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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Morning at Rutland Water - on Saturday 27th May, 2017

On the bank holiday Saturday I was booked for a turn of monitoring duty from 09h00 until 13h00 on the Rutland Osprey Project. As it was expected to be rather busy with visitors, I was extremely grateful that someone volunteered to accompany me for the morning - thank you, Linda!

As it takes around half an hour (allowing for distractions) to get from the car park to the hide from which the monitoring takes place, I set off from home just before 06h30 so that I could take in some of the more promising parts of my usual owling route there.

I saw two Little Owls at my Site No.41, but didn't get any shots of them.

A Little Owl was seen at Site No.23, for the first time since January.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.23
Arriving at my LO Site No.34, I eventually spotted one of the owls further down the field, so turned the car round and drove back down the road to get a shot.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
I had no further owl sightings before arriving at the Lyndon Visitor Centre, Rutland Water. Here I unloaded 'The Beast' before setting off. Let me introduce you to 'The Beast'.

'The Beast'
'The Beast', known to some as 'Rick's Lunch Box', has only recently been put into service, following a paint job. It consists of a modified fishing trolley, on which is mounted a recycled recycling box. The box, given to me by a kind friend, has been modified with a fixed internal padded compartment in the top and on one side (the near side in the photo) that my camera fits snugly in. The idea is that the camera can be quickly dropped in if it starts to rain. There is enough room in the bottom of the box for warm clothing, waterproof clothing, drinks, etc. My insulated picnic bag sits comfortably in the other side of the box next to the camera compartment. As I found on my visit to Whixall Moss, the box can also serve as a seat!

On my walk to Waderscrape Hide (from which we do the monitoring) I was keeping my eyes open for dragonflies. However, I was delighted to find a Small Copper butterfly in the field adjacent to the path. It stayed distant, so these are heavily cropped images taken with the lens at full 500mm zoom.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I saw many Chimney Sweeper day-flying moths in the meadow beside the path. 

Chimney Sweeper (Odezia atrata) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I had a bit of a surprise as I entered Tufted Duck hide. The hide was empty, but a shutter was open, and through it there was a close-up Yellow Wagtail. If the shutter had been closed, opening it would have frightened the bird away. It is not often that I see this species - let alone get so close!

Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
On reaching Waderscrape hide, it soon became apparent why I hadn't been seeing many damselflies - the Reed Buntings were snaffling them as soon as they emerged!

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
The female of the species was also showing frequently, if not 'showing well'.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Even more prominent than the Reed Buntings were the Sedge Warblers. In my last post which featured this species at Rutland Water, I stated that I was not sure whether I'd been photographing the same individual all the time, or whether there was a profusion of ringed Sedge Warblers. This caused me to keep my eyes open on this occasion, and I'm sad to report that it was almost impossible to find a passerine that hadn't been ringed. 

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Water Rail were seen a few times, but not photographed, and Water Vole was seen just the once by Linda - I only saw the wake afterwards!

The Ospreys were not very active, just taking the occasional joy flight around the bay, but staying very distant.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
In the event, a band of very heavy rain passed through, and visitor numbers were down on those expected, so we weren't kept quite so busy as expected. 

At the end of my shift I wandered back to the Visitor Centre, where I treated myself to an ice cream and took a couple of shots of the damselflies outside the centre, before setting off on my travels.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I had a short spell at Ketton Quarry, but it had got windy and cloudy, so little was seen and I didn't stay long but headed homeward.

As I passed Site No.41, one of the Little Owls was out, in the remains of its nest tree.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.41
Thus ended a day with a very enjoyable shift at Rutland Water. Thank you, Linda, for your company on the shift.

I'm not sure what, and when, my next post will be, but suspect that dragonflies will feature again! 

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Hi Richard: I am sure that those damselflies are a nice packet of protein for the Reed Buntings - and no doubt they have young to feed also. I hope that Linda enjoyed your company as much as you obviously enjoyed hers!

    1. They certainly did have young nearby, David, very vocal they were too!

      Love to you both - - Richard

  2. This is a very nice post Richard.
    The owls are amazing! Nice to show you your lunchbox ;-)
    The little butterfly is very beautiful. I did not know the Chimney sweeper. In addition, the beautiful red juffer.
    The yellow mercury cake, reed porpoises and other rietsa singers really make you very well know how to footgraph. I enjoyed these beautiful pictures.

    Best regards, Helma

    1. Thank you, Helma. Sorry I have not replied before now. I have been on holiday in Scotland. Google Translate is giving you some wonderful results!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Really love the Yellow Wagtail images especially the last one. Though I have to confess on liking the beast. Great idea

    1. Thank you, Doug. Sorry for the delay in replying but I've been away for 9 days with a visit to Scotland. It'll be a week or so before I'm ready for a post on the trip, however - over three thousand frames to work my way through!

      I was very pleased to get the Yellow Wagtail opportunity. I was just sorry that it didn't last longer.

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

  4. They are superb, a great collection. My favourite is the Sedge Warbler, fantastic.

    1. Thank you, Bob. I am very fond of Sedge Warblers, and they do seem to put on a good show at Rutland Water most years.

      My best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Lovely set of pictures Richard, I have never seen the Chimney Sweeper moth. I am excited about the translocation of Ospreys to Poole Harbour!!! Life has been difficult of late (family related) so this news will give me something to look forward to :-)

    1. Hi Lin. So sorry to hear you have problems. I hope you are able to bounce back soon.

      Having replied to your tweet, I see that it is indeed the Roy Dennis Foundation that is involved in the Poole Harbour translocation project. Roy is an absolute legend in the world of Ospreys, and Tim Mackrill (who recently left the Rutland Project to join him) is a super person. Between the two of them, they were the prime movers for the success of the Rutland Osprey Project, and have done so much more besides. They are two of my heroes!

      The Chimney Sweeper seems to like rough meadows. There were several of them in the area at Rutland Water that day, and I saw many more of them in a rough grass patch at Cawdor Castle, Scotland, last week.

      Keep your chin up. With my very best wishes - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard and sorry I missed this post somehow, great to see some Little Owls, perhaps may make a visit this week, hopefully. Super images of he Yellow Wag. See you soon, John

    1. Please don't apologise, John. You've been having a somewhat rough time of it lately, and have had more than enough on your plate, without following Bloggerland!

      Hopefully we'll get together this Thursday - for the first time in 7 weeks! However, the weather forecast wasn't brilliant at last count.

      Take good care, and best wishes for a continuing recovery - - - Richard

  7. Hello Richard, A great series and by seeing the Yellow Wagtail it reminded me of your story about the confusion with the name of the bird with that Dutchman. It was a funny story. Love also the Sedge Wabler is great to see. The Chmimy sweep I saw this year also in France.
    Hope you are well,

    1. Hi, Roos. I'm very well, thank you.

      I've just come back from Scotland, where that story originated, and my wife and I had a chuckle on several occasions when we saw Grey Wagtail. I think that they will always be 'Yellow Voggtails' to us!

      I hope that you had a wonderful time with your brother in France.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard


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