Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Udale Bay RSPB Reserve

Tuesday 24th August

Heavy rain overnight but got to the reserve early to find the tide practically at its lowest ebb. Only a lesser black-backed gull, a few oystercatchers and mallard around so settled down to watch the tide rise.

High tide 12.15pm - Bird list:-

redshank c.250,    curlew c.50,    dunlin   c.250,    snipe 1,   bar-tailed godwit c.200,   greenshank 1,    knot  c.100,   black-tailed godwit 1,

wigeon  c.200,   teal  c.100 

plus gulls, etc.

Met a Villa fan, Bob Wilson, who, although originally from Tamworth, Staffs, is now living up here. [How we Villa fans are suffering at the moment. Seems like Martin left just in time] Now that name brings back a certain goalkeeper into mind. Now I know that to Gunners fans he's probably a hero but to any Villans who were at Highbury way back in the 70's Bob Wilson the goallie is known as a cheat who managed to pretend that the Villa centre forward of the day, Sammy Morgan, had kicked him. As this was at the clock end where all the Villa fans were on that FA Cup match day, we all saw that Sammy had jumped over Bob. Remember Clive Thomas, the referee? Well it was he who sent our Sammy off and Arsenal immeadiately went up the other end and equalised. The match finished 1 - 1 and the replay at Villa Park saw both miscreants in this sage; namely Bob Wilson and Clive Thomas, receieve the reception their actions deserved. Oh yes, Villa won 2 - 0. Happy days.

Sorry I digress.

Can anyone tell me what the ruins are away to the north west from the north facing Udale bay hide? They look like a distant Greek temple.

Right, no ferry at Cromarty so a long cycle around to get to Nigg Bay. Stopped on the north side of the A9 bridge and saw a couple of ringed plover here and 8 common seals. Great spot to see them close here with an information board at a layby. Shame some children thought that it was a good idea to throw stones at them much to the amusement of their Mum and Dad. I couldn't help but ask them to stop and their Dad wasn't too happy with my request!

Got to Nigg Bay RSPB reserve and once again the tide was by now very far out. Superb hide here with great information boards and fabulous views. Not many birds; a couple of sitting buzzards, a grey heron yet hundreds of common and herring gulls along a waterway out over the sands. So yet another RSPB reserve visited and another fascinating Biking Birder day.

Thanks to Margaret for the donation on Just Giving. Lovely meeting you on the Mull of Galloway too.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


23rd August 2010

Awoke beside the Moray Firth after listening to the birds nearby. Whitethroat in the gorse; curlew and oystercatcher on the shoreline. Raining 'til 7.00am then a cycle into Inverness, stocking up on food, 15 minutes in the library then off to the Dolphin Centre just over the A9 bridge at North Kessock.

5 dolphins were just in front of the centre and the excellent centre manager, Christina told me their names. 16 year old Kesslet was with her calf, Charlie who is 3 years old. Zephyr was with her calf, Breeze and Trailscoop ID748, a 16 year old male was hanging around too.

Christina started working for the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association whilst out in Taiwan and has come back to near her home to work with the dolphins here. Superb person.

Met a fabulous family from Witley in Surrey; John and Liz, with their daughter Fiona. Lovely chat and an invitation to visit next year.

Carried on and saw 4 red kites along a minor road. Next was a rather embarassing attempt to have lunch in a road side bird hide. At Munlochy Nature reserve opened the door to the hide to see a bottle of half-finished red wine and a broken wine glass on the hide shelf and an embarassed lady trying to pull her jeans over her backside. "Oh hello", and "I'll leave you to it," were all I managed to stutter as I closed the door and left quickly.

Rain for the afternoon and a visit to Fortrose Cathedral. Mind you I spent a comfortable hour in the adjacent Catholic Church, reading about Pope John Paul II and having a hot cup ogf milkless Nesquik. Not feeling too good, with a streaming nose and a bit of a temperature. Been lucky though because if a cold this be then it's the first one for months.

An afternoon walk along Fairy Glen RSPB Reserve didn't have many birds and even the predicted robin didn't show. Most interesting thing was a flying hawker dragonfly which didn't mind the rain. Any dragonfly in England would be roosting up if any dampness was in the air. they breed them tough up here. mind you I could have done with it landing so that I could have id'd it properly.
Right - back on the road!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Culbin Forest

So up early in the morning, very early in order to try to see capercaillies. Beautiful day, sunny and calm but no capercaillies in 4 hours of searching. Did pish out crested tits, even had one down to 6 feet as the photo will show when I've charged the batteries on my digital up. Problem with camping, no electric points!

Also pished a male redstart and a female siskin. Great when pishing works.

Out of the forest and a long cycle in the gale that wasn't felt in the forest. The wind was from the west so was at 10 o'clock, if you get my meaning i.e. in the face from the left. Over the moors with beautiful views in the sunshine and eventually after 24 miles, down to Nairn.

Soon found the RSPB reserve at Culbin Sands and felt very daunted by its size. Cycled along the coastline path but that soon disintigrated to mud so went into the forest where I luckily met a couple who had a trail guide. Started counting butterflies and by the time I'd cycled to the tower had seen 203 scotch argus, 11 speckled woods and a single peacock. 26 bird species including crested tits, spotted flycatcher, a whimbrel and treecreeper. Really is an immense forest and the 8 miles of forest tracks cycled was just a taster.

First family met were from Inverness. Garvie with Mum and Dad were walking their new alsation. Lovely people as always on my trip.

After climbing the tower and enjoying the views, met a fabulous bloke - Bob. "Come to our caravan for coffee", was the order, so I did. Well I would wouldn't I?

Bob's caravan was painted with camouflage colours and his children, Ilana and Roshana were wonderful. Bob's wife, Carly, reminded me of someone and it was after a while, over the forementioned coffee, that I remembered. Trace at Rigby hall School, my work place when I'm not skiving off. Same mannerisms, voice, even looks. Could have been Tracey's sister! Both are marvellous people.

A brilliant evening spent with Bob's family first, being shown a superb stag roe deer skull that had been found on the beach by the girls at Fort George. Also shown the bottle-nosed photos that carly had taken at the same place. She'd got a brilliant one of one jumping. Got to go there!

Then invited for dinner by Su, a campervan motorcyclist and therapist. She talked about her circumstances and gave me a free theray session on 'the arc of reponsibility.' Another fabulous person to meet, sincere and interesting as well as thought provoking. Right, now I know that I will achieve this trip.

Marshmallows by a camp fire with the girls and a comfortable night in the tent.

22nd August 2010

Up early and a group of titmice, including crested, and treecreepers surrounded me as I had breakfast of sorts on the picnic bench. Did my washing in the toilet block and went for a walk into the forest.

Morning spent with the marvellous Dalton family with Bob being an absolute star in helping service Sid, the bike. By the way I may not have mentioned this before but the bike is a Cannondale and was given to me by a brilliant bloke, Gert. If I have mentioned this before forgive me but Gert deserves massive credit because without this bike I'd not have got far.

More thanks have to go to Opticron too because the binoculars they have given me for this trip have been superb. Thanks so much Opticron.

Right! Left Culbin and cycled to Fort George. Explored this huge fort but I was there mainly to see bottle-nosed dolphins and they didn't disappoint. Around 20 of them came very close to the shore, heading out on the ebbing tide. Brilliant.

Camped on the Moray Firth shoreline about 4 miles east of Inverness and the evening was spent watching waders, more bottle-nosed dolphins, mergansers, herons and terns from the tent whilst eating tea. What a life!

All the very best everyone and love to the Daltons and Su.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

August 20th Grantown on Spey

Late getting up this morning. No excuse just a bit tired. Beautiful sunny day too with some mist over the valley and a rainbow developing, seen from the tent hatch. Rainbow!? Rain coming. It was and it hit me as I cycled along the road to Grantown on Spey. Oh well, wet again.

Rain cleared as I got to Grantown and I had my jam sandwiches in the park there with a small toad, some common blue damsels and a few scotch argus for company.

Library for the blog and then cycled to the capercaillie forest following the instructions given by a birding friend very carefully.

Met a lovely family on the bridge over the Spey, who own a children's clothes business in Grantown. [  ]. Had a long chat and met Daisy, their very old West Highland White-hair terrier, who needs to be transported in her own buggy.

talked with a couple of local people whilst walking and pushing along the track deeper into the forest. Alan was a keen hillwalker originally from Bolton and still had a strong accent. he told a story of Prince Charles helping out a loal crofter with his farming diversification plans. Also met an older lady who used to be a crofter. Told of harsh winters and terrible times.

Found the spot for capercaillies and searched for the rest of the day. No sign of any and very few birds around. A few mistle thrushes, the occasional coal tit and a stag roe deer with only one antler, that didn't see me crounched down by some logs until it was around 25 metres away. Then all it did was bark at me and march off barking all the way.

Did find 8 'tresses' like orchids though.

Camped just outside the forest where despite a gale blowing over the trees, down at ground level it was very calm and quiet.

All the best everyone


Friday, 20 August 2010

Up the Cairngorms

Thursday 19th August Day 231

Tawny owls in the night but up at around 5.30am to a misty scene. Sunrise and distant hills brightened by the sun. Beautiful.

Cycled to the 6 miles from Insh marshes signpost, seeing 6 roe deer and 5 hares on the way. Spiders webs, millions of them, on the heather, on conifers and all looking beautiful in the dew and sunlight.

Left my panniers behind a shed and cycled up to the Ski Centre on Cairngorm. talked with the ranger and set off walking up the hills, ptarmigan on my mind. Cut things short, ptarmigan were still on my mind seven [!] hours later - were they? Had spent the day searching the plateau but no luck. 4 wheatear, a few meadow pipits and a juvenile snow bunting were the only birds.
Highlight of the day was the unfurling of a flag, with accompanying speeches and Gaelic verse and song. A lovely group of people who come up here on this date every year, celebrate the anniversary of John Roy Stuart.

Seamus grant sang, quoted a long poem faultlessly and gave a speech, ably translated into English by his wife, Alison.

David unfurled the flag and held it aloft by the summit cairn and Ann passed me a small [very small!] tot of the hard stuff expecting me to make a toast in Gaelic. I tried but it wasn't easy.

More exploration and searching for the elusive ptarmigan and a lovely meeting with a young girl from San Diego, California; Gazzy. Shared food stuff and appropriated a bottle of water before saying good luck and continuing the search.

Down to the Centre for an early evening ride to Boat of garten where i set up the tent and relaxed over a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes with banana milk shake.

Early to sleep. Tried not to reflect on another dip.

Insh Marshes RSPB Reserve cont'd

Sorry about that. Needed more time at the library.

So photographed the black darters and chatted with Sam and Gary. Watched a female/imm marsh harrier hunting some way off and then 5 buzzards playing with a male kestrel.


Walked down to the hide, looking at more dragonflies, including a few Highland darters and golden-ringed but didn't get to identify two large hawkers with blue spots down the abdomen.

A cuckoo flashed past the hide. I'll be honest and say that I thought it was a male sprog but Gary corrected me and yes, I'll admit it, a cuckoo it was.

3 roe deer were out on the marsh and a couple of dark green fritillaries were on the grassy slopes nearby.
Back to the centre and met a local RSPB volunteer who invited me to go for an evening meal at his house, so thanks Laura for the mackeral and new potatoes. We also went to see the nearby Ruthven Barracks, scene of various Jacobite battles.

Slept nearby [!] and watched the Perseides shooting stars and occasional satellite go over in the clear sky.

A lovely day.

20th August Grantown on Spey

Well that is where I am now but let's reflect on the last few days.

Wednesday 18th August - Day 230 of the trip.

In the Abernethy Forest, all was very still and quiet as i ate my breakfast. Up and soon cycling around the area hoping for a capercaillie. No such luck but did see two more crested tits after hearing their calls.

Met a lovely family; Becks, Hebe and Jack when photographing an interesting sculpture.


A request for water was replied by an offer of coffee and a chat. What a fabulous place for children to explore; the middle of the forest with tree houses and climbing frames etc. Children went off to school and a local superstar named Harvey came in. He's not so young being 80 but he still climbs trees to place nestboxes for swifts on them. Brilliant idea and successful too.
Becks told of walks across New Zealand and showed off her Orca tooth. Coffee and bread and jam. Wonderful conversation and a real topic for how I've been feeling lately.
Becks, Harvey and Corran

Cycled to Insh Marshes RSPB Reserve, meeting Samantha and Gary from Lochwinnoch again on the way. A beautiful day with occasional sunny spells and little wind. Lovely road skirting woodlands, heather moorland and with views over the valley.

Over a bridge over a waterfall river and eventually found the brand new visitor's centre; an impressive wooden structure with large glass windows overlooking the march from a high vantage point. There's a lovely terrace too atop which had lots [17 plus] black darters on the parapets.
More in a minute.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Wednesday 18th August Abernethy Forest

After Monday at Loch Ruthven RSPB reserve, where 3 slavonian grebes were seen. Then yesterday at Ballinlaggan RSPB reserve in the morning where greylags and a grey heron were the highlights [!] and the afternoon in the Abernethy Forest and afterwards at Loch Garten Osprey Centre with crested tits [213 year list] and ospreys seen - Odin, the male and one of this year's youngsters. Had camped just outside Carrbridge and after the overnight rain had stopped, got out of my tent to find half a dozen scotch argus flying around and a couple of small toads nearby.

The afternoon at Loch Garten was spent talking with the staff, with a massive thank you to Julie Smith for the huge slab of chocolate cake! Met David, the warden; Richard, the site manager, Paul who did the great talk about the ospreys and Paul Kendall, the local field teacher from Abernethy. He was brilliant showing me activities centred on ospreys, including nest size, relative prey item size to bodyweight and wing span comparisons. He also told me that he was going to be doing a talk at the Highland Holding Expo this week at 2.00pm.
Also met two people I;d met a few weeks ago at Lochwinnoch; Samantha and Gary. Great people one and all.
Photo taken for the local press then more birding.

Now on the way to Insh Marshes after having spent the morning searching for capercaillie unsuccessfully and having had a very pleasant coffee with Becks, her children Hebe and jack and a local 80 year old tree climber named Harvey. had stopped to photograph their sculpture but a request for water turned into an offer of coffee and a lovely hour or so's chat. Wonderful people.

Must go - only 30 minutes allowed here.

All the best everyone,

Please sponsor me - use the links above - thanks!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sunday 8th August Stornaway to Ullapool

Priest Island RSPB Reserve

Heavy rain overnight but now a beautiful day. Blue sky, few small clouds, light southerly and fabulous views across the Minch. What a difference a few hours make up here. Here I am in a country with the best scenery in Britain and today is day where with weather to match, the views are wonderful. The ferry from Stornaway to Ullapool has a superb forward looking lounge too and from here, in the company of a lovely family from Derby, it was great to watch the many very close manx shearwaters and the occasion harbour porpoise. It was also from here and the deck on the left that I could see Priest island, a large RSPB reserve, which had 3 great skua flying over it and a few shags on the rocks. Puffins on the sea and some arctic terns were near the island too.

Ullapool reached, cycled off towards Inverness and stopped at a layby in order to get some tea eaten. A few caravans were there and I was immeadiately surrounded by very friendly children and men, a group of Scottish Tinkers. I gave the children RSPB badges and immeadiately the men put notes into my robin collection box; the fastest donations given by any people I'd met. Invited into a caravan for coffee, met Ina and John, Nan and Grandad to the children. A great couple and both very strong in the Pentacostal faith, we chatted for almost 2 hours with children coming in and out and Hannah, one of the mothers proudly cradling her new six-week old baby girl. Brilliant meeting these travellers from Inverness and Kirkcodie. Passed my bottle of Skin so Soft to hannah for the baby and left with the children waving me off.

Ever onward and it was getting late by now. Picked a couple of bank voles off the road a little further along. They were sitting in the middle of it and I couldn't understand how they hadn't been squished.

Now the next sort of wildlife wasn't quite so engaging, although they wanted to get up close and personal. Midges, millions of them, in fact I've tried to think which words would best describe what they were like as I put the tent up for the night, mist of midges or blizzard. I think the latter because they were everywhere and very mobile. Incredible and actaully I'm glad that I have now experienced Scottish midges to this extent. Eventually dived into the tent, pulled the zips down and settled down to getting rid of those that had made their way inside.

Monday 9th August.

It's a strange feeling lying in a sleeping bag and knowing what was waiting for me outside the tent. Same masses of midges there as expected and my cover up clothes and repellent did their job. No bites but a few swallowed before the tent was packed and the bike ready for the day.
Shame about the midges because the place where I'd camped was actually very beautiful, with an almost dry reservoir alongside the main road with moorland and mountains.
A day with a lot of miles covered, lovely calm weather, sunshine and quite a few Scotch argus butterflies along the roadside.
Eventually arrived at Corrimory RSPB Reserve and the heaven's opened up. Despite the heavy rain, still walked along the reserve's path, around cattle meadows, up through large coniferous trees and eventually onto the heather and birch moorland. Not many birds seen because of the weather but did manage to meet the reserve's warden, Simon who was coming down the track with a research scientist, Dan. They'd just been checking on thousands of trees that had been planted. "Come back in 100 years and see the difference!"
Rain from the top
After a couple of hours, the skies cleared and with the drier conditions a few birds started showing. No crested tits as hoped for but a small group of Scottish crossbills on a nearby small conifer. Actually 4 birds, one male, a female and a couple of youngsters chupping away for sometime before leaving. Bird 212.

On leaving the reserve later visited the burial cairn nearby. A superb example with a surrounding stone circle.

So another great day and just maybe the NON-MOTORISED YEAR LIST RECORD will fall but it's going to be very close.

On the way to the Cairngorms and the Abernethy Forest.

All the best everyone.

Thanks to David Brooks and David Agombar for their donations.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Callanish, Lewis Saturday 7th August

So I'd reached Callanish at around 8.00pm, first going to Callanish III with two concentric stone circles and then over to Callanish II.

Phoned my dear parents whilst at Callanish II and a strange character wanted to say hello.
I think his conversation with my mother made more sense than my usual utterings!

Over to Callanish I, meeting three people there for a natter. A young couple were from Stratford Upon Avon, not a million miles from the town from I hail, Warwick. Now Laura is a girl with a passion, and her boyfriend hopes it for him but I hate to tell him that it's ancient artifacts for which Callanish has got to be one of the best. She'd studied archaeology at the University [!] of Worcester and was extremely knowledgeable and interesting.

The hoped for good unset didn't materialise and the cloud closed up. Camped nearby and had a comfy night.

Sunday 8th August 2010

Up early and after a good wash in the visitor's centre facilities and a breakfast of chocolate chip loaf, went back to Callanish I.

All alone at such a monument, took dozens of photos as each standing stone and their alignments to each other were so unique.

Right, enough of that.

Next stop was over a narrow plank to have a look at the fish in their nets on a fish farm.

Then met a fabulous, brilliant, wonderful couple, Chris and Tina, who, although originally from Leeds, now lived on the island and published a music magazine.

If you want a back issue of practically any rock music magazine then these are the poeople to get in touch with.

So what did we talk about? Humphrey and Daisy? [their two dogs!] Well no. Actually rock music gigs, ELP back on the road, Focus, Yes, Zappa, Floyd, Muse, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Tull, and practically every other rock band from the time of better rock music.

Poor Tina hardly got a word in edge ways but when she did what a surprise. Her musical taste was for barry Manilow and Barbara Striesand.

They caught up with me a few miles later, dogless now in their green car and gave me an MP3 player with a couple of my favourite albums on it; Aqualung and Led Zepplin. If you've been reading my blog you may recall my own MP3 player being stolen by a young lady in the library at Fort William. This wonderful couple had been home and made this one for me and such thoughtfulness was greatly appreciated. In fact I don't think that in the history of time, and on Lewis that goes back 3,500 million years, that anyone has ever cycled the main road back to over the flow country to Stornaway belting out Tull and Zep at the top of their voice because of the gale blowing.

Before this vocal treat for the few local sheep, I'd visited yet another RSPB reserve, this time Loch na Muilne. The nearby Black House was disappointedly closed and birds were very few and far between. The reserve is well known as the breeding place for red-necked phalaropes but none were to be seen. Only a couple each of raven and hooded crows, a snipe and a couple of mallard. Still walked around the lochs enjoying the plants and the occasional moss carder bumblebee.

So reached Stornaway despite the southerly gale practically in my face and camped in a wood beside a football pitch unobserved. Boy did it pelt down in the night! What rain in Scotland? I seem to remember that someone some while back got in touch with me to question my statement - Scotland, Land of Heavy Rain [and gales].

Saturday 7th August 2010

Awoke very early to see a lovely sunrise over Lochmaddy harbour. Sunshine and blue sky. What's that orangy-yellow ball in the sky, sort of large, very bright and round?

Onto the ferry and stood on the usual deck counting the birds. Well I would give you the figures but I've misplaced the tatty bit of paper that I wrote them down on. Need a new notebook but not possible to get one in Lochmaddy at 5.30am.

Nothing to spectacular with a couple of common dolphin, gannets, kittiwakes, manx shearwaters and a single great skua, puffins and guillemots. Razorbills noticably absent but as we approached the Trumpan Headland of Skye there were I estimated around 2,000 manx sitting on the water; the biggest flock that I've seen on this trip.

As the boat entered Uig harbour, I sawa large bird of prey being mobbed by two others. At first I thought it was a buzzard with two sparrowhawks. Then I realised that the smaller birds were the buzzards and that the larger bird was an adult golden eagle! Brilliant and quite close too. They headed off inland and must have been a great sight for someone driving along the main road.

Stayed on the boat in order to get to Tarbet on Harris. Was listing the birds but then the deck was invaded by the Scottish Piped Band that I'd seen at the Highland Games a few days earlier at Portree.
Also met a smashing couple from Aberdeen.
It's a bit windy on the boat!

Cycled out of Tarbet and soon reached a very steep but beautiful section of road.
OK I'll be honest, cycling it wasn't what I did. I pushed and walked the hill. Reached the top where a lovely mountain loch greeted me then a couple of miles later found a secluded roadside picnic bench. Lunchtime.

No sooner than I'd got out my bread and jam [living it up!], but 4 coach loads of German tourists arrived and took over the area. Actually they were greatand one lovely couple came over to me and said that they didn't want there lunch and would I like it? Boiled eggs! I've dreamed of boiled eggs. haven't had a boiled egg for months. Also cheese and fruit. Danke!
One of the tour guides came over for a chat. Tanya, usually a nurse in Bavaria wanted a photo with Barnaby and Albert. What more could I do than oblige?
A fabulous family from Sheffield had joined me on the bench by now and together we had lunch as Che, their oldest boy tried to make sparks by crashing two rocks together and Cole, their youngest played Thumb Wars.

Onward and cut it short as I've only 4 minutes left on the library computer, got to Callanish late in the evening. I'd always wanted to see this place and the effort of getting here was well worth it. More about that next time.

All the very best everyone. Keep birding!


Friday, 6 August 2010

Now What would you do?

Texts in the morning. Pacific Golden Plover on South Uist. I'm on my way to catch the morning ferry to Harris.

Watched the ferry go out of the harbour at Uig and wondered whether my luck with rarities would change. If you've seen British Birds this month, or you have read my blog faithfully [or any other way you may wish to read it], then you may recall my appalling luck with a Wilson's phalarope and a white-tailed plover at Seaforth Docks, Liverpool.

Went for a walk to the top of a nearby hill and saw a couple of Scotch Argus on the way, as well as stonechats and willow warblers. Fabulous amount of off the plant raspberries here. Yummy!

Onto the ferry back to Lochmaddy at 2.00pm :

163 manx shearwaters
25 razorbill
2 storm petrels
24 guillemot
23 puffin
2 great skua
1 arctic skua
2 dunlin
2 fulmar
1 kittiwake

7 common dolphin
a number of harbour porpoise

Also 4 large wind turbine mounts were being dragged by a large tug, passing the ship on the starboard side - according to the captain. Met Andy Stevenson on the boat who just so happens to be the bird recorder for the Outer Hebrides. He hadn't known about the PGP so we arranged to meet at the Loch when I'd managed to cycle there.

It took 4 hours to cycle to loch Bornish! Wind but at least no rain. In fact it wasn't a bad day and 5 custard donuts helped.

Got to the Loch to be greeted by Miranada and Marianne, 2 local lady birders. Andy and Marianne's husband Bob were out trying to see the golden plover flock which had retreated into a huge area of ragwort.
Suddenly a group of greylags flew over, 49 of them and these spooked the cattle in the ragwort. For some reason they started to run about, putting all the golden plover into the air. they landed on the nearest edge of the ragwort and some were on view.

Did I see the Pacific Golden Plover?

Read the next blog to find out

Ok, I'll tell you - there it was! It's head and breast showing above the ragwort. On the list UTB and a new bird not only for the year list but also a LIFER for me, but only after it flew around with th flock showing other diagnostic features. It then landed on the grassy area in fron of us giving better views.

Brilliant and maybe I will break the Non-motorised year list record after all. My luck has changed!

The attempt to see storm petrels from the nearby headland was curtailed by the arrival of some rain, so with the tent set up, I went to sleep with a smile on my face. 40 miles of extra cycling to see a new bird. Well worth it!

Friday 6th August 2010

Now got to Lochmaddy and slept there after a cycle ride in pouring rain and an easterly wind. Not fun but the PGP helped.

Stopped at Cothrom Adult Community Centre in order to access the computer there. Sharon, the receptionist was delightful and brought me a cup of coffee as I dried off. The centre is a fabulous facility with very friendly staff and great resources. Wind turbines outside showed off it's green credentials. Thanks to everyone there.

Also stopped at Howmore Youth Hostel again and met a lovely family from Suffolk and a Scottish gentleman. Mugs of Marmite to ward off the midges and some toast before braving the rain again. Good collection of bones on the dry stone wall here. This one is some sort of whale.

Finally got to North Uist, after tea taken in a bus shelter; this one clean and although lacking the newspapers of one before, it also lacked the sheep dung! Parked up in the car park and climbed the hill to the superb burial chamber, Burpa Langass. A huge mound of rounded, lichen-covered stones witha small entrance. Torch in hand, crawled inside through a narrow entrance; my cycle helmet protecting my head. I'd do anything to get out of the rain. Inside a large chamber with large flat supporting flagstones, dry and comfy.

Back outside, rode the few miles to Lochmaddy with the rain now decreasing to drizzle, and the time now about 7.30pm. Some clear sky way over to the west promised a good sunset. Walked around a few sea inlets at Lochmaddy, watching the fish jumping, and saw an otter swimming along a shoreline nearby.