Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Today's big news is that Blashford Lakes won the bird count in the Large Wetland section of the BTO - EDF Energy Business Bird Challenge. We recorded 169 species, just three ahead of our nearest rival, Top Hill Low in Yorkshire, who had been ahead of us as we wnet into the last quarter. Many thanks to all who sent me records, Simon's long-eared owl and goshawk were two of the ones that got us ahead. The biggest count at any site was from Rutland Water with 206 species, I'm glad we are not in the same category as them as we could never compete with that kind of total.

A misty start and little to see from the Tern hide, still no sign of a little ringed plover, surely it cannot be much longer. The Ivy North hide came up trumps though with the young drake smew diving under the trees on the eastern shore. I was a bit surprised by this as all the reports I had for the last few days had suggested that only the female had been seen. Heading toward the Woodland hide I solved the "Unknown drummer", it was just a great spotted woodpecker, although one with and unusual drum, quite unlike the others also drumming at the same time.

This morning's task was to get in the small stick rafts used by great crested grebe and coot for nesting. The ones out on Ivy Lake were in a sorry state after a harsh winter and in great need of replenishment. I rowed out and lifted the mooring weights and pulled the rafts back in shore to the Ivy South hide where a willing volunteers added stick bundles. These are real deluxe models, based around discarded lifebelts, with a cage of old wire mesh and a broken paving slab for ballast, but they have worked really well over the last few years.
At lunchtime I remembered to check the moth trap, I got sidetracked earlier by the fact that the bird ringers were in this morning. There were a lot of moths, thanks to the mild night, the majority were small Quaker with 137 individuals. There was a single engrailed, my first this year, although I know one or two have been caught on days I have not been in. There was also another dotted chestnut, but as I have already posted a picture of one of those this year I will go for the engrailed now.
The afternoon was mostly taken up with getting the materials together for tomorrow's volunteer task, we will hopefully be working on the vegetated rafts.
I received a report of a bittern seen flying over Mockbeggar Lake today, there have been occasional records there for much of the winter. A few sand martin were seen over the bank at the Goosander hide and I saw a pair of shelduck on Ivy Lake and perhaps the same on Ibsley Water. There was also a general singing of chiffchaff on various parts of the reserve today, always a gladdening early spring sound.

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