn’t see this area – or the egret.
Just after this image was taken the egret left – suddenly – being pursued by a grey heron. It would appear that despite the somewhat greater stature of the egret, standing ‘head and beak’ above a grey heron, it’s a little less than confident in standing its ground (water?) against our more common native bird.

Yesterday’s starling murmuration was well attended, by both starlings and spectators, although the light levels weren’t terrific for photography. We don’t know how much longer this spectacle is likely to continue but at least a large number of people have been fortunate enough to get here to view it over the last couple of weeks.

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Didn’t get over to the Tern Hide car-park tonight as when the weather is so grim they usually sneak in and settle so there didn’t seem to be much point. There’s always the chance that with less inclement weather, the display may continue for a while longer.
Also of note today, there were a number of siskin on the feeder by the Centre car-park, a start to the build-up of wintering finches we hope will be with us soon.
A couple of visitors had reported good sightings of the great white egret. As I closed down it was foraging in the reeds, about thirty feet away from the Ivy North Hide — don’t rate it’s chances if it runs into one of our bittern!!!!

More of a murmur than a murmuration

Well, for anyone who was wondering, there were starlings this evening, but with the rain coming down they didn’t hang around but rather came in various small-middling sized flocks and went straight to roost rather than gathering for the usual pre-roost spectacular flyby’s. I watched it from 4.15-4.25pm, so it maybe that there was more of a display earlier on that I missed, but either way they certainly didn’t gather on mass.

As for other news, other than the Mum’s and babies/toddlers who arrived for the regular buggy walk, making the best of the weather this morning, perhaps emboldened somewhat by the thought of the table booked for a post walk Christmas gathering at a local hostelry(!), it has been at best grey and dismal and worst wet and dreary so there haven’t been many visitors today! Having said that the great white egret was on show on the web-cam on and off throughout the day, there were reports of one bittern at Ivy North Hide and a brief but arresting glimpse of two merlins chasing, tumbling and fighting their way over the centre and car park, heading from the south to the north.

Can Starlings Sleep Easy?

Bird News: Ibsley Waterblack-necked grebe 1, yellow-legged gull 4+, goldeneye 14 (including 4 adult drakes).                  Ivy Lakebittern 1, cormorant 7 (to roost), chiffchaff 1. Centrelesser redpoll 2+.

A grey and gloomy day, so no pictures. I was tied to the office for pretty much the whole day, but I did pretty well for wildlife on my brief excursions into the outdoors. I had lunch in the Tern hide and saw the black-necked grebe, distantly, near the northern shore. Already by one o’clock there were several hundred large gulls on the lake and these included at least 4 yellow-legged gull, although I could see no sign of the red-crested pochard someone had written in the book.

At the Centre two or more lesser redpoll were in the birch trees and a mistle thrush spent much of the day singing.

Going to lock up I spotted some movement in the edge of the reeds to the north of the Ivy South hide, the bittern was in full view. It may have just flown in, possibly getting ready to eat a starling or two as they come into roost, as this is their favourite area. Bitterns are by no means just fish eaters and will happily take mammals and birds it they come in range and are small enough to swallow. At the Ivy North hide a chiffchaff was calling and I saw some small flocks of starling coming in and starting to wheel over the lake. I also saw at least 7 cormorant in the trees on the island near the eastern shore, I suspected they might be roosting there the other day and now I am more or less certain.

Closing the Tern hide I saw 14 goldeneye gathered quite close to the hide, these included four adult drakes, three of which were displaying vigorously, although this seemed to be amongst themselves as the females were neither close by, nor at all interested.