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 – email@example.com
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…
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!
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!
As promised earlier in the week, here’s what happened on day two of our Young Naturalists New Forest residential.
On Sunday morning we started bright and early, meeting Home Farm’s Education Officer Steve Barnard for an animal feed session. Steve took us on a tour of the farm, letting the group help out with some of the feeding tasks, collecting eggs and generally having the opportunity to ooh and ahh or gobble at every animal they came across…it was a definite highlight of the weekend!
We particularly enjoyed watching Lysander feed the ducks, which he had to get to via some sheep…he did a brilliant job…
After our fun feed session we thanked Steve for his time and went to meet Paul and Mandy Manning from Amews Falconry for an incredibly informative falconry demonstration. We began in the garden room with Paul introducing us to four different birds, an American…
This weekend ten Young Naturalists joined us for our first weekend residential in the New Forest, staying from 7pm Friday night until 4pm Sunday afternoon at the Countryside Education Trust‘s Home Farm centre in Beaulieu.
From our base we explored a mixture of habitats including the local heathland, the traditionally managed broadleaf woodland at Pondhead, near Lyndhurst, the Needs Ore Marshes which form part of the North Solent National Nature Reserve, the farm at Home Farm and the shoreline at Lepe. We also had time for fascinating and informative falconry display by Amews Falconry, so all in all it was a fun, varied and packed weekend!
Here’s what we got up to…
After settling ourselves in at Home Farm, we headed out onto the heathland at Fawley Inclosure in search of churring nightjars, meeting up with Bob just after 8.30pm who was going to be our guide for…
Over the weekend ten super keen Young Naturalists enjoyed a night on the reserve in order to appreciate the dawn chorus at it’s best.
To avoid any ridiculously early drop offs by parents, we met at the Education Centre at 7pm on Saturday night then headed straight over to Tern Hide in the hope of a glimpse of the lapwing chick before it got too dark. We had to wait a while but got lucky!
Lapwing chick by Talia Felstead
In the fading light, we also spotted Lapwing, Greylag geese with three goslings, Redshank and a Pied wagtail.
We then headed up to Goosander and Lapwing hides in search of deer, getting out the bat detectors for the walk back and picking up lots of Soprano and Common pipistrelles. The bats put on a great show!
It was then time to head back to the Centre for a drink and a snack and to make…
Watching a Kingfisher on Ivy Silt Pond during September’s Bird Trail event
This year our camp out experience is going up a gear and rather than spending a night on the reserve we are embarking on a two night residential in the New Forest, staying at the Countryside Education Trust’s Home Farm centre in Beaulieu. From here we will be exploring the local forest and coastline in search of birds and other wildlife, including an evening walk in search of the elusive Nightjar, a visit to Needs Ore Nature Reserve in search of nesting avocets and a guided walk around Pondhead‘s sustainable woodland, as well as lots more!
The residential is taking place from 7pm on Friday 12th until 4pm on Sunday 14th May and spaces are still available, so if you know a keen 13 to 17 year old, enthusiastic about wildlife and the outdoors please let…
It was lovely to be back at Blashford on Sunday after a two week break, with the sun shining and chiffchaff’s calling from what seemed like every other tree. It was time again for our monthly Young Naturalists meeting, and with the weather warming up we began with a rummage through the light trap. It revealed a number of Common and Small Quakers and Hebrew Characters along with this rather pale Brindled Beauty.
Brindled Beauty by Talia Felstead
The light trap also contained a number of Clouded Drabs, with this one in particular making us take a closer look:
Clouded Drab by Talia Falstead
We wondered if it could perhaps have been a Lead-coloured Drab instead, but couldn’t be sure. Having only a photo to show Bob today, we’ve decided it probably was a Clouded Drab, as their colours can be quite variable, but you never know…