Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Yare Valley RSPB Reserves - Cantley, Buckenham and Strumpshaw

bikingbirder2010@hotmail.com      07988754090

Early in the morning, just as the sun was rising I saw a - thousands of corvids leaving their roost. Surrounded by leaving birds swirling in the pink-grey misty sky. 30,000 birds leaving for the day. Such noise, a great start to the day.

Hid the bike and stuff, better than when my stuff was stolen and spent the morning walking the whole of the Cantley-Buckenham Marsh perimetr walkway. 24 barnacle geese, c.100 pink-feet, a lone Canada goose, a number of Egyptian geese and a few greylags seen and the best views of bearded tits that I've had this year.

No sign of bean geese on the main marshes, searched around the back of the railway line, that is north of it, came across a group of over 60 of them almost tucked away out of sight next to some woodland habitat. Great! Bird number 246 for the year. Only 6 to go to get the record but what's available? Going to be tough.

The weather had made my quest a lonely one. Didn't see another soul until I got to Strumpshaw late morning. Heavy snow showers and heavy snow to trudge through; at least my 8 [!] layers kept me warm.

Strumpshaw was superb, both with meeting RSPB staff, Lotti, Ken and Tim, and birding too. 53 species by the end of the day from the three reserves mentioned, with woodcock and bittern seen, marsh harriers and 6 species of geese the highlights.

Met a lovely lady at the starling roost - Janet, a keen photographer. Flickr - Norfolk Rambler.

Slept in the volunteers house and was fed by Lee. Now he doesn't buy food but gets it from supermarket skips. If only more people made the point of telling these food emporia to stop food waste. Last year I photographed workers at a shop that 'Mums like to shop at' putting masses of food into the skips. They seemed to enjoyed smashing it as they threw it into the skip. Bags of potatoes, loaves of bread etc. A group of smokers at the top of a fire escape stairway told me that the skips here, and remember that this is just one shop, are filled three times a week. I showed the photographs to the children at school, not saying which shop it was but having them shout out the name as they recognised the labels. Something must be done about this waste. You wait until I get home! Anyway, off my soap box and thanks to Lee for the superb meal.

Tuesday 30th November

Cycled to Norwich and met Guy Kirwan. This was after having problems entering both Norwich Anglican Cathedral and Norwich library because of my reticence to leave my box and remaining equipment at cycle racks where there's no security. No such problem at the Catholic Cathedral. Another soap box moment. I'll spare you.

All the very best everyone.

Gary

North-East Norfolk - with 2 great birders

Tim Allwood, his wife Holly and their lovely 2 toddler, Eleanor put me up [and put up with me] for two nights at Sea Palling and very grateful I was too. Lovely people and Tim's knowledge and attitude was so impressive.

26th November 2010

Early out to sea watch with Andy Kane. Andy proved to be a person of forthright views and fabulous skills. A privilege to sit with both on the sand dunes in very cold, wild sea conditions. Red-throated divers passing and various duck species in varying numbers too. Snow buntings closer in, flying past heading south.

After this I cycled to Stalham to search for the mythical Sutton Fen RSPB reserve. Now this place is reputed to have had less people visit it in the past than climbers atop Everest. Down various dirt tracks to get views of the edges of the huge expanse of reed and alder carr; sheltering when necessary from the frequent snow showers. Not many birds; marsh harriers being the best and a superb close by female sparrowhawk.

Back to Tim's for an evening's birdy natter.

27th November 2010

Another early morning seawatch but this time I walked alone to the rendezvous along the beach. Really wild, very windy easterly this morning and the sea was covered with froth from the crashing waves.

A group of 5 purple sandpipers were very approachable and snow buntings were present in small numbers. On getting to Andy and Tim's prefered viewpoint, found them both sheltering from the wind as best as they could and was told a pomarine skua had been reasonably close in. Now I need one for the year so a tad disappointed with the news. Fewer birds moving today and a very distant skua sp. was uncountable. Consolation prize was a close in little auk on the sea.

Said goodbye to the Allwoods and cycled to meat up with a group of people celebrating the 50th birthday of one of their friends. Now I knew none of these lovely people but had been invited to stay because one of their number, Vaughan Evans is a birder and had seen my blog. His suggestion that I stay with them at a superb converted barn complex, was very welcome indeed; as was the food and bath. The party revellers seemed very genuine in their interest on who I was, what I was doing and what my mental state was! Thanks to them all. Special thanks to the birthday girl and Bernie and Lewis, as well as Vaughan. [Ta for the Jaffa cakes]



28th November 2010

Up early and off in very cold icy conditions to Great Yarmouth. Raided the Harry Ramsden rubbish bins to find bags of cold chips, disguarded from the previous evening. Armed with these and in the company of a young campervaner, Tim [how many Tims I've met in the last few days], chips were chucked onto the beach for a good number of Mediterranean gulls. Fabulous to see all plumages amongst these beautiful gulls. Thanks Tim for the donation too.

Cycled to Breydon Water RSPB reserve and walked the sea wall. Very low tide and most birds, particularly duck were out on the mud some way off. The early morning sun had by now disappeared and mist was descending. Phoned my Dad to discuss the England turnaround in the First Test - Come on England!

Found a way to get to Bernay Marshes without having to walk the four miles from Breydon along the sea wall via a brilliant medieval church at Wickhampton. Sheltered in here and was delighted to see amazing large medieval paintings on the walls of the church.

www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/wickhampton/wickhampton.

All alone I explored the edge of Bernay Marshes with marsh harriers, various waders and a good number of pink-footed geese seen; the snow and mist adding to the 'Snow Goose' atmosphere. Now I say this as this must be the sort of place that Paul Gallico thought about when writing his wonderful novel, The Snow Goose. I could almost imagine Frith running along the bridleway holding the injured goose.

Got to Buckenham and then Strumpshaw RSPB reserve to see the starling roost; the best one I'd seen this year. Around 10,000 starlings wheeling tightly because of the attentions of two sparrowhawks and a marsh harrier.


Back to Buckenham in the dark to find a place to sleep.

All the very best to everyone,

Gary

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Cley - 3 days but no new birds

Arrived at Cley in drizzly rain and found a reasonably comfortable place for the night.

Met  Colin Miller, a local stone mason, who showed me the inside of Cley's church and told me something about the churches inhabitants - bats; three varieties. He also showed me Richard millington's stained glass window of the white-crowned sparrow.

Tuesday 23rd November

Photographed nancy's on the way to 'Coastguards', meeting Gary Haddon there. gary and his group are from the Isle of Wight and together we chatted and seawatched. Nothing new but good numbers of common scoter on the sea, with pintail, teal, wigeon and brents passing. Further out were a few auks and gannets and a couple of divers.

Retreated from the appalling weather to the lovely and warm Norfolk Ornithological Trust Centre nearby. News of a Hume's yellow-browed trapped at Holme. Should I go back. I decided to wait and see if it was seen again.

Instead cycled to Blakeney Quay and found the golden plover flock facing away from me some way out over the mud. No chance of seeing an American golden plover in this lot. Need a 'scope not bins. Heavy showers passed over during a three hour wait and from these I sheltered beneath an upturned boat nearby, lying down on the grass and almost falling asleep here. Did see a female hen harrier though.

At around 2.30pm the golden plover flock flew even further out and my chance of a new bird for the year disappeared with them.

Wednesday 24th November

Well my spine problem from last March has reoccurred and painfully I repeated the routine from yesterday, searching for the American golden plover whilst also searching for a possible pomarine skua on the sea.

Weather colder but less wind with heavy showers scooting through.

Once again no luck with either of the target birds but a couple of bearded tits were seen.

A big thank you to Sandra in the Centre for the painkillers. Should get me moving a bit better.

Met Richard and Hazel Millington in the church and jokingly blamed Richard for my [imaginary] woes. It was his book, A Twitcher's Diary' that inspires one to try to get 300 birds in a year. Brilliant book and hard to believe it was written 30 years ago.

Thursday 25th November

After a night watching[!] the First Ashes Test on the phone's internet, up and at them but missed a pomarine at Coastguards by 15 minutes.

Sheltered from a heavy snow and than hail storm but felt warm with my multi-layering. Cycled to Sheringham where I found that the youth hostel is closed to individuals. Most annoying as it doesn't state this on the internet. It just says that 'internet booking is not available'. Oh well, carry on Pres!

Right 24 days to go before I reach Sandy and it's going to be fun with the weather forecast for the next two weeks. Must stay positive.

Think I'll learn the 'Learning to Fly' song by Pink Floyd.

There's no sensation to compare with this.    Suspended animation in a state of bliss.

can't keep my eyes from the circular skies.   Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth bound misfit I.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Titchwell RSPB Reserve

Many, many thanks to Steve and Ann of Hunstanton for the bed and food. Also for the company at Ticthwell.

Whilst saying thank you, many thanks to ANTON HUNKA,  friend of my brother Paul who has helped my cause. Very much appreciated Anton. Thanks!

Saturday 20th November

Arrived at Titchwell early in the morning with thick fog and limited views. Met Steve and Ann and walked to the Fen Hide. A chiff was amongst the bushes here.

A coffee break and the fog had lifted when we came out of the cafe. 74 species seen during a whole day visit; excepting a look for a reported Tundra bean goose. That wasn't seen but the pink-footed geese flock had 2 whitefronts. Highlights of the visit included a number of marsh harriers and two hen harriers.

Work on the brand new hide along the new sea wall looks to be almost completed and one must admire the fortitude of the workers. It was very cold and there they were atop the roof in the cold north-easterly wind.

Sunday 21st November

A lovely, bubbly, friendly lady; Flo heated my milk for a strong mug of Horlicks to warm me after my cool night sleeping out. She was fabulous and if you want to meet her and say hello, just go in the cafe at Titchwell. She's easily recognisable as her blond hair has many purple highlights. If you do see her, please thanks to her from me.

If one need thawing out in the coming weeks, then go into the cafe and see how many bird species are on the diarama there. Ross' gull and spotted crake are just two to be seen.

Off to Burnham Overy and a long walk along the sea wall looking for the reported rough-legged buzzards. Now I've had some bad luck with this species this year so I was thrilled and grateful to David Bradnum for pointing one out to me. This was after saying that we'd met on Fair Isle a few weeks ago. Also saw John from Lakenheath here. So RL Buzzard on the list, at last and now on 245 for the year. 7 to go.

Cycled around to Holkham Gap, searched for the shore larks to no avail and then went to the Tower Hide. Two barn owls, marsh harriers etc seen. Then whilst on the phone to dad, bemoaning the latest Villa defeat, an adult rough-legged buzzard flew past the hide and landed on a nearby bush. Great bird, a zebra crossing of white/black/white/black - head to belly, belly, tail, terminal band. Superb view of a super bird.

17 little egrets came into roost in an area of trees adjacent to a pool where dozens of cormorants were doing likewise. A small bat flew around the hide too. Must have had his thermals on because I needed mine.

Monday 22nd November

Cycled to Holkham Hall after watching the thousands of pink-feet leave. Barn owl, sparrowhawks, marsh harriers and kestrel seen before doing so.

Walked around the Hall's grounds but no sign of a lesser-spotted woodpecker. Hundreds of fallow deer though and Egyptian geese, including some perched on the branches of a dead tree.

Next to Wells to find two Black Brant on the football pitch there.

Will be cycling to Cley this afternoon and getting nervous because of the weatehr forecast of the next ten days; colder with possible snow showers. Great

27 days to go before I reach Sandy. I wonder if the RSPB will greet me there?

All the best everyone

Why not have a BIGBY New Year?

Gary

xx

Friday, 19 November 2010

Firecrest at Lynford Arboretum - bird 243 for the year

And a male golden pheasant at Wolferton Triangle yesterday evening, 18th November 2010. Now are these true golden pheasant or is there some doubt over their purity. This male walked out in front of me, then flew over the road before disappearing under the rhododendrons. First time I've seen one fly; tail streamers streaming in the air. Can anyone say whether I can count it on the year list please?

The day had started at Santon Downham looking for lesser spotted woodpeckers and then looking for woodlark. Neither seen and if anyone can point me in the direction of either I'd be grateful. Only thing of note on tyhe Brecks was a very close muntjac.

Lynford Arboretum and 2 hours spent looking for the firecrest that had been reported a couple of days previously. Had stopped for some lunch, sitting at a picnic bench next to the archways when the treecreeper and the goldcrest I'd seen a few times whilst searching came onto a tree in the dell nearby. Went over and pished the evergreen shrubs there and out came the firecrest. Brilliant. One of my favourite birds and this one was a bright one. well appreciated and another for the year list. 8 to go to beat the record.

Cycled from here to Snettisham; after buying a cable for the iphone charger and saw the pink-footed geese flocks arriving for their roost; thousands of them.

Met two birders at this time, one of whom, Paul Searle has a great blog

http://www.chatterbirds.com/

Slept in the hide here. Actually had a very long sleep, 12 hours.

Friday 19th November

Woke around 6.00am and looking out of the hide window saw a 'half-moon Venus' if you get what I mean. It soon clouded over but not before seeing thousands of pink-footed geese leave their roost on the Wash.

Now I'm pleased to say that I now check every bird and it paid off this time with a close by black brant with a small group of brents.

2 peregrines were seen hunting over the mud and a white-fronted goose was with the greylags on the lagoon, as were around a thousand wigeon, small numbers of goldeneye, gadwall and mallard. 58 egyptian geese were here to and single great-crested grebe, little grebe and kingfisher.

Now I'd lost my last wooly hat somewhere yesterday and cycled back to Wolferton Triangle to search for same. Luckily for my slaphead, there it was, just along the road near the first triangle turning.

In the library at Hunstanton now and will be arriving at Titchwell a couple of days early. Hope they don't mind.

Sorry about the lack of photos but the thieves got the cable to my camera too.

Right, North Norfolk for the next week. Here's hoping.

All the best everyone.

Gary

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I've been Robbed!

Now, who in their right mind would steal one panner but not both? Who would take all the cycling tools but leave the expensive cycling helmet? Who wouldn't steal the lads - Barnaby, Sidney, Albert and Alberta? [the cuddly toys on the bike. Who indeed? The collection box on the front of the bike; well I understand the motive there. Now if anyone can give any information on who took these items whilst I stupidly looked over Ouse Fen RSPB reserve then please get in touch. How naive can I be? Maybe Shetland and it's no crime outlook had lulled me into a false sense of security but I wasetty stupid having locked the bike near-ish to the main road.

The panneir stolen contained some clothes, food, maps and the mobile phone charger. The cycling tools stolen from both panniers outside pockets.

Now am I downhearted over this. Not really. Frustrated that I will never meat the perpetrator[s] I can't be too down because people; friends and RSPB staff at Ouse washes, have been so fantastically wonderful. A tent was found for me as half of the one bought for me by my dear daughter Rebecca had gone with the pannier. A few tools were also given and some gloves too. Thanks Jon and Liam. Nicola brought me a sandwich box and, bless her, she even wanted to cycle home, cook me some pizza and chips, cycle back to the reserve and then cycle home again. I couldn't accept such kindness but was very grateful for the thought. Super people. Friends from home volunteered to buy what had been stolen and bring it to me from Wolverhampton and Worcestershire! Thanks Ian and Phil. Another very dear friend, Diane phoned to insist that I stay in a B & B on her. I didn't but once again was grateful and appreciative.

Now if I put a positive light on the experience, I've only had three such negatives in a whole year. The collection box being stolen in Kenilworth, my MP3 player stolen whilst in the library in Fort William and now this. Also my bike is now a lot lighter!

OK, let's talk birds.

Have been to Nene Washes, Fen Drayton, Ouse Fen [!] and Ouse Washes RSPB Reserves and Welney WWT reserve. The latter was the final one of the WWT's nine reserves to be visited so my first target for the year has been achieved.

Highlights bird-wise include stonechats, peregrine, hundreds of whoopers and bewicks, marsh harriers and thousands of ducks.

Joined in with the WEBS count at Ouse Washes; getting up at 5.15am to be out in my alloted hide for first light. The eventual co-ordinated count was around 7,000 whoopers and 1,200 Bewicks.

Now at Lakenheath RSPB reserve after a comfy night in another church porch. This one had a motion sensitive light!

Saw 5 cranes, 6 marsh harriers, a barn owl, some beardies and water rail and an adult yellow-legged gull amongst the 40 species on the day list. Superb people here met too. Dave White and Steve, Liz [thanks for the pork pie] and John. Great people!

Next on the itinerary is to search the Brecks for woodlark, lesser-spotted woodpeckers and firecrest. Wish me luck as I need all three to get near to the non-motorised year list record.

Right time to go.

All the best,

Gary

North Norfolk for the next 10 days. If anyone can spare a bed please phone 07988754090 or email bikingbirder2010@hotmail.com     Thanks everyone.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Frampton RSPB Reserve to Rutland

Friday 12th November

Early morning start, birding at Frampton with Tony. What a difference to my previous visit. Now a superb maturing reserve with scrapes, hides and a growing reedbed. Then, four years ago, a pile of manure and a field with pipits, linnets and finches.

I explored the whole reserve for the whole of the day and ended up with 60 species including kingfisher, little egrets, good numbers of ducks and waders, four different sparrowhawks and only my second view of grey partridge this year. Ten of them right outside the fabulous visitor's centre windows.

Loved chatting with the folk of Barnet & Potters Bar RSPB group and other birders including

Saturday 13th November

Cycled from Framton to Fineshade Wood/Top Lodge RSPB reserve via Spalding [!] and Stamford. Arriving there met by a good friend's brother Chris Andrews then spent the late afternoon birding. 26 species seen in this massive forested area, with brambling and marsh tits, goldcrest, nuthatch and woodpeckers.

The evening was spent cycling to Rutland to try for long-eared owl.

Sunday 14th November

Up and at 'em early but no long-eared owls in the roost there. Now I must be honest. First rule of birding - CHECK EVERY BIRD! I hadn't and was embarassed when Matthew Berriman, Tim McKrill and Tim Appleton arrived to say that one of the teal I'd scanned over was in fact an american green-winged teal; my second of the year.

Paid my entry fee of £5 and birded the fabulous Rutland Bird Reserve. Mind you a reported grey phalarope had me cycling to Hambleton to search it out and I was pleased to find it just as another birder, Barry came over to say he couldn't see it and that it would be a new bird for him. Had very close views of this smashing bird.

Saw a large flock of Egyptian geese [bird 242 for the year] and a flock of carefully checked golden plover, around the thousand mark.

Back to the centre and 64 species seen and 3 very large rats under the feeders near the centre. Now I like rats and think that they are fascinating creatures. These three were particularly large and confident.

The evening this time was spent cycling to Brian, Karen and Alex Stone's house near Peterborough and many many thanks for the fabulous meal, bath and bed. A wonderful evening with this very kind family talking birds over the dinner table, watching Attenborough's latest programme and listening to the men play piano and guitar. Brilliant. Thanks again.

Right, now a bit nervous because Brian, who is doing a cycling only year list around Peterborough, is going to cycle with me to the Nene Washes. Now I only hope that this mega fit cyclist wont be too harsh over my cycling speed!

Thanks to Martin for the donation to the RSPB. Much appreciated.

Will be cycling to the Nene washes, Fen Drayton, Ouse Fen and Ouse washes over the next two days. I'm still behind my itinerary because of the weather and the day at Rutland but have a window of free days coming up where I'll be able to hopefully add to the year list and catch up with the reserve list.

All the very best everyone. 47 days to go!

Gary

Friday, 12 November 2010

Hasn't the weather been exciting?!

So I set off from my visit to my son, Josh, and with an easterly blowing strong and the rain falling got to Donna Nook - eventually. Hail fell and heavy rain and dispite sheltering a kind motorist decided that soak the cyclist by going through a large puddle was the fun thing to do. Thanks.

The cattle egret had gone to roost so after a chat with John and Mel, the local farmers whose cows were the egrets main attraction, I camped in the car park, sheltering from the strong wind against the sea buckthorn hedge. A comfy night and an early start. No cattle egret first thing so spent time looking at the large colony of grey seals that this place is famous for. Lots of very newly born pups too, some with umbilical cords still attached.

9.00am and back to the cows. My cheers could be heard for miles. Bird number 241 for the year. 11 to go to beat the record, unless someone is also going for the record. Maybe I'm just becoming [more] paranoid.

Cycled to Langford lowfields, near Newark. Met Paul, the RSPB warden and together we went around what will be the reserve in 2017. Merlin, sparrowhawks, a water rail and some bearded tits heard. At the moment the reserve has gravel pits being excavated by Tarmac but watch this space because this is going to be a fabulous huge reserve. Paul was fabulously kind, with soup and coffee whilst chatting and then off again to find a place to sleep. Dark by now I found a beautiful church, St at Brant Broughton. I'd just got into my sleeping bag with my silver paper wrapping, intending to sleep in the porch, when five bellringers arrived for a practice. What a fabulous, totally unexpected evening up in the belfry of this beautiful church. Many thanks to Katharine, Karen, Lindsey, Trevor and especially to John who showed me certain things about the church before the others arrived. They even had me ringing a bell! Great fun.

Up early and the overnight frost had turned to gales and rain once more. Now I haven't had too many terrifying moments but cycling the A17 towards Sleaford in the very strong wind, the rain and the spray was just that. [sorry Mum!] I got pushed over onto the grassy verges a few times by the buffetting by the passing lorries. Not their fault but the wind was so strong and the road so narrow in parts. The rain fell heavier as I got to Boston and I went into the 'Stump', the large parish church.

The afternoon, now a bit sunny but still windy was spent cycling the RSPB reserve at Freiston. One problem, I'd left my wet binoculars in the church. Met Graham and Jenny, both RSPB staff and they took my panniers etc on to Frampton whilst I peddled as fast as the wind in my face would let me to retrieve my bins. Luckily still there so I cycled to Frampton. Met at the door of a brand new visitor's centre by Wendy Morris, a volunteer reserve assistant, then Tony, Jenny, Graham and Simon. A photo was taken outside the centre, which hadn't been here on my previous visit to the reserve four years ago. On that occasion Ian Crutchley and myself sheltered against a huge manure pile from a very cold east wind whilst looking and eventually finding a buff-bellied pipit found by the previous warden, Paul French.

Right time to go.

Thanks to Wendy and her dear Mum June for putting me up for the night. Really appreciate it.

Love to everybody,

Gary

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 bikingbirder2010@hotmail.com] 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,

Love

Gary

Monday, 1 November 2010

Hello to the Rigby Children xxxxxxxxxxxxx See You All Soon - ish

Hello children - and staff.

Especially a very big hello to :-

Anees    Danielle    Grace    Louisa    Richard     Sadie    Sam     Sian    Tom and    Tyrone [Shoelaces]. . . hello to Sara and Jean too xx

Here's a picture for you Tom :


It's a photo of that osprey that was sadly dead in the Lake District Tom.

Here's a photo that will make you feel happier :

                       It's Barnaby Bear on top of Scarfell Pike.

Can you guess where I have been sleeping most nights?

And my bike has been fantastic :


And so have been the people I have met :


video

How are these faces feeling ?


This was a very windy day on a boat :

Now is the time to say     goodbye ........
Love to you all

Mr Prescott


OK everyone. That's just me saying hello to the children and staff at the school where I am a teacher - Rigby Hall Shool, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. England.