Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Monday, 8 November 2010

Old Moor RSPB Reserve

Need to catch up again on blog news but just to say that I am now sheltering from the stormy weather in Hull, visiting my son, Joshua who's at Uni there. [November 8th]

Meanwhile going back a few days:

Arrived at Old Moor RSPB reserve after a lovely cycle from Castleford and was greeted by a group of around 10 or so RSPB people who were having a meeting in the visitor's centre. A round of applause from them as I lent my bike against the wall. Lovely.

Liane took me around to the office to meet people and I really appreciated her welcome. Next as darkness fell, a ew RSPB vols and staff and myself went for a bat search around the perimeter of the reserve. Only one daubenton's heard but a ghostly barn owl was seen quite close.

Thursday 4th November

Up early the next day to go birding. The aim was to beat the 66 bird species seen at Fairburn Ings. Rain first thing, brightening later, birds of the day included spotted redshanks, 5 green sandpipers, a ruff, a superb peregrine that drifted in causing panic amongst the duck and waders and good numbers of duck and waders such as golden plover and lapwing. The set up of the reserve is superb with fabulously situated hides giving great views over scrapes, lakes and reedbeds.

Mid morning and a ride around three nearby reserves with a number of RSPB people, Craig, Liane, Nicola, Katie and Pete. A really enjoyable ride and great to share the experience with others. They hire out bikes here for people to do likewise; a wonderful initiative.

Katie, the assistant warden, showed me the oldest hide in Yorkshire in the afternoon; a great hide with historic birding moments written on the inside walls; details of rarities etc. above the windows. Great idea.

Down to the wader hides to try to get to 66 but alas the light went and rain started to fall and I ended the day on 61. A fabulous day with great people on a fabulous reserve.

Friday 5th November

An early morning cycle along the Trans Pennine Trail to Doncaster and then to Beckingham Marshes, a very new RSPB reserve near Gainsborough, meeting Paul Bennet and the warden with two volunteers Dave and Graham. A couple of hours birding and chatting before setting off to try for the rough legged buzzard at Hatfield Moor. Now I'd had a couple of days in rain dipping on this species and this day was no exception as rain feel and the immensity of the area defeated me. Mind you I'd enjoyed the day's cycle of around 40 odd miles in very warm weather.

Saturday 6th November

Cycled to Blacktoft Sands from Wroot, arriving at around 10.00am. Met Mike and Bill in the visitor's centre before heading off birding. Beautiful sunny day with great bird views including a very close fly by by a male hen harrier. Other birds seen included 11 marsh harriers; some having been seen during the day but 11 counted going in to roost; also 3 barn owls, 2 ruff, over 70 snipe, a water rail, 3 bearded tits, 16 black-tailed godwits, 2 peregrines, 3 sparrowhawks - the day's list ending at 52 species. Brilliant. Also saw a very close fallow deer, close enough for a reasonable photo.

A very cold night with intermittent sleep; camping at this time of the year is going to be tough and if anyone who can help me by offering a warm bed would be greatly appreciated. [07988754090 or email] Really I'm getting very nervous about this. 41 nights to go before I get to Sandy, it's only going to get tougher but I'm not giving up now when I'm so close. Please look at the itinerary for the approximate route. [Tetney, Langfield Lowfields, Frampton/Freiston, Top Lodge/Fineshades, Nene Washes, Fen Drayton/Ouse Fen, Ouse Washes, Welney, Lakenheath, Snettisham, Titchwell, Sutton Fen, Berney Marsh/Breydon, Buckingham, Strumpshaw, Surlingham, Rockland, Dingle Marshes, Minsmere, Halvergate, Wolves Wood, Stour Estuary, Old Hall Marshes, Wallasea Island, Rainham, Rye Meads, Fowlmere and Sandy.] Please if you can help get in touch.

Sunday 7th November

A very old frosty start but very sunny also. Two close roe deer seen and a large skane of over 600 pink-footed geese flew overhead. In fact lots of birds seen in large flocks; gulls going inland along the river, thousands of golden plover and lapwings, starlings and geese.

Same waders as yesterday but more of them due to a high tide and 13 dunlin and 9 spotted redshanks as extras.

Two lovely volunteers in the visitor's centre; Myrra and Trevor. {Thanks for the jokes and Yorkshire sayings, Trev'. Example?

yy ur     yy ub   ic ur  yy 4 me.  

Also met Pete, a very knowledgeable birder and site manager for Blacktoft, Reades Island and Tetney. Brilliant bloke.

Now if you meet me please don't ask how many punctures have I had. I always have one straight after someone asks me. No exception here but inner tube repairs were no use as the wall of the tyre was abraded and this was what was causing the punctures. Eventually managed to get to A1 Motors - CYCLE LIFE SCUNTHORPE in Scunthorpe by pumping the flat tyre up every couple of miles or so. Stuart and Richard helped by changing the tyre for me and they gave me a couple of brand new inner tubes. So many thanks to you lads. I'd also managed to drop my binoculars some where along the road. OK so they should have been around my neck but with all the pumping I put them in one of the panniers. Now I need to say thanks to Mal Shipley who helped me find them, thank goodness. Now Mal is famous for being in the Guiness book of Records for having pushed a wheelbarrow from Land's End to John O'Groats for Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The day ended with me cycling over the Humber Bridge and negotiating the maze of Hull's streets to find my Son, Josh.

Right time to go.

Please if you can help please get in touch.

Meanwhile all the best evryone,



1 comment:

  1. Hi Gary, If i had known your were passing Oldmoor you could have stopped at mine for a hot drink or a place to kip. I'm a stones throw from Oldmoor.
    Your a Legend! Welldone
    All the best
    Jack Ashton-Booth