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Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Short Visit to Hicks Lodge - on 29th October, 2019

My last blog post concerned a visit to Rutland Water on 10th October. Sadly, I'd been a bit too enthusiastic about my recovery from my earlier ills, and had overdone the physical exercise somewhat, resulting in me feeling almost as uncomfortable as I did when I left hospital at the end of July. This, to use a good old English expression, put the wind up me more than just a little, particularly when, on my wife Lindsay's recommendation, I read an article which stated that the condition for which I'd been hospitalised had a 15% mortality rate! I have, therefore, been taking it easy.

However, on 29th October I felt sufficiently recovered to have my first trip out for nearly three weeks. My chosen venue was Hicks Lodge, which is only a couple of miles (approximately 3 km) from my home.

I parked in the Oakthorpe Colliery car park, where there are bird feeders. However, these were empty when I arrived so I put out some bird seed and some peanuts, and sat and waited for quarter of an hour. The only thing to arrive was a Grey Squirrel, so I set off on foot to Hicks Lodge. 

About ten minutes into my walk I glimpsed a distant, but colourful, pair of birds flying in front of the new woodland area. I tried for a few shots, but failed. Fortunately, however, they turned and flew over the path, very much closer to me. I don't recall seeing Egyptian Geese before at Hicks Lodge.

I have always considered Egyptian Geese to be ugly, and a nuisance as they usually start breeding early in the year, often taking over the nests of other birds that have not yet returned to breed. This has been a problem at Rutland Water, where they occupy the Osprey nests.  On this occasion, however, I was struck by how splendid they looked in flight.


Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) - Hicks Lodge
Further along the path, to the west I could see the usual flock of white domestic geese on the lake. A bit further on, in a meadow, there was a mixed flock of Canada Geese and Greylag Geese. I was pleased to see that the Bar-headed Goose was still with them. I guess this bird has to have been an escapee at some time, but I think it has been on this site for over a year now.

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) with Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) - Hicks Lodge
By the main lake, I saw what I at first thought was a day-flying moth with pale wings. It seemed to settle on a nearby branch. It took a while to find it, and I found myself looking at a large caddis fly.  

caddis fly (Anabolia nervosa) - Hicks Lodge
Sadly, there was little of great interest to see by the main lake. There were a few Lapwing and Snipe around on the island, but most were sheltering from the cold wind in the vegetation on the far (leeward) side of the of the island that is nearest the hide, and I could only get very distant views.

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) (x5!) + Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) - Hicks Lodge
After about an hour and a half it was necessary for me to set back towards my car as the gates of the car park close at 16h00. 

A very distant Kestrel landed on top of a hedge-line

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Hicks Lodge
Further along the path, a Wren announced its presence by an unmissable chattering. It took a bit of spotting, however!

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Hicks Lodge
With little seen, I was back at my car somewhat earlier than anticipated so I topped up the bird seed and peanuts, and sat in my car and waited once more. This time, there was a little more action and, as well as the grey squirrel, there were several Great Tits, a Robin, a Nuthatch, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker which stayed in the distance and didn't pluck up the courage to approach the feeders due to the endless supply of dog-walkers using the car park. The only thing I photographed was a Nuthatch, and that not too successfully!

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - Oakthorpe Colliery
Bird and photography-wise it had been an unproductive afternoon, but at least it had got me out of the house and back into nature. 

This post was written over a week ago, primarily, to fill a long gap and give me something to publish having returned from a break in Dorset. I'll now be processing the photos from that break.

Thank you for dropping by