5 January 2010

Rutland Water (03-01-10)

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

After running out of time on our last visit and therefore missing out on some of Rutlands other target species, we decided to head back up there. Only difference for this visit was a severe dose of the flu.
We arrived at Egleton and made our way to the feeders hoping that the freezing conditions would bring in some Brambling. No luck on this occasion but the feeders were a buzz of activity due to the weather. The slight dusting of snow on the ground provided some excellent light for taking photos aswell as making a nice backdrop. We spent a good 10-15 minutes here and were spoilt for choice on what to photograph.

Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis)

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Blue tit (Parus caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major)

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

A quick look over the frozen lagoon from the visitor centre provided very little other than the customary Reed Bunting.

Having recieved the latest info on the sites Bitterns we proceeded directly to the hide from where they were showing. Along the route we found a couple of Siskins mixed in with some Redpoll, though to distant to even attempt a shot. The Bitterns were on show as soon as we entered the hide. There are 3 individuals wintering here and although distant, we were treated to some good views of these superbly camoflaged birds. When standing in front of Reeds they seem to just disappear in front of your eyes! Again to distant to attempt a shot we made our way to the other hides.

Rutland is increasing in size with the creation of new lagoons. We entered the hide to one of these and found several hundred Golden Plover roosting on the ice, along with a few Lapwing.

A Kestrel was perched on a small Oak looking for something to come past below. No point wasting important energy hunting with itas more familiar hovering, when prey is forced out into the open by the frozen conditions and hunger. This sit and wait method of hunting is used by many other species of Raptor during cold weather.

Approaching hides along the Boardwalk provided a low flyover Buzzard, and various wildfowl. A Redshank was busy foraging along the edge of a small island, before a Great Black-Backed Gull tried its luck on the adjacent small flock of Teal!

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
With the day fast disappearing we made our way to Whitewell in the hope of seeing the Divers and Grebes. We walked along the shore before putting up the scope, and god it was freezing!!

We quickly found the Red-throated Diver but had no luck with the Great Northern thats present along with the Black-necked and Slav Grebes. A nice flock of Golden Plover overhead at dusk was a nice way to end a interesting day.
Species seen:-
Red-throated Diver, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Bittern, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Goosander, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Kestrel, Buzzard, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-back, Great Black-back, Common Gull, Redshank, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Ghaffinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Reed Bunting.
Grey Squirrel

4 January 2010

Rutland Water (01-01-10)

Rutland Water in Leicestershire is the largest man made Reservoir in Britain. It is also one of our largest Nature reserves and if you dont own Car, then its virtually impossible to cover its entire circumference! Its location and size acts as a magnate for both migrating and wintering Wildfowl and waders, amongst a multitude of other interesting Birds and Wildlife makes a day and a site of this magnitude is a must to kick-start the year off!We decided to concentrate our efforts around the Egleton Reserve of the site, since it was playing host to two of my bogey birds. Arriving in the carpark we proceeded to tick off some common Birds including a very confiding Blackbird and Fieldfare.

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

One of the attractions of Rutland Water for Birders is the sites population of Tree Sparrows that can usually be found around the feeders or along the Hedgerows. There is a small hide that overlooks the feeding station and its a great place to see these declining Sparrows at close quarters, aswell as numerous Finches and Titmice.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

After ticking off a host of common woodland species around the feeders we made our way into the visitor centre for any updated reports on what was about. I managed to dip on the Short-eared Owl that had been hunting over the rough grassland at the back of the lagoon (typical!), and had to make do with dark green coloured megalinic Pheasant, a Kestrel, and a Reed Bunting. Due to the ice, not much else was about.

Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

We decided to make our way to one of the days target species, namely the 3 Long-eared Owls that were roosting further along the trail. The hides were fairly quiet with very little showing in front of them. We did find some Lesser Redpoll feeding on some Alder catkins, which gave us some excellent close views, if not a little obscured. A female Bullfinch was found along one of the banks, but never stayed long enough to get a decent shot with the camera.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret)
On arrival at the site of our quarry, we were left a little disapointed that the Owl(s) were not as showey as the preceeding day when one was reported to have been in the open. Only one Bird could be seen and if it were not for the sight of the ear tufts blowing in the breeze, you would be forgiven if you mistook it for just a clump of fallen leaf debris. In fact, you would equally be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a moggy with those ear tufts!

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

As we made our way towards the hide, we managed to locate another party of Lesser Redpoll in the adjacent Alders. It was nice to see some Wildfowl resting and preening along the waters edge in front of the hide, though they had to move quickly as a couple of Foxes put in an appearance!

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Our visit was beginning to petter out a little due to the frozen conditions. There is however, no better remedy for this than taking a wrong turn and getting tototally lost. It works every time, and wholeheartedly recommend to anyone! You see, if your lost its because you are somewhere where you should not be and the that means yiu are proberly the only person whom has walked down there on that day, which means its vacant of other people and the Wildlife has been undisturbed (brilliant hey!!!!) Basicly, if you avoid being shot by an irate landowner, ran over by a herd of Bullocks, or even arrested...then you should find something!
First up was a Brown Hare darting past close to us. We then found a gorgeous male Merlin sitting on top of an Alder. The Catkins on the Alder giving us an indication of just how small these wondeful raptors are. Then, a little further on all the Rooks were mental. Scanning across the hedgerows in the fading light, we managed to locate a Owl being mobbed, its pure white underparts and solid black tips to the primaries enabled us to I.D it as a Short-eared Owl! We watched it for about 5 minutes as it flew over the cycle track and started hunting in a rough meadow adjacent. Unfortunately, the light was not great and the photos are poor, but a good end to an interesting day.

Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Species seen:-

Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Egyptian Goose, Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Ruddy Duck, Pheasant, Moorhen, Coot, Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-Back, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Starling, Dunnock, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Carrion Crow, Rook, Magpie, Jackdaw, Blue tit, Great Tit.

Brown Hare, Red Fox, Grey Squirrel