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Tuesday 28 April 2015

Rutland Water - the first quarter of 2015

I've been visiting Rutland Water on a relatively frequent basis for around nine years now, mainly as a volunteer on the Osprey Project. This winter, before the return of the Ospreys, pal Titus and I found ourselves making weekly visits to this place, largely because of the waterfowl. 

However, the main attraction is the Ospreys. The Osprey season is now in full swing, and the best place to observe them is from the Lyndon side of Rutland Water Nature Reserve, where there is an active Osprey nest in Manton Bay. Shallow Water Hide gives the clearest and closest (just) views of the nest, but Waderscrape Hide (nearer to the visitor centre) has been totally rebuilt and is now a very comfortable location, and still gives excellent views of the Ospreys. It is further enhanced by the presence of the volunteers who will keep you informed of the latest situation, and make the two project 'scopes available for you to watch the Ospreys. Also new for this year is a TV screen in the hide with a direct hook-up to the nest cam.

If visiting, please bear in mind that the Osprey is a protected species and, therefore, the observation facilities have to be at a safe (for the Ospreys!) distance from the nest. You may, however, be lucky and get a closer view of an Osprey on one of its fishing sorties.

Here are a few of my recent Osprey images:

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (female - 'Maya') - from Shallow Water Hide on 23/04/2105
Now here's a tip:- If you want really close-up photo opportunities of Ospreys fishing, only about 10 minutes away from Rutland Water by car you can find River Gwash Trout Farm and Horn Mill Trout Farm (both under the same ownership). Both these establishments have a hide set up overlooking the ponds where Rutland Ospreys go to fish. You could have an Osprey take a fish just 5 metres in front of you! The charge of £60 per session may sound a lot, but it is really good value for money. You can find a link here.

A dull weather visit to the Egleton side of Rutland Water on 22nd January gave some distant record shots of Smew. There seem to have been quite a few of these round this last winter. There were also good numbers of Teal and Pintail.

Smew (Mergellus albellus)  (2 male, 1 female) - Egleton Reserve on 22/01/2015
Teal (Anas crecca) (1 male, 2 female) - Egleton Reserve on 22/01/2015

Pintail (Anas accuta) - Egleton Reserve on 22/01/2015
A return to Egleton Reserve in dull weather on 12th February brought a similar selection of birds, but slightly closer views of  Pintail and Smew.

Pintail (Anas accuta) - Egleton Reserve on 12/02/2015

Smew (Mergellus albellus)  (male) - Egleton Reserve on 12/02/2015
The following week, on 18th February we were lucky to have fine sunny weather. We were hoping to get better views of the Great White Egret that we'd had very distant views of on previous visits. We were a bit more fortunate on this occasion!

Great White Egret (Egretta alba) - Egleton Reserve on 18/02/2015
If the GWEs increase in numbers like Little Egret have done over the past ten years, they're going to be a common sight in future. Those smudges in the background of the last two images are Lapwing. There were hundreds of them around.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) - Egleton Reserve on 18/02/2015
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Egleton Reserve on 18/02/2015
There were also good numbers of Curlew around.

Curlew (Numenius arquata) - Egleton Reserve on 18/02/2015
It was another very dull day when we returned to Rutland Water on 5th March. However, we were drawn there by reports of an Avocet. This was duly found and photographed on Lagoon 4 at some distance - in much deeper water than I'm used to seeing them in!

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) - Egleton Reserve on 05/03/2015
There were three Smew visible, and also a few Pintail still.

Smew (Mergellus albellus) - Egleton Reserve on 05/03/2015

Pintail (Anas accuta) (male) - Egleton Reserve on 05/03/2015
A visit to the Lyndon reserve on 26th March didn't yield much in the way of images. The Kestrel image was from the Visitor Centre, and the gull flock was over the South Arm as we made our way back to the car park in the evening.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Lyndon Reserve on 26/03/2015
Gulls - South Arm,  from Lyndon Reserve on 26/03/2015
There was little photographed on our visit to Lyndon Reserve on 2nd April, but an enjoyable time was had, nevertheless. The Moorhen image shows how calm the water was that day. I've included the Teal image, purely because it shows how, in some light conditions, the green head flash can show quite blue. The last two images were taken on our walk back to the car park.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - from Shallow Water hide on 02/04/2015
Teal (Anas crecca) (male) - from Shallow Water hide on 02/04/2015
Reed Bunting (Embeiriza schoeniclus) (male) - from Waderscrape hide on 02/04/2015
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - Lyndon Reserve on 02/04/2015
Reed Bunting (Embeiriza schoeniclus) (female) - Lyndon Reserve on 02/04/2015
On 16th April, we had a fine sunny day for our visit to Lyndon Reserve. At Shallow Water hide we had good views of a drake Shoveler, but his lady was not so obliging. It was also heart-warming to see the Common Terns back on the reserve.

Shoveler (Anas clypeata) (male) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015
Coot (Fulica atra) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015
Teal (Anas crecca) (female) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015
Teal (Anas crecca) (male) - from Shallow Water Hide on 16/04/2015
I've already shown (above) some Osprey images from our visit to Lyndon Reserve on 23rd April. Here are a few non-Osprey images from that day. I'm including a few more of drake Teal as most images show them side-on, but they do look very attractive and a little different from other angles. I particularly like the view from the tail-end with those wonderful rump markings!

Shelduck (Tadorna tadornaa) (female) - from Shallow Water Hide on 23/04/2015

Teal (Anas crecca) (male) - from Shallow Water Hide on 23/04/2015
The air at Rutland Water was full of the song of various warblers on that day, and as we walked back to the car park several Whitethroat were heard, although this was the only one we saw.

Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)  - Lyndon Reserve on 23/04/2015
In summary, Rutland Water is an absolutely wonderful place to visit at any time of year. If you've never been it really is worth making the effort, but be warned - you'll need at least three days to do the place justice! For a start, there are the 36 hides to visit, plus the two visitor centres at Egleton and Lyndon!

Thank you for dropping by. Unless anything really spectacular happens my next post will be on owls - it's been an excellent month so far!