The final part of our Easter odyssey came on the drive home from Leeds where my plotted route somehow passed through Rutland. What’s that you say? Rutland’s on the opposite side of the country from Wales? Pure coincidence my friend.
Given the season there was only ever going to be one must see species and that, of course, was the Osprey. Despite encountering them on numerous occasions and in some ridiculously intimate situations (the Florida Everglades are one of the most fantastic wildlife locations on the planet) they never get boring and I still dream of finally spotting one over the Loughor from our house. This year at Rutland the main public nest is in Manton Bay whereas we were at Egleton but with so many birds passing through optimism was high. Things took a knock however on lagoon 4 where the previously reliable perches were unexpectedly bare. Not to worry as moments later an Osprey appeared on the scene complete with Carrion Crow escort. Evasive tactics seemed to principally involve landing in the shallow water where I assume the mobbing birds did not want to venture for fear of getting their feet wet. Whatever the reasoning it clearly worked and we got some great views until a Ringed Plover provided enough distraction for the Osprey to slip away unnoticed.
Empty Osprey perches at Lagoon 4
Throughout the day we kept hoping for another Osprey sighting but alas it was not to be. That’s not to say things were quiet however. Far from it. Literally every hide we entered offered a pleasant surprise whether it be feeding Avocets, a lone Barnacle Goose, our first House Martin of the year, a very wayward Little Gull, Stock Doves, singing Sedge Warblers, lingering Goldeneye and Wigeon, Whitethroats, gazillions of Sand Martins, Egyptian Geese (how someone could call them hideous is beyond me), White Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler or our old favourite the Oystercatcher. The list simply goes on and on resulting in one of our best days birding in terms of both quantity and quality for quite some time. Of course the nature of reserves such as Rutland means that quality bird photographs are often left to the big lens brigade so nothing much on that front from myself. At least that was the case until a tip-off led us to a Wren nest located just inside one of the hide doors. We sat watching the perfectly formed nest for only a couple of minutes before a scrabbling sound at the door was soon followed by the Wren itself. A quick scan for threats was all that was needed before it flew straight into the nest, only to emerge a short while later and exit the hide this time through an open window. It’s not often you get to observe a nest at such close quarters so this was a real privilege which through the power of the internet you too can now enjoy.
Back at the entrance several feeders were attracting the usual array of woodland species along with a male Pheasant and his harem. While the former was busy charging around the place fending off invisible intruders it was left to one of the females to show off a fairly unusual talent. There can’t be many Pheasants out there to have mastered the art of using a hanging bird feeder!
Away from the birds I should perhaps also mention butterflies with Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Orange-tip being just a few of the species seen. The latter in particular is a personal favourite of mine so it was nice to get something on camera despite my exposure being a little off.
If there could be just one criticism of the day it would be the current state of the M1. Mile after mile of speed limits controlled by average speed cameras resulted in an agonising journey that seemed to stretch on for ever. Worse of all though were those drivers who sped by well above the posted limits. What do they know that I don’t or are there really that many people getting caught on a daily basis? Answers on a postcode please.