Wednesday 16 March 2016

Hartlepool to Newcastle

Monday 14th March light SE hazy sunshine 11C

I pass a sight you don't see every day, a house covered in drink cans! I am about to go to the door to ask about all of this when a passer-by tells me that it is empty, the owner having died. Looking up the story of the house later I find a youtube video:-
In fact there a few of them and a long film too. Brilliant. I love coming across the unexpected like this and remember the shark in Oxford and the windmills near Salisbury. There must be so many bizarre creations around the UK waiting to be seen.
I find a disused railway cycle path and take it for ten miles or so, enjoying the sunshine and occasionally walking instead of cycling. It is a beautiful warm Spring-like day.

My intention is to visit the WWT reserve at Washington and I reach there around lunchtime. I love this place with its grass-covered visitor's centre, the wildfowl collection in the usual WWT style pens and areas for wild birds with lagoons down by the river. After a cursory glance over the reedbed in the vain hope of seeing the apparently wild ferruginous duck I walk down to the largest of these lagoons and enter the hide just as a male goosander flies in.

There is another couple, John and Kate from Durham in there who are both keen and knowledgable birders. They tell me that their daughter is the golden eagle officer in Dumfrieshire. Now that would be good. There are already a few pairs there and if more could be helped to build up the numbers there may be a chance that the lonely male at Haweswater in the Lake District might at last have a female who appreciates all of his nest building efforts.
As well as the goosander there are a dozen avocets here; possibly the most northerly breeding avocets in Britain. Talking with the reserve manager later she tells me that there is evidence that some of these birds have been seen over wintering at Cadiz in Spain. It is great to meet Gill again and every visit to the WWT Washington has been an absolute pleasure. Thanks Gill.
Sir Peter Scott - the Father of Nature conservation and founder of the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetland Trust)

Leaving here late in the afternoon I negotiate the complex route of roads and cycle paths to take me down to the Millenium Bridge, which swings both ways blinking like an eye when a large ship needs to go upstream, across the Tyne. 

I spend the evening with my daughter. Here I am going to have a couple of days rest, wash my clothes and catch up on things generally. I hadn't bargained on being here until mid-April but the birds have been so good along the way that I may as well enjoy the time with Rebecca before another big push.
So the year list is 188, which is twenty six ahead of this time last year.

38.27 Miles 1696 feet elevation up 1591 feet elevation down

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