Saturday, 14 February 2015


It was my turn to drive so Richard got to our house at 11.00 hrs and we set off on our normal route, it was very dull and cold but reasonably still wind wise. We arrived at our first Little Owl Site after about 50 minutes as part of our route had got a road closure in place, surely they could not have forgot in was a Thursday and we passed through this route??. However we headed for Little Owl Site No. 2, we had not seen a bird at this site since late August 2014, but as with all the other sites, we still monitor the site every visit out and at last today it proved we were correct in doing so as we saw a bird, hopefully not one just passing through but one of the original residents returning. We took some very quick record shots and left the bird in peace. Hopefully we will see it again over the next few weeks but again we will leave the bird to settle in. 

We carried on through the remainder of our Little Owl Sites having part of our lunch at Site 9 and the remainder at Site 12. Our end count of Little Owls being four. This proving they are less bothered  by the cold than the wind. Our count being made up as follows, 1 at Site 2, 1 at Site 5, 1 at Site 9 and 1 at Site 10. We then discussed as to where to go next and as the weather was not that good opted to go to Rutland Water rather than going on a new Little Owl Site search.

We arrived at Rutland Water at about 14.00 hrs and booked in at the Egleton Centre and met up with Tim Mackrill, one of the leading lights on the Osprey Project. Having had a quick chat regarding the return of these wonderful birds we set off towards Lagoon 3.

On arrival at Lagoon 3 we were stunned as to the water level and how it had risen, areas where we would only a few weeks ago seen waders was probably under about 600 mm of water, this could not have been through rain or snow so the Water Authority must have been pumping from the River Nene and River Welland.

Lagoon 3 was relatively low in bird numbers to other weeks and having both had a really good look over the far side of the lagoon from Shoveler Hide for both Smew and Bittern to no avail, we decided to have a look at Lagoon 2 from an adjacent hide. We visited Smew Hide and nothing much was evident so we set off to Plover Hide on Lagoon 4.

Again we saw relatively small amounts of birds but the end of the lagoon was still covered in ice, it was much cooler at Rutland Water than at home.

We then moved onto Sandpiper Hide on Lagoon 4 where we saw some Pintails and large numbers of Lapwings on the islands. 

We then headed towards Lagoon 2 and Osprey Hide. Here we saw some Goldeneye and having taken a few images a gent arrived in the hide and said a Smew just landed on the Lagoon and should be heading this way. We kept a look out with him for a while then he said it had landed near Lapwing Hide and looked as if it had gone to sleep?, so we set off towards Lapwing hide and sure enough all be it a long way out in the Lagoon slept the Smew. We managed some images but what with the distance and the poor light, we were not that successful in the results, I thought it would be worth going back to Smew Hide at the bird seemed to be drifting in that direction so we set off and it was marginally nearer but the light was getting considerably worse.

We then decided to head back to the Car Park and set off to see if we could see any more Little Owls, we retraced our steps and saw no more but had to carry out a diversion due to the Road Closure and to our delight on passing by Site No 2 saw a Barn Owl some 200 metres further down the road, what an end to a wonderful day.

Having checked on Google Earth by the time we had finished walking around and back and forwards to the hides, we had covered in excess of 3 miles.

Little Owl Site No.2.

As we still monitor the sites where we have not seen any birds for a while, we drove up to and past this site and to our delight we had a bird sat in the usual spot watching the world go by. A quick couple of shots were taken and we left the bird in peace. 

A little farther past the tree and a clearer shot of the bird. 

Little Owl Site No. 9.

Even though it was a dull and cold day the bird sat outside the nest hole, proves the point its not the cold but the wind that drives them for cover. 

Cormorant Lagoon 3, Shoveler Hide.

More of a test shot, the light was very poor and the shot was taken at ISO 2000. The distance was 275 metres.

Tufted Duck Lagoon 4, Plover Hide.

The grey appearance of the white flank has disappeared so bird getting ready for mating.

Shelduck Lagoon 4, Plover Hide,

Pair of Shelducks with a Wagtail on the ice. It was a lot colder at Rutland than at home and later on from Lapwing Hide we saw trees with hoar frost still on them.

Pintail Ducks, Lagoon 4, Sandpiper Hide.

A shot at a fair distance but with awful light, wish we could get an outing with some sun.

Mute Swans Lagoon 4, Sandpiper Hide.

Pen followed by a Cob, note all the Lapwings on the island behind them. 

Mute Swan Pen, Lagoon 4, Sandpiper Hide.

Mute Swan Cob, Lagoon 4, Sandpiper Hide.

Common Swan but very elegant with the wing feathers fluffed up. 

Coot, Lagoon 3, Bittern Hide.

This bird definitely believes Spring is around the corner, busy building its nest.

Goldeneye Duck, Lagoon 2, Osprey Hide.

Drake courtship display throwing back the head and kicking water in the air behind it with its feet.

Awful image but the best I had got, sorry.

Teal, Lagoon 3, Osprey Hide.

Pretty bird, you can see the ice on the water between the reeds.

Smew Drake, Lagoon 2, Lapwing Hide.

This is the bird we chased from Osprey Hide back to Lapwing hide. It was only when the gent told us it was asleep that we decided to move hides as the wind was blowing it away from us in Osprey Hide.

Smew Drake a bit more sideways on. 

Taken at an ISO of 2500.

Smew Lagoon 2, Smew Hide.

We moved hides as it appeared to be getting closer to this hide but by the time we got to take an image it had gone back to sleep.

This image taken at an ISO of 3200.

Unfortunately with the light it has been very difficult to get good quality images, if one of you could get us some sun we promise to try harder.

Thank you for your visit.

About Me;

Titus White:
Hi I am Richard Peglers friend Titus White, and those who follow Richards posts will understand the name and reason for it. I have been birding with Richard for 3 years and a volunteer at Rutland Water on the Osprey Project for 2 years. My early images were taken on a Nikon D80 with a 70 - 200mm lens. I updated the lens to a 70 - 300mm VR lens but still was not happy with the results. Eventually when Nikon announced the D7100 I decided to change so upgraded the camera and also invested in a Sigma 50 - 500mm lens.
I first met Richard through Arthur Costello as I was having the occasional visit from Little Owls on our land. We eventually found the Little Owls through another contact about 100 metres away. Photo's will follow on future posts.
I have recently upgraded my camera to full frame, this is a challenge I am at the moment enjoying trying to get the best out of the beast.
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