Thursday, 4 March 2010

Rhododendron in retreat

A good day to be working outside, sunny, dry and not too warm, in fact a bit cool in the breeze if you stopped for too long. As it was Thursday it was volunteers day, thirteen people turned out to clear Rhododendron scrub from near the entrance. We carried on with the area started on Saturday and another session or two should see it cleared. Like so much Rhododendron it was evidently planted about one hundred years ago, at that time a lot was planted on estates around Britain as ornamental pheasant cover. Unfortunately it casts a deep shade and next to nothing can grow under it. In this case it was planted in part of the old woodland and there was probably originally a ground flora of Bluebell, Wild Daffodil etc, as can still be seen just to the east. If we are very lucky some of this might remain and show itself once the deep shade has been lifted. The picture shows part of the area we cleared, although without the workers, in the picture the other trees are all quite young and mainly birch.
On clearing the Rhododendron, as well as discovering various dumped bottles and old wire we also came across a few very fine old Hazels, obviously much older than the gravel workings and indicating that this area must be one of rather few with the original ground level intact. Once the area is cleared it might be worthwhile layering some of the Hazel stems to increase the number of plants. There are old records of Hazel Dormouse form the woodland nearby and although I have never managed to find any signs they may well still be around and they would benefit from more Hazel in the understorey. The largest stems on the Hazel in the picture are about 45cms or so in circumference which is a good size for this species.
Elsewhere the 4 Black-necked Grebe are still on Ibsley Water as were something over 250 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Oystercatcher. A party of 5 Great Crested Grebe roosting out in the centre of the lake were probably migrants as the three pairs were in all their usual places. At lunchtime I ate in the Tern hide and saw an adult White-fronted Goose with the Canadas and Greylags and a group of at least 11 Common Gulls (10 of them adults), these last were probably also migrants. I had a good look for more summery migrants to no effect.
Reports received indicate that the Smew is still on Rockford Lake and a single Bewick's Swan is still up at Harbridge. There appeared to be fewer finches about today, much to the chagrin of the ringers who were in this morning, very different from their last visit which saw over fifty birds caught.
In the afternoon I strimmed off some of the dead vegetation on the shore of Ibsley Water to the west of the Tern hide try and increase the available nesting area for Lapwing and Little Ringed Plover as well as generally improving the attractiveness of the shore to waders.


  1. Hi,

    Was planning on popping down to Blashford Lakes on Monday from Hertfordshire to photograph Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling....just wondering if all 3 species are still frequenting the feeeders at the Woodland Hide?

    Many Thanks

  2. Sorry, I missed your comment earlier. In answer there are still Brambling and a few Siskin but the Redpoll sem to have cleared off. However I will not be surprised if we get some more.