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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.

36 comments:

  1. Good morning Richard: Now you really have me green with envy. A drake Smew is very high on my wish list of birds to see. I have only ever seen one Smew in my life - an immature male which surprisingly showed up in Oshawa, ON a few years ago and stayed for about two days. Great to see but a poor substitue for a dazzling male.

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    1. Hi David. I did think of you when I put up the Smew on this post, and came to the conclusion that they'd probably be relatively regular vagrants to your part of the world. I see I was wrong! They usually show up at Rutland Water in the winter, although they are a far from common visitor to UK (Collins Guide describes them as "rather scarce").

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  2. Nice selection Richard. Love the Smew shots, especially the male. Great stuff.

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    1. Thank you, Marc. I wish that drake Smew had come a lot closer. We see them most winters at Rutland Water, but I've only ever had them at a great distance there.

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  3. Hi Richard;-) Oh, how magnificent birds you have seen and photographed! I am a walk in the snowy woods listening to the birds. Today I first time heard black grouse, and then I wondered jay sound, the sound was similar to the tomcat makes noise! Greetings

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    1. Hi Anne. Black Grouse, certainly make some strange sounds. I have to travel quite a way north to find them.

      Thank you for your kind words - - - Richard

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  4. Fantastic photography Richard, and the Gadwall, lovely photos. But I redhead Smew, she is beautiful.

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    1. Very kind words, Bob - thank you. I'd love to be able to photograph male and female Smew somewhat closer, and in good light. Maybe one day I'll be lucky.

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  5. Hello Richard,
    Like David, the Mew drake is one I wish to see and photograph one of these days!
    The shoveler is having a... water ball! LOL!
    The starlings made for a great photo and the Crested grebes were very close to a parade!
    Great post and sightings!
    I knew the young Ibex would catch your attention! LOL!
    Enjoy the coming week, I am going to the Atlantic coast Tuesday.

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    1. Hi Noushka. I can't recommend UK for the best chance of photographing drake Smew. The nearest I ever got to one was on a large lake in Latvia, when most of the lake was frozen.

      Have a great time on the Atlantic coast.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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    2. Thanks for your info, Richard!
      By the way, got my first images of Gadwalls at last!
      I will publish them on tuesday.
      Keep well and enjoy the coming week

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    3. I look forward to your Gadwall images, Noushka. A bad weather forecast for the coming week, but a good day today with two very distant Cattle Egrets and a pair of very close Goosander.

      Have a great week - - - Richard

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  6. Great set of pictures - really love Gadwall.

    Cheers - Stewart M - In Melbourne, but jet-lagged!

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    1. Thank you, Stewart. You seem to be getting around a lot these days. I hope that you are soon recovered from your travels - - Richard - feet firmly on the ground in UK!!!

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  7. This post is packed full with delights,love your Gadwall and your Shoveler captures are superb,
    also your Smew,for me,is the Iceing on the cake,stunning bird.
    Take care Richard.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. That drake Smew was certainly the best bird - what a pity that the images of it don't measure up!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  8. That really os a stunning set of pictures.

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  9. Hi Richard, I think it was the best afternoon out we have had in a long time with at last some reasonable weather, at last some sun!, we had some good views of some decent birds, what more could we ask for, I think we will have a 'snap' with my post. Shoveler images are super. See you soon, John

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    1. Thank you, John. Yes, there are more than a few similarities between your images and mine!

      Not currently looking too good for tomorrow, with about 10% chance of rain each hour, so we might not want to wander far from the car. Worse, however, is the wind which is forecast at around 25 kph, with gusts up to around 45 kph.

      Fingers crossed - - Richard

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  10. Lovely set of pictures Richard, I love the Great Crested Grebe picture and love the pictures of the Shoveler giving himself a good bath :D

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    1. Thank you, Linda. That Shoveler was a real entertainment!

      I hope that all is well with you both - - - Richard

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  11. Hi Richard,
    a very beautiful and varied blog with lots of beautiful birds.
    The Stonechat is very nice and of course the little owl :-)
    The bathing ritual of the shoveler's really wonderful to see. Delicious all that splashing :-) The pintail is nice to like the little egret. The nuns (female) have been able to photograph your nice and also a beautiful nun male. Top that you have spotted a peregrine :-)))))
    The last picture of the starling is a beautiful picture.
    I genoen all these beautiful images.

    Kind regards,
    Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma, for your very kind words. My thanks also for writing in English - Dutch is a language that I never learned even though I did spend much time in the north of Belgium.

      I love your Spoonbill images!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. Enjoyed reviewing your Shoveler splash images Richard .. super water born acrobatics. The White Nun is missing of my winter list but always a delight to encounter.

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    1. Thank you, Frank. I'd never heard Smew being referred to as White Nun before, but amazingly the Dutch lady who's comment immediately preceded yours also refers to Smews as "nuns". Anyway, I hope you catch up with one before they depart!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  13. That Smew drake is spectacular, wow what great shots. Love the Shoveler, what fun it it having :-)
    The Peregrine is my all time favourite bird. Hope it stays and gets a partner. I would love to see your photos of it with a family.
    All great photos though well done. Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane, for your very kind words. Having just visited your own blogs, I'm worried that you might have inspired me to take up travel photography!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  14. WOW where to begin, you got some amazingly gorgeous birds on your post but I must say...the image with the Great Crested Grebe is truly breath taking gorgeous~

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    1. Thank you, Mary. The mating ritual of the Great Crested Grebe is one of the most beautiful sights of the avian world in UK. My image only hints at the what the full show is like. You need to see the full thing in full daylight, complete with each bird offering love-tokens, and feather-displaying. It's truly amazing.

      Thank you for visiting. With best wishes - - Richard

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  15. Quelle magnifique diversité ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

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    1. Merci beaucoup, Céline et Philippe, de vos visite - - - - Richard

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  16. You've got to laugh at the actions of the Shoveler :-)
    It would be an interesting turn of events if the peregrine did decide to nest but it would have to be one of the weirdest nests. I wonder if it was checking for food instead?

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    1. That Shoveler was funb to watch, Doug!

      The Peregrine is, apparently, regularly on the Osprey nest. Time will tell.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  17. Wow!!! I love this beautiful post!!! Those pictures are amazing especially the Great Crested Grebe!!! Thanks for sharing:)
    Jessi

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jessi. I'm sorry to take so long to reply to your message, but I've been away for a week - just got back this afternoon.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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