As I have stated before there is a reason for each of the 'toys' on my bike and here is yet another of them and why she travels with me.
The Lads on the Bike – (3) Ophelia the Orca
Last year, behind me for the Biking Birder journey, placed atop sleeping bag and tent,was a large mammoth, Mani. He was a gift from my niece Emily and a wonderful addition to the entourage.
For the whole of 2015, a cycling trip of around 9,000 miles, Mani the Mommoth maintained a rather morose presence. Never much conversation, Mani seemed to only come to life whilst we travelled together through the Ice Age sculptured landscapes of Wales and Scotland. He revelled in the huge u-shaped valleys of the Highlands. Wistfully he would sigh as though dreaming of past times. He was an animal from the past with no future.
Let's go back to January the first, 2016. I am at Upton Warren Nature Reserve for the day; a Worcestershire Wildlife Trust treat. Friends are here to see me off yet again, another Biking Birder year begins.
Two of those friends include Tim and Mary, father and daughter.
Mary has a new occupant for the bike, an orca – or in old-speak, a killer whale. Wally the whale, Mary proudly announces but I prefer Oscar the Orca. He is large, black and white and he presents a problem. Where will he fit on the bike?
Mani suggests a solution. He doesn't want to endure a year on the road once more. Last year was enough with roads, cities and sterile farmlands. He wants a quiet life in a place where he can be left to his memories. Mary offers her bedroom and Oscar takes Mani's place atop the sleeping bag and tent.
The journey begins and the first two months have The Biking Birder heading south west, down to Cornwall's Lands End before turning to cycle along the British South coast.
Oscar thrills at the seaside landscapes of the southern counties, from the granite headlands to the Jurassic coast of Dorset. He is hoping to se his cousins; the porpoises and dolphins to which he is related.
In Hampshire, in the New Forest, two of BB's (Biking Birder) best friends, Kerry Reynolds and her wonderful, wildlife ambassador son, Dominik, give him an otter for the bike.
Kerry works at the excellent New Forest Wildlife Park whilst Dominik has received many awards for his superb work for nature.
By the strangest of coincidences BB finds out during his visit that Oscar the Orca is actually a female orca! A female stowaway amongst The Lads; a Bob who really is a Kate.
Ophelia the Orca takes her place as usual on the bike. Oscar the Otter is now on the front. More about him on a later date. By the way, Oscar the Otter has a great rapport with Ricky the Robin. Great to see the friendships and partnerships developing.
Oscar the Orca is for the Marine Conservation Society, a charity devoted to improving all habitats and environs around our extensive United kingdom coastline.
From beach cleaning to lobbying for great marine protection zones, the work of the MCS id phenomenal and it is a privilege to have a representative with me to remind me that it is not just terrestrial habitats that need protection.
Whilst I was at Spurn Nature Reserve week before last, I collected each day I was there a number of carrier bags full of plastic rubbish washed up on the beaches. This I felt was my way of saying thank you to Spurn for the rare birds I saw there. Sadly I am sure that I could do the same every day for a whole year and there would always be more arriving to deal with.
How I would love every birder to do the same; pick up some rubbish every time they go birding.
I remember meeting a lovely very old lady at Dungeness who says that every day she collects a plastic carrier bag full of rubbish. Every little action helps.
Maybe a link to Albert the Albatross comes in here. After all so many of his kind are starved to death by the ingestion of plastic particles and discarded pieces.
This September the Marine Conservation Society are having their annual beach clean campaign. Now this coincides with a time that I will be on fair Isle. Last year I cleared a long beach of plastic, mostly one use plastic bottles and discarded fishing tackle. I hope to do the same there this year. Well, no actually I hope to find no plastic on the beaches but expect masses of it.
So who have we discussed now? :-
Part (1) - Albert the Albatross (RSPB and Marine Conservation Society)
Part (2) - Acorn the Parrot and Manu the Frog (Chaskawasi-Manu and
the Wildfowl & Wetland trust)
Please don't forget that there are still Bobette the Caterpillar, Scaggy the rabbit, Colin the Stone Curlew, Ricky the Robin, Oscar the otter and Tigger still to mention.
If you would like to help me along, as well as the Lads and Lasses on the bike, then please either make a donation to any of the chosen charities. Links are above for the RSPB, Asthma UK, WWT and Chaskawai-Manu. Maybe you would like to sponsor me 1p (or whatever) a bird. If 1p is the amount you choose then that would mean hopefully £3.00 will be collected from you at the end of the year. Every penny of the sponsorship money will go to the charities.
Finally during my rest all of my family have added their names to the sponsorship list. Love and thanks to them all. xx
Thanks everyone for looking, reading, supporting and hopefully enjoying the blog.