I would have bet today would have been as dull as yesterday, in fact probably worse, there was no wind and it was grey with a light drizzle, but good visibility, no reason for there to be any birds of note. However, it just shows how wrong you can be. I opened up the Tern hide, all looked quiet, 3 Egyptian geese on the western shore and a common sandpiper, but nothing to get excited about. Still I decided to have a quick scan with the 'scope and found a black-necked grebe towards the north shore. A real bonus, perhaps and early return for the winter or maybe more likely a passage bird, I will have to see if I can find it tomorrow.
Somewhat buoyed up, but still not looking forward to opening up the remaining hides in the rain, I set off for the Ivy North hide. On opening the door I could see the great white egret fishing just below the hide beyond the nearest reeds, the first time I have seen it since it returned. A sound to the right made me look over and there were the roe deer doe and her two youngsters walking towards the hide. They came right up to the hide and started eating bramble leaves below the window, less than a metre from me. Up close the two young ones still have feint shadows of their spots. They are evidently a young doe and a buck and the buck is already a good bit larger than his sister. There is always something really special about being at this kind of "touching distance" to wildlife, especially when they have not registered you are there. In this case I had the window open as they approached but luckily I saw them first and remained completely still and they just walked below the window.
The Woodland hide had no obvious treats, a sallow tree just beside the hide had cracked and a large piece fallen off, luckily to the side of the hide. I would guess this happened in yesterday's torrential downpour. The tree still looks healthy enough so I expect it will go on growing.
What would the Ivy South hide hold? At first just the 7 wigeon and the regular wildfowl of recent days. Then the great crested grebe pair came swimming rapidly across towards the hide. I could tell by the raised wing feathers that there was still at least one chick hitching a ride. As they got nearer two heads popped out, great two chicks still alive a week after hatching, then a third head and one chick dropped of into the water. All three chicks are still surviving, their toughest week of life is now behind them, a long way to go but still an achievement. They had grown a lot in a week so there must be a good food supply. With luck we will be able to follow their progress right through to fledging.
Nothing further of note until the very end of the day, when a quick scan of Ibsley Water revealed a large white bird with the cormorant, the great white egret again. I had a quick look with the telescope and realised there was a wader there as well, a dunlin? Not quite right, a curlew sandpiper! a first for the year and another species for our BTO Birds and Business Challenge tally. Incidentally after the end of the first two quarters Blashford is heading up our category in this competition, so if any of you visit the reserve and see any birds of interest please let me know we need all the species we can get if we are to keep our lead.