Storm Angus the first named storm of the winter arrived on the evening before the Natural History Societies outdoor event in November.

A programmed visit to Stanpit Marsh was cancelled because of the high wind and possible flooding.

This was replaced by a visit to Blashford Lakes near Ringwood which being further inland was assumed to be less windy and less prone to flooding.

A large flooded area of water and a locked gate on the entrance to the car park however did not look promising.

Fortunately the small car park near the visitor centre was open and arriving early meant that spaces were available.

Apart from the flooded area into the car park and its associated hide the rest of the reserve was open and surprisingly dry.

The plan was to walk along to the hide furthest away from the visitor centre and call in to the other hides on the way back.

Lapwing hide is located towards the northern end of Ibsley Water and requires a rather convoluted walk from the visitor centre along Dockens Water and across the main road.

Dockens Water is normally a shallow brook but due to the overnight heavy rain it was in full spate and showed signs of overflowing its banks on to the path.

The water level was already receding during the outward leg of the walk and had dropped still further on the return stage.

The walk itself through beech woodland was very pleasant with autumn colours on the remaining leaves.

A Green Woodpecker, Robin, Nuthatch, Blackbird and Song Thrush were all seen not far from the visitor centre.

Goosanders are normally on Ibsley Water and can often be seen from the appropriately named Goosander Hide.

On this occasion they were seen from the path swimming in a lake to the right just before Mockbeggar Lake and provided a close up view even without binoculars.

It is often the case when visiting a reserve with several hides to rely on the views from the hides rather than what is happening in other areas and good sightings can be missed.

Apart from the Goosanders a Marsh Harrier was seen flying over the reserve in its characteristic slow patrolling flight attended by crows trying to chase it away.

The view from Lapwing hide over Ibsley Water was rather disappointing being restricted to a few Tufted Ducks, Coots and the occasional Small Grebe.

Two Pied Wagtails patrolled the lake shore dipping their tails before flying away.

Ivy North Hide provided a good view of a Water Rail that conveniently wandered across a newly cut path through the reeds.

Although rather dull in colour the combination of metallic grey and mottled brown together with its red curved bill formed a very pleasing sight.

The bird is very elusive and a sighting so close to the hide provides a highlight of the day for many birdwatchers but in fact they are not so uncommon as they appear to be.

The view from the Woodland Hide proved to be rather disappointing as many of the migrating woodland birds had not arrived apart from a solitary Siskin.

Along the paths around the hide however there were some rather unusual fungi including ‘Candle Snuff fungi’ and ‘Stinkhorn fungus’ both on old tree stumps.

The walk around the reserve was managed without getting wet and the level of water in Dockens water had dropped considerably at the end of the walk.

Blashford Lakes proved to be a worthwhile substitute for Stanpit marsh which hopefully will be visited next month weather permitting.