|Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Saturday 18 March
With morning's visit to the Durhill area of Burley completed before one o'clock in seemed sensible o travel on to nearby Blashford Lakes whilst ion the area. The weather was holding up and whist not sunny there was still good light and in the event of rain the site held a number of hides to offer some comfort. Also an enjoyable place to have my picnic lunch whilst checking out Ibsley Water form the Tern Hide. Approaching the hide I had already encountered Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Blackbird. However, the water was rather disappointing with very little bird life at the hide end so necessitating the need to make us of the scope for checking the birds but very little opportunity to take any photographs. The relatively nearer birds were all either Tufted Ducks or Coots plus a pair of Black-headed Gulls resting immediately in front-of the hide.
|Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus
However, off to my right tucked up against the water's edge there were the occasional mallard and Wigeon in addition to the Coots and Tufted Ducks. And then, on a small gravel "island" a metre or so off the shore, I found my first three Little Ringed Plovers of the year.
|Newly-arrived Little Ringed Plovers Chardrius dubius
Meanwhile, time to discover what birdlife was at the very back of the water in addition to the three magpies foraging on the grass behind. Scores of Black-headed Gulls plus a few Herring and even a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The shingle islands also held resting Cormorants, a score of Black-tailed Godwits and a handful of Lapwing. After finding a number of Wigeon most of the ducks were Shovelers but also a pair of Common Pochard. And above the trees at the back I watched over thirty Rooks moving from right to left before a single Buzzard circled above. Slightly nearer to me I also, eventually, found a four Great Crested Grebes.
Time to move over to the main reserve to check out the woods and Ivy Lake. Ivy North Hide produced a single Mute Swan plus many more Wigeon along with some Teal and few Cormorants. Whereas the walk through the trees to the Woodland Hide was quiet. In the hide itself I recorded both Robin and Dunnock along with a Blackbird and probably a dozen Chaffinches. All very quiet compared with previous visits and no more than about a dozen Great and even fewer Blue Tits.
|Dunnock Prunella modularis
Nothing different to add once in Ivy South Hide other than mainly Black-headed Gulls and a few Cormorants and the walk back to the car park revealed a number of Chiffchaff. leaving the site to head over to Fritham I had another Blackbird and over a score of Jackdaw. But my departure also coincided with darkening clouds and the first hint of the rain to come!
|Male Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
A quick stop at Cadnam Pool produced a dozen Canada Geese but no Mandarin Ducks. So on through Fritham to Eyeworth Pool noting Pied Wagtails, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and a pair of Collared Doves as I drew near in the light rain. But then as I passed the end of the eater I stopped to look at the "strange" Mallards on the water to only realise they were a trio of Mandarin Ducks dressed in their very best. The local Mallards themselves were towards the other end of the pool.
|Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Parking up facing the water at the "feeding stage" it was now quite wet with heavy rain but still the Blue and Great Tits came down to feed along with many Chaffinches and, eventually, both Robin and Dunnock. Finally, the rain stopped and the Mandarin Ducks had made it this end of the water so time to exit the car and take some photographs, also noting the arrival of a trio of House Sparrows.
|Blue Tits Parus caeruleus
Upon departure, my final intention had been to drive on over to Acres Down, part of Emery Down, to see if I could locate the reported Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. It was already getting late and the light beginning to fade but reaching the A31 it was necessary to bear left onto the dual carriageway and stay on the road until the start of the M27 before doubling back. No sense really given the time involved so carried on home arriving just after 5pm to discover that my Welsh rugby team had lost yet again. Thank goodness Newport managed an away football victory but looking sad for Southampton who only managed to grasp a draw with what seemed like the last kick of the game. But that's another story as they say.
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Mandarin Duck, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Buzzard, Coot, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.