Sunday, 29 November 2009
There was little change in the birdlife during the week until Friday. On Friday when I opened up the Tern hide it was plain that there had been a small arrival of Goldeneye, with at least 4 drakes and 5 redheads (and this just on a quick look), also there were 9 Ruddy Ducks with 4 drakes and I know there have been at least 10 female/imms recently. There were also at least 60 Black-tailed Godwits no doubt attracted to the valley by the recently flooding.
At the Woodland hide and around the Centre the number of finches is slowly increasing, although still only 2 Brambling have been seen, but there are now 50 or so Chaffinches. Cetti's Warblers are still singing near the Ivy North hide and in the silt pond near the Ivy South hide. There are also at least 2 Chiffchaffs, mostly near the Ivy North hide.
After two days of being on the run in the reeds between Goosander and Lapwing hides I finally managed to get the two loose ponies back onto the Ibsley shore. There is also another Chiffchaff in this area, usually near Lapwing hide.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Other minor highlights were 10 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Little Grebe on Ellingham Lake, which rarely has even this many birds. There were also as many birds as I have seen in a while on Blashford Lake, but there was nobody sailing today, so this might account for this.
Away from the water 2 Brambling were reported from the Woodland hide and a Lesser Redpoll was at the feeder there once again. I saw a couple of Chiffchaffs on the path between Rockford and Ivy Lakes, they might be the same ones that are often seen near the Ivy North hide, or then again perhaps they are different. There was also a pair of Bullfinch there and a flock of some 35 Goldfinches, the last feeding on Ragwort seeds.
At the end of the day a scatter of Yellow-legged Gulls as usual on Ibsley Water, but I did not get the chance to check further as one of the ponies on the Mockbeggar shore has got out again and a quick bit of temporary fence was needed to ensure it does not get out onto the road overnight.
Friday, 20 November 2009
On Wednesday the digger returned to tidy up the path and clear the damage caused when we struggled to get the lorry to the site on Monday. This left the way clear for the return of the Thursday volunteer crew, there were six screens to construct, display boards to put up and a set of temporary steps to go in. By the middle of the afternoon this was one so just over a fortnight after we closed th eold hide the new one is up and running.
An access ramp will be constructed as soon as the materials arrive after which the path and area behind the hide will be made good, so the job will not be fully completed for a week or two yet and it wil be necessary to close again for perhaps a day or two.
Hopefully visitors will appreciate the new hide, it is a bit higher, longer and wider than the old one and clearing a few trees has considerably improved the view both to the left and right.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
We have been blessed with good weather ever since we started building on Monday, I just hope it lasts through tomorrow. The sunshine yesterday saw a few Red Admirals out and about (the one below was near the Woodland hide) and near the Centre a Common Darter dragonfly. My latest ever Common Darter was on the 18th November, so if the days continue frost free I might better that.
On Ibsley Water a party of 18 Pintail were seemingly newly arrived, they are certainly the first I have seen on the reserve for some time. There was also a Green Sandpiper and 2 Black-tailed Godwits in the morning, although both species were distant. The most obliging wader was the Snipe pictured below that was on the bank in front of the Tern hide.
A few other birds of note were about with a Brambling near the Centre and some Fieldfare overhead. There was also a Lesser Redpoll on the feeders at the Woodland hide. In the morning I heard calling Water Rails both at the Ivy North hide and in the silt pond near the Woodland hide. There were also Cetti's Warblers in both of these places.
Just off the reserve the family of three (2ads, 1 juv) Bewick's Swans remain in the field north of the road at Ibsley Bridge, these are the same birds that spent the day on Ibsley Water last week, no doubt resting after having newly flown in.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Gilliards arrived early to start putting up the new Ivy South hide and made good progress, completing the base supports by the end of the day. Getting the lorry carrying the new hide down to the site was a bit touch and go at times but luckily it was just possible to back all the way down the track.
Other news today included the first sighting this winter of a Brambling at the Woodland hide. Around lunchtime a Peregrine briefly chased the Lapwings and two Black-tailed Godwits over Ibsley Water, although it failed to catch anything.
In the morning I received a sad call to say that a large dog Otter had been killed on the road at Ibsley village on Saturday. This was almost certainly the one I saw from the Lapwing hide a month or so ago as this was only about 500m away and the territories of adult males cover large areas. The corpse was brought in for collection by the Environment Agency. The picture shows the animal's hind foot, with the webbing and large size very clear.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
In fact it was so fine today there were Red Admirals flying about and even Common Darters in pairs egg-laying in pools near the Goosander hide.
Rockford Lake is still probably home to more wildfowl than any other, although Ivy Lake has the greatest number of Gadwall. However Rockford is holding most of the Mute Swans, including a few colour-ringed birds like the one in the picture. Most, or all have been ringed at the bottom end of the Avon Valley in Christchurch. I do not have the details of this bird but will post them when I do.
The recent rain combined with the still mild temperatures have resulted in a great flush of fungi all over the reserve. A range of the is shown below.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
In a brief look at Ibsley Water first thing this morning I noted five redhead Goldeneye and two adult drakes, so there has obviously been a further arrival, I also saw that there were three Bewick's Swans recorded in the log book there on Tuesday. They were a family and echo a family with two juveniles at just about the same time last year.
A Fieldfare or two calling in the alders south of the Centre were the first I have had at Blashford this season, but otherwise work and increasingly terrible weather resulted in no other birds of note being seen, at least by me.
The moth trap was quite productive, with 14 Feathered Thorns and the first December Moths.
The rain might get the Sea Trout on the move, I often look for them at this time of year, but I suspect that when the Dockens Water is running high enough for then to pass up it is also too turbid for me to see them, still I will take a look tomorrow.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Winter Moths are important for woodland breeding birds, especially Blue and Great Tits which time their hatching to co inside with the abundance of Winter Moth caterpillars.
When I opened the Ivy North hide this morning there was a Water Rail and a Cetti's Warbler calling near the hide, I saw neither. Later on Rockford Lake a Green Sandpiper was feeding on the western shore. Otherwise it was a quiet day until the the hoards of gulls arrived to roost. These included a Mediterranean Gull, not the usual adult but a second winter, there was no sign of the Ring-billed Gull reported a couple of days ago, but it could easily have been there in the mass of birds. There were at least 10 Common Gulls, a notable increase and possibly due to the colder weather and north wind. As usual there were also a good few Yellow-legged Gulls, certainly more than ten, but these were only what could be seen at the southern end of the lake.
Starting work on site preparation for the new Ivy South hide tomorrow, the volunteers having made a great job of taking down the old one on Thursday.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
As well as the Vestal there was another insect with classical connections, there was also a large black beetle with horns, a Minotaur Beetle. This one of the dung beetles, in this case they specialise in feeding on Rabbit dung. These large beetles are believed to be very important food for larger bat species and their decline has been suggested as one reason for the reduction in bat numbers.
Although there were a fair few insects inside the trap I noticed there were none around it, which was unusual, even when the birds have been around the trap they seem to regularly miss some. However today's culprit was possibly not winged, behind the trap I found a Common Toad, no doubt on the trail of a last few meals before the winter.
As I opened up this morning there was a Water Rail outside the Ivy North hide as well as a Chiffchaff in the trees. There was also a cronking Raven flying over as well as two or more Redpolls, perhaps these will stay around with the flock of Siskins that is gathering to feed in the alders.
As I locked up the Tern hide a quick look at the gulls was rewarded with an adult Mediterranean Gull as well as at least 6 Yellow-legged Gulls.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Luckily the rain eased of and we actually had quite a pleasant walk in the end. The Dockens Water levels were rising fast, going up perhaps 20cm in the time it took to us clear the path eats of the bridge and down towards Rockford, no more than about half an hour.
The "chute" dug along the path and sometimes known as "Jess's Plunge Pool" was just starting to fill when we went past eastwards but was topped up by the time of our return. The picture below shows it complete with water and lots of twigs and leaves.