Friday, 8 July 2016

Rutland Water

Wednesday 6 July

Lovely day's birding at my (UK) local patch with fellow ABS member Mark Green who had driven up from Bedfordshire.  The weather was good and, indeed, we had a good few hours of sunshine by way of a welcome change.  By the time we set off for our respective home in mid-afternoon we had recorded 52 species, Mark had had good, live views of the Manton Bay Ospreys at their nest with the third and youngest chick finally showing signs that he got his act together so that he, too, could fledge the nest and, from a Spanish perspective, real evidence that the autumn migration was now under way with the sight of 17 Black-tailed Godwits, in what looked like full summer plumage, which had arrived on site that morning.  The addition of a handful of Redshank and a Curlew was an added bonus.

The arrival of the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa in the Wet Meadow
No shortage of Crows, Woodpigeons and Jackdaws as I arrived at the Visitors Centre with both Blackbirds and a pair of Collared Doves also in attendance.  The feeding area was relatively quiet with just the odd Blue Tit feeding so having met mark we set off towards the various hides overlooking Lagoon 2.  Not long before we had recorded a range of water birds including Cormorant, loads of Tufted Ducks, Mallard and Coot.  The occasional Mute Swan is always a welcome site along with a good number of Greylag Geese accompanied by this year's goslings.  The Black-headed Gulls certainly seem to have had a good breeding season and there were plenty of Sand Martins from the artificial nesting bank on view plus a couple of Barn Swallows.

Who usually photographs Collared Doves Streptophelia decaocto?
Meanwhile, it was lovely to see a male Stonechat posing on a reed from the Redshank Hide and the Grebe Hide provided a male Reed Bunting.  The latter was appropriately named as we saw the first of a number of Great Crested Grebes with their now well-grown youngsters and, as might be expected at this time of the year, plenty of Common Terns feeding over the water and also resting on the various rafts just off the banks.  A Heron was skulking against the far bank and so we made our way over to the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4.

The distant Reed Bunting Emeriza schoeniclus having a good look round his territory
Along with the neighbouring Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 this is, perhaps, my favourite area at Rutland Water and we were not to be disappointed.  Indeed, I left Mark watching the activity whilst, after photographing the lonely Osprey, returned to the car, observing both Robins and a Magpie on the way, to exchange camera for scope for a better view of what was present on the far side.  Lots of Common Terns and Lapwings to be seen and as we looked closer, always returning to the lone Osprey that rested on the post in front of us, we also found Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Mallards along with more Coots.  A couple of Ringed Plovers were on a nearby spit whilst on the far left a pair of Oystercatchers were working the water's edge.  Once I had returned with the scope we could also, apart from taking a closer look at the Osprey which was now accompanied on the top perch by a Pied Wagtail with a Cormorant drying itself on the neigbouring pole, check out the far side where we found both a Great Black-backed Gull along with both Herring and Yellow-legged Gulls to add to the resident, breeding Black-headed Gulls.  But no sign of the reported Mediterranean Gull.  A single Shelduck on the far side and then a single Dunlin still in breeding plumage on the spit in front of us along with the Ringed Plover.  Finally, a total of five Little Egrets were counted along with the single Heron.

One lonely Osprey Pandion haliaetus on Lagoon 4

So on to the Shoveler Hide from where we duly found, in addition to many of the species just recorded, Pochard and loads of eclipse-plumage Gadwall.  A lovely surprise to open the right-hand corner windows and find a Dunnock sitting on the fence and then a Wren popped up to see what was going on.  There must have been a Reed Warbler's nest immediately below us as we were entertained by feeding adults in the reeds below as they brought back food for their young.  A walk round to the Buzzard Hide produced the only Little Grebe of the day and there was virtually nothing to be seen other than feeding Sand Martins from the Lapwing Hide.

This Robin Erithacus rubecula is approaching full moult as it still cares for its new fledged chicks
So back to the car park to collect our food and drink which we consumed whilst sitting on the bench overlooking the feeding station.  Not only Blue and Great Tits but a number of both Chaffinches and Goldfinches plus a handful of House Sparrows along with an adult and full-grown Robin before the Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in to partake of its lunch.

And then the Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major flew in for a midday snack
Only limited time left so mark and I made our way off in the opposite direction to visit the Snipe Hide overlooking the Wet Meadow.  And what a good choice this was as not only were the two pairs of Avocets up and about along with at least two chicks but we also had our first Moorhens of the day and a handful of Redshank.  In addition to the Mallards and Tufted Ducks there must have been about a score of Teal on the far side of the pool but, best of all, the seventeen Black-tailed Godwits in just about full breeding plumage that were now well on their way back towards their wintering quarters.  The two Common Sandpipers on the far side were a welcome addition but then, shortly before our departure, a female or juvenile Curlew turned up to bring a further smile to our faces.

Just the single Curlew Numenius arquata which looked like either a female or juvenile
So it was back to the car park with  very short stop at the mallard hide which added nothing but a Jay flew across in front of us as we approached the Visitors Centre.  Leaving Mark's car in the car park we then had Common Starlings fly over as I drove across to the Lyndon Centre stopping at the end of Manton Bay on the way so that we could have a close look at the Osprey's nest from the road bridge.  Both adults were present along with the third (male) chick, the older two having fledged in the past three days and no doubt enjoying their exercise.  As expected, in addition to both Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and House Sparrows on the feeders they were also joined by the local families of Tree Sparrows.  Even the resident Magpie and a Mallard came to join in the feast.

Some very hungry Tree Sparrows Passer Montanus

So it was back to Egleton car park to sort out our gear, say our farewells and make our departure; a great day's birding  and still the sun was trying to shine as best it could and a few House Martins were overhead at the village.

More of the Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa with an Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta  in the background

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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