Sunday, 21 April 2019

Rutland Water with Chris Bell

Sunday 21 April

Having published my report on the visit to Charca de Suarez, this morning I receive a most detailed report that my birding friend, Chris Bell from Worksop had undertaken to my UK local patch at Rutland Water at the same time.  I thought, perhaps, I would publish same in order that readers might be able to compare the sightings at two lovely birding spots, albeit Rutland Water is a vast size by comparison, over a thousand miles apart.  Interesting also to note that whilst those of us at the Charca in the far south of Spain were birding under dry but cloudy conditions and only the very occasional break for a small blue patch of sky and even a couple of very short, drizzly showers, wearing jumpers and jackets, Chris in the "north" was experiencing clear blue skies, temperatures in the mid-twenties which made it, probably, ten degrees warmer, and had to resort to short-sleeve order.  If this keeps up perhaps the Spanish will start moving to Britain to find some warmth!

Anyway, lovely report to which I have added some of my photographs to help illustrate the literature plus a map of Rutland Water.  Many thanks Chris.

Ruddy rush of Rutland rampups

I made it to Rutland Water Saturday. It was a cloud free, sunny day, and by 11 O’clock it was short sleeve order even for me. I finished up being there for nearly 6 hours. Year ticking commenced from up in the ”gods” at the Visitors Centre with my picking out a Common Tern ( with more later including 6 sat on Lagoon 4) ,and hearing Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Whilst I heard many more of both these warblers during the day I only saw Sedge Warbler.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
I then made the long walk to Heron Hide the nearest to Manton Bay and there was the target Osprey but it turned out to be an unnecessary hike but one never knows. Realising that probably it wasn’t going to be too good an idea to be walking in the noon sun, I didn’t stay there long heading for Snipe Hide however calling in on a couple of hides on the way, but no year ticks.   On the other hand Snipe Hide provided not only a splendid Greenshank, but a superb breeding plumage Wood Sandpiper.
I hadn’t visited the lieu when I was there so made my way back there and then on towards Lagoon 4.As I approached Shoveller/Bittern Hides area I could see a group of about a dozen people and as I guessed they were listening to a Nightingale making his presence felt for all in the vicinity. Nobody saw it but that is the nature of the beast.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Continuing my way to Plover Hide at Lagoon 4, things were soon ticking again with first Common Sandpiper and then Whimbrel although both species proved elusive. However I did find the Whimbrel again, pleasing other watchers, when I got round to visit Dunlin Hide. Whilst in this hide I found a Yellow Wagtail on island 7.

Whimbrel Numenius tenuirostris
Making my way back to the VC I sat up in the “gods” again and after much discussion I had my 11th year tick of the year (which is now 160) ,however I have to duck out on naming the species lest it prompts the shooters to visit the site. I am only prepared to say that she purported herself extremely well especially to the rear, perhaps too stiffish for some. (See comments at end)
Editor:  Many of you will be aware of the extended culling operation undertaken for almost the past decade to rid the country, and northern Europe of the Ruddy Duck.  The 1953 experiment to see if two drakes and five ducks might survive in the wild having been released from the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge had gone decidedly better than planned with, by the end of the century, numbers measured in the many thousands and the potential risk that they would inter-breed with the then very small population of White-headed Duck, only just beginning to make a recovery from potential extinction.  To date over 5000 individuals have been culled, eggs destroyed, etc and I am not too sure whether or not their existence has now come to an end.  Therefore, it would appear that the Ruddy Duck is now, at best, a very rare species living in the wild throughout Europe and especially Britain.  (No doubt if the above needs correcting some reader will be in touch.)

I probably had a 12th year tick Garden Warbler, that I heard, but didn’t back track to visually check, dismissing it at the time as a badly heard Blackcap, however a local competent birder said he had had 5 during the day.

Of course there was so much more beside the above. Blackcap were the most verbal warbler species, with Willow Warbler, and then Chiffchaff some distance behind, and Common Whitethroat in fewer number.

Female Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla with "ginger" rather then black cap

Wader species included Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover (with the 2 Dunlin seen from Dunlin Hide).

Ducks and Geese species a plenty. Whilst I didn’t have Red Kite there were a few Buzzard about.
A pair of Egyptian Geese had taken over the  nest on the Osprey platform on Lagoon 4 but the Osprey soon turfed them out.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

A cracking day with a cracking boost to my year list.

Further comments from Chris:

1.  I arrived at the VC at just after 10:20 having only walked from the A6003 along Hambleton Road to the VC, and left at 16:20 but walked all the way to Oakham railway station (slow but reliable) ,and still didn't see a Red Kite.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
When I was at Snipe Hide the Wood Sand and Greenshank, like most everything else around, were disturbed by a cream crown Marsh Harrier tracking north being harassed by a couple of Jackdaw, and again when all three tracked south. It did have the result than both Wood Sand and the Greenshank eventually finished up on the sandbank in the middle of the water much easier to view.  Although I didn't see it, a Jack Snipe was seen before and after my visit to Snipe Hide.  I was in a year tick-  hungry mood, so was more interested in going on to Lagoon 4 than to wait to possibly see a great species, but not a year tick.  Anyway the Jack Snipe I saw at Potteric Carr on the 3rd of February was just about as close as one could get to one (say 5 yards from Decoy Marsh), whereas the RW one would have been 50 meters away.

2.   You will see that I have included the Ruddy Duck hinted at in the main report. She was spotted on Lagoon 1 by a gentleman siting next to me up in "the gods".  I suggested female Pochard but said I hoped I was wrong.  His mate suggested an odd-looking Tufted Duck.  Watching it, the duck spent long periods underwater and was making large movements making it difficult to keep track of it.  I said it was acting like a Ruddy Duck might and, eventually scoping it diving, the stiff tail became obvious, so thanks from me to Graham.  It's about 2 years since I last saw one. That was a male and they are dead easy to recognise.  Editor:  Think difference between male and female White-headed Duck out here in Malaga.

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Ruddy Duck, Cormorant, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Greenshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black–backed Gull, Common Tern, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Swallow ,Sand Martin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Magpie, Jackdaw, Crow, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.

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

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