Thursday 11 July 2019

Rutland Water

With friend Bryan Stapley at the Smew Hide, Rutland Water
Wednesday 10 May

Arriving at Rutland Water by 10 o'clock we thought we ought to have a dry morning whereas in fact not a drip of rain and by mid-afternoon the sun was out and temperatures had reached the mid-twenties and we were by now definitely in shirt-sleeve order.  But first a brief stop at Burley Fishponds so that Bryan could see the site that holds so very many wintering ducks, especially Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard.  Not just the many Wood Pigeon but on the water Cormorants and Greylag along with Canada Geese, a couple of Little Egrets and many Black-headed Gulls.  A couple of Heron were found and, of course, mallards were regularly seen.  Bryan manged to find a single Little Grebe to add to the local Great Crested Grebes and a couple of Carrion Crows were very active on the far bank.  As we made our way towards Egleton and the Visitors Centre the first field on the connecting lane held well over an hundred Greylag Geese whilst the third and final field had three Egyptian Geese waiting to be seen.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Arriving at the car park we quickly added Blackbird and Collared Dove and on arriving at the feeding station were met by a feeding female Pheasant and a regular supply of both Goldfinch and Chaffinch and, on this occasion, also Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Robin.  So lovely to then also find a foraging Dunnock, nevermind the local Jackdaws.  After a visit to the Visitors Centre we found Coot and Tufted Duck on Lagoon 1 we set off for Lagoon 2 and the Redshank Hide.  Upon arrival we added Moorhen, Commion Tern and Sand Martin before continuing on to the Grebe Hide.  Lovely to take the woodland track rather than the [path along the field boundary and we were rewarded by not only seeing Willow Warbler but also finding a Garden Warbler.

Dunnock Prunella modularis at the feeding station

From here it was up to the Sandpiper Hide overlooking Lagoon 4.  Still a lot of Little Egrets in the vicinity and also lapwing and Black-headed Gulls.  As expected, more Greylag Geese but also a small number of Canada Geese.  On the water Mute Swans, Mallards and Great Crested Grebe whilst we found a couple of Pied Wagtail and a trio of Oystercatcher on the sandy islands.  Common Terns were both resting and feeding and then a single Little Ringed Plover put in an appearance on the far side of the nearest island.  Just a couple of Great Black-backed Gull at the  back of the water on this occasion.  However, right at the back of the lagoon in front of the trees separating the water from Burley Fishponds a dark, over-large swift shape was undulating its way against the tree line.  Scope eventually on the bird as I watched it move back and forward in a much calmer flight and the penny dropped as I realised I was watching a quartering Hobby.  A rather lovely result on which to take our departure.

2019 Juvenile Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Lagoon 3 seen from the Shoveler Hide confirmed that the growing duck numbers were now much closer to the hide on the near side of the water compared with my last visit.  Almost exclusively Mallard before picking out a couple of Gadwall.   Nearer to the hide we had a trio of Shelduck away to our left plus more Coot and a Moorhen but most of our effort was concentrating on the reeds and undergrowth immediately to the far end of the hide as we watched both Sedge and Reed Warbler.

View of Lagoon 1 seen from the Mallard Hide
In addition to more Mute Swan, a look at the same lagoon from the Buzzard Hide also produced a couple of Pochard.  And having paid a brief visit to Crake Hide and then more time watching the breeding Common Tern on Lagoon 2 as seen from the Smew Hide before making our way back to the car park for lunch.

Common Terns Sterna hirundo

Suitably refreshed it was off towards the south with first a visit to the Mallard Hide overlooking Lagoon 1 where we found very much  large numbers of birds already recorded and on reaching the Snipe Hide overlooking Lagoon 6 in the scrape to the left both solitary Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit in addition to Moorhen, Black-headed Gull and Mallard.  Even a couple of Barn Swallows flying overhead.

Red Admiral butterfly Vanessa atalanta

The walk up to the 360 Hide overlooking Lagoon 5 produced no Sand Martins despite the large artificial nesting bank but a good numbers of Mallard and Lapwing along with a handful of Jackdaw.  However, pride of place must surely go the lone Wigeon that was feeding immediately in front of us.  Was this to be the first of the thousands that will be seen at Rutland Water come the winter?

Wigeon Anas penelope

Returning to the car we then drove over to the Lyndon Visitor Centre, encountering a Red Kite as we drove out of the car park and with a brief stop at the bridge to check that there was an Osprey occupying the original Manton Bay nest, there was with one chick on the nest and the female resting on top of the camera support.  Once at the centre the feeding station held both Goldfinch and a couple of Tree Sparrow.  Taking the long walk west to the Waderscrape Hide, with the briefest stops at both the Deep Water and Tufted Duck Hides, first we came across a male Reed Bunting and then we were very well received the volunteer warders.  With such close views of the Manton Bay nest we were not only able to see the resting female Osprey but also all four chicks, two on the nest, one in the tree opposite and the fourth on a branch close to the water.  The male eventually returned to be warmly welcomed by his family but, alas, he was fish-free and one got the feeling he had been banished to a nearby tree!

The Osprey Pandion haliaetus family
Whilst that was an absolutely splendid way to end our birding day, we had hardly left the site when a Kestrel crossed the road in front of us to give a total of three raptors and a final tally of 51 birds for the day.

Unknown dragonfly with prey
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Heron, Osprey, Red Kite, Kestrel, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin,  Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Garden warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

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