Tuesday 10th February
Away from Beer Youth Hostel after the hearty (well the amount must affect the heart) breakfast, I cycled to Aylesbeare Common RSPB reserve. Well it was mostly like yesterday with a mixture of cycling and pushing up hills. They weren't as severely steep as yesterday. Even getting to the reserve was a push.
After I had photographed the RSPB signs and noticeboards, I photographed a group of RSPB staff who were burning a small area of old gorse. I tried to make the photos look as though they were engulfed by the flames.
I went the other way to these hard workers, trying to see dartford warblers in an area where The Birding Clams had seen them last year. No luck, just a few pished goldcrests. I then explored down in the valley. Still no birds, well except a wren and a crow. It was then up to say hello to the workers. Richard, the assistant warden coordinating the burn told me their names. He also asked me whether I knew of Venn Ottery RSPB reserve. I did. Did I know of Wychecombe RSPB reserve? I didn't. Hartford Common RSPB reserve? I didn't. Two more reserves sneaked onto the list and another one to go out of my way for, oh goodie! Hartford Common was easy. Behind where we were standing was an earth wall stretching along a ridge. This denoted the parish boundary and the other side was Hartford Common. I was advised to go that way to get to Venn Ottery RSPB Reserve. Wychecombe involved an 8 miles cycle along a B-road with a lot of heavy lorry traffic, gravel extraction being a big thing in the area.
The advised tarmac road down the hill turned into a muddy bridleway with a wooden bridge to cross a stream. The path eventually took me to a road that did indeed lead to Venn Ottery RSPB reserve. Only a couple of dog walkers were here and few birds.
The cycle to Wychecombe RSPB reserve was a little hairy but, as usual, I found that lorry drivers were the best when it came to looking after the cyclist.
On arriving there I chatted with, and assisted John who was about to fly a camera attached to a flying drone over a fishpond adjacent to the RSPB reserve. I would have loved to watch the flight but a lady arrived with a dog and I asked her politely to stay out of view in order that the camera didn't see either of us. She, Carole, was about to carry out a BTO (British Turst for Ornithology) survey of the Devon Wildlife Trust reserve there and told me of a dead lesser spotted woodpecker she had found recently.
On leaving them and the fishponds I went into the RSPB reserve and saw a close buzzard, a kestrel and 4 ravens.
Cycling down to the Exe estuary at Exmouth I was delighted to find a superb cycle path running the length of it all the way to Dart;s Farm. There, with the light fading on the day and no chance of seeing the penduline tits reported there at 1 o clock, I went into the biggest RSPB shop I had ever seen and then enjoyed an expensive piece of steak pie and a slice of a gelatinous cheesecake, not the texture I enjoy.
Year list still stands at 137. Next it's a search and possibly a long wait for the penduline tits at Dart's Farm. They would constitute a '54' bird (one of the 54 I need above the total I achieved in 2010 to get the European Green record; birds that I didn't see that year) Then it's a round up of birding at each of the RSPB reserves around the Exe Estuary.
Now please have a look at the photographs of today on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/bikingbirder2015
Also if you could please make a small donation to any of the charities that I am supporting then please click on the links to the right. Thanks.
All the very best everyone. Love to you all xx