The end of December brought down the curtain on Gary Prescott’s epic year-long cycling mission around the UK.
As you will have read in previous editions, Gary aimed to cycle to every RSPB and WWT reserve in the UK, five years after his original journey. Whilst doing this, he was raising funds for four charities (the RSPB, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Asthma UK and the Chaskawasi-Manu Project in Peru).
This year, Gary added an extra target; to try and surpass both the British and European Green Year birding records, which at the start of the year sat at 251 and 304 respectively.
Gary set off on New Year’s Day from the Upton Warren WWT reserve before heading to Oxfordshire and the RSPB Otmoor nature reserve. He then embarked on a tour around the reserves of the south east.
February saw a tour around the south west, taking in reserves such as RSPB Arne and RSPB Radipole Lake nature reserves, and then taking in the Welsh reserves during March.
Easter was spent taking in a trip to the Northern Irish reserves (via ferry and then pedal power), before heading back to the north west of England. Visiting the east of England, Gary’s highlight was an epic 50-mile dash on the bike to see the citril finch in Norfolk.
Spells in northern England, a stay in Scotland (including the incredible Fair Isle) and a trek through the north east followed before a last dash to see as many species as possible before his return home to the West Midlands. His trip concluded with visits to RSPB Middleton Lakes and RSPB Sandwell Valley nature reserves before Gary returned, on New Year’s Eve, to where he had started 364 days before, Upton Warren.
During Gary’s green year, he saw 289 different species of bird; surpassing the British record which was previously shared by Chris Mills in 2005 and Gary’s previous attempt in 2010. This was just fifteen short of equaling the European record held by Catalonia’s Ponc Feliu.
I spoke with Gary at Sandwell Valley and he told me, that of the 289 birds he had seen, exactly 200 had been sighted at RSPB reserves.
As of 12 January, Gary had raised nearly £1,200 for the RSPB; a magnificent achievement and a great amount has also been raised for his other chosen charities.
2016 will see Gary set out on his bike again in an attempt to surpass 300 species seen. He is also attempting to surpass the European record, although this time, he will be taking a different route.
Focusing primarily on the south and east coasts, Gary will be heading back up to Scotland and returning to Shetland and Fair Isle in the autumn.
He has seen 132 different species (as of 19 January), and is ahead of where he was this time last year.
Gary can be followed on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bikingbirder2015, where updates and some fantastic photos are uploaded on a regular basis.
He has set up a brand new blog for the 2016 challenge which can be found at http://bikingbirder2016.blogspot.co.uk/.
To support one of Gary’s chosen charities, you can do so online by making a donation at the following pages:
RSPB - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott3
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott4
Asthma UK - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott2
Chaskawasi-Manu Project - http://www.chaskawasi-manu.org/en/donation-for-chaskawasi-manu-project/
This is an incredible achievement, and we want to say a huge well done and thank you to Gary for all his achievements and support of the RSPB during 2015 and for this challenge taking place this year.
We wish Gary all the very best in his quest to surpass the magic 300; you can do it Gary!