Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A frosty morning at Rutland Water

Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Monday 24 November

I understand it might have been a little on the windy side back in the Axarquia area of Malaga province.  Her, back in the Midlands of the UK, it was definitely a case of get on your thermals and as many other layers as possible.  Old age shake is one thing bu then add on the minus four degrees and you start to winder why you even bother to get out of bed.  Just think, a fortnight ago I was swimming in our outside, unheated swimming pool!

Record shot of distant Redwing Turdus iliacus
But it might be my last, or even only, opportunity to do some local birding so up and away to nearby Rutland Water and, reaching the site, greeted by both Carrion Crows and Rooks followed by the resident Jackdaw tribe.  Something about Robins back in Blighty; rather than fly away they cam and give you the once-over before disappearing under the car as if you have some sort of built-in trap door that automatically drops food.  So, before buying mp pass for the morning and setting off to the distant Lagoons 3 and 4 a quick look at the feeding station where, as expected, I found numerous Great and Blue Tits but only the occasional Chaffinch and no Greenfinches or Goldfinches nevermind something a little more exotic.

What a lovely "Christmas" Robin Erithacus rubecula

Then it was off to Lagoon 3 calling in at the hides overlooking the narrow Lagoon 2.  No sooner away from the road and I had Blackbirds and a Pied Wagtail but, joy of joys, a pair of Bullfinches feeding in the top of the bush alongside the path.  The single Song Thrush was also a very pleasant sighting.  On the water I found Mallards and Shovelers plus a good number of Cormorants with regular Moorhen sightings.  Lovely to see that the Wigeons were about which saved me having to detour via the North Arm on the way home.  The only Gulls present were Black-headed and, of course there were Mute Swans to be seen at every stop.  With limited birds seen from these hides, the Grebe Hide turned out to be the most productive as I was in time to see a Water Rail take to air, well at least a foot off the water, as it skittled round a corner and up the neighbouring channel.

The ever-present and graceful Mute Swan Cygnus olor
So on to the end of the path and approaching Lagoon 4 I had a small mixed flock of Redwings and Fieldfare in the bushes in front with more restless Jackdaws above me.  A tiny charm of Goldfinches put in an appearance with yet more Blackbirds and then I was looking out over an empty expanse of water with just a couple of isolted Wigeon to keep me company.

Plenty of Wigeon Anas penelope to be seen
So on to the main (Shoveler) hide overlooking lagoon 3 to see what was really about.  A good number of Lapwing along with Mallards, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Mute Swans and a few Moorhens.  Closer inspection also produced a couple of Herons and even a Little Egret, a local resident of Andalucia which had managed to evade me all through the current month.  A few Gadwall were noted and then my birding neighbour used his telescope to find one of the two Red-necked Grebes that had been in residence for the past week, alongside a Goldeneye.  Meanwhile, the first Egyptian Goose of the morning decided that one of the "aerial" nest boxes would make a suitable perch.

Winter-plumage Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (above) and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus (below)

Walking to the neighbouring hides duly produced more Wigeon and a number of Great Crested Grebes plus very many Tufted Ducks and a single female Reed Bunting.

One of very many male Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula
Leaving the Shoveler Hide on the return journey I cam across a very relaxed Dunnock that posed nicley at the side of th epath, had a good scratch and then went off in search of an early lunch.  Then it was on to the Information Centre, where I had a few minutes to chat to warden Tim Appleby, I managed to find more Redwings plus a few Starlings and a small number of Wood Pigeons.  Still plenty of Blue and Great Tits on the feeders but now also a handful of House Sparrows and a single Marsh Tit that made numerous brief visits to the same trio of feeders, mainly picking niger seed.  Even a cock Pheasant patrolling around on the half-chance of picking up dropped seeds.

The very obliging Dunnock Prunella modularis

A very short walk to Lagoon 1 picked up a small flock of Canada Geese from the Mallard Hide  then I decided to make it back home as there was still shopping to be completed.  Driving away from the car park I was able to add both Collared Dove and Magpie with a Kestrel hovering alongside the road near Lagoon 4.Still not done as a Red Kite crossed the road in front of me as I drove back towards Stamford alongside the Northern Arm.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, the only wader on show during the morning

Birds seen:
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Water Rail, Lapwing, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Marsh  Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

Always guaranteed a Pheasant Phasianus colchicus at the feeding station
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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