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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Rutland Water - on 4th & 11th August, 2016

At the end of my last post, I said that my next post would probably feature some birds and, possibly, some owls. Wanting to be true to my word, I shall share a couple of visits with you. Unfortunately, in so doing, I will be replicating some of what my pal, John, has already published on his blog as we were both present on both occasions!

Thursday 4th August

Thursday is my regular afternoon out with John. As Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier had both recently been reported at Rutland Water, and I'd not been there to look for dragonflies for some weeks, that is where we agreed to go.

On my way to pick up John, I called at my Little Owl Site No.02. The roof of the barn that houses the owls is now in serious condition, and sighting have been few and far between lately. I was on the verge of drawing a blank this day when I noticed an owl sitting amidst a huge pile of wood from where a tree or two had been cut down.


Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.02
Having picked up John at his home, we set off, taking our usual 'owling route'. No owls were seen until we got to my Site No.34. This is a site where the owls were displaced by Jackdaw and Stock Dove in succession this year, and we'd gone for quite some time without seeing an owl here. We were over the moon, therefore, to see a juvenile LO here a week or so earlier. On this day, we were to be lucky again. An owl was spotted on a distant post at the field edge. We are not sure whether this was an adult or an advanced juvenile (I suspect the latter) as we could not get a good enough view, or photographic image, at this range.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.34
We sat watching for a while, and then I noticed a second bird on the far side of the field. This was definitely a juvenile! This shot was taken from the car.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my LO Site No.34
Further on, at Site No.42, an owl was spotted on a barn door. It wasn't until I looked at my last few photos that I saw a second owl had been present - does seeing a shadow count?

Little Owls (Athene noctua) (adult plus shadow!) - my LO Site No.42
On arrival at Rutland Water, John treated me to an ice cream and we then set off to see what we could find.

We drew a complete blank at the dipping pond and so set off northwards, first calling in at Redshank Hide. Little of interest was seen here but then someone arrived who said he'd just had good views of a Great White Egret from Grebe Hide - so off we went. 

When we arrived, we quickly found the egret, but it was in the distance and largely obscured by intervening vegetation.

Great White Egret (Egretta alba) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
After a while it moved out of view so we headed off towards Osprey Hide. On the way we saw and photographed several damselflies and dragonflies, but I intend to leave the ones from this day for a future post. 

Little of interest was seen from Osprey hide and the dragons were calling so we headed back towards Grebe Hide. On arrival, we were quickly treated to the sight of a distant Osprey.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
The next thing I knew, I had a female Marsh Harrier in sight. This did some distant passes.



Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) (female) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
The harrier then did a close pass. I managed to lock on with continuous focus and keep the bird in frame, and the camera kept running - till it went 'clunk'. Sheer joy turned to deep disappointment when I found that every single frame was 'unexposed' black. Once in a while my camera suffers an electrical disconnect from the lens - and this is what had happened. I'm just waiting for the quieter season when I can afford to lose camera and lens for a couple of weeks whilst the problem is solved.

The GWE was showing better this time, although still at a great distance.

Great White Egret (Egretta alba) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
The Egret moved off and we decided it was time to think about heading back. A shower of rain had us hurrying into Redshank Hide, and there we found the GWE again, standing on a roosting box - not very photogenic at all, but at least it was a bit closer!

Great White Egret (Egretta alba) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
The egret was busy preening. Suddenly it flew. John nearly missed it as he was coming to show me photos on the back of his camera. I managed a few shots that I'm quite pleased with - and this time the camera didn't fail!


Great White Egret (Egretta alba) - Rutland Water, Egleton Reserve
After the egret had flown, it really was time to go as the weather didn't look too promising.

We took the usual 'owling route' home again, seeing a juvenile again at Site No.34

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my LO Site No.34
We also found a juvenile at Site No.47, sitting just outside the nest entrance. 

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my LO Site No.47
Thus ended an altogether pleasant day.

Thursday 11th August

Today was our turn for a spell of duty on The Rutland Osprey Project. Our shift is from 13h00 to 17h00. John and I have to travel independently as John's domestic arrangements mean that, although he's nearer to Rutland Water than I am, he can't arrive before about 13h15 to 13.h30.

I set off from home at around 10h15. It was raining and very windy when I left and, although the rain soon stopped for the rest of the day, there were high winds all day, until just before I arrived home again. I took the usual route but, given the windy conditions, was not surprised that I didn't see a single owl on the way there. I did, however, see a Red Kite at one of my Little Owl sites. Sadly, I only managed a record shot.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - by my LO Site No.41
I arrived somewhat early at Rutland water, mainly due to lack of distractions en-route, so I headed of to Shallow Water Hide.

Surprisingly, in spite of the wind, there were a few dragons and damsels around. This must have been a difficult time for a teneral male Common Blue Damselfly!

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (teneral male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
The views of the Osprey nest and favoured perches are somewhat closer at Shallow Water Hide than they are at Waderscrape Hide, where we do our duty of monitoring the Ospreys, and looking after the members of the public who come to visit. Here's a couple of images from Shallow Water Hide. The Rutland Water Ospreys are known by their ring numbers. However, for a long while the female breeding here was known as 'the Manton Bay unringed Scottish female'. Later, as a concession to brevity, a competition resulted in her being named 'Maya'.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (juvenile) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (female - 'Maya') - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I didn't have long at Shallow Water Hide before it was time to head to Waderscrape Hide to start my duty. On the way, I stopped to photograph an obliging Comma.

Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I also photographed another Common Blue Damselfly which I'll show here as, for those unfamiliar with these, it shows how these colour up from that shown in the previous image when they've been around for a while.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
On arrival at Waderscrape Hide I found that all the windows were closed because of the wind, and people, including several children, were keenly watching a couple of Little Egrets in the water immediately in front of the hide. I went down to the far end of the hide and, to my intense embarrassment, opened one of the hide windows. Although I did this very carefully, I sent the egrets flying!

Banished to the corner, my spirits were soon lifted again when a female Marsh Harrier did a pass in front of the hide. Photography was difficult as, after my last effort, I'd not opened the top window in front of me.



Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Fortunately, a Little Egret returned to the water in front of the hide and, by this time, I'd got the top window open. The vegetation in front of the hide has grown quite high and, even with standing on tip-toe, it was difficult to get shots of the bird without the blur of blowing grass heads fouling up the images. In the first image I can imagine the the bird is trying to show that it can look just as tall and impressive as a GWE!







Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I didn't manage to capture the departure of the egret, and the Marsh Harrier did a couple more passes before John arrived at 13h45 - that'll teach you to be late, John!!

The wind was blowing strongly from left to right in front of the hide, and the Egrets were very active - possibly because of the wind. When they were flying with the wind they were jet-propelled, but against the wind they were accommodatingly slow!




Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Juvenile Osprey, T8 put on a bit of a show for us.



Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (juvenile - T8) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
We had good numbers of people in the hide to watch all this great action, and real enthusiasm was shown by people of all ages, with plenty of questions being asked - and answered to the best of our ability! This was one of those days when it really felt good to be a volunteer.

We had several passes by Little Egrets. This is a different one as you can see by the full set of wing feathers.


Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
There was another real bonus when Maya did a lot of leg-dangling followed by a close pass.



Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (female - 'Maya') - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
With a request from my wife to not be back too late for dinner that night, and with John and Barry there to look after the visitors who were thinning out in numbers now, I took my leave at 16h30 and headed homeward. 

On my way home I was pleased to see a Little Owl at my Site No.34, but even more to see on at Site No.41, where we'd not seen one for a long while.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.41
Thus ended a day at Rutland water where the expectations had been low, due to the high winds, but the reality was a superb day. It all goes to show that it can be a great place to visit when conditions look less than ideal.

Don't forget Birdfair at Rutland Water this weekend (19th to 21st August, 2016). I'll be on the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society stand from 09h00 to 11h30 on the Friday. Please call and say hello if you are there.

My next post will probably be back to damsels and dragons, or possibly butterflies.

Thank you for dropping by.

31 comments:

  1. Lovely post Richard, something there for everybody. Some super shots indeed.

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    1. Thank you, Marc, for your kind words!

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  2. Oh! How wonderful birds you have seen and photographed! My bird list is not complemented in a long time. I would like to see the owls! Good evening to you.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. The owls are still my first love!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  3. Fantastic Osprey, Great White Egret and Little Egret images Richard.
    However I really love the Little Owl image from site 42 with the owl perched at the entrance and the catch of it's shadow really makes the image for me

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    1. Thank you, Doug. I wasn't sure about that Little Owl image with the shadow - other than for its amusement value - seems you're not the only one that liked it!

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  4. Hi Richard, great post, sorry I missed the Marsh Harrier, super images. You got some good Little Owl images, mine were all rubbish. We had two good days for these images. See you tomorrow. John

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    1. Hi John. I'm eventually finding the time to vosit Bloggerland. They were both very enjoyable days with many frames shot! I really enjoyed Thursday too, with the Chalkhill Blues.

      Fingers crossed for some decent weather on Thursday! See you soon - - - - Richard

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  5. I glad you are finding your Little Owls again Richard. I love the picture of the Little Owl, site No.42, with the shadow of a second Little Owl on the wall.

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    1. Thsnk you, Lin. Things do seem to be picking up a bit with the Little Owls. I'm a little surprised (but delighted) that both you and Doug have nominated the image from Site No.42 as one you like!

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  6. stunning post, great detail in all the shots, but agree with #42 Stunning and well worth printing and framing, I love it.

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    1. Thank you, Dave. It's days like these that make me content to stay close to home - although I do envy your recent African aventures!

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  7. This is a great series of pictures, Richard, and I am especially glad to see the collection of Little Owl shots from your various sites. You are fortunate to have Rutland Water relatively close so that you can visit in all its seasons. It is a fabulous place for wildlife to be sure. Pretty soon your Ospreys will be leaving, as will ours, but fall migrants will soon be moving in for renewed interest in a multitude of species. Each season brings its own delights to be sure.

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    1. Thank you, David. I used to get depressed with the approach of winter, but now I have so much to look forward to - with places like Rutland Water close by, and even the winter visitors in my own garden.

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  8. hello Richard, what a fantastic post. Good to see all those LO. The photo of the LO on the Barn door is so beautyful! Worth a place on the wall. Than the Egrets they are amazing birds and the Little Egret is stunning. Being one of my favorite birds I love the captures of the Osprey. Not long now before they start there big flight South. Today I saw also two Ospreys at The Luysen. I presume they are from Skandinavia.
    Take care,
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. John and I have started to see Little Owls again, and it seems that in some cases they have been elsewhere to breed this year and come back to their old nest sites with the young.

      Two of the three juvenile Ospreys at the site that we monitor are already on their way to West Africa. We wish them good luck on this hazardous journey.

      Take good care Roos and, as they say here in England, keep your chin up! - - - Richard

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  9. I wish we had a better connection, I am struggling to upload your posts with so many photos. It is time they got their act together here in the country and speeded up our WIFI! Eventually though I got there and love all your shots. I would love to see an osprey :) Glad to see that the Little Owls are still around despite problems. The photos of the egrets are amazing. Have a great weekend Diane

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    1. I'm sorry to hear of your poor internet connection, Diane. It must be very frustrating. Most places in UK now have good fast broadband capabilities, but you have to sign up to the right service provider.

      Thank you for your kind comments. Sorry to be so late in replying, but my weekend was hectic. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  10. Another job well done,love this post,your flight captures are top of the shop.
    Superb as usual.
    John.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, John, which are always much appreciated.

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - Richard

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  11. Sorry to everyone for being so tardy in replying to your comments. It has been a somewhat hectic few days with Birdfair and social commitments. I'm going to try and catch up over the next couple of days. - - - - Richard

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  12. Brilliant Richard, and your favourite the Little Owl, lovely to see. Beautiful Osprey, flying.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. Those Little Owls exude so much character! It's always great to see an Osprey, even if I do so on a regular basis. I shall miss them when they've gone which will be quite soon now.

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  13. Ahh ... great to see the little owl. Stunning setting of the owl. Really cool to be able to photograph the osprey. Also saw a beautiful marsh harrier woman. The great egret is also very nicely put on the picture. The egret fly images are fantastic! The little egret is also great and the flight images are also very nice of the little egret!
    Additionally butterflies and damselfish. Truly a parchtige post and I greatly enjoyed your beautiful photos.

    Greetings, Helma

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Helma. I enjoyed taking those photos, but I think I'd probably have given them all up in exchange for a chance to take photos of your Crossbills!

      I hope you have a wonderful week - - Richard

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    2. Also you will see once crossbills Richard;-)
      Greetings Helma

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    3. Like their bills, my fingers are crossed, Helma!!!!

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  14. WOW, a fantastic array of species, and naturally the LO's!
    You can imagine how much I though of you as I managed my few pics of that one at the hotel!!
    The species is always high on my list and I intend to do a lot better in spring ;-)
    I wish I could those magnificent Ospreys, your photos are really incredible.
    Gorgeous egret and Coma butterfly photo too!
    Keep well and share my warmest hugs with Lindsay :)

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    1. Thank you, Noushka, for your very kind words. For me, you still set the benchmark for wildlife photography.

      Our juvenile Ospreys are now on their way to West Africa, and the adults will be leaving very soon.

      I hope that you have another successful Little Owl encounter soon.

      Have a wonderful weekend - - - Richard

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