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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Another Memorable Day! - on 12th April, 2017

Just four days after my last published 'memorable day' I had another one. This one was, again,  attributable to Tim Mackrill, although he's not aware of the fact! Tim was giving a talk that evening, for the benefit of the Rutland Osprey Volunteers, and I was booked to attend. It seemed sensible, as the venue was at 19.30 at Rutland Water which is some 45 miles (72 km) from my home, to combine my attendance with a visit to Rutland Water itself.

The day got off to a good start as we had a Chiffchaff in our garden. Although this is not a rare bird, it is rare in our garden. I didn't get as good shots as I'd have liked, but here's one.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - our garden
I set off after an early lunch and first called at my Little Owl Site No.02 as I hadn't seen an owl there for a while. I'm delighted to report that one was showing.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (male) - my Site No.02
I headed towards Rutland Water on the usual owling route, but no owls were seen - probably because it was rather windy.

At one point on my route, down a narrow lane, a small creature scuttled onto the road and darted back again. I stopped the car, and found a shrew, which I believe to be a Pygmy Shrew, in the grass. At first I thought it was injured, but my photos suggest it just had a soaking-wet patch of fur.

Pygmy Shrew (Sorex minutus)?
Having checked in at the Egleton Visitor Centre at Rutland Water, I set off northward on the trail that leads to the hides on that side. I'd not gone far before I found a crop of Snake's-head Fritillaries in one small meadow. Unfortunately, a photo of the area would have looked most unattractive as the immediate area was roped-off, with wire netting round most of the individual plants. There were both pink and white forms here.

Snake's-head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
In another meadow, there were two Egyptian Geese resting. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has mixed feelings about these strange-looking birds. Once they were relatively uncommon, but they're now firmly established over much of the country, and in such numbers at Rutland Water that they make a nuisance of themselves, particularly when they occupy Osprey nests before the Ospreys return. Here's one Egyptian Goose from that day - not even an attractive bird in my opinion.

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
From one of the hides (I didn't note which) I photographed Tufted Duck and Coot. In this light, the difference in body colour and head colour could easily be seen.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (female) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Coot (Fulica atra) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
I eventually reached Shoveler Hide on Lagoon 3, which tends to be one of the best hides for sightings. The water level in Lagoon 3 was higher than I've ever seen it before. There was virtually nothing left of the islands that are usually in front of the hide. There were also few birds of any interest to be seen. I sat patiently for a while and was, eventually, rewarded by a drake Garganey emerging from behind some reeds. I managed a safety record shot through the reeds.

Garganey (Anas querquedula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
I sat watching intently and, after about ten minutes, the duck came out into the open, but steadily made its way away from me. My photos from this part of my observations were not too good. However, after about another three quarters of an hour, the duck was making its way back towards me, dabbling as it did so.


Garganey (Anas querquedula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
All this time, it had been hugging the shoreline. Suddenly it struck out into open water towards me.

Garganey (Anas querquedula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
There was a patch of vegetation only about 30 metres away, and the Garganey joined a pair of Teal there. This gave me better opportunities.

Garganey (Anas querquedula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
Eventually, it moved further away to a tiny patch of 'land' which was above the waterline, where it emerged and started preening before going to sleep.

Garganey (Anas querquedula) (male) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
At this point I decided it was time to leave, stopping briefly at Sandpiper Hide on Lagoon 4. There was little to see and it started raining as I left the hide. By the time I got to the approach to Osprey Hide it had started chucking it down, so I took refuge in the hide. Fortunately, the worst had passed in around 15 minutes, so I hurried back to the car park, camera in bag, and grabbed a quick picnic before attending the event.

Tim Mackrill gave an excellent talk that evening. The first part was about his PhD thesis on Osprey Migration, and was extremely interesting and informative. We then had a break with refreshments, and this was followed by Tim explaining his plans for the future. He's got some wonderful prospects up his sleeve, and I have every confidence that all will come to fruition - much to the benefit of the planet!

It was around 22h00 before the proceedings came to an end, and I had a long journey home, so kept to the main roads in the interest of speed, getting home at around 23h30. 

Thanks to Tim Mackrill, this was another rewarding day. Brilliant, Tim!!!

I've managed to keep my promise of this being a significantly shorter post than my previous one - thank you for dropping by.