Last year I went to Rutland Water to see osprey, but the real stars of that day were this pair of great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus, Dansk: toppet lappedykker) performing their courtship ritual.
Many birds have sophisticated courtship displays and the grebe is one of them. They paddled away from each other then turned about and paddled rapidly together:
And when they met they reared up and neck sparred after they had both reached down into the water and plucked a beak full of weed to offer as a gift to their partner.
I’d never seen this display before and paddling furiously to stay high in the water this pair put on a terrific display of mutual weed waggling.
And it seemed to pay off as they were still paired up after all the frenetic courting activity…
The ospreys were magnificent but this humble pair of grebes stole the show!
As well as the ducks in the previous post, other water birds were in abundance at Rutland including the coot (Fulica atra, Dansk – blishøne):
A coot returning to the nest to incubate its single egg
And the great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus, Dansk – toppet lappedykker):
But the one Rutland migrant I really wanted to see was the osprey (Pandion haliaetus, Dansk – fiskeørn). The osprey makes the monumental migration from sub-Saharan west Africa every year to breed in the UK and one of the locations it regularly breeds at is Rutland Water. And I wasn’t disapointed:
The osprey takes 3 weeks or so of flying time to get from west Africa to the UK and according tho the BTO can cover up to 430km in one day. It stops off en route for a couple of weeks to refuel on its way south, but only for a few days when heading north to try to arrive early at the breeding grounds. It’s a fishing eagle which plucks fish out of the water of lakes, rivers or coastal seas, but alas I wasn’t lucky enough to see one hunting. Despite the lack of hunting activity, as this was the first one I’d seen in England (I’d only ever previously seen one at Loch Garten in Scotland) this was very special indeed!
Posted in Birds of prey, Eagles, Lakes and rivers, Migrants, Rails and crakes, Rutland Water, water birds
Tagged coot, great crested grebe, migrant, osprey, Rutland Water
I like ducks because they’re often easy to find, often colourful, and therefore also relatively straightforward to identify. And I always prefer it when I know what I’m looking at.
Last April (2017 that is) I spent a really gorgeous spring day at Rutland Water which is about 45 minutes north west of Cambridge and is an enormous U shaped reservoir and nature reserve. There was lots of wildlife to see including ospreys(!) of which more in a later post. But first off I wanted to post this picture of the humble gadwall (Anas strepera, Dansk – knarand). At a distance on a dull grey winters day they can appear drab – understated even – the duck equivalent of an ‘LBJ‘. But on a bright sunny day when they reveal themselves in all their finery I think they’re really handsome birds:
A pair of gadwall – the male on the left and the female on the right
Being springtime the birds were also feeling fruity and this blackheaded gull was being a tad over ambitious when he tried to surprise his lady while she was perched on top of a narrow post:
Amorous, but ultimately unsuccessful, black headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Dansk – hættemåge) on final approach
Not surprisingly all he ended up with was somewhere to perch
A pair of tufted duck (Aythya fulligula, Dansk – troldand)
Tufted ducks are a species of diving duck which are resident here throughout the year and are relatively unfussy about their habitat, so consequently they’re fairly ubiquitous in this part of the world. They also have a prominent crest which unfortunately neither of this pair were displaying. But as with a lot of ducks, easy to see and easy to identify.