Peterborough Bird Club Trip Reports

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Rutland Trip Report

Rutland Water, 20 March 2005
A large group of PBC members assembled in the Egleton car park on a cold and damp Sunday morning. After being greeted by trip leaders Trevor Williams and Will Bowell (and the strange sight of a pair of Egyptian Geese sat in a tree), we then ambled down the lane towards the imposing Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre. A number of us were distracted by the hide in front of the centre and had a quick glimpse of the Tree Sparrows on the feeders and a good showing of more familiar garden feeder species.

Once in sight of the Centre we were greeted by Tim Appleton, the Reserve Manager, and ushered towards the desk where permits were purchased (its worth noting that groups and those of a certain age do get a slight discount). After buying our permits we headed off through the woods surrounding the Centre, having more views of the Tree Sparrows as they “chirped”, noisily around the many nest boxes placed around the site.

Whilst walking towards the hides the group passed a few dead trees in the middle of a field. Will happened to comment on the fact that they look good for Little Owl and with that he promptly found one. A few members weren’t convinced of course that the leaders hadn’t had this bird staked out on their pre-trip recce-ing in the early hours, but they assured us it was pure fluke!

At Tern Hide many people had their first Sand Martins of the year, as a group of five birds flew up high against the grey, cold sky; no doubt wondering why on earth they had bothered leaving Africa in the first place! A small flock Golden Plovers wielded over the islands of Lagoon 1, including some sporting the first signs of summer plumage; the black belly. Other birds present included Curlew, Dunlin, Pintail, Goldeneye and Ruddy Duck.

Surprising to some, but Oystercatchers are actually summer visitors to inland sites so to see these and Sand Martins contrasted nicely to the many winter visitors still present such as the Goldeneye and Wigeon.

After returning to the Birdwatching Centre we had lunch and a welcome hot drink. After lunch we visited the northern hides. We saw some Goldeneye displaying in Lagoon 2 together with Little Grebes in breeding plumage. The head bopping motion of the Goldeneye is always a delight to see, and at this time of year is always done with new vigour for the oncoming breeding season.

A Kingfisher was a nice find in the opposite bank; it sat preening for all to see and was a nice change to the usual flash of blue view most people get, as the bird flies away!

On our return to the car park we learned of a female Scaup on the Fishponds from Tim Appleton. Whereupon we all decamped to the Fishponds part of the reservoir, north of the village of Egleton. After quizzing some birders already there we eventually found the Scaup.

Eventually, when the bird awoke the group could examine the main identification features which made this a female Scaup. The bigger build, rounder head (no tufts of course), extensive white round the bill and the different shade of brown all stood out. Surprisingly, the Scaup blended in quite well when roosting.

After returning to the car park, details of a long-staying Great Grey Shrike in nearby Oakham were discussed and a number of the group decided to head off and try and re-locate the bird. Unfortunately, despite much scanning of the railway land it had been inhabiting in previous sightings, no views were to be had.

Despite the gloomy weather the final trip list totalled 70 species.

Peterborough Bird Club's March 2005 Rutland Trip Report
by Chris Monk