Friday, 21 December 2007

Blashford Lakes

Blashford Lakes is, as you may know, a series of flooded gravel pits and lakes near Ringwood in the Avon Valley in Hampshire. In winter it is absolutely full of ducks, although at any time of year there is a lot to see. Most of the area is now owned by Hampshire Widlife Trust, and their recent redevelopment of the site recently pretty much ended with the opening of 2 new hides overlooking Ibsley Water last month, and I think the range of species visible this afternoon just demonstrates what a great reserve they have created. Everytime I visit there seems to be more and more to see.
As soon as we arrived we were watching the birdfeeders which were absolutely full of Siskins, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tit, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Robins, Blackbirds etc. Also there were 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying around and at least 3 Nuthatches regularly visiting. And the best thing of all is that all of these birds were within bird-flu catching range. Does that make sense? No, I thought not.


Goldfinches and Siskins

Next we went around to the nice big and warm Ivy Lake North Hide. The usual large numbers of duck, especially Gadwalls, were present, but there was no sign of yesterday's Bittern in the reedbed. Consolation came through 10 flyover Black-tailed Godwits and a very bried bit of Cetti song.
We then crossed the road to the newly opened area with the Ibsley Water hides. There was very little from the screen overlooking Mockbeggar. From Lapwing Hide there were thousands of ducks and gulls coming in for the roost, including about 20 Goosander showing close to the hide. Unfortunately light conditions were poor so we moved around to Goosander Hide where we could see much better. I quickly picked up one of the 2 Black-necked Grebes present, and then the other one popped up next to it. Scanning across the pit hoping for a Smew produced many Great Crested and Little Grebes, commoner ducks and a few Goldeneye. Then across the other bank in the far distance I spotted the bird that has annoyed me so much over the last few months - the Great White Egret. On my 7th attempt of the year finally we were enjoying not so crippling views of this rare vagrant that has regularly visited the reserve for several years between August and February usually. A Green Sandpiper flew past the hide and a Grey Wagtail landed on the frozen area in front of us. Also the usual few Yellow-legged Gulls but really I couldn't be bothered to pick out all of them. But the roost often reaches double figures or sometimes much higher.
In total we saw 60 species in 2 and 3/4 hours.

Great White Egret

Black-necked Grebe


Birdnut said...

Nice shots, sounds like you had a great day. You get a lot of Black-necked Grebes donw in Hampshire don't you? Great stuff

Zac Hinchcliffe said...

Gosh - 'Also the usual few Yellow-legged Gulls but really I couldn't be bothered to pick out all of them. But the roost often reaches double figures or sometimes much higher.'
I would simply spend most of my time looking for them! (although they are a bit harder to find up here, so they are probably just a Herring down there lol)

Nice vids of the grebe and Egret

HampshireBirder said...

zac - i just don't do gulls really. but yellow-legs are not really unusual down here there is a gathering of up to 150 at a site near me every autumn. in fact today i saw one in the centre of southampton.

david- there is a winter flock of up to 20 black-necked grebes in langstone harbour every winter plus 1 or 2 in the keyhaven area but otherwise they are pretty scarce. inland they are very rare although they are becoming quite regular over the last few years at blashford.