The last time I was at Rutland was in February 2010 when Dee and I went in search of two reported Long-eared Owls on the southern part of the reserve. Our search was successful but at that time there was major construction work in progress. I’m glad to say that the work has now been almost completed and the site is looking in superb shape with new lagoons and hides.
Dee and I began our walk around midday from the Egleton Bird Watching Centre and although it would have been good to see the new lagoons and hide we decided to head to the north. This is one huge place and having visited the south last time this was all new and exciting ground for us. The first several hides and paths produced the usual selection of warblers and the sky was busy with Swifts and many Common Tern. The large Sand Martin structure, which can be viewed from the centre itself, was awash with activity and the Martins were constantly coming and going.
Probably the best viewing came at the Sandpiper Hide, which overlooks Lagoon 4. Here an Osprey was enjoying a well-earned bath before moving off and both Little Ringed and Ringed Plover were constantly on the go. A good number of waders were showing which included Oystercatcher, Little Stint, lots of Dunlin and I managed to pick out a summer plumage Turnstone that was almost buried within the shingle. Two Avocets dropped in for a short stay and Dee picked out several Egyptian Geese amongst the Greylag and Canada, a lone Barnacle was present and a first tick for the year in the form of a single Little Gull.
We moved further around the lagoon to the Dunlin Hide, which produced nothing further of note but a Lesser Whitethroat was singing close by within the Hawthorn, and a very pristine looking ♂Linnet was also singing well from a nearby tree. Amazing how fluent birding can be, by the time we reached Plover Hide, which also overlooks Lagoon 4 and only minutes after leaving Dunlin Hide, a Whimbrel had dropped in and was preening happily near the waters edge. Distant views of Osprey and Red Kite, plus a Grey Wagtail was also seen before moving back towards the centre.
On our return to the centre taking in visits to Shoveler, Buzzard and Crake Hides produced a Kingfisher flypast and ♂Cuckoo, plus a second Little Gull of the day was over the pool. Finally over a nice hot chocolate in the elevated lookout section of the centre, two Little Egret were our final additions and ended a good days birding with a gallant 65 species recorded, thanks to the wife's good book keeping!
Poor light and distance unfortunately ruled out any good photo's!