Blashford Lakes

Springtime at Blashford Lakes

Seven of us drove to Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve in Hampshire. The weather was variable with spring sunshine interrupted by heavy rain and hail showers. The temperature belied the springtime date.

The reserve is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and consists of several former gravel workings in the Avon valley, close to the New Forest.

Most guides extol the gatherings of waterfowl and waders on and around the lakes, but the high water level entirely discouraged the waders (apart from a couple of Lapwing) and the ducks were sheltering on the far side of Ibsley Water, so good photography was impossible. Which was a pity, as there were significant flocks of Shovelers, Tufted Ducks and Pintails and also a few Wigeon. Strangely, hardly any Mallard or geese were present, apart from a couple of Egyptian Geese. We tried the next hide, which was no better, but en route, we saw Red Kite, Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk; we were also teased by some invisible Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. Robins were abundant.

The woodlands were brilliant, however. During the afternoon, we saw Blackcaps, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, four tit species, and loadsa Blackbirds as we walked to and from the hides. There were several feeders; one in particular attracted tits, Nuthatch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch and another was Siskin Central with a crowd of these tiny finches in the adjacent woodland. Chiffchaffs, as ever, were elusive, but I managed to see a couple. The hides near to the reserve centre were an improvement on the morning, being more sheltered and with waterfowl closer to the hides. Here there were more Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler and Wigeon and a large number of Teal (again, few Mallard or geese). The Woodland Hide is glazed with tinted glass so we got a view of birds at half a dozen feeders without disturbing them. Photographers were successful here.

In short, a frustrating hour in the morning was redeemed by a lively afternoon with plenty songbirds. We left in time to avoid another downpour.

Axel Kirby

Photos by Derek Griffin