It's our first visit to Rutland Water and so a few phone calls to those in the know helped us on our way. After paying the £4 each, which I don't begrudge provided the money is ploughed back into the reserve, our first brief visit was to the feeders at the front entrance. Here we had the usual finches on offer and it was also nice to see several Tree Sparrows too.
On advice and a tip off regarding Long Eared Owls we decided to complete the south of the reserve today. A lot of work is currently in progress on site to build a new footpath and more lagoons, and so I'll put the appalling state of the current footpaths, which were deep in mud, down to this!
Ploughing on we managed visits to the Mallard Hide and Harrier Hide, where we had the usual wildfowl you'd expect in the Winter months, with good numbers of Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye, Pochard and a few Gadwall. However, it was at the Fieldfare Hide, the reason for heading this way, where we had the best of the day in the form of 2 roosting Long-Eared Owls (pictured), which were deep in the hawthorn on the footpath leading to the hide. Difficult to see at first but once located an eerie and superb site to behold.
Apart from the Long-Eared Owls not a great first visit for number of species, we did observe a decent number of Lapwing, spooked by a Sparrowhawk at one time plus Oystercatcher, Redshank (spotted by the wife) and 5 Green Sandpiper later in the day but the Slavonian, Red and Blacks Necked Grebes and Great Northern Diver reported in the sightings book were a mystery to us. Although I do suspect that these sightings where from the North side of the reserve, an area we didn't visit as the rain and mist descended!