Rutland Water trip 12th June

Just one car load of us convened at the Anglia Water car park at Rutland Water NR yesterday but our day out there was well worth the long drive. We had fun exploring parts we have not done before on a Club trip (the site being so huge and there being so many hides to choose from overlooking different lagoons, as well as the main body of water, that it is just not possible to visit them all in a day!). It was quite breezy at times but the sun shone and it being warm enough not to have to wear heavy coats at long last felt like a real bonus! Also, the site not being particularly busy and there being just a small group of us, we were able to take more time walking along the paths in order really appreciate all the bird song/calls around us and enjoy the fantastic meadows of flowers interspersed along the way – singing Cetti’s, Garden Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker yaffling were in the mix alongside  more common residents.

It was a day of young bird spotting – quite apart from woodland birds like Blue Tit and Great Tit,  chicks/goslings/fledged juveniles seen on the spits and islands in the lagoons included Avocet, Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Shelduck, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe (one of the commonest birds about it seemed, with several pairs on every body of water though only a couple of pairs obviously had young), Greylag Goose and Mute Swan.  LRPs and Oystercatchers were still on the nest/scrape – with Oystercatchers and Avocets at one point noisily seeing off a Red Kite that was casing the area.

One of the most exciting things was to see the literally hundreds of Sand Martins flying about feeding and dashing in and out of several enormous ‘hotels’ – a real joy given how many of the colonies in York have become so depleted.  They are about – just not with us! Other hirundines were scarce, just a handful of Swallows seen all day and only a couple of House Martins, though we did see some nests of the latter under eaves as we drove through villages in the area on the way in and back. Common Terns were constantly swooping about over many of the lagoons and we also had good views of a non-breeding GWE. Having heard Cuckoo calling several times we then had  a magnificent flypast of three birds one close after another, two males and one female, all calling as they went!

Raptors were in somewhat short supply so after lunch we headed to Lyndon car park for the highly anticipated main event of the day – the Ospreys.  And we were not disappointed with great views of the female and her three very well grown young on the nest – the youngsters spending a lot of time preening and stretching out their wings while she stood guard. The male of the pair was flying about quite a lot too, then disappeared from sight over the other side of Rutland Water before returning and landing on the nest, so we were able to see the whole family together.  No fish delivered this time, but the interactions on the nest were fascinating.  Kestrel, Hobby and Marsh Harrier also put in an appearance – the cream-crown Marsh Harrier getting too close to the Osprey nest at one point and being ushered away by the female Osprey (the only time we saw her fly, soon returning to guard duty on the nest).  As at the Anglia Water end of the NR, the meadows were full of flowers on the walk to the Osprey viewing hides, including Spotted Marsh Orchids.

And…as if that wasn’t enough, on the way home we snuck in a detour to Langford Lowfields RSPB Reserve near Newark (just five minutes from the A1), where we did manage to see and hear a national rarity that has turned up there (thank you BirdGuides for a really accurate pin) – a Great Reed Warbler, which we heard singing and then saw really well perched at the top of reeds about 6 – 8m away from us a couple of times. Huge excitement as this was a lifer for two people, as well as being the first time that I have actually managed to see one in the UK – what a way to end the day!

A great day out, with in excess of 60 species seen and heard.