by A warbler a day
Every 2-3 months I like to visit Blashford Lakes, a Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserve. It is a group of flooded gravel pits north of Ringwood. Today was my first visit of the year and it didn’t disappoint with 44 species seen. The first bird I saw was a Nuthatch on the feeder in the car park, followed soon by a couple of Coal Tits. I then walked to the Woodland Hide which always provides good views of small birds on the feeders right in front of the windows. No binoculars needed here! There was the usual winter mix of tits and finches, including numerous Siskins and Lesser Redpolls. Occasionally a Jay or Great Spotted Woodpecker would appear chasing the smaller birds away. After 10 minutes I finally spotted a Brambling to complete the list of winter regulars.
After the Woodland Hide, I visited the hides around Ivy Lake. It was heaving with ducks, dozens of them. There were large numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Tufted Duck with a few Shovelers and Pochard as well. However there was no sign of the elusive Bittern and I could not see the Cetti’s Warbler which was pointed out by another birder.
After a spot of lunch I crossed the road to get views of Ibsley Water, the largest of the lakes. Again there were loads of ducks, this time including Goldeneye, Goosander and more Pintail than I have ever seen in my life before. Best of all came when someone pointed out that the two distant swans were in fact Bewick’s. A lifetime tick for me. Eventually one of them lifted its head to provide proof.
With the addition of 6 species on the journey there and back, including another flock of winter thrushes, that made 50 for the day. That makes it officially a brilliant day’s birding. Plus I missed the worst of the rain. Fab!