Trip reports

Blashford Lakes, Hampshire

Adult male siskin on feeder
RSPB

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The tern hide car park was eerily empty when the three of us arrived - a sign that most had decided that birdwatching in the fog might not be a great idea. When we entered the hide and stared for a while at the bank of fog on Ibsley Water we thought that they may have been right. Nevertheless, we decided to press on - after all, the forecast suggested that the sun would break through in the afternoon. Having spotted a few Tufted Duck, Coot and Pochard drifting in and out of the fog, we left tern hide and resolved to return there later.

We headed to the visitor centre from where we made our way into the woodland, calling first at Ivy Lake north hide. Visibility was better but apart from some Teal there were few duck around because of the ice on that part of the lake. We had good views of Moorhen and Dunnock but after staring at the reeds for a while we decided that the Bittern which had been seen there earlier in the day may not favour us with an appearance so we headed towards woodland hide. During more than one visit to that hide during the day we had excellent views of Siskin, four species of tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Brambling, Reed Bunting, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

We then proceeded to Ivy Lake south hide where there was less ice and reasonable visibility. We had great views of Long-tailed Tit in the reeds in front of the hide and to our short but growing day list we added Cormorant, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler, Gadwall and Wigeon. We were also treated to a very close fly-past by a Water Rail.

In the middle of the day two of us decided to drive the short distance to Harbridge in search of a reported White-fronted Goose. This turned out not to be entirely a wild goose chase as although the white-fronted was not to be seen we did find more than ten Egyptian Geese amongst the Greylags and Canadas. There were also large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare, together with some Lapwing. We also spotted a Kestrel - our only raptor for the day.

While moving between hides in the morning and afternoon, amongst other woodland birds we had good views of Goldcrest and Song Thrush. We did call in again at tern hide before the day was out but visibility was still poor as the sun had not made its scheduled appearance. Our plans to view the gull and Goosander roosts had to be abandoned for the day.

Overall, we managed to see 41 species - not as many as usual but, we felt, not too bad given the weather. And we also managed to enjoy ourselves!

Rob Wilkinson