Friday 2 February 2018

At least seven Smew at Rutland water

Friday 1 February

At least seven Smew Mergellus albellus at Rutland Water today
Up early and scrape the ice of the car so that I could be at Stamford railway station to collect my birding pal, Chris Bell from Worksop so that we could spend over six hours at Rutland Water.  The forecast was for a clear, but cold, sunny morning followed by cloud after midday and then rain by 3pm.  In the event it was to prove 100% accurate but this did not spoil a wonderful day's birding producing over 60 speciesCarrion Crow and Woodpigeon as we approached the North Arm and once parked we quickly added an assortment of water birds including Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.  There was a good number of both Canada and Greylag Geese and we also found a couple of Egyptian Geese on the water.  Closer scrutiny of the water then produced Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant and Black-headed Gull before making our way to the water's edge to scope the main lagoon.  Mute Swans were present along with a large number of Lapwing whilst on the far bank, in front of the main road, we located both a trio of Pied Wagtails and about fifteen Meadow Pipits.  But more important, with the help of one of the wardens, Lloyd, we also located the single Black-necked Grebe that has been present for a month or so.

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (Hair style being ruined by the wind!)
Then it was off the Visitors Centre and greeted by Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove and Robin as we parked the car.  A quick look in at the feeding site produced Mallard, Moorhen, Blackbird, Pheasant, Great and Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.  From the viewing room in the Centre we could see that there would appear to be little about in front and that the water levels remained very high indeed.

Walking northwards and passing a couple of Song Thrushes in addition to the many Blackbirds a stop at the Osprey Hide produced our first Little Egret along with the first Wigeon and many Coot.  The Sandpiper Hide at Lagoon 4 turned up trumps with a couple of male and at least five female Smew in addition to Mute Swan, Cormorant and the first of very many Wigeon plus a good number of Tufted Duck.  A lone Heron on the far bank and a Red Kite overhead led to our checking out the gulls present.  In addition to the , mainly, Black-headed we also had a few Great Black-backed and a couple of Common Gulls.

Smew Mergellus albellus (male above and female bow)

Once at the Shoveler Hide overlooking Lagoon 3 in addition to most of the above ducks we also added Goldeneye, Shoveler, Gadwall and Common Pochard.  About a dozen Shelduck were resting to our left and then we we also found the first of the Teal flocks.  No sooner had we found our first and only Little Grebe than we also recorded the, not so many, Great Crested Grebes.  A Herring Gull drifted over as we made our way towards the Smew Hide overlooking Lagoon 2 from where we finally found our first Pintail.

Goldeneye Bucephala clangula

Then it was back to the Visitors Centre so that we could enjoy our picnic from the photographer's hide overlooking the Feeding Station - but not before we had added a Wren on our walk back and a short stop at the Redshank Hide from where we found a Great White Egret.  Lots of activity during lunch as the numerous tits, finches, Robins, Blackbirds and especially the Dunnocks came to feed.

Dunnock Prunella modularis
Walking to the Mallard Hide we had a Buzzard overhead, and a couple more later on, and once inside Chris even managed to see a pair of Sparrowhawks displaying above the nearby hill. Apart form the ducks, especially Teal, on Lagoon 1 and the large flocks of Lapwing we also managed to find a feeding quartet of Curlew close to a large number of Canada Geese.  The walk to the Snipe Hide over-looking the Wet Meadow along the muddy track turned up a female Bullfinch and then more more ducks upon arrival including a couple of rather handsome Pintail plus a distant Marsh Harrier over the hill.
Teal Anas creca

A small flock of Long-tailed Tits as we left the Snipe Hide and then a clockwise walk round to the 360° Hide produced both a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a single Magpie but no Goosander where I had recorded one last week on Lagoon 7.  The hide itself produced a closer sighing of a Pintail.  By now it was very cloudy and definitely looking like the expected rain might be with us soon so fifteen minutes later we were back at the car and preparing to start our journey home by completing the circuit of the water.  As we sat in the car about to depart Chris saw the Great Spotted Woodpecker in the gnarled old tree in front of us and no sooner had we made the Manton road than the first spots of rain ht the windscreen.

Pintail Anas acuta

A stop at the deserted Manton Visitors Centre proved most worthwhile.  Still only a very slight drizzle so no problem in taking a look at the feeder where we found numerous Blue Tits, a number of Chaffinches and Great Tits and the occasional Robin and Dunnock.  Then the arrival of a Reed Bunting and Coal Tit to add to the day's sightings.  Before heading back to the car Chris thought he heard a Redwing in the neighbouring tree abut closer inspection found a Fieldfare and on checking out the bare orchard another three or four Fieldfare feeding, presumably, on the rotting apples left on the trees, whilst we had a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the tree immediately in front of the car.

By now the rain it was a raining - and with a vengeance just as promised last night.  A Kestrel was doping its best to hover over a hedge as we made our way along the road towards Edith Weston and a stop in the gateway overlooking the dam produced a couple of Great Crested Grebes but no Great Northern Diver.  And then we were back in a wet Stamford giving Chris just the ten minute wait for his train back home via Peterborough.   A most enjoyable day in great company.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Smew, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

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