If you have visited the reserve recently the chances are you will have seen a duck or two. Our bleary-eyed WeBS volunteers recorded an incredible 27701 ducks on the October wildfowl count – a record for the reserve. Among the vast array of wildfowl currently taking advantage of perfect feeding conditions are more than 2400 Gadwall – the most ever counted at a single site in theUK. The Gadwall count amounts to more than 11% of the maximumUK population, demonstrating that Rutland Water is, by some way, the most important site in the country for this particular species.
And it’s not just Gadwall – well over 6000 Wigeon (including a single American), 6500 Tufted Ducks, 5000 Coot, 1000 Teal and almost 1000 Shoveler are currently taking advantage of an incredible macrophyte (aquatic vegetation) bloom which not only provides food for the grazers such as Wigeon and Gadwall, but also supports huge numbers of aquatic invertebrates – just what you want if you happen to be a Tufted Duck or a Shoeveler. Lower than normal water levels have exposed the macrophytes and created a feeding bonanza for the ducks.
At present the biggest flocks can be seen at various places around the reserve, but Lapwing and Wigeon hides are particularly good spots to enjoy the spectacular sight. The November wildfowl count is scheduled for next weekend so it will be interesting to see whether we can break October’s record count. Watch this space – or even better, come and enjoy this fantastic spectacle for yourself.