Sunday, 13 December 2015

Monthly visit to Maple Lodge and a brief clip from Mum's garden

This weekend I was off to the nearest nature reserve to my Mum's so I could go round hers afterwards and spend the night. It's been six weeks since she had major life changing surgery, and recovery seemed to be two steps forward and three steps back, but after her most recent week long stay in hospital she does finally appear to be on the mend and becoming more and more like her old self.
 I can vouch for that as she's started nagging again ! Normality resumes....
 
The nearest reserve to Mum is the wonderful private Maple Lodge in Maple Cross, Hertfordshire.
 Mum and I became members back in May after an Open Day and I've visited once a month since then. Don't get me wrong, I love my home patch, Cranford Park, and the other places that I visit regularly, but at Maple Lodge you often get the feeling it is just you and nature, and that's often the case too. Occasionally I have been completely alone on the reserve and it felt exhilarating.
Maple Lodge really is a beautiful gem of a place and I always look forward to my visits there.
 
Saturdays weather forecast wasn't great, but at Maple Lodge there are several hides to shelter you from the rain and wind so it wasn't as if I was going to be exposed to the elements like I would be at Cranford Park.
 
From the Club House Hide, there were at least 10 Shovellers a-shovelling and a pair drifted in closer for a photo call......
 
 
There was also an unusually marked male Mallard....

 
He wasn't outcast though and was mingling happily with other males and females.
 
The usual Rabbit hopped into view......

 
and one of two Great Spotted Woodpeckers refused to come out from behind one of the feeders for a better look.....

 
This was a male, and I heard the other one before I saw it. The male on the feeder shot off when he heard the other one too, so there's probably a bit of a territorial ongoing dispute over the feeder patch at the moment.
 
As always the Grey Squirrels are 100% guaranteed to be hanging around...

 
In between the drizzly rain I managed to visit all of the hides on Saturday (except the closed Long Hedge Hide) and despite the weather there were still plenty of birds to be seen.
The path parallel to the farmers field gave me views of Red Kite, Buzzard, Greylag Geese, many Blackbirds, and a large mixed flock of around c20 Long-tailed Tits, c10 Blue Tits, c10 Great Tits, 3 Goldcrests and this Treecreper below.....
 
 

 
Even though I was only about 8 feet away from the Treecreeper it was still really hard to get a good photograph. They move so fast.
 
From the path by the owl box meadow I could see a large flock of Canada Geese and amongst them was one with very different face markings to the others (bird on the right below).....

 
Another place I visit often is Kensington Gardens where the Canada Geese there often show different head markings. Normally it is because they have inter-bred with another goose species, generally a Greylag.
 
From the Lynster Hide I couldn't see the unusually marked Canada Goose, but in amongst the others gathering at the waters edge were at least three Eurasian Wigeon.....

 
There was also a good sized flock of around 25 Pied Wagtail flitting from muddy patch to muddy patch. They were hard to count and even harder to photograph but I did fleetingly think I saw a Grey Wagtail amongst them. There was also a solo Redwing feeding right at the back of the field.
 
The Greylag Geese were keeping to one end of the farmers fields and the Canada Geese were sticking to the end nearest the water, but mixing amongst the Canadas was one solo Greylag that really didn't look too good.....
 
 
It eventually came quite close to the hide and appears to be eating quite normally, but there is definitely something very wrong with it's wing.....

 
Sadly I don't think the outcome for this particular bird looks good. If it cant fly it will become prey to one of the predators. As much as I would have liked to have helped, this bird wasn't even on Maple Lodge land, it was on the farmers field and access for me would have been impossible. However I have sent this photo and the location to a local Swan sanctuary (that often rescue geese and ducks), and am awaiting to hear from them.
 
As mentioned earlier the Long Hedge Hide is closed for renovations to the entrance ramp. From the Shell Hide I could see the resident Little Egret was taking full advantage of this and was positioned almost directly by it......

 
He's that white blob on the left hand side, preening peacefully in the drizzle.
 
The mild December weather means there are still several fruiting bodies of fungi around.
These tiny 'jelly ears' are the same that I saw on my last visit, but have expanded quite a bit.

 
Again as mentioned earlier, there were several mixed flocks moving around the reserve.
Along the path going from the Woodshed to the Club House I found more Goldcrests mixing in with Blue and Great Tits. These ones were much more relaxed, and the one particular bird below sat in the same place for over four minutes and despite me desperately shoe shuffling trying to get the best angle in between the twigs, it was the overcast weather that really let me down. All of my photos were coming out in silhouette, so this one shot has been considerably lightened....

 
There was also a Chiffchaff amongst the same flock. I doubted my own sighting until Dave Simms showed me other recent entries in the Bird Sightings log.
 
Another Goldcrest just by the door to the Club House almost made me drop my camera. For one second I thought I had a Firecrest, and you can see from the pic below why I fleetingly thought that......but it was just a male Goldcrest with his end 'crest' tinged by orange which I'd seen as it had flown away.....

 
This is my second visit that I've seen a Goldcrest so near to the rear door of the Club House. This male is obviously preferring this little patch of hedge.
 
So another enjoyable monthly visit to Maple Lodge.
I cannot praise the reserve enough. It's well maintained in the name of nature. There are regular weekly work parties and if I lived nearer I would be one of them.
I always enjoy my visits here.
 
For any of my non-member local friends, I can take two visitors to the reserve on my membership. There are certain rules and regulations, but they are more common sense than anything else. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see more of Maple Lodge when I next visit in January.
 
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Briefly back to my trail cam and the problems I had with it last weekend.......it was human error. Somehow I had ducked up the settings. We tried it briefly this morning in Mum's back garden, and although it wasn't left up long enough to capture any of the garden birds drinking or bathing in the terracotta pool, and despite the trail cam being moved by Mum so she could access the bottom of the garden, it did capture the resident male Sparrowhawk flying off after an unsuccessful hunt through next doors garden.
I was actually just outside Mum's conservatory at 11.20 this morning and saw the Sprawk fly up next doors garden, across Mum's garden and down the other neighbours garden.
 
The trail cam managed to pick it up flying over the neighbours at 11.20 and 59 seconds.........

video
 
I've also been reliably informed that if you view my blog on your smart phone, the video clips aren't always compatible. However if you read my blog from your laptop or pc, the vid clips are 100% viewable.



1 comment:

  1. Delighted to hear Mum's nagging... hope it happens more often!!

    Your Mallard is like a posse of about 10 at Widewater Lagoon. They always stick together in a group and have a slightly different quack than standard Mallards. I'll try to get a pick next time I'm there. They've been there for as long as I can remember... very odd..

    Great post as usual Wendy..

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