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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Goosander and a Goose - on 6th February, 2020

Sorry - couldn't resist that vaguely palindromic title for this short post!

I'd not been out birding for nearly a week, the sun was shining, and I had a couple of hours to spare, so I set off to go to nearby Hicks Lodge. I parked in Oakthorpe Colliery car park, decided to leave my wellington boots in the car as, although the path into Hicks Lodge from the car park had been very muddy on my previous visit, we'd enjoyed a spell of dryer windy weather so I was confident that conditions would be better - wrong, the path was even worse and the muddy water came over the top of my footwear! Undaunted, I continued. Without further 'beating about the bush', here's how the brief visit unfolded.

This is the bush that I didn't 'beat about' - it was a joy to see the gorse in bloom as I neared the lakes. I realise now that I'm probably thoroughly confusing my overseas readers - I'm even in danger of confusing myself!

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) - Hicks Lodge
The second small pond on my right, before I got to the main lake, held a couple of Coot. The water was sheltered and as still as a mill pond.

Coot (Fulica atra) - Hicks Lodge
Over on the main lake, I quickly spotted the Bar-headed Goose amid thr Canada Geese on the far side of the lake. This bird has been here for well-over a year now, and is considered to be'an escape'. However, I enjoy seeing it. This is the 'Goose' referred to in the title of this post.

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) - Hicks Lodge
This year I have resolved to record my wildlife sightings and report them to the appropriate  County Recorders. I counted 111 Canada Geese and 45 Lapwing. Here's a shot containing both species

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)  + Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Hicks Lodge
I spent a little time in the hide here, but to no avail, when I spotted a drake Goosander on the far side of the lake, so I trotted round the path, watching out for hazards of boisterous dogs and speeding cyclists.

This Canada Goose was OK until I stopped, but was wary and headed for the water, so I grabbed a quick shot before continuing along the path. 

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Hicks Lodge
I stopped to take some shots of the Goosander which, obligingly, cruised past at a distance of only about 50 metres,



Goosander (Mergus merganser) (male) - Hicks Lodge
My feet were reasonably dry by this time and, as I didn't fancy getting them wet and muddy again, I decided to return to my car by road. This added approximately 1 mile (1600 metres) to my journey back but was well worth it.

Back at my car, I sat and relaxed for a while, watching the birds coming to the feeders, but no worthwhile photos resulted. It was time to head home and start cooking tea.

Thank you for dropping by - again, I'm not sure what my next post will bring. Time will tell!


31 comments:

  1. A nice set of shots Richard , especially that last Goosander shot. The light is superb on the bird showing it off well.

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    1. I was rather pleased by that last Goosander shot, Marc. Most times that I see this species they are either a very long way away, or in terrible light. This time, I was lucky.

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  2. Sounds and looks like a good wander around Hicks Lodge....Hope Lindsey enjoyed the tea Richard.

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    1. It's a nice place to have relatively local to me, Pete. I'd walk to there if it didn't entail walking down a narrow road with fast-moving traffic.

      Lindsay did enjoy the tea - so much so that she requested a repeat performance for Valentine's night!

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  3. Well up to your usual standard Richard. I havn't seen a bar-headed goose for over ten years. I'm envious, Mike.

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    1. Thank you, Mike. This Bar-headed Goose, being an escape, doesn't really count - nevertheless, it's a pretty bird. I've just been looking at some shots from 2018, and I see that I got some photos of this bird there way back then! There used to be one that hung around at Rutland Water a few years ago.

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  4. Nice pics! Bar-headed geese are currently seen here in India where they are winter visitors.

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    1. I'm jealous, as yours will be proper wild birds, whereas the one I saw is almost certainly one that has escaped from captivity!

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  5. Like you, Richard, I have only ever seen Bar-headed Goose as an escape from a waterfowl collection. It is a stunning bird and I would love to see it in its native habitat. As for the gorse blooming, is it normal at this time of year, or unduly early? It would give the spirits a bit of a lift I am sure, but if it is another another example of climate-induced early bloom more than a little concerning? Hope you made good stuff for tea. Last evening ours was pretty simple, Oktoberfest sausage, sauerkraut, and potatoes sautéed with garlic and onion. Simple but delicious - and a little honey mustard with the sausage hit the spot!

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    1. It's not unknown for Gorse to bloom in January, David, but it's more usual for it to bloom in spring.

      If I remember correctly, the meal I cooked was of chicken that I stir-fried and then added dark soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sweet chilli sauce, ginger and garlic. This was served with a simple mango and coriander (cilantro in your parlance) salsa which also contained half a chopped onion, a dash of sweet chilli sauce, and a squeeze of lime juice. It's one of Lindsay's favourite dishes and she requested a repeat for Valentine's Day.

      Your meal sounds delicious, but I'm sure that Lindsay wouldn't go for it as she's now averse to processed meats in general - so no sausages, burgers, etc.. In reality, we've almost become vegetarian in the past couple of months, and I've been cooking the majority of the meals so far this year - something that I'd never have believed this time last year!

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    2. We have given up beef totally, and have cut back quite a bit on meat in general. The Oktoberfest sausages referred to above are a good size and whereas we used to have one each we now cut one in half. The meal you prepared sounds delicious.

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  6. It would be awesome to see Bar-headed Goose!

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    1. I'd love to see a wild one, Anne, but this one had almost certainly escaped from someone's collection of non-native birds!

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  7. Espectacular sesión en el Hicks Lodge, las fotos son todas espectaculares. Al Anser indicus nunca lo vi, una cita extraordinaria. Enhorabuena Richard, un abrazo desde España.

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    1. Gracias, Germán. ¡Desafortunadamente, ese Anser indicus no era salvaje, sino uno que casi seguramente había escapado de una colección de pájaros exóticos! Con mis mejores deseos de una Inglaterra fría y ventosa - ha dejado de llover ahora, ¡pero probablemente no por mucho tiempo! - - - Richard

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  8. Hi Richard
    What a collection you have made. The Goosander is beautiful and the Coot is likewise. The Bar-headed Goose must have been escape artist.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. The Bar-headed Goose might have been unhappy in its previous home if it felt the need to escape, but it seems to be very happy at Hicks Lodge with its friends the Canada Geese. My best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. Hello Richard, Love the photos of the Goosander. The Canada geese are wonderful. The Bar-headed Goose, like manny other birds that are escaped is a problem. I don not know what to think of it. We humans are messing things up a lot. Plants, animals and birds we all want to own it. With some devistating results.
    Your tea recepy sounds verry good. Take care.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Hi, Roos. Thank you for your kind comments. I think that many of the 'escaped' and 'introduced' birds (and other forms of wildlife, including plants) had their origins in days before people realised that the consequences of bringing in non-native stock could be so destructive to the environment. Sadly, but also fortunately, this Bar-headed Goose is unlikely to find another of its kind to mate with - we just have to hope that it doesn't decide to cross-breed with its friends the Canada Geese, in which case that will be the start of another problem.

      Even though I say it myself, that meal was rather delicious!

      Take great care, and have a good week - - - Richard

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  10. Your relatively short visit certainly paid off!

    The fact that the Bar-headed Goose is an escape doesn't detract from its beauty at all. The coot is familiar to us as the American Coot (Fulica americana) is very similar.

    Outstanding photographs of the Goosander! Totally worth putting up with wet feet.

    Now I must hurry to the kitchen as you and David have made me ravenous.

    Gini and I wish you and Lindsay all the best for this weekend and beyond!

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    1. You're just as guilty as David or me, Wally, with your recent mention of currywurst! At least it only sent you to the kitchen, whereas I now feel the need to head to Köln Hauptbahnhof.

      My very best wishes to you and Gini - take good care - - - Richard

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  11. Hello Richard
    great summary, the pictures and perspective of the goosander are particularly beautiful ... and everything without wet feet .. ;-))
    Regards Frank

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    1. Thank you, Frank. My boots are still muddy from that session - must clean them up a bit!

      My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. A very nice report, Richard. Greetings from Asturias.

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    1. Thank you, Belén. I would love to return to your part of Spain, as Asturias is probably my favourite region there! With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  13. Hello Richard,
    due to the many storms and rain in the Netherlands we are unable to take photos at all. If the weather is already dry, I am working and cannot just take time off.
    I enjoy your photos of the geese amar the nicest I think is photo 8 of the big merganser! Beautiful is that!

    Think carefully about yourself and be careful.
    Greetings, Helma

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    1. Hello, Helma!

      I fully sympathise with your problem with the storms, particularly as you have to work and cannot always take advantage of the few fine days that we have had this year. We are having similar weather here, and it is very frustrating. Fortunately I live in an area which is not subject to flooding, but many people in UK have had major problems with floods and have had to leave their homes.

      Take good care, and stay safe - - - Richard

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  14. Hi Richard, sorry I seem to have missed this post. Love the photos particularly the Bar-headed Goose, a bird I have never seen.
    The weather here has been rubbish and we seem to have had a lot on. Despite that I have been trying not to miss any posts but yours certainly escaped me! The mud around is a real pain, and although I have been trying to fit in walks it has not been easy. Also no worthwhile sightings of anything to photograph.
    Best wishes to you both, keep dry, Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane, and sorry for the late reply. We've been away, as explained more fully in my comment on your blog.

      Take great care, and keep well - - - Richard

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  15. Hello Richard, hope you are ok? I am a bit worried sinds this post is from last month.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you for your concern, Roos. We're fine, thank you, but just a bit frustrated, as I explained more fully in my comment on your excellent blog post.

      Take very good care, and stay well in these difficult times - - - Richard

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