Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

To the Top of Northern ireland - Slieve Donard, Belfast Lough RSPB and Castle Espie WWT reserves

Belfast Lough, wonderful place and where else would everyone who visits be greeted with a scone or biscuit and a cup of tea/coffee? Must be Northern Ireland, where the poeple are so wonderfully wonderful. Chris, the warden, met me and showed me around the reserve. Actually that doesn't do this brilliant character justice because he was fabulous. He looks like Bruce Springsteen and his life stories are not typical of an RSPB warden. It was a privilige to meet him and going around with him was great. Maybe not many birds, mind you I did add black guillemot and hooded crow to the year list, now at 202, but that didn't matter as Chris is such an interesting and enthusiastic bloke. Thanks to him and also to Marion and her husband, Denis, who offered a night's accommodation. [Thanks for the hot water bottle Marion!]

Also a million thanks to Stephanie Sim who couldn't have made me feel more welcome. As with all of the RSPB people I meet, she is a keenly dedicated person and I wish her all the very best.

Whilst in Belfast for an evening at Kelly's Cellars I saw the CRITICAL MASS cycle group. Seems that every month cyclists, some in fancy dress, follow a bike with a PA system aboard playing very loud pop music around the streets of Central belfast. I wish I'd known - I would have loved to join in. But well done to everyone involved. Great idea and hope it grows. Let's do it in every major city. let's get the bikes out and have some fun!

Cycled along the brilliant 'Greenway' from Belfast to Castle Espie WWT reserve. This must be one of the best cycle paths I've been on. Well done Sustrans! Coincidentally I met the leader of Sustrans Northern ireland, Chris Patterson, at the beginning of the cyclepath.

Castle Espie, not expecting me or so it seemed but soon was out birding with one of the wardens, Carl. Castle Espie has a fabulous 'Eco' centre with superb displays and even more superb cake. My example had cherries etc atop and was more substantial than it looked. Please post me some more!

Right, I'll stop there for a bit because i don't know how much longer I've got on this library computer. Thnaks to Jackalyn and Bob of Newcastle's Gelnnfold House for the donation.

All the best

Gary

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