Rutland Water – 23 Feb 2016

165 – Smew

Another new bird today, taking my total up to 165. Helen and I visited Rutland Water last July and I thought it was time for another visit, albeit on my own this time.

A beautiful Tuesday morning – bright and sunny with very little breeze. Just right for Birding!


A drake Smew

I knew it was going to be a good birding day as soon as I arrived; one of the first birds I saw was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. How pleasing was that!

My first port of call was to the Sandpiper Hide where I saw no fewer than three different birds of prey simultaneously! In the clear blue sky above me a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard flew circles around each other for a while, whilst a Peregrine sat on an Osprey perch mid-way out into the lagoon. Glorious!

As I made my way around the various hides I saw some wonderful birds including a hovering kestrel – my fourth raptor of the day so far, and a mid-moult Cormorant that looked particularly strange with white feathers at its throat.


However, it was when I reached the Plover Hide that things got really exciting. As soon as I looked out of one of the viewing ports I could see something new right in front of me. At first I thought I was looking at a Red Necked Grebe, but soon realised I had misidentified a female Smew. There were in fact three females showing off their lovely red heads, and further away a single male resplendent in his white livery. What a cracking bird!

Other notable birds I saw from the various hides I visited included: a magnificent Shelduck showing really well with the sun shining on it, a couple of flying Egyptian Geese, several Curlews, a beautiful Great Crested Grebe and a perfect Long Tailed Tit.

As I walked back to the car I kept my eyes peeled in the hope of seeing the Woodpecker again. Sadly no sightings, but I could occasionally hear one drumming somewhere in the distance.

As I left the reserve and headed back towards home, my wildlife sightings continued; within five minutes of each other I saw two Red Kites soaring lazily overhead, and then a Roe Deer on the verge of the A1 of all places!

Five different raptors in one quite amazing day!

Total bird species count for the day: 47

About Alan Gordon

I am a retired teacher and former RAF Musician. I live near Sheffield and enjoy taking photographs of wild birds throughout the UK.
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