Monday, December 18, 2006

Rutland Water

Yay! Finally after weekends of study and digging, digging and study we get to go out birdwatching again! To celebrate a weekend with two crisp clear days we dug on the first day and then headed to Rutland Water for the second. To be specific we went to the Rutland Water Nature Reserve (http://www.rutlandwater.org.uk/menureserve.html). There is a South Shore reserve and a West Shore reserve, we headed for the West Shore. Entry fee £4 each and 30p for a map. Also very friendly and helpful staff as I'd left my coat at home on a very cold day and having establshed there were no spare fleeces to purchase they lent me a jacket for the day!

We headed out to the hides and from the first hide we stopped in, in the main lagoon we watched 5 Goosander, 4 male and 1 female, busily diving and feeding. No photos as the distance was too great to attempt a snap but a first for us!

We then walked over Lax Hill to the far side to visit those hides before heading back around the hides to the visitor centre.

On the way down to the three hides we passed a tall hedge strewn with berries and got very close to a small flock of Fieldfares though obscured from snaps, they were excellent to see relatively close up. Where the path forks down to the Goosander and Goldeneye hides there was a Song Thrush in full voice and locally a flock of Redwings and another of Long-tailed Tits so we just hung around this area for ten minutes taking everything in, i'm biased but nothing beats this sort of moment when you're just surrounded by birds and there's song and movement everywhere!

We stopped in the Robin hide, where there are feeders sited. One of the first things you notice is the number of brown rats at the base of the feeders, picking up what the birds drop. It was an excellent location though. After five minutes you can hear birds walking on top of the hide and basically there's just so much going on. The light wasn't great so the Wren and Blue Tit on the reeds no more than 5 yards away didn't take well at all but I did manage to snap this Marsh Tit on one of the feeders:














I had initially identified Blackcaps but then I've been doing that (mistaking species) a lot recently. For some reason my brain seems to freeze when i'm watching birds, so I regularly need to check the field guide!

Snap of the day is this female Greater Spotted Woodpecker which spent a few minutes on the nut feeder:





















We checked out all the other hides in this area but it was a quiet day on the water. No sign of the reported Great Northern Divers (apparently they were over by the bit we usually visit on the other side of the reservoir). Going via the visitor centre we headed out to the hides on the other side, in particular the lagoons, a likely spot for waders. We did spend some time in a hide watching a smattering of waders but nothing close by, so we went out onto the spit to see if we could get any closer. Opening the window in the last hide of the day, this Ruff was very close and took really well:













He headed out to a small Island where a Redshank (note those give away red legs) was also trying to fill-up for the long night. They didn't hang about long but I did manage this snap:














There were other species about, Water Rail and Snipe to name but two but nothing close enough to see with binoculars even, let alone a camera. Having not been out in a while though it was an excellent days birdwatching!!

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