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Blashford Bulletin December 2018

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

As winter progresses the lakes continue to fill up with ducks, with numbers tending to peak in December. Even if you are a beginner to bird watching there is nothing quite like sitting in a bird hide and watching them peacefully feed on the lake, using any observations you make of their feeding habits to help with identification.

The wigeon is a dabbling duck which feeds on aquatic plants and can also be seen out of the water grazing the grass on the banks. As you sit in the hides listen out for its distinctive whistle which carries well across the lake.

The shoveler also dabbles but in a much more entertaining way! It uses its huge spatula like bill to sift the water but at the same time will often spin round and round in an attempt to create currents in the water which bring the food to them.

The black and white male tufted duck is a diving duck, so you will see it diving down in to the water to catch its dinner. The goosander also dives down and is a member of the sawbill family, named after the serrated edge to its bill which helps it to catch fish.

Moving away from the water and into the woodland, bird watching continues to be enjoyable as the bare trees leave fewer places for the birds to hide. One bird that is more easily seen here than in other woods is the treecreeper.  A small brown bird with a striking white tummy and curved pointy beak could be mistaken for a mouse as it moves up the trunks of trees with small hops in search of insects and spiders.

The woodland hide is always busy as birds flock to the feeders for an easy meal.Winter visitors to look out for include siskin, redpoll and brambling.

Of course Blashford Lakes isn’t just brilliant for birds. As we move in to the new year the first flowers of the year will start to appear. Small patches of snowdrops can be seen along the river and the first fungi of the year will also be starting to show. The scarlet elf cap feeds on dead wood and thrives in our wet woodland habitats. As the name suggests it is a bright red cup shaped fungus creating a welcoming splash of colour amongst the leaf litter.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people.

For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog:
blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

 

Blashford Bulletin October 2018

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Autumn is a colourful time of year here on the nature reserve, with the trees displaying ceilings of golden leaves and fungi beginning to carpet the woodland floor. On your visit to Blashford Lakes look out for the popular fly agarics along with shaggy inkcaps, earth stars and the more subtle but aptly named candle snuff fungus on the tops of logs.

On a sunny day look out for insects still on the wing, including red admiral and peacock butterflies and common darter and migrant hawker dragonflies.

Late October may offer the first sightings of a bittern, however last winter they passed us by. Fingers crossed one or more will perceive the reedbeds around Ivy Lake as suitable habitat this year – as the reeds die back it is usually easier to see this secretive bird as it has fewer places to hide. Increasing numbers of ducks will be gathering on the water, including gadwall, pochard, tufted duck, teal, shoveler, wigeon and golden eye. The reserve’s kingfishers have had another good breeding season and you may be lucky enough to spot one frequenting a perch, as it keeps a keen eye on the water below. Another bird likely to be spotted fishing in the shallows is the great white egret, which spends the Autumn and Winter on our Lake shores after a summer in France.

As the nights draw in, this time of year is perfect for watching the starling murmurations and increasing number of birds coming into roost on Ibsley Water. Thousands of gulls, geese and goosander use the lakes as their resting place as it provides a safe refuge after dark. As well as looking out for roosting birds you can also watch out for bats emerging for their night’s feed and listen out for dark bush crickets who can be heard chirping at this time of year.

To discover more about our nocturnal wildlife join Education Officer Jim Day for an evening night walk on Friday 26th October. Learn about and set (live!) small mammal traps before heading off into the night to find bats, moths and owls, with the option to return the following morning to check and release your catch of mice and voles. Please telephone 01425 472760 to book onto either or both ‘Nocturnal Nature’ sessions.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people.

For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog:
blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

 

Blashford Bulletin August 2018

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

We find ourselves in the last throws of summer with autumn just around the corner and life is busy on the reserve.  The fruits of summer are evident particularly on the brambles as the blackberries ripen; there is plenty of food for all the birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.  On sunny days search for colourful butterflies as they wing from flower to flower; see comma, painted lady, peacock, red admiral and brimstone to name just a few.  Now is a great time to be wowed by the dazzling display of dragon and damsel flies as they whizz past, patrolling their feeding grounds.

Why not join Reserves Officer Bob Chapman on a summer wildlife walk on Wednesday 1st August from 1.30pm until 3.30pm in search of some of these delightful insects. Please telephone 01425 472760 to book your place.

For some of the birds August is a time to moult, freshening up and growing new feathers after the wear and tear of the breeding season.  For others it will be time to move on.  As we get into September, the swallows and martins will be heading off to their African wintering grounds.  Before they leave they prepare for their long journey by gathering in their hundreds to feed up over Ibsley Water.  They create an amazing and memorable spectacle as they demonstrate their remarkable, acrobatic flying skills.  It is not just birds leaving though, duck numbers including mallard, teal, widgeon, gadwall, tufted duck and shoveler are all beginning to build up.

Now is also a great time to get a view of, or if you’re lucky an impressive photograph of a kingfisher.  The fledglings will be dispersing across the reserve now and certainly last year there were regular sightings and photo opportunities, particularly from Goosander Hide.  Often all you get is a flash of shining blue as they dart along the water’s edge, but ours seemed happy to sit and pose for a while.

The light trap will be attracting a wonderful variety of moths, for example pink barred sallow, feathered gothic and if we’re lucky Clifden nonpareil or the blue under-wing, especially if the nights are cloudy and warm.

For your own glimpse of these and other creatures of the night, including bats, join the Education Officer for a family night walk on Friday 14th September from 7pm until 8.30pm and head out onto the reserve after dusk. Please telephone to book your place.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people.

For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog:
blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

 

Blashford Bulletin June 2018

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Blashford-June-18-Great-Crested-Grebe-family-by-HIWWT The natural world is in full swing during June and July and life at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve is abundant.  Breeding birds on the site continue to fill the air with song as many will have mates producing a second brood.  From the water’s edge to the woodland canopy, all over the reserve young birds will be fledging and gaining independence.  Look out for the incredible stripy faces of Great Crested Grebe chicks on Ivy Lake and oystercatcher, lapwing and little ringed plover chicks on the shore of Ibsley Water.

Keep your eyes to the ground mid-June for emerging toadlets – they are small, very well Blashford-June-2018-Common-Toad-by-John-Windustcamouflaged and easily overlooked until one catches your eye and you realise you are surrounded. They dare not risk drying out so wait for a spell of wet weather when they emerge from the lakes en masse, covering the footpaths between the Centre and Ivy South Hide as well as other locations around the reserve.

Blashford-June-2018-commas-by-Bob-ChapmanOn a sunny day the air is filled with insect life with Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood butterflies all plentiful and the summery sound of chirruping crickets and grasshoppers will delight your ears.  Blashford is ideal for dragonflies and damselflies as our range of habitats suit their lifecycle.  They spend their early life around the wetlands but move into the woodland and grassland areas to hunt as adults.  Take a walk down to Ivy South hide and you are quite likely to spot a grass snake basking in the warm summer sun.Blashford-June-2018-Common-Blue-Damselfly--John-Windust

On Thursday 21st June from 2pm until 4pm you can join the Reserves Officer on a guided ‘Mid-Summer Bugs’ walk in search of summer wildlife, including dragonflies, butterflies and moths. Blashford-June-2018-Greylag-Goose-by-Ian-Cameron-ReidAlternatively for a family friendly ‘Catch the Bug’ experience you can join our Education Officer in the meadow to discover the fascinating miniature world of grasshoppers, crickets, spiders and bugs galore on Saturday 23rd June, from 2pm until 4pm. For both events please book by telephoning 01425 472760.

During the breeding season many birds will have been in especially attractive plumage but now start to moult.  The lakes here at Blashford can become home to hundreds of Greylag and Canada Geese as they carry out their moult. Whilst they are replacing old feathers for new, they are vulnerable to predators like foxes, so they use the lakes to stay safe.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people.

For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog:
blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

Blashford Bulletin April 2018

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Lapwing-Chick-Blashford-April-2018Spring has definitely arrived now with the dawn chorus of birdsong and the buzzing of insect wings filling the air.  Listen out as birds like chiffchaff and goldcrest use their song to stake their claim to their feeding territories.  Swallow---DHawkins-Blashford-April-2018The birds on the reserve are busily mating, building nests and rearing their young.  Last year visitors were treated to a mother lapwing and her chicks patrolling up and down in front of Tern hide.  Sand-Martin-by-Steve-Farmer-Blashford-April-2018The swallows, swifts and martins have returned from their winter holiday in far off South Africa and are treating visitors to impressive flying displays as they greedily gobble up the insects above the lakes.  It is amazing to think that the swallows zig-zagging over Blashford Lakes have travelled over two thousand miles, covering two hundred miles a day and reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.  No wonder they are so hungry!

It is not just the birds celebrating spring on the reserve, take a walk along Dockens Water to see a splash of spring colour as the Cuckoo-Dave-Foker-Blashford-April-2018bluebells are in full bloom along its banks.  Complete your visit by having a quiet sit down behind the education centre watching newly emerged dragonflies and damselflies as they zoom around in the spring sunshine.  The warmer weather is bringing out an abundance of insect life with an ever growing list of colourful butterflies and shiny beetles.  All you need then is to hear the easily recognisable call of the cuckoo echoing round and you will know that spring, with all its promise, colour and life is definitely here.

Natural-Wellbeing-Blashford-April-2018All this makes Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve a wonderful place to enjoy all that spring has to offer and to nourish the senses. We know that a strong connection with nature has countless benefits for people’s health and wellbeing, which is why we began Natural Wellbeing sessions here on the reserve last year. The sessions run every Friday from 11am until 2.30pm and use the natural environment to promote adult health and wellbeing, so are particularly beneficial for people who are suffering with mental health conditions. Participants are able to get involved with cooking lunch outside, wildlife watching, craft activities or they can just enjoy the peace and tranquility of the woodland with the company of others.  If you would like to join us or know someone who may be interested, please get in touch on 01425 472760 or BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Sembcorp Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people.

For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog:
blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

Moors Valley – An eventful Year as we celebrate our 30th Birthday!

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest is celebrating its 30th birthday this year and with new family attractions and some very special events there has never been a better time to visit.

The park, which recently won a prestigious Gold award at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, has something to offer all ages. It offers safe, adventurous play for children and is perfect for a family day out with its year-round events programme but with 1000 acres of forest to explore there’s always something new to discover for adults as well.

The 30th anniversary celebrations have started in style with the opening of two new attractions.

The-new-Hawk-House-play-sculpture-now-open-at-Moors-ValleyThe Highway Rat Activity Trail is inspired by author and illustrator duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children’s story which was premiered on the BBC last Christmas. Brought to life in the Moors Valley forest setting thanks to a partnership between the Forestry Commission and Magic Light Pictures, visitors to the woodland trail follow in the footsteps of the mischievous rodent intent on swiping the sweet treats of every forest creature he meets. The family fun can be extended by buying a £3 highway    saddle bag, which includes a Highway Rat mask and activities to enjoy along the route.

Meet-The-Gruffalo-at-Moors-ValleyStanding proud on the play trail, the stunning new Hawkhouse is huge, reaching over five metres into the sky, with wings extending to over 18 metres wide. Created by Hampshire artist Andy Frost and his team, Hawkhouse was inspired by the Harris hawks flown at Moors Valley. The play sculpture really captures the imagination making a dramatic addition to the two-mile play trail.

Also new to the park are some new friends to join the giant sculptures of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child in the deep dark wood. Loved by children across the world, sculptures of mouse, fox, owl, snake and squirrel have been crafted to match Alex Scheffler’s wonderful drawings, completing Julia Donaldson’s magical story of The Gruffalo and providing wonderful opportunities for imaginative outdoor play.

More events at Moors Valley will be announced later in the year adding to the park’s full range of fun seasonal family events, exhibition programme and adult activities. Full details and booking instructions can be found at:

www.moors-valley.co.uk

Blashford Bulletin February 2018

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

We have almost seen off the worst of the winter and are daring to let our thoughts drift towards spring.  Some days will be crisp, cold and sunny whilst others will be wet and grey and some may even have a hint of warmth to the early spring sunshine.  Now is a time of transition at Blashford Lakes Nature Blashford-Bittern-by-Ian-Cameron-Reidreserve. All winter the staff and volunteers have been working hard coppicing willow, cutting and clearing brambles, making dead hedges and generally getting the reserve ready for spring.

Once March arrives the larger jobs will have to stop so that we don’t disturb Blashford-Osprey-Gary-Prescottthe birds and other wildlife that will soon be setting up home and rearing young. With warmer weather and ever increasing daylight just around the corner now is the last chance to see some of our winter visitors and the first chance to see some new arrivals.

Blashford-Sand-Martin-Dave-FokerThe Bittern that has been sneaking around the reed beds all winter will surely be moving on soon, so if you haven’t caught a glimpse of this elusive bird yet, you may have one last chance before next winter. Another exciting sight at this time of year are migrating birds that briefly pass through the reserve on their way elsewhere. Look out for the impressive Osprey that sometimes stop in for a quick feed and then carry on their way. The sand martins will also be returning soon and showing off their spectacular flying skills. Last spring and summer they created quite a spectacle zooming about in front of Goosander hide.Blashford-Peacock-Peter-West

Birdsong will be filling the air but if you look closer to the ground there will be further signs of spring. The snowdrops and wild daffodils are now pushing their way up through the woodland floor adding a splash of colour.  You will also see the first butterflies flitting here and there enjoying the warmer weather; look out for Blashford-Brimstone-Ed-Merrittbrimstone and peacock butterflies. You may also be lucky enough to spot an adder or grass snake tentatively venturing out and testing the warmth of the sun.  Blashford-adderAll in all there is plenty to see and enjoy throughout February and March.

To explore the reserve’s birdlife with a guide, why not join Education Officer Jim Day for a family bird walk on Saturday 17th March. Booking is essential, please telephone 01425 472760.

Blashford-Grass-Snake-Jim-DayThe Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people. For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog: blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

Blashford Bulletin December 2017

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Widgeon-by-Albert-Roberts-Dec-17

As winter progresses the lakes are continuing to fill up with ducks and the numbers will tend to peak now in December.  Even if you are a beginner to bird watching there is nothing quite like sitting in a bird hide and watching ducks peacefully feeding on the lake with the occasional squabble. As a duck watcher you can start to sort out the different species by observing how they feed.

The pintail, a duck with a long neck and as the name suggests a long tail too, is a dabbling duck. It feeds by dabbling its beak in the water sifting out plants and insects. Another dabbler is the wigeon which feeds on aquatic plants and can also be seen out of the water grazing the grass on the banks.Shoveler-male-and-female-by-Dave-Foker-Dec-17

The shoveler also dabbles but in a much more entertaining way! It uses its huge spatula like bill to sift the water but at the same time will often spin round and round in an attempt to create currents in the water which bring the food to them. Look out for groups of shoveler congregating together and spinning around collectively, an impressive site when in large numbers!

Siskin-and-Redpoll-by-Bob-Chapman-Dec-17Moving away from the water and into the woodland, bird watching continues to be enjoyable as the bare trees leave fewer places for the birds to hide. The woodland hide is always busy as birds flock to the feeders for an easy meal, with winter visitors to look out forBrambling-by-Ian-Cameron-Reid Dec 17 including siskin, redpoll and brambling.

To discover the historical back story behind many of Blashford’s more familiar birds, join local author and wildlife photographer Dr Simon Wills for an evening talk on Tuesday 5th December, from 7.30pm until 9.30pm. Hopefully, you’ll come away having been entertained, and with some good tales to share next time you’re waiting in a hide for a bittern or kingfisher to appear! Please book your space by telephoning 01425 472760, suggested donation £4 per person.

As the New Year approaches the first flowers begin to appear including small patches of snowdrops. Scarlet-elf-cup-by-Bob-Chapman-Dec-17The first fungi of the year will also be starting to show. The scarlet elf cup feeds on dead wood and thrives in our wet woodland habitats.  As its name suggests it is a bright red cup shaped fungus which creates a welcoming splash of colour amongst the leaf litter.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people. For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog: blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

Blashford Bulletin October 2017

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Oct-17-Fly-agaric-Bob-Chapman

Oct-17-Shaggy-Inkcap-Melissa-Howarth

Autumn is a colourful time of year at Blashford Lakes, with the trees displaying
ceilings of golden leaves and fungi beginning to emerge on the woodland floor. On your visit to the reserve, look out for the popular fly agarics along with shaggy inkcaps, earth stars, amethyst deceivers and the more subtle but aptly named candle snuff fungus on the tops of logs.

 

 

 

Oct-17-Candle-snuff-fungus-Bob-Chapman

On the water duck numbers will be increasing, including gadwall, pochard, tufted duck, teal, shoveler, wigeon and golden eye. As we enter the busy bird season at Blashford Lakes you may be considering investing in some new binoculars to enhance your bird watching experience. Why not join ‘In Focus’, optics and binocular specialists, for one of their regular events to try out different binoculars and telescopes in the bird hide and find out what is best for you.

Oct-17-Gadwall-Sue-White

These events usually take place on the first Tuesday of the month from 10am-4pm in the Tern Hide.

 

 

Oct-17-Bittern-Jason-Crook

The bittern is likely to return late October, although they will become increasingly easier to spot towards the end of the year as the reeds die back. If you would like to explore the reserve with an expert then why not join Reserves Officer Bob Chapman on a guided walk in search of the last summer visitors and first winter arrivals on Wednesday 18th October from 10am until 12noon. Please telephone to book your place.

Oct-17-Dark-Bush-Cricket-Ed-Merritt

This time of year is brilliant for watching the birds coming into roost on Ibsley Water; thousands of gulls, geese and goosander use the lakes as their resting place as it provides a safe refuge after dark. As well as looking out for roosting birds you can also watch out for bats emerging for their night’s feed and listen out for dark bush crickets who can be heard chirping at this time of year.

Our conservation volunteers have been hard at work doing a brilliant job as they help the Reserves Officer to strim back rush, bramble and small willows around the edges of the lakes to help maintain short grassland habitat for wintering ducks and lapwing. They will also be pollarding our large willow stands creating many bundles of willow withies. Why not try out a new skill and create a masterpiece using the willow withies pollarded from Blashford Lakes (bundles are yours for a reasonable donation).

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people. For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog: blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.

Blashford Bulletin August 2017

Monday, August 7th, 2017

 

silver-washed-fritillary-by-Steve-Lankester

silver-washed-fritillary-by-Steve-Lankester

As August arrives, the trees at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve are

Small-tortoiseshell-by-Steve-Lankester

laden with leaves. As the grass in the meadow begins to die back, some flowers including heather, fleabane and hemp agrimony are only just beginning to come out whilst blackberries and other berries will be ripening – there will be plenty of food around for our insects, birds and mammals.

On a sunny day take time to search for butterflies including brimstone, peacock, red admiral, small white, large white, green-veined white, silver-washed fritillary, painted lady, gatekeeper, small tortoiseshell and comma. Dragonflies will also be out patrolling their feeding grounds including southern and migrant hawkers.

On Monday 7th August join Reserves Officer Bob Chapman on a guided walk from 2pm until 4pm in search of summer invertebrates. To book your place telephone 01425 472760.

Migrant-hawker--Bob-Chapman

As summer continues it’s time to look to the skies over Blashford in search of passing migrants. Birds like osprey will be making their way back to Africa whilst our hirundines will be gathering to feed over Ibsley Water before they too head south. A good time to look for this feeding frenzy of swallows, swifts and martins is just after rain, which seems to bring the insects down over the water with the birds not far behind.

Tufted-Duck-drake

As some birds leave others are starting to arrive. The great white egret is likely to return any day now from its holidays in France to spend the autumn and winter with us. Duck numbers are also starting to build up with representatives of several species including gadwall, tufted duck, wigeon, mallard and shoveler out on the water. As usual at this time of year it can be quite difficult to sort many of them out as the usually distinctive drakes have moulted into a somewhat drab ‘eclipse’ plumage, similar to the females. This is thought to be a survival mechanism, making them less conspicuous whilst they moult their flight feathers and are unprotected from predators.

Kingfisher-by-Justin-Kercher

Late summer is a great time to be keeping a watchful eye out for this year’s fledglings. Kingfisher in particular will be starting to disperse themselves throughout the reserve, giving you the best chance of seeing one; either a flash of bright blue or if you are lucky enough they may choose to settle on one of the many perches outside the front of Goosander or the Ivy Lake hides.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water. The reserve is managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, a charity that aims to protect local wildlife and inspire people. For information on upcoming events visit our website: www.hiwwt.org.uk or phone: 01425 472760. For up-to-date wildlife information visit our blog: blashfordlakes.wordpress.com.