Sunday, 9 December 2012


As I mentioned in todays earlier post, I've been gorging on Waxwings this weekend, much like the birds themselves behave when berries are present.
On Friday afternoon, after I'd been to Swithland for a proper look at the Velvet Scoter I headed over to Stoney Stanton on the hunt for the Waxwings that had been loitering around the school for the past few days. In the end it was all relatively simple, the birds were quickly found in an area behind the school and a convenient alley allowed me to approach close to the rest tree;

Very nice indeed, although a visit this morning drew a blank which only frustrated me into being tempted to go for the enormous flock that had been found on the outskirts of Loughborough. Shortly afterwards this temptation was heightened when I nipped round to Paul Riddle's gaff to collect a couple of Owlsaboutthatthen calenders (an excellent stocking filler!) and he told me all about how he'd been there earlier in the day and that viewing was excellent! This was all the encouragement I needed and soon sacked off the Manchester derby and was on the way. Good choice. Loads of Waxwings - easily 150+, more like 200, hard to tell exactly though as they were never all together. They were even flitting down regularly to a large puddle in a nearby field, first time I've ever seen them on the ground!

This above image was just about the point where some clouds rolled in and things became much more miserable, just as Paul turned back up to try and get some more flight shots!

Loughborough Serengetti

Mr. Riddle nailing some flight shots

Quick summary

I've been feasting my eyes (and camera lens) on Waxwings over the past few days so before I treat you to a deluge of Waxwing images I'd better post a summary of the last few weeks else I never will!

In more recent news I passed my chainsaw assessment so now I'm fully qualified to go and chop down small trees in a professional manner, it feels good!

The winter work programme is well under way now which has involved lots and lots of woodland work over the past few weeks.

We've also introduced rams into our flocks of sheep, this fellow is called Herby!

Led the odd guided walk too;

And of course soaked up the Rutland countryside, this was dawn on the Hambleton Peninsular;

And this was dusk at Great Easton during a particularly unsuccessful Owl-hunt; 
One Owl hunt that fared better was last weekend where I found this chap near Willoughby;
Along with this bird near Gilmorton which was being bothered by a crow;
And finally, it would be rude to not mention the three county ticks I've managed over the past couple of weeks, each tick accompanied by a dodgy photo;


Velvet Scoter!

And finally, a Bittern!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

*insert swear word here*

Two Velvet Scoter off the dam at Swithland and I'm catching a train to Manchester in an hour......I hate birding sometimes.....

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Quick one..

Sorry I've been a touch absent on here recently, a combination of sheer laziness, lack of new images and issues concerning photo upload space is probably the best explanation!
I imagine I'll get everything resolved within the next few days so expect an enormous post summing up the last few weeks in the near future.

In very recent news there was a Hawfinch showing shockingly well in Egleton carpark for long periods today, I chanced upon it at around 1.30pm after dropping off four visitors at the visitors centre who had managed to get stuck inside the new 360 hide, quite an achievement! I was returning back towards the new lagoons when I noticed a small crowd of people in the carpark staring intently towards the toilet obviously I took a short detour to join them and soon afterwards (via a generous lend of a pair of binoculars) Hawfinch was on the county list. Smashing!
I got a couple of truly terrible shots of the beast on my phone but I'm sure someone will have scored some great shots of it today, shame it wasn't me!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Its that time of the week again...

So it must be time for a blog post!

Another week has flown by at work, had even less oportunities to see any birds this week too, thanks to my partner for the week;


If you haven't already surmised, last week was my chainsaw training, and birds don't tend to enjoy petrol-fueled rage saws that create a fair bit of "disturbance" whilst in use, not to mention the addition of chainsaw boots/trousers/gloves/helmet/visor that make it almost impossible to move, yet alone see or hear anything that isn't a chainsaw or a tree.

So all in all, very few birds from the reserve to report! There were some in fairness.....Caspian Gulls on Lag 4 and Jack Snipe on Lag 3 for example, but as I didn't see any of them I won't mention them any further!

I did get a chance to have a short Badger watch during the week however, four individuals were seen and briefly photographed before the Hooded Birder vacated the hide in favour of a Shepherds Pie and a bag of Revels.

Which brings me nicely to this weekend, today mainly, where I got to do some birding! The garden has jerked into life in the past week after a very quiet period, the Bullfinch plague has ended for now but over the weekend 3 Coal Tit have been visiting, along with brief glimpses of a Goldcrest, male Blackcap and around 150 Fieldfare moving west, so things are looking up!

I also did a spot of twitching this afternoon - *I had planned all along to nip across the border into Northants this afternoon to Maidwell on the hunt for Short-eared Owls and after a quick poke in the arse was obtained by news of the Black-throated Diver showing well at Stanford res (en route to Maidwell), I got moving and headed over.
Once at Stanford the Diver was found relatively quickly from the bridge over the inflow channel - about half a mile away near the raft in the middle of the main water. Then it did the usual Diver behaviour - being a right pain to keep track of, whilst working it's way closer and closer back towards the inflow.
In the end it paused just off the inflow stream, shockingly close to the car-park and allowed some, im sure you'll agree, glorius images to be obtained on my phone;

Needless to say, this was a county tick

Added to both Northants and Leics lists at the same time by sneakily running back and forth over the inflow channel, very nice

I did carry on to Maidwell in the end on the hunt for owl, the area must have received about a months rain over the past day-or-so, most minor roads were rivers and my route twice got blocked by flooded sections. When I finally got to the site a Barn Owl was quickly seen but that was as good as it got, so still no Shorties for the Hooded Birder. This time last year I'd seen loads, and this year everyone seems to have seen one already, except me! Life isn't fair.....

*All along in this case refers to around 2 hours after the original plan of Ring-necked Duck at Rutland was abandoned on the grounds that it had managed to get lost in the legions of Tufted Duck and I didn't fancy being the one trying to re-find it. Also, the nerve of the little blighter being found on a day when I wasn't at's just inconsiderate really.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

...suppose I'd better write a blog post!

I suppose the lack of activity on this blog could be explained by the fact that the author (me) obviously hasnt done anything or seen anything of note since the last post. This assumption would be wrong, the fact that I've simply been too lazy to upload any photos off my phone is probably closer to the mark....

Anyway, work has carried on as-per-usual at Rutland over the past couple of weeks, the winter work programme is well under way now so there's been a nice introduction to the heap of woodland work we'll be doing this winter.

A spot of scrub clearance along the circular path on Lax Hill also allowed me to photgraph the surrounding lagoons last week, this shot shows Heron bay on the left, Lagoon 8 in the foreground and Lagoon 7 at the back.

Whereas this shot looks North/Northwest, showing Lagoon 5 on the far left, Lagoon 6 in the central foreground and Lagoon 1 at the back.

A bit of work has also been done surveying the Water Vole population on the reserve, you may have seen the Vole rafts (pictured below) dotted around the reserve and these are key to drawing up a census of vole numbers. The voles will use these platforms as latrines and with regular monitoring a picture of relative abundance across the reserve can be obtained.

Learnt to drive this tractor too...and it was good.

Moving onto birding related news, Hooded Birder has bought a scope! Here it is in all its glory, chilling in the garden this afternoon1 Best news of all - my cameraphone still works with it so I'll still be able to provide the odd eye-burner!

I've also managed to do a bit of birding with the new scope this past week. Last Monday (22nd) was the date for a staff trip birdwatching to Norfolk and although it coincided with terrible murky weather conditions it also coincided with a lovely fall of migrants on the East coast! First stop of the day was Holme Dunes where you couldn't really see more than 100 yards in any direction but this hardly mattered as migrants were everywhere! Fieldfare and Redwing in the 1000's, Mipits and Skylarks aplenty, bushes literally heaving with Goldcrest and the odd Chiffchaff, truly a spectacular fall with particular highlights for me being a healthy number of Brambling and two, maybe three Black Redstart. Nothing rarer was winkled out (reports later in the day of RB flycatcher and OBP though) so we moved along to Titchwell where a Little Stint was about the best of it. Good day out though in unbelieveable fall conditions, that one will live long in the memory.

I also had an amble around the North part of Egleton reserve on Friday afternoon, taking in the delights of Lagoon 2, 3 & 4 whilst playing with the new scope.

Birds of note included a few Redpoll and Siskin behind Lagoon 2, 7 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 1 Ruff and 46 Golden Plover on Lagoon 4 and 5 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper on Lagoon 3.

Lagoon 4 waders

Greenie on 3
Snipe having a scratch

Friday, 12 October 2012

More from Rutland...

This lack-of-internet game in me caravan at Rutland is becoming a tad upsetting at the minute. I have little time to blog for a start! Its shocking on reflection that I have become so dependant upon the interwebs to provide me with information and entertainment. Afterall, I can easily recall a time (and I'm sure you can too!) where I had no idea of what the internet was, and would have had little interest in it even if I did. A more simple time I think. Anyway, now I'm back in Leicester for the weekend and am happily re-united with my laptop and wireless broadband I can write a blog post! I suppose I could write posts on my phone, but im fairly confident my stubby sausage-fingers combined with the tiny keyboard on the galaxy's screen would enrage me to gigantic proportions. Safer to stick to this weekly arrangement I think.

Over the last couple of weeks I've progressed a bit at work, getting to grips with some of the vehicles and equipment on site, and also completing a couple of courses - I'm now certified to be let loose with the Mini-bus and also as an emergency First Aider! Myself, the two other trainees (Jamie and Amelia) and Joe, one of the Senior Conservation Officers were also interviewed by the man with probably the most soothing voice in the world - Ben Jackson for a piece that Radio Leicester will be running about the trainee-ship at Rutland Water on Thursday which was new a new experience for sure!

Time for less rambling I think and more photos - the Canon came with me this week so they should be an improvement.

Its the Trainees's job to run the Badger watches, these images were taken on Monday night but the proper watch on Wednesday went brilliantly, 5 adults showed well, much to the delight of the four punters!

 If you're interested in joining me or one of the other trainees for a scheduled watch, feel free to contact us at

 Birding has been quietish again this week, spiced up by the arrival of 800-1000 Golden Plovers, some of which are pictured here. The Black-necked Grebe still lingers in the Fishponds and a Marsh Harrier has been seen a few times, particularly during the earlier part of the week. Most interesting is perhaps the noticeable influx of Jays to the country, the numbers recorded at Rutland have mirrored the reported trend, yesterday for example I saw a group of four flying purposefully south over the 360 hide, making a tally of 9 for the day. Speaking of things heading purposefully south, an Osprey did that too yesterday morning, seen over the North Arm briefly at 9am - presumably a Scandinavian bird.

With the help of the Argo I did manage to get close enough to these Golden Plover on Lagoon 4 this week - there are two Dunlin in this shot too. One is obvious but you can play Spot-the-Dunlin with the other if you like!

Somewhat of a rarity these days, this Hedgehog was found roaming Jamie's garden on Tuesday night.

Lovely weather on Wednesday

A lovely berry-crop this year too.

A few Common Darter were also taking advantage of the warm conditions on Wednesday, several pairs were seen mating. At least I think this is a Common Darter, correct me if I'm wrong. Sticking on the things-that-aren't-birds theme, I saw a Great Diving Beetle in the pond between Dunlin and Sandpiper hides on Tuesday, and it was good. We also saw a juvenile Water Vole on Lagoon 4 on Tuesday, that was also good.

The wettest meadow on site (between Badger and Redshank hides) got a mowing with the Trackmaster on Wednesday....

Which provided the Hooded Birder with a chance to rake a Mega-pile. And then jump in it.

There was also a nice collection of raptors soaring near Eyebrook on the way home today too, this Red Kite was soaring alongside two Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and two Raven before the group were molested by a swarm of corvids and scattered across half of Rutland.

In all likelihood, look forward to my next blog-post in exactly a weeks time!

Edit: completely forgot to mention the two "rares" at Rutland today - the Azorean Yellow legged Gull and the Lapland Bunting.... Amy was visiting the caravan (and scoring Badger for the first time) last night so I was still at the reserve today but still managed to see neither - I did have a decent stab at the Bunting this afternoon alongside Dave Gray, the Beast and the birder only known to me as "Chris" but didn't see the little bugger. Nevermind.