Bird News: Ibsley Water - great white egret 1 (the usual bird on both Wed and Thurs.), yellow-legged gull up to 6 (mostly adults or near adults), "white-winged" gull 1 (apparently adult reported on Thurs afternoon, but identity uncertain) , dunlin 1, goosander 5+, crossbill 1+ (reported Wed), brambling 1 (reported Wed).
Ivy Lake - water rail 2+, Cetti's warbler 1 (singing).
The last couple of nights have been much colder, resulting in our first grass frosts of the season and the moth catch reduced to zero. The misty mornings have made for some atmospheric views over the lakes though, the shot below is of Ivy Lake on Thursday as I opened up the Ivy South hide.
The same morning I kept running into roe deer. A doe with two youngsters was in the alder carr near the Woodland hide, along with a young buck. The doe and youngsters were running in circles and passed me twice without obviously seeing me. One, or possibly both of the youngsters were making a very odd squeaking sound, unlike anything I have ever heard from roe before. In the poor light I failed to get a picture of these deer, but at the Ivy North hide I came across the young buck again, this time with another doe and her two youngsters. Although the light was poor I managed a "digi-bin" shot of three of the group. Although the buck seems to have seen me they did not move off and I left them there. At the same time a very bushy-tailed fox trotted through the group, moving towards Rockford Lake.
Although the days started misty and cold, this quickly gave way to clear blue skies and a good bit of sunshine, especially on Wednesday.
These conditions favoured a movement of birds overhead, with crossbill, brambling, skylark, meadow pipit and siskin all on the move in small numbers. Siskin look like arriving in large numbers this winter, there are already flocks of fifty plus about the reserve as the alder cones open to reveal their seeds.A close up view of the alder branches shows that the sausage-shaped male catkins are already there and ready to open in the early spring as soon as the conditions are favourable. The cones in this shot are just starting to open.
Thursday was volunteer day and we set about some of the large laurel bushes planted years ago to screen the gravel works. Unfortunately most of the plantings along the western side of Ellingham Lake were of miscellaneous alien species, with just a few natives. Plants such as the laurel swamp and shade out native species and we hope to encourage the growth of some of the hawthorns and others that are hanging on in their shadow. Below is a picture of one such large bush just as we started.
Then what was left at the end of the task. We may have to come back when the branches have dried out and burn some up as there is a lot of material left. This shot also shows that laurel are far from the only alien species planted, a variety of conifer trees and other garden shrubs also got included and it will take many years to remove these and get them replaced with more desirable native species.