Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Where's the Bike when You need it? Saturday 27th feb' cont'd

So on returning to Exeter Youth Hostel via the river cycle path, found the hostel closed and the plan had been to cycle to Powderham and then onto Dawlish Warren. Well, not giving up i walked instead to exminster marshes and eventually cicumnavigated the RSPB reserve there. Also got as far as the brent geese flock at Powderham and found the red-breasted goose [144]. Lucky really as I'd just met a lovely couple [Malcolm and Sylvia from Launceston, Cornwall] who were looking for the bird and we'd just swopped phone numbers in case one of us did find it. Well just as I approached the brent geese flock in a field next to the sea wall path, I saw the red-breast and almost immediately a dog chased into the flock and over the railway line they all flew to the far side of the field. When malcolm and Sylvia arrived the flock was still a good distance away and the red-breast was not on view. Then, after about an hour, another group of brents flew in that had been hidden by the railway embankment and there it was. good views for all and a good one for my bird list this year. The 4th one I've ever seen, my first being at Slimbridge many Moons ago.

Walked back to Exeter Youth Hostel, seeing a couple of little egrets and the 5th kingfisher of the day on the way.

Decided that I'd better make some progress tomorrow despite the weather forecast so booked Sunday night at Bellever Youth Hostel on dartmoor. Could be an interesting day!

Wet and Windy Saturday 27th feb' Biking Birder now in Exeter

 Well I was going to call this 'wet and dry' but yesterday was such a gale that the more appropriate title is above. So, many thanks to the team at Radipole/Lodmoor RSPB reserve for the welcome and accommodation. Good luck to Steve on his move to Geltsdale for the Summer. Good luck also to the RSPB with their aim of a 3% carbon cut in 2010. have a look on Google for the 10:10 carbon cut campaign from thr Age of Stupid people.

Thursday - a quick look at Ferrybridge [16 med' gulls] and Portland Harbour [9 black-necked grebes] before cycling to Abbotsbury for lunch [pate, bananas and hot cross buns] and Lyme Regis for delicious Dorset cake and custard, as well as 14 beautiful purple sandpipers tucked in on the fisherman cottages wall on the Cobb. [143 birds year list now]. It had been heavy rain most of the way and even some time in the clouds just past Abbotsbury. Got to Beer and found the Youth Hostel.

Next day entirely different and the brightness of the sun, unseen for days, was actually hurting my eyes! Went to the entrance of Beer caves which look similar in structure to Tilly Whim caves at Durlston [not that I've ever been inside those!] and other caves at Winspit; both the latter near Swanage Dorset. A large pig farm had hundreds of gulls, corvids and a good-sized flock of lapwings and these gave me an excuse to have a rest as the westerly wind was strong enough to stop me cycling.

Lunch on the extensive Aylesbeare Common RSPB reserve and only 2 birds found on the deck; a 'small' reed bunting that I tried to string into something better and a goldcrest. Otherwise a buzzard flew over and everything else was being kept down because of the gale. Cycled around to Venn Ottery RSPB reserve and similar birds here i.e. none.

Down to Bowling Green marsh, now a couple of days ahead of my schedule but with the coming Sunday's forecast being for one of the worst storms in years, feel that I need to have a 'cushion day' available. Well it's also the final Villa versus the **** in the Carling Cup Final. Please let us beat them. the dignity of Martin O'Neill versus the pathetic diatribe of the foul Fergie. Not that I'm biased but when will the FA do something to bring football back from 'cheats' thugs and foul language? I'm off on one but I would dearly love to see the beautiful game beautiful.

I digress.

Tide rising out on the Exe so waders arriving during the sunny afternoon spent in the hide. C.100 avocets flying around, sim' and more bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits, redshank and curlew with just 2 dunlin. 1 little egret, 1 pr of pintail, 7 redwing and c.250 wigeon. 3 pochard, a few tufted duck. Lovely to be having a relaxing birding time. 2 godwits were in summer plumage too.

Found the excellent youth hostel and met some of the teenagers who were on their way to take part in the South West Cross Country challenge races at Truro. Lovely, polite and interesting young adults who sat and watch france beat Wales in the Six nations rugby match.

Saturday - walked along the river walk to Exeter Cathedral, getting a soaking on the way but enjoying 2 kingfishers that allowed close views. An hour to look around the cathedral, after paying my £5 to get in.

One final thought. After having met 2 dog walkers who actually were carrying their dog's pooh. Why do some of the same throw the pooh bag into the hedges?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Wednesday 24th February Weymouth Reserves and Hotmail Trouble.

First - thanks to Hayley, Rhys and mark at ASDA in Weymouth. I've been having a bit of trouble getting in at supermarkets, won't name them - ASDA at portsmouth for instance, Tesco Express in Chichester [I'm not bitter!] due to the bike. Here though these 3 wonderful people were fantastically helpful. Thanks and hope you get the credit you sdeserve. THANKS!!!

Now before I get to the trip news a word of warning and apology. My email address - strobble etc, has been hijacked by someone advertising a phone. I've been told that the emails that this person has sent contains a virus. All of contacts have been deleted otherwise I would have got in touch with all of you to say - IT WASN'T ME. Any advice on what I can do please get in touch. I'm setting up a new email account. I'll put the address on here when I've done it.

OK back to the story - Sunday got to Swanage after 2 days rest. Great to see Perry, wife of the late Gordon of Fair Isle and great bustard fame. Told her about last week's events with the stuffed Fair Isle bird. She was thrilled that it was still around. Also saw a fabulous friend, Pete who put me up in his caravan that night. His slideshow of bird photos he'd taken on Lesvos last year contained some great images, especially of flying squaccos.

An early morning cycle to Middlebeare via the back road to Corfe castle from Swanage on Monday, arriving at Middlebeare a group of young sica deer came very close being very curious of a man on a bike. From the  hide the tide was coming in well and 8 spoonbill and hundreds of waders were on view. Avocet, black-tailed godwit, grey plover, know and dunlin were the most common with a few redshank and curlew. The best however were 10 bar-tailed godwits, including a bird in full summer plumage. When I used to bird at Middlebear a lot 6 years ago and more, bar-tailed were very rare here. Thanks to 3 Salisbury-Ringwood birders who gave some money as donations into the pot on the front of my bike. Thanks lads.

To Arne, met Mark the warden and various other workers, brilliant enthusistic people all. Cycled down to Shipstal Point and just couldn't make the very distant duck out in Poole Harbour in the probable long-tailed duck that had been reported. A closer black-necked grebe was easier, as were 6 red-breasted mergansers. Up on the viewpoint a very close male hen harrier comes close to being the best birding moment of the year so far. Fabulous bird and so close. A dartford warbler buzzed and came close too. Down towards Shipstall hide a group of Sica were feeding out on the marsh and the shelduck, wigeon, pintail etc settled down after the harrier flyover. Back towards the centre a large group of sicas jumped the barbed wire fence, around 40 animals and another larger group wer mostly static in a field adjacent to the main path.

Puncture! Won't embarass myself by going into all of the details on how I eventually fixed it but let's just say it took 2 hours!

A lovely ride on the rejuvenated bike to Weymouth and easily found WILTON GUEST HOUSE, where Craig and Claire had offered accommodation for the next two nights. A beautiful B & B in the centre of Weymouth and Craig's chilli concarne was also gratefully received. It's been tough on the finances the last 2 months because the weather has been so bad and most of the Youth Hostels contacted have been shut. So a million thanks to them, and I will find those promised Villa programmes Craig.

Tuesday 23rd - off to Westfield Art College, Weymouth. What a wonderful school; MLD children and brilliant staff. had a wonderful morning extended because the next school that i was going to visit was closed due to a broken boiler. An assembly with the children then a tour with 'Gladys and Betty' then a chat with a class and email sent to 'my' school in Worcestershire - Rigby Hall Special School, Bromsgrove. I hopt the link between schools will be maintained.

Off to Radipole Primary School and 2 exciting sessions with 2 year 5 classes. These school visits contiue to be a major highlight of the trip. Wonderful to see the eco work and commitment. Thanks to both schools, staff and children for allowing me the privilidge of visiting.

Cycle past Lodmoor and down to Radipole to see the hooded merganser, now a beautiful adult and quite close with a group of tufted duck. Can't count it as doubt over origins but good to see anyway. On the car park were 14 med' gulls of various ages, mostly 1st year birds or adults; with some some posturing by the latter. Met Dave Chown, the local gull expert who said that there are around 300 meds around Weymouth.

Thanks to Nigel at Halford's in Weymouth for his help with the bike and advice. THANKS!

Wednesday 24th February - met Nick Quintrell, one of Radipole's wardens and together we went around a strangely mostly birdless reserve. Exceedingly few birds but interesting chat with a smashing birdy bloke. Noisy cetti's and a single water rail call heard, the hooded merganser seen again and also seen flying.

Photographed very speedily by a local paper - the Dorset Echo. Then interviewed on the phone by the same paper.

Cycled like the wind, well it was behind me, to lodmoor and once again walked aorund the whole reserve with nick. A spoonbill and a kingfisher were highlights here but once again a lack of duck apparent.

Back to Radipole, a bit slower now as the wind was hitting my face. 7 1st year meds on the car park.

Problems as said with the emails meant that a couple of hours was spent trying to sort it then decided to cycle in the heavy rain to Ferrybridge. Along the superb cycle path, the Rodwell way and almost no birds once getting there. So cycled on to Portland and down to a surging sea at the Bill. Photos and kittiwakes, loved the violence of the sea and the beauty of the gulls riding the wind. 3 shags going past makes the year list now 142.

Called in at Portland Bird Obs but Martin cade not there. Paid my respects at the Peter Cowdray memorial on the wall of the lighthouse then cycled back to Weymouth.

Another great day. Another opportunity to meet the amazing RSPB volunteers who no matter what the weather get in where it's cold and wet to do the conservation work necessary. Good luck to all of them.

Buns and bed!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thursday 18th February Rain to Snow - rest period 2

Out to Garston Wood in Wiltshire, reached via the back roads htrough rain varying from drizzle to downpour with slaphead hurting hail.

Met a lovely OAP couple, Lois and Sheila whose front and back gardens are totally taken up by a fabulous selection of windmills. All of them are made from recycling practically anything and I had to photograph them and have a natter. Bycycle wheels, Snoopy toys, plastic bottles, United football action figures, cats [!], balls making a brilliantly creative scene. I wonder what the neighbours think. If you want to see them then go to Bishopstone on the minor road off the Salisbury to Blandford Forum main road and they'll be on your right.

Another excuse for a rest was for another natter with a local. This time with Wes, a trout farm owner who told of blackbirds taking his young fish.

Two young ladies at a bus stop warned of a coming hill. "You won't cycle up that," one said. She wasn't kidding yet the ride down the other side was worth the climb.

Garston Woods, lacking the soon to be there bluebells but there were closed up flowers of lesser celandine; the first I've seen this year. Also my first daffodils in flower away from a garden. Sad to see a dead sheep in the field opposite. Looked as though it died giving birth to a lamb. Took photos of the RSPB noticeboards and went for a walk along a section of conifer next to deciduous trees. Can't wait for the Spring to bring woods into their own for at the moment, with this weather, things are quiet. Mind you I love trees and here there's a beautiful selection. Down in the southern corner a worker was coppicing hazel but as it was downhill and the rain was particularly heavy I cycled past on the way to Wimbourne.

Next stop was at a place where I'd hitched to in order to see breeding Montagu's harriers 30 years ago. High on a hill, along one of the best Roman roads I know I remember being there on a very hot sunny Summer's day to see the pair with, if I remember right, 2 flying youngsters. I met the gamekeeper whilst there then who had helped protect the birds. Wonder if they still breed in the area?

To Wimbourne and into the Minster. Impressive tombs and 'Moses'. The chained library was closed unfortunately until April.

Now every few weeks I return to Warwick to see family, catch up with the post and basically collapse. So a train was caught from Poole in Dorset and I'll be returning there on Sunday to carry on with the journey. Rain to snow, just north of Banbury the scenery became white and picturesque.

Home. Warwick. Mum and Dad and phone call from my son, Joshua, whose 23 tomorrow. Happy birthday son. I Love You!!!

A letter from Bill Oddie. A lovely letter saying that he was off for a holiday to Guatamala and that he'd been keeping up with my blog. He wishes me success and will be sponsoring me so much a bird. He also said how much he loved birding at Upton Warren in the '60s; "rarely saw another birder!" Maybe I should say here that one of the big motivations for what I'm doing is to find my own birds and Bill's philosophy, mentioned so often in his autobiographies, on doing so helped formulate the idea. Thanks Bill for the ltter. means a lot to me.

My pannier cover has not been found. Thanks Al of the Great Bustard group for looking. Now to find the photographs of Gordon Barnes with the Fair Isle bird.

Time for sleep.

Thanks for all the donations, including Yvonne on the train tonight.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tuesday 17th February 2010 The Unexpected makes the Day

The plan for the day - cycle to Figsbury Rings, a superb iron age hill fort NE of salisbury; find Winterbourne Downs RSPB reserve; cycle to Stonehenge and marvel at the stones then finish the day looking over Normanton Downs RSPB reserve and finish up ay Old Sarum.

How did it go? Unexpectedly.

Figsbury Rings magnificent and so large with a brilliant central ditch system.

Winterbourne Downs, well didn't get there until 12.30 because I was the wrong side of Porton Down and the road to Porton was closed for total redoing.

Then a few phone calls, initially to ask 'where is Winterbourne Downs reserve?' turned into why not visit the Great Bustard project? A phone call from the wonderful Lynn had me in tears as it turned out that my dear late friend Gordon Barnes' great bustard, one that he found whilst a crofter on Fair isle, was at the Great Bustard Group's site at Winterbourne Gunner. Back in 1970 Gordon found the female and had to look after it for much of that winter 40 years ago. With serious motivation to go the extra mile made it and wondered at the coincidence. Gordon was a fabulous person and I was so lucky to know him and be able to call him friend.

On the way down the stony lane to get to the caravan a bustard flew in front of me and joined 4 others on the hillside. I only had eyes for these birds and cycled past 2 very obvious land rovers and the bustard centre. Returned to meet Alasdair Dawes and Lynn, two charmingly fantastic people and together we pieced together some of the story of the stuffed female bustard. Photographs taken and the promise of Gordon's photos with the bird to be sent for display.

Now here we go - can I count the eventual 7 great bustards on my non-motorised year list? It would make it 140.

Here are some comments from friends who I contacted via text to discuss such an issue :-

"No way - are you counting plastic stuff now?"

"Can you count things with wing tags?"

"You have no morals - you'll get an extra 50 species at Slimbridge at this rate."

"Those Salisbury chaps are charming."

Now Alasdair wants me to make it bird number 140.

So eventually got to Stonehenge just as the light was fading and after meeting a couple of blokes from Wolverhampton [thanks for the donations lads!] rode over as far as I could along the western edge of Normanton Down. RL partridge, pheasant, lapwing and little owl calling but really it was to dark by now to see anything but the beautiful crescent Moon, Orion and the Dog Star and Mars amongst the stars. Once dark cycling impossible along the bridleway so push until the main road about a mile or so further on. Finally made same road with the bike clogged up with thick mud and ate the last of my malt loaf.

Now for a request. Where the Bridleway meets the A360 [Grid referemce SU 099393] there is a white barn type building. This is where I ate the last of my malt loaf, where I recovered from the push in the muddy dark and where I stupidly left my pannier cover, yellow and vital. If anyone is passing the spot and can post it to my parents' house at 79 hanworth Road, warwick CV34 5DX, then obviously I would be more than grateful and would recompense anyone for  any expense incurred.

So on getting back to the youth hostel in Salisbury at 8.10pm, ate, talked and reflected on such a totally unexpected event - Gordon's great bustard. A great bird found by a great man 40 years ago almost to the day.

PS. why not visit the Great Bustard Project Centre and meet Lynn and Alasdair? Also maybe go on a guided tour. 5 minutes drive from Stonehenge [cycling took a bit longer]

telephone   07817 917 327


website      http://www.greatbustard,org/

You'll find the centre just north of Enford on the A345. I saw 7 great bustards there and 'WHAT A BIRD!!!'

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Tuesday 16th February Blashford Lakes

I suppose I'd better sumerise the birding from the last week or so. I can't seem to get to a computer at the moment and need to do this quickly.

Today at Blashford Lakes Hants Wildlife Trust Reserve - New for the year - bramblings, about 50 of them, mostly very close from a hide - Woodland Hide - with many siskins and lesser redpolls just as close on the many feeders here.
Green sandpipers - one on Ivy Lake and another seen on the Ibsley meadows with 12 bewicks.
Common scoter - a lovely adult. Quite a surprise bird.
Great white egret - found it half a mile or so north of Harbridge. Knew of a back road to Fordingbridge and of some flooded meadows along it. Went down a grassy track accessing the area and there it was with 2 litttle egrets and a grey heron. Soon took off in the direction of Blashford Lakes. Phoned it in to Birdguides.

So the 4 new birds today leave me on 138.

Yesterday it took me 4 hours to find the great grey shrike at Homesley Paddock. Also had dartford warbler there.

Weekend had been a privilidge; having been spent in the company of the wonderfully enthusiastic and knowledgable Daphne and Mike. Also with Caroline, Elaine [thanks for pointing out Avon Heath!!!] and Chris. More details later but sincere thanks to all. So water pipit, 2 at Brading Marsh, and greenshank with fulmar near St Catherine's Head.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Chichester Schools and Bracklesham Bay Days

Awoke in a panic, not too unusually. Where was Oakwood School? The first school visit and I didn't know where it was. Ran to Tesco Express and a little help, every little does and a phone call of 'where are you?' "not far from Chichester," came the reply and a cycle ride eventually found the school entrance; only the drive down to the actual school seemed longer than the ride to the entrance. Oakwood, a Prep' school in the middle of lovely wooded parkland set around a large Georgian house.

Bird feeders outside a classroom and eco projects growing, a school on it's way to a green flag. Meanwhile a coffee and a wait outside counting the birds, great-spot woodpeckers, 2; green woodpecker, 1; long-tailed tits, 7; nuthatch etc and then an assembly with lovely, enthusiastic children and then another coffee in the library before leaving for Jessie Young Husband School not too far away.

Another assembly and then a tour of the school with children who were extremely proud of their eco work and why not? They'd got a smashing sensory garden with maze, composting and bird feeding areas and, as detailed on their website, were collecting plastic bottles to make a greenhouse. I've just seen that my assembly and visit are mentioned on the school's home page and unfortunately a photo has been added.

Time for birding .....

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Selsey Bill February 9th 2010

February 9th 2010 Selsey Bill - indeed at last a library that at least gives me a viewing point so that I can keep an eye on Sid 'the bike'. Thanks to Chris and Karen - the librarians!

Lots has happened since the last blog and I am now up to 130 birds on the year list, having just had 2 med' gulls, 2 sandwich terns and a black redstart at Selsey.

So it was last updated after going to Worthing so let's think what's happened since then?

A puncture a mile or so before the Youth hostel at Arundel. Woken by a tawny next day, cycled down to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre at Arundel and spent the day there. Was shown around by the fabulous Monica [sincere best wishes to her, her husband Paul and their little girl.] who's enthusiasm and knowledge added to the visit. Around the reserve with kingfisher and water rail as highlights. A donated fleece {THANKS!!!!} provided warmth and actually this was the first day of the year that a fleece was al that one needed to stay warm. A boat ride to see water voles, saw 2 thanks to Monica and another couple whose names are in another notebook I don't have with me - sorry. A twany called at around midday and 3 more kingfishers were seen from the comfy chairs in the large reception area. I was allowed in the see the developing Peter Scott hide. This is gong to be fabulous if the sand martins use the nesting tubes that the hides being built for. there will be a screened area where people may see into the tubes to watch the young being fed. Here's hoping the returning sand martins appreciate the efforts of the lads building it all. Tottenham and Chelsea fans they may be but deep down they're decent lads.

Went into Arundel Cathedral for a quiet moment later on as darkness fell.

Next day cycled up onto the Downs and got lost. Well the bridleway I'd seen on the OS map suddenly bacame a maze of them and I ended up walking alongside fields, pushing the bike through chalky mud in order to go in the direction I thought Amberley was. Saw 19 grey partridge and a good number of RL partridge up here, as well as 9 Bewick swans on the way down, feeding in the Arun Valley.

Found Amberley Wildbrooks RSPB reserve and had another long push of the bike along a very chalky muddy path and then through a marshy wetland area. A group of very dark deer turned out to be bred fallow deer.

To Pulborough Brooks RSPB reserve and what a lovely welcome! Soon off to search the woodland for crossbills and found 9 of them in a fenced off area near to the small road from the north of Amberley. A couple of Jays kept disturbing them but after a few minutes they would return to the same trees.

Met Claire Evans from Lewes, a lovely lady who has her own business and had emailed me before I arrived. Talked and walked with her and I need to say thanks for the internet help she's given. Thanks Claire.

Cycled to Horsham to stay with my cousin, Honor and her husband Ian. Ian's a Brighton fan with a fabulous collection of football memorabilia and Honor had got a lot of very old photos etc showing our grandfather in WWI and other older relatives. This all ensured, after a fabulous meal with 'excellent' carrots, that we didn't get to sleep until 12.30am! Fabulous evening. Wonderful couple. Ian and Honor had recently been on BBC TV for the South East when Villa [hurrah] played Brighton [shame]. Honor's a Villa fan and this made for an interesting news item. As you will all know the result was the best one Villla 3 Brighton 2. Villa go through to the next round, Brighton weren't shown up.

Next day, late because of more chat, cycled to and eventually found Barfold Copse; a small woodland reserve tucked down in a valley. Very few birds but it brought back memories of my childhood when we used to explore a similar area with rhododendrons and bamboo. Up the hill to the Devil's Punchbowl Hotel and rest.

Next day I thought the OPTICRON binoculars had been stolen and reported this to the police. Cycled to Farnham RSPB reserve and found the location of where the battle scene that opens the film Gladiator had been filmed. [Bourne Woods] Strength and Honour! If you go the the RSPB reserve by the Rural Centre then follow the central path north and it goes over a hill and down the other side there it is, exactly as it is in the film. One almost expects the fireballs to be flying and the Zulu chanting Celts/Gauls/Germanics to appear from the trees. Indeed some of the trees still had some damage to them from the film. Couldn't find any woodlarks here on the reserve itself; huge areas of tree clearance with the intention of recreating heathland.

Cut it short, cycled to Chichester.

Rigth, time to go. Will detail the Chichester school visits and the Brackelsham Bay visit in the next blog.

Now please sponsor me for . . .




All the very best to everyone and especially to The Marshalls who I met at the 'Gladiator' site, Mrs Anniss and Tim Watson, both of Selsey; all of whom gave donations to me personally. This money will be given to the warden of the next reserve I visit to be passed onto the RSPB. Thanks.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Brighton to Worthing 3 - 2 - 10 Eco Children and House Boats.

Well, another RSPB reserve seen and photographed - Adur Estuary, Shoreham and another bird for the year list, sanderling, a few along the beach before reaching Worthing. [123 year list]

The day though has been memorable for 2 things. Firstly meeting a school party of wonderfully enthusiastic children and satff from Shoreham College. A year 5 class of around 30 children, together with 5 staff were cleaning up the beach in the harbour area. I had to stop and share their experience. Thrilled to see them doing such a good task for their local environment. sadly they had been able to fill 5 bin liners with rubbish! They met Barnaby Bear and Sidney frog and were all given stickers for their efforts.

Next it was onto the RSPB reserve at Shoreham on the west side of the River Adur. No signs for the reserve but circumnavigated the area counting the birds as the tide rose. [ 1 little egret, 27 redshank, onver 60 teal, 2 mallard, 1 little grebe, 1 curlew, 7 grey plover, 8 snipe, 3 dunlin, 5 bar-tailed godwits and gulls.]

Met Hamish, a brilliantly creative owner of a few house boats overlooking the reserve. Creative - well one house boat was a mixture of an old fire engine and a wooden boat. Another was a converted coach atop a barge, with wonder Nautilus - type windows and a squircle roof - looks like a square one way, a circle the other. This had a rover car sticking out of one side and a porthole on the other side was an old washing machine! Another boat had a Robin reliant and an old caravan side amongst the conglomeration of pieces. Inside Hamish had a collection of skulls and mummified reamains, including a cat and a fox. Mummified pigeons were everywhere. Fabulous man and great to talk too. One of the highlights of the trip so far.

Cycled on, after fish and chips in a small cafe, and stopped to count waders roosting on the shingle about 1 mile before Worthing. 7 sanderling were new for the year list, as already stated but there were c.300 dunlin, c.50 ringed plover and c.30 turnstone. Sorry about the approximations but they were very active with the surf coming in.

Now in the library, another £2.50 paid and on my way to Arundel.

Now please sponsor me for . . .




All the very best to everyone.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Thanks to Andy Revell and family. February 2nd 2010

Explored the countryside just north of Hayward's Heath yesterday afternoon. Saw 4 foxes in the space of half an hour and was interviewed by Alelia on radio Delta.

Now here I must say a huge thank you to Andy and Jane Revell who put me up and fed me a beautiful curry last night. I enjoyed every minute of the stay and am very grateful to the pair of you. Thanks. [Also thanks to their children Georgina and Jonty]

Andy was a teacher at a secondary school named Coppice High in Wolverhampton at the same time I was there as a science teacher. Great to catch up with him again.

Lewes Brooks RSPB reserve this morning. Lucky to find it as the area of marshy fields was massive and a walk out from a fishing pools area brought a small green bridge by a dyke and there was a small, smaller than A4 sized notice - Lewes Brooks RSPB reserve.

Sat on the same bridge to look at what birds were there. C.20 shovelor, c.100 wigeon, c.250 lapwing, 2 snipe, c.25 dunlin, many gbb/lbb/h and c gulls with just a few BH gulls. Also 4 cormorants and a grey heron. saw 2 water rail in a ditch. reminded me of the little crake that I dipped on many years ago at reasonably nearby Cuckmere Haven. A mega dip day with Jason Oliver, Alex Barter and Richard Southall. How excited they were as we came down the hill from Seaford. The crake had been feeding from the hand all week. We got there - no sign of it - gone. Then on to see the red-breasted goose on the north Kent coast. Alex, Richard and I saw it amongst a large group of brents. Jason couldn't see it and as I stood up the whole lot flew off! Sorry Jas'.

How many birding incidents is my trip reminding me of? Loads and most of them have more successful outcomes than the one described above.

Right time to get to the Sluggies Hostel in Brighton. Need food and drink. So . . . .

Now please sponsor me for . . .




Earth Hour is coming soon - March 27th - please sign up and help stop climate change.

All the best

Gary                 year list 122.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Haywards Heath February 1st One month gone!

One month gone. So fast yet so long. Mid Sussex and a very sunny yet very frosty day. 122 birds on the year list, added marsh tit yesterday during a relatively bird free visit to Broadwater Warren RSPB reserve. Due to an area of the adjacent Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve being coppiced, I missed the path which went along the bottom of Eridge Rocks and went along the top of this sandstone outcrop. Came across the warden of the reserve doing some path clearing work. Stopped for a chat and found out that the reserve had SSSI status due to the presence of a very rare fern - the Tunbridge Wells filmy fern. Had to see it and was shown the small area where it occurs. It's just amazing how a chance meeting brings such wonderful rewards. No, I'm not just very interested in birds; it's the whole range of natural history that delights me.

I say 'bird free' because despite walking the whole of the designated on the leaflet pathways around the RSPB reserve I saw very few birds. 19 species to be exact and only wood pigeon reached double figures. Marsh tit, as I've already said, was new. Otherwise it was the usual woodland suspects - tits, siskin, woodpeckers, goldcrests, etc. Must be a beautiful place in Spring though.

So a month of cycling, birding and meeting people, seeing places and enjoying [!] the elements. Simplistically I've been to 19 RSPB reserves, 1 WWT reserve, cycled 480 miles, walked I don't know how many, seen 122 different bird species and cycled through snow, hail, rain, sleet, ice, sun, drizzle, fog, mist and had winds from every direction, seemingly usually in my face! Whilst cycling so many memories pass through my mind and if I can remember them all then my notes at the finish of the year are going to be a wonderful aid-memoire for my old age.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me on my journey. To name them all would lay me open to the risk of omitting someone. People have been amzingly brilliant and I am so grateful to one and all.

I would also like to thank everyone who has sponsored me. Some people have kindly made one off donations and others have contacted me to say that they are going to sponsor me so much for each bird. Now there's a real incentive, as if I need one, to see as many species as possible.

It's been a real privilige to visit the schools and what a variety of visits so far. My sincere thanks to them all.

Now please sponsor me for . . .




Earth Hour is coming soon - March 27th - please sign up and help stop climate change.

One month gone - 11 to go. It's going too fast but every day is bringing wonderful things.