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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day 20 Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Day 20. If every day of this year's Biking Birder tour is going to be this good, and so many days have been fabulous, then the tales at the end will keep me goinbg to my dotage.
Snow, around an inch or two, made everything picture postcard beautiful this morning and finding daffodils in full flower was a surprise. Close by jays under an oak and sheep in a snowy field adjacent to an avenue of Limes, that was the scene as I went in Winchelsea on the way to Rye Harbour nature reserve to look for the Lesser yellowlegs.
Now the Yankie bird wasn't recorded yesterday but undeterred I was going to give it one day before saying 'oh well; and heading off to try and get back on track with the itinerary.
Down at the seawall three birders pointed out three common scoter, bird number 119 and said the LYL had been seen.
On arriving at where they stated it was there was no sign. I waited. A ruff, bird number 120 but not the yellowlegs. The phone rang, with my sister giving news on the condition of my Dad. He'd had an accident a few days previous and she, Donna new I was worried.
Then as she talked I heard a call and in came the special one. "Got to go Sis."
It stayed for just two minutes, enough to check id' and take just one photo. One is all it takes. UTB Bird number 121 and another of the '54's.
Searching around didn't give me any more views so I headed off to Rye Harbour nature reserve proper.
I stopped at an old lifeboat house to read the details of a long off disaster and went in a hide to photograph the massed oystercatchers and nearby little grebes.
At the far end of the reserve, the eastern end, whilst photographing WW2 pillboxes, I met two superb gentlemen, Leo from South Africa and Maurilio originally from Italy. We chatted, when do I not? for an hour or so as we went in a hide nearby and I heard about Leo's life during the apartheid years when he was placed in solitary confinement by the police for his views.
Both were photographers and as the morning sun disappeared and the rain began, they packed up their equipment and we said goodbye.
On the way back to Winchelsea, where I am staying at a lovely lodge, I stopped to seawatch for an hour behind the lifeboat house already mentioned.
Around 250 common scoter were some distance offshore and good numbers of dunlin and grey plovers came past and landed to feed as the tide receeded.
Past the yellowlegs pool, no sign, so cyclied into Winchelsea and decided to ahev a look in the ancient church there as the rain was pouring down.
Warmth, beautiful stain glass windows and medieval tomb effigies and then . .
Spike Milligan's grave!
When I stayed at St Paul's youth hostel in London just a couple of weeks ago, I went and stood in the place where I had met Spike on the day of Charlie and Di's wedding. Here I was now standing at his grave. A wonderful surprise.
My last surprise was that I managed to change e brake pads for new ones. As I may have said before I am a birder, not a cyclist.

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