28 April 2008

A Sunday at home...

After spending such a long time out birding on Saturday I decided to take a break on Sunday and to stay at home. The weather forecast - heavy rain/thunderstorms - had nothing to do with my decision, well not much! As it turned out I could have easily enjoyed a morning’s birding as the day dawned dry, bright and sunny.

By mid-morning Lynda had succeeded in talking me into making a trip to the local garden centre; it’s time to start thinking about summer bedding plants again, apparently! We picked up six trays of African Marigolds and eight Begonias to go with the Geraniums that Lynda had bought at the local market on Saturday. We’ll be making more trips to the garden centre over the next few weeks as the choice of plants gets better.

African Marigolds.


Once back home I started to look for jobs to do around the garden. A rather large Californian Lilac caught my eye! The “Blue Bush”, as we have nicknamed the plant over the years, has been earmarked for removal for sometime now and on Sunday the day of reckoning finally arrived. A couple of hours later and it was all over, the lilac was gone, the recycling bin was full and we had suddenly regained a large area of garden.

Before the saw came out...

During the clearance...

All cleared away.

The only downside to the “clearance work” is that the House Sparrows have now lost one of their meeting places - they used to drop onto the lilac before flying onto the feeding station. We’ll be planting the sparrows a new tree in the near future but it will be further into the corner of the garden so that it doesn’t dominate the border quite so much!

In other parts of the garden, the Alliums are doing well with flower stems popping up all over the place and the Bleeding Heart is now in full flower. Summer is slowly, but surely, creeping up on us. This coming weekend is the first of the May Bank Holiday Weekends so no doubt the weather will take a turn for the worse and we’ll get snow or something equally un-seasonal!

Bleeding Heart.

27 April 2008

Putting in the hours...

No work, no rain, plenty of sunshine, 8½ hours of birding and 70 species located. Now that is my kind of Saturday! Days like that don’t come along too often for me at the moment so yesterday I made the most of the alignment of the planets, or whatever it was that happened, and spent much of the day at my second home - Willington Gravel Pits.

The lane, at Willington.

I set my alarm for 6:45AM but, as it happened, I was awake long before then and was actually at Willington by just before 7:00AM. Instead of heading straight for the Canal Scrape, as I tend to do, I decided to take a very steady stroll down the lane to view the main pits, stopping off at each of the viewing platforms along the way. The walk to the first platform - just over half-way down the lane - gave me some very good views of the more common species with many of the birds sat out in the early morning sun. Birds seen included Wren, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Goldfinch and Bullfinch.

Male Bullfinch.

At 7:30AM I caught sight of my first new bird of the day for my "10-Mile List" when a Swift came into view for a few moments high over the trees in the lane. By late morning this single Swift had turned into a group of 10 that spent most of the day racing around over the reserve. It must be close to eight months since I last saw a Swift and then when one comes along so do nine others! It was good to see, and hear, them once again though. The Swifts were flying around in the company of around 30 Sand Martin and a dozen or so Swallow, but no House Martin. I’m hoping that there will be a large "fall" of House Martin soon as they appear to be rather thin on the ground so far this spring.

Once I arrived at the viewing platforms I quickly added another bag full of species to my day list. Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Black-headed Gull and Reed Bunting were all noted from the first platform. Platform two gave me a fly-through Oystercatcher, Skylark, Goldfinch and, much to my delight, a couple of Arctic Terns - another new tick for the year on my "10-Mile List". The terns spent around five minutes flying around over the main pit before landing on the spit. The Black-headed Gulls took exception to this and soon moved the terns on again. After another couple of unsuccessful attempts to find a place on the spit the terns headed off high to the north.

The view from platform three.

The walk to platform three provided me with my third year tick of the day - Lesser Whitethroat. I managed to see two "Lessers" in the lane and also heard at least one other. Once at the end of the lane, and up on the final viewing platform, I quickly added my fourth new bird of the year when a Reed Warbler suddenly burst into song just a few feet from were I stood. Within minutes, a second Reed Warbler appeared and both birds showed well, on and off, for the next couple of hours.

Other birds seen from the end of the lane included Greylag Goose, 7 Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Common Tern, Cuckoo (a species that I had previously only heard this year), Sedge Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and a couple more Goldfinch.

Common Sandpiper.

After spending around three hours on the third platform I decided to move around to the Canal Scrape in search of more birds and also to stretch my legs after having stood for so long in one place - I’m getting old and my knees older still! On the walk back up the lane I came across a number of Orange-tip butterfly and also a couple of Peacock butterfly too. The Orange-tips were constantly on the move but I did manage to grab a quick photo of one of the Peacocks.

Peacock butterfly.

Walking back up the lane also gave me my final new bird species of the day for my "10-Mile List", a Garden Warbler. The Garden Warbler would have gone totally unnoticed if it hadn’t started to sing just as I walked by it. The bird was tucked away deep in a bramble bush and it took me some while to finally get a good view of it. When I did get to see it, it promptly came out of hiding and sang from the top of the bush! Typical!

Canal Scrape proved to be rather quiet, compared to the past few weeks, with the only birds of note being a female Sparrowhawk, Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail (I tick it, so I list it!) and a flock of around 60 Linnet.

By now it was getting on for 2:00PM and I chose to abandon the Canal Scrape in favour of one more visit to the first viewing platform. A Kingfisher flew across the path as I headed back onto the main reserve and a Grey Heron and a Shelduck posed for photos on the small pool in front of the platform.

Grey Heron.


At 3:15PM I headed for home. I’d spent 8½ hours on the reserve, I’d seen a total of 70 species and I’d added five new birds to my "10-Mile List" for the year. It was a rather nice day - even though I did get just a little sun burnt!

My "10-Mile List" now stands at 107 species.

22 April 2008

Two tick Tuesday...

A brief visit to (yes, you’ve guessed) Willington Gravel Pits this evening proved more than worthwhile with two more new species turning up for my “10-Mile List”.

Although the weather has been a lot warmer today the birds were not quite so easy to find this evening - just 44 species located in the hour-and-a-half I was on the reserve. I didn’t cover anything like the ground that I had on Sunday but, even so, it did make me realise just how good Sunday’s count of 73 species was.

Birds of note included 8 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 4 Goldeneye, 1 Goosander, 1 Oystercatcher, 7 Snipe, 1 Green Woodpecker, 7 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Sedge Warbler. The two new birds for my tick list were a Common Sandpiper that gave some very good views as it fed along the water’s edge, and a superb Hobby that flew in low over one of the pools just as the sun was setting.

The Hobby spent around 5 minutes hunting over the water, often flying close by, before it moved off over the adjacent farmland. The bird showed what looked to be some signs of feather damage on its rump and had a noticeable “bump” that could easily been seen as the bird flew around. This should provide a good I.D. feature if the bird is seen again. I’ll be on the lookout!

My “10-Mile List” now stands at 102 species.

21 April 2008

The first young of the year...

The ride into work this morning didn’t give me any new bird sightings for the year; in fact it was a little quiet to be honest. The Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were a little quieter than they have been, the Great Spotted Woodpecker as nowhere to be seen, or heard, and the Sand Martins and Swallows had moved from Alvaston Park Lake to the river.

I did get to see five “new arrivals” though - the first Canada Goose chicks of the year. As I stopped by the lake two of the adult geese came over to me to see if I had bread for their breakfast, with them came five little bundles of fluff that could not have been more than a couple of days old. Today, they looked cute... in a matter of months they will have grown into noisy, aggressive, nuisances just like their parents!

The family come to see if I have breakfast for them...

...but find that, today, they are unlucky!

Off in search of a bite to eat!

20 April 2008

Beating the elements...

It’s been a long hard day, and I also have beer to drink and Pringles to eat, so this is going to be just a brief update of today's birding. Here goes...

5:45AM - I get out of bed and then have a quick breakfast. I load all my gear into the car, in the rain, and set off for Willington Gravel Pits (yes, that place again!).

6:30AM - The rain is easing, a little, and I’m walking onto the reserve.

6:45AM - I stumble across the first new bird of the morning for my “10-Mile List” when a Common Whitethroat suddenly appears out of nowhere and starts to sing from the top of a bramble bush just a few yards in front of me. As I watch the Whitethroat I add the second “tick” of the morning when a Cuckoo begins calling in the distance. The Cuckoo remains a “heard only” bird but, for listing purposes, I’ll count it!

7:35AM - For almost an hour very little has been seen, or at least nothing out of the ordinary has been seen. I pass the time by counting the Black-headed Gulls (150), Common Gulls (5), Shoveler (14) and Gadwall (10) amongst other things. Just as I’m starting to think about moving on to another part of the reserve things pick up. The drizzly rain stops and within minutes a couple of Common Tern fly low over the water. They don’t land and only stay around for a very short time before flying off into the distance. I’m not too bothered - they are another year tick!

8:30AM - Once again, I’m birding with my ears. As I walk down the lane towards the first viewing platform I can hear a fishing reel being wound in. Alarm bells start to ring with me - you don’t get fishermen in the lane so that can mean only one thing, Grasshopper Warbler! After spending around 15 minuets trying to locate the “Gropper” I move on. Another year tick that remains a “heard only”.

9:10AM - I get the easiest new species of the day when two Sedge Warblers come bursting through the reeds in front of the third viewing platform and start to sing in full view. Sedge Warblers certainly aren’t the most tuneful of birds but, on a cold and wet April morning, they certainly gave a hint of the warmer days to come.

9:20AM - Time for the best birds of the day to put in an appearance - three Bar-tailed Godwits. The Godwits fly in low from the south, land on the spit in the centre of Gull Pit and rest up for just quarter of an hour before flying off high to the north.

11:00AM - The wind is now getting quite strong and very cold. I decide that it’s time to head for home and a hot drink!

16:45PM until 19:45PM - I return to Willington just in case anything new has turned up! Nothing has, so I come home again even colder than I had this morning!

During the course of the day I have seen a total of 73 species which is 10 more than my previous high count here. I have also added six new species to my all-important “10-Mile List”, which now leaves me with a total of 100 birds seen within the 10-mile radius of home. Apart from the horrible weather, it’s been a great day!

Now, I’m going to finish that beer and maybe chase it down with a small whisky!

18 April 2008

Nature at work...

This evening I witnessed the crueller side of nature - a Sparrowhawk in action! Just after I arrived home from work one of the male Blackbirds that visits our garden was looking longingly at the empty bird table.

I took the hint and went to put out some fruit for him. Just as I walked out into the garden Mr Blackbird made a big mistake; he flew up onto the garage roof and started to run towards me. Bang! In a flash, he was gone! Taken by a Sparrowhawk!

Now, I know that this is an everyday occurrence but seeing it happen less than 20 feet from me, and to one of MY Blackbirds, wasn’t nice. Okay, double standards here I guess... when a Kestrel took a Starling in the garden some while ago I was impressed to see the small falcon battle for his meal. Was this really any different? I suppose not.

R.I.P. Mr Blackbird.

17 April 2008

Full of the joys of spring...

They may have taken an extra 24hrs to arrive but this morning the House Martins I wished for on Tuesday night were waiting for me at Alvaston Park lake. The Swallows and Sand Martins of the past few days were joined by two House Martins as they skimmed across the lake in search of food. Whether they managed to find anything on such a cool mid-April morning I’m not sure.

It’s strange but, apart from the Osprey I saw at Willington a few weeks ago, no other sighting has pleased me quite so much this year. In another few weeks House Martin will be a common enough sighting on most of my birding trips, and also on the cycle ride into work, but this morning it was like seeing old friends again. I wonder what they think of the suburbs of Derby compared to Southern Africa? And, am I the only one that thinks they look like tiny Porpoises, with wings attached?

The House Martins were species number 94 on my “10-Mile List”.

With the rain managing to hold off all day today I was able to “play out” for a while after work this evening. I mowed both the lawns, edged, and dug the flower borders over and then filled the bird feeders up, yet again. We may not have the biggest of gardens but being able to get out there again now the evenings are getting lighter is something I enjoy almost as much as my birding. When I win the lottery my days will be more than filled!

Flowering Currant

The front flower border.

Snake's Head Fritillary.

15 April 2008

A bit of rain helps...

The only birds of note seen on a quick lap of Alvaston Park Lake on the mountain bike this morning were a pair of Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck, 2 Stock Dove, both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff and a single Willow Warbler.

On the way home this evening I heard Sand Martins again, only this time it sounded like there may be one or two more. After doing a quick U-turn on the river path and returning to the edge of the lake it became clear why I’d heard the martins... there were around 60 of them darting around, low over the water, hunting for insects!

The heavy rain this afternoon had obviously forced a number of migrants to seek out a resting-place for a while as the martins were accompanied by at least four Swallows. A group of 21 Pied Wagtail were also making the most of the shelter provided by the river side trees and were rushing around like a bunch of clockwork toys as they searched for food.

Hopefully, the light rain and cloud that is forecast for tonight may just push one or two more birds down over night. A House Martin would be nice, a Redstart or a flycatcher would be great! Yeah, well, I can but dream.

13 April 2008

Four more species...

Sunrise from Swarkestone Bridge.

Another early start to the day today, up at 5:45AM and out the door by 6:15AM to go birding again. The early start didn’t quite pay off this time though as I missed the bird I was after. A female Ring Ouzel had been reported near Ticknall, South Derbyshire, yesterday but by this morning it had moved on. It’s a year tick missed but it’s my own fault, I should have gone for it yesterday as passage Ring Ouzel tend not to hang around too long in Spring!

The morning wasn’t a total loss though as I still managed to locate four new birds for my “10-Mile List”. The first was a superb male Northern Wheatear that was in the same field as the Ring Ouzel should have been. I would imagine that the bird had arrived overnight as there had been no reports of it yesterday and it was also looking somewhat subdued for much of the time. It wasn’t until the sun had been on its back for almost an hour that the bird started to move around the field and began to feed.

The second tick of the day also came whilst looking for the Ring Ouzel, a male Yellowhammer that was singing from the top of a nearby hedge. The “Little-bit-of bread-and-no-cheese” call of the bird gave its location away; the stunningly bright yellow plumage made it impossible to miss. At 8:00AM I gave up on the Ouzel and decided to move on. Species number 90 and 91 were on my list so I wasn’t too concerned about dipping out on the moorland blackbird. At least that’s what I kept telling myself!

Having already visited Willington Gravel Pits five times this Spring I decided that today I would give it a miss and go for a walk around Barrow-upon-Trent pits instead. So far, there have been no reports of anything “interesting” at Willington today so I’m hoping that I made the right choice.

Looking back towards Barrow-upon-Trent Church.

Of the 45 species seen at Barrow two were new for the year, Red-legged Partridge and White Wagtail. Now, before everyone bombards me with e-mails I know that White Wagtail is the nominate race of our Pied Wagtail and is NOT on the BOU list of British Species but, this is my game and I’ll play it by MY rules! The bird recording programme I use has White Wagtail on it, so I tick it! I see it as compensation for missing the Ring Ouzel.

Other birds of note at Barrow included 12 Mute Swan, 6 Greylag Geese, a pair of Gadwall, 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Swallow, 1 Northern Wheatear, a male Blackcap and a male Yellowhammer.

At 10:30AM I made the decision to call it a day and head for home. I could quite easily have driven a few miles down the road to Willington but, no doubt, the place will still be there next week!

My “10-Mile List” has now reached 93 species.

12 April 2008

Spa day...

I want a Japanese Salt Steam Bath here at home! Heated seats and walls, a room temperature of 45°c (113°f) and humidity between 90 and 100%. This was, once again, my favourite treatment at the Nottingham Aqua Sana Spa. The other spa rooms are all very good too but, for me, they don’t quite match the Japanese salt.

We arrived at Center Parcs at just before 9:00AM, managed to park right opposite the entrance to the spa and checked in at reception. After a brief and very friendly explanation of our day over a cup of coffee from one of the staff, we headed off into the spa. Some 5 hours later we re-emerged, feeling very much relaxed and, a little disturbing for me, smelling of a wonderful mix of the aromas used in the various steam rooms! Lemon, Camomile, Sage, Rosemary and Eucalyptus are all used at some point. I may suggest a new spa room... the Whisky Steam Bath!

Lunch in the Conservatory Café- included in the price - was very tasty, and healthy too. Lynda had a Jacket Potato with a Coriander Chicken Salad; I had a potato with a Rice & Mushroom Salad. We then undid all the good of the first course by having dessert - Carrot Cake for Lynda, Lemon Drizzle Cake for me! Well, too much healthy food in one day isn’t good for you, is it?

After lunch we spent a while sat outside on the balcony of the spa, wrapped in two huge great big fluffy blankets to keep warm! I can imagine this to be a great spot to be on a snowy winter’s evening. Having let our lunch go down a little we returned to the spa rooms for another hour or so before heading off into the main village.

As the weather wasn’t too good, lots of heavy rain showers, we didn’t spend too much time looking around the village square but there have been one or two changes since we last visited back in October 2006. Starbucks now have a coffee shop there, the Country Club is now a “contemporary gastro pub” (their words, not mine!) and a couple of new shops have opened. Other than that it’s business as usual.

The swimming dome is much the same... we both came back with bruises from the water slides and rapids so things can’t have changed too much! One small step forward was that Lynda managed to go down both the Raft Ride and one of the water slides without screaming! Now that is progress!

Having enjoyed around 3 hours in the pool area we headed back out into the village again. We walked to the far end of the park and had a drink in the gastro pub before returning to Luciano’s, the Italian restaurant. Once again, nothing much changes here; the food was great, the service spot on. The Nottingham Center Parcs is still the best as far as we are concerned. The staff are always great, the swimming dome is, we reckon, the best and the park layout is superb.

At just after 10:00PM we decided it was time to make tracks for home. By 11:30PM we were tucked up in day, relaxed and very happy. This morning we didn’t drag ourselves out of bed until after 11:00AM so, I guess, it must have been a tiring day out too! Roll on November when we return to Sherwood Forest!

10 April 2008


Yeah, that’s right... it’s the weekend! Lynda and I have now finished work for the week and have a three-day weekend to look forward to.

The week so far...

I’ve managed to use the bike to get to and from work for three days, today I had to take the car so that I could get petrol for the weekend. The weather has been cold and wet at times but the only time it caught me out was on the journey home on Tuesday. The rain had stopped by the time I left work but, foolishly, I chose the long, riverside, route home so that I could get an extra bit of a “workout” and also do a little birding at the same time. In the end all I managed to do was get myself, my clothes and my bike caked in mud! It was fun ploughing through all the puddles though! Sorry for all the extra washing Lynda!

The birding-by-bike hasn’t turned up anything too surprising over the past few days with only Monday evening turning up anything of note... 2 Great Crested Grebe on the river in Alvaston Park; 2 Greylag in a field between the river and the Alvaston by-pass; a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the grounds of Elvaston Castle; numerous Sand Martin (tricky getting a count when cycling!); 5 Chiffchaff along the river path and a single Blackcap in Alvaston Park.

So, onto the weekend. In a little under 12 hours Lynda and I will be in the Aqua Sana Spa at Center Parcs, Nottingham, and we can’t wait! We’ll spend the morning in the spa, have lunch in the Conservatory Café and then, if it isn’t raining, we’ll have a quick look around the village to see what’s new. The rest of the afternoon will be spent messing around in the swimming dome. In the evening we’ll replace all the energy used up on the water slides and rapids by having a meal in one of the restaurants on site.

At some point over the weekend I’d like to get out and do a few hours birding but, if the weather isn’t too good, I may well just have two days of doing very little apart from chilling out. This weekend will be all about unwinding before what looks like being an even more stressful week at work next week - but that’s another story!

06 April 2008

Willington, in the snow...

I woke this morning (at 5:45AM) to find the garden covered in snow, and a male Blackbird outside the kitchen window complaining that he was cold and that there was no fruit on the bird table for breakfast. The Blackbird and three of his mates were served breakfast before I was - it was quieter that way! At times, I think the birds eat better than I do here, and they cost more to feed too.

After my own, rushed, breakfast I loaded by binoculars, ‘scope, two coats and my Wellingtons into the car and set off for my second home, Willington Gravel Pits. Since 9th March I’ve put in more than 20hrs of birding at Willington and it’s starting to pay off. Today’s visit gave me four more new ticks for my “10-Mile List”... Blackcap, Yellow Wagtail (my earliest Derbyshire record by 3 days), Willow Warbler and Swallow.

Sunrise at Willington.

Birding in the snow isn’t something I do too often, and it’s certainly the first time I’ve visited Willington when it’s been white over, but this morning’s visit was one of those memorable times that stay with you for a long while. Waiting for the sun to rise, listening to the birds singing, whilst stood ankle deep in snow was a rather pleasant way to start a day! Quite what the recently arrived summer migrants thought I can only guess at, but it was cold, very cold!

As well as the four new birds, other notable sightings included... 6 Shelduck, 20 Gadwall, 4 Goosander, Sparrowhawk, 4 Buzzard, Peregrine, 3 Oystercatcher, 7 Redshank, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 10 Chiffchaff, 20 Linnet and 4 Bullfinch.

The sight of over 300 Sand Martin descending upon the canal scrape proved quite a spectacle but also had me wondering just how many of them would survive the coming days and weeks. Many of the birds looked to be trying to rest-up, and also warm up, in the early morning sun by landing on an area of mud that had been exposed as the snow melted. Once on the ground the birds formed into a close knit group and remained almost motionless for long periods of time.

By 10:00AM the sun was starting to burn off the early morning chill and the martins seemed to be coping better with the conditions as they could be seen flying around over much of the reserve. No doubt they’d be even happier if the temperature was to rise by another few degrees and a few insects started to appear for them to eat.

This Chaffinch may have been cold but it was singing it's head off!

Reflections in the canal.

The species count for my “10-Mile List” now stands at 89.

05 April 2008

A Saturday afternoon at home...

The return of cold, wet weather put me off going out birding this afternoon so I have taken the opportunity to "tweak" my page a little. There is now an e-mail link, over on the left of the page, so that I can be contacted directly from here. Just how long the link will stay there remains to be seen. If the junk mail gets too much then I’ll remove the link and close the e-mail address.

Tomorrow, I should have been at my first autograss meeting of the year but the weather has put paid to that and the meeting was cancelled at lunchtime today, I now have an unexpected free day. The weather forecast for tomorrow morning doesn’t look too bad so I think I’ll set the alarm for "before-light-o’clock" and try and get a few hours birding in before the rain/sleet/snow arrives.

For the armchair birders, the Derby Peregrines now have four eggs in the nest and the birds can be seen on the webcams almost all of the time now.

The link to the Peregrine Blog is Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

The link that goes directly to the webcam is Derby Peregrine Webcam

04 April 2008

Patience is needed for number 85...

The ride into work this morning was once again somewhat lacking in birds; a couple of Chiffchaff, a single Great Crested Grebe, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a few Blackbirds singing their heads off were the only things that stood out.

Work was very quiet, for a change, and the day was really starting to drag when, out of the blue, I received a text message... “two Garganey at Willington!” Now, I couldn’t get away from work soon enough. By 5:15PM I was on my bike and heading for home, quarter of an hour earlier than I should have been!

At 6:00PM I was at Willington and hurrying down the lane towards the viewing platforms. For once there was no time to take note of the birds in the lane, I needed to be at the far end of the reserve!

For almost two hours I, along with five other birders, scanned the pits with telescope and binoculars without finding anything. As the sun went down it started to look like we were out of luck, the Garganey were nowhere to be found.

Some of the birds we did locate included 21 Goosander (my best ever count for Willington), 9 Shelduck, 6 Goldeneye and 2 Oystercatcher. A single Curlew dropped in on one of the pits for a short while and a Green Sandpiper flew over. In the distance, over 100 Sand Martin were noted in flight.

At 7:55PM, after moving around to a different part of the reserve, our luck changed. We had the Garganey in sight. At first the view wasn’t too good; we were looking through some reeds and the birds were still a little distant. A slow, and very quiet, move a little further along the path and we had the views we wanted, a pair of Garganey out in the middle of the water.

It had taken longer than I had hoped, and the light was fading fast, but I had species number 85 on my tick list, I was happy!

03 April 2008

Biking again...

I woke up this morning with the full use of both legs so it was out with the bike again and another traffic free journey into work.

The ride along the river path was pleasant enough but it was a little short of bird life. One or two Chiffchaff were calling, a couple of Great Crested Grebe drifted slowly down river and the Canada Geese were being as noisy as usual in Alvaston Park. Other than that, I didn’t see much else.

On the ride home this evening Chiffchaff were more noticeable than yesterday with nine birds singing, almost double the number I came across on the same ride last night. No doubt more and more of these warblers, and other species, will appear over the coming days as the spring migration continues.

Tomorrow I’ll be back on the bike once again and looking to add species number 85 to my “10-Mile List”. All I need is for a Willow Warbler, or Blackcap, to arrive overnight, or for a Swallow to fly along the river! Then again, maybe number 85 will have to wait just a little while longer!

02 April 2008

Birding by bike...

I managed to cycle to and from work today, for the first time in 5 weeks. Whether it proves to have been a sensible thing to do remains to be seen! So far, my knee isn’t hurting me too much so maybe whatever was wrong with it, and giving me so much pain, a while back has now sorted itself out. I plan on cycling again tomorrow too, if I don’t wake up in the morning crippled that is!

One of the benefits of cycling, other than missing all the rush hour traffic that I hate, was being able to stop off at Alvaston Park on the way to work this morning. Stopping for just a short time to feed the ducks, swans and geese on the lake, and also having a steady ride around the park, was a great way to start the morning, and delay the start of my working day.

This evening I chose to ride an extra long route home, taking the riverside path out of Derby to Elvaston Castle, through the castle grounds and then turning back towards home. By riding at a lot slower pace than I would normally, so as not to stress my knee too much, I was able to see, or hear, some of the birds that I would normally miss whilst cycling. By the time I reached home I’d noted 17 species, of which a pair of Goosander on the river and a journey total of five Chiffchaff were the most notable.