Great White Egret
Long tailed Tit
Although it was incredibly cold and the sky refused to change from a dreary grey colour to the blue we were hoping for, we set off for Rutland Water in hope of seeing a beautiful male smew.
Firstly, we headed off for the Lapwing Hide, where thanks to the presence of other birders with fabulous scopes, we were soon watching a tiny brown duck in the distance surrounded by coots-it was a female ruddy duck! Unfortunately for ruddy duck, they have been progressively 'eradicated' over the years and my trusty bird guide says there are only about 10 females left in the UK.
A Very Distant Female Ruddy Duck
Next,we strolled down to the 'Smew Hide' where we did indeed see smew - but again, which was the theme of the day, at quite some distance. It was a beautiful bird however and we were very pleased to see it at all!
A Very Distant Male Smew
New sightings for the year included pintail, goosander and some beautiful red-crested pochard — again too far for my camera lens!
Very Distant Red-crested Pochard
I think we need a proper scope!
It was lovely to watch so many little egrets and grey heron flying in front of us. We also saw teal, lapwing, stonechat, shoveler, shelduck, goldeneye, tufted duck,wigeon, great crested grebe and rather a lot of coots!
Red-crested Pochard, Teal. Pintail and Coot
We enjoyed a lovely, if not chilly, day at WWT Welney. It was amazing how flat the world became after just about half an hour drive from home. We also knew we were getting closer as we saw more and more fields filled with swans and lapwing.
The heated hide had beautiful views over mainly whooper swans and pochard, even though the water level was quite low. We also saw an Egyptian goose and teal. From the other hides we saw a sweet stonechat, Bewick's swan and a glaucous gull.
Before our guided hare walk we enjoyed the lovely cafe overlooking fenland and bird feeders, from where we saw snipe and a beautiful kingfisher perched on a branch. We also enjoyed tea and cake-it would be rude not to!
Finishing our visit, we had an enjoyable guided hare walk, where we watched in wonder as hares ran across the field (up to speeds of 45 mph, we were told). I was incredibly fortunate to see this little fellow pop up his head and have a look at us, though I must admit once I realised he was probably attacking a hare, I had mixed feelings!
We had a fabulous day and can't wait to return - hopefully to see boxing hares next time!
Although the weather forecast looked a little grim, particularly for photography, we enjoyed an hours walk over Stanwick Lakes. As usual Dave walked the dogs whilst I looked for the bearded tit to no avail!
Mallard and Grey Squirrel
At the feeders I watched squirrels nimbly leaping from branches, in order to grab peanuts from the bird table, and the usual suspects enjoying the feast laid out for them including female pheasant, blue tit, great tit, robin and chaffinch.
After a brief return home, we set off for RSPB Nene Washes. No sooner had we parked our car, we were treated with amazing views of several short-eared owls sitting on posts and flying over the fields in front of us. Magnificent! We also saw whooper swans flying by to roost (a beautiful sight), a water rail and a hen harrier! It was just such a shame that it was such a grey, grey day for taking photographs.
Unfortunately, Dave was so engrossed in watching these beautiful birds, that he tripped over a log and face planted in the long grass. He jumped up swiftly, only to be whacked in the face by my monopod as I turned to the side to see if he was ok! Apart from that, it was a great day!
Far-Off Hen Harrier!
It was great to see so many well known faces amongst the gathered crowd, and a great start to the New Year!
Even on a gloomy, drizzly day like today, we still managed to have some lovely moments, including watching a flock of siskin flying and landing noisily in a tree right above our heads. My favourite sight was of a gorgeous little gold crest flitting around in the bushes and three little egrets hunched against the rain.
We managed to see 42 bird species in total (including the sparrows on the feeders outside my house and the red kite hastily flying over my garden).
(Great Crested grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Moorhen,
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Coot, Mallard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Gadwall, Red kite, Pheasant, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Blackbird. Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Starling, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Sisken, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, House Sparrow)
Bracket Fungus (I think)