Sunday 3 April 2022

BIKING BIRDER VI 2022 Birmingham and Middleton Lakes RSPB Reserve with a famous Green Birder


          On the road again, I set off for over a month of pure Green Birding. I wave goodbye to Mum & Dad, who are standing at the door. I am so lucky to have both of them at their tender age of 89 and 90! Love them so much of course.

          Mum & Dad live atop a high hill in North Worcestershire, which makes for a pleasant drop down towards Birmingham. Life feels good as I make progress towards this wonderful city's centre.

          Having followed a canal towpath through the city, as I did last week when visiting Aston Villa FC to assist one of my chosen charities, Acorns Children's Hospice, fundraise at the Villa match vs Southampton - 

          - I reach, eventually, Aston Villa's training ground at Bodymoor Heath.

          and cycle along the adjacent road to the RSPB reserve, Middleton Lakes.

          I approach a famous Green Birder, Lizzy Bradbury, who stands waiting by her personalised number plated car and immediately our chatter begins.

          A number of years ago, whilst travelling back from seeing my daughter Rebecca in Newcastle Upon Tyne by train, I met Lizzy and her son Jack. They were sitting opposite me and I overheard the words Green Woodpecker being spoken.
          That meeting led to a friendship and during Jack's years before becoming a teenager, the two of them would frequently go birdwatching together.

          Nowadays Jack prefers other pursuits and is a fantastic guitarist, yet Lizzy still passionately Green Birds around her local area, Warwick and helps maintains a local Birding blog.

                           Warwick Birding

          So our conversation is about family catch up news and Green Birding. As we walk along the long path fringed by a deciduous Oak woodland, Lizzy asks me whether The Oracle, Phil Andrews, is helping me once more this BIGBY. I say yes, of course he is and that he seems to have mellowed from his pushing and cadjoling of me on previous Biking Birder years.

          Now I love incredible coincidences that happen rarely but always with bemusement and occasionally with hilarity and on this occasion Phil appears from behind a bush!

          Had he heard me saying about his mellowing? No matter, we laughed and enjoyed his company before he told me of two birds on site that would increase my 2022 BBVI BIGBY bird list, Egyptian Goose and Wheatear.

          Now for those who don't know the wonder of The Oracle, Phil for the two years of the Biking Birder adventures II and II, 2015 and 2016, was a constant source of birding gen, with regular updates either by text, email or phone calls. Phil becoame a vital part of my success in both years in achieving the aim of setting higher standards and records in British Green Birding.
          In 2015, I visitied every RSPB and W&WT nature reserve in the UK whilst seeing, with Phil's help, 290 different bird species.
          In 2016 the focus was purely on the birds and by the end of the year Phil had pushed me, bullied me and celebrated with me, as I saw 318 bird species during my 'dirty' BIGBY. My Big Green Big Year was completed not only by bike but also by the use of quite a number of ferries. By the end of the year I had visited many Shetland and Orkney islands, had spent weeks on Fair Isle and been to the Isle of Wight, Mull and Coll twice! Ferries are not allowed in the ourest form of Green Birding, hence this year's Biking Birder adventure.

          Thanks Phil. You know how invaluable your help has been and how eternally grateful I will always be.

          By the time Lizzy has to leave, we have laughed at her poetry recitals and seen both the BIGBY birds, both distantly but conclusively. We have walked around the extensive footpaths of this fabulous and large RSPB reserve, a reserve made from the  extraction of gravels some years back.

          Birdwatching has so many life affirming facets but friendships are definitely high on the list of positives. Lizzy is one of those fun characters that lifts everyone's day and spending a couple of hours birding with her is always a delight.

          I wander along the riverback of the River Tame and kneel to watch three Kingfishers chasing each other around and within a nearby riverside bush. Not once do any of them give me a clear view but it is fabulous watching their antics.

         My evening is spent watching birds arriving to roost, including a pair of closer Egyptian Geese and a Mediterranean Gull. Great reserve and two great friends, sleep comes peacefully and with a smile on my face from the days poetry and coincidence.

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

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...