Saturday 30th April Light to fresh NW Sunny intervals with one prolonged heavy shower PM
A cycle to Lydd for more food with whitethroats singing from apparently every bramble patch. An almost unladen bike to ride, luxury.
To the RSPB reserve for the afternoon, the summer-plumaged black-necked grebe is now on the pool in front of the visitor's centre, more distant than yesterday's views.
Of interest along the pathway is the only colony of andrena vaga, a small bee in the UK. Concertinaed green tiger beetles are amusing; piggy back for four.
Into the visitor's centre just as a very heavy rain shower hits. I spend some time reading the history of the reserve display and marvel at the wooden slat shoes worn to aid walking over the shingle years ago. The name Bert Axell features large again with ideas used to assist the breeding birds; forty pairs of Kentish plovers! Dream on.
Outside swallows and sand martins perch on branches to rest during the rain.
Sunday 1st May light SW sunny, warm!
Today is all about distance. A rufous turtle dove has been reported just north of Sevenoaks and I need to see it. I set off early and appreciate not only the lack of wind and the sunshine but also the flat road for the first fifteen miles. Yellow wagtails are along the roadside just north of the RSPB reserve entrance.
Mile after mile, the ride is not strenuous and with two litres of milk and a litre of blackcurrant juice, I have plenty to drink along the way. I stick to a one hour drink, one hour food regime; maltloaf and jam sandwiches for the food.
A cruel reminder of my football team's fate is seen as I cycle through Tenterden. How different a prospect for the Villa to that of Leicester City yet I was there when it was the other way round. Highbury, 1981; Aston villa lost 2 – 0 to arsenal yet still won the First division due to Ipswich losing at Middlesborough. Me, my brother Paul and Dad were at that match. Wait a minute, I must watch the highlights on youtube.
Enjoyed that. A few tears. Fourteen players used all season and it got better the next year and yes, I was there for this one too.
Later back at Villa Park I even managed to drop the cup after being photographed holding it! A long time ago. Back to today.
Congratulations to Leicester City. The best thing that has happened in British football for a very long time.
Miles go by and eventually the benign, flattish roads take me to steeper sections. Whilst pushing up one particularly steep hill I come across a sleeping tiny fox cub. As I reach down for my camera it wakes up, notices me and disappears into the fox den. I think my chance has gone but another small cub waddles over and doesn't notice me. Wonderful moments of watching a beautiful little creature.
Further along the road I see another somewhat older fox cub take his life in his hands crossing a main road. It tries once and a car just misses it as it dives back into cover. Then moments later it tries again, luckily successfully.
I arrive at my destination, a place made obvious by the crowd of birders who are all looking at something in a nearby tree. I see one of my best Wolverhampton friends, a Birding Clam no less, Steve Allcott. He sees me and shouts for me to look quickly through his telescope. Rufous turtle dove goes onto the year list in moments as the bird is seen first with his glistening back to me. Then it turns around to make sure I see all sides.
Another crowd of birders are further down the road, closer to the bird and I go along to them leaving the bike against a wall. Another Birding Clam, Jason Oliver, is with them and together we laugh and celebrate such a rare bird. Other birding friends are there too; Jumbo and Pete who I had met on Fair Isle last year, Geoff and Carol from near Leicester, John Pringle from Essex.
Birders come up to hear of the ride from Dungeness, fifty eight miles, almost exactly the same distance that I cycled last year for the citril finch at Holkham. Some kindly give donations for the charities. Brilliant.
The bird? Oh it flew off after twenty minutes or so to be seen much later. Being of the meena sub-species, this is a new bird for me. I saw the Chipping Norton orientalis bird in the pouring rain a few years ago and the hope is that the scientists will decide that these two are separate species one day.
76.80 miles 2869 feet elevation up 2787 feet elevation down
The Green Year list now stands at 226, still 27 birds ahead of this time last year.