Having seen the superb images provided by professional photographers of the long-staying drake Velvet Scoter at Eyebrook Reservoir, we just knew we had to go and see it! Eyebrook is situated within Rutland just over the Northants border and we justified our trip with a visit beforehand to Eyebrook Wild Bird Food situated in the nearby village of Great Easton to collect plenty of bird food. It was here that we met Bess, a beautiful collie pup who enjoyed plenty of cuddles and Eleanor's pockets had to be searched as we left.......just in case, as it was certainly love at first sight!!
Anyway, back to birding. Wow, what a stunning bird. It's plumage glistened in the weak winter sunshine and it really looked like smooth rich velvet. I think everyone has been captivated by this bird's beauty. It is quite difficult to adequately describe the myriad of colours which blend together in this masterpiece. You really must go and visit yourself.
On our walk to the dam we had noticed a small bird feeding station, and because of our interest and activities with our own feeding stations we checked out their feeders etc. The feeders were attractive to numerous Tree Sparrows, which in turn proved attractive to a hunting male Merlin who whizzed through looking for his lunch !
On our return to our own county we visited Wakerley Great Wood hoping for rare crossbills, but sadly we were disappointed as this vast wood was eerily quiet. Birds of note were 50+ Siskins, several Marsh Tit and Nuthatches. The most birds were located on the adjacent old airfield complex where there were large numbers of winter thrushes.
Time for lunch at the nearby café at Top Lodge, Fineshade and as ever the home-made soup was delicious. We always sit outside whilst we eat as there are always Red Kites flying low overhead, and today there were a couple of very vocal individuals, but the light was poor for photographs.
We walked the short distance to the wildlife hide and had made ourselves comfortable to watch the numerous birds on the feeders, when suddenly, chaos ......a male Sparrowhawk appeared right in front of us and gave a dramatic twist and turn as he chased the birds. We are not sure whether he caught anything before he disappeared from view. However it was obvious from the absence of the tits etc that he was still nearby and suddenly he appeared and sat on the beam supporting the feeders. He was very close, but he realised that we were in the hide and flew off. Sadly no time for a photo which was a pity as he was another stunning boy, a lovely rich orange underside complimented by a blue-grey upperside.
We just had time to look at Blatherwycke Lake before the light faded. Here we saw a Water Rail, a Kingfisher and a Barnacle Goose. There were not as many birds present here as normal, possibly as a result of nearby pheasant shooting which had been ringing out for a while.
Our final bird of the day was an adult Peregrine sheltering from the rain on a building on the outskirts of Corby.
E & N