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Blashford Bulletin December 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.