Saturday, February 24, 2018

📖 #13 ~ Rutland Water

❄️🌤 2C Saturday 24th February 2018 ~ With such a glorious, if not bitterly cold day forecast Dee and I decided to head off to Rutland Water for a spot of winter birding. Double figure Red Kite along the A6003 all enjoying the weather and providing a stunning sight against the deep blue cloudless sky.

American Wigeon ~ Well cropped photo but unmistakable cream forehead and broad eyestripe!
We arrived around midday and after a brief look at the centre bird feeders, we headed straight down to the Redshank Hide on Lagoon 2. Not only due to the fact that the American Wigeon had been reported again, but a coach containing around 40 or so birders from RSPB Group Leeds had just arrived in the car park and were heading our way!

American Wigeon ~ cropped!
By coincidence, Dennis Woodward had kindly called and tipped me off that due to the strong sunlight the Redshank hide was the best place to view. He was correct, around 15 minutes later we were straight onto the bird, if not distant.

We managed further views while visiting Grebe hide along with good numbers of other wintering wildfowl including Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Shelduck and Pintail, but could only manage two Pochard, so scarce this winter. At the Lapwing hide overlooking the South arm, the biting Easterly wind was head-on, in fact, it resembled more of the seaside, with small waves crashing over the foreshore. Lots of Goldeneye here, along with several Great Crested Grebe but no Divers to be found on this visit!

Redhead Smew ~ Three pairs on Lagoon 4
We spent a good while at Lagoon 4, mostly in the Plover and Sandpiper hides with a good selection of species. This included (6) Egyptian Goose, Goosander (pair), (8) Curlew, (2) Oystercatcher, Sparrowhawk flyby and at least three pairs of Smew! Also of note while enjoying a hot chocolate at the nature centre, Fox and Muntjac Deer. A bonus at Eyebrook reservoir on route home with Glaucous Gull. However, didn't manage an Iceland Gull, which I noticed reported on birdguides later!

A close encounter with drake Smew!