Look out behind you

Behind You!

Many thanks to Jon Mitchell for sending in the “action shot”!

Just thought you might like to see a photo I took from Ivy South on Sunday afternoon (whilst waiting for a kingfisher to perch – no joy!). Us photographers were keeping ourselves amused by taking shots of a female brown hawker that was depositing eggs on the underwater parts of the branches of the fallen tree in front of the hide. At one point, a coot shot in to try and catch the hawker and have a nice high-protein meal.

Fortunately (for the hawker – not for the coot) the dragonflies eyes were good enough to see the coot coming behind her – and she flew away just in time.”

Otherwise things are much the same as they were last time I blogged although the number of hirundines on site has certainly dropped. There are still at least three great white egrets (reported again this morning, on Ibsely Water) and photographers are still semi-permanently encamped in Ivy South Hide waiting for a stunning kingfisher picture. The kingfisher is still very much in evidence but this week I think there have been far more kingfisher sightings than pictures!

The stinkhorns I posted last week are now limp stipes, but have been replaced by new ones which have emerged sequentially every few days and I’ve spotted the odd beefsteak fungus starting to form now too.



Autumn well underway


There has been a very autumnal feel to this week with hundreds of martins gathering over Ibsley Water each morning and today I was there as they continued with their migration southward – one moment they were all zipping around just above the lake surface and in the blink of an eye, at some signal unseen by me, they launched their way skywards in a fairly close spiral and very quickly were lost to sight.

There’s plenty of other signs of the changing season too – including the fact that this morning I chose to wear a jumper AND jacket into work!

The grasslands have been looking lovely first thing each day as well, festooned with their dew-laden cobwebs as they have been, and everywhere you go (there, the woodland, and even the car parks and outside the Centre) the ground is liberally covered with badger droppings whose diet has now very clearly moved on from plum to blackberry!

It’s still very dry so the fungi have not yet fruited in earnest but there are still some to be found, including this newly erect (there’s no other word for it really!) stinkhorn photographed near Woodland Hide this morning.

I’ve smelt it coming for a few days now, but not managed to see it, presumably because it was still in its “egg” form as opposed to my just being unobservant as it was particularly fresh looking this morning. They don’t tend to last overly long, but this one will soon be replaced by another marked by a new “egg” bottom left of the photograph. Weird things these eggs, and far more easily overlooked than the mature fungus (which, lets face it, is also pretty weird!) as they often form just below the ground, so nice to see and get a photo of it today.


You can just see a fly coming in in the top left corner of the picture. Attracted by the rotten/sweet small of the fungus it will become coated with the sticky jelly carrying spores and so assist the fungi in its dispersal as it flies away on whatever business flies get up to when not lured by stinkhorns.

Kingfishers have continued to oblige this summer, to an extent at Goosander Hide, but in recent weeks at Ivy South Hide in particular.

There are still at least two great white egrets around, debatably 3, one of which is “Walter” and yesterday afternoon they have been joined by another of our seasonal herons, with a bittern seen in flight by half-a-dozen visitors as it flew over the reed/reedmace bed, from left to right, in front of Ivy North Hide, giving all a fantastic view.

It will probably be a while before the next sighting, and even longer before anyone gets a picture as the reeds are all so tall and dense still at this time of year, but good to know that there is at least one around so keep your eyes peeled on your next visit and you never know!


Squatters evicted…

Pretty much everyone I spoke to today commented on how unseasonably warm it is and that may explain some of the unseasonal fungus sightings – newly emerged stinkhorn near Woodland Hide, this very fresh shaggy ink cap in the reed bed near Lapwing Hide as well as the more worn looking, but perhaps more striking Clitocybe fungus (giant funnel fungus?) pictured below and photographed along the Dockens Water on the way to Goosander Hide:

Unseasonal shaggy ink cap

Unseasonal shaggy ink cap

Giant funnel cap fungus

Giant funnel cap fungus

Elsewhere on the reserve I caught up with the black necked grebe (ducking and diving as only a black necked grebe can!) near to the south western shore of Ibsley Water and some un/lucky visitors enjoyed brilliant, but frustrating, views of a bittern enjoying an extended fishy lunch – brilliant because it performed well for a decent period of time, frustrating because most of the photographers could not get a decent shot of it from amongst the reeds where it was hunting and feeding!

Pre-empting the wet weather to come this morning I had headed out towards Lapwing Hide with the “footpath underwater” signs. Although absolutely fine at the moment there is already a puddle in the lowest section of path and I didn’t figure it would do any harm to get the signs in before they were needed! It was nice to see a nice mix of birds in front of Goosander Hide, including some goosander and goldeneye as well as the raft of pochard pictured below and I had lovely views of a kingfisher close to the path on the approach by the “Clear Water Pond”:

View from Goosander Hide

View from Goosander Hide

On route I released this young woodmouse a suitable distance away from the Centre where it would no doubt have caused a nuisance of itself left to its own devices. Always a problem at this time of the year (last year in one very expensive, but short, period of time they cost us nearly £800 in call out charges and damage to the alarm system wiring!), they had been pretty quiet but for the last fortnight we have been trapping them in the loft at the rate of at least one every couple of days or so. Certainly not coming in out of the cold, we often get an influx after heavy rain, presumably when their woodland habitat along the adjacent Dockens Water is flooded:

Evicted squatter

Evicted squatter

Walking back from Tern Hide I spotted what looked like a large bag leaning against the entrance fencing – closer inspection confirmed  my suspicions, that this was part of a dodgy anglers stash. In this instance we were missing the fishing gear itself, but rather the anglers creature comforts – a pair of wellies, a sleeping bag and a two man tent. Thinking that that was the kids Christmas present sorted (tent to play in in the back garden!) I was rather disappointed when a woodmouse hopped out leaving behind the rather cosy nest it had made in the sleeping bag and a couple of large holes in the sides of the tent… it was all decent gear too, and obviously hadn’t been there that long… oh well. Hopefully Father Christmas will have more luck!

What we need is a resident stoat to help control the population (of mice that is, not anglers!); thanks to Mike Jarrett who kindly (and with some glee it has to be said!) shared these pictures with us, taken from a bench along the Dockens Water footpath earlier in the month. Far better than any of my efforts above, so a good place to leave this blog!

Stoat by Mike Jarrett

Stoat by Mike Jarrett

Stoat by Mike Jarrett

Stoat by Mike Jarrett





Well perhaps a Silver!! or at least a Bronze

My quiet confidence of yesterday over the ‘Going for Gold – 50 bird challenge’, has been slightly shattered as we failed to find the fifty species. As anyone who goes birdwatching on a regular basis knows, there are just some days when even the most regularly seen birds fail to make their presence felt. Today even the normally persistent pheasant and collared dove that frequent areas around the bird feeders weren’t in evidence.

Eight people turned up for the walk and between us we did manage to see 43 species. Those who took part  enjoyed the walk and saw a large number of birds albeit a lot of the same species. Final list was – in no particular order Egyptian goose, great crested grebe, cormorant, swallow, Canada goose, shoveler, grey heron, house martin, sand martin, tufted duck, magpie, mute swan, wood pigeon, lapwing, jackdaw, mallard, wigeon, pochard, teal, carrion crow, coot, greylag goose, little grebe, robin, blue tit, blackbird, moorhen, buzzard, herring gull, siskin, chifchaff, goldfinch, nuthatch, greenfinch, chaffinch, great tit, coal tit, gadwall, great black-backed gull, black-headed gull, goldeneye, dunock and wren.

Just a couple of pictures from this morning to add colour and smell to the blog

 A fairly fresh, if smelly stinkhorn beside the path to Ivy South Hide,

Stinkhorn – the picture doesn’t do full justice to the smell

and this, to my mind and I hope you agree, rather attractive study on orange and brown called a Bordered Beauty

Bordered Beauty

Never Mind the Coneheads

Bird News: Ibsley Watercommon sandpiper 2, shoveler 77, teal 20+, wheatear 2, black tern 1 (reported).

Not at all a bad day, mainly warm and sunny with almost no sign of the threatened showers. I was catching up on a few small jobs around the reserve in between bouts of paperwork. I had to go up to the Lapwing hide in the morning and was pleased to see a good number of lapwing on the grassy peninsula south of the hide. The longer grass areas seem to be harbouring lots of long-winged coneheads and I got a picture of a female with the long sword-like ovipositor.

long-winged conehead

I had my first real look at the clearance work done by the Somerley Estate since they took over ownership of Mockbeggar Lake earlier this month. They certainly have not hung about and the clearance, which has been done mainly to facilitate angling, should also be of benefit to wildlife, especially wildfowl. Although rather drastic to look at now it should recover pretty quickly. In fact we were planning something similar had the lake been kept in the reserve as the shores had become very overgrown. Hopefully it will remain possible to view over the lake.

At lunchtime the area behind the Centre was alive with insects, including a female gold-ringed dragonfly egg-laying int he pond, they usually lay in flowing water, even when it is fast flowing like the Dockens Water. I failed to get a picture of it so this peacock will have to do.


At the end of the day as I went to lock up I found a stinkhorn fungus at the very earliest stage of emerging from the ground when it looks like an egg bursting up from the soil.

stinkhorn to be