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Blashford Bulletin December 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.