This week Bev and I had decided to go for a short break away to Rutland. Rutland is the England's smallest county and at it's heart is the large Reservoir and associated nature reserves of Rutland Water. We have visited Rutland a number of times in the past to visit the British Birdwatching fair but had never been outside of the event weekend so the prospect of visiting the reserves at a quieter time was rather appealing. Anyway enough of my prattle, hear is how things panned out...
Sunday 12th May - Ketton Quarry NR:
On the day of our arrival we decided to visit a small Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust reserve called Ketton Quarry. The reserve lies just a few miles south of Stamford and is a former quarried area that has regenerated and is managed as a nature reserve. It is a known site for a good mix of butterflies and moths and also holds a population of Adders.
On our arrival to the quarry we were greeted by the unmistakable sound of a singing Nightingale, something I wasn't expecting at this site but I have since found out that they do indeed occur there. Warblers were present and singing in numbers with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler all noted. A cracking Red Kite was also seen as it circled low over the wooded area.
We didn't fair as well we had hoped to with the butterflies and moths as the weather turned whilst we were there and the heavens opened up. Still we managed a single Common Carpet moth and 1 perched Grizzled Skipper which was found by the only other person mad enough to be out there in such dire conditions. Still it was an interesting reserve with some good habitat, so I pencilled in a return visit.
Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)
Monday 13th May - Rutland Water:
We spent a large part of the day time today at the Egleton Reserve at Rutland Water. Here a fantastic network of lagoons have been created with numerous hides to view the wide variety of bird life present.
Waders were present in good numbers with the following species observed: Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greenshank, Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Sanderling.
There were huge numbers of hirrundines present over the lagoons with House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows present over the water. They were also joined in number by many of the similar looking yet non related Swifts.
Warblers were again everywhere and today we enjoyed good views of both Reed and Sedge Warbler. The Lesser Whitethroat that was continually singing near the Harrier hide was less obliging though and we were unable to get a decent view of the little skulker!
The undoubted highlight for me though was seeing 2 Hobbys hawking over Lagoon 3 amongst the Swifts. These summer visiting raptors are one of my favourite birds and I never tire of watching their displays of aerial agility. Also of note were many Common Terns, a Little Egret and a Yellow Wagtail.
Wednesday 15th May - Rutland Water:
This morning we started our day by visiting Rutland Water's other main reserve, The Lyndon Reserve. On arrival we decided to walk down to the Shallow Water hide to view the nesting Ospreys. On the way down we were treated to cracking views of a Brown Hare in the adjacent field. At the hide we were treated to great views of 2 Ospreys. The female was on the nest and the male spent most of his time sat on the grass bank opposite. Occasionally flying up to see off the odd gull. Unfortunately I forgot my compact camera so was unable to digiscope any Osprey shots
Also of interest here was a Great Crested Grebe that was nesting near the hide, with it's mate never too far away bringing various twigs/vegetation to please it's other half. Also showing well were a pair of Egyptian Geese. A number of hirrundines which would occasionally perch up on the part submerged fence line.
Back at the Lyndon Reserve visitor centre we were treated to seeing 4 Tree Sparrows on the feeding station.
From Lyndon we headed back over to Egleton for a couple of hours. Highlights this time included seeing a stunning summer plumage adult Ruff and a drake Greater Scaup.
Great Crested Grebe
Sand Martins & Swallow
♂ Greater Scaup
Thursday 16th May - Ketton Quarry NR:
This was the last day of our short break and as it was sunny we decided to pay a return visit to Ketton Quarry, it didn't disappoint. Day flying moths were everywhere with Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Carpet and Common Heath all being recorded.
A number of butterflies were also on the wing but we only saw one very flighty Grizzled Skipper. That said ♂ Brimstone, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood were also observed.
The undoubted highlight though was seeing two Adders on one of the banks. Initially I observed the small rather gorgeous blue/grey male Adder cross a clearing only to disappear under the vegetation. Some time later whilst scanning the same area I picked up the larger olive brown female Adder slithering towards the clearing. On clocking me and Bev it stopped for a while just watching us. We remained still and eventually she came out to bask. What a great way to end a great holiday!
♂ Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)
Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia)