Summer Wildlife at Rutland Water

Summer Wildlife at Rutland Water

Ospreys, nightingales and Birdfair

As spring turns to summer, so the tempo of the natural world changes. Many birds and mammals will have had their young now and will be on to the hard job of raising their families in earnest. The flashy plumage, the fresh feathers, and chipper songs can fade a little as the season wears on, but this is still a great time to spot a whole range of wildlife.

In early summer, there’s still a chance to catch the gentle purring of the now rare turtledove, the haunting cry of the cuckoo or the delightful trilling of the nightingale; early mornings and dusk are best. There’s still plenty of activity in the reedbeds and woodlands, too, but alongside the dwindling songs listen out high-pitched chipping and chirping of freshly fledged chicks. You’ll see the territorial behaviour of the waders coming out, too – woe betide any bird that strays too close to an avocet family. These feisty black-and-white birds will chase off any potential threat, no matter how big or small. The ospreys, too, will be hard at work; as a rule (but not exclusively), the female will sit with the chicks on the nest, whilst the male is sent fishing as often as six times a day! The webcam will give you a close look at how tender the interactions are between these otherwise formidable birds of prey, but the best way to experience all their behaviours is through an exclusive osprey cruise. Aboard the Rutland Belle, you’ll be treated to detailed commentary from our expert staff, as well as a relaxing cruise around the reservoir, and hopefully up-close views of the birds and other species. From July onwards, you might see young birds that have recently fledged, too!

July is when the wader passage starts to hot up. Birds that have bred in the short Arctic summers will be heading back south, and mid-to-late summer is the perfect time to see big flocks of godwits, green sandpipers, and even spoonbills dropping in. Little stints, Temminck’s stints, curlew sandpipers, wood sandpipers and more might be seen now that migration has started. This is also a great time to watch the bird feeders outside of the visitor centres. You can get good views of younger birds as the parents teach them how to feed and look after themselves.

It wouldn’t be summer at Rutland Water without the annual arrival of the biggest flock of all – birders! Every August, on the third full weekend, 25,000 nature lovers, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts turn up, literally from around the world, to enjoy the international wildlife event of the year: Birdfair! The British Birdwatching Fair is over 30 years old and really is the biggest and best event of its kind, possibly in the world. With hundreds of stalls and exhibits, a host of wildlife celebrities, interesting lectures, beautiful artwork and amazing local food, Birdfair is a must for anyone wanting to be inspired by the natural world. And even better than all those reasons? Every penny raised goes towards international conservation projects – that’s over £5.5million to date.

Plan your visit

Matthew Roberts