Saturday 27 January 2018

Rutland Water

Friday 26 January

Two drekes and at least one female Smew Mergellus albellus
Somewhat of a rude awakening this January birding back in the UK.  You very quickly realise that this is not the month or place for short-sleeve order as you scrape the ice off the windscreen at 8.15 and start off with the outside temperature at a rising 2C!   Up to 3 but down to 1C upon arrival at Rutland Water even though the sun shining.  A couple of Crows as I approached along the narrow lane to Egleton and then the resident Jackdaws in the trees adjoining the car park where they were joined by both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon.  A friendly Robin came to stand almost on my heels, obviously expecting some sort of titbit and across the fence a pair of Egyptian Geese were busy feeding in the paddock.

Eygytian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
A short stop at the feeding station produced a handful of Pheasants feeding on the dropped seed along with good numbers of Dunnnock.  Lots of Blue Tits along with Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.  A couple of Robin doing their best to get in on the act and, finally, the appearance of the first Great Tits as a drake Mallard and Moorhen paddled across the pond.

Next it was the walk over to Lagoon 4 and no sooner through the first gated path and I picked up the small flock of Canada Geese on the right.   A stop to check out Lagoon 2 at the Redshank Hide confirmed my suspicions that the water levels were very high and, I suspected, there would be few waders about.  Indeed, I was proved to be right as other than the hundreds of Lapwing seen during the morning just the one Curlew when at the Mallard Hide overlooking the Lagoon 1Wigeons here, there and everywhere, both on the water and feeding/resting on the grass. Similarly, lots of Coot about and  more Tufted Duck than Mallard.

Hundreds of Wigeon Anas penelope on site
Lagoon 4 seemed to be full to the brim so, other than more Lapwing, no waders to be seen.  About a dozen Mute Swans including juveniles and then my first big smile as I watched a couple of male and a single female Smew moving along to the right.  Could well have been more females before the little mixed flock disappeared behind the small island.  Then, no sooner getting over this delightful moment, and a male Goosander was suddenly right in front of me.  A good number of Common Starlings in the trees whilst back on the water I could not but notice the small number of Black-headed Gulls before finding a few of the resident (?) Great Black-backed Gulls.  A couple of Cormorant flew over which led me to see the handful of Shelduck and having found a couple of Great Crested Grebe and preparing to move on to the Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 and a Little Egret decided now would be a good moment to visit the water.

A most handsome Goosander Mergus merganser

Once in the above hide, and still on my own having arrived well before the official opening time, I encountered yet more Wigeon and Coot plus not a small number of Moorhen, Moorhen and nearby Teal and Shelduck.  But scoping the water I soon found a dozen or so Pintail and then added Goldeneye before finding the Common Pochard flock.  Gadwall and Shoveler were added along with a single Heron before making my way back to the Visitors Centre via a quick check at the Smew Hide where I added a closer pair of Goldeneye, to check-in and have a short break before exploring the southern side of the reserve,  And at this point I found a handful of Reed Bunting resting in a bare tree.

Swans, Coots and Tufted Duck but do I see a Goldeneye Bucephala clangula?
Time for a re-visit to the feeding station where all the previous species were still to be seen along with a Rat that also thought it was entitled to the free food on offer.

Even a lonely Rat Rattus norvegicus has to eat!
 Off to the Mallard Hide where I was to find the Curlew along with many more Wigeon, an assortment of other ducks including three relatively close Pintail.  But first the sighting of the Great Spotted Woodpecker that alighted on the tree trunk maybe ten metres ahead of me.  Moving to the Snipe Hide I found my first Greylag Goose feeding with a handful of Canada Geese. A walk along the muddy track took me to the 360 Hide where I managed to find a Little Grebe then back to base and a final look at the feeding station from the opposite side with the sun behind me and a chance for more photos and, at last especially having missed out last year, a Marsh Tit.  The final bird here, standing out from the many Blackbirds, was a single Song Thrush.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos learning to paddle
Nothing new at the North Arm other than a Kestrel and a Caspian Tern pointed out by a visiting birder and a stop at the deserted Manton Visitors Centre showed that the feeders were still being filled and attracting lots of small birds but not, whilst I was present, any of the resident Tree Sparrows.  I did, however, have a Coal Tit drop in for a feed alongside the Chaffinches, Robin, Greenfinches and both Blue and Great Tits.  An added bonus was seeing a small flock of Rooks as I passed through Manton and a single Magpie as I drove down to the above Centre.  A similar experience at a stop to scan the deep water in front of the dam.  No sign of the visiting Great Northern Diver but a couple of Great Crested and a handful of Little Grebes were actively feeding along with a small number of Tufted Duck.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
My last bird of the day was a resting Red Kite in a bare roadside tree as I turned back onto the main
road near Empingham.  A most enjoyable extended morning with a total of 54 birds recorded.

Good to see a Dunnock Prunella modularis again

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Smew, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Caspian Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

This Robin Erithacus rubecula looks like he/she means business in the days to come

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

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