Monday, 13 January 2014

Strong start to the year at Rutland Water!

Yesterday kicked off the West Midland Bird Club's new year of field trips; this one was our annual outing to Rutland Water in Leicestershire. We usually see loads of great birds there and this was no exception!

Our first stop was at the dam, where it was still very frosty:

The dam at Rutland Water.
View towards the dam.
As well as the usual ducks and loads of Great Crested Grebes, we managed to pick up on an elusive Black-throated Diver from the north end of the dam, then from the south end Black-necked Grebe, Black Redstart, Kingfisher and Red-crested Pochard! The highlight for me was the Black-necked Grebes - a close-knit group of 4 in stunning winter plumage with the sun bringing out the contrast between the black and white plumage and bright red eyes. They were good and close too, not always the case with these birds! There were also large numbers of Little Grebes around which allowed for a nice comparison.

After that we went to our main destination, the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre, already feeling we'd got our money's worth from the day! On the feeders outside the centre were several Marsh Tits along with Great and Blue Tits, Chaffinches and female Pheasants. We made our way round checking in at some of the hides, picking up Golden Plover, Snipe, Smew, Goosander, Goldeneye, Pintail, Green Sandpiper, Redshank and Egyptian Goose among others. We also saw a mobile and fair-sized flock of Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch tucking into Alder seeds, and had lovely views of a Treecreeper - one of my favourites! I was very glad of my wellies as the paths were underwater at a couple of points. 

In the afternoon we sat in wait for the Barn Owl to emerge. While we waited, we saw hundreds of Common Gulls, a small flock of Curlews coming in to roost, and a Stock Dove chobbling around on one the islands. We were keeping our eyes on the distant Barn Owl box across the marsh, which had a promising-looking white blob on the front of it! As it was so distant though it took us some scrutinising before we accepted that it definitely was the Barn Owl! We were left in no doubt when it took off and started flying around :o) After a few circuits though it had obviously had enough, or maybe already found its dinner for the day, as it retired back into its box; the light was going too so it was home time for us too. What a smashing start to the year!

Waiting for Barn Owls.

Not many photos this time, and I wasn't able to do any sketching - however I'm hoping these are matters which will improve very soon, when I start using my new Nikon ED50 scope - just waiting for the eyepiece to arrive now! I will be able to get a much better look at birds for sketching, rather than just quick glimpses through Andy M and Mike P's scopes (thanks guys!) and am hoping to have a go at digiscoping too......can't wait!

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