Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Ruff Day

Two days in one and two busy ones at that, which is why there was no post last night. On Wednesday the Testwood volunteer team were cutting the nettles and low willows off the western shore of Ibsley Water to make the are better for grazing wildfowl and next spring for breeding lapwing. Among the nettles there were a few giant puff-balls, well past their best now but still quite impressive.
Mothing over the last couple of nights has been quite good but without any of the rarities that I cannot help hoping for at this time of year. There have been a couple of merveille du jour, the usual few sallows and today a chestnut, which is another one of the species that emerges now then hibernates and flies again in the spring when it mates and the eggs are a laid.
The moths may have been unremarkable but there have been a number of interesting, if not rare, birds. On Wednesday a curlew sandpiper, a wheatear, the first redwing of the autumn and the continued stay of the black tern and great white egret made for a varied day. I got a shot of the wheatear in the low evening light at the end of the day.
I stayed late as I was going to give a talk in the evening which gave me the chance to watch the gull roost as it gathered. There were at least 8000 lesser black-backed gull, about 1000 herring gull, about 1800 black-headed gull. At one point I could see over a thousand large gull coming towards the roost from the west, which I found interesting as the main arrival is usually from the north. There were a few great black-backed gull, at least 6 common gull, at least 7 yellow-legged gull and the same second winter Caspian gull as I saw the day before.
Today was also busy with the volunteers in doing a variety of jobs, we also had two meeting on site today. Despite all the activity I did have a quick look from the Tern hide at lunchtime and I was pleased I did as I found two new species for the year and the BTO challenge. The first was a juvenile ruff, not that unusual, but I had more or less given up hope of seeing one on the reserve this year. The second was a scaup, a young drake, this was actually the first I have seen at Blashford and a species I would perhaps have expected sooner. I post this with a slight word of warning, the bird was along way off and it can be tricky to be certain that they are not hybrids. That said nothing about the bird looked wrong, size, shape of head and bill were all right so I am pretty confident it was the real thing.

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