Sunday 14th February Fresh NE sunny intervals
A milestone reached yesterday, 1,000 miles cycled this year so far.
Today starts with more of a push than a cycle. Along the canal path from Titchfield village, which is a beautiful brook-like waterway instead of a traditional tow path and barge wide canals that I am more used to, I stop when a birder shows me a barn owl sleeping in hole on a twisted tree. It is a beautiful sunny day and the light is clear and fresh.
The way deteriorates into a muddy swamp with places where the canal is overflowing. There is a target bird that has been reported somewhere along this mire and so I persevere, laugh and push, curse and wade. The bird is a water pipit and after an hour of searching and getting extremely wet and muddy feet, and getting the bike clogged up also, there has only been one pipit. It flies up from a wet area of grassland with rushes but disappears without giving views.
I continue to search. I continue to push.
A phone call from Phil Andrews can only mean one thing, a very rare bird is somewhere nearby.
“Forget the water pipit,” he shouts. “There is a red-flanked bluetail at Lymington!”
The final half mile of mud and water are negotiated and once on the road again I cycle towards Southampton. I get to Warsash and check the phone for messages. There are two; a voicemail from Sue at Titchfield Haven and a text from Phil.
Phil's is “Sods law mate. Pendulines are showing at Titchfield. Sue's voicemail declares the same. Sue, one of the wonderful staff at Titchfield, had heard of my visit yesterday, knew I needed to see the birds , found my blog and then mobile number and then sent the message. Partly it is Sue's kindness in letting me know but it is also the fact that I think that I will have more chances to see red-flanked bluetails later in the year, I turn around and cycle as fast as possible to Titchfield Haven,
On arriving at the reserve, the bike is stowed away in a shed once more and I run along the path and broadwalk towards Meadow Hide.
On turning towards the hide I see a small group of birders looking towards an area I know to have the necessary reedmace. I put my thunb up to ask whether the birds are on view. A positive thumb comes up from one of the volunteers and I run the final thirty yards, well float there really.
A female penduline tit is on a reedmace head plucking, feeding and releasing wafts of fluff towards us.
Over the next two hours birders and interested general public come and go and the birds, two of them, both females stay on view busily feeding. One group of birders are the young at heart RSPB Dorking group. Lovely people.
Just past 3:00pm the birds go and I head back to the visitor's centre. I thank Sue profusely and sincerely for her message and head towards Fareham. I have seen forty one birds species today including barn owl, cetti's warblers and black-tailed godwits. The penduline tits though are a 'good one to get.'
The year list still stands at 164. This is still nineteen ahead of where I was this time last year.
The list can be viewed on Bubo on the BUO 2016 year list,:-
19.68 miles 556 feet elevation up 3543 elevation down