Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Longham Lakes

I’m always on the lookout for new nature reserves to visit and last week I discovered Longham Lakes. Located between Ferndown and Bournemouth, the site consists of two reservoirs. The area was originally filled until they began to be dug for gravel extraction in the 1990s. Eventually the gravel pits were flooded and since 2010 the site has been a good habitat for a variety of bird life.
I perhaps didn’t choose the best day to visit, going a few hours before Storm Barbara really took hold. This meant it was quite cloudy and really windy- the reservoirs were full of waves for much of my visit. I was still delighted to discover there was plenty of bird life to see.
This was the scene on the South reservoir- you can see mute swans, lots of coot and a few tufted ducks. One of the swans was clearly one of this year’s cygnets.
The first bird I saw clearly was actually just on the gravel path at the edge of the reservoir. It was this carrion crow which had hold of an apple core. It was desperate to fly off as I approached but it made sure it had a good grip on the apple before it did so.
There were plenty of more interesting birds on the lakes too- pochardsshovelers  and both great Crested and little grebes. With the low light and windy weathers getting clear photos was virtually impossible!
At the middle of the South reservoir were some solar panels which cormorants were making good use of.
As you can see, much of the lakes are surrounded by reeds and in one section of these I spotted a stonechat darting around.
Just outside of the Longham Lakes site lies Hampreston Fields. Due to their location between the lakes and the River Stour they are usually filled with geese, as they were on my visit (in this case Canada geese and possibly a couple of greylag geese too), and swans.
The highlight of my visit to Longham Lakes had to be the great white egret though. It was sat amongst the reeds on the North Reservoir right near the path which meant I could get a really clear look at it. I’ve seen the Blashford egret regularly but never at such close range so this was a real treat.
As I was in the area I walked up the road to where it crosses the River Stour. I have often driven over the bridge there are there is always birds to be seen. On my visit there was a little egret amongst the reeds and I managed to see this kingfisher too.
I really enjoyed my visit to Longham Lakes and will definitely return- next time I’ll try and go in better weather! You can find out more about the site on Dominic Couzens website here and there’s even a blog of recent sightings!

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