Trip reports

Weekend walk at Blashford Lakes 26 January 2019

Weekend walk at Blashford Lakes 26 January 2019

Monday, 4 February 2019

Despite ominous forecasts earlier in the week Saturday 26th dawned bright and dry with a cool breeze in unsheltered areas, but a good day for January birdwatching. Ten of us made the journey from Surrey to this Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve around the lakes in the Avon valley just north of Ringwood.

We started in the Tern Hide looking out over the wide expanse of Ibsley Water. A large flock of linnets was moving around close to the hide and a single water pipit was seen on the beach and small island in front. There was large assortment of water birds on and around the lake. The islands contained rows of cormorants, lapwings and gulls, mainly black-headed and lesser black-backed. Shoveler, pochard, teal, mallard and wigeon were all present in quantities. Goldeneye in smaller numbers were spread around the lake and at least two pintail were seen by one of the islands. Several goosander and great crested grebes were spread out over the water and a few little grebes were diving and reappearing closer to the hide.

Walking on towards the visitor centre two goldcrests were seen in the woods with a pair of redwing perched high in bushes beside the path. The Woodland Hide and the surrounding feeders was a particularly busy area. Siskins, male, female and juvenile were seen close to the hide. A pair of reed bunting were flitting around under the feeders where nuthatches, chaffinch and four varieties of tit (blue, great, coal and long tailed) all competed for feeding space.

The next stop was the Ivy South Hide with good views over Ivy Lake. A group of cormorants perched in the trees across the lake, pochard and a few gadwall swam in the middle with goosander and two great egrets on the banks of the lake. A gull with yellow legs and a dark grey back was perched on a buoy and prompted some discussion as to whether this could be a yellow-legged gull. Although this species is seen on the reserve it was agreed that it was more likely to be a lesser black-backed gull. There had been reports that a yellow browed warbler had been observed earlier in the day in trees near this hide, however although something small was seen a positive identification could not be made. As we moved back towards the Centre a buzzard was seen gliding above the trees.

We then moved on to the Ivy North hide. At this point a short shower of rain made us happy to be under cover. A water rail was typically moving furtively in the reeds and channel below the hide. A Cetti's warbler was heard to the right of the hide and a small bird flying into the nearby gorse bush turned out to be a chiffchaff, prompting some discussion of warbler sightings in Winter being a sign of global warming.

We then made our way to the path between Rockford Lake and Ivy Lake. A goldcrest and a tree creeper were seen in bushes beside the path and another great egret on the opposite side of Rockford lake. A small open hide looks back over Ivy Lake where a group of teal were close to the far bank and the only heron of the day perched on a low branch.

The group then headed for the car park or continued to explore after a morning when between us we had seen fifty different species. Blashford Lakes involves one of the longer drives for the week-end walks but once again justified its inclusion in our list.

Legh Langston