Thursday, 29 October 2009
As it was Thursday it was volunteer day, thirteen people today and we got a lot of the view of the silt pond beside the path to the Ivy South hide opened up. Hopefully this will allow the ducks that use the pond to see people walking along the path better and make them more likely to habituate to people being there. Soon we will be starting work in readiness for the replacement of the Ivy South hide, this will mean the hide will be out of action for a couple of weeks but after that there will be a new and hopefully much better view of the lake.
At the end of the day I tried to get a "count" of the gulls coming to roost on Ibsley Water. In the end I estimated about 11,000 large gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backed but including at least 18 Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Common Gull. To get a better estimate I really need to start earlier and count them as they arrive, flying in from the north after a day up on Salisbury Plain.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Plans for the replacement for the Ivy South hide progress as does the project to put in some wildlife cameras, all being well we should be starting work next month. In fact it is going to be a busy winter as we also hope to extend the Sand Martin bank as well and there is still all the usual winter work to be done.
I stayed a little later at the end of the day and took a look at the gulls coming in to roost on Ibsley Water (and still could not find the drake Goldeneye!). The gulls included at least five Yellow-legged Gulls (4 adults and a 2nd winter) and a single Common Gull. Common Gulls are actually not at all common at Blashford and are always worth noting.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Moving across to the Centre I found a female Sparrowhawk in the car park standing on the back of a bewildered juvenile Woodpigeon. My arrival disturbed it and the hawk flew off. I thought the Woodpigeon would not survive but after a few minutes it too flew off.
The moth trap contained a small selection of species including a fine Merveille du Jour, Brick, Red-line Quaker, Sallow, Feathered Thorn and Common Marbled Carpet. Nothing unusual there, although the two Bricks were both unusually small specimens.
Despite the rain two volunteers turned up to help with the task in the morning. Actually this was ideal and it enabled us to do the clearance of the sightlines at the Ivy North hide. This means that if the Bitterns do return this winter, we will have a reasonable chance of seeing them. This task that would have been difficult to do with many more people as there is not much working room. One of the "problems" that have arisen with the success of the reserve is that we now have a large band of volunteer helpers , obviously this is not a problem as such, but sometimes finding a task that can occupy everybody without getting too dispersed can be a bit of a challenge. Some tasks can take twelve people with ease others only need two or three. Still a great problem to have and we always seem to find lots to do and I suspect will for along time to come.
While we were working a Cetti's Warbler gave a brief burst of song and when I returned in the afternoon I found the Great White Egret standing in the shallows in front of the hide. This was the first time I have seen it on Ivy Lake since it returned. It was also interesting to note that the colour-rings are much cleaner this season and it is quite easy to read the combination.
Lousy weather precluded any pictures today, I will try and get some for the next update, words alone can get a bit dull.
Friday, 16 October 2009
When I got to count Rockford Lake I found where a lot of the Coot had gone, 721 on there today! also a Green Sandpiper and 148 Wigeon. Ivy Lake was also good with just under 200 Gadwall, 147 Coot, 58 Wigeon and a few diving ducks, not bad for quite a small lake. Whilst counting there I had the first Redpoll of the autumn flying over westwards. Otherwise the count was pretty uneventful apart from a Fallow buck on the foot path south of Snails Lane, nit a place I would have expected one, no doubt a young one driven off the Forest by the "Big Boys" now that the rut is started.
The moth trap was disappointing with fewer moths than I had expected, although a Green-brindled Crescent was new for the year. The sunshine later in the day did bring out a few Common Darter dragonflies and butterflies. We saw Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell sunning themselves on the Centre roof at lunchtime. We also had a juvenile Hobby dive at something by the pond and go away low over the roof, a grandstand view and a very close pass. It or another was near the Lapwing hide earlier, where there was also a Red Admiral.
At the end of the day I did not need to get away quiet so quickly as usual so took the chance to look at the gathering gull roost. When I did leave at 17:55 there were already over three thousand Lesser Black-backed Gulls as well as a thousand or more Black-headed Gulls. Also present were 3 Common Gulls, which are actually far from common at Blashford and at least 4 Yellow-legged Gulls.
Not in again until Monday, the whole weekend off, luxury!
Thursday, 15 October 2009
The Thursday volunteer crew were working on site this morning and we finished clearing the huge fallen willow to the west of the Ivy North hide, this has opened up a very large space at the back of the reeds, hopefully these will grow into the new open ground now that the light has been let back in. The sightlines from the hide were cleared a bit and the hide cleaned inside and out.
I was on my own at lunchtime today so I visited the Tern hide with my sandwiches, the Dunlin numbers had grown slightly to five, there were 2 Black-tailed Godwits and most notably a Goldeneye, the first of the autumn. I also made a quick visit to Ibsley North pit were there was also Black-tailed Godwit and more notably a juvenile Garganey (another candidate for "BotD" and also known as a Cricket Teal after their call).
Tomorrow we are doing our monthly count of the lakes so I should get a much better idea of what is about and where. Coot numbers on Ibsley Water have dropped a lot, but they may have just move dot other lakes, we shall see.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
The trees around the Centre and Ivy Lake hides were still well supplied with Goldcrests, but the number of Chiffchaff seems to have dropped. Despite this there were at least three or four with two of them singing. A flock of Blue Tits by the Ivy North hide were feeding in the sallow next to the hide, looking at them pecking at the undersides of the leaves I could see they were picking off aphids, small prey but obviously worth the effort.
Three volunteers came in during the morning and we cleared a fallen willow near the Ivy North hide, as a result quite a large area has opened up in the back of the reedbed, hopefully the reeds will spread into the space. Looking under a lump of wood in this area revealed a newt, the Smooth Newt is very common at Blashford outnumbering Palmate Newts by about ten to one, at least in the area near the Centre.
Although the night was quite cold there were seven species of moths in the trap including a Flounced Chestnut, the first of the autumn and a very fine Merveille du Jour, one of my favourite moths. The pattern and colours are quite spectacular and only shared by the not very closely related Scarce Merveille du Jour, which flies much earlier in the year.
My afternoon was spent in a meeting but at the end as I walked out of the building a Redwing flew low overhead, only the second of the autumn.
Monday, 12 October 2009
Sunday, 11 October 2009
The picture is of the dowitcher in typical pose, complete with picturesque brick!
I never did see the Ring-billed Gull nor the Little Stint also reported, indeed the stint later became two, however the best I could do was a single Dunlin, strangely nobody else reported that. At least one Hobby was also still around, although I saw no dragonflies and precious few swallows or martins today for it to hunt.
It is not often that North American birds make it to Hampshire and when they do it is usually to the coast so two species at Blashford in the one day was a bit special. Probably the most Americans to fly in to Blashford on one day since the USAF over sixty years ago when what is now Ibsley Water was Ibsley airfield.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
I was up near the Lapwing hide to fix a gateway before the rain came and was rewarded with a singing Cetti's Warbler and in the willows at least three Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. I also noticed that the logbook in the hide records 13 Goosander for the previous evening.
At the north end of Ivy Lake 10 Shoveler, 43 Gadwall and 35 Tufted Duck were near the hide. I am planning to deal with a couple of fallen willows on the lake shore here next week so their peace will be temporarily shattered.
In the moth trap a Blair's Shoulder Knot was the first of the autumn. As a primarily garden species thanks to the main food plant being Leylandii cypress I am a little surprised that I catch them so regularly at Blashford.
There was a little overhead migration during the day with small numbers of Swallows, Linnets and Skylarks. It turned out that there had been a large movement of birds along the coast though. The Avon, despite being orientated N/S does not seem to be a major channel for most migrants. We clearly get some waders and other waterbirds and hirundines, but most small migrants obviously do not use it as a route.
One item of late news from Thursday was a report of a Hen Harrier from Ibsley Water in the afternoon as yet I don't know who saw it or what plumage it was in. Still two species of harriers in the last few days cannot be bad, even if I saw neither of them!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
At various times during the day small parties of Siskin were passing over, mostly only heard bu the few I saw were going west. I also heard Skylarks a couple of times, on one occasion I saw the birds and these were going east. Skylarks are only recorded flying over at Blashford, I am sure that they would have nested in the grassland by Ibsley Water in the past, but they seem scarce generally in the Avon Valley nowadays.
A brief visit to the Ivy South hide in the afternoon brought another surprise, one of the stick rafts outside the hide had a Green Sandpiper roosting on it. This gave an opportunity for a picture.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Opening up the Ivy hides I noticed a steady passage of small groups of Siskin going west in small groups. There were also several small parties of Swallows (of which more later). For the first time this week I managed to get down to the Ivy South hide without flushing any the ducks off the silt pond, especially good as they included three Wigeon.
In late morning the rain came, it was not as heavy as we were lead to expect but still persistent and generally made things grim. I had a guided walk in the afternoon, in the event we just visited the Tern, Ivy North and Woodland hides. The theme was "The Last of Summer" and Ibsley Water delivered. The rain had brought down good numbers of hirundines with some 200 Swallows (later rising to at least 400), House Martins (perhaps 100 by closing time) and, best of all, at least 2 Sand Martins. It is getting late for Sand Martins and these may well be my last for the year.