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Sunday, 12 March 2017

A Visit To Rutland Water - on Thursday 2nd March, 2017

John and I had missed a few Thursday afternoons out of late, but we did manage to get out on this day. It was my turn to drive, and I picked up John at his house at 13h30. The late start was because we were going to have a late finish, with an Osprey Volunteers' pre-season meeting starting at Rutland Water at 17h00.

Sadly, there was no sign of the Little Owls at my Site No.41, where the nest tree had come down in the gale on 23rd February. 

Close to the place where we'd seen a pair of Stonechats on our previous outing, we found them again. Once more it was only the male that was in any way obliging, and the sun was in totally the wrong direction.

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) (male)
Our first, and only, Little Owl for the day was seen at my Site No.37, partially obscured by branches as is normal for this site - and the light was behind it too.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.37
We eventually ended up at Rutland Water, on the Egleton side of the reserve and, having checked in, set off towards the various hides to the north of the visitor centre.

From Grebe Hide, on Lagoon 2, we watched the interaction between Coot and Moorhen. In the second image, the Moorhen seems to be squawking at something.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve

Coot (Fulica atra) Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve

From Grebe Hide I took the following image of a Canada Goose. I'm only showing it because I found that, in this pose, it struck me as how small the bird's head appears compared to the rest of it!

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
There was also  a pair of Gadwall present here.

Gadwall (Anas strepera) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Gadwall (Anas strepera) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve

From here, we moved on to Shoveler Hide on Lagoon 3.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Amazing Circus Shoveler:-

Shoveler (Anas clypeata) (male)  - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
This duck was, for quite some time, continually turning complete somersaults in the water. There now follow quite a few shots of this - as some of you will know, I do have a bit of a thing about water, particularly where there are splashes, or light variations on ripples. We start with the bird at rest - momentarily!

Shoveler (Anas clypeata) (male)  - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
So, can you do that?
 Here we go again!

Shoveler (Anas clypeata) (male)  - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
From Shoveler Hide we moved on, at John's suggestion, to Plover Hide on Lagoon 4, in the hope of seeing Smew. As we arrived, a drake Pintail was in front of us. It had suddenly become overcast and, as it was now 16h42, light levels had fallen significantly.

Pintail (Anas acuta) (male)  - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
I spotted a drake Smew in the far distance, and it stayed there for ages. Attempts at anything other than a record shot came to nothing. In the meantime I occupied myself with some of the nearer birds.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
These Great Crested Grebes were starting their courtship.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
As well as the drake Smew we'd started seeing redhead Smew. Eventually we had 6 redheads. I suspect that at least one of them was an immature male. Here's an image of four of them - they stayed very distant.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) (redheads) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Here's one of the birds on the nearby island, with a female Mallard for size comparison.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) (redhead) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
At 17h08, with the light very bad, a redhead Smew came drifting by in front of the hide. This was the nearest thing to a close shot that we managed.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) (redhead) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Suddenly, at 17h18, there was a brief break in the cloud, and the drake Smew had come somewhat nearer and was now less than 100 metres away. This enabled some record shots to be taken which show some key features of this spectacular bird.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) (drake) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve

Smew (Mergellus albellus) (drake + redhead) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
It was time to set back towards the car park, but we called in at Sandpiper Hide, also on Lagoon 4, to check it out. Nothing interesting was seen from this hide, so we started to leave. I was already out of the hide when a Peregrine Falcon flew past. I rushed back into the hide, and we found that it had landed on the Osprey nest, probably around 300 metres from the hide. It was now 17h40, and the light was dire - it was extremely difficult to get focus.

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
There is some concern as to whether the Peregrine will vacate this nest when/if the Ospreys return.

As we left, the Starlings had gathered. We could only dream of what this scene might have been like if we'd had 'murmuration numbers'.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Half an hour later we were back at the car, and found a pleasant spot to have our picnic tea. We then continued to the Volunteer Training Centre, where we were amongst the first to arrive, and were able to enjoy coffee and biscuits before the meeting. It was good to meet up with old friends and meet some new faces.

Having dropped John off at his place, I had another treat on my way home. I spotted a Barn Owl at a location I've not seen one before - it flew across in front of me as I neared a corner.

I seem to remember that, a while back, I hinted on a post to feature some of my garden birds. Maybe - - - .

Thank you for dropping by.