Thursday, 15 October 2009

Lesser pecker, Cricket Teal and an awayday

On Wednesday (yesterday) I was not at Blashford, the Lower Test based volunteer team came down to work at Holmsley Gravel Pit, a small reserve on the edge of the New Forest. In recent years it has become dominated by the small, invasive alien waterweed Crassula helmsii, originally from the Antipodes it was imported for use in garden ponds, I have no idea why as it is hardly a beautiful plant. It promptly got out, or more likely was thrown away when people found it was small, boring and spread everywhere to the detriment of more interesting plants. It then spread like mad filling shallow ponds all over the place with a smothering mat of bright green. At Holmsley we have tried almost everything to get rid of it, digging it up, spraying, covering with sheeting and dousing with liquid nitrogen. None of this has had more than passing success. In the picture below all the bright green grass-like stuff is Crassula so you can see the scale of the problem.
The purpose to the task was only partly to do with this plant though, there were also a good few willows to cut down, the low water level allows access to parts of the bank usually cut off, so it was a good time to get this done.
Before the start of work a quick look at the birds was quite productive with 99 Teal, a Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper. There were also a few Swallows flying over.
Today I was back at Blashford, the day was overcast and calm, a quick look at Ibsley Water as I opened up revealed 4 Dunlin and a Green Sandpiper with a calling Curlew circling overhead. As I opened the Ivy North hide I noticed something in one of the willows and it turned out to be a candidate for "Bird of the day" a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, it is over a year since I have seen one on the reserve, let's hope it stays around. There were also several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. Near the Ivy South hide a singing Cetti's Warbler was also good and a new loction on the reserve. The first stage of the day was rounded off with a number of fly-over Song Thrush and Redwing.
There were eighteen species of moths in the trap including 2 Cypress Carpets, one of which is pictured, not very well as the light was terrible!

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.

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