Trip reports

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

Rutland Water Nature Reserve
Great white egret - Lyn Ebbs

Sunday, 19 November 2017

It was a perfect early winter's morning, bright and cold with no wind, when 31 of us left Oxford by coach to visit the Egleton Reserve on the west side of this East Midlands reservoir.
After arriving at the Visitor Centre and obtaining our visitors' guides, most of us opted to walk the surprisingly dry northward path towards the hides overlooking Lagoon 2 and South Arm lll, where a drake American wigeon, some red-crested pochards and water rails had recently been seen. However, in these east-facing hides, we found the sun too bright to obtain good views of birds on the water, prompting some of us to move to the north-facing ones overlooking Lagoon 4. Here we had better views of fewer bird species: Egyptian geese, great-crested grebes, wigeons, teals, lapwings and cormorants, and an over-flying red kite.
When the sun had moved round a bit, we returned to the east-facing Lapwing Hide, where we eventually found the American wigeon in the large flocks of Eurasian wigeon. It was difficult to pick out, but once a few of our party had seen it, they were able to show others through their 'scopes, although it still proved hard to locate. Numbers of gadwalls, pintails, shovelers, common pochards, tufted ducks and coots formed most of the general throng, with a flotilla of red-crested pochards and a few goldeneyes towards the far shore. On the way back towards the main path, just in front of the Smew Hide, a lone great-white egret was preening, and then stepping about looking for food species. One member of our group had taken this opportunity to sketch it in its various poses. Around seven more of these bizarre looking birds were frequenting several of the lagoons further on, as were a few little egrets.
The red kite and a marsh harrier were the only raptor species we saw during our visit, and a few people saw a barn owl quartering the small meadows later in the afternoon. Wading birds were also scarce, with only curlews and common snipe logged, in addition to the lapwings. We didn't see the reported smew redhead, great northern diver and red-breasted mergansers - these latter two species were apparently located near the dam at the eastern end of the reservoir. Gull species comprised flocks of black-headed gulls, small flocks of lesser black-backed gulls, and a few herring and great backed gulls. The small passerines we saw were the usual species attracted to bird feeding stations, like the one near the Visitor Centre. It had been an interesting and enjoyable day with around 50 bird species logged.