Sunday, 15 February 2015

8th February 2015: Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve.

Lead by Mike Hawken, Terry Doman, Tom Pinckheard
We left Bath in heavy fog with a forecast of cloudy, cold weather. During the journey the sun broke through and we arrived at 9.45 to cold but sunny conditions, that persisted throughout our stay.
This was a joint coach meeting of Bath NATS with the Bath RSPB members group. Our large coach party of 41, was met by 3 more that came by car.  While some made their own way around the site the rest were divided into three groups and set out in different directions in order to reduce the crush in hides and the impact elsewhere on the site. For this reason  individual experience of the day will differ. Below are my significant bird sightings by location.


Here a maze of paths lead through lichen and moss swathed, bare Ash, Birch, and Oaks. The small woodland between the coach park and Ellingham Drive was particularly eye-catching with evergreen Ivy and Holly Tees. An elusive Firecrest was seen here on and off throughout the day. With some help, I was lucky to see this bird on my third attempt. A little further along this path, there were Siskins feeding on Alder cones.

Ivy Lake

From the north hide several people enjoyed close views of Snipe.
From the south hide, below a significant Cormorant roost, there were Teal sheltering on an embankment. Close by, with white vent and eyes, glistening in shades of mahogany red and maroon, a drake Ferruginous Duck showed very well much of the day. Also seen here a Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher.

Rockford Lake

Here there were large numbers of waterfowl, mainly Wigeon and Gadwall with Tufted Ducks and Pochard in smaller numbers. Curiously many of these birds congregated in tight mixed flocks, all milling round in close proximity. I have seen this during icy conditions, where churning of water prevents the water to freeze over; but another explanation is more probable as there appeared to be no ice. Swimming in one of these milling flocks, I was surprised to see briefly an elusive, winter plumage male Long-tailed Duck.

Ibsley Lake

Can be viewed from one of three hides along the south and eastern edge of this large and open lake.
From Tern Hide apart from a close Lapwing most birds were quite distant. However, from here I saw
a single male Pintail, several beautiful Goosanders, and a single Black-necked Grebe.
Finally returning to this hide minutes before our 4pm coach departure, I found a winter adult Mediterranean Gull in the growing gull roost.

I hope all participants had an equally pleasant day out at this fabulous nature reserve.

A list of bird species recorded by the group at Blashford Lakes. Total 72
Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black necked Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Ferruginous Duck, Long tailed Duck, Goosander, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Kestrel, Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Great spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Siskin, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long tailed Tit, Grey Wagtail, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Tree Creeper, Rook, Jay, Jackdaw, Magpie, Carrion Crow.

In addition seen on the coach journey: Pheasant, Red-legged Partridge. Several Hares and Roe Deer


Phillip Delve

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