This Saturday, we decided to go all out on the bird front and planned a proper trip to Blashford Lakes, a Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve with hides, feeders and a visitor centre. Having only been once before, going to bed early on a Friday night so that we could get an early start on the bird front was our intention. The alarm going off at 7:00 on the next morning wasn’t quite the relaxed start to the weekend we’d hoped for, so we reset the alarm and went back to sleep, eventually leaving the house around 10:00. Throw in a detour via Waitrose and an unexpected breakfast coffee at Boston Tea Party (the best coffee I’ve had in a LONG time), we weren’t exactly heading out in a hurry. Although this didn’t put us in pro-birder territory, it was a perfect start to a birding weekend.
Whilst there were a lot of highlights, the best part of the day by far was a beautiful Bittern appearing right in front of our hide, and despite nearly choking on its lunch, it put on quite a show. I know this made the day (if not the year) for Chris, so I’ll leave him to fill you in on the encounter. What I will say, is the whole experience reminded me of just how lovely a community there always is amongst a group of birders. People are always happy to share whats about and point things out to you. Without the company in the hide, we may never have seen the Bittern skulk out right in front of us. These birds are mega camoflaged and really elusive. Unless you see them move you’d never know they were anything more than a bunch of reeds!
Chris may now have a favourite bird in the Bittern, but I have a couple of new favourites too. Although they weren’t hanging out in my garden, I did spot a flock of 16+ Redwing eating on the ground (sorry Chris!), and we were both fairly mesmerised by a tiny group of Lesser Redpoll. The male Redpoll looks flushed across his throat and chest as though he’s very easily embarrassed and both males and females have a lovely little red cap, a bit like the a ones worn by cardinals. Hopefully I’ll post more on these beauties later in the week. They’re inspiring me to sketch so watch this space!
All in all a brilliant day out and about. This big year is making me really enjoy spending as much time as I can outside. If all the weekends of 2012 are as good as this one I’ll be very content.