Sunday, 24 January 2016

Rutland Water: Five grebes in 30 mins

23 Jan 2016
Spent Saturday birding at Rutland Water with friends, mostly exploring the area around the Birdwatching Centre.  But on arrival we headed to a viewpoint overlooking the "North Arm" of the reservoir, recently favoured by a variety of grebes. 

We quickly picked up good numbers of great-crested grebes, maybe thirty or so, then we found a group of black-necked grebes right out in the middle of the water - not unexpected as they had been reported from this area in recent days.  Then we found a red-necked grebe, even further out but distinctive nonetheless.  We then realised one of the group of black-necked grebes was not quite "one of the group" and a more focused scrutiny showed it was actually a Slavonian grebe.  Closer to shore a few little grebes were much more straightforward to identify.  None of us could remember seeing all the regularly occurring British grebes at one location before - possibly we might have seen them all in a day of multi-site birding, but this felt unique and impressive. 

Large groups of goldeneye ducks were very actively displaying in the bay, great to watch and listen to.  Then to round everything off nicely, a great northern diver surfaced just behind the ducks.

Moving to the the main nature reserve and a well earned cup of coffee, we were soon watching an immature peregrine feeding on what appeared to be a goose carcass on an island in the largest lagoon.  A group of four "red-headed" smew were busy feeding there too.  All the birds had been fairly distant up until now, but moving on to another hide (there are dozens here!) a green sandpiper gave some great views feeding along the muddy shoreline.  We were about to leave this hide when a little egret dropped down in front of us, at very close range.  Carefully opening the hide flaps again, I was able to get some really nice close-up shots.

Continuing on, we had views of curlews, wigeons, goosanders and a dusk decended a single scaup.
All in all a great day's birding and many thanks to the team who do such a great job managing this really extensive and diverse site.
little egret with tiny fish
little egret, again
green sandpiper
a new swift tower
view across Rutland Water nature reserve with the birdwatching centre in the background
Egyptian goose...and sheep
24 Jan 2016
An hour in the local patch around Wardington and Chacombe this morning was rewarded with a big flock of fieldfares (about 500) with a few redwings and starlings mixed in.  Nearer the edge of the field and around a group of barns, a group of about 50 yellowhammers was nice to see - the biggest flock I've seen so far this winter.

Driving back I was surprised to see a group of four red kites coasting along above the skyline - we normally only see singles around here.  Then they started interacting with a pair of ravens, then a couple of buzzards joined in.  A scene I associate more with mid-Wales, now just a mile from home.  I tried to capture some pics - the grey skies created a monochrome effect with the delicate silhouettes of the ash trees contrasting this the elegant angular shapes of the kites.  See what you think!!
two of the four kites
couldn't resist a black and white version of the little egret

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