All posts by Jim

Education Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trusts Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve.

Blashford Bird Trail 2017

Last weekend saw the Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve host the annual Bird Trail organised by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with Hampshire Ornithological Society for groups of children and young people – the sun shone and the birds flew! To be kept up to date with details and how to enter a team in next years Bird Trail event (Wildlife, Uniformed, Youth and School groups all welcome!) e-mail Jim Day at the Blashford Lakes Education Centre –

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

Well I told Tracy I’d blog the Bird Trail and as she told everyone in her last post that I would be I suppose I really should!

The Bird Trail is a joint event run by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with the Hampshire Ornithological Society with the express intent of engaging groups of children and young people in wildlife and, of course, in bird watching in particular.

The 2017 Bird Trail was another great success and it would not have been so without the support of many people and organisations: first off I will thank all of the Hampshire Ornithological Society and HIWWT volunteers who helped out on the day and ensured that it was the great success it was! Volunteers led on a multitude of tasks from photographing the event, to supervising the road crossings or administering the group registration and totaling up the bird lists…

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An adventurous couple of days…

We get up to all sorts at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trusts Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve – it is a fantastic site for “habitat studies”, “minibeasting”, river studies, pond dipping etc. so we are busy with school visits, uniformed group visits, guided walks and family activities throughout the year, but our “Wild Days Out” school holiday activity days do allow us to experiment a little with new ideas and activities. Think this one takes the biscuit though!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog (here) that included a brief description of my initial foray into the Dockens Water in preparation for our Wild days Out “Stream Snorkel Safari” and all of my reservations having braved the icy water… this week saw us leading 41 intrepid children aged 5-12 (not all at the same time!) into the Dockens Water to do just that and I am so glad that we did… it was brilliant!

The older children went first on Wednesday. Wednesday, you may remember, was grey, gloomy and COLD! Following the unusually glorious Bank Holiday weekend and highs of 29°C,  Wednesday saw the temperature plummet to a high of 14°C and a weather forecast dominated by heavy rain and jumping into the river was the last thing I really wanted to do!

Did it put us off? Well yes, of course it did!

Did it…

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Wild and Autumnal Days Out

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

The October Half Term has seen our Wild Days Out have a very Autumnal theme, as we headed onto the reserve to enjoy the seasonal changes, discover how nature responds to the cooler weather and spot fungi.

We began by challenging the older children to a game of human knot, with a mycelium twist, demonstrating the outward growth from a spore once it has germinated underground and begins to send out branches, or hypha. As the hyphae repeatedly branch out underground, they assume a larger circular form which is noticeable when the fruiting bodies, or fungi, appear above ground as a fairy ring.

They had to stand in a small circle and reach their right arm in to the centre, taking hold of someone else’s hand but making sure it was not that of the person right next to them. They then had to put their left arm in, taking someone else’s hand…

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A little bit of everything…

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

Yesterday our Young Naturalists were back at Blashford for a varied session in search of birds and fungi and a practical task in our camp fire meadow. Kevin and Jack, BTO bird ringers, were ringing at Goosander Hide in the morning so we headed straight up there to try and catch them before they had finished. Whilst we were there, we were lucky enough to watch Jack ring a robin and a chiffchaff and talk us through the process.

Thank you Kevin and Jack for taking the time to chat to the group and explain what you were up to and looking for, giving a great overview of bird ringing.

Whilst in Goosander Hide, Young Naturalist Talia took some great photos of some of the birds on Ibsley Water:

grey-heron-and-little-egrets Grey Heron with six Little Egrets by Talia Felstead

It was then time to rummage through the light trap which revealed a…

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Calling all young photographers!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

Sponsored by The Cameron Bespolka Trust, the Young Bird Photographer of the Year competition aims to encourage and recognise the younger generation of birders and photographers. Specifically for those under the age of 18, the deadline for the competition is midnight on Wednesday 30th November and further details can be found on the competition website.

The Cameron Bespolka Trust very kindly funds our monthly Young Naturalists group at Blashford, specifically for 13 to 17 year olds with an interest in wildlife and the outdoors. Cameron Bespolka was a keen and active birder and photographer who was tragically killed in an accident in 2013 at the age of 16. The Cameron Bespolka Trust was established in his memory to support the many different causes close to his heart.

Many of our Young Naturalists are keen photographers and a number of them will be entering! If you know of any budding young photographers…

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…and a fun filled bird spotting time was had by all!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

Yesterday’s Bird Trail, run in conjunction with  Hampshire Ornithological Society was a huge success, with approximately 80 children and young people aged 6 to 18 and 16 adults taking part in the newly resurrected event here at Blashford Lakes.

Eight teams, including WildlifeWatch and Wildlife Explorer groups, our Young Naturalists, a Beaver ColonyWellow School and a group headed by Christchurch Harbour OrnithologialGroup took up the challenge, following a set route around the reserve, visiting a number of hides and spotting as many different bird species as they could.

To make sure there was enough to keep everyone busy and we weren’t all trying to visit the same hides at the same time, we were joined by a static display of birds of prey courtesy of Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre, a bird ringing demonstration by BTO ringers Brenda, Kevin and Jack from…

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Wild and Watery Days Out!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

As promised by Jim, here’s a quick round up of what we’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks. With the holidays in full swing, we’ve been busy entertaining a number of holiday clubs, running family events and of course leading our Wild Days Out, which are offered in partnership with New Forest District Council.

We got off to a fishy start, with a marine themed Wild Day Out, complete with willow weaving, fish printing and the all important sand castle competition! We began with a closer look at some fish, before Jim demonstrated how to create a fish print:

Whilst waiting to paint and print our fish, we used willow to weave simple fish shapes which were then tied with wool to a willow fishing rod. We then had to go fishing from the boat!

Willow fish on a stick 3 Willow fish on a rod

After lunch we creatively sculpted…

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