Monday, 6 December 2010

Cool Count

A brief look at a largely frozen Ibsley Water first thing, I was just in time to see the six Bewick's swan flying off, they headed off south-west, rather than north towards Ibsley bridge, so perhaps they have had enough of the Hampshire cold and decided to head on.

As I opened up I topped up the bird feeders, the number of birds visiting has really picked up in the last week and they are getting through the food at quite a rate. The biggest increase has been in the birds coming to the nyger feeders, suddenly every perch is occupied, mainly by siskin, with a few goldfinch and at least one lesser redpoll today.

The main task this morning was to count the lakes nearest the Centre, for Wessex Water. Most of Ibsley Water, Ivy Lake and over half of Rockford Lake are now frozen, however Ellingham Lake has no ice at all, neither has the Pound, not even a little at the edges. It seems extraordinary that there should be so much difference in the ice cover in neighbouring lakes. The count of Ellingham was easy though as there were few birds, the lake is too deep to grow weed so there is little food for most species, there was a drake mandarin duck making their strange little squeaking call.

The birds on Ibsley Water, Ivy Lake and Rockford were very concentrated into the open patches, with Rockford really packed out, making counting difficult. The picture gives some idea of the task of counting the birds, you can click on it for a larger version.
I did have some help as we have a work experience student working with us this week, although I am not sure if standing out in a light, if cutting, north-easterly for nearly an hour in a temperature only just above freezing was the best start to the week she could have had.

I had hoped there might have been one or two extra species brought in by the cold, but if there were I could not find them , mind you I counted 2383 wildfowl on Rockford and I know there were a few more hidden by the island.

At the end of the day as I locked up the Tern hide the gulls were mostly roosting on the ice directly north of the hide, ideal for checking through them, but sadly I had little time so just from noted six or seven yellow-legged gull and at least 200 common gull. The goosander all seemed to be going to the ice free patch in front of the Lapwing hide, ideal for counting them if I had time to stay until dusk. One positive result of the increased wind today was that some of the ice around the open water had broken up, making each a little larger, so hopefully we will keep at least some ice free water.

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