28 November 2008

Catching up a little...


I’m still having trouble finding time for birding but I did manage to get out for a few hours on Tuesday. I spent a couple of hours in the morning walking the streets of Ilkeston in search of Waxwings, but I failed to locate them! Three birds had been reported the afternoon before, in what is becoming a bit of a hot spot for them each winter, but the birds had obviously moved on or found some hidden corner in which to feed. Hopefully, as the winter continues, other Waxwings will turn up inside my 10-Mile Zone.

In the afternoon, in an attempt to rescue something from the day, I headed off to an area that often holds wintering Short-eared Owls. To pass a little time before going for the owls I stopped off at St. Chad’s Water, between Draycott and Long Eaton. This small lake falls nicely within my listing area but, unfortunately, didn’t provide me with any new species. That said, it was still a pleasant visit with some good birds to see. In a little under two hours I recorded 34 species and, more importantly, got some close views of many of them.

St. Chad's Water.

Birds of note included 3 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Tufted Duck, 3 Goosander, 8 Common Gull, 40 Black-headed Gull, 1 Green Woodpecker, 2 Fieldfare, 12 Redwing, 12 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Yellowhammer, 60 Linnet and 1 Bullfinch. A male Mute Swan on the lake also deserves a mention if only because it tried to drag me into the water by grabbing hold of my trouser leg! Such a friendly lot they are in that part of the world.

The owls? They failed to show. I had hoped that the weather we had last weekend would have pushed them down from the Derbyshire moors but birders are still reporting sightings of the owls up there this week. Like the Waxwings, I’m hoping the owls will also reappear over the next few weeks.

Sunset over St. Chad's Water.


My cycling is now back into a routine again after the BHF sponsored ride, and I’ve managed to use the bike on all but two workdays. The first day I missed was due to a rather nasty grinding noise coming from the front fork bearings on the bike. This resulted in me having to strip the front of the bike down and clean out a worrying amount of Sherwood Forest from the bearings. Luckily, no long-term damage has been done and, after re-greasing the bearings, all is now well.

The second non-biking day was as recent as yesterday and was due to me managing to get yet another rear wheel puncture on the bike the previous evening. I’m not sure what I ran over, I was on a section of unlit river path at the time, but it certainly made a mess of things. In a split second I went from having a fully inflated tyre to having a very flat one, and a bike that was covered in green slime! The hole in the inner tube was way too large for the self sealing gel in my tyres to work and the air pressure just blew the stuff all over me and the bike. Remember Ghost Busters? It slimed me!

Today, things are back to normal again. I rode into work on the bike, being extra careful on the very icy paths, rode back from work on the bike and even managed a 5-mile sprint around Pride Park and Alvaston Park during my lunch break. The 16½ miles I did today means I’ve now covered a total of 910 miles since June 13. My target of 1,000 miles by the end of the year is now within sight.


Just over a week ago Lynda and I went to the Oysterband gig in Derby. The Oysterband were as good as ever - they have, after all, been touring for 30 years now - and the support was equal to them. Anyone with a passing interest in the British folk rock scene will be aware of the Oysterband but the support act was new to me. It was Dan Donnelly, originally from Belfast and now living in New York. He played much of his set solo but was joined for a number of tracks by Alan Prosser of the Oysterband.

Dan Donnelly & Alan Prosser - Derby Assembly Rooms.

Tomorrow, we’re back in Derby for yet another gig - this time it’s Neverland. I’ve looked forward to, and enjoyed, some great gigs this year but this one is right up there with the best of them. It may well be the gig of the year for me! Since Neverland reformed back in 2004 I’ve tried to get to as many of their gigs as possible. Each one has been bigger and better than the last and tomorrow at The Royal has all the makings of a brilliant night. The band also has 5 new tracks that will be getting their first public airing. If you can’t get to the gig - and I strongly recommend you do - you can hear some of Neverland’s music on their MySpace site.


Look out, Derby! The Nev’s are back in town!

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