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Monday, 20 August 2012

Incidentals to Rutland Water - on 16th and 17th August, 2012

My journey between home and Rutland Water, where I am one of the many volunteers on the Osprey Project, is mainly on country lanes and passes through some of England's finest countryside. 

On Thursday (16th August) I set off for Rutland Water, calling in at one of my 'local patch' Little Owl sites en-route. One of the adult owls was out, sitting up in the roof.

Little Owl - my Site No.02
Almost immediately I arrived, it started to rain. I half expected the owl to pop back inside. Instead it took the other alternative - shower time!!

It moved down a level to catch the rain and, as the rain became absolutely torrential, it puffed up its feathers to get better penetration of the water, and flattened itself, wings outspread, on the roof.

I was hoping that, when the rain stopped (as it did in only a few minutes), the owl would stay and shake itself dry. However, instead it just flew up into the roof space.

Further down the road I found a dead Tawny Owl in the road. It was a bit of a mess and I didn't look very hard, and first took it to be a Little Owl as I only saw the top of a wing and it had typical Little Owl colouration. However, the wing looked a bit large to me, so I went back later and found it - I'd been thrown by the total lack of any orange-brown in the bird's plumage.

Having picked up friend Titus a short while later, we set off for Rutland Water in Titus's car. On our way back from an evening shift on 2nd August Titus had spotted a Little Owl on a fence. The result was the images which appeared at the end of a previous post. We stopped again by this location and soon found the nest tree, accidentally flushing the owl as we did so. It settled in a Horse Chestnut tree next to where we had parked the car. Having taken the safety shot, shown below, we headed back to the car.

Little Owl - my Site No.29
Amazingly the owl stayed put as we both approached it, and the car, on foot. This was probably the most confiding Little Owl that I've encountered!

Little Owl - my Site No.29
A very pleasant evening was spent at Rutland Water, but I missed the emerging Barn Owls.

On the way home we spotted a distant LO at my Site No.21, and the same LO as seen in the early afternoon was out on a fence post at Site No.29 - confirmed by pale head markings up from 'nose' towards the bird's right crown.

Little Owl - my Site No.29
The following day was the opening day of the International Birdfair at Rutland Water. I had an early start from home so that I could be there before it opened, as I had to be finished in time to get round to the other side of Rutland Water for another shift at 17.00, and so needed to make the most of the day. As it happened, I'd finished what I wanted to do by 15.00, so decided to beat the rush out of the car park and head for a much-needed sit down with a pot of Earl Grey and a cake in the Veranda Cafe/Bar in Wing Hall - highly recommended, and a good outlet for the Grainstore Brewery. 

I arrived at Lyndon still with time to spare, so put in half an hour at Shallow Water hide - a bit of a misnomer at present as the water is at a greater height than it's ever been, and lapping at the base of the hide. I was very sad to see that the GC Grebe's nest that we'd been admiring with eggs in two weeks earlier (see below), was now under water with the female bird still trying to incubate the eggs, and 'mantling' against the surrounding water.

Great Crested Grebe - Rutland Lyndon on 2nd August, 2012
It was good to see a Brown Hawker oviposting on a floating branch, although just how successful the outcome might be, I'm not sure of!

Brown Hawker (oviposting) - Rutland Lyndon
More disturbing than the Grebe, however, was the adult Mute Swan attacking an immature swan. At first we wondered whether this was some sort of miss-placed mating attempt, but it soon became apparent that the adult meant business and was trying to drown the youngster. I had to leave for my shift before this came to its conclusion, but the youngster was visibly tiring in its struggle and I fear for the worst. 

Mute Swan - Rutland Lyndon
Also here was what I'm fairly confident was a Common Tern, but was trying to fool us that it was an Arctic by having no dark tip to its bill.

Common Tern - Rutland Lyndon
I have really neglected the dragonflies/damselflies this year - and the butterflies also! As penance, here is another - only a Common Darter I'm afraid.

Common Darter (female) - Rutland Lyndon
With it being a Birdfair evening, Waderscrape hide was jammed solid with people for much of the evening. Whilst three of the Ospreys were present for most of the time, male adult 5R didn't put in an appearance. Additional excitement was provided by one of the Barn Owls showing in the doorway of the nest box between Waderscrape and Shallow Water hides at around 18.00, closely followed by the emergence of one of the birds (unseen by myself). I did, however, manage to grab some shots of one of the owls peeping out.

Barn Owl - Rutland Lyndon
Owls were seen, but no photos taken, at my LO Sites Nos.21 and 29 on my way home. I'm looking forward to my next turn of duty at Rutland Water - if the Ospreys are still there?


  1. You captured those "rainy" images perfectly Richard......nice one!

    1. Thanks Paul. Would have been better if the rain was not quite so torrential so that it didn't obscure the clarity of view of the bird so much.

  2. Wow! The owl shots are great but so are all the others. This looks like a fun photography shoot. Plus rain...nice!

    1. Thank you Rohrerbot. Sometimes the chance encounters work out better than the planned ones. Would have preferred a lighter rain shower on this occasion - and a bit of sunshine would have been nice too, but now I'm being greedy!


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