31 May 2006

Runnin' around.....

Very little to say, but….

Was at the gym tonight - did a 5k run in my best time so far. 24:32min, which knocks 1:01min off my previous best time! The only problem is… I now feel as though I’ve run 50k not 5!!!

Oh, and the two fox cubs are running around outside right now. I’ve not seen them, just heard them and they are setting security lights off in all the gardens close by! Typical kids! :-))

29 May 2006

More of the same...

Another week with yet more rain and very little else. Lynda and I managed two visits to the gym last week; it should have been three but we kind of talked each other out of Friday’s trip! Due to the weather, and the gym, I didn’t do any birding last week but I doubt that I missed much as there hasn’t been anything of any real note reported in Derbyshire for a while now.

For two days last week I was training someone at work on how to use all the Kia After Sales Systems, this wasn’t a member of our own staff but someone from another dealership! Kia had recommended that they came to us rather than go on a Kia course, as they would learn more that way! It’s nice to know that they appreciate the work I do - wonder how they will feel if the “trainee” finishes up working for us!!!

Over the past few days, we have pretty well finished off everything we have planned, for now, in the garden. All but one of the shrubs we want to remove have now gone and the new plants are in place. The summer bedding plants are in the borders and pots so all we need now is for the rain to stop and the temperature to rise a little and everything can start to fill out.





For over a week now, we have been seeing two young fox cubs around the garden, at times out with one of the adults, at other times they have been running around on their own. This past couple of days they have been rather more elusive, either the rain is keeping them under cover or, I suspect, the vixen has moved them to a new home. The weather forecast for the coming week is looking a lot drier so it may be that we get to see them out playing again.

Last night, I decided that I could wait no longer for the warm summer evenings to arrive and I sat out in the garden until almost 10:30PM. This is something that I do quite often during the summer but last night proved that it is still, after all, a little early for evenings outside! The temperature was around 10°c and there was rather a strong breeze blowing. Still, I stuck it out with a can of beer, a tube of Pringles and my MP3 player in just one ear! I needed the other ear free to listen for the fox cubs! Me? Crazy? Quite possibly!

22 May 2006

It rained!

Well, the weather forecast wasn’t far wrong! This weekend it has rained, then it has rained and after that, well, we had thunder, lightening, and some heavy rain.

The RSPB trip on Saturday wasn’t hit by the weather quite as much as it could have been, we were caught in a couple of showers at the first reserve we visited, Lackford Lakes, but managed to get into one of the bird hides before getting too wet. Unfortunately, the second reserve, Lakenheath Fen, doesn’t have hides! When the rain came there, we had to rough it out and take shelter behind a large Hawthorn bush.

The only new bird I saw for my year list was a Common Crane that drifted over Lackford. Of all the birds I had in mind for the day this certainly wasn’t one of them.

A moments brightness at Lackford Lakes.

The weather again looked as though it was about to turn to rain during the second part of the afternoon, so Lynda and I made the decision to head back to the coach around half an hour before we were due to leave for home. Once back on the coach it was out with the MP3 player and I was ready for the journey back to Derby. Why didn’t I get one of these things ages ago? It makes long coach trips so much shorter!

The clouds start to build at Lakenheath.

Late on Saturday evening, I checked the internet for information about the Autograss meeting on Sunday. The news was that the meeting was ON, but check in the morning before travelling! Still, that was promising as most meetings are cancelled at least 24 hours before start time.

This morning I awoke around 8:00AM and lay in bed trying to hear if it was raining. Nothing, not a sound. Things were looking promising. Out of bed and a quick look out of the window, no rain! The road did look a little damp though so we may have had some rain in the night. Still feeling positive, I checked the Autograss forum again…

due to very heavy rain overnight, today's race meeting at M&L has had to be cancelled. The track is still in great condition but the access roads and spectator areas are not vehicle friendly

...another rain off! This has to be one of the worst starts to the season I can remember. A quick look around the forum suggests at least six or seven other meetings have also been rained off today. Hard to believe that parts of the country are in the middle of a drought.

The only things I have planned for the coming week are trips to the gym, maybe an evening or two birding if the rain stops and getting the rest of the summer bedding plants sorted. After that little lot, it’s another Bank Holiday weekend!

19 May 2006

Yet another weekend, yet more rain! So much for the drought that we are having at the moment! I just hope that the places that are short of water are getting as much of this weather as we are here.

Still very little going on here at the moment. Derbyshire has calmed down again on the bird watching front with very few new birds being found. Work is, well, work! Nothing changes there! Lynda and I have been at the gym twice in the last two days - tonight I managed a 5km run in 27min exactly, a bit off the pace I have done but it is almost 4 weeks since I did a proper treadmill session. Over the next few weeks, I aim to get back under the 26min mark.

Tomorrow Lynda and I are on an RSPB trip to Suffolk. I had been looking forward to this but having seen the weather forecast; I wish I were staying in bed! All we can do is hope that they have the weather for tomorrow wrong, very wrong!

The plan for Sunday is to be at my first Autograss meeting of the year. From what I’m told, the track is in good shape now and the rest of the site is dry enough to get race transporters on to. That could still all change over the next 24 hours of course!

16 May 2006

May 16 2006

So, today...

I've been with my job for a year today! Time sure has flown this past twelve months; it doesn't feel like a year since MG Rover fell apart around us.

The main tasks for this week...

1. Well, I finally found the time to sort out a B&B for our trip to Scotland in July. This means we will be able to go to the Callander Highland Games and also see both Albannach and Clann An Drumma play.

2. The rain held off this evening so we managed to get all the new plants into the garden. Just got a little more summer bedding to sort out and we're done.

3. Gave the gym a miss so that we could do the garden! May go tomorrow! Then again...

4. Racing? There is a good chance that it may just happen this weekend!

5. Do more birding? Err, when?

6. The bird lists will just have to wait, again!

14 May 2006

Nothing much going on...

It may just be that this is the "quiet before the storm", but there isn't much going on right now.

Thursday we were at the gym again - not a great workout but a lot better than the past few weeks!

Friday I went off birding again after work - didn't see much but did manage one new Derbyshire year tick, an Egyptian Goose.

Saturday morning I was at work. Nothing much going on so I spent most of the morning cleaning the fish tank there! In the afternoon, Lynda and I went off in search of plants for the border in the back garden that we have cleared. We came back with a climbing rose and a bamboo, plus another tray of bedding plants.

Today I had another morning out birding! Only had a few hours out local to home but did manage another five Derbyshire year ticks. This must be the busiest Spring I've had in years for local birdwatching! Still, all the extra hours out "in the field" are paying off as my County List is fast approaching the 130 species mark.

Main tasks for the coming week...

1. Sort out July trip to Scotland, so that we can see Albannach and Clann an Drumma!

2. Get all the plants we have bought in the past week or so planted!

3. Get to the gym more!

4. Pray for a dry week, so that next Sunday I may get to go racing with Gary!

5. Do more birding!

6. Get my bird lists up to date!

10 May 2006

So far I've managed part of what I set out to do this week! Lynda and I went to the gym again last night, the first time for about three weeks. I have also made a start on updating my "Birding Lists" page on here. At the moment it is only my 2006 Derbyshire Year List but it's a start!

Last night turned into another one of those nights again! We had just got home and started to take our gym bags out of the car when my mobile phone rang - it was a friend of mine that was out birding. Within half an hour I was at Aston-On-Trent gravel pits adding Garganey to my year list! So much for getting home from the gym and having a meal and then watching the TV!

This evening I spent an hour out in the garden doing the lawns and a bit of tidying up before starting on my bird lists. Whilst sat at the PC I heard a young Blackbird calling, moments later it appeared on the lawn being fed by the two parent birds. Later, I saw the first bat of the year flying around over the garden - summer must be coming, first young Blackbird of the year out of the nest and then my first sighting of a bat this year!

Now, if only we could start racing....

08 May 2006

Busy, busy, busy!

Well, this week certainly flew by! Work has been non-stop, luckily with no real problems, and Derbyshire has enjoyed a bit of a run of good birds for the past five or six days, which has meant I've been kept on my toes with the birdwatching too.

Tuesday was the first day back at work, after the long Bank Holiday weekend, and that went OK. After work the plan had been to go to the gym, that all went out of the window when I received news of a Woodchat Shrike at Long Eaton. This was only the third ever county record, the others being one shot in 1838 and another, seen by just one person, in 1968 and so was a bit of a "mega tick" for Derbyshire birders. Less than an hour after finishing work and I'd seen the Shrike!

After work on Wednesday, I ran the mower over the lawns and got them looking tidy again; still no time for the gym! I'm in need of a workout now to get rid of the "damage" done by eating too much at Center Parcs!

So onto Thursday. We put our gym bags in the car on Thursday morning, headed off to work with all good plans of going to the gym in the evening followed by shopping. Not a chance! During the afternoon I got word of a group of eight Black Terns at Long Eaton, strange how that place has started to get some of the better birds again. Less than an hour after work and the Terns had been added to my County List.

Friday ran to form... no gym, just shopping and then home. The rest of the evening was spent getting rid of some of the overgrown shrubs in the back garden. By the time the light started to go I had cleared most of one border ready for replanting over the next week or two.

Saturday was a day off from work and I spent the morning clearing more of the garden. Rain stopped play in the afternoon so I was forced back inside the house!

That just leaves today! After breakfast, Lynda and I went off to the garden centre in search of summer bedding plants and also to get ideas for the now cleared border. We got most of the bedding plants that we will need but didn't find anything that would really do for the border. After lunch I sat down to enjoy the F1 Grand Prix.

Just as it became a reasonable bet that Schumacher would win, the phone rang! Yet more bird news, this time Whimbrel and Turnstone at Aston-On-Trent. Off I set and within less than quarter of an hour another two ticks were in the bag for the year. The trip out was made even better as I was also able to add Whinchat and Temminck's Stint that turned up later in the afternoon.

Next week, I will be back at the gym and I will get my "Birding Lists" page updated! Then again...

03 May 2006

The Sussex weekend.

Every now and again things just seem to fall into place, and this past weekend that's just what happened!

Our long weekend away couldn't really have been much better; the weather was very good to us with plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures and nothing worth mentioning in the way of rain. The only heavy rain we saw was first thing on Monday morning whilst we were having breakfast, by the time we were ready to leave the hotel the sun was starting to come out. After that, it was back to clear blue skies!

So, we set off from Derby at 7:00AM on Saturday, after seeing Peregrine on the cathedral, and headed for the first day's birding at Frensham Common in Surrey. After a stop for breakfast on the way, the coach made good time and we arrived on schedule at 11:00AM.

Frensham Common

The common covers an area of around 1000 acres and is made up of mainly open heathland with some coniferous and mixed woodland. There are also two large ponds, known as Frensham Great and Little Ponds. Although there is a mix of habitat here the number of birds seen can, at times, be a little low. Lynda and I managed to find 47 species between us. Highlights included Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Mealy Redpoll, and Redstart.

After five rather enjoyable hours our group headed off to the hotel, giving us plenty of time to unpack our things before finding the bar and then our evening meal. The food was very good but the price of drinks in the bar was rather steep! Luckily, there was a pub next door to the hotel! You can guess where we went after dinner!

Sunday saw us at the Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve, in West Sussex. This was a totally different type of habitat to the day before. We now found ourselves in an area of wet grassland with small patches of woodland and scrub. The species of birds to be found here were also much more diverse and numerous. They even had Highland Cattle to graze the water meadows!

Part of Pulborough Brooks Reserve.

This proved to be our best day as regards the number of different species found and also the quality of birds too. Frensham had been good for its heathland "specialities" but Pulborough had lots more to offer in the way of birds that are tricky to find in Derbyshire or that do not even occur here.

During the 6½ hours we spent on the reserve Lynda and I managed to find a total of 74 species of bird. Some of the better finds were Nightingale, Lesser Whitethroat, Pintail, Stonechat, Cuckoo and Hobby. The Hobby were possibly the best birds of the weekend, we watched six of them hunting together over the meadows whilst also being able to see eight Buzzard soaring over a distant wood.

To top a great day's birding returning to the hotel had an extra little treat in store. As we pulled into the car park we were greeted by the sight of 18 E-Type Jaguars, five XJS's, four MK2 Jags and also a single D Type! What a collection of cars!

Having been hit rather hard in the pocket by the bar prices the night before, we headed to the pub again on Sunday evening. One drink in there, then back to the hotel for our meal before returning to the pub for the rest of the evening. In the end, around a dozen of us enjoyed the last night of our mini holiday in the comfort of the bar. I also rather enjoyed the large bowl of battered onion rings that I had for my supper in there! They went well with a few pints of cider.

After a rather large breakfast on Monday (I had two full English Breakfasts - you can't beat a buffet!) it was time to head off to the final reserve of the weekend, Pagham Harbour. This coastal reserve gave us yet another completely different day's birding.

Looking out over the saltmarsh.

We were now on the edge of a large area of tidal saltmarsh and mudflats, with farmland and small areas of woodland running along side. The main attraction for us here was the number of waders that were to be found. As soon as we got off the coach we located a group of around a dozen Whimbrel feeding near the car park. Soon after, we added more waders including Bar-Tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Turnstone, Sanderling and Grey Plover. Other highlights included Little Egret, Sandwich Tern and Cetti's Warbler.

All too soon it was 3:00PM and time for us too start the long journey home. As it was a Bank Holiday Monday I was expecting the roads to be very busy and for the coach to be held up in traffic jams, somehow it just didn't happen! We had a clear run all the way back to Derby and arrived back just before 7:30PM.

I still have to go through all my notes for the weekend but it looks like I will have seen exactly 100 species over the three days, with Lynda very close to that with around 98. All in all a great weekend where things just seemed to fall into place!