Saturday 21st February
A, in my mind, well deserved rest for the last 4 days was over and with an interview on BBC Cornwall completed, it was off to Marazion RSPB Reserve.
Arriving at a viewpoint over the reed bed, an enterprising freelance photographer, who had heard the interview, was there waiting for me. His thought was to take a few photographs of me and send them to the local press. He said that last week one of his photographs was published in the times and that he was a beginner as a birder.
Tamsin arrived shortly later, the RSPB staff member who had been kind enough to put up the poster of my journey at Hayle Estuary RSPB reserve and who had emailed me to arrange a morning's birding with her and other RSPB people. Soon Jen, the assistant warden and Peter, a local volunteer arrived and so we all chatted and watched the birds from this roadside edge view. Snipe, little egret, little grebes, teal and a flying bittern were all seen, together with a nesting grey heron.
Both Tamsin and the photographer left and the three of us remaining adjourned to a station wagon where Jen had a flask of coffee. I had the biscuits so the birdy chat continued. It was during this chat that a too frequent statement made me realise that I may be a little late arriving at the next itinerised reserves.
“Have you been to Porthgwarra? That;s an RSPB reserve.” Now whenever I hear this sort of thing from a RSPB warden or assistant warden, my initial reaction is 'oh no!. Then it's an almost immediate reaction of 'oh well'. Then it finishes with the decision that it has to be visited. It has happened to me a number of times before this year; on the Hoo Peninsula when I was told of more reserves on the west and east sides of Cliffe Pools that I hadn't heard about. Also at Aylesbeare Common I was told of a reserve about 7 miles away. I always have and always will go to any reserves that I am told about. No question of me thinking that as it isn't on the original spreadsheet of reserves sent to me by RSPB HQ Sandy people I won't visit it. I will visit every reserve and would feel a fraud if I didn't.
Positive thinking had me reasonably soon thinking that at least the location of this reserve would give me the opportunity to also go to Land's End and possibly see the Cornish Chough. I had felt so bad on the radio earlier when I had been asked whether I would see this iconic bird for Cornwall and a bird that a friend from back in Worcestershire, a birder from Upton Warren Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Stuart Croft, had worked so hard with the RSPB to resestablish. I had said that I hadn't got time to go to see them. Tamsin had increased my feeling of guilt over missing them here by giving me a Cornwall chough keyring! Now I would go in search of the few around Land's End.
So thanks Jen! A 2 day detour in the opposite direction to where I had been heading and with a weather forecast that states a very rainy, windy day.
Having arranged to meet Jen at the reserve at 11.am the following day in order to ensure that she got as wet as me, we said farewell, parting is such . . . .
Into the reserve for a bit of birding, I went to the accessible gate, went through and photographed the bike and lads with the large noticeboard there. Then negotiating a flooded area in order that I didn't have to lift the bike over a stone stile, I came across a superb basking adder. Before I could react and take photos, the beautifully marked snake slid ff it's sunny grassy knoll and went into the undergrowth. So fantastic to see one so early in the year.
A walk pushing the bike along the public footpath that bisects the reserve, there were few birds, just a few titmice, a couple of goldcrests and a robin. Then, having turned around and retraced my steps after reaching the railway line, I saw two birds cross the path in front of me, one obviosusly a reed bunting, the other a chiff but very silvery white and grey. I pished and it responded with a few calls, a siberian chiff chaff, a sub species of the chiff chaff.Now my attempts at a photograph were laughable as it kept to the reed bed margins with a strong wind blowing reeds all over the place. Good laugh trying though.
Back to the place where I had seen the adder an hour or so before and searching along the slightly raised bank I found a larger adder which I presume would be the female and possibly the original adder looking small in comparison to the other. Being so careful not to disturb them now that I knew they were there, I took photographs and told other birders of their presence.
Leaving the reserve I took the cycle path to Penzance. Now this is an unfinished, large stoned pathway adjacent to the beach with a good last section reaching the railway station. Good luck to the cyclists of Penzance in getting the council to finish it properly.
On getting back to the Penzance Youth Hostel and after having a repair to the gear cable and spring mechanism I spent the evening party in the company of a group of Spanish lads over here to build a solar farm near to Falmouth. Trying out Spanish was a laugh and Maria in Peru would cringe at my attempts.
Now please have a look at the photographs of the 21st's photos 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