Tuesday, 10 January 2012

From sunrise to sunset

I was a mite over-eager this morning, arriving at Eyebrook a full 30 minutes before it was light enough to see any birds. Unbeknownst to me this would work out in my favour for the first target bird of the day: the returning Green winged Teal that was just gagging to get onto my year list. Anyway as it was still dark I drove around to the Stoke Dry carpark to waste time more than anything else and was delighted to find the Teal almost straightaway once it was light enough to see things.

 With crappy light-starved record shots in the bag I turned to the gargantuan task of trying to pick the single drake Smew out of the literal thousands of other birds on the water. I was immediately drawn to a small mixed group of ducks about 80 yards away that were doing that thing that ducks do where they all pile into one tiny spot and feed in a frenzied sort of fashion. The Smew wasn't present but I must have been looking for approximately 3 seconds when it flew into the centre of the group and started feeding. Win! This allowed me to relax with both target birds in the bag and have a peek at what was visiting the feeders in the car park:

I soon moved onto my next stop: the Fishermans car park on the Hambleton Peninsular where I didnt see the Long tailed Duck and then onto the Old Hall area where I didn't see the Snow Bunting but did manage to pick out a few Scaup snoozing with the Tufted Ducks and couldn't resist taking a terrible phonescoped image of them:

Or when this monstrosity walked within range of the new camera, had to be done im afraid:

With time as always at a premium at Rutland I gave in with the Bunting (we did see a flock of 80 last week in Norfolk!) and headed over to the Egleton reserve. Ah, Egleton Reserve, how i've missed you. It must have been over 2 months since my last visit and that is frankly uncouth behaviour! So off I went straight to Lagoon 3, only stopping off briefly at Osprey Hide on Lagoon 2 to bag a Green Sandpiper.
Lagoon 3 was pretty productive with one of these ridiculously close to the hide:

Along with plenty of ducks, the best of which being 3 redhead Smew which sadly were out of effective camera range. These Gadwall came just about close enough though:

The bird I most wanted to see at Rutland today hadn't shown itself yet though... the Jack Snipe! Jack's are notoriously difficult to see and having only ever seen one other I was keen to see this one after it had been reported with some regularity from Shoveler Hide recently. After a good while spent grilling the nearest islands several Snipe sp. could be just about seen hunkered down in the vegetation, asleep. One by one they shifted or moved to reveal Common Snipe, damn!

I decided to take a break from all the excitement and took a stroll down to Smew Hide where this Mute Swan was just begging to be photographed:

Well, that was until this chap turned up and stole my attention away!

damned twig!
Once the Kingfisher relocated over to the other side of the Lagoon I carried on down to Lapwing Hide, now re-open, and feasted my ocular devices on an enormous Golden Plover flock, mixed in with about 30 Dunlin and several hundred Lapwing.

Walking back past Shoveler hide I resolved to give the Jack Snipe another go and it paid off almost immediately! A movement caught my eye and it transpired to be the Jack doing its trademark hopping routine in amongst the Snipe I had been grilling earlier! The problem was that with the extensive vegetation only a small part of the bird was visible at any one time - a bit like LEO watching! And thus that made getting an image of the bird rather challenging. Behold:

There is a crappily drawn red circle, honest. In the middle was........

Eventually the little scamp bobbed out of sight and as time was getting on I hightailed it back to the visitors centre and over towards Lax Hill, bagging a Treecreeper, two Curlew and the 4 long staying Bewicks Swans on the way.

Nothing else was new for the day until Robin Hide when unbelievingly my first Pheasants of the day were under the feeders and a Marsh Tit flitted around in the bushes:

But the best was saved for last as I walked back in the gathering gloom, hoping for a Tawny Owl encounter if im honest but I certainly wasn't complaining when this Short eared Owl was hunting over Lax Hill in the twilight:

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