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Blashford Bulletin October 2019

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Blashford-Candle-snuff-fungus-Bob-ChapmanAutumn is a beautiful time of year at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve with fantastic displays of colour all around. The trees above are now providing a medley of autumnal hues whilst on the ground below many different types of fungi such as the candle snuff and amethyst deceiver begin to emerge. Still on the wing are the peacock and red admiral butterflies, creating pops of brilliant colour amongst the golden backdrop of leaves.Blashford-Red-admiral-by-Bob-Chapman

We will be exploring an autumnal Blashford Lakes during the October Half Term with our Wild Days Out children’s events, discovering how nature responds to the cooler weather. Seven to twelve year olds can join us for an Autumn Adventure on Tuesday 29th October whilst Thursday 31st is for children aged five to eight. Booking is essential; please visit www.hiwwt.org.uk/events for further details and to book online.

Blashford-Migrant-hawker-Bob-ChapmanIf you listen carefully you will hear the autumn hubbub of bush cricket chirps, the crunching of leaves underfoot and even the beating of wings by the common darter and migrant hawker dragonflies which will stay active until the temperature drops. On Ibsley Water the roosting gulls, geese and other wintering wildfowl may also be heard. Try your hand at identifying all of our visiting ducks which have been gathering on the water, from the striking teal and goldeneye to the modest gadwall and pochard.Blashford-Bittern-Jason-Crook

With luck on your side you may see a kingfisher down by the river or the great white egret fishing along the shallows of the lakeshore. Having returned from France where it spends its summer, the great white egret will now spend the rest of autumn and winter here. In late October we may also see our first sightings of a bittern; last year we were treated to a long stay by a very obliging bird which showed well for visitors and photographers alike, so as the reed beds die back creating greater vantage points this is our best time to wait and see.

Blashford-Clifden-non-pareil-upperside-by-Bob-ChapmanWhen the light starts to fade the bats emerge to catch their night’s hunt and we continue to run our light trap for moths. The mild nights will be perfect conditions for catching some migrant rarities such as the vestal, as well as some more regular finds like the Clifden nonpareil or blue underwing, which has slowly become more established locally in southern England.

The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Bournemouth Water, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust 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 2019

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

As August turns into September it is time to look to the skies for passing migrants. Osprey may fly over or pause here briefly as they begin their long journey 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 martins, swallows and swifts is just after rain, which brings the insects down over the water.

As some birds leave others will be arriving. Our regular Great White Egret ‘Walter’ may return from a summer in France to once again spend the Autumn and Winter with us. We know it is the same bird as he was ringed in France in 2003 as a nestling with a combination of coloured rings, making him easily identifiable when his rings are on show. Fingers crossed he will be back this year.

Duck numbers will also slowly increase, with the arrival of gadwall, tufted duck, wigeon and shoveler. At this time of year it can be quite difficult to identify them 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.

On a sunny day it is still worth searching for colourful butterflies as they wing from flower to flower; see comma, painted lady, peacock, red admiral and brimstone to name just a few.  Dragonflies and damselflies will also be out, with southern and migrant hawkers patrolling their feeding grounds and gatherings of common blue damselflies creating a dazzling haze over the edges of Ivy Lake.

If they have had a successful breeding season, late summer is the perfect time to keep an eye out for the brilliant blue flash of the kingfisher as their fledglings disperse out across the reserve to establish territories of their own. If you’re lucky, you may even get a view of one perched on a branch over Ivy Lake, Ivy Silt Pond or Ibsley Water: Goosander Hide is usually a good place to try.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays our new ‘Welcome Hut’ will be open so do call by to say hello to our lovely Welcome Volunteers, who will have a selection of pond creatures to show visitors and perhaps even a moth or two, depending on what the light trap has caught the night before.

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 2019

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Blashford-Oystercatcher-chick-by-Jason-CrookWe are in the middle of summer and the reserve is full of life. The insect world is buzzing, the leaves on the trees are still fresh and our young birds are embarking on their first flights away from the nest. From the water’s edge to the woodland canopy, this year’s young will be fledging and gaining independence. The air will continue to be full of birdsong with many birds singing throughout June as their mates produce a second brood.Blashford---speckled-wood-by-Peter-West

On the shoreline of Ibsley Water Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Little Ringed Plover chicks will be venturing further from their parents whilst foraging on the shoreline for food.

On Ivy Lake the Common Tern chicks will be taking their first leap away from the comfort of their nest, whilst the Great Crested Grebe chicks with their black and white humbug faces are now too big to catch a ride on their parent’s back.

Blashford’s insect life is best viewed on a sunny day, with the meadow and the pond behind the Education Centre both fabulous places to just sit and be still. Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood butterflies are all plentiful and in the meadow the summery sound of chirruping crickets and grasshoppers will delight your ears. On Saturday 6th July from 10am until 11.30am you can join the Education Officer to ‘Catch the Bug’ and discover the miniature world of the grasshoppers, crickets, spiders and bugs that inhabit our meadow. Please book by telephoning 01425 472760.Blashford-Oxe-eye-Daisies-by-Bob-Chapman

Blashford-black-tailed-skimmer-Bob-ChapmanThe mixture of wetland, woodland and grassland mae wing along with Common Blue and Azure Blue damselflies. Their life cycle requires wetlands for the start of their life along with open woodland and grassland in which tkes the reserve a brilliant place for dragonflies and damselflies, with Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Emperor and Black Tailed Skimmer dragonflies all on tho hunt as an adult. We are often asked how to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart: the best way is to wait until they are sitting still or perched on vegetation, as damselflies tend to hold their wings over their bodies whilst dragonflies will rest with them stretched out to the side.Blashford-Grass-Snake-by-Martin-King

Closer to the ground, keep an eye out for Grass snakes basking on the alder logs and stumps outside Ivy South Hide or on the fallen trees on the edge of Ivy Silt Pond.

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

 

 

Blashford Bulletin April 2019

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Spring is in full swing, heralded by the departure of our overwintering flocks of geese and ducks and the arrival of migrants back to our shores such as Blashford-Lapwing-chick-by-HIWWTswallows, swifts and martins. If you spend a bit of time watching the surface of the lakes you can catch them displaying acrobatically overhead as they feed. On the edge of Ibsley Water waders including lapwing, oystercatcher, little ringed plover and common sandpiper will be showing as they search for food.

Blashford-Blackcap-by-David-KilbeyIn the woodland now a brilliant fresh green, listen out as birds like chiffchaff, blackcap and goldcrest use their song to stake their claim to their feeding territories. The birds on the reserve are busily mating, building nests and rearing their young. If they have a good breeding season, Tern Hide will be the place to visit for a glimpse of a lapwing or oystercatcher chick as they move along the shoreline in search of worms and insects.

Blashford-Emperor-dragonfly--emerging-by-Jim-DayIf the weather is fine the air will begin to come alive with the buzzing of insect wings, with the pond behind the Education Centre the perfect spot to sit quietly and watch newly emerged dragonflies, such as the downy emerald and emperor, and damselflies including the common blue and blue tailed.

On Monday 15th April from 10.30am until 12noon you can discover the wonderful depths of the Blashford pond by joining us on a family pond dip. Please telephone 01425 472760 to book your place, suggested donation £4 per person.Blashford-Bluebell-by-Eleanor-Joy-Wilkins

Take a walk along Dockens Water and you will be rewarded with a splash of spring colour courtesy of the bluebells in full bloom along its banks. Other spring flowers to look out for on the nature reserve include ground ivy, violets and primroses.

All this makes Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve a wonderful place to enjoy everything spring has to offer! For a day out with a difference, join us on Friday 31st May from 11am until 3pm as we dine in the woodland and discover the humble stinging nettle. This is  our first monthly event for adults excited by wildlife, nature and the outdoors.  Harvest the stems and learn how to make nettle string, sweep them for invertebrates and then pick the tender tops for a simple campfire meal prepared and shared with like minded adults, booking essential via BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk or 01425 472760, cost £21.

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

 

Blashford Bulletin February 2019

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

 

Blashford Starlings-by-Jim-DayBlashford Lakes is getting a makeover! Blashford-Lapwing-Ian-Cameron-ReidThe unique mix of habitats at the Wildlife Trust nature reserve is home to a range of wildlife from kingfishers and otters to our famous great white egret, Walter. Soon visitors will be able to enjoy looking for and learning about our iconic wildlife and more besides from our new and much improved facilities.

Thanks to generous donations from the local community and funding from Veolia Environment Trust, we are able to renovate parts of the reserve to make it as welcoming as it can be for people and wildlife.

We have begun work on a number of changes and you may notice some parts of the reserve are inaccessible or currently not looking their best. However, this is only temporary and the results will be a vastly improved and altogether better nature reserve.

Here is what we have in store…

Blashford-Snipe-Ian-Cameron-Reid•  A brand new bird hide – this will be a much bigger, more flexible space overlooking Ibsley Water than the existing Tern Hide it replaces. The new hide will have a green roof perfect for pollinators and will provide panoramic views so you can get the best look at the lakes’ wonderful wildlife.

•  A second pond and a new sensory garden – these additions will provide new habitat for wildlife and more accessible pond dipping areas for visiting groups of children and adults.

•  A welcome hut and more seating – a new welcome hut will be manned by volunteers who will greet visitors and answer questions about the wildlife. We will also introduce more seating and picnic tables.

•  A new wildlife discovery trail and improved signage – we are creating a new discovery trail with beautiful willow sculptures and chainsaw carvings for visitors to enjoy. New and improved signs will guide visitors and provide more information about the reserve’s wildlife.

•  A new elevated viewpoint – this will be beside the main car park to give panoramic views across Ibsley Water, ideal for viewing starling murmurations and other gatherings of birds.

We’re very excited about the improvements to Blashford Lakes; it is such a special place and we hope the new developments will help more people experience and appreciate the wonderful wildlife on our doorstep.

To help the birds through the last of Winter why not join us to weave a willow bird feeder on Monday 18th February from 10.30am until 12noon. Please telephone 01425 472760 to book your space, cost £5 per feeder.

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 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.