Sunday 13th March light S hazy sunshine 11C
The sun is a-shining to welcome the day, hey ho.
Cycling and singing I get into Middlesborough and go past the 'stockings', by Anish Kapoor and photograph the Transporter Bridge through it's rings.
There is a crowd of people at the Transporter Bridge. They are there to watch young person after young person abseil down from the top. It is a sponsored event for a World Challenge event. Fabulous to watch the young people's faces when they reach the floor.
The cycle path takes me towards the A19 and, after a dinosaur park (!) I cross the river via another tremendous bridge.
To a favourite RSPB reserve, Saltholme and soon out of the visitor's centre to go find a long-eared owl for the year list. There's stonechats beside the pathway and the first comma I have seen this year lands nearby.
Reaching a shrub area I search for the owl and,with the help of a birder, Dave from Carlisle, the bird is located as hidden as ever in a elder bush.
Dave is a bit credulous over the fact I cycle everywhere and thinks I catch trains to get from place to place. I suggest he looks at my list of routes on mapometer!
Dave is happy with his views and a fantastic young couple from Sheffield, Susan and John, arrive to look at the sleeping bird. It is great to meet such a close couple and I must admit to being a bit jealous. Oh to have a . . . come on Prezza, don't go there!
Back at the centre to celebrate the new year tick with a cuppa, I meet two birders, Morris and Dave, who are talking about my nemesis, Chris Mills. We chat about birding, Green Birding and the like. Morris says that he has been many times with Chris on many of Chris' tours. Knowing Chris' personality it must be fabulous to go on one of his tours and to go again and again shows how good they must be.
Dave asks where I am off to next and when I say it is to try to see the shore larks at Hartlepool he asks whether I would like to stay at his house that night. The kindness of strangers once more pops its head up and I accept the kind offer gratefully.
Leaving Saltholme eventually, after checking out the long-staying red head smew, I cycle off towards Hartlepool. Birders are standing rather dangerously beside the road looking for the pendulines and I stop briefly to search for them myself, unsuccessfully. A lovely couple pass a donation over though, saying that they knew what I was doing. Thanks.
Before reaching Seaton Carew another cyclist comes up along me. It's Dave whom I had just met at Saltholme and together we cycle the maze of Hartlepool harbour, stopping to look at an adult Med' gull.
We reach the Jewish Cemetery and the large waste ground that the shore larks have made their winter home. A couple of birders, flora and Graham, are obviously looking at something and we cycle over to them. A dog walker disturbs three birds, snow buntings but the bird I need is in the opposite corner. Shore larks, two of them, go onto the year list, a very good one to get as this may mean I won't have to cycle to Norfolk next winter.
David and I cycle to the World war memorial park on the headland to see a black redstart there.
So the year list is 188, which is twenty six ahead of this time last year.
34.69 Miles 639 feet elevation up 996 feet elevation down