Friday 30 November 2018

Rutland Water

Thursday 29 November

Back in the UK for ten days - in pouring rain!  But come this morning it was cool, cloudy, dry and very windy.  But having gained an extra hour in the morning I managed to slip down to my local patch at Rutland Water for 90 minutes before having to pay a late morning visit to banks, etc in nearby Peterborough.  I knew there was an advantage to living so close to this wonderful birding site.

Great White Egret Egretta alba

So well dressed up to keep out the howling wind I made my way to North Arm and was suddenly confronted by what looked like a completely deserted Burley Fishponds; did not see a single bird form the car and beginning to think that it was a good job that I had seen both Rook and Crow as I left the main road!  However, there were birds a plenty sheltering just the other side of the stone  fishing limit on the North Arm.  My first sighting was a single Great White Egret and using the scope noticed that there were a further five just to the left sheltering under the stone work whilst on the spit itself there must have been a sheltering flock in excess of 100 Lapwing.

Great White Egret Egretta alba with Little Egret Egretta garzetta and many Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
The ducks here were mainly Wigeon with a few Gadwall and the occasional Mallard.  A couple of Moorhen wandering about on the far side and below the Lapwing a good number of Little Egret.   Just a few Cormorant moving about and a handful resting near the Lapwing.  I looked up to see the Wood Pigeon fly over and then noticed the lone Redshank walking the nearby shore.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor with Teal Anas crecca

Out on the main water but still close to hand must have been hundreds of Tufted Duck with a few Great Crested Grebe sharing their company.  Nearer to the shore a couple of Mute Swans and accompanying Wigeon, Shoveler and Teal.  But wait, not just Wigeon but also a score or more of Pintail.  More use of the scope found the score or more of Canada Geese and then a smaller number of Greylag.  Strange to see the pair of Egyptian Geese keeping the Mute Swan company on the shallow water.  Very few gulls about other the Black-headed and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls.

Hundreds of Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
Whilst at the site one of the local ringers returned with a brace of Teal top process and ring and he mentioned that Lagoon 3 was virtually empty of birds as was both lagoons 1 and 2.  However, he did inform me that, if I had time, there was an immature Scaup amongst the Tufted Duck and that he had recently seen the "strange" falcon in Lagoon 3 which had passed over him minutes ago and disappeared behind the far road.  It would appear that the general consensus of opinion was that the bird was a cross between Lanner and Peregrine Falcon.  Perhaps something for me to look out for next week, weather permitting.

Pintail Anas acuta (top centre) with Teal Anas crecca
Good job, therefore, that I was only making a very brief visit!  As I set off I noticed the Heron arrive on the far side and also picked up a Magpie as I turned towards Egleton and the Visitors Centre.  calling first at the Centre I confirmed that, indeed, there was very little bird life on the water, just a few Cormorant and Lapwing but also a couple of resting Pochard.  And not one single Coot to be seen.

Moving over to the feeding area I began to think that this, too, would be a disappointment but within five minutes the little fells arrived in their droves.  Mainly Blue but some Great Tits along with many Goldfinch, a few Chaffinch and even a single Greenfinch.  However, pride of place went to the Brambling that stayed just a few seconds short of me getting the camera on the bird.  A couple of Dunnocks foraged about the ground and a Blackbird or two chased across the back completely oblivious to the Grey Squirrel working away at one of the suspended nut feeders.  A noise to my left revealed a visiting hen Pheasant and, of course, a handful or more of House Sparrows arrived to join in the feeding frenzy.  Two Jackdaws paid a visit but many more were seen as I left the shelter where I also picked up both Collared Dove and Starling.

Dunnock Prunella modularis
Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus
With just enough time to get me home in time for the 11.45 bus to Peterborough I drove round the Water and noticed passing the Manton Bay end that this water, too, appeared almost completely deserted.  A Red Kite alighted on the top of a telegraph pole as I passed under the railway bridge so that it could take a closer look at the dead Pheasant on the road to my left.  Then ,turning left to drive down to the Lyndon Centre I had a pair of Jays but also confirmed that there was practically no bird life about on the water.  A few Mute Swans on the far side and the occasional passing Cormorant and Black-headed Gull just about summed it up till I found a pair of resting Egyptian Geese and the odd Wigeon on the edge of the deserted pool down on me left.  Again, no Coot to be seen during this very brief stop.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Red Kite, Moorhen, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor with (mainly) Wigeon Anas penelope
Wigeon Anas penelope and Teal Anas crecca plus a Pintail Anas acuta

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

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