Saturday 29 January 2022


Donations : Acorns 

Many thanks to . . . 

Moira, Jackie Griffiths, Bob, Keep U, Rosie, Jayne Grosvenor, Jane & Andy Revell, Louise, Stuart Griffiths, M & D Shaw, Dave & Sue White, Janette Lowndes, Bart, Lise Hanson, Maria Hill, Phil V, Chris Elmer, Sue Murphy, Nicky, John Hague, Mike, Kimberley Bills, Norma Hines, Rob Gilbert, Julia, Colin Graham, Sarah Moreton, Lizzy, Lisa Hillier, Rob Leech, &P. 

Donations : RSPB 

Many thanks to . . . 

Moira, Jill from Dorking, Nicky M, Terri Akers, Anne Beckett, Maria Hill, Mark Carter, P.

Chris and Stephanie at Belfast Loch RSPB Reserve 2010.

22nd January 2022    To Ellesmere, Salop

         A beautiful day, seemingly normal during this extraordinary January with day after day of calm, almost windless conditions. Sometimes it has been sunny. Other days have been cloudy yet overall the weather has been benign and temperatures at a constant 5 to 6C during the day. All of this has made for easy cycling days. None of the horror of either end of Biking Birder I - 2010 when ice, snow and plunging below zero temperatures had to be negotiated. 
Escape from Hemel Hempstead - 
January 2010
Snow at Minsmere RSPB Reserve -
November 2010

          So, a lovely downhill ride into Llangollen and a stop at the bridge over the River Dee, to look for today's target bird. Found almost immediately, a Dipper* is walking along the edge of a small rocky island upstream from the bridge.

          Great to see of course, I hope that I will be getting better, closer views of Dipper again during the Biking Birder VI adventure.

          Leaving Llangollen, I find an access point to the Llangollen Canal towpath and head towards the amazing Pontcysyllte Aquaduct.

          I stop to meet a couple of canal barge owners and have a natter first with an incredible woman, Caroline. Caroline wants to show me Billy the Bastard and goes into her barge to fetch him.

          Caroline is just brilliant. Her philosophy of life matches my own thoughts and her lifestyle is wonderful. A pure sunshine person.
          Three passing brothers walking together towards Llangollen just reinforce the feeling that there are a lot of wonderful people out there to meet.

          Reaching the aquaduct, I am extremely disappointed that the pathway across this, the highest aquaduct in the world, is closed. 

         I find a cafe and enjoy some superb vegan wraps!

         Onward along the canal once more, after taking the road down from the aquaduct and back up again once I have crossed the River Dee, I soon meet a brilliant couple of ladies, Kate and Natasha. You've just got to love Kate's hair!

           Kingfisher! Bird number 100 on the BIGBY list - Kingfisher! I excitedly try to point out the bird to a passing dog walker. He can't see it so I photograph it and show him. Having got the evidence photograph, I carry on towards the bird which does what Kingfishers do, an impersonation of a shockingly electric blue streak as it flies off round a bend in the canal.

          Two long, dark tunnels with narrow towpaths are negotiated with me doing video narrations for Youtube. These two tunnels are the first time I have ever been through them whilst on a Biking Birder adventure. Fascinating, Siri, on my google maps route, is taking me down some wonderful routes and I am really enjoying the lack of road cycling.

          Naively I trust my female route-directing companion and with about six miles to go before I reach the town of Ellesmere, the beautifully surfaced towpath transforms into a muddy quagmire!

           Tyres and wheels clog up with mud and my innocent cycling fun descends into a long mile after mile push. Here my MP3 player comes out and I spend the hour or so, before I reach a road, singing various Rock music classics. Well, there's no one anywhere around here to be either disturbed or bemused.

 Rock On!!!!!!

Charity Pledges 

These are the names of people who have made a pledge to pay so much per bird species seen at the end of the year to either one of the charities I am supporting or to both.

Lee Dark, Mary & Brian Prescott, Joshua Prescott, Rebecca Prescott and Les Oxley-Stoker, Donna Prescott. 

Massive thanks to everyone who has either made a donation or made a pledge.


Memory from previous Biking Birder adventure : 2010 - Hemel Hempstead. Seeing that the above cycling was undertaken along a canal towpath for most of the day, it reminded me of January 2010 and a different canal towpath occasion . . . 

          Stuck in Hemel Hempstead, after an attempt to leave by pushing through the deep snow had to be aborted because of even more snow, I was rescued by a lovely couple, Richy and Maddy. They put me up for two nights at their home and then I pushed the bike along the canal towpath between Hemel Hempstead and Uxbridge.

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