Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Party Thaw

A couple of days to cover, at least in part. Friday dawned still cold and with the lakes even more frozen than at the end of Thursday, the picture of the Ivy Silt Pond below shows a body of water locked up in ice.
Despite the icy start, Friday was a day of change. I became aware of the trees dripping, the frost was melting from the twigs and pretty soon elsewhere too, although the cold ground kept icy patches chilled. The birds will benefit form a thaw, but for now they are still hungry. I took the picture of a group of long-tailed tit at the fat feeder outside my office window from my desk, I know it is poor, but the chance of getting the right exposure was more or less zero and this is one bird with an instantly identifiable silhouette.
During Friday morning I ran into a few notable birds. The pair of bearded tit were just below Ivy North hide first thing. I cleaned out the hides and updated the blackboards and as I was going to the Goosander hide I heard a hawfinch calling from an ash tree on Ellingham Drove, I saw it flew along the roadside and I am pretty sure there was also a second. They were probably there to eat the ash keys, these trees have a very large crop at present so it might be worth checking there again in the next few days. Whilst I was at the Goosander hide five white-fronted geese flew in, four adults and a juvenile. This was just as they were originally reported, but yesterday, when they had been grazing the western shore of Ibsley Water there had been no sign of the juvenile. My guess is it had got lost in the greylag flock.
Friday was also the day of the Blashford Volunteers Christmas "Do". This starts with a walk and morphs into a buffet and quiz. About twenty came on the walk and forty attended the buffet and quiz, our largest turn-out yet.
Strictly speaking I was not at Blashford today, but I dropped in after doing some survey work in the New Forest. The white-fronted geese had been seen again and it was good to see that the ice free area of Ibsley Water had grown considerably. From the Goosander hide in mid-afternoon I saw 145 teal, about 400 wigeon grazing the western bank of Ibsley Water and at least 80 goosander. There were already some gulls arriving and these included at least 4 yellow-legged gull.

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