Wednesday 1 January 2020

Rutland Water

Tuesday 31 December 

Distant, high Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
What a way to end the year, at my local UK patch at Rutland Water on a lovely clear birding day, if somewhat on the cold side, accompanied by my great birding pal, Chris Bell from Worksop.  Shows much dedication when Chris is up in the middle of the night to catch the 5.30 train from Worksop to Stamford via changes at Retford and Peterborough so that I could collect him a few minutes after 8 o'clock, meaning that we were on site by 8.30 and ready for our 7 hour session which produced over 60 species including some great sightings.

Past Empingham and on a field between road and Rutland Water a flock of about 50 Pink-footed Geese before picking up our first Carrion Crows and Magpies of the day.  Below us to the left we could also see many of the Mute Swans feeding out on the water and to our right a field full of Black-headed Gulls.  Then we we were at our first stop overlooking Burley Fishponds at the western end of the North Arm.  Immediately recorded were Wigeon and Tufted Duck along with both Little and Great Crested Grebes.  Whilst the Wood Pigeons moved around near us Chris heard a Nuthatch we also added Gadwall and the first Canada Geese.  A Stonechat was nicely pose on a fence at the water's edge and then, out on the main water the first of at least a dozen Great White Egrets seen during the day and a pair of Black-necked Grebes.  No sooner had a couple of birders informed us that the swans we say fly over were thirteen Bewick's both Chris and I had grave doubts as they seemed to us more like Whooper Sans.  (Therefore, both left off the list of recorded birds at the end.)  Meanwhile, we picked up the first Goldeneye of the morning along with a few Pochard and many Cormorants and on the far bank a lonely Great Black-backed Gull.

Great White Egret Egretta alba with Heron Andea cinera and Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Departing to the Visitors Centre we noticed a pair of Pheasants in the field to our left and a stop just before Egleton church to check the hedgerow produced House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Blue and Great Tit along with the passing Jackdaws.  A Sky Lark flew over and to the rear of the field was a large mixed flock of Canada and Greylag Geese.  The final lane leading to the car park the saw us record a Robin, Song Thrush and female Bullfinch.  The Feeding Station produced Great and Blue Tits along with Robin, Dunnock and Moorhen before we entered the Visitors Centre for a welcome cup of coffee and the visitors' gallery to check out what might be seen on lagoon1.  A number of Cormorants along with a few Mallards but more Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Ducks.  Near to the back a male Goosander and a female Smew almost in front of us on the water.  Our first Heron was also seen on this water.

Smew Mergellus albellus from Visitors Centre

Rooks starting to nest build in the rookery as we started off to the south of the reserve and then added a close Wren before a second Song Thrush.  Very little to add at the Snipe Hide other than more Canada Geese and Wigeon, Coot and, of course, Great White Egrets on the main water.  A quick stop at the harrier Hide for a distant Buzzard and Great White Egrets then on to the Tern Hide where we had many more Wigeon, Mallards and Little Grebe plus a number of Shelduck. We could hear Curlew and had a brief fly past but had to wait for our visit to the northern end of the reserve to get a close look at this large wader.  Working our way back to the Visitors Centre after a short stop at the 360 Hide (yet more Great White Egrets!) we found a small family party of Long-tailed Tits.  The stop at the VC to use the facilities collect lunch, etc included another visit to the Feeding Station where also added both Coal and Willow (or was it a Marsh?) Tit.

Just a few of the hundred plus flock of Canada Geese Branta canadensis

And so to the north and the Sandpiper Hide overlooking lagoon 4.  On the way, in addition to many more Blackbirds, a distant, high Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Egyptian Geese.  A lot of water here but among the distant birds we saw Little and Great White Egret along with a Heron.  Immediately around them a pair of Goosander, Wigeon, Coot and a Curlew

All together: Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Heron Ardea cinerea, Curlew Numenius aequata, Goosander Mergus merganser and Coot Fulica atra
To our left a large flock of Lapwing and, as we watched a good number take flight in the company of a handful of Starlings, Chris also picked up on the group of about thirteen Golden Plover flying above the larger flock.  Visits to the Dunlin, Shoveler, Buzzard, Crake and Lapwing Hides produced a good number of ducks including all those already mention along with Pintail, Shelduck and especially very many Coots, Tufted Ducks and Wigeons on Lagoon 3. 

Curlew Numenius aequata
The Plover Hide with the help of a visiting birder's scope helped produce Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull and immediately in front of us we had a single Common Gull.  Whilst busy watching the two Redshank that we had found we missed the pair of Pied Wagtails that flew across the water in front of us!

Pintail Anas acuta
And so back to the car park and preparations for our departure.  Taking the road south to the closed Lyndon Centre we were able to spend a short time watching the birding activity at the feeding station.   Blue and Great Tits along with Robin, Goldfinches and Dunnock plus visiting Carrion Crows and even a couple of Mallard with Moorhens at the water's edge.

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Dunnock Prunella modularis

Just over 7 hours birding as we departed Lyndon to continue the anti-clockwise circuit of Rutland Water and passing the dam, without stopping, where there appeared to be very little in our rush to return to Stamford, arriving at the railway station with a couple of minutes to spare so that Chris could catch his 4pm train to Peterborough on the start of his long, multi-changing journey back to Worksop, no doubt even more tired than me!  A wonderful birding day in excellent company and something to look forward to when next back in the UK.

Willow Tit Parus montanus - or should this be a Marsh Tit Parus palustris?
Birds seen:
Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Egyptian Goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sky Lark, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh/Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

More Photos form New Year's Eve:

Very distant Buzzard Buteo buteo
Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiacus
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Male and female Goosander Mergus merganser with mainly Teal Anas crecca but also Wigeon Anas penelope
Male Goosander Mergus merganser (top) and Wigeon Anas penelope (large right)
Female Goosander Mergus merganser with Teal Anas crecca and single Wigeon Anas penelope

A few of the hundreds of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

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

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