Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bike Birder!

Today's Route
In the spirit of adventure and my new healthy regime I decided to take the new bike for a spin this morning around the local patch before this afternoon's rain arrived.

I actually ended up at Draycote Water some 7 miles later! Although it was the long term plan to achieve this goal I can't believe I did it at the first attempt! I'm certainly suffering now I can tell you.

After setting off from the marina onto the Shuckburgh Road the usual House Sparrow population were in evidence as I turned onto Tomlow Road by Crossroads Garage. I decided to give Napton Reservoir a miss and as I passed the turn off a Kestrel was sitting on the telegraph pole and a Buzzard was enjoying hanging in the wind. The whole area is awash with Fieldfare and Redwing and almost every field has masses of these winter visitors, often accompanied by groups of Starling and the odd Skylark.

Crossing the Grand Union Canal at Callas Lane bridge I paused for a moment to check out some smaller birds in the hawthorn and perhaps get some photos. Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch were all recorded, plus 2 Tree Sparrow, but the light was too poor for any decent shots. Just as I was about to move on a lone Raven flew overhead but my attempts of a decent image proved disastrous.

The worst part of the journey was joining the A426 at Millbank Spinney, where I stopped to seek out a Great Spotted Woodpecker who gave himself up by noisily hacking away high up at the branch of an Oak tree.

Arriving at Draycote, it was a hillier ride than I'd anticipated, the wind had picked up but it remained dry. I decided to head off anti-clockwise along Farborough Bank, picking up a good selection of waterfowl, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Teal, Great-crested and Little Grebe, several pairs of Goldeneye, plus a couple of Gadwall were in amongst the many Coot.

Farborough Spit produced very little apart from around 30+ Lapwing, in fact these were the only waders I saw all day. Sadly I've not yet devised a method of carrying my scope and scanning the islands and central waters proved difficult with just my binoculars. When I eventually arrived at the Valve Tower I met up with Keith Foster, another member of the Brandon team, but between us we couldn't manage anything decent. Plenty of male and female Goosander were sheltering here from the wind, but no sign of the recent Red-breasted Merganser, Iceland or Glaucous Gulls.

Yellow-legged Gull
The cycle home produced hundreds more winter Thrush's and stopping at several fields, where many Gulls were feeding, I did pick out a very attractive looking Yellow-legged Gull. My final bird of note was a stunning Sparrowhawk, which flew alongside me for a good while as I approached the canal bridge on Tomlow Road, before heading off towards a very flighty Finch flock.

I eventually arrived back at the marina a complete wreck, having completed 18 miles in total, but have to say that biking is a great way to bird and I think I may change my twitter account to bikebirder!