Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Charca de Suarez with John and Jenny

Tuesday 16 July

I may be over in the UK at the moment but John and Jenny Wainwright are still in Spain and had the opportunity to visit one of my (relatively) local and favourite birding sites, the wardened reserve of Charca de Suarez in Motril on Sunday last.  So good to read about all those lovely species that one associates with the Charca including Turtle Dove Red Avadavat and Common Waxbill but no mention of a possible Black-rumped Waxbill.  I'm beginning to miss them already so must hurry back as soon as I can.

Charca de Suarez:  Sunday 14th July

Strong winds on way down but very humid at reserve.

Not a lot on the way down to Suarez, a few Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons.  As we parked up a flock of Yellow-legged Gulls came over and then while we were waiting for the reserve to open a Spotted Flycatcher was noted.   Barn Swallows, Common Swifts and House Martins were also logged before we gained entrance.

We headed for the "Alamo hide" and as we progressed up the track several Bee-eaters were seen.  In the hide we were welcomed by the "permanent" White Stork while in the reed beds a group of six common Waxbills were frolicking.  At the far end of the laguna three Marsh Harriers came into sight as did a Grey Heron which was quickly chased off by the Harriers.  A Zitting Cisticola landed on a tall reed and a movement below it gave us a pair of Penduline Tits.  A few Turtle Doves about here with an individual settling on the "Kingfisher poles". As a Marsh Harrier flew low over the reed beds a Purple Heron was disturbed and as it landed it disturbed a Red Avadavit and a Woodchat Shrike that had been hidden by the branches of a tree.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the water Moorhens and their young as well as Common Coots and their young fed with several Mallard in the background, a Cetti´s Warbler started singing as we left the hide, and a single Red-rumped Swallow was logged.
At the Taraje hide, a Purple Swamphen was spotted and a juvenile Black-winged Stilt appeared from the reeds and started feeding in front of the hide.  A Moorhen zigzagged in and out of the reeds, while in the bushes to the right of the hide a Spotted Flycatcher took up post, whilst below a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) was flitting about.
Moving down to the "Taraje bamboo"hide, a Blue-headed Wagtail, Mallard, Coots and Little Grebe were all the birds that were seen here, although Common Waxbills were heard regularly.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Doing a big walk round to the main Aneas hide we noted Great Tits, Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Spotted Flycatcher and House Sparrow.

At the main Aneas hide hundreds of Common Coots, Little Grebe and Moorhens were about, a couple of Red- knobbed Coots, Mallard, a Pochard, Grey Herons, Grey Wagtail and Little Egrets.  Above us three Black-headed Gulls wheeled, joined a while later by the Yellow-legged Gulls.

Just at that moment a female Common Kestrel came down into the water, it then pulled itself up onto a rock under the shade of the reeds of the island.  It started drinking and then secreted herself in and under the reeds, popping out every couple of minutes then disappearing back into the reeds.  She stayed there for at least twenty minutes, putting up with the attention of young Coots and Moorhens which sat up on the rock and looked at her.

Female Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Not much more to see today except two Tortoises which were feeding in their enclosure.

A few species of butterflies were noted Cardinal (Pandoriana pandora), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and not forgetting the Monarch (Danaus plexippus).

Juvenile Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
An interesting aside from John, as follows, re the female Kestrel "hiding" in the reeds.  The item about the Common Kestrel was very strange I don´t know whether she was just tired as she came down in the water with a big splash, or she maybe was after one of the many chicks that were about today? 

Female Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Idle Valley & Lound, Nottinghamshire

Monday 15 July

With the promise of a lovely warm and sunny day I set off up the A1 to meet my birding friend, Chris Bell at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve's Visitors Centre.  There was Chris patiently waiting for me by the pond where we watched numerous Reed Warblers and also picked up Pied Wagtail and Magpie before moving inside for a coffee and watch the birding activity on the water in front, all the time distracted by the numerous Reed Warblers in the reeds not three metres away from our table.  Lots of Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with both Canada and Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Pochard and a single Red-crested Pochard.  A couple of Carrion Crows flew across the water and a Moorhen was paddling about to our left.  Further study eventually found a couple of Oystercatchers along with the good-sized flock of Lapwing and, as might be expected, there were roaming Starlings to be seen.

Idle Valley Nature Reserve seen from the Visitors Centre
Suitably refreshed it was back to the car for the short drive up to Lound where a stop in the centre gave us the opportunity to pick up the local House Martins and a single Barn Swallow before turning right to make our way down Chain Bridge Lane.  Indeed, returning to the car we even had a friendly Robin feeding on the ground a few metres away.  With the car parked at the of  Hawthorn Lane we set out on our anti-clockwise walk noting an almost empty Wind Surf Pool save for a pair of Mute Swans with their two cygnets.  By now we were regularly hearing and seeing Blackcaps before stopping to check out the centre of Chainbridge Scrape from the first observation screen.  Here we not only found a number of Little Egrets along with Coot and Mallard  but also Common Tern, a couple of Heron, our first Great Crested Grebe of the day and a number of Cormorant.  A Common Whitethroat was singing his little heart out in front of us as a Blackbird flew past.

Next it was on to the two screen overlooking Neatholme Scrape passing both Chiffchaff and Blackbirds on the way.  This was very much the Mute Swan water but also a selection of the usual ducks with mainly Mallard and Tufted Duck plus, of course, many more Coot sightings.  Similarly, a good number of resting Black-headed Gulls and then we found a pair of Avocet.  However, the main concentration was on trying to find the suspected local Grasshopper Warbler.  No luck at the first screen but the second screen duly turned up trumps with a singing specimen,  I thought there might even have been two individuals present.  Lovely to hear this distinctive song again after so many years.  Also a good opportunity to eat our picnic lunch before moving on the nearby Neatholme Fen screen.

Neatholme Scrape and the search for the Grasshopper Warbler Locusttella naevia
On arrival more Little Egret and a few ducks and then, above the distant trees on the opposite bank a pair of soaring Buzzard.  A Blue Tit was working a nearby tree and then Chris drew my attention to the Hobby that had put in an appearance away to our right on the northern edge of the water.  Another lovely, distant, sight as it quartered away westwards to the opposite bank and disappeared behind the trees to be replaced by an arriving Kestrel that manage to find a resting point in one the said trees.

Very distant Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Before turning south into Cross Lane we stopped for a final look at the far end of Neatholme Fen and spent a little time watching the pair of Egyptian Geese with their three well-grown goslings.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus and below with the family

Once in Cross Lane we made a couple of stops to observe both Blackcap and Reed Bunting before finding another Chiffchaff and then a handful of Long-tailed Tits.  Then it was on back towards the car at the far end of Hawthorne Lane but this time we remembered to find the concealed entrance that gave a view over the northern (West) end of Chainbridge Scrape.  What a good job we did stop here at about 3.15pm.  Not the Coot or the Mallard but the Great Bittern standing exposed at the edge of the reeds win its classical pose of head stretched high.  Just a shame it was so far away and partly obscured by the trees in front of us making focusing, especially at a distance, so difficult.  Not only a Great Bittern but then a Marsh Harrier flew over the site.

Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris

Once back at the car our net stop was just a little further on the take a look at Chainbridge Scrape East.  This always seems to me a wonderful site for waders and, eventually, apart from the many Lapwing, we did find Little Ringed Plover, and a Green sandpiperGoldfinches flitting about below us and another good supply of ducks, Coot and Little Egret, with the majority being Tufted Duck.  Also a number of Black-headed Gulls and Common Tern.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Almost at the end of our visit to Lound we ended up at the River Idle itself where the nearby Conservation Lake, as last year, produced our first Little Grebe of the day.  A couple of local birders already at the site informed us of the Hobby they had seen and were sure that the bird had settled in a mid-distance tree.  Whilst they went of to investigate Chris and I were able to get a better view of the bird itself and confirm that yet another of the scores of Wood Pigeon seen during our visit.  On the other hand, looking beyond the lake we could see a trio of Jackdaw resting on top of a large bird box.  Meanwhile our walk east and then south gave us views over the nearby Tiln North where we found very many Greylag Geese along with a few Carrion Crow and Lapwing.  As we watched we able to also add a pair of Magpie and the a Redshank came in to feed

Time to leave and make our way to relatively nearby Newington, east of Everton on the Notts/Yorkshire border - but just inside the former. A right turn in the hamlet took us down to the end of Hagg Lane where we parked the car to take a look at both the River Idle and the edges of Slaynes Lane.  The big attraction here in this lonely site (until car, a pair of runners and then a couple of cyclists all seemed to arrive at the same time - nobody else was seen during our stop) was the small bird standing on the road some distance away between overgrowth on both sides.  Chris immediately though young Pheasant but the bird was standing upright and, and I been in Spain where I see so many, I would have immediately said Red-legged partridge.  However, this bird was certainly not an RLP and was then joined by a second individual walking out onto the track and confirmed that both were partridges but, on this occasion, Grey Partridge.  A second unexpected and wonderful sighting for the afternoon.  However before I could lift the camera the above visitors all seemed to arrive almost on top of the where the birds had been -now having rapidly disappeared on the other side of the track not to be seen again.

Turning the car round we then stopped to spend some time checking out Hang Lane Flash and what a glorious little site this was with a Pied Wagtail, a single Heron and no less than 35 Little Egrets.  A couple of Oystercatchers flew in and there was always at least one Carrion Crow on view.  Above the water and mud a constant supply of hirundines; mainly House Martin but also good numbers of Barn Swallow and the occasional Sand Martin.

And so to our final stop of the day, just back along the road at the Ship Inn.  Before taking a lovely evening meal and then setting off for Worksop followed by Stamford, a look over the meadow from the top of the dyke embankment gave good views of the large flock of Little Egret whilst a couple of Collared Doves sat on an aerial.  In front of us a couple of Linnets were in a tree below the embankment, Carrion Crows to our left and above more views of House Martin and Barn Swallow plus, in addition, a mall number of Common Swift.  House Sparrows in the village as we departed and once on the way home after dropping off Chris, no shortage of Rook, especially once on the A1 west of Worksop.

A truly most enjoyable day in great company and made all the better with the Great Bittern sighting and a final species tally of 56 for the day.

A last look at our Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard. Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Grey Partridge, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Great Bittern, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Speed Birding

Saturday 13 July

Popped into InFocus at Rutland Water for, literally, a couple of minutes this morning for Mike to fix a replacement screw in the eye piece of my travel scope and, whilst outside his little shop, took a look at Lagoon 1.  Loads of Mallard and Tufted Duck  plus the resident Coot, Lapwing and Cormorants.  Both Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns along with the occasional; Sand Martin were flying around the water.  On the far side a small flock of Canada Geese were drifting past to add to the dozen or so that I passed on entering Egleton.  Even a single Egyptian Goose nearby and a couple of Moorhen but the big sighting was the Great White Egret that had just flown in from, presumably, a neighbouring lagoon.

Great White Egret Egretta alba
Outside at the feeding station were Blue and Great Tits along with a couple of Jackdaw.  Add on the many Wood Pigeons and some Starling, not to mention Carrion Crow and the Mute Swans on the main water and you soon realise that you have recorded 16 species in under five minutes.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great White Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, 

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Friday, 12 July 2019

Update on the Rutland Water Ospreys

Friday 12 July

The Manton Bay Ospreys Pandion Haliaetus

Mum, top left, with all four chicks
Following recent visits to nearby Rutland Water and especially two days ago with my friend Bryan Stapely on Wednesday 10 July, I managed to gather sufficient information to give an update on this year's Osprey breeding season.  The original nesting site in Manton Bay is still being used and this year's pair appear not only to have produced four eggs but all have successfully hatched and the chicks fledged.  Ringing of the chicks took place a couple of weeks ago when the birds were about 5 to 6 weeks old and the wardens were able to confirm that there were two males and two females.  However, whilst three are now free-flying, the smallest at about six days younger than the third chick, is yet to leave the nest platform but, on the other hand, may have now done so since last Wednesday's visit.
Mum with two in the nest

Whilst this may be the only nest actually on Rutland Water, there are a further eight (8) successful breeding pairs within three miles and all use this water as their main feeding site albeit relatively nearby Eyebrook Reservoir just over the county boundary in Northamptonshire is also visited.

Mum with three in the nest and one along side
Further to these eighteen birds there are another nine non-breeding and/or sub-adults also summering in the immediate vicinity and also based on the fish supply at the above waters, plus, I am informed, occasional visits to the nearby fish farm!
Three chicks look like a bit of a squeeze

If the other eight pairs successfully fledge an average of two chicks each, and there certainly seems plenty of trout and roach to be had, the weather has been kind and the heavy storms in late June/early July came when the chicks were well developed, then it could well be that as many as 20 youngsters or more will make their first migration south at the end of the season.  Amazing to think that there could be as many as 47 or even 50 free-flying Ospreys in the area - and this without adding any migrating individuals from other parts of the country.  However, we are constantly reminded that the mortality rate is very severe with, probably, only about 30% of the youngsters surviving to return to their birth site in a couple of year's time. But, even so, that could result in an increased population in the Rutland Water area to the mid-thirties in the near future.  Many congratulations to all who have been and are still engaged in this most successful project.
Three in the nest.  How close is this?  All right, the reflection is a give-away as the shot was taken from the live screen in the hide!
Mum with youngest
Then was another
All present and correct but note the passing Common Tern Sterna hirundo.  Dad is expected back any minute with afternoon tea.
One of the young preferred to roost on a dead branch close to the water (see next photo)
A second chick seemed to prefer to rest higher in the tree, two thirds up on right-hand side. Note dead branch below which held the above chick.
But we all know what happens when dad returns open empty-handed - or, perhaps, empty-footed in this case.  No food for the family so you can jolly well take your self off to the isolation tree where he is perched two-thirds up  near the centre and, presumably, working up some energy to go off and start fishing again.

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Thursday, 11 July 2019

Rutland Water

With friend Bryan Stapley at the Smew Hide, Rutland Water
Wednesday 10 May

Arriving at Rutland Water by 10 o'clock we thought we ought to have a dry morning whereas in fact not a drip of rain and by mid-afternoon the sun was out and temperatures had reached the mid-twenties and we were by now definitely in shirt-sleeve order.  But first a brief stop at Burley Fishponds so that Bryan could see the site that holds so very many wintering ducks, especially Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard.  Not just the many Wood Pigeon but on the water Cormorants and Greylag along with Canada Geese, a couple of Little Egrets and many Black-headed Gulls.  A couple of Heron were found and, of course, mallards were regularly seen.  Bryan manged to find a single Little Grebe to add to the local Great Crested Grebes and a couple of Carrion Crows were very active on the far bank.  As we made our way towards Egleton and the Visitors Centre the first field on the connecting lane held well over an hundred Greylag Geese whilst the third and final field had three Egyptian Geese waiting to be seen.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Arriving at the car park we quickly added Blackbird and Collared Dove and on arriving at the feeding station were met by a feeding female Pheasant and a regular supply of both Goldfinch and Chaffinch and, on this occasion, also Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Robin.  So lovely to then also find a foraging Dunnock, nevermind the local Jackdaws.  After a visit to the Visitors Centre we found Coot and Tufted Duck on Lagoon 1 we set off for Lagoon 2 and the Redshank Hide.  Upon arrival we added Moorhen, Commion Tern and Sand Martin before continuing on to the Grebe Hide.  Lovely to take the woodland track rather than the [path along the field boundary and we were rewarded by not only seeing Willow Warbler but also finding a Garden Warbler.

Dunnock Prunella modularis at the feeding station

From here it was up to the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4.  Still a lot of Little Egrets in the vicinity and also lapwing and Black-headed Gulls.  As expected, more Greylag Geese but also a small number of Canada Geese.  On the water Mute Swans, Mallards and Great Crested Grebe whilst we found a couple of Pied Wagtail and a trio of Oystercatcher on the sandy islands.  Common Terns were both resting and feeding and then a single Little Ringed Plover put in an appearance on the far side of the nearest island.  Just a couple of Great Black-backed Gull at the  back of the water on this occasion.  However, right at the back of the lagoon in front of the trees separating the water from Burley Fishponds a dark, over-large swift shape was undulating its way against the tree line.  Scope eventually on the bird as I watched it move back and forward in a much calmer flight and the penny dropped as I realised I was watching a quartering Hobby.  A rather lovely result on which to take our departure.

2019 Juvenile Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Lagoon 3 seen from the Shoveler Hide confirmed that the growing duck numbers were now much closer to the hide on the near side of the water compared with my last visit.  Almost exclusively Mallard before picking out a couple of Gadwall.   Nearer to the hide we had a trio of Shelduck away to our left plus more Coot and a Moorhen but most of our effort was concentrating on the reeds and undergrowth immediately to the far end of the hide as we watched both Sedge and Reed Warbler.

View of Lagoon 1 seen from the Mallard Hide
In addition to more Mute Swan, a look at the same lagoon from the Buzzard Hide also produced a couple of Pochard.  And having paid a brief visit to Crake Hide and then more time watching the breeding Common Tern on Lagoon 2 as seen from the Smew Hide before making our way back to the car park for lunch.

Common Terns Sterna hirundo

Suitably refreshed it was off towards the south with first a visit to the Mallard Hide overlooking Lagoon 1 where we found very much  large numbers of birds already recorded and on reaching the Snipe Hide overlooking Lagoon 6 in the scrape to the left both solitary Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit in addition to Moorhen, Black-headed Gull and Mallard.  Even a couple of Barn Swallows flying overhead.

Red Admiral butterfly Vanessa atalanta

The walk up to the 360 Hide overlooking Lagoon 5 produced no Sand Martins despite the large artificial nesting bank but a good numbers of Mallard and Lapwing along with a handful of Jackdaw.  However, pride of place must surely go the lone Wigeon that was feeding immediately in front of us.  Was this to be the first of the thousands that will be seen at Rutland Water come the winter?

Wigeon Anas penelope

Returning to the car we then drove over to the Lyndon Visitor Centre, encountering a Red Kite as we drove out of the car park and with a brief stop at the bridge to check that there was an Osprey occupying the original Manton Bay nest, there was with one chick on the nest and the female resting on top of the camera support.  Once at the centre the feeding station held both Goldfinch and a couple of Tree Sparrow.  Taking the long walk west to the Waderscrape Hide, with the briefest stops at both the Deep Water and Tufted Duck Hides, first we came across a male Reed Bunting and then we were very well received the volunteer warders.  With such close views of the Manton Bay nest we were not only able to see the resting female Osprey but also all four chicks, two on the nest, one in the tree opposite and the fourth on a branch close to the water.  The male eventually returned to be warmly welcomed by his family but, alas, he was fish-free and one got the feeling he had been banished to a nearby tree!

The Osprey Pandion haliaetus family
Whilst that was an absolutely splendid way to end our birding day, we had hardly left the site when a Kestrel crossed the road in front of us to give a total of three raptors and a final tally of 51 birds for the day.

Unknown dragonfly with prey
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Red Kite, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin,  Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

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RSPB Frampton Marsh, Boston

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Tuesday 9 July

My birding friend Bryan Stapley returned to the UK just on two years ago with his wife, Paula to take up residence in Darlington.  I was delighted, therefore, that he was able to travel down and stay with me in Stamford for a couple of nights so that he could experience birding on my local patch.  The only downside was that rain was forecast for both days with Wednesday having a 94% chance of the wet stuff.  With visits scheduled to both Frampton Marsh near Boston and nearby Rutland Water which to visit first?  In the end it was left till the very last minute and having prepared picnics for the pair of us I met Bryan at Stamford railway station and we headed off to Frampton Marsh, arriving a few minutes after mid-day in the hope that, at least, we might get a couple of hours of dry weather.  Dry weather; not a singe drop of rain all day albeit it was cloudy calm and cool most of the day apart for an hour or so in the afternoon when the sun tried its best to break through and it became very warm and humid.  The end result was a very enjoyable day's birding with lots of species but on much smaller scale than the previous Wednesday when I visited with Chris Bell.  Could it have been down to the low tide during our visit with many of the waders on the shore or had hundreds and both Black-tailed Godwit and Knot simply moved on?

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (male above)
With both Kestrel and Pheasant seen as we approached the entrance followed by the first of many Magpies, we thought we might be in for a good day and so it proved to be.  Straight into the Visitors Centre and the lake in front produced numerous Black-headed Gulls along with Mallard, a quartet of Spoonbill, many Coot and the occasional Moorhen.  Further detailed study the found Lapwing, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Little Egret and a good number of Black-tailed Godwit plus a single Bar-tailed Godwit.  However, at the far side of the water near the Spoonbills a small inlet had a single wader which proved to be a Reeve, our only Ruff of the day.  No sooner had we found the wader than a Common Sandpiper walked across the entrance.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Meanwhile, outside the side window on the feeding station were a good number of Goldfinches and Great Tits which were then, eventually, joined by a single Greenfinch, Blackbird, Dunnock and a few Blue Tits.  Scoping to the right we eventually found a pair of Gadwall along with a similar number of Teal and the very far end of the water the Black-necked Grebe and youngster put in an appearance whilst, once ensconced in the 360 Hide, we had Canada Geese, Tufted Duck and a number of Shelduck to the rear. As with the previous water there were plenty of Greylag Geese to be seen, indeed just about everywhere along with the many Lapwing.  Naturally, there were Great Crested Grebes to be seen and in the far distance a couple of Oystercatcher.  An ideal opportunity to eat our picnic before continuing on a clockwise circuit of the reserve and wondering weather or not the rain might arrive and catch us well exposed up on the high bank overlooking the saltmarsh.

The Reedbed Hide produced nothing new and it certainly seemed as if there were fewer birds about compared with last week.  However, interesting to watch the continuous movement of the Starlings from one are to another.  Once at the back of the reserve we found a male Reed Bunting and then a very exposed Sedge Warbler that delighted us with its song from the top of a small tree; beautiful!

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Approaching the East Hide we were very much aware of the good number of Avocet and young on display and then we were joined by a very active Reed Warbler who obviously had a nest of youngsters somewhere close by before the pair of Shelduck as we entered the hide.  From the hide itself we picked up a Pied Wagtail and then set off to walk the high bank noting the Sky Lark as we approached the steps.  Looking down on the reserve we soon found a single Redshank and then a small flock of Dunlin.  Just the one Little Ringed Plover before, close by on the saltmarsh, a quartet of Brent Geese.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla
Dunlin Calidris alpina

Before reaching the steps down to the road we found our Knot, maybe a couple of hundred but nothing like the thousand plus of the previous week.  Rather than descent to the road we continued on for a short while and picked up a distant Carrion Crow, our only one for the day where we would expect to see double figures.  Also on the marsh a Lesser Black-backed Gull and to our great delight we had excellent views of the Spotted Redshank in its black uniform on the water to our right.

Record shot of Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus (right) with Black-tailed Godwits

Once back at the car park we could hear the local Turtle Dove singing away and back in the Visitors Centre enjoyed the visit of a couple of Common Tern whilst Collared Dove and Great Tit had come to visit the feeders.  Outside, as we made our way to the car a couple of Barn Swallows were feeding around the area and no sooner had we reached the end of the entrance/exit road we finally saw our first House Sparrows of the day.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Little Egret, Spoonbill, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunlin, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.
Huddled Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa with Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta on the meadow with a few Shelduck Tadorna tadorna for company

heck out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Rutland Water

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Sunday 7 July

No rain, just lovely warm sun, a little light cloud and no wind so no need to have carried my mac on an early morning visit to Rutland Water, arriving about 7.45 and staying a couple of hours or so and just covering the northern end of the reserve.  In reality, probably making the most of the weather as my scheduled visit mid-morning Tuesday with friend Bryan Stapely, now moved back from Spain to Hartlpool, is coming to stay for a couple of nights and see my local birding sites.  Could be damp but at least next Wednesday the hides are much nearer the car park and far more birds to be seen if last week's visit is anything to go by.

A few of the 32 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta counted on l;aggon 4
Approaching the water along the top road it was obvious looking at the reservoir that there were plenty of Mute Swans about along with both Carrion Crow and Wood Pigeon.  The lane up to Egleton had a field full of Greylag Geese feeding on the grass and in the village itself a couple of Barn Swallows feeding above me.  Both Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove as I got out of the car but the Feeding Station was very quiet with just  single female Chaffinch and a couple of Jackdaws in the trees behind me.  Walking down to Lagoon 4, first a Pheasant before reaching the first field then a Bullfinch in the trees near the Badger Hide and a couple of Robins looking for food on the footpath.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Once at the Sandpiper Hide it appeared to me that the water level had receded a little since my last visit and there was certainly no shortage of Coot, Black-headed Gull, Mute Swan and both Canada and Greylag Geese.  However, what quickly drew my attention was the number of Little Egrets present at the site.  Unfortunately, many moved across before i could take a photo of the main flock but I was able to make a count of 32 - and there may have been more in some of the concealed ares.  One Great Crested Grebe still on its nest with others on the water along with both a Little Grebe and a handful of Moorhen.  the only waders to be sen were the many Lapwing until I found a couple of Oystercatcher

Greylag Goose Anser anser parents with to of their four chicks

Also present were Shelduck, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Teal plus a few Great Black-backed Gulls.  There were a few Common Tern but fewer than a fortnight ago.  What I did notice in the hide, and I seemed to follow the pair from hide to hide, the increasing number of photographers who just carry  long-lens cameras; no binoculars or scope between them.  Is this a sign of the times?

On to the Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 bu a very short stop as the photographers had the favoured windows with the remainder looking straight into the bright sun.  From the Buzzard Hide I picked up my first Reed Warbler and Pochard and very obvious, judging by the large numbers on the far bank of Lagoon 3, that some of the wintering ducks are beginning to return.

Just a handful of the hundreds of ducks on the far side of lagoon 3
From the Smew Hide overlooking the northern end of Lagoon 2 I had good views of the breeding Common Tern and on a large tree just outside I was able to watch the movement of a Sedge Warbler.  During my stay at the Smew Hide I also saw my first Gadwall of the day.  Time to return to the Shoveler Hide for a longer stay which gave me close views of the very active Reed Warblers as they fitted between the reeds in front and large trees behind the hide. before leaving my only Heron of the day flew in to rest on the water's edge in front of me.  And all the time a continuous supply pf feeding Sand Martins over both water and fields.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo on the nesting platform
Walking back to the Visitors Centre to meet up with Mike in In Focus for a check on a fault with the eye piece of my scope, I had first more Robins on the paths and then a Whitethroat. Out on the water in Lagoon 1 the usual gathering of sunbathing Cormorant.  The final stop before setting off back to Stamford was to once more check out the Feeding Station where I was rewarded with many Great Tit and a smaller number of Blue Tit.  A Robin was actively feeding and a couple of male Blackbirds put in an appearance but no sign of a Dunnock and this not helped by the ever-presence of a trio of Rats Rattus norvegicus.  On the other hand, it was pleasing to see a visit to the tree holding the feeder of a Chiffchaff and just beyond the Woodpecker Hide I could hear then see a few Rook.  Finally, as I drove out of the car park a Pied Wagtail was sitting on the roof of the barn opposite and House Sparrows were active in Egleton village so making a total of 41 species for the morning.

One-year old male Blackbird Turdus merula moulting out of his 2018 feathers (note the brown primaries0

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch.

Distant Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Just a very brief visit form this particular Little Egret Egretta garzetta

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