Friday 27th March.
Breakfast early with a lady. Angela who was on her way back from Swansea to Liverpool. She talked about a school in The Gambia that she supports with her husband, wullingkamma nursery.https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=o.199029231789&ref=mf
After breakfast it was out into the sunshine and a long day spent cycling to the next almost inaccessible RSPB reserve west of Caernarvon, Morfe Dinlle.
The road taken went past the entrance to Portmerion. No time to visit this time, the focus on this year's Biking Birder is birds. “This birder gloriously vindicates the rights of the birder to bird and the assembly rises to you, Sir!" to quote The Prisoner . . almost.
Through Porthmadoc and up yet another long, steep section, I eventually found a superb old railway line, now a cycle track. This took me down to where a turn off took me through a few small lanes down to the edge of the reserve. Not many birds to see over the saltmarsh area, I took a footpath along the eastern edge to get a better view. The best birds I suppose were a few little egrets but it looked good for breeding lapwing, if they can keep the aerial predators away.
Next I went around the bay to a hide overlooking it to have some lunch.
Why do some idiots vandalise hides? Sad individuals with sad little lives, this hide had had part of its information boards smashed.
Quickly through Caernarvon, no time for a castle visit and along the cycle path to the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits. Not sure if I was really allowed to cycle on the road, an older gentleman on an old sit up and beg bike suddenly went past me as I photographed the view.
To Llanfairpwyl . . . . . . . well you know the rest and can say it in perfect Welsh can't you? Have a look at the photo
or click on the youtube link and try it out.
Catchy little tune. I'll be singing it later on the bike. Watch out for the last few notes. Deep breath required.Cream tea with sarnies, scone with jam and cream, another cup cake and a coffee for a fiver. Great.
Next I cycled along the A5 until reaching the cycle path that went along the large dyke bisecting the large RSPB reserve at Malltraeth Marshes. More little egrets, a few ducks, water rail and a cettis was my birding reward for a long day cycling.
Saturday 28th Marsh
A night in the tent again with strong wind and heavy rain to keep me inside for a while in the morning, the rain faded and I packed up in a north westerly gale and started the cycle to the next RSPB reserve. The going was a lot tougher than yesterday with the wind in my face or from my side for most of the day. It took some time to get to Valley Wetlands and any birds had the good sense to hunker down and stay out of the gale.
Onwards, I went past a hotel a few miles before and thinking it would be daft to carry on the struggle against the wind with a fully laden bike I called in.To South Stack with a lighter bike, I didn't quite fly there but it was a lot easier. As I pushed the empty bike up the steep raod towards South Stack I saw an injured chough in a field with a few jackdaws. It had an injured right leg and was hobbling around the field probing for leatherjackets I presume.
The sun had come out too and after meeting people at the visitor's centre and after having seen a couple more chough at the bird feeder outside the cafe window, I went down to the Elgin Tower and met Dave, the RSPB greeter. He was a smashing bloke and a keen birder. He said he'd been told I would be arriving soon by a young girl named Mary a few days before. Thanks Mary!
Seawatching from the comfort of an armchair, and after seeing a close male peregrine through an RSPB telescope, I soon found a couple more year ticks to add to the chough. They were a few razorbills sitting on the sea and 7 passing manx shearwaters, 6 heading south and one who wanted to be different heading north. Good on him. Year list now on 168.
Back at the visitor's centre the RSPB staff allowed me a photograph of them. It's always wonderful to meet people who such enthusiasts for nature.
With the wind behind me, it was a quick ride down to the breakwater and there 3 black guillemots were reasonably close. Bird number 169.
Now there are a few RSPB reserves that I can;t get to and therefore I have to be happy if I can see them from any vantage point. These are the remote islands such as Grassholm off Pembrokeshire seen a few weeks back. Today I could only see The Skerries RSPB reserve from over the waves from the breakwater and the day finished with a 4 RSPB reserve day.
Also a 4 year tick day, Spring will soon make that become a daily occurrence as hopefully soon the migrants will come flooding in after an almost becalmed March. Bring it on.
Sunday 29th March
I spent the day cycling from Anglesey to Conwy. A puncture to repair and this was a real puncture, a small hole in the inner tube easy to feel as the air came out. Easily fixed and the first real puncture of the year as the others I feel were due to the broken pump I was using before/Then a gear cable problem left me with only one gear on each block until a repair increased that to 4. Not the whole range but better than before.
Both minor problems quickly sorted, I cycled along the old A5 back to Llanfairpwyl............gogogoch and beyond to a viewpoint over Chruch Island and the old Menai Suspension Bridge.
Back in 2010 I had cycled down to the island to remember a biology field excursion there many years ago. On arriving at the island I met a young girl with a pushchair and a toddler and when she said hello I blurted out ”Gosh you've got beautiful eyes!” Nothing meant by it other than the truth, stunningly green Irish eyes. Luckily she just laughed and we chatted for a while.This time it was straight over the bridge and into Bangor's Morrisons to buy some doughnuts. Morrisons do the only supermarket doughnuts that are any good and a packet of 5 big jam ones reduced to 30p was just what I wanted. Actually for the price of a Costa(lot) coffee I bought the doughnuts, a litre of milk and two milkshakes. I know which I prefer.
Through Bangor and onto a cycle path along the way to Conwy. Past Aber Falls without going to them, The views from the roads over to the Great Orme and Puffin Island were occasionally bright and superb followed by times when they were both gone as heavy showers passed. Only one got me but a few minutes sheltering in a bus shelter prevented a soaking.
The last section of cycle path was away from the main road and along the estuary's edge.
Arriving at the RSPB reserve I explored around its estuary edge and the lagoons viewable from there before camping for the night. It had been a windy showery day yet beautiful with the views of the Menai Straits and the North Wales coastline.