Thursday, 27 September 2012


It doesn't seem like 5minutes ago when I sat down and wrote the last blog post, but a whole week has passed!
I've been staying at Rutland a few nights this week so I've been absent from the interweb and haven't had much chance to blog! The camera stayed at home this week too so all photos in this post were taken on the Galaxy, just like last week!

As indicated last week, more island work has been undertaken this week, starting with Lagoon 7 on Tuesday. This was particularly helpful as an instructive comparison of the success of our goose-proofing of the shingle islands was to be had. To explain further, we have issues at Rutland with the geese wandering onto our nice shingle islands, shitting everywhere and causing opportunistic weeds to sprout in their thousands, ruining the potential LRP breeding habitat. To combat this, pegs have been put on the islands around the shingle, joined by string - the idea is that the string prevents the geese from having enough space to land or take off on the islands, keeping them goose free!

This a photo of one of the goose-proofed islands on Lagoon 7, the pegs and string are just about visible.

And this is the island next to it, without the goose-proofing. Can you guess which one took longer to weed!?

Today though, I joined the team from Travis Perkins that do a monthly volunteer day here. The group is made up of mostly retired civil engineers with about a million years of professional experience between them and today we tasked them with removing uneccessary Osprey screening from Manton Bay and re-installing it along the path that runs alongside Lagoon 8 towards Kingfisher Hide as unfortunately the newly planted hedge isn't thick enough to prevent people using the path from flushing everything on the lagoon.

Travis Perkins erecting some screening - a fine job they did too

A bit more animal work was undertaken this week too, this is Woody the Hebridean Lamb who was bottle-fed and in the picture is trying to decide if Samsung Galaxys are edible.....

Whilst the Dexter cattle on Lagoon 2 were in favour of some synchronised-feeding.

Lets talk a bit about birds eh? This lovely Grebe has been cruising around the North Arm all week, often giving excellent views from our workyard although I have witnessed a few idiots trespassing in an attempt to see the bird - please stop.

Black-necked Grebe
Aside from the Grebe there hasn't been a great deal of interest on the reserve (in terms of Autumn waders anyway!), the winter ducks are still trickling in and the weather patterns look great for a rare warbler at the minute, but have yet to materialise into anything better than a few Chiffchaff dotted around. Marsh Harrier sightings have tailed off this week too, although a couple of Hobby are still lingering. Lagoon 4 still has its handful of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers but the hoped-for (and desired for my county list) Pec Sand is yet to materialise. Two Raven were also over Manton Bay briefly this morning.

EDIT: completely forgot to mention the double person-tick I managed this week.

Firstly (and most importantly) I managed to life tick the Beast lurking in one of the hides on Lag4 after work one day this week - very nice to put a face to one of the blogs I read regularly. Whereas on Thursday afternoon a sighting was made of Ken Clarke, roaming the area around the new lagoons, presumably looking for something else to tax.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

First week

I've just come to the end of my first week as a Trainee Reserve Officer at Rutland and to celebrate such a momentus feat of human endurance a photographic representation of the week is in order;

Monday morning was a tame affair - just wrangling 40-odd Hebridean Sheep and injecting them with eye medicine

This was found on some Elm on Lax Hill and I'm relying on you good people (Mr Skevington, please step forward) to identify it for me as I haven't a clue!

360 Hide is now fully open to the public on Lagoon 5

But if you had visited it on Tuesday you wouldn't have seen much as our work party was on the Lagoon giving all of the islands a haircut.

Same story but Lagoon 8 on Wednesday

Where I found this track by the waters edge, prevailing opinion is Badger at the moment, not the hoped for Otter

Some reconnaissance of Eyebrooks Tern rafts was also undertaken

And finally, meet Timothy the Shield-bug who joined me on Lagoon 6 today, miles away from any Hawthorn!

Oops, just realised I've nearly written a whole post centred around Rutland Water (one of the best birding sites in the Midlands) without mentioning any birds! Haven't birded the reserve properly all week but have picked up a few bits along the way. Marsh Harriers are now being seen daily, there are certainly two "cream crowns" present and have been for some time. Wader passage has been slow this Autumn but Lagoon 4 has been good for a few Dunlin and Ringed Plover recently, along with the odd Greenshank and Green Sandpiper knocking about on the new Lagoons. Grilling the duck flotillas and Lapwing flocks are also worthwhile at the minute with a few Pintail and Golden Plover starting to trickle in. No sign of the Black-necked Grebe in the North Arm for the last few days though, not that I've been looking particularly hard for it.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

There are some days when I love my career choice...

Take today for example where I was tasked with sweeping/de-spidering/fixing all of the hides on the Egleton reserve. So, my day consisted of visiting 20+ would have been rude to not have a casual peek at what was around wouldn't it??
As a result much more stuff was seen today than during normal working days at Rutland - it seems odd to say but working at Rutland really doesn't mean you get to spend most of your day birding; most days involve working away from the hides and any birds you might see are only those that happen to call in/fly past the area you are working in.

So today I'm pleased to report 7 Dunlin on Lagoon 4 along with a similar number of Ringed Plover (including one that only had one leg), four Ruff, a single Golden Plover (first here for me this Autumn), two Green Sandpiper on the new Lagoons (one each on 5 & 7) along with the Black-necked Grebe seen from the workyard on the North Arm this afternoon. A splendid drake Mandarin was also on show in the same area. A Marsh Harrier was also over Lax Hill earlier on in the afternoon, becoming a regular sight here! No photos today though I'm afraid, the fancypants camera tends to stay at home when I'm working because I'll only go and break it otherwise! No scope either so little chance of some phone-scoped monstrosities like the old days!

On a sidenote a quest this evening to see the Cattle Egret at Kelham Bridge was abandoned due to the fact that it had been identified as a likely escapee. And I'll be damned if im county ticking an escapee, especially not with a species that has previously been declared as a nemesis (see here).

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Must be slipping...

Three of the last four posts have included a lifer so I was always going to be up against it trying to keep that ratio going!

Today I headed over to Blueberry Farm near Maidwell as I'd realised it had been about three months since I last did any birding in Northamptonshire - as I'm no longer driving to and from Uni three times a week and as Amy is summering in Sheffield I've been strangely absent from the county for a good while now!

So, off I went to Maidwell to see if I could catch up with any of the Whinchat that had been seen there recently. This was a tick of-sorts as I needed it for my Northampton list so hopes were high of finding one! Upon arrival I took the track from Hanging Houghton down into the valley and parked along the southern-most boundary of Big Lichfields (Field K on map below) where the likely Whinchat area could be scanned from the comfort of the car.

I produced this map of the site originally for my dissertation, as the one provided by Natural England is frankly useless.
p.s if anyone would like a copy of this map, don't hesitate to ask, either via the comments box or

 The target species was found immediately (x3) flitting from perch to perch but they were way off in the middle of the field....and as it's a pretty big field I had little chance of getting a decent image of one! So...I settled down for a couple of hours in the hope they would come closer whilst listening to the soothing tones of the Soton vs Man U match on ze radio. My patience was rewarded as they came closer....and closer....and closer....until they were in (sort of) photographic range;

They were literally on the cusp of flitting to a couple of perches mere feet away (one already was stupidly close, but it was obscured by vegetation) when.....a walker came past and flushed the lot back into the middle of the field! Bugger!

The walker did briefly flush them all into the same bush though, which was nice.
Eschewing another long wait for them to return I went to find some owls instead,  heading back to the site I'm visiting most at the minute, to see the soon-to-be-dispersing juveniles!


Finally, on the way home this Red-legged Partridge thanked me for not running it over by posing nicely by the side of the road;