Alright me duck


I was born in Leicester! It's my home town in a way even though I have few connections now. I support the mighty Foxes Leicester City, one of my first records was Showaddywaddy and I've sat in Danial Lambert's Chair not to mention going up Old John a fare few times. With that in mind I happened to be passing Rutland Water NT. It's one of the big boys in the Nature Reserve world. I had to pop in. Now a few of you will be saying "But Rutland Water is in the county of Rutland and not Leicestershire". This is true however it was for a short period amalgamated into Leicestershire and it's close enough.

With that controversial bombshell in mind I parked up, payed my dues and began. I had high hopes. It started well with a nice Great White Egret flyby.

There are a lot of very well made and well placed hides all over the place. I spent the day dobbing in and out pretty much all of them. This one had a Kestrel on it!

Unfortunately due to the time of year that was pretty much it. The only thing I saw of note was a nice flock of Golden Plovers nervously trying to find a feeding patch.

This Heron did manage to amuse me with a nice flyby. The light was very flat so most of my pics are pretty poor!

What no Ospreys??

I had a chat with a few people around including two guys from Coalville who all told of interesting stuff like Marsh Harriers and Bitterns which all just passed through so were well gone just like the Ospreys.

Who needs fishing Ospreys when you have a Coot!

This Hide looked amazing when I walked in. I had to take a snap
You can see more non birding snaps over on our other blog manualfocusuk.com

The sun did come out for a bit and these three Mute Swans were the only entertainment

Egyptian Goose

That Great White Egret again

Birds were getting a bit thin on the ground so..........

At last something interesting. An upside down Greater Spotted Woodpecker

So after all that there was precious little to see. The sightings list did mention a Smew but no one else saw it that day. Don't get me wrong this is a fantastic reserve. I'm definitely coming back another time when it starts getting interesting again.

Part two: These are not the birds you are looking for.

Later in the week I had to pass through Lincolnshire along the A15. Unbeknownst to me I drove right passed RAF Scampton, home to the Red Arrows. (Thanks Robin M for the confirmation) Blow me if they weren't having a bit of a practice right over me. I spent about half an hour in a lay bye with arctics roaring passed snapping the Arrows as they flew right down the A15. It was brilliant

Here they come!


Flying behind their own smoke trail as they did a complete circle of white

And so back to the mess for lashings of ginger beer and crumpets

Ten minutes later I texted Robin, who knows this stuff, "I'm standing next to XM607". They reply was "A Vulcan and your at RAF Waddington". Damn he's good. They were relaying the runway so not a lot was happening. Three AWACS's were sitting ominously far off by the hangers.

What a great and unexpected opportunity to bag me a few Red Arrows. Amazing stuff!


In Hot Water


A beautiful example of a thermos

The weather forecast wasnt great.  But there was a glimmer of hope.  A bit of sun was forecast for the morning.  So I grabbed the opportunity and went out to Greylake.

I haven't been here for a while.  Its very much a winter destination (in the summer, its a field with some cows in it)

I arrived at the car park and watched some Reed buntings on the feeding platforms.  However I will not put any pictures of them below because:

a) They were in the shade
b) It has been done to death

So instead I decided to take some shots of these rarities as I strolled to the hide.

Yes I know you can see them in your back garden but the sun was out.  I had to take photos of something!

At the hide I noticed the camouflaged outline of Robin Morrison.  Eyes pointed down the lens he casually mentioned a Stonechat on a post.  BLOODY HELL!! Hes a good photographer and all, but how did he know it was me!?  The force is indeed strong in this one.

Luckily it soon became apparent that Robin isn't a Jedi, he had assumed I was someone else.  He then seemed slightly amazed that I had missed 30 odd bugelling Cranes... I had.  No doubt I was to engrossed with bloody Blue tits near the carpark.

As we were chatting a triple combo of Marsh Harriers were flying about in the distance.

3 Marsh harriers

The ducks didnt really care, knowing full well that Marsh harriers never catch anything (I think they eat grass).  Needless to say they didnt decide to come very close (they never do).

Even further off in the distance a Peregrine sat on a dead tree.  Standing sentinel (or maybe just sleeping).  I really needed him to get off his arse and splat a duck...

Fortunately I didn't need to worry.  All the ducks took off by themselves.  No idea what caused it.  The all panicked and flapped about for a minute or so.

Ahhh... This is why I go to Greylake :-)

Then Steve Balcombe joined in (not with the ducks).  Both he and Robin entered into unfathomable Canon camera talk.  7ds, mark 2s and so on.  Even though Andrew has explained it to me I still have no idea about the Canon system of whats more decent than something else.  Why dont they just say 1 is a bit rubbish and work up from there?

Anyway I thought I would leave them to it and take  picture of this wagtail (he was desperate to be on film).

 Its hard to get a picture of a Wagtail doing something interesting

Soon the conversation moved on from Canon cameras to thermos flasks (at this point Robin had noticed that I was processing everything, taking it all in for the blog).  Now here it is, processed, and output :-)

Now according to Steve there are thermos flasks and real thermos flasks.  Robin meanwhile had a rubber coated thermos, which he was very fond of until it got stolen from this very hide.  Sadly I was without a thermos, but have not developed thermos envy.  Perhaps as winter draws in I might suffer from it?

All the talk of hot water had reminded me just how freezing the weather had got.  The wind was getting up and the sun was loosing against the clouds.

Just before heading off I took a quick picture of this Snipe (which is actually 3 Snipe).

 It like Wheres Wally

Robin had given up a few minutes before (there were tears in his eyes, he loved that thermos and it was all flooding back).

I said my farewells to Steve and wandered back.

This strange man was stood on a gatepost (the thermos had driven him mad)

There were some serious flocks of Lapwing mixed in the a good lump of Golden Plover.  Truly spectacular.  Sadly the light had gone but it was still great to see them over head.

I was going to head up with Robin to a viewing screen closer to the action.  But...

a) I was frozen
b) All I could think about was a cup, a teabag, some milk and... hot water