Over the past few days myself, Bev and her sister Natalie have been up at Rutland Water for the British Birdwatching fair.
Thursday 16th August
We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and spent some time mooching around Oakham before going to our accommodation. On the evening we decided to nip down the road to Manton bridge to get our first view of Rutlands Ospreys. We were treated to great views of 4 Ospreys (2 adult and 2 juv).
Friday 17th August
Friday saw us spend our first full day at the fair and was primarily taken up by mooching around various marques looking at various books, optics, equipment etc. I tend to avoid the birding/wildlife holiday stalls as I haven't got the saft money that they ask for guided holidays.
We also took in a couple of interesting talks today by Simon King and Dave Lindo (The Urban Birder). On the evening we went to the enjoyable celebrity lecture by Bill Oddie and Stephen Moss.
Saturday 18th August
On getting out of the car I heard the familiar call of flyover Yellow Wagtail. I looked up to see 2 Yellow Wagtails overhead. A good start to the day!
Today consisted of more looking around the marques. At one point I decided to take a breather from the fair and have a look at the inverts in the wildflower areas near the Anglian Water centre. Whilst going through the gate towards the ponds I noticed that tv wildlife man Johnny Kingdom was coming towards me with a group of kids that he had just taken out on a wildlife safari. I duelly opened the gate for them to pass at which point Johnny looked at me, shook my hand and said in his broad accent "alright mate"....what a pleasant man!
We spent a few hours in the afternoon on the reserve itself. On lagoon 4 we had views of a single Black Tern and a Hobby. Also of interest were 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper. We also noted 4 Ringed Plovers, 4 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck and 9 Little Egret.
It was a really hot sunny day and the inverts were very active. We recorded the following species of butterfly: Brimstone, Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Small Skipper, Red Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown & Gatekeeper.
Odonata recorded were Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Southern Hawker, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly.
A White Ermine moth caterpillar was also noted along one of the tracks.
White Ermine Larvae
Sunday 19th August
On the morning of our final day at the birdfair we decided to pay a visit to the Lyndon Reserve which is situated on a different part of the reservoir to the fair. At the visitors centre we watched 6 Tree Sparrows using the feeding station. A welcome sight as they are no longer seen at the feeding station next to the Anglian Water Visitors Centre at Egleton
At the "shallow water hide" we had great views of the 4 Manton Bay Ospreys (2 juvs) and were even treated to a visiting Osprey that dropped in for a while. It is thought that, due to the colour of its ring, the bird was one of the Welsh Ospreys from Aberdovey that had stopped off during it's migration.
Also of interest here were the good numbers of Common Tern that were performing over the water.
Mid-late afternoon was spent again at the fair buying, in my case, more natural history books and picking up more freebies (well it would be rude not too!). Talking of freebies, by the end of the weekend I had acquired 5 lens cloths, 3 notepads, 5 packs of wildflower seed, a carabiner, 3 hand magnifiers and many biros to name but a few.
So there you have it...a busy but enjoyable weekend at the Birdfair. If you've never been to the British Birdwatching Fair you should try it one year.... you never know, you may enjoy it.