15 September 2009

Another target met!

At the beginning of the year I set myself a little challenge, I wanted to try and cycle at least 2,500 miles this year. At the time, I thought it should be attainable if I didn’t chicken out of riding to work when the weather was bad and also threw in a few longer “fun” rides at weekends. Well, today I passed the 2,500 mile barrier!

On the whole it’s been an enjoyable experience so far if you ignore the five punctures I’ve picked up, the numerous soakings when I’ve been caught in the rain and the occasional close call with cars/vans/buses that treat cyclists as target practice! February 3 is one day that stands out above most this year; it was the day I lost the use of all but one of the 21 gears on my bike due to the whole of the gear mechanism freezing up! Conditions that day were not good!

The purchase of the Cannondale Bad Boy in April had a positive effect on my riding and I soon started to up the mileage I was riding. In early May I completed the 40-mile Vale of Belvoir sponsored ride for the British Heart Foundation, the following morning I rode for another 25 miles just to spin my legs out. There have also been Sunday morning rides of 30 miles, 40 miles (twice), and a 50 miler. I also got a little carried away on a rather nice Sunday morning in June and returned home with 60 miles under my belt! The plan is to work up to a 100-mile ride at some point next year. Well, that’s the plan!

At the end of Sunday’s birding blog I posted a couple of photos taken with my phone, that’s because I’ve killed my poor old digital camera! After being with me for more years than I can remember, and taking over 7,000 photos, the Kodak gave up the ghost on September 5. I’d cycled over to Allestree Park to watch the cyclo-cross racing and after taking just two photos the camera died. The last ever pictures from the camera are below!

Cyclo-cross at Allestree Park.

As for the racing, I don’t think I’ll be taking it up any time soon. The standard of riding in the senior’s race, and the quality of the bikes, was way above my level! I hope to attend more rounds of the race series over the next few months, hopefully with a fully operational camera!

13 September 2009

"10-Mile" update...

Six weeks ago I was on a birding high after adding Bittern to my “10-Mile List” at Willington, I was also a little unsure as to whether or not I could reach last years total of 136 species within my recording zone. Well, all that is history. My total species count now stands at 137!

The five new species are...

Osprey. Whilst on a cycle ride on August 23 I was lucky enough to have an Osprey fly slowly over me as I headed into Mickleover. I managed to get very good views of the bird as it passed overhead and it was the highlight of a great, 52-mile, ride. I think I deserved that one, even if only for being crazy enough to be out riding for 52 miles on a Sunday morning!

Dunlin. I had to double-check all my records for the year before I added this one to the list - I couldn’t believe it had taken me until August 30 to see a Dunlin locally! Three Dunlin were seen at Willington Gravel Pits on a rather quiet Sunday morning when the only other notable sightings were of a single Hobby, 2 Green Sandpiper, and a Kingfisher. Things were so quiet that I even resorted to counting the Canada Geese! I recorded a total of 492, slightly less than the 500 Black-headed Gull. Well, I did say it was a quiet morning!

Shag. I had planned on a bike ride on the evening of September 6 but a quick check of the sightings on Birdguides had me heading off to Willington instead - a juvenile Shag had been located. Not only was this a new species for the “10-Mile List” it was also the first I’d ever seen inland. Other than the Shag it was yet another very quiet visit. A Buzzard showed well at the rear of Gull Pit and 23 Snipe were seen in flight. Summer lingered on in the form of Common Tern, Swallow, House Martin, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler.

Greenshank. A very brief visit to Aston-on-Trent Gravel Pits this morning resulted in species number 136 for the year. I had hoped for something a little bit special to match last year’s total, but I’ll take the Greenshank all the same! To be fair, it was a rather smart looking Greenshank and it did show very well - but it was still a Greenshank. Green Sandpiper, Dunlin and Chiffchaff were the other notable sightings.

Little Egret. This has always been a bit of a bogey bird for me in Derbyshire; I only saw my first in the county last summer. Today, at Barrow-on-Trent, I found 5 of the things and, in the process, moved my “10-Mile List” on to 137 species for the year. I’ve been trying to locate one of these little white herons all summer without any success so I was rather pleased that Little Egret was the species to take my total ahead of last year’s. Also at Barrow were 105 Cormorant, 17 Grey Heron, 100 Tufted Duck, 7 Buzzard, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Jay.

Two very poor photos of a Little Egret. These were taken with my mobile phone through my ‘scope - the reason why will become clear in my next blog post!

With just over 3 months still left of 2009, can I move the list on to 140 species? I really haven’t a clue!