Today I lead a walk entitled "Going for Gold" an attempt to see fifty species of birds on a two hour walk at Blashford Lakes. It was one of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's Fiftieth Anniversary Events, hence the fifty bird target. I had thought it would be not too hard to achieve, but the weather at the start was awful, rain and very poor visibility. The conditions had reduced the original starting line up of sixteen to only nine hardy souls by the time we got going at the Tern hide at 10 o'clock. So how did we do? A list, in approximately the order we saw them is below.
At the Tern hide we got:
1. tufted duck
3. great crested grebe
7. great black-backed gull
8. herring gull
9. little grebe
11. black-tailed godwit
We then walked across to the Woodland hide, and on the way saw:
13. song thrush
As soon as we entered the Woodland hide we were surrounded by birds and added:
20. lesser redpoll
22. blue tit
23. great tit
24. long-tailed tit
27. coal tit
29. collared dove
30. great spotted woodpecker
32. reed bunting
We then headed down to the to the Ivy South hide, the rain had finally stopped and on the silt pond beside the path we added:
34. mute swan
From the Ivy South hide:
38. black-headed gull
So still nine short of our target we set off to the Ivy North hide, with a hope of adding bittern. En route we added:
44. carrion crow
45. wren (this was actually only heard singing very loudly right beside us, but we could not see it).
We entered the Ivy North hide still six short, but there were one or two more easy additions:
47. smew (a bonus this, both of them swam past just beyond the reeds)
48. bittern (on a roll now)
49. grey heron
With one to go we left the hide and started to walk back to the main car park and just behind the hide on the lichen heath saw two,
So we had done it, now it got easy, we had great views of,
on a tree just in front of us near the gate just after we had crossed the road and finally just on the edge of the car park our last bird.
52. buzzard, sat in a tree.
Despite pretty grim conditions, especially at the start, we had reached the target and only slightly over time.
In the afternoon I was in Wimbourne doing a talk about the reserve, in the very warm and dry and there was tea and biscuits as well.
At the end of the day I was back at Blashford. The 2 black-necked grebe had been seen again on Ibsley Water, one each from the Goosander and Lapwing hides. When I locked up I once again saw the bittern at the Ivy North hide, where I also heard a Cetti's warbler.