29 September 2009

An away day at Rutland

Oh, it doesn't get better than this! A day off work meaning a third consecutive day's birding - what an indulgence.

So, with Draycote and Leam Valley covered on Saturday and Sunday, and everyone else in the county now squabbling over a big twitch (Aquatic Warbler in the south of the county), I decided to leave them to it and head out of the county. Having weighed up the relative merits of Slimbridge and Rutland Water (both about 90 mins away, one south west and one east) I settled on the latter in the hope of some good passage waders.

And it was pretty good from the word 'go'. I arrived to be told that four Whooper Swans had dropped in overnight, and there they were, right in front of the visitor centre. Not exactly lifers, but the one I had previously seen always seemed a bit doubtful to me, so it was good to bag four absolutely stone-dead legit birds (non-birders might be wondering how a swan can be anything less than legit - sorry, it's a long story).

Also on that first lagoon was a Black-tailed Godwit (with another five spotted in flight shortly after), a Ruff (distant views from here, much closer a little later on), plenty of Egyptian Geese, Little Egrets and Cormorants, and some Lapwing, Green Sandpipers and Redshanks here, there and everywhere.

Moving on to the next lagoon, I was ecstatic to lock straight on to an oncoming raptor - not only was it a Peregrine doing a low pass in front of the hide, but it was playing with / sparring with a Hobby as well. A real result - although I watched a Peregrine in Derby city centre just a few weeks ago, I never see enough and they must be a contender for one of my favourite birds. And as for a Hobby - I'm not actually sure I've seen one at all this year (a sad state of affairs indeed).

Elsewhere I found a small flock of Golden Plover, a male Pintail and a few Shelduck - none of them rare, but none likely to turn up on my patch too often. And to cap it all, I could add Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk to the day's sightings, meaning I had seen five raptors in all - there aren't too many days that can be said.

Bird of the day: Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus), a large white swan with a distinctive yellow wedge of colour on its black bill. A spectacular winter vistor.

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