A heavy mist blanketed the near empty roads ahead of us, a fine mist, speckling on the windscreen. The air around the car warm and muggy, even at 8am. The cool air of the air conditioning occasionally creating a mist on the outside, while clearing the inside. My first foray away from MK in a number of years was finally underway.
Breaking the Hiatus
It’s been over 2 years since I last wrote on this blog. 2 long years where I’ve suffered with my mental health; and a lack of motivation to write. I think I’ve pretty much recovered mentally now. Thankfully the constant anxiety attacks are long gone. The depression very much suppressed (although still an anvil lurking in the background if I don’t keep those daemons quashed. The motivation has slowly started to return to me. My recent walks have included the once common narration in my mind. Pre-thinking how I will write about certain events.
And so today, as Zoe, the little lady (no longer quite so little), and I were heading out on our first trip away from MK in a similar period to the hiatus, it seemed fitting to make this my first foray back into writing.
Rutland Nature Reserve
We arrived at Rutland Water Nature Reserve around 10am, apart from my local reserves I can’t remember the last nature reserve I visited (Bizarrely looking back it was while Camping at the Birdfair and would be Rutland, how odd). Masking up (how the world has changed in the years I’ve been absent), we “checked in” and started our day properly.
From the visitor centre I counted 6 Great White Egrets, amazing when you think how rare these beautiful, large white herons once were, as well as plenty of other wildfowl, herons and waders. Now I have to be honest, I wasn’t hugely fussed about the White rumped sandpiper (I didn’t see it) or anything else there to be honest, it was just great to be out, away from home once again.
That said we did head off to Lagoon 4 in search of (but again not seeing) a spoonbill. And it was an odd walk. Wandering an area Zoe and I are all too familiar with, from our Bird Fair days with BFA, it was hard to picture exactly where each marquee was. It all seems so much smaller without them.
Strange things that happened
Two odd things happened at Rutland water nature reserve.
- we saw 1 and a half dead mice, and 1 dead shrew
- I didn’t take a single photo, but did carry a scope, something I’ve not used since I tested the Opticron scope a few years back.
Lyndon Nature Reserve
Our second stop of the day was Lyndon Nature reserve, home of the Rutland Ospreys. I’ve never visited here before (well I once twitched a White-Rumped Sandpiper on the bridge at the end of the reserve), and it’s an interesting place, I imagine when we are not in a pandemic it’s a wonderful little visitor centre. The fee we paid at Rutland NR also covers Lyndon, which is great.
Still overcast, but blooming hot, we headed towards The Waderscrape hide or Shallow water hide, as the friendly, very helpful, lady in the visitor centre informed us the Osprey had been seen there today.
Dragons, Flutterby’s, and horse biters
Wandering the long path to our specified hides, it was interesting to see some of the other wildlife along the way. Brightly coloured common Blue and dull, but beautufully marked Speckled Wood butterflies, flittered around the path; Crickets or grasshoppers scratched out a violin chorus from the long grasses; Common blue damselflies performed “adult” acts in the bushes, while black tailed skimmers and Migrant hawkers patrolled the airs; rainbow eyed horsefly attempted to feast on my calves (as always). It was an interesting wander.
Arriving at wader scrape, we instantly saw our quarry, as the two remaining juvinile Osprey (the other two youngsters having already migrated off to Western Africa) perched openly, if distant, for all to see.
I’m not going to win awards (or be able to sell these on my wildlife Photography site) with my Osprey photos, but again, it was great to see.
The grey herons startling 2 water rail into their pig like squeals just topped things off perfectly, before we began our return walk to the car.
Rutland Water is an amazing, and large, man made reservoir (in case you didn’t know), and one of the benefits of the area is that there is a lot for people to do.
After our stint at the nature reserves was over, we still had plenty to see or try, the mini golf, and beach (yup there’s a beach) were shut, but the Rutland Belle was still running so we opted for a 45 minute boat ride around the lake (next summer we want to try one of the Osprey cruises, maybe I’ll get those killer photos then).
Leaving from the large car park at Whitwell, the Rutland Belle is a decent sized boat, that takes you across the lake to the church at Normanton, where you can disembark if you wish, and then back again.
The two man crew, give a great, and funny, running commentary on the water body itself, and the landmarks you can see. It’s a trip I’d recommend if you are looking for something different.
We were there in grey conditions, but the views are still beautiful, the landmarks like the church stunning. But I can imagine the warmer weather would make a slightly better trip.
Word of warning
The car park at Whitwell is huge, but busy, even on a stormy Sunday (thunder and lightening bade us farwell). A hot summers day an I imagine it would be hell to those of us who prefer a little quiet. I’d also say don’t bother with chips from the little cafe, they weren’t great, although the sausage rolls were nice.
Well, after 2 years, that wasn’t so bad, hopefully this is the resurgence of Views From an Urban Lake, and I’ll write more over the coming months and years. But if I do go quiet, please understand.