Friday 25 November 2016

Thoughts of Next Year

Friday 25th November

Still staying with my daughter, Rebecca and her brilliant partner, Les in Newcastle. A few day rest I feel is well deserved and gives a chance to consider next year.
Flight back to Peru is already booked for April 12th so that's done. Champions of The Flyway event in Eilat will take up the last week of March or so.

Ours will the first Green Team to enter the event. The team? Myself, Erin Taylor, George Gay and Samuel Perfect; an old Biking Birder with three young and enthusiastic birders.

I am spending the morning researching the butterflies of The Amazon

and the Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm. 

I have already emailed the latter over working there as a volunteer in January and am really looking forward to that. Wandering through their photographs on their Facebook page shows how many species they have and working in such an environment with other wonderful staff members who have a passion for butterflies is going to be a thrill. So much to learn.

In the time between the New Year and going to Eilat with The Spokefolks and then Peru there is so much to do.

Time to enjoy the company of friends and family again. 

Soon to be birding at Upton Warren in Worcestershire and with The Birding Clams. Upton Warren is a Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve near to Bromsgrove. With a variety of habitats, such as freshwater pools, reedbeds and even a briny saltmarsh area, the bird list is superb. Avocets breed there and the rare birds that have occurred there are many. The best thing about the reserve is the fabulous people who bird there, keen and knowledgable birders and great friends. Have a look at the Birdforum page to get some idea of the Upton Warren community.

The Birding Clams is a group of Birders most of whom are ex-students of Coppice High School in Wolverhampton. Back in the 1980s a certain teacher started a bird watching group, an extra-curricular club, and from those long off days there are lads who still passionately bird.

OK, time to explore Newcastle Upon Tyne again. B C N U. x

Thursday 24 November 2016

Artefacts and Art in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Thursday 24th November Light SE

Mild and sunny again, clouding over in the afternoon.

Rebecca and I walk into Newcastle Centre by going over the High Level bridge. There are hundreds of padlocks attached to wire mesh, tokens of love put their by lovers. It reminds me of the paper notes stuck on the wall of Juliet's house in Verona, Casa di Guilleta, with chewing gum.

Past the castle and the cathedral and past a particularly ugly statue of Queen Victoria.

Down to view the Vampire Rabbit.
Along to the Laing Art Gallery and then a return to Gateshead, we call in on a art cafe about to open this evening. On the walls are extremely colourful pieces depicting actual bird species of various sizes yet with most wearing trainers!
My daughter, Rebecca talks with the cafe owner Pam while I talk with the artist, Bob (Bobzilla). Bob does workshops for schools and has commissions for large pieces of street art and sculptures.

 A Biking Bird-er

The exhibition is called :

In-Flight Entertainment 

Castle, Colliery and Newcastle

Wednesday 23rd November Light NW

Mild and sunny

Thanking Zoe at The Sun Hotel with a present bought for her on ebay, a Batman rubber duck. Zoe has given me a fabulous welcome back to the hotel, a hotel I stayed in at the beginning of July this year and as she has a collection of over 500 different rubber ducks what better way to say thank you than to buy her one she doesn't have? A great hotel and after a day of rest, wonderful breakfasts and friendly staff, I need to be back on the road today.

Outside the hotel the view of Warkworth Castle is superb.
The cycling this morning is beautifully easy. The road is mostly flat and there is almost no wind. The first twelve miles goes quickly enough and I spot a cycle path off to the right. Along it I meet a lady out with her son and two dogs for a walk. She has just been out to Peru and describes her experience of going to Machu Picchu as I walk along with them.

The path comes out next to a car park and a fenced off colliery sort of place. I head out towards the main road and am stopped by Mandy. Mandy is one of these wonderful sunshine people whom I love to meet and she explains that this was a working colliery and is now a museum. As red squirrels and titmice come to a peanut feeder nearby, I decide that I can spare an hour to explore.

Glad that I do for after storing the bike away in a site office, I go into an art gallery The Pitman Painters. A Primary school class of children are on the floor doing an art lesson on perspective using one of the paintings. The walls are covered in a wide variety of paintings from this incredible group of artists.

The Woodthorn website :

I look around the old colliery buildings and then, with the hour up, I leave to continue my way towards Newcastle. The way from Ashington becomes complex and many times I get lost and things aren't helped by the position locator on the maps app on my mobile being half a mile out!
The first twelve miles took me around an hour. The next twenty takes three.
Through Newcastle centre, a man crossing the road in front of me stops me and asks what I am doing. Daniel works at Newcastle hospital and he deposits a donation into one of my collection boxes. Thank you Daniel.
Pushing the bike down the main shopping High Street, a young boy shouts “wow” at the lads and lasses on my bike. His laughing face is a delight.

Over the Tyne and uphill into Gateshead, I find my daughter, Rebecca's and her partner, Les' apartment. A couple of days to catch up ahead.

33.18 miles                         1155 feet elevation up            1111 down

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Chaskawasi-Manu, Peru . . Home To The Stars

Five weeks and four days before the end of the year, I have to cycle towards my parent's home in Worcestershire and will finish the two year Biking Birder adventure at Upton Warren (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust) nature reserve on December 31st.
That said I want to spend the final days emphasising why I support the charities that so many of you have kindly donated to. It really is a massive boost tome when someone donates or sponsors me. Thank you so much everyone.

Chaskawasi-Manu, literally means 'The Home of The Stars.'

Deep in the Manu National Park in Peru there is a village called Salvacion. You won't find it on google maps. Well I can. I know where it is!

Located north east of the High Andean city of Cusco, along the perilous Manu Road one comes to a number of towns before crossing two large rivers and reaching Salvacion.

The orange roofed buildings in the centre is Chaskawasi-Manu

On the western edge of the village is the Chaskawasi-Manu home; a place where children from much deeper in The Manu rainforest can come and stay.  

The website details the Chaskawasi-Manu Project:-

Chaskawasi Manu already has a history of years in the service of the people of Manu in general, and the most remote and disadvantaged children in particular, promoting children’s basic rights such as access to education and health and respect for the environment and biodiversity by using resources from sustainability.
Currently at Chaskawasi Manu live 20 children and adolescents from different Amazonian native and peasant communities, some of which are more than 5 day’s travel by boat on the Madre de Dios River. Their native languages are Quechua and Machiguenga although all speak Spanish.
They are between 9 and 17 years of age and they all come from situations of social exclusion and extreme poverty. Chaskawasi Manu provides these children with shelter, food and access to education and health.
But most of all lots of love and acceptance for all children and families with whom we share our daily lives.

Meet some of the children.

The Manu. An area of over 17,000 square kilometres is protected but under threat from the outside interests of loggers, oil companies and various mineral concerns.

As Wikipedia states :

Manú National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional del Manu) is a biosphere reserve located in the Madre de Dios and Paucartambo, Cusco. Before becoming an area protected by the Peruvian government, the Manú National Park was conserved thanks to its inaccessibility. The park remains fairly inaccessible by road to this day. (I will definitely vouch for that!)
In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987, it was pronounced a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328km². The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570km², and a further 914km² are included in a "Cultural Zone" (which also is afforded a level of protection), bringing the total area up to 18,811km².
The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 meters above sea level in parts of the South west Amazon moist forests to Peruvian Yungas at middle elevations to Central Andean wet puna at altitudes of 4200 meters. Because of this topographical range, it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manú, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 1000 species of birds, more than the number of bird species found in the United States and Canada combined and almost 10% of the world's total bird species. It is also acclaimed as having one of the highest abundances of land vertebrates ever found in Latin American tropical forests.

A vital area that desperately needs the continuance of the protection measures already in place but are being eroded daily.

I believe that the children are vital part of the forest's future. Their education will give indigenous peoples a voice in the years to come. Meeting the children it is inspiring to see their love for the forest, their communities and their way of life.

Hence I am asking you to please give a donation to the project. I will be back there in April next year, a moment I can't wait for. If you do make a donation then please say so on here as a comment or go to my facebook page :


and either comment or message me. I don't get to see donations to Chaskawasi-Manu and I would be thrilled to hear from anyone supporting this fabulous project. Thanks.

Donations link . . . 

or click on the Chaskawasi-Manu link at the top ofthe page on the right hand side.

Let's finish with a few photographs from the last time I was there:-

And some of the birds. . . . 

and some of the other special wildlife. . .

Thank you. xx

BB 2010 Oops, crash and a motorway Abominable Snowman in Hemel Hempstead January 5th

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...