Yesterday I was extremely lucky to see something very unusual, a white red deer stag, or ‘white hart’ as they are sometimes known. Sadly I didn’t manage to capture a clear photo of it but you can get some idea of the magnificence of the animal.
This was over at Blashford Lakes, on part of the reserve closest to the New Forest. It looked like this stag had developed quite a harem as I saw a white hind on the path and plenty of does hiding amongst the tree- I saw at least ten and there may well have been more nearby.
The colour comes from a rare genetic pattern called leucism which causes a reduction in the pigment in the deer’s skin and fur. There is a long history of white stags in the Ringwood area. There’s a pub in the marketplace called The Original White Hart, supposedly the first pub to take that name and named after King Henry VII caught a white hart nearby. It’s unclear how true the story is but it certainly gives credence to the idea that there white harts near Ringwood around the turn of the 16th century.
In other deer news, I’ve seen the trio of roe deer near the Avon a few times over the last few weeks. The stag and two does have stayed in pretty much the same area although they have crossed the river since last week, something which might well have been quite a challenge for these smaller deer.
Last week I shared another fantastic white creature at Blashford Lakes, Walter the great white egret. He can still be seen around the reserve and yesterday I saw him perched on a tree.
As ever, Blashford proved to be a wealth of interesting birds. This individual was quite a way from the hide but I was pleased to spot it as my first widgeon of the year.
Much closer to a hide was this rock pippit, looking in fantastic condition.
I have seen lots of kingfishers at Blashford this year and all over the reserve. This one was on the small silt pond.
Thanks to a rare day off and the clocks going back I was able to be in the reserve towards the end of the day which meant to I could see the beginning of the enormous roosts that come at this time of year. Here’s are the gulls on Ibsley Water:
More were arriving by the second as I sat and watched. Over on the trees around Ivy Lake there’s a fairly sizeable cormorant roost.
There was also plenty of opportunity to get close to some more common birds.
I had one more unusual sighting this week. On Tuesday, the 8th November, I saw a red admiral fly past. It was a large one and had to be to be able to survive the colder temperatures- it was -3° C the night before. I can only guess that it had sheltered on or even inside a nearby building. I think December will be the only month of 2016 when I haven’t seen a butterfly!