Saturday, 2 January 2010

A Brilliant New Year

2010 dawned brilliant, sunny and with a clear blue sky, the year had turned and with it the weather. The day saw lots of visitors on the reserve, perhaps 230 or more during the day and lots of birds to see, although still no sign of a Bittern, but there was a Black-necked Grebe on Ibsley Water, the first of the winter. Although there were probably more birds on Ibsley Water the best views were to be had on Ivy lake, especially from the new Ivy South hide.
Another year, another Cormorant, there were several on Ivy Lake but no more than two seemed able to stand amicably on the perch at a time.

Several groups of wildfowl were feeding in tight bunches on the lake, each included both diving species such as Coot, Tufted Duck or Pochard and dabbling species, mainly Gadwall, but also Wigeon. The Coot were diving to drag up weed, the Gadwall and Wigeon were feeding on the excess weed and the diving duck and the gulls were seeking the aquatic invertebrates disturbed at the same time. This group includes Coot, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and a Black-headed Gull.
The Ivy South hide offers a good few opportunities for taking pictures, the picture above is of a drake Wigeon and below a drake Gadwall.
The Gadwall are typically in pairs at this time of the year, or at least there are few if any single females, the drakes are less fortunate as they seem to outnumber the ducks. Each pair seeks out a feeding Coot, these dive for weed to eat, dragging up long strands, this allows the Gadwall to get at food that is too deep for them to access. As the Coot usually brings up far more than it can eat there is plenty to around and presumably the Coot gains by having sets of eyes on the surface whilst it is below and so unable to see any approaching danger.
As well as all the usual wildfowl on Ivy Lake there was also a single drake Goldeneye, these usually stay on Ibsley Water, but apart from that there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Around the feeders at the Woodland hide the numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll continue to increase joining the usual tits, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chaffinches.
As well as the Black-necked Grebe, Ibsley Water also held about 200 Shoveler, about 130 Pintail and a fair number of Goosander throughout the day. At dusk on 31st December the roost of Goosander numbered 101, the highest count ever. At dusk they fly in from feeding areas up and down the Avon and from pond all across the New Forest and even into Dorset.
The gull roost on Ibsley Water is still attracting several thousand birds, although many fewer than earlier in the winter. Most of the larger gulls are Lesser Black-backed Gulls but include a few Greater Black-backed, Herring and Yellow-legged Gulls. The smaller ones are mostly Black-headed but with the colder weather the number of Common Gulls are increasing, there were probably over 100 at dusk in New Year's Day.
Just off the reserve near Harbridge there were Bewick's Swans, the Great White Egret and a Caspian Gull for most of the day, which pleased some of the many "yearlisters" out and about in the sunshine.

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