May 16th 2010
A quick bike ride from Congleton to Coombes Valley [Quick - who are you trying to kid? It was the usual getting lost when trying to find a short cut along a canal towpath. Twit!] to be met by Steve Allcott, an ex-pupil from when I was a Secondary teacher in Wolverhampton many moons ago and then by Kerry and Heather; 2 lovely RSPB Vols. Both of the girls were superb and a credit to the RSPB, being very friendly and knowledgable about the reserve and its birds.
Ste and I went for a walk, clockwise [!] around the reserve and soon sawa garden warbler. It was here I met up with Alan and Beryl Turner from Ashton under Lyme. Coincidence here was that I'd met Alan at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB reserve last week. Indeed Alan was well remembered because I think he wanted to clonk me one because of my sincerely meant comments on a certain Man United manager. Friends now and comrades in arms looking for birds.
Pied flycatcher and redstart and a very obliging male orange tip butterfly that rested on my finger.
Steve had to go so I cycled to the reasonably nearby Churnet Valley reserve; receiving texts on England's progress against the Aussies in the 20:20. More of the same as at Coombes but a beautiful walk down to the canal and back.
Evening spent celebrating England's win with a fruit loaf and some orange juice.
17th May 2010
Up early next morning, 5.00am to walk around the whole of the allowed part of the Coombes Valley reserve. 7 redstart, 4 garden warblers, 3 male pied fly', 1 cuckoo, 1 raven and usual birds for the time of year.
Enjoyed the site of 3 Dexter cows being celebrities on Radio Stoke, as they were released into an area that requires grazing. Met Emma, Chris, Ella and Gracie Shufflebotham, the owners of the Dexters. What do they say about tv and animals [remember the Blue Peter elephant of years ago?]; well, these were similar. 2 ran off immeadiately and the third only stayed for the press photos because of a harness.
Fun over, met Jarrod Sneyd and just for him I'll say that Coombes valley is the best woodland reserve in Staffordshire that I've been to this year. In fact memories came flooding back at every turn as 32 years ago I cam here as a volunteer. I couldn't do much work at the time as I'd been in a bad motorway accident and my left side was in a bad way. Still Coombes Valley is a wonderful reserve and if you enjoy proper woodland birding, as I do, then it's for you. No hides but that's all for the good because you need ears and eyes in a wood. The benches are creative and wonderful. The views are fantastic and luckily there were a lot of butterflies too.
Another volunteer, Rebecca, emptied the moth trap from the previous night, showing me mostly drabs and Hebrew characters but also powdered quacker and waved umber.
Then it was off to cycle to Carsington via a cycle path that took me to Thor's Cave [Brilliant!] with a lot of orchids on the limestone banks along the Manifold Valley.
Stopped at Tissington to see the Well Dressings and arrived at Carsington where the RSPB has a prescence in the shape of a superb shop. Kath and Tamzin greeted me, gave me coffee and biscuits and photos were taken for their blog. Both were lovely and Kath impressed me with her tale of cycleing from Land's End to John O'Groats.
To the wildlife centre, which has to be the most comfortable hide I've ever been in with its remote control video monitor so that one can see waders on the far side of the island and central heating, as well as huge windows.
Cycled to the Paul Stanley hide and at last, had willow tits here. 
18th May 2010
Cycled to the great reed warbler near Ilkeston and heard it straight away. Seeing it was more difficult until it came to the edge of the small reedbed and gave fantastic views. 
Now I'm in the library at Bakewell, having cycled over 50 miles today. I'm on the way to try for the dotterel that are about 10 miles or so north. Fingers crossed.
OK, time to go.
Thanks go to Mike Rogers, a very dear friend who put me up in Congleton for a few nights rest and his brilliant children Vicky and Mikey.
Get cycling people. The wetaher's perfect for it.
All the best